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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I’m running my 6th half-marathon this Saturday.
(One of my future CGP brides pointed out that means I’ll have basically run 3 marathons; I’m not arguing that logic.)

Training this go-round has not gone well.

A busier-than-expected summer meant less available time to train, despite my recurring 5am wake-up calls. The miserable humidity was like breathing through a wet comforter, the undercurrent of stale heat causing my skin to sting. There were times after only 4-5 miles my muscles would shake and cramp so violently I was scared I couldn’t make it back. I’ve been attacked by bugs the size of kittens; there is a whole other dimension of disgusting when you blend deet and sweat, and I hope you all never have to experience it.

For the Type A, perfectionist, goal-oriented gal that I am, it’s been all too disheartening. The words “What’s the point?” glaring in the distance like a neon sign on a sad street corner.

Couple that with a summer full of business and personal screw-ups, “yes’s” that should’ve been “no’s,” things I had gotten excited about falling through, and LOTS of learning things the hard way, the Doubt Monster has been closing in on what confidence I had left. As his shadow grew bigger over my shoulder, I found myself feeling exhausted. Heavy. Irritable but ironically apathetic. His presence made me feel like I’ve been kidding myself all along; and worse, that maybe I fooled a few of you into believing I live in this magical rainbow-and-margarita-filled bubble of fortitude and goal-crushing.

Truth: I live in a small, messy-ish condo with paper and LaCroix cans scattered across my non-Instagram worthy desk; and any day I wash/fold/put-away laundry in the same day I feel like I deserve a freakin gold medal (can’t resist a timely Olympic reference).

I decided to get in one last conditioning 5-miler over the bridge this morning; at 5:30am, the weather was already 88 degrees with a 92% humidity. Remembering I’ll be in dreamy West Coast Canadian weather in a couple of days, I schlepped my groggy behind into the morning darkness to gruel it out.

Having my usual disparaging run over the bridge, I made the loop and headed back towards the bridge to go up and over the final time of the route. You see, the bridge is not an even bell-curve on both sides: on the way over the first half, it’s a long and slow incline with a sharp, steep drop on the way down. And – you guessed it – on the return half, it’s a beast of vertical hell to get back up. In the 10 months of running this route, even on my best runs, I’ve always had to stop or slow WAY down to climb it.

The Hill - Harbour Affair

(previously captured iPhone shot of the bridge for reference)

Approaching the bridge, I prepared for the usual gut-wrenches and shortened breath. I took a few more strides and then a few more; I suddenly realized I didn’t feel the need to slow down. As my music swirled between my ears, my breathing instead caught a fluid rhythm. Then, a weird pushing sensation, followed by a bizarre sense of weightlessness and surmounting momentum that stemmed from my gut. It’s like that feeling that you think you’re way behind and you look up to see you’re actually in the lead with the finish line finally within sight.

I was racing the ghosts of all my previous doubts.

I pushed and climbed and bellowed a throaty AAAGGGHH! all the way to the top.

The hill had been conquered.

And I got a lot of help from the graces I’ve always held from within, a little chorus of cheers echoing in that space between my head and heart.

And what lay before me was the long downhill stretch sending me into the final mile-and-a-half of the run, a light breeze quickly picking up off the marsh. With force of energy I had channelled from the uphill, I unleashed it on the way down. I flew. I expanded. I smiled and wailed in girlish delight like there was cake at the bottom of the hill.

For a brief moment, I had outrun my demons.

The Doubt Monster’s shadow grew smaller, right as the sun peaked through the cloudy morning sky.

In my hazy, sweaty cool-down walk through the condo parking lot, the neon sign’s words had changed to “patience,” “trust,” and the word that got lost in the shuffle of the last few months, “joy.”

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The Doubt Monster; the Comparison Beast; the Voices of Reason, Caution, and Self-Degradation; the Furry of Fear; the Anxious Spirits and Gremlins of Apathy.

They’re all real. And loud. And scary. And will never be truly be vanquished. There is no emotional Ghost Busters team that can trap them in little boxes.

But, oh, how you are armed with an internal Marry Poppins bag of tools to help you navigate the scary journey to you. And the only way to find them is to find the quiet.

