coco kelley

Gut Check :: No Browsing, No Milk.

A while back, when we went through those “Things I’m Afraid To Tell You” posts, I promised I’d start sharing a bit more of my personal life on the blog… and since then (of course)  I really haven’t much, save for a few bits here and there. It can be such a challenge to get out of the routine of writing design posts, and really taking time to WRITE. But, every once in a while, certain topics of conversation seem to become a reoccurring theme in my life, and when that happens, I feel a stronger push to talk about it. I’ve decided to call these posts gut checks – those times when you have to pause and put things out there, to talk about where you’ve been and where you’re going. And this time… I think I’ll stick to my promise of writing them much more often.

Priority number one for years now has not been me. It’s been my work. It surrounds me every second of every day. But, if you’ve been following my life at all lately, you know that I’ve been making some changes around here to take time for myself. Time for weekends with no laptop, and evenings out for dinner, without feeling guilty about it for one teensy bit of a second. This is major progress.

And yet. My work is still very very much me. To the point where at dinner parties if someone asks me about non-work related things, I seem to have forgotten how to have that conversation. Or at least separate the two within conversation.

It’s understandable, in some ways. My job includes travel, photo shoots, shopping, dinner parties, and design. The things that many people do in their spare time are what I do for work. It’s no wonder that when people ask about my life, I talk about my job!

But, what I’ve realized is that I really miss other parts of the conversation going on at the table. I don’t talk about books I’ve read because it’s probably been a year since I’ve actually finished one. I barely catch the news and can’t decipher politics these days for the life of me (I can only blame politics itself for so much of that).  I miss intelligent conversation, and yet I’ve forgotten how to have it. Or rather, I’m smart enough to know that I’m lacking the information I need to participate in those conversations on an intelligent level.

I’m missing balance in a way I hadn’t thought about it before. Balance of information.

My ten year college reunion is coming up in October (this can’t be possible) and that too has made me realize how much I’ve been missing – and craving – new knowledge. I used to be able to discuss philosophy and economics … or at least try. Now, I can’t remember a damn thing I learned in those classes so long ago. My brain has gone weak.

And on top of all that (because these things always seem to come full circle), I feel like there are issues I should be educating myself on as a blogger  and business owner that I haven’t made time for. I should be keeping up with social media strategy, reading books on business, taking classes on video editing, understanding the ins and outs of online advertising, and devouring copies of every fashion and interiors magazine I can get my hands on. Instead I’m probably spending too many hours on pinterest looking at pretty pictures.

All of these feelings come from so many places in my life right now that the overwhelming call to action is loud and clear: make more time. For reading. For watching the news (the real kind). For growing my knowledge. For difficult conversations (for those are the ones we learn the most from). For history. For travel. For art. For science. (Ok, maybe science is stretching it…)

I say all this for several reasons.

1. I want to better myself – always. The best way I can possibly think of doing that is with continuous education.

2. In this world today, what you don’t know CAN hurt you. Ignorance and lack of productive conversation seem to be prevalent in today’s society. We stick within our social boundaries to avoid conflict, and when it manages to find us, we forget how to talk about it logically, openly, as students of the world. Instead, we shake our heads and close our ears, and think that somehow we must know what’s best. It’s probably the saddest sight we see on a daily basis. Well… that and reality TV.

3. I don’t want to be entirely defined by my work. Even if it’s super fun awesome work. When someone asks what my hobbies are I want to have at least three things I can rattle off that have nothing to do with this blog. And when I’m sitting at dinner with strangers, I want to able to interact with them like a person who doesn’t just read design blogs.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s important to be somewhat immersed in your field of interest or expertise. If I wasn’t passionate about what I do, I wouldn’t do it. And, I find my own knowledge extremely helpful to others – something that is not to be underrated. We need professionals to lend advice. But we also need – in certain instances in life – to be able to form our own, educated opinion on things or chime in with life knowledge that can’t be gained with our noses buried in our own business all day. Every day. All the time.

Last week on my flight home, I downloaded two books. One – recommended to me as a business read – is entitled “The 4-Hour Work Week” . The other, “A Moveable Feast”  because I felt like something classic, and Hemmingway seemed like a good place to start.

I think it will be an interesting experiment to see what the result of this shift will be. As noted in the above quote – no browsing, no milk. I don’t believe we can truly grow – in our craft or in our personal lives – without adding to our education. And I, for one, intend to do much more browsing.

*image via cote de texas