"Follow your passion” is not really great advice, right?

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more and more of a seeker. This must be a commonly shared trait across many verticals of my identity—millennials, entrepreneurs, single parents, independents, and all of those for whom life is a little variable, capricious, and unconventional. The purpose of all of this questing, seeking, and exploring is ostensibly to define and identify my “passion.” My Passion. Thee Passion Of Thee Meg. My True Calling™. I mean, every conference I’ve been to, every book I have read for self-starters and founders and aspiring trailblazers, and all the interviews I’ve seen with my heroes in the pursuit of happiness have made sure to repeat that axiom enough to convince us not only of the authors' magnificent self-assuredness, but of the imperative necessity to life of being able to define and name that elusive True Passion. “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life,” right? It’s almost haunting—what if I don’t find what I love? What if I can’t do it? And, hold on. Who the hell doesn’t work a day in their lives? 

I think we all need to loosen the reins on the idea that success and happiness, in practice, looks like sacrificing everything conventional and redeeming it for a fountain of wealth and free time. The pressure we put on ourselves to give up our jobs and savings and die for what we do is so overwhelming and unrealistic. The truth is that no one really finds success “following their passion” without a practical plan, lots of discipline, and a little luck. Small steps are the first part of the plan. You can take them without giving everything up, taking out a big loan, or even quitting your job. I first heard Jason Fried say “Failure is overrated." Jumping off a cliff without a parachute is not actually a rite of passage for entrepreneurs. But, I think a false start is still a start--when founding something new, it's not a choice  between "giving up everything" and "never beginning at all." So there's no glory in going down in flames. Cashing out every safety net you have to start something that may not even have enough value to be sustainable is one of the most common ways new entrepreneurs undermine their potential for success. 

It gave me a lot of relief when I realized that maybe the way to happiness wasn’t defining my passion, but honing my skills. Getting good at things I liked, to put it simply. I like lots of things. I like to embroider and sew. I like style and fashion. I like to read. I like to support people who create things. I like making little websites. I like thinking about beauty, finding it, and showing it in the world. I like discussing issues of justice and equality and civic progress. I love to bask in controversy. So everything I do in my life is caused by or related to or informed by these interests of mine, and that’s why I don’t just do one thing. 

By focusing on the intersection between what I like and what I am skilled at, the feeling of fulfillment that comes from “following passion” began to emerge and become easier to identify. Over time I began to find overlap between what I was interested in doing and what people were willing to pay for. Ten years ago I was embroidering flowers full-time, which turned gradually into a thousand different things to bring me to owning a women’s clothing startup today. I got here by following where my skills led me. Skills evolve. Opportunities emerge. And then we see our passions—what brings us purpose, personally—with more clarity. With self-awareness and intentional self-development, it’s a cycle that continues to redefine us all the time. 

My passion is just being free. That’s why I do all this. 

What my partner Sarah and I are building with Hello Holiday is really exciting, and it’s important to both of us that we build something sustainable. My clearly stated goal has always been to get to the point where I can travel most of the time, work remotely, write more books, do more speaking engagements, and mentor others eventually as an investor and venture capitalist. But to get to that point, we need to sell some shit. And she and I need to be working together to do that, whether that's Sarah's basement, in a rented loft apartment above a bar, in a downtown coworking space, or in our own showroom. We’ve come up through all of those places, and we would go back to any of them if we had to. All I'm ultimately in pursuit of is simply the freedom to do this massively fulfilling and fun work. 

So that's how it is. And then at night, when I'm done with the office, when the door is locked and the lights are off, I write these things. That’s what makes me happiest and proudest, and I can do it because I’m just working for the freedom. 

When you are inventing a job, you have to sell yourself a little harder than people who just apply for jobs that already exist, right? Maybe that’s doing free work to build your name and field of experience. Maybe it’s designing projects you want to do before you're asked to do them. But be discoverable, show up everywhere, be available, be a helper. Show others how you’ve done it. And as you are inventing your own job, it is good to keep working. Do whatever you have to do to make enough to live. Figure out the bare minimum you need per month, do whatever shit you have to do to get that, and then use the rest of your time to invent your job, to do all that free work that you must put out into the world to establish your expertise and credibility. There is no shame, nothing wrong with busting your ass in a job you don't love for a while, for the privilege of having the time for that experience-building and risk-taking. 