Whether it’s on your yoga mat in a peaceful studio, getting lost in the details of a creative project, or dragging your behind up a steep hill, that’s where they show up. The forces and experiences that make us feel less than ourselves are there to help us discover – or in some cases, rediscover – the things to overcome them. The moments of where we give ourselves the permission to feel and breath into them is truly a connection with the divine.

These abilities, graces, and tools are not bestowed on a select few. Each of us are endowed with a unique set.

But some of us will have to work a little harder to find them and sustain them.
Which is why the Universe gave us wine.

From there, that’s where the real journey begins: Figuring out how to share them with the World, bringing them to life and creating waves of goodness and magic.

So take the hill, friends. Take it slow, take it sweaty and huffing the whole way. Life is not a flat, clear horizon.

But there is an exhilarating, breezy downhill sprint into the sunrise waiting for you at the top.

It’s worth it. And so are you, Friend.

Hugs & High Fives,

C

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Word of the Year: Joy

2016 started off differently than most of my other 30 years on this planet. Instead of living in anxious hope of what was to come, for the first time it felt like there was a whole year of space to grow and create versus simply reacting and learning from the universal forces that would be.

In recent years, there’s been a trend in the creative entrepreneur world to select your “word of the year.” It didn’t really make sense to me at first; but after realizing the influence of summing up your greatest desires and goals into one powerful word, I began to dig deeper. 2015 I gave it a whirl – I chose “Simplify.” I knew my candle had been burning at both ends for way too long. “Simplify” guided all my major actions and decisions. I said “no” to a lot of opportunities and people I knew would only make Life more scattered and chaotic. I readjusted my expectations – I didn’t need to prepare a decadently crafted dinner or meticulously folded laundry or spend hours editing photos to make sure the leaves of trees were the perfect shade of green (true story). I made space for the things that kept me balanced, like yoga and doggy walks and the occasional Netflix binge (“Friends” for the 4th time around). I did all these things without guilt and without fear of social judgement; it was tough in the moment, but I knew my heart and those closest in my life needed me to trim the unnecessary part of my life that kept me from being truly present.

Little did I know this overwhelming need to simplify would give me the opportunity to focus and be honest with my heart and my gut… and that it would create a space to let go. A space to look into and bravely ask for what I knew I wanted. A space that would hold the door to the next part of our journey, and I would’ve missed it entirely had I not cleared the emotional, mental, and literal clutter.

So when 2016 rolled around and we woke up in our little island condo with a clean slate of 365 days to write our next chapter, I came back to the thought of my Word of the Year. As John and I sopped up our New Years champagne hangovers with buttery, greasy diner goodness (and a gallon of coffee), the word leapt at me like a spider monkey.

Joy.

JOY!

A funny, three letter word that can really, honestly and truly, be felt in a special way. It’s different from “happy,” which to me can be more superficial or fleeting or giddy. “Joy” connotates more of an expression of fullness and gratitude, a stronger connection to the “true self.” It’s simple and honest.

For far too long I had bastardized every enjoyable facet of life into measurable goal or achievement or ulterior motive. Running had become a fixation of PR’s and time trials and distance goals. Photography was all about bringing in business and producing the highest quality, best lit, sharpest, most Instagram-worthy work. Yoga was about mastering the fullest expression of the poses. Meeting new people was a strategy for networking and creating contacts. I had forgotten how to actually enjoy anything. How to appreciate. How to let my heart smile in the small moments without having to read into everything. My world was dictated by lists and To Do’s, fear and anxiety, perfection and progress. I needed a desperate shift with my perspective.

Immediately putting “Joy” into practice, I began to see results slowly unfold and experiences began to feel more tangible and full. When I ran my first half-marathon of the year in February (my 6th one overall), I didn’t set a PR – but I felt strong and excited at the finish, not ready to puke my guts out and analyze every mile’s split time to see what I did “wrong.” When I’m taking a walk on the beach, I don’t force myself to listen to podcasts or the news each time to justify “being productive” – the waves and the heat of the sun recharge my mind and spirits, and I can be productive more where it counts. I’ve picked up my camera and gone on adventures with the hubs and the pup to capture photos and explore without project notes and deadlines and invoicing. I’ve traveled a lot for weddings and give myself extra time to take back roads to feel that freedom of the open road versus gridlock on the dull interstates. I let go of trying to teach a perfectly choreographed class at Pure Barre and choose to give good energy and encouragement so our clients feel strong and accomplished. I go to yoga and focus on my breathing and the delicious feel of my muscles expanding and releasing tension, leaving lighter and less anxious.

