The Tour.

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Chicago readers with champagne and books at Jayson Home!

First of all I have to say, I love my husband…but last night I almost murdered him.

Over the weekend I upgraded to the iPhone 6 since my 5’s battery would last about an hour before it would die. Andrew insisted he backed up my phone (and all it’s photos) on my computer before we brought it in to sell- and have the hard drive wiped. I believed him. (Cue foreboding Jaws music…)

Cut to me opening my laptop to blog about our Chicago trip and come to find out- the backup did not work and he had not checked to make sure. All my photos are GONE. GONE! I managed to not have a cerebral hemorrhage right then and there, but the anger is stewing.  Yet another example of why my micro-managing of life is for a good reason (ahem!!!)

Blog Favorites: Andrew’s First Post

So I’m doing something this week that I have not done in all the years I’ve owned my business and written this blog- I’m taking the week off. Really off. Like closing the office “off”. My assistant is on her honeymoon and the world seems to be busy finishing up summer and getting ready for fall and the new school year and so it’s the perfect time to take five days to myself to just relax before a crazy busy fall for me too. And so this week I’ll be posting some of my favorite posts from over the seven years (!!!) I’ve been blogging. There’s a lot to sort through, but I do have some real personal favorites. To start off, this was a post from September 2011- the first from Andrew. I re-read it last night and just really loved it. He’s such a gem.

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Andrew and our niece Kate in 2011

Erin asked me if I would write a blog post that was similar to one of my Tony Robbins-ish “things are going to fine, stop crying, you need to think more of yourself, it’s going to be ok, seriously, stop crying” speeches I unleash on her about once a month.

Finally I get to be on her blog. Sweet.

My most recent rant to her was about perspective. Side note: these “speeches” are usually just a verbal outpouring of the internal struggles (and solutions) I have with myself. I get just as much out of saying them as she gets from hearing them…probably more. To provide a little background, I was laid-off about 2 months ago. Not the greatest feeling in the world, but I was prepared for it…the writing was on the wall…and to be honest I wasn’t that far away from putting in my notice.

The internal struggle I had was what to do next. I had been working with some former colleagues on a start-up which I was really excited about. I was also putting a toe in the water in several other, apparently more stable options. At the end of the day I was fortunate enough to have a choice. I went with the start-up. Here is why:

10, 20, 30, years from now…or more…I am going to reflect on my life. I tried to put myself at that point and ask what will I think. I was going to regret not going with the start-up. It was clear. Granted, that didn’t make the choice any less scary, but I knew what I needed to do.

I continued to think about the “Future Me” and what I would think of the present me. And Future Me had a bit of advice. He said that we are living in a home, eating applesauce, wearing diapers and all I have are my memories. Don’t screw them up. Spend time with your friends and family, because those are my favorite memories. Stop spending so much time on the little stuff, you can barely remember that anyway. Travel more, you will love Africa. Take a few chances, but not too many that you look like a moron (and you are approaching that level so be careful). Enjoy your successes and indulgences, you will see that guilt is a waste of time. Do things for others without the need for acknowledgment or reciprocation (you will get both in spades anyway). Be happy for others who are more fortunate than you, help those that aren’t, respect both equally. Do things you normally wouldn’t do every so often, those are some fun memories. It is okay to cook and do the dishes, but make sure you say thank you when someone does for you. When you get here (the future) you don’t want to have settled.

Smart guy. I hear he is handsome too.

We could all benefit from calling our Future Me’s every once in a while. We need that reality check of how most of this won’t matter even a few months from now, much less years. We need to live a little more for the moment.

That doesn’t mean go crazy. It doesn’t mean bounce your last check (ahem! parents and in-laws). It doesn’t mean shun stability and responsibility. It doesn’t mean pack up your shit and move to Nepal. It means to do things you will be happy to look back on. That may mean taking the stable job for some, or going with the start-up for others or even leaving it all behind and going to Nepal for a few. Life isn’t black and white. There is no need for you to be stable or reckless…you can be somewhere in-between. You don’t have to married by 28. You don’t need to have kids before you are 35. You don’t need to have your career all set by the time you are 40. Life is different for everyone and very few of us live up to the expectations we set for ourselves or other set for us (and those that do probably feel unfilled in some way). Take life as it comes, change it as you go, and stop worrying about where you are now…just enjoy that you are here and moving forward. It takes some people a few years, others a life time. We all get there.

You are a fluid and ever-changing person who is at times scared, happy, sad, bored, worried and excited. Perfect…that’s how you are supposed to be. Think about the future, think about what you want to look back on, and then stop thinking about the future so much. Re-live the good times in the past. Learn from the bad ones and move on…they are not you anymore. Forget the really bad ones. They serve no purpose anymore. Realize that life is both what you make of it, but more importantly how you want to approach it. You can get bogged down with your own shit or you cannot. The choice is yours.