Also, there are hard truths you may have to examine and accept in the process. If you can’t figure out how to make your skills work for you, maybe you just aren’t built for it. Maybe it’s not for you, maybe that’s just reality. Not all hobbies need to become businesses, and keeping your interests in the realm of “hobby” is not a failure at all. But if you feel like you’re on to something, keep throwing darts at the board—you’ll hit something that sticks. It takes a lot of emotional, physical, and financial energy to build a business from interests you, the things that make you happy. So don't worry if you have spend more focus on the weekends or evenings or whatever else. Entrepreneurs feel very guilty about having side projects, or about needing other work. At first--and still, sometimes--I felt like shit having to do Airbnb to make ends meet after putting all my cash into founding a new startup. Sometimes months go by when I haven't slept in my own bed, save a few nights here and there between guests. There have been weeks when I commuted an hour to sleep at my parents' house, and weeks when I couldn't afford the gas so Alice and I just camped out in my office. It’s hard to not think to yourself, "Wow, I am not successful enough and I have to go back to the trenches. I never thought I'd be here." But that's how it's always gonna be--a cycle of work and passion, passion and work, all in different incarnations as you keep moving forward.

So I believe that your work does not need to be your passion. You do your passion at work. You do it for the love of the machine, not just for the cogs that you are always maintaining. For me, the big picture isn't Hello Holiday. It's my whole life. I do Hello Holiday, I assist on organization boards and with associations, I go to meetings, I write, I seek people who seem to have things to teach me, because all these things have to do with why I get to be free. The conventional world order has blown up because there are so many new ways to work and live. We can work from anywhere, and for seekers, what could be more tempting? At the same time, the overload of resources and inspiration also creates unrealistic pressure to be 100% confident—not to mention successful—in our pursuit of our passions. Don’t let yourself succumb to that pressure! 

It's your story, and the more of it you can author yourself, the better. Anything is better than nothing. And anything more than nothing makes you radically different from so many others. 

 

The best way to support and improve public schools? Send your kids to them.

The best way to support and improve public schools? Send your kids to them.

When you buy in to our public school system by choosing to enroll your children, you make the most tangible, personal, and real investment in the possibility of success for all children. It’s putting skin in a game that results in long-term benefits for your entire community, rather than buying a short-term solution to a perceived problem that will never be fixed by parents of privilege sequestering their children in more prestigious schools. Everyone has a stake in the success of our public schools whether you opt in or not. Our schools need more than lip service and tax revenue. They need more involved and aggressively resourceful parents.

One thing I have written about frequently is how there’s more to education than what you’re taught in school. The name of the school a child goes to tells us nothing about that child’s intellect, discipline, emotional intelligence, curiosity, or diligence. The advantages of this diversity in aptitude are evident in the public school system. Public school kids benefit from the opportunity to learn while surrounded by children whose circumstances, experiences, and reference points are completely different from theirs. (Not to mention being a part of a population of children that is largely out of their parents' control.)  A system that serves all children—rich kids and poor kids, geniuses, C students, and kids with learning disabilities, black and brown and white kids, kids from safer neighborhoods and more disadvantaged neighborhoods, kids with fundamentalist Christian parents and kids with Pagan lesbian moms, whatever—is its own genus of education and life preparation.

This is the most important advantage of having a public school system: Simply that they serve every child in a community. No one must prepare for an interview to impress a principal. There are no biased or nepotistic admissions representatives to cherry-pick only the brightest or wealthiest students. Although limitations of geography and the history of segregation in neighborhoods persists, when you send your children to public school, you are showing them what it means to be among the public, which brings life lessons that money can’t buy.

I try to remember to challenge and question my natural impulses, and check them against what I know to be my own place of privilege in our society as a middle-class white woman. When I visualized shopping around private schools for my own child, I realized I was also reassuring myself that I had altruistic motivations. I only wanted a good education for her. I only wanted the best, right? However, studies show that the more minority children there are in a community population, the more the percentage of private-schooled white children increases. This white flight into private schools, in practice, is a large part of what segregation means today. Even private schools that offer scholarships and need-based assistance are starting with a foundation of hierarchy, which shades a child’s sense of identity and belonging among those with more class privilege or wealth. Public school students have the advantage of getting to know kids from every intersection of difference in their community, not just kids of the same social class sprinkled among token scholarship recipients who assuage the liberal guilt of those with the power to allow their enrollment.