Maybe I don’t break a PR. Maybe my headstand still looks lopsided. Maybe I spend another 20min the car taking the “scenic route.” Maybe I plan my days with a little more “wiggle room” for a spontaneous trip to the ocean to catch the sunset and don’t fold the pile of laundry (for the 3rd day in a row). Maybe I don’t get a bagillion “Likes” on an Instagram post that’s not a perfectly styled or overly edited. Maybe I wait for the inspiration of writing to strike to create a post even when every social media demi-god will tell me to produce content-content-CONTENT no matter what.

But you know what?

I’m okay.

Rebuilding my business in a new market has been really challenging.

Trying to manage some health issues has been frustrating and defeating.

Creating relationships with new friends in our new home and maintaining previous ones has been tough and makes me feel like I can never do enough for others who have done so much for us.

Traveling nearly every weekend for weddings, events, photo commitments, family gatherings, etc., has been a lot of fun but also incredibly exhausting.

And it’s these little joy-filled moments that I collect and reflect upon that keep me thriving. And I owe it to my 2015 self to build on the work she did to simplify and prepare me for what’s ahead… and to finally experience the present for what it is.

Even if the present is taking your senior Chihuahua to the beach in his shark costume.

So tell me, friends – what’s your word for 2016?

Hugs & High Fives,

C


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Welcome to Harbour Affair

Imagine living your life plagued by ignoring your passions, disenchanted with the idea of pursuing your journey, and crippled by your inability to truly connect with people for fear of being disappointed or let down.

Imagine finding your life a constant game of bumper cars into: dead ends; people who discouraged you from becoming who you were; paths you felt you “should” be doing; actions that you knew in your gut were stupid or meaningless. A life driven by fear, need for approval, and paralyzing fear of the unknown.

Imagine, after nearly a decade of a roller coaster ride of self-discovery, you surrender your need to control, you let people into your inner ring of acceptance with a vulnerability and humor, and replace that twisted, yucky part of your soul with a big. deep. breath.

Imagine, you find yourself looking up to find your deepest desires of your being coming true – and you realize this is a small step into a new, exciting, terrifying, magical, crazy, and fantastically bewildering new chapter.

Imagine closing your eyes, coming back to that big breath… and when you exhale and open your eyes, you’re hand-in-hand with the one who lights up your heart to new possibilities. You’re surrounded by family & friends who’ve stood by you in your most exciting as well as most trying times. You’re armed with a fresh new perspective, a capacity for growth, and a sense of exploration and purpose. You’ve graduated from the $2.99 Trader Joe’s “Two Buck Chuck” to the $7.99 uppity grocery store wine. (It’s on sale, but no one else has to know.) You have no idea what lay ahead… and instead of fear, avoidance, and scared, angry thoughts, you open your weird, waffle-loving heart to that new world of possibility.

This is Harbour Affair.

She’s an extension of her “big sister,” the one who started it all: Breakfast at Target. She’s the new space on the internet to share new, magical gift of a chapter as John and I navigate the new waters of our new home on the Lowcountry coast. (Pun may or may not have been intended – the choice is yours, friend.)

She’s not a space necessarily for fashion or frills or how-to’s, but she is open to that exploration should this new chapter decide. She’ll continue to be the voice capturing thoughts and conversations and special times/places/moments; she’s just got a new saltwater spin.

And we’re excited you’re here.

To those of you joining for the first time, we welcome you – and thanks for joining in.

For those who’ve been with us since those early, bizarre Breakfast at Target posts of my early “20-something” youth, you deserve a special thank you for sticking with us.

Stay tuned, friends.

Stay tuned.

————

Hugs & High Fives,

C

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