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Friends of Harbour Affair (or “Breakfast at Target,” as it was until 2016) know that I ditched the New Years Resolutions for a “Word of the Year” a few years ago. It was uber trendy at the time, and I desperate for some means of accountability that wasn’t as exhaustingly ridiculous as resolutions I’d no doubt fail (again).

I’ve been fortunate since that time so many moons ago that I’ve never had to actively seek my “word” or come up with one that sounds “good enough.” RATHER, it blazes in with a furry and does so repeatedly, so loud and clanging that I can’t ignore it until I accept it. This year was no exception… although, for a time, I was scared it wasn’t going to present itself for me this go round (the irony of this explained below).

These simple words are time and time again so accurate for what I need in that space of my life and serve as important “guide” of sorts when the big stuff comes up (or the small stuff that just won’t go away, as it’s often been the case). It’s kind of like having the number or letter of the day on Sesame Street: You’re always on the lookout for it, and it shows up right when you get distracted to bring you back in the zone (also wish there were more Snuffleupaguses in real life, but I digress).

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  • In 2015, it was “Simplify“: Clean up the ‘messy’ parts of my life that keep me stuck and unable to enjoy life; focus on the MAIN things that I knew I was good at; let go of doing #allthethings; implement systems to streamline and get back time in my day; … and be okay with not having perfectly designed bells & whistles for everything I did.
  • In 2016, it was “Joy“: Get back to the “why” of what I was doing and find that effortless sense of enjoyment in the things that used to make me legitimately happy (instead of bastardizing it and making it into “work” to reach a “goal”): Photography, fitness, running, writing, traveling, connecting with others, etc. Let go of the need to “accomplish” and “crush it” – instead, just get out there and DO IT. And if it was too hard to enjoy, be okay with letting it go entirely.
  • In 2017, it was “Responsibility“: Make good on the promises and commitments I already had on my plate versus seeking or taking on new ones. Give them my full attention and be grateful I had gotten the opportunities I had asked for… and work to refine and hone my skill set. Also be okay here to let go of things that weren’t working anymore to better prepare for growth.
  • In 2018, it was “Space“: To create pockets of space in my calendar and workday to think, dream, and plan… shoot, to go to the beach for a walk with the pup or an impromptu coffee date with the friend, guilt-free. To clear the physical, mental, and emotional clutter and minimize the feeling of needing lots of things: lots of friends, lots of To Do’s, lots of appointments and meetings on my calendar, lots of different workouts, lots of emails, lots of work-travels, lots of things in my closet, etc… and keep working on streamlining, refining, and saying “NO” to things that weren’t a good fit.

And of all the words, 2018’s “Space” was the absolute hardest… and yet the strongest and most necessary in all my years of implementing the “WOY.” In a year where my business, personal life, and community position took such an unexpected and dramatic shift far faster than I planned (ahhh, Life, you win again!), I clung to this word with every fiber of my overly caffeinated being. Saying “No” and letting go wasn’t enough anymore; I had find help. More importantly, I had to accept it when it presented itself.

I had to establish boundaries and learn not to take on other people’s problems & emotional outpourings. I had to take responsibility for my own actions when I said “yes” to things I knew I shouldn’t have to suit my own ego. I had to stop blaming everyone else when I couldn’t single-handedly figure things out and got angsty and resentful and exhausted. I had to get into action, make a plan, and find people to hold me accountable. I had to go inward – a lot – to do serious soul-searching and turn off the constant chatter… I had to get really protective of my work and personal calendar and of who I surrounded myself with. I had to wade through more deep and necessary and scary and UGLY conversations with my husband, John, this past year than our 16 years together combined.

I had to quit accepting the idea that feeling overwhelmed and depressed and alone is what made me a “business owner” and is a rite of passage before I could allow myself to be happy.

And 2019’s word came raging in with confetti and cheer: Abundance.

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Every single one of my words over the years has had some element of seeking this “abundance,” but it wasn’t until now that it’s all made sense. Coming from the idea of being in an “Abundant Mindset,” it’s a concept I heard long ago – and very cosmically shows up in times I feel most scared and overwhelmed.