All parents want to provide their children with the kind of education that private school parents believe they are purchasing. Assume that the parents of disadvantaged children, those who live below the poverty line, those who work two or more jobs without any time to taxi kids around to lessons or extracurricular activities, who aren’t able to afford organic lunch box food nor the time to prepare it, want the same things for their children. These parents want their children to be able to take a foreign language. They want an exceptional arts program. They want support for kids with learning disabilities and delays. They want competitive academics with qualified and supported teaching staff. They want robotics classes, travel opportunities, poetry club. The best chance these children—equally deserving, equally gifted, but unequally born children—have have at experiencing this caliber of education is for private school parents to stop segregating their kids, time, and money away from public schools. 

Parents' time and energy that would have been spent working overtime for tuition or fighting to get their kids into more competitive programs would be better spent improving this vital institution in our own backyards. Our government is failing our public schools, and our kids, and the way to advocate for progress begins in our own local communities. There is work to be done to improve every aspect of the systemic classism and racism in our public institutions, but nothing will affect change in education faster than moving money and influence out of the private school system and into public schools. Don’t just donate at fundraisers. Don’t just vote for public school bonds and tax hikes. Send your fucking offspring.

An Open Letter to Restless Young Entrepreneurs Who Can't Wait Any Longer

To all young, motivated, frustrated people fighting to do it their way:

One great thing about having a long online record of founding and failing businesses, taking risks, messing up, receiving wins, and sharing my thoughts throughout the course, is the conversations and relationships it initiates with readers. I often receive emails or otherwise communicate with people who are desperately longing for some creative or professional satisfaction that they are struggling to find. Sometimes it's fed by frustration about feeling obligated to some false expectation of responsibility placed on you by others. Sometimes it's that you did everything "right," but that checking accomplishments off of life's to-do list didn't give you any fulfillment or gratification. Or maybe it's just not knowing how to stop the hamster wheel without having everything else in your world spin out of control. I want to extend this conversation here and share my feelings about what you can do if you are feeling this sense of exasperation, helplessness, panic, and chaos. First, keep in mind that this is my opinion from my experience--the experience of a woman like me in a context like mine--and I can only generalize. However, maybe this will be a jump-off to realizing what is right for you.

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If you are in college, finish your degree. Just getting accepted into a school and being enrolled in classes means you are already so close. Your degree will be an advantage that follows you everywhere in life, and even if you are struggling to find something to be passionate about in your studies, I believe there is value in the experience itself of receiving a university education. College is not really about the degree at all. When I see job applicants with four-year degrees, that tells me they are able to commit to a process of rigorous, structured work (one hopes). It sometimes shows me, when combined with a CV, that they can work within a bureaucratic system to affect change, progress, and personal ends (a.k.a. the real world). However, college degrees do NOT indicate intelligence, passion, discipline, emotional intelligence, or curiosity, which you know already. Which can be the frustrating part. It is never a bad idea to have a college degree, but getting a degree for a job is a bad bet. Getting a degree for the experience and relationships you form while earning it is a good bet. Educating yourself is good, whether through traditional paths or unconventional ones. It's my experience and opinion that college is a very good resource for people who are interested in educating themselves. If it is convenient and possible for you to attend college, or if you are already enrolled, I don't think you will ever regret making the most of it.

As an important side note, you don’t need a degree to have most jobs. Even most good jobs. That is not a thing anymore. You can persist your way into so many things. Off the top of my head, I can tell you 14% of the people on Google’s product teams have no college degree. I do not believe in deluding kids into thinking that their degrees either purchased by their parents or by saddling themselves with years of debilitating personal debt entitle them to an unpaid internship at a cubicle farm, let alone a full-time job. A degree is a privilege. It’s a way to hone a skill and earn knowledge that you are going to love and continue to develop. You get a degree because you want it, because you love what you study, not because you think it guarantees you a job. Odds are, a degree will help you get a job. But that’s because of a system that prioritizes a very privileged type of learning over another. With that caveat, I only wanted to say something specifically to the restless, ambitious kind of young person who is lucky to be comfortably enrolled in school and is thinking about leaving. I think you should take the educational opportunity as the gift it is, and make it work better for you.

