I have long been an inspired reader of Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind, and I'm honored to share her thoughts on life and motherhood and blogging today. She is one of those rare people who manages to combine an impeccable eye for design with an eloquence of words on her blog, so every post is beautiful and inspiring. While she was pregnant with her little Bee, she created Design for Minikind to share quality design in children's products as well.
Oh, it's a horrible thing to ask a mother what she loves about her kid and expect any less than one million words. ;) I think my favorite part about her current stage (almost 8 months!) is the bits of personality that are shining through each day. She's an art museum, full of wonder and curiosity and beauty - and then all of a sudden the exhibitions are changing and there are new things to see and watch and do. She changes and grows so quickly, and I'm truly having the greatest time of my life sitting on the bench, gazing in awe.
2. What do you enjoy most about being a mother?
I feel like becoming a mother forces you to transcend your current situation. I mean, you're kind of thrown into this utterly uncomfortable situation of postpartum healing and leaking milk and dirty diapers and endless tears, and then you wake up and realize that your newborn is a baby (and then a toddler, and then a child, and then a teenager...!) and you've made it through some really hard times together - and that you're a better person for it. You're kind of forced to no longer think about yourself as a singular unit, because you're now part of someone else's story. (I think, too, there's a deep urgency to make that story into something beautiful, which makes you rethink the role you're currently playing, you know?)
3. When do you feel most content/peaceful with your life?
During Bee's naps, I've started a ritual where I curl up on the couch in the morning sun and read a great memoir. There's no room for work or deadlines or busy-ness - it's just 45 minutes of slow words, soft pages, introspection. I'm quickly realizing that, in those moments, I am truly at peace.
4. What has been your favorite stage of motherhood thus far?
It just keeps getting better and better! I wasn't the biggest fan of the newborn stage, so the older she gets, the more I treasure each moment.
5. Do you have tips for new moms?
The best advice I've applied to my life was to remember, "This too shall pass." When the moment is rough - it's 2am and she's not feeding and you can't figure out how to make her stop crying - that moment will be gone in an instant (although sometimes it feels like forever, yes?). Alternately, when the moment is perfect - she's gazing up at you with big eyes and a curious mind - that moment will also be gone in an instant. It's been my mantra for motherhood thus far, and I love how much it centers me and reminds me to really enjoy the moments - good and bad - that make up our lives.
6. What are your favorite things to do when you have down time?
I love reading, coffee dates with friends or catching up on old episodes of The Cosby Show with my husband. (We admire Claire and Cliff so badly!)
7. What motivated you to begin your blog?
A dead-end career path, actually! I was feeling uninspired as a copywriter in the boutique ad agency I worked, and when our art director quit unexpectedly, I raised my hand to take his place (although I knew nothing of design!). I headed home and furiously began researching design trends and artistic techniques and used the blog as a sort of catalog for those finds. It quickly grew into its own sort of beast over the years and I've loved using that platform to highlight emerging talent from across the globe.
8. In your own words, what is your design aesthetic?
Evolving? It's hard to pinpoint, as I have so many different tastes and my interests change near-daily! I've always admired people who have been able to truly edit their lives and nail down their aesthetic, because I fear I'll never be one! On the other hand, it's all the easier to find things that interest me when my taste is so very broad. :)
9. You've been blogging since 2006 (!). What have been a couple highlights of your career?
Oh goodness; I feel so blessed to have had many - becoming one of HGTV.com's first online personalities, filming an IKEA commercial, hosting creativity workshops across the country. But I think my favorite highlights are the ones that land in my inbox every now and then - stories from artists or designers or students who have found something on my site that validated the work they do and gave them a renewed sense of purpose to keep pursuing their creative paths. Those connections inspire me beyond words!
10. Have you had moments where you were disheartened/disenchanted with the blogging world? If so, how did you move on from it?
Oh, I think those moments come often, yes, but I think I have myself to blame when that sort of thing happens. I usually find that I've been spending too much time cyber-loafing and not regulating my information diet. Everything in moderation, you know? I try to be very intentional with the items I'm giving my attention to, so when I'm becoming disenchanted, I generally move on from the particular sites, blogs, feeds or streams I'm focusing on and try to take a step back, regain focus and return with a new perspective. Sometimes that happens in an hour - other times it takes a month.
11. You have a reputation for managing your time impeccably. What applications or resources do you find most helpful to stay organized?
Oh, that's so kind of you to say! I'm still 100% behind this post!:
12. What tips do you have for new bloggers?
Write, write, write. Your voice comes from practice (and is ever-changing, in my opinion), so put the fingers to the keyboard as much as you can. And, like most things, the moment it stops being fun (or taking away from living your life), take a break.
13. What is your style uniform?
I used to not have a "uniform", but since becoming a mom, I've realized how incredibly helpful it is to have standbys on hand! Right now I've been wearing a colored jean and chambray shirt nearly every day of the week. Perfectly wearable, but non-fussy (and relatively stain-resistant, which is key when feeding avocados to a baby!). Other times I'll throw on fitted yoga pants and a nursing-friendly gray v-neck tee and head to the grocery - I have no qualms about not looking put together at any moment!
14. What are your favorite places to shop for yourself and Bee (or brands)?
I'm a big online shopper, so I love Amazon for absolutely everything, Land of Nod for Bee, and Target when I need to grab something quickly (or not-so-quickly, really, because that place has a way of capturing you for the hour, yes?). I also shop Etsy often for gifts, handmade goods, decor or accessories.
15. What are your favorite small businesses or Etsy shops?
Oh, there are so many good ones! Hindsvik, Freshly Picked, AshleyG, Leah Duncan, LeahGoren, A Merry Mishap, Up in the Air Somewhere, Hruskaa, Something's Hiding In Here - the list goes on. (I'm leaving out small businesses, b/c otherwise we'd be here all day!)
16. How do you balance motherhood, being a wife, and managing a career?
I think, for me, the trick is to lower my expectations. It's easy to take a few glances at Facebook and see other people's immaculate homes, 4-course meals and styled ensembles and think you're not quite measuring up, but I think it's really important to be realistic about what's manageable for you, at this very moment. If that means going a few days without blogging to help out a family member or skipping your makeup routine to catch a few extra Zzzs, so be it. For me, it's all about which priorities take precedence. (More on this here!)