How to Stay Motivated When You're In the "Messy Middle"
I’m reading a business book now called “The Messy Middle: Finding Your Way Through the Hardest & Most Crucial Part of any Bold Venture” & it speaks to exactly what I’m feeling - & perhaps you are too? Maybe you’re trying to turn a hobby or a passion into a business (me, blogging) or maybe you’re half-way to reaching a personal goal (renovating a house, writing a book, running a 10K) & you have to make it happen every day, whether there are cheering fans or in reality, probably just YOU trying to keep your dream going!
SO for inspiration, let me share with you some of the loveliest creative business women out there who have embraced the “messy middle” of their own paths & have GORGEOUS results to show for it. I promise they’ll make you smile & bring a little beauty to your everyday life if you let them!:)
The dreamy image above is a Nantucket poolhouse designed by my friend Melanie Gowen. I was introduced to Melanie several years ago when she was working in marketing at a startup & needed some career advice….so a coffee date got us brainstorming….
My latte was not even cold by the time I realized that Melanie NEEDED to jumpstart her dream of living on Nantucket year round & launch not one but two careers: interior design + real estate. And soon she did! As you can see in these photos, she is extremely talented at “property branding” & pulling together a look for absentee owners or hospitality (hotels, restaurants ie; the Lemon Press).
Her gift for finding little touches that create a unique sense of place is truly on point - from every finish to the hardware to the numbers…
Of course, living on Nantucket full-time sounds glam, but I know from talking to her in the off season that living on an island off the coast of New England is not for the faint-hearted — with power outages, huge snowstorms & inability to get to the mainland all a reality. But despite obstacles (including having to get her real estate license, navigating the labyrinth of historic building code on Nantucket), Melanie has persevered through her “messy middle” — her talent & mojo keep rising!
The next person who makes me think of pushing ahead is stylist & writer Donna Garlough. Donna wears many hats (& seems to do all of them very well): she is Style Director for Wayfair’s Joss & Main, a fairly new author (see book below), a mom & fellow cockapoo lover (which means that she really DOES have excellent taste:).
Her book, Your Home Your Style, is a great guide for people who need help pinpointing their decorating style & bringing it to life (which is, actually, everyone). Donna worked for Martha Stewart early in her career which explains in part her amazing knack for creating stylish scenes for corporate clients, publishing outlets & lucky friends/personal clients….
But it was only through meeting Donna in person & hearing her on several panels - at High Point Market (NC) & Design Influencers Conference in Atlanta - that I learned how “putting oneself out there” is a real challenge for her. She talked candidly to hundreds of attendees about her tips for stage fright & managing a public role when you are in fact a very private, introverted person. Not having that kind of courage could have kept her at a plateau, but she pushed through self-doubt to create some really wonderful work. I love that!
You can follow Donna on Insta - her IG stories are among my absolute favorite for their blend of wit, design sense & real family life!
Last but definitely not least is my friend Susan Brinson of House of Brinson, whom I met after attending the Alt Design Summit in Salt Lake City. Susan asked me for branding advice & I was looking for some blogging advice — soon we had a fun, Mutual Admiration Society!
As you can see in the image above of the Brinson’s incredible home bathroom makeover from last year’s One Room Challenge, Susan has a very strong & original point of view in design which makes it exciting to see how she pulls things together.
She & her husband William bought a gorgeous, falling down estate called “Stony Ford” in the Hudson NY area and have been renovating it themselves, documenting the trials & tribulations on their site and on Insta. You’ll find tons of tips for your own projects — & lots of openness about what things REALLY cost and how long they REALLY take…
Today, Susan is busy working with brands, creating an online shop (which is awesome) & developing premium content via a subscription service. She is always direct about the challenges of entrepreneurial life — but also full of joy when things “click” (pun intended: she & her husband are also professional photographers!).
I know that all three of these women have big creative ideas & limited time (& sometimes limited budgets and energy too!), so it gives me a little shot in the arm to think of how they kept goooooooooing even when they were in that “messy middle” phase. One of my goals for myself is to keep up the weekly posts, so please let me know if there are subjects you’d like me to focus on! I’ve gotten a few great ideas from readers already that I can’t wait to share but can ALWAYS use more.
In the meantime, enjoy adding these ladies’ social media feeds to yours so you can continue to bask in their creative inspiration — and don’t forget that we’re all in the Messy Middle together:)
Cheers & thx for reading!