2015 is the year I made the choice to go full-time in soloprenuership after several years of working towards it. And in giving up the steady paycheck, the benefits, the boundaries & policies set forth from someone else, I found myself in a scarcity mindset without realizing it. I took on more clients and projects than I could handle (MANY of them who were NOT the right fit for me) for fear I’d lose out on money or opportunities that could be my “big break” and wind up broke and ruin our family’s financial integrity. I amassed a huge network for fear of not having friends and not being “known” in the community. I joined every group, board, and committee for fear I’d be seen as “lazy” or not involved enough. I overscheduled workouts and overly planned meals for fear I’d look sloppy and unhealthy and not “feel” or “look” my best for all my commitments. I didn’t speak up for my own worth for fear I’d piss off the wrong person and never get a gig again. I said yes to the small-fry opportunities thinking they’d “add up” to the big one I denied myself because I was scared I’d totally fail.

I stopped doing a lot of non-work related things that made me happy and fulfilled because they weren’t “important” or “money-makers” for my business or community status.

I bought crap I didn’t need to satisfy the ego’s “you gotta keep up” rationalization.

I said “yes” to a lot of work-travel opportunities to feed that ego with how “cool” and “important” I must be.

I didn’t allow myself to be happy and excited in the moments that were 100% meant for me for fear of waiting for the “other shoe to drop” and ruin it.

And we all know what happened.

After years of living in this scarcity mindset, I burned the hell out. Big time.

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And as the dust settled and the clarity returned, the excited, joyful, hopeful part of myself finally climbed above the ego. I felt like Dorothy in front of the Wizard:

I had everything I needed. And I had it all along.

I just needed to get into some crappy situations with the flying monkeys to realize it.

(And, okay, maybe I DID need a killer pair of shoes.)

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Glinda is one of the most highly underrated “guides” in pop culture, I think… MOVE OVER, Yoda & Rafiki.

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So, cheers to Abundance, “You.” To knowing Your ideal clients and work projects are out there, and they’re looking for You, too.

That You have “enough.” In fact, You have “more than enough.”

That money, hugs, coffee, Oreos, experiences, and the right people will flow to You if you let them.

That focus and clarity are not ‘achieved’ in pushing, doing, and taking on MORE… they’re found in moments you give 100% of Your time & attention to the things You know You’re ‘made’ for and find joy.

That Your gut, your friends, your family, the Universe, the Big Guy, etc., are really trying to help YOU out and want to see You succeed. That You’re truly built for something special and fantastic.

That ease, comfort, and stability are myths when You accept Your path… YET rest, quiet, and the occasional pause, sans-guilt or justification, are absolutely necessary to keep You going.

 That, well… it may not be pretty, but You’re going to get through it – and You don’t have to alone. So enjoy the rainbows and the friends, new and old, along the way.

I hope you all find you’ve got everything you need for 2019, too. And if not, I’ve got plenty to share.

Hugs & High Fives,
C

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2018 Christmas with no-makeup but full hearts (and stomachs). w/ @palmettojc & @capnbogey

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Harbour Affair Hilton Head Island South Carolina

A couple (okay maybe a few… maybe several…) weeks ago I popped on Instagram Live to share what’s-a-been-a-happenin’ in CGP/Harbour Affair Land in the last year. What was supposed to be a sub-10 minute update turned into a 20+ min hashing while friends popped on and off (Instagram Live is HARD, y’all!)… and I’m finally getting to the recap, in case you missed it… or the the thought of watching-Celia-for-freaking-20-min stressed you out (don’t worry, it would for me, too).

So here’s the recap… with only mild soliloquy.

Enjoy, folks.