Many entrepreneurial and creative people are uncomfortable with the idea of structure and conventional paths. For me, "normal" models of life's script, the landscape of educational institutions, and the outside pressure to not fuck it all up was questionable because I feel naturally opposed to traditional models of work/success/life. As a restless, ambitious person, you probably know what I mean. But it is possible to use systems and structure to enable your success, whatever that success looks like to you. And that structure can actually be on your terms. You can define the structure that facilitates your motivation and success, and frame your experiences within it. When I felt this way in college, I put my frustration and hunger into my studies. Propose an independent project. Lead something. Design the experience you’d rather have. Insist on taking value from this wonderful opportunity. I was studying subject matter that I did enjoy, but did not expect to pursue a career in--intercultural communication, German, and radio, which I admit caused some existential anxiety. I was eager to learn about these subjects, and my enthusiasm made it much easier to extract lessons and skills that I could apply to literally any other experience I wanted to pursue.

Travel. Do freelance work to build your name and field of experience. Be helpful. Do all of this as soon as you can. You can do freelance work while you are in school. You will have as much if not more time to travel as someone with a more conventional life experience, so find the pockets of time you can use. Find reasons to go, find work to do in other places, and develop relationships that nurture and support your tendency to seek.

I never resigned myself to a fate other than the one I wanted as an artist and entrepreneur. That, however romantic, is where the self-assuredness ends. I didn’t know what shape my career would take, I was just happy to be working jobs I enjoyed on my own terms, and that they always seemed to lead to something new. I started embroidering in my apartment and it led to a formidable stack of magazine and blog features, which led to working with 400+ brides/year, which led to opening Omaha's first coworking space, which led to operating Princess Lasertron in a 2000 sq. ft. studio with four employees, which led to my dress line, which led to founding Hello Holiday and closing the old office and pushing the lease off on someone else, and now I am nearly three years past that. (That entire last sentence probably contained a handful of prescription medications, several serious phases of wanting to shut it all down, my first book, six years of counseling, 12 bottles of celebratory champagne, a divorce, a baby, one broken finger from punching a wall, and countless fist pumps and tears of happiness, by the way. The right choices haven't usually been obvious.) Something new is probably coming next. It makes me feel insecure, but I have to trust it because there's no one else who knows what's best for me. You have to find that confidence in yourself--not blind, unchecked self-assuredness, but maybe just the mere belief that you will do right by yourself.

“Follow your passion” is not exactly great advice, right? How is it helpful when you are trying to "follow" "something" but not really living? It’s not that I’m passionate about embroidering felt or coworking or helping independent designers gain exposure. I’m passionate about being independent and having freedom, and this is the means I’ve found to achieve that. A mentor of mine says that there is an art to finding success through entrepreneurship or freelancing, and that has to do with finding the overlap between what you like to do and what other people are willing to pay for. Not everything is marketable, he says (though some would disagree). On top of being useful and interesting to consumers, I think you have to be remarkably, extraordinarily good at what you do, which is only possible if you like what you do. You have to find your real motivation, because there is always going to be someone in the world working twice as hard as you for the same thing. You can’t control much, but you can control how hard you work and how you choose to spend your time.

Be aware of why you are doing things. Reasons can be very motivational, and the real ones may not be the first ones that come to mind. Once I know why I want things, once I have something to stick to the center of my dart board, the rails I gotta ride become a lot smoother. The hassle of the work it takes, the compromises, the getting along, the playing the game, everything I would normally be frustrated by, is less tragic. I even wonder if I wasn't honestly being a little whiny. You aren't entitled to an easy go of it, but finding creative ways to reach unconventional goals makes these challenging transitions more meaningful.