My Better Half On Optimism

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So today is my 35th birthday and as I’ve mentioned earlier I’m having a little bit of trouble with it.  A lot of that trouble has to do with my generally pessimistic attitude (what I like to think of as “realistic”.) Andrew, on the other hand, is like a bouncing ball of positivity, and to be honest, has had more tricky, tough stuff happen to him than me. Yet he remains able to never let life get him  while I tend to take on a more “Eeyore” cast. It’s amazing, and one of the things I love (and relay on) most about him. So I asked him to write a little about how he stays so positive about life and here’s what he had to say:

Erin asked me to write a blog on how I maintain my seemingly unending positivity. It’s funny, because even the way she asked me that had the “and by positive I mean naïve” undertone. Ok, I get it. Maybe sometimes. I obviously can’t speak for all us positive people, but I will offer some insight into my mindset.

First off, it really is a mindset. I get in bad moods, feel sad, feel anxious, have the “what if <insert worst case scenario>” thoughts too. But at some point I just decided that I hated feeling that way. And since it doesn’t do me any good, I do whatever it takes to not feel that way. PLEASE NOTE: That does not mean I ignore those feelings. It doesn’t mean, that I don’t understand and contemplate the underlying causes. It means that I don’t let them linger. There are always at least two ways to approach anything…and I just choose to look at the bright side. It is more fun that way. Of course that is easier said than done. But no one ever said being positive was easy. I would argue it is a lot harder than being a pessimist.

From His Perspective: Arguing & Understanding

I know today is all about politics, but I for one am not into using social media to scream about my beliefs.  It’s been very interesting to see some serious vitriol and name calling on Facebook and Twitter this election season between friends of opposing party affiliations. Never mind all the ridiculous ads we are barraged with when trying to watch TV!  I happen to believe one thing above all- no one person can solve all our problems.  It will take partnerships and collaboration to get America back on it’s feet just as it takes the same type of work in ALL relationships.  Andrew and I have been discussing this a lot at home and he wrote a great piece about arguing and working together that I thought would be the perfect thing to post today, regardless of the outcome- without further ado, my better half:

They say you should never judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes (or something close to that). I have recently come to realize how powerful and loaded that statement really is.

While there are several directions I could go from here I would like to use this as a base to discuss communication. A overburdened topic in and of itself, the nearing of the election, the debates, etc. have caused me to stop and think about how people interact. Whether its family, friends, colleagues, or politicians, we could all do better by walking a mile in the others shoes.

9 times out of 10, a disagreement that leads to an argument isn’t resolved at the end of the discussion. In fact it’s probably closer to 9.99999 times out of 10. If you have ever been on the outside looking in it’s rare that one side is so wrong and the other is so right. There’s usually a bit of gray. Parts where one has a good point, parts where the other does, and many where there is no clear right or wrong.

What is missing, at least in order to move the discussion along, is understanding. You have to stop, see the other person’s side of things (no matter how wrong they obviously are), and actually understand their point of view. In fact, try and argue for their side. It is rare that they don’t have a point, and while you may not agree with it, it is their right to think that way. You have to accept that…try and change them and it falls apart.

This is clearly at the heart of the failings of congress. Republicans, democrats, and independents can all agree on one thing…the country can’t move forward with all sides digging in their heels and being unwillingly to work together and compromise. The same can be true in our own personal lives. Erin and I are evolving in the way we argue. We are much better at hearing and listening. We don’t always agree, but we understand. It makes for a much happier household.

How did we do it? It was all me (honestly, not patting my own back, but its true). I stopped and decided to listen. To understand. And then the strangest thing happened…so did she. It only takes one side to try for this to work. So the next time you are arguing and not going anywhere, whether it is in work, family or politics, try to be the one who changes the nature of the conversation. Be the one who understands the other side. It’s the only way you’ll get your point across.

I would like to remind Andrew to consider this “other side” when arguing about the number of pillows we have on the bed and the necessity of lucite furniture, which is NOT Miami Vice. Thank you.

From His Perspective: For A Cause

Hi Guys- Taking a little detour from my usual style/design/renovation topics to bring you this important message from Andrew.  Please consider coming, spreading the word or supporting this cause! After all, it’s incredibly stylish to be charitable, no?

It has been a while since I have written a blog post. I have all sorts of excuses like a new job, it was the summer, and you may have heard that we moved. So now that I have gotten into more of a groove with work and the house, I hope to get back to doing a post here and there.

But before we get back to my normal topics, I coerced Erin to let me make a blatant pitch, on a relatively non-blog related topic.