2018: The Good, the Ehhhh, and the Fugly (with Bonus Game-Changers)

THE FUGLY

  • Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems: I was hit with a massive and very unexpected tax bill early in the year (problems of doing better than expected last year!), despite paying quarterly taxes and having set-aside cash to cover additional tax liability. My gear also experienced significant equipment issues, despite regular maintenance – it required major repairs or total replacements of a few pricey pieces. It nearly wiped out every dollar I had in my business. (Silver lining? Never went into debt or put anything on a credit card. But it was still REALLY tough.)
  • Hustle Blindness: Having experienced said cash-flow probs, I let the scarcity mindset and emotions dictate a few too many choices – and I said “Yes” to a few things I knew I shouldn’t, knowing FULL well I wasn’t the right person or it wasn’t the right time, and ended up regretting it too little too late. Lots of learnings here. (Biggest ones? Trust your gut. Be honest. Know it’s okay to WAIT. Stay focused, you blonde buffoon.)
  • Entrepreneurial Implosions: Having let fear, perfectionism, and wanting to do-all-the-things guide my choices, I spread myself insanely thin. While I prayed for a change in my business still using my skill set and clarity in that process, I didn’t know exactly what I was aiming at… so I shot at it ALL. More on that below.
  • The Burn Out: After months without replenishing the tank — super early mornings, late nights, caffeinating all day and not being able to ‘calm down’ without a giant glass of wine at night, harder workouts to ‘burn off’ the ‘bad stuff,’ going weeks without taking an actual day off, 10+ hour wedding days, etc. — my body was pleading for a change. Back in June, the bottom fell out. I ignored all the signs of exhaustion and anxiety and kept trudging forward, even when there was no real end in sight. One morning after waking up with a nagging pelvic pain (for the 4th day in a row), I barely made it through the end of a morning photo shoot before the pain completely took over. I called my doctor, holding back tears, and asked what to do – “Get to the ER.” Hours of painful poking and prodding later, I was told I had ovarian cysts, signs of endometriosis (to be confirmed later by my lady doctor), and had ultimately suffered a panic attack on top of it. Should John and I ever decide to have a family, our chances will be that much harder now. I felt beat up and sore and defeated the next two days after coming home from the hospital, knowing something had to give…

 

THE EHHHHHH

  • Delayed Travels: Within about a week of my ER visit, most inconveniently, John underwent unexpected emergency surgery for an eye-condition that he’d been dealing with for a while and had taken a gnarly turn for the worst. By the time we had gotten my business out of the hole, our personal finances were impacted with significant medical bills. Just as we were getting ready to pull the trigger on taking our belated honeymoon trip for our 6th anniversary, we had to make the decision to turn those funds towards more productive financing. So, we decided it would have to wait one more year. Again.
  • Hard Work Wasn’t Enough: Despite using every waking hour I had to get everything done and take on MORE, I just felt we weren’t accomplishing other financial goals we wanted to make; and it was my fault. I let myself ‘be’ small and ‘grateful’ for opportunities from ‘friends’ and ultimately these experiences left me drained without much to show for it. I undercut and over-delivered myself… and it not only brought me more non-‘dream’ clients, but it practically encouraged others to ask for their piece of the Harbour Affair pie at a reduced price.
  • The Comparison Beast: Because I found myself in the constant state of “do,” I didn’t leave time to grow, create, and put out the vibes I wanted TO catch my ‘dream’ clients. My website and social pages were a MESS, and I spent WAY too much time thinking I’ll never ‘get’ where ‘they’ are with my dumpster of an online presence.
  • Ready for a Change, but Not Sure What: Despite all the chaos of all-the-things, I knew I needed a change but wasn’t ready to leave the entrepreneurial space – although I was tempted more than I’d like to admit. I finally found a little space to breathe and get honest with myself – and a few opportunities that felt REALLY good to get involved with presented themselves. I started moving my skill set to a more grounded space, and it felt right as it blended several of my favorite things. Though it wasn’t easy – it required serious hustle and presented its own self-doubts and challenges… but it was exciting in the process.
  • Letting Go, Cutting My Losses: I tried really, REALLY hard to make a few things happen this year that just didn’t get traction – and painfully had to call them a loss and move on… to find a way to explain to people they just can’t work in this time and this space… and, maybe, not with me. A few features in my business, a few investments, a few community opportunities. While ultimately they did become ‘good’ things in weird ways after the fact, it was SO hard not seeing things through or learning that not all great ideas are going to be received well.
  • Letting Big Goals Fall to the Wayside: Similarly, I fell “short” (and y’all know there’s not much ‘short’ about me) on a few goals this year. The kind of goals that were “THIS is the YEAR!” kind of goals, and it kind of stinks I just didn’t get ‘there.’ Not to say they can’t happen this coming year… and not to say they didn’t at least get started… so, there’s that.