Working for others or having other jobs is not selling out. It doesn’t have to crush your soul. If you’re saving to start a new business, or if you're paying for school or travel, you have to get money somehow, and it doesn't mean you're a "corporate slave" or some other messed-up rude term you heard from some rich white startup founder's dumb keynote. Even if you already run your own business, there’s absolutely no shame in getting some extra income on the side when you need it. Personally, I host on Airbnb, like, daily. I have done a significant amount of freelance copywriting this year. Anything anyone wants from me, I am pretty much willing to put a price on. In all of my side work, I don't do it because it's my "passion," it's because I need the damn money and I don't dislike earning it that way. For me, "not disliking" is enough when I really know what I want and why and what I'm doing to get it.

I hope that you reach out in your community to meet with influencers, leaders, people who are doing what you want to do, people who might have ideas or suggestions, and people who are stuck too. Anyone. Over the last several years of being part of the small business landscape in the Omaha area, I’ve learned that helping others is the best way to help yourself–it sounds beyond corny, but I really mean it. If someone needs something and you can help, offer it. It’s the best way to challenge yourself, learn about what other people are working on and accomplishing, and honestly it’s a great way to get noticed which is invaluable when you’re in these places of transition. The thing that will bring order to the frustrating chaos is relationships. There is no way to find these opportunities without taking the risk to put yourself in situations with people who are new to you.

Finally, please, above all, care for yourself. Preserve your physical and emotional health. Be gentle with yourself and kind to yourself. Never sell yourself short–you are good enough. Show the world why you matter, don't wait for it to ask you. Be very, very brave.

xx
meg

Ten Things I Learned From My Best Friend xRahRahx

My business partner Sarah is known for being full of kindness, compassion, and patience, but my favorite thing about working with her is that she has me constantly dying every single day because she is one of the most hilarious people in history. Besides just having lots of laughs, I feel like I've experienced a lot of growth thanks to her influence over the past few years. These lessons including but not limited to...

  1. Sleep with your head wrapped in plastic wrap so you don’t have to redo your makeup each day.
  2. Never wait to wear the good stuff. A fun hat, a colorful dress, statement shoes. You never know what’s going to happen each day that is worth dressing up for. (And you never know if there will be a tomorrow, right? Especially if you are doing the plastic wrap thing…)
  3. Never make people feel bad for being themselves. When people are honest with you, that is sometimes a difficult and brave thing for them to do. Everyone is trying their best, so don’t project your expectations on others.
  4. Tampon strings can be used as candle wicks in a pinch when you are glamping in the woods and forgot some supplies for your DIY beeswax mason jar candles.
  5. There is a bell curve when you want to dress like your best friend every day, then you get insecure and would die if you were caught in the same outfit as someone else, and then again when you deliberately wear matching dresses to every event.
  6. Blow-up dolls are not convincing substitutes for actual mannequins.
  7. It’s okay to wear the same outfit two days in a row. Or three days in a row. Or until it smells too bad to wear again without washing. Yes, it was Sarah the Fashion Hero who taught me this—certainly not the fashion police in 8th grade who loudly pointed out that I wore the same jeans two times in one week. (They could tell they were the same pair because they kept a detailed chart of everyone’s outfits.)
  8. On that note, the older I get, the less judgmental I seem to be, which I know is directly from Sarah’s influence. I’ve always thought I was a pretty accepting and chill person, but Sarah’s example of kindness and acceptance has rubbed off on me in a really good way. I ask myself “What would Sarah do?” at least a few times per week when I feel myself getting annoyed with others. And the best thing is, my temper is diminishing noticeably to me.
  9. You can usually get what you want if you make a phone call instead of email.
  10. Life’s better, work’s better, love’s better, parenting’s better, everything’s better when you do it your way. There are no rules. You don’t get a trophy in heaven for being the most like everyone else, for following the same roadmap, or for being the least disruptive of everyone else’s comfort. Do what you want. We’re doing what we want. And we wouldn’t be here with our friendship and our company if it wasn’t for Sarah’s encouragement, leadership, and bravery as my business partner. I say “Should we?”, she says “Why shouldn't we?!’

Thanks Rah. Love you, beautiful friend.

How Long Until Women Don't Need to Marry a Technical Cofounder?

Right now I'm listening to founders Susan Koger (Modcloth), Susan Feldman (One Kings Lane), and Julia Hartz (Eventbrite) on the Commonwealth Club on NPR. As I'm hearing them speak, I'm noticing a very common pattern between their stories that I have not recognized before.

