Pardon my French, but what the hell happened this year? It was a total blur, and a difficult one at that. But it's safe to say that this was another year of firsts. Now that I think of it, I'm starting to believe that if you ever find yourself in a year not dominated by "firsts" you might be doing something wrong... I don't necessarily put much stock in silly resolutions, but I do believe in reflection and gratitude. In 2013...
...I'm thankful for baby steps. I sold my car at the ripe old age of 5. She was a good friend for many public-transportation-deprived years. I bought my first home. I moved. Again. I bought my first major piece of furniture (and second and third and so forth). I painted because I can (yeah home ownership!) Mundane in many respects, but to me even the baby steps can be milestones...
...I'm thankful for my friends.Moving back to New York was scary. Really scary, even in my late 20s. Admittedly, I cried a lot the first month or so. Reality is a little hard to stomach when you have the flu and are sleeping on an air mattress in a new place and your plates and cups and medicine and books are all still in boxes. I never felt so alone as I did that first week here, but as I started to feel (physically) better, I snapped out of the doom and gloom. Luckily, my true friends were there for me with soup and elbow grease, encouraging text messages and emails... and even custom matchbooks.
Without my asking and without their knowing it, old and new friends continue to step in and make this experience so much more positive. While the daily post-work exhaustion and NYC's delivery-heavy lifestyle makes staying in far too tempting, any little social surprise (throwing casual dinner parties, snagging a drink, a city-wide adventure, a wedding) helps to keep me out of my introverted shell. Thank God for friends who know me well enough to be insistant. They help me feel like I really live here. Affirmation: I am a New Yorker. I'm where I belong (at least for now.)
...I'm thankful for challenges and the people who delegate them. In freelance world, I took on a lot of extracurricular design work for perma-clients Loren Hope, and (coming in 2014) Society Social. It goes without saying that Loren and Roxy very talented and driven women, so I was a little nervous when they put their trust (and their businesses) in my hands. Similarly, when my boss told me I would start working on bigger projects and directing photo shoots, I was completely petrified. But as we say at work, "well begun is half-done." Every project has a first step. These people believed in me even when I didn't really trust myself, and they continue to help me grow. (If you are a boss or a team leader, give those opportunities to others and see what they can come up with!) Every new project is a lesson.
...I'm thankful for teams. This year, I art directed my first video and photography shoot for Chaps and Kohls, I art directed my first Ralph Lauren Home shoot for Bloomingdale's... and my second and third, as well as a few shoots for Polo thrown in for good measure. But I definitely don't do it alone. I've made a new friends and connections from all walks of New York life—stylists, photographers, web developers, set-builders, videographers, models, editors, etc.. We ask each other a lot of questions. We listen to each other. We teach each other new tricks and tips. We share a lot of laughs, a few (okay—many) stressful moments, but we're a team, and the team aspect is a huge reason I went for my job in the first place. Surround yourself with people who do things. It's truly the best way to learn.
...I'm thankful for side projects. The Print Shop started as a little teeny, tiny thing last year, and now it's grown into something much bigger, especially over this past holiday season. I love seeing Instagrams of my prints, phone cases, etc. in people's homes and lives. For every Pin, purchase, feature, and/or word of encouragement about said prints, I sincerely thank you.
...I'm thankful for you! Arguably, I've been a bad blogger this year... or at least an atypical one. I think it's really cool to see the readership grow over the years, but things are plateauing a little bit and that's kind of on purpose.
As I've said before, Note to Self started as a surrogate creative outlet in a not-so-creative time in my life. Now, four years later, the scales have really shifted in the opposite direction and my energy seems to be directed almost exclusively elsewhere. It would be quite easy to start selling my blog posts or my Instagrams or my Pins to sponsors or marketing companies (yes, that is a thing). I've said "no" to a lot of proposals, a lot of events, and a lot of freebies. (Hello, I work in digital marketing for a Fortune 500 company, so believe me when I say that I have no interest in letting my personal outlet become an advertisement as well.) Keeping it "clean" enables this to remain the happy, personal space I've always intended it to be. It allows me to write posts like this, and continue to connect with creative people. I find it important to stick to this conviction...
And so, despite less time/energy for blogging in the day-to-day and complete and total disinterest in the "profesh blogging" route, this is it: Minimalist Note to Self. I'm accepting the shift, and I'm truly thankful you seem to be, too. But I do hope you know that if have a question or just want to say hi, always feel free to shoot me a tweet, a Facebook message, or an email (notetoself[dot]sarah[at]gmail[dot]com). My New Years resolution is simple: Start answering email. Ha!
Cheers, my friends! To health and happiness and more big moves in 2014. Happy New Year!