 

THE GOOD

  • It’s Biznazz Time: I hired a business coach, Brooke Olsen (thank you for the recommendation, Lauren Carnes!), and she set. me. STRAIGHT on pricing, dealing with clients, and off-loading or out-sourcing the things holding me back. She also put a real puff in my chest and gave me the confidence, tools, and support to stand a little taller and learn the value of “No” as I refined my business. She also was basically a therapist as I remember calling her in a panic and close to tears when got a project offer for something I felt I ‘had’ to take and honestly just couldn’t stomach saying yes to: “If you’re looking for permission to NOT do it, for what it’s worth, I’m giving it to you.” To feel free and empowered in my business for the first time in a LONG time was worth every penny I invested in her – and myself. I can’t recommend her enough.
  • Claiming My Space on the Interwebs: New website in the works and it’s becoming a serious labor of love… and I’m so glad patience is teaching me to love the process in this one. Y’all, Megan Martin is a whiz on the ‘puter machines (and another Lauren Carnes rec’!) – and she’s forever patient with my detailed list and bizarre requests. I’ve been working behind the scenes to add some serious Harbour Affair pieces to enhance the overall experience, and I almost feel like I’m about to birth a digital baby after months of progress and development. OH she will be beautiful, y’all.
  • Growing the Harbour Affair Team: Did y’all know YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO THIS BUSINESS THING ALONE? After getting super clear on my brand with Megan, re-organizing the nuts and bolts of my business with Brooke, and taking time to get back to a healthy place both personally and financially, I felt ready to onboard an assistant.
    • Ally was a “let’s be BFF’s on Instagram” kind of friend then a client and NOW is the beautiful magical fairy behind some of the day-to-day things with Harbour Affair, speaking the same love language of analytics and organization and FUN that make the next steps and goals feel solid and exciting. She’s patient with all my goings-on and quick to get the job done!
    • I also have the lovely Sabrina who I brought on last year to assist with my wedding editing workflow, and she’s helped SO MUCH in maintaining the look and consistency of my photography for my wedding clients while helping me stay on task and get hours back in my day.
    • I’d be remiss if I didn’t give endless love to my core 2nd shooters who put up with my obsessive detailing and loud-mouth during long and often CRAZY wedding days, making them fun and working their tails off: Alex Leaphart, Todd Barnett, and Kristen Brown.
  • Through Sickness & Health, Richer or Poorer: Friends, John and I were tested this year – both personally and as a team. Having to find the strength and joy we needed while both of us were feeling pretty craptastic and still be each other’s ‘person’ was hard and at times exhausting. We’ve been through enough to know we were going to make it through and not let one another wallow or fall on bad habits to do it, but it took a LOT of discussions and getting clear to not fall in that trap. It took getting clear on what it’s all for… it took a few conversations and deeper diving with the Big Guy. It took closing ourselves off from the fray for a while to spend a little more quality time together – and not feel guilty for it.
  • Let’s Talk About It: Y’all, I started seeing a therapist. And BOY I wish I had started sooner. I just started a couple of months ago (ironically my first session was the DAY they announced the evacuation for Hurricane Florence – talk about anxiety). We’re still working through the big feelings and emotional gunk of anxiety/depression/perfectionism, but it feels good to come to terms with my thoughts and emotions and get some guidance on how to work through them on the daily.
  • Shifting the Business Focus: This is the cornerstone of 2018. As much as I love weddings and portrait work (and don’t worry, I’m still holding a select space for that in my business next year), there were too many moments and signs and gut-feelings around other opportunities to take my business towards something different. I missed writing. I missed working with and in the community. I missed the chance to connect people with missions and businesses and events. I love creating and designing and using photos to tell the bigger story. I love getting to know those stories on a deeper level. I found a way to make it all work in a new way of content development and coaching others on how to use social media in their businesses…. and only did so with the constant support of clients, friends, and colleagues who made sure I succeeded. YOU GUYS I found my ‘dream’ clients and feel constantly inspired and excited to work with them… and the work feels GOOD.