I wonder about the ratio of female to male startup founders who are married to their business partners. A husband-partner seems like a huge advantage to female founders, as typically the man is the technical co-founder. If you don't have the coding know-how, that stuff has to be hired out, which can drastically slow the pace of growth and dilute the strategic vision. As I considered this I was surprised to realize that most of my personal women heroes in tech are partnered with their (independently successful) male spouses. This is good, this is still progress and I'll take it, but it also feels vestigial of the women working revolution in the 70s/80s--a bit limiting. A little exclusive, putting women in a very comfortable and familiar pigeonhole.

That's not to diminish the amazing accomplishments and leadership of the three women on this panel, or the importance of a supportive spouse. But isn't that an interesting pattern in female founder origin stories?

I also hear these women founders and leaders on stage thanking male mentors for showing them they can do anything…but of fucking course you can do anything. TAKE IT! PARTICULARLY when you're a middle class woman in silicon valley with a car and an idea and a computer and eight hours of spare time after your job every evening. That's when you have the platform to raise yourself up and make room for others up there too who don't have the power. Who is going to give you permission? Who is going to tell you it’s okay for you to push? Why is that so revolutionary?

I respect that many of us aren’t told growing up that we can do anything. There is so much to deprogram, to unlearn, which takes self-criticism and self-awareness and a lot of empathy (which I'm still trying to learn).

How long until we don't need to marry a programmer or VC to launch successfully?

Turn In

I keep getting free magazine subscriptions because of things I order for work, and after a few months I now have a stack of 40-50 magazines that I treasure (of course) but haven’t paged through yet. Tonight I sat in the bath with a short stack of them and took time to actually read physical pages–something I haven’t done in months. (Maybe more like over a year.)

News magazines like Time and Newsweek make me feel like I’ll never be smart enough and the world will never be able to embrace peace. Travel & Leisure and Afar make me feel like I am missing out on too many great things in the world. Marie Claire and Elle make me feel broke and fat. Real Simple makes me feel disorganized, hurried, frazzled–that I’ll always have too much on my to-do list and only their tips can save me. Wired, Fast Company, and INC make me feel resentful about how hard I work in an extremely white male dominated industry, and how much more invisible people from other cultures and backgrounds are. You know. The usual.

Nylon magazine is the exception. I read October’s It Girl issue and felt exactly what I am always searching for: Good. Fine. In control. Interesting. Enough. Beautiful. Unique. And like I’m not the only imperfect one, and that I’m in a world full of women also struggling to improve, to matter, who I can find so much in common with. I learn about inspiring women creating provocative art and bad-ass music. I see women who look like me, or the way I perceive myself, and I also see women who look totally different from me, totally different from anyone I have found friendship with in my own small social sphere, and I read their stories and accomplishments and think “I would LOVE to be her friend.”

Friendship with women, admiration of women, and a deep interest and fascination with women’s experiences is my greatest motivation. I forgot how nice it is to see that reflected back at me through the media I consume. To let my guard down. To just enjoy something that doesn’t beg for criticism. To see beautiful images. To let go of some uncertainty and angst about all the other messages I get in my daily life and fill my mind with the stories of accomplishment and experiences of other women.

As I finished my bath and closed the back cover of the magazine, I turned my thoughts inward again to my own life, expecting to return to the same stress, problems, and worry, to find that all right where I left it. Instead, I only had thoughts about my own ambition, my friends and mentors that surround and encourage and teach me, and the vast network of heroic, fascinating women I have come to know of thanks to social media. I wish for all women to find something magic to admire in everyone, plus the confidence to turn that gaze inward and see their own beauty, strangeness, and worth.

 

Father's Day 2015

Dear Dad:

It seems like the older I get, the more grateful I am for your influence, wisdom, and positivity...as you predicted often when I was growing up, to my fervent disbelief. Your devotion and love for my mom, my brother, and me is unmatched as my most influential example of stability, comfort, and family. You are never short on time, love, advice, or a moving truck when I need it. 

One thing I’ve never been is shy about sharing what I think. On Father’s Day this year, I want to share some particular points of gratitude from my singular experience as your daughter. There is so much more than I could ever say here, but here is a starting point.