About three years ago one of my New Year’s resolutions was to do something unselfish. Get involved in some way, with some thing, which is for the good of others. Of course we all know that those of us who do for others get just as much, if not more, from it but that is beside the point.

My aunt invited us to a charity dinner at the Seaport Hotel in Boston benefiting a cause called Summer Search. She was on the board of this charity at the time and raved about it. Also, she said would foot the bill for our seats at the table and there was to be an open bar. So Erin and I crawled out from under our rock to go out on the town, hob nob with the philanthropic folks in Boston, and have a couple glasses of wine.

As we ascend the escalator to the second floor of the hotel to register, we are already feeling intimidated. Lots of older, richer, wiser people who all seem to know each other. Erin and I deicide our best course of action is to b-line it to the bar for a glass of wine. As we make our way through the crowd, bar in sight, we are stopped just shy of our goal by Daniel.

“You guys probably want to hear about my experience with Summer Search,” says Daniel in a confident, youthful voice. As I begin to say “right after we hit the bar” he launches into his story.

I wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t prepared to hear such a sad, heart wrenching, tale. I wasn’t prepared to hear that this young man was abandoned by his parents, spent life in and out of foster homes, and considered a problem child because of his drug use. I wasn’t prepared to hear it from a seemingly confident, educated, outgoing young man who closed his story with where he was going to college and what he was going to do with his life. Could a charity really make that big a difference? I had my doubts…anyone can get lucky once.

And then, as Erin and I had a glass of wine, others came up to us. Each one cheery, confident, disarming, and bright. Each one with a story not to be believed. Parents on crack. Escaped from another country while their parents were left behind. Shy, abused, addicted. They were the forgotten. Their lives too hard by the time they were 15 for anyone to believe in them. Spend the money where it has a chance, most would say. These kids are a lost cause.

We sit down to dinner in a room with 750 other people. 750 educated, advantaged, successful, caring people. And as we begin the first course, we hear from more of the students. These 17 year olds, getting up in front of the most intimidating crowd, sharing their stories with a passion, grace and delivery Dr. King would have been proud of. It was personal. It was stunning. I would have been nervous to speak in front of this crowd and I am life-long salesman who loves to hear myself talk, and yet these kids were brimming with confidence! It brought tears to our eyes and I knew I had to be involved.

Summer Search spends a lot on every kid it allows in, about $6,000 each, per year. For a charity, that is unheard of. Not every kid is accepted. They have to be recommended by a teacher or guidance counselor. They then go through a series of intense interviews. At the end, about 60% to 70% get into the program. They are assigned a Summer Search staff member to guide them from their sophomore year on. Each week they meet with their mentor to track progression in school, family and life.

At the end of their sophomore year, they are sent on an outward-bound type of trip…actually, in most cases it is an actual Outward Bound program they are in. They are not there with others who are Summer Search students, but with all the kids who you would normally find partaking in such a program. No special treatment, no segregation. Nearly half of the kids in Summer Search Boston have never even seen the ocean. The ocean you could pay $2.00 on the T (subway for non-Bostonians) to go to. The ocean that is less than 10 miles from any of them. And now they are on a plane, set out in the woods or desert, with a group of people they have never met and who have likely had far more exposure to the world. Scary.

Their Junior year is the same. Every week meeting with their mentor. And at the end…an international trip in which they spend half the time helping others and half the time with a host family learning about the culture and language. Such an incredible opportunity.

Of their peer group in the Boston area, 7% graduate high school. That is not a typo. 7%. Needless to say, college is not even a consideration. Of the students in Summer Search, 98% graduate high school, 93% go to college, 89% graduate college. Most are the first generation to go to college, never mind graduate. These are kids who have truly transformed not only themselves, but the generations that follow them as well. Ask any one of them what they want to do with their life and they can tell you, in great detail, both what they want to do and exactly how they are going to do it.

I could go on, but I need to get to the point. What I have done to play my small part in making this organization grow, is to help throw a party to raise money and awareness. For those of you in the Boston area who are free Friday 21st, we are inviting you to an event at the W from 7 to 11. Tickets are $75 and include beer, wine and snacks. It is always fun, great music, you get to meet some of the kids and there are raffle and auction items that are pretty cool. If you want to come, click here to order your tickets and get more details.

If you can’t come, but you want to help support this cause, please click here to donate. Any amount is greatly appreciated. Just imagine what could be done if everyone who read this donated $5 or $10?

If you want to learn more about Summer Search click here.

Thank you all for all that you have done for Erin and me. You all feel like a part of our family and keep Erin going and growing. And thanks for listening to me ramble on about Summer Search. I can’t help it. Hope to see you there.

Andrew

P.S. Note from Erin: Pleeeeeeease come support this (and hang out with Andrew and I) and spread the word about the event!