 

BONUS!

  • Other Game-Changers and Survival Tools:
    • The Book ‘Essentialism‘: For any other people-pleasing, “yes” saying, over-achieving Type A-ers out there, this book is a MUST. I finished it in 3 days via audiobook, listening during every minute I had. I’m listening to it again. For those of you who aren’t into the whole book, there’s an abbreviated version on the Tim Ferriss podcast.
    • Ashlyn Writes “The Art of Efficiency” Course: While I feel I can’t review the whole thing entirely as I’ve only gotten through half the modules, I’m already employing fantastically practical business workflows that make my days and weeks feel less daunting. The course is closed for now but get on the list to see when Ashlyn does it again (she’s about to have a bay-bay so be patient!).
    • Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University: Yep, we’ve become those people. As a closet “I like being creative but preferably within defined parameters” person, I’m loving the easy to follow guides and the –permission– to say “no” to things that don’t fall in-line with our goals. With student loan debt and health care bills, making a choice to live in a highly-sought after area (even our little neighborhood comes with the ‘Hilton Head tax’), and the overwhelming feeling of ‘having to keep up’ with everyone else, we needed something to help us get back in control and feel empowered to accomplish our goals – and be okay with knowing it may take a little while, but we’re. gonna. DO IT.

 


So. Uh. YEAH.
There it is, folks.

With just over a month left in the year, I’ve decided I’m ready to let go. Roll with it. Do my best and feel accomplished with that. Feel okay to say “No.” Stop feeling guilty about not doing-all-the-things. Start smiling like an idiot if I do and remind myself what’s coming instead….

… and OH YES, friends, there is definitely more coming in 2019.

And I’ll enjoy it… after a freaking joy and merriment filled Christmas holiday season.

Hugs & High Fives,
C

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There are very few things in life like there is in choosing to bring home a pet.

Specifically a dog.

Specifically a dog that seems to be crossed with some kind of other creature.

Knowing that, in some way, they were gifted to you from the Universe – even in times they chew your favorite throw pillows or pee in your shoe (true stories).

And understanding, in deeper ways, their timing is often that of The Big Guy himself, although we don’t understand it until much, much later.

June 3rd, 2017, was a bad, bad day. It was the day that our then our little family pup, Sean Luca (aka, “Shark Luca”) passed away.

 

Sean Luca had been acting a little funny that day; for the six months prior he had been experiencing seizures and bouts of lethargy on account of liver problems, so he slowly became more and more ‘out-of-sorts.’ It was also the day John and I put in an offer on our very first house. After having spent all morning with him, we left for a late lunch picnic at the beach before meeting the realtor to make the offer. In that relatively short amount of time, Sean Luca decided it was time. We were so excited, feeling so close to getting our little unicorn of a new home – only to come back to find him curled up in a cozy little corner, looking so peaceful. He didn’t stir. He didn’t come to greet us. He was gone.

The devastation was exhausting for weeks. I was so upset I didn’t get to say goodbye. I was mad at myself, wondering why I hadn’t noticed the signs and if I had just ‘been there,’ I could’ve gotten him help. I was angry I had literally just told the realtor I couldn’t wait to bring Sean Luca “home” to enjoy the perfect sunny spot on the new porch we knew he’d love. I hated the Universe for not letting him come into this new chapter with us.

A couple of months later on the day when we finally closed on the house, I woke up excited and full of energy for the first time in a while. John and I decided to kick-off that exciting day with an early morning run on the beach. We got there right before sunrise and took off down the shoreline. It was super low-tide and the beach was wide and empty. As we approached our usual turn-around point on that sticky summer morning, we look over to the water’s edge. There was a shark splashing and swimming through the early morning waves, appearing to follow us for another several yards. Just as the sun crested the horizon and we hit our time to turn back, he made one more glorious frolic about the water, swimming back off into the ocean. I had never seen anything quite light it before. And I haven’t since. Somehow, I knew, SL was saying “It’s cool, mom” – no matter where we called “home,” he was always going to be around.