  • Thank you for loving my mom.
  • Thanks for making time to pursue your own interests—acting, flying, as well as the adventure of starting and managing a business.
  • Thank you for taking me on so many trips when I was growing up. I know it was hard sometimes to travel with two kids, but those experiences helped instill a respect for other cultures and curiousness about the world that still serves me today.
  • Thanks for never teasing me, embarrassing me, or shaming me as I was growing up. ...Those years are hard enough.
  • I’m lucky to have grown up with your example of community service. Your selfless commitment to mentoring and volunteering showed me the importance of making time for other people and other causes.
  • Thanks for sending me flowers at school.
  • Sorry about that party next door.
  • NOT sorry about the pink hair and goth phase. I looked cool!!!!!
  • Thanks for not yelling at me.
  • Sorry about algebra.
  • Sorry about the car. The “cars,” actually.
  • In fact, sorry about everything that happened between 1999-2005.
  • Thanks for getting into UFOs and ghost stuff with me. Remember when we read a section from that paranormal mysteries book every night? Thanks for letting me read whatever I wanted (and dealing with the nightmares later).
  • You were wrong about at least one thing—good things often happen after midnight.

Seeing your patience,  joy, and fascination with your granddaughter renews my fond memories of my own childhood. I feel like I get to see you as a young father all over again when you push her on the swing until she’s had enough, when you play five games of bingo in a row as she reads the number on every marker in the box, when you painstakingly cut her food into little pieces and refill her water. When you read to her for three hours before bed—no matter how many times I say “just one more book.” You grew up to be so many things—a programmer, an entrepreneur, a loving husband, a leader, a mediator, a listener, a problem solver, an adventurer. But most importantly to me, you became a dad. I think it was smart of you to do that.

I hope you always know how grateful I am for your comfort, support, and love. I made it to adulthood! Look how far I’ve come! Did you ever think it would happen? Thanks, dad!

xx
Meg

A Bouquet Inspired by Dusty Jewel Tones

About a month ago I was contacted by a bride to create a bouquet inspired by a muted, pretty palette of rich colors. I loved the combination and was excited to take on another bridal client, which led me to finish the bouquet (plus a few bonus boutonnieres) within a few weeks. It was nice to be working on flowers again, and I followed my whim and inspiration to do things a little bit differently this time. Each flower and leaf is much more highly embellished than work I have done in the past, and I created more types of flowers (many of them found in my book, Fabric Blooms) to arrange into the bouquet.

One thing unique about the felt flower bouquets I originally designed and have been creating for nearly 8 years now is that they are arranged with thick-gauge wire very tightly before I give them to the client. This allows the bride to "fluff" the bouquet out before her wedding day and expand the volume of the bouquet significantly. So for now, it looks kind of small, but the bride can customize the fullness by gently pulling the stems apart. These hand-embroidered fabric flower bouquets are created to last for generations with proper care and storage, and the resilient structure of the bouquet itself is a huge part of that.

It was definitely a freeing and exciting exercise in creating something beautiful not just for the client, but something that I was proud to have designed. Something I was truly able to have fun with. I look forward to seeing photos from the bride (especially with her beautiful coral-colored shoes!) next month. Congratulations to her and her future husband, and thanks to them for the opportunity to have a little fun.

xx

Embroidered Things for Rebecca

Lately I've been embroidering really small things--portraits, simple objects, flowers, but much more detailed things, and all at about three inches square. I made these three pictures and framed them for my friend Rebecca Forsyth on her birthday today.

Rebecca and I first met in 2010 when we started collaborating on my hair and makeup looks for my collection shows at Omaha Fashion Week. She's now our beauty director at Hello Holiday, plus-sized model, and of course personal hairdresser. She's become widely known as one of the most inspired, passionate, educated, and qualified colorists in the region. Hair is her calling, and I am privileged to count her among the people I surround myself with who exude authentic joy for what they do. Apart from her career accomplishments, her joie de vivre, confidence, and appreciation for all female beauty has become an important source of encouragement and influence for thousands of women who follow her life via social media.

I feel like the luckiest one of all to count her as a real friend, true confidant, and partner in this journey of our lives. If you know her, you know what I mean. Love you, Bex. <3