Sean Luca lived a long and well-loved 13 years. His big, bold personality made up for this little chubby Chihuahua body, and he was always curious and never afraid. He loved meeting new people and leisurely outdoor happy hours and weekend lunches with us. He lived with me through some big moments of my life since college and all the transitions it took getting here to Hilton Head. Sean Luca was a regular at my last full-time job in Columbia, SC, hanging out with me during my shift to greet new friends and give his opinion. He LOVED the beach when we moved to HHI and would bark like a maniac when I asked if he was ready to go, his enthusiasm only rivaled to the daily “Wanna go potty?!” dance parties (I secretly still want to get t-shirts with his face on it that say, “Live everyday like you’re about to go ‘outside’.”). He was my cuddle buddy when I fell into moments of anxiety and depression. He was my little furry FitBit who made sure I got up and took a walk every hour or two in my new #soloprenuer life. His favorite treat on the planet was, of all things, watermelon and carrots, although there was no way you were going to throw a yogurt cup away without him properly licking it clean. The only thing louder than his ‘tough guy’ barking was his old-man snoring, and I couldn’t sleep at night without hearing it. He brought joy to people when he took on his Shark persona – this stuff wrote itself, and admittedly, John and I loved planning new adventures for him.

He just fit.

And I was convinced there wasn’t going to be another to take his place.

Shark Luca Harbour Affair Can Bogey

 

Then, a few months later, being alone in a new house while I tried to balance my evolving role in the community and shape of my business, I decided to open myself up to maybe adopting another little fuzzy butt. We spent a couple of Saturday mornings going to area shelters and looking at adoption sites. We thought we wanted an adult dog – we didn’t have a yard and we didn’t want a rambunctious puppy sabotaging our new place, so we needed something a little more calm. We met some great dogs who were sweet and lots of fun, but nothing felt like that “fit” with Sean Luca. One rainy Sunday afternoon we went to visit the Hilton Head Humane Association. And there in the front lobby was this squishy little spotted pup, laying in the far corner of the pen on the floor. He seemed pretty out of it, even shy, and wanted nothing to do with the visitors who tried to pet him or get his attention. They called him “Chandler” – and it was fitting because all I could think was, “Could he BE anymore awkward?” The front desk lady encouraged me to get in the pen with him, even though we had watched several people get in there and he was 1000% disinterested. Also, I told her we were already interested in mature, adult dogs. I politely declined.

After striking out, again, with a handful of attempts to connect with a few dogs, we decided to leave and come back another time. The lady encouraged, again, for me to get in the pen with “Chandler.” I not-so-politely declined this time, but John said, “C’mon, why not.” I got in, sat on the opposite end of the pen on the floor and said, “Well, hey little man…” He perked up his sweet little face, puppy scooted low across the floor, and carefully crawled in my lap, burying his teeny little face in the crook of my arm. Then, soft puppy snoring. “S**t,” I whispered to John. “We’re going home with a puppy.

 

 

We brought him home the next day and promptly changed his name to Bogey. John and I both landed on the name independently, for different reasons but weirdly and quickly coming to agreement, and over the next few weeks, this scared, shy, docile pup blossomed into a smiley, happy, super-social little guy. Every day he started to feel more and more like a part of the family. Although, I was still feeling guilt and apprehension over losing Sean Luca only a few months back, wonderful if we made the right decision.

About a month after bringing Bogey home, I took him to the vet for his first check-up and next round of shots. The HH Humane Association had given me a packet of info to take the to vet when we adopted him. I had never really even looked at it until that day. We’re waiting in the check-up room for the vet-tech to see us, and I pull out his current records. Holding this squishy little doe-eyed pup in my lap, I look and see what they estimate to be Bogey’s birthdate: June 3rd, 2017.

It hit me like a bag of bricks, and a swell of tears gathered in my eyes. My arm-hairs stood on end… Sean Luca knew exactly what he was doing. And my friend said it best: “When you’re ready, they send you another one.” Sean Luca sent Bogey to us into this new chapter. His work was done. (And the vet-tech came in seeing me crying and laughing like a crazy person, saying, “Don’t worry, the shots aren’t going to hurt him that bad!” Oh if she only knew…)

I could never really bring myself to write a properly fitting post to say good-bye to Sean Luca, but as Bogey hits his first birthday on the day we still remember how our lives have changed so much in the last year, I suddenly feel at peace knowing his little sassy, brave, comforting presence is still around. Bogey opened up a whole new place in our hearts. They’re insanely different animals but both so perfectly “fit” our current stages of life. And I appreciate them both so much because of the other.

So, I’m not sure what Bogey’s story has in store, but I do know he’s got his tough-guy guardian shark angel keeping an eye on him. And on us.

 

 

But seriously, what would our worlds be like without ’em?

I’m grateful I’ll never really have to find out.

Hugs & High Fives,

C

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As many of you know, John and I just bought our first home at the end of the summer of ’17. It was the ‘unicorn’ of a home we had been searching for FOR MONTHS and the day we closed was one of the happiest of my life. We still have a LONG way to go in terms of making our little house a home, and I often let my mind wander to Pinterest boards and Instagram accounts with incredible interior design. Interior design is a art lost on me in many ways – but I am an avid appreciator, if anything.

I was recently privy to a chance at exploring the 2018 HGTV Smart Home which happens to be, of all places, in our ‘backyard’ of Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, SC. The HGTV Smart Home staff would be onsite to give us a tour and the designer, Tiffany Brooks of Chicago, was THE designer behind the gawk-worthy magic inside. The modern-meets-Southern-classic decor was perfect for the upscale yet unassuming Lowcountry setting.

But y’all… it was a little crazy just how ‘smart’ this home actually was, I MEAN REALLY. From the fridge with a built in espresso-maker to the Pelaton bike ready to ride in the master bathroom to the hidden virtual reality room to the voice activated rolling porch screen to the smart screen to access music and emails on the bathroom mirrors… and not ‘smart’ in terms of technology, but smart in the efficiency and use of the space with eco-friendly design that incorporated natural elements (the stunning plants were beautiful and the natural light was unreal!). But you guys… the thing that pretty much EVERYONE at the event couldn’t stop talking about was the freakin’ smart toilet in the master bathroom. YOU GUYS, it had a sensor that when it felt you coming in, it would gently lift the seat, turn on soft lighting around the basin, and THEN start playing a selection of music from your favorite playlist. You could literally tinkle the ivories and cover the sounds of, ahem, nature’s call (I immediately sent John the video after the tour and he’s like, “Seriously? Of all the things…”).

Okay, but seriously, my favorite part was the art throughout the house that sent my wanna-be-cool-creative-gal heart a’flutter. The gallery wall on the 2nd floor was absolute perfection, and I stared at it far longer and more awkwardly than I thought.

 

You guys, I can’t believe I’m sharing the secret (okay, I know it’s not exactly a secret, buuuut….)… you can win the HGTV Smart Home. I know! BUT WAIT, there’s more! You can also win $100,000 (generously provided by Quicken Loans®), all the furnishings and technology in the home (and maybe share an art piece – or 12 – with me when you win it), AND a 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e 4MATIC Plug-In Hybrid. I don’t even know exactly what kind of car that is, but I had a hard time typing it all out, so you KNOW it’s fancy! You can check out the link here to vote and do so twice a day; but you’d betta’ move fast because the contest closes at the end of the day on June 7th, 2018.

 

 

Thank you to the HGTV crew for the fabulous opportunity to experience such an impressive home – and thank you to Birdie James for helping style me for the event in such an exquisite Ripley Rader frock… because I’m also lost on the art on how to look like decent human being at these kinds of things. I may be no designer, but I do thoughtful style when I see it – and would love to have any of ya’s to make yourself at home in our little Lowcountry community. And let me use your bathroom after one too many champagnes at the Palmetto Bluff hotel.

 

 

Get crackin’, friends!

Hugs & High Fives,

C

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