the importance of stepping back

In design school, we had this thing.

We would work for hours on our creations. Whether it was an oil painting, or a new design for that latest assignment with a looming deadline.

(Side note: Oh to go back to the days in college when my greatest concern was looming deadlines. And roommates with dirty dishes in the sink. And weekends at the beach. Sigh. Swoon. Poor circa 2001 me.)

As students who were passionate about their work and ‘pushing the envelope’, we would in turn, push ourselves to the brink. (Or at least what we considered to be the brink well before children) You see, we didn’t have finals (like other students in ‘serious’ majors) but we had gigantic projects with crazy demands that sucked us into a black hole of a time warp that often resulted in much commiseration with our fellow comrades. (To each his own, but I’d totally rather have some huge project to complete with five sculptures, an oil painting and a design portfolio than pig brains to dissect, am I right? Science. Hard… Digression.)

We would get so caught up in our work and what we were doing at the moment and we would focus so intently on that one thing, sometimes we would even forget to do simple things like eat. Or sleep. In a quest for finding that perfect solution for the problem at hand… It was so important in that moment.

I would obsess over a painting and work so hard in a certain area that I would sometimes forget. We had to remind each other.


Sometimes, stepping back…

Taking a broader, sweeping, all encompassing look. Sometimes stepping away completely…

Is absolutely the best thing you can do in the moment.

Last week, we did just that.


Our trip was kicked off by an inspiring family. (Does this beautiful home look familiar?) The Nester has a true gift for hospitality. For those of you who do not know this special gal in real life, visiting her home felt just like visiting her blog. Except I was able to sit on her sofa with their black Lab and ogle over her awesome new oven in real life. (Be jellies.) Her family graciously entertained. You’d think they had absolutely nothing better to do, than sit and talk (and take in their glorious new home in an awesome tour – that place is a canvas and I am practically beside myself with all the possibilities + their talent) on a storybook-worthy Sunday afternoon.

We walked away with a refreshing visit, and most importantly? The gracious gift of time.

It’s something that sometimes I struggle with feeling like we’re forever short on…


And then I realize that there are always the same amount of hours in each day.

Maybe it’s the way I’m looking at things.

My viewfinder, my internal clock and my never ending list need a serious readjustment.


Next stop: Charleston. A beautiful city where time stands still in a charming testimony to the people before us, and the things that remain.


A true feast for the tired, inspiration-starved overworked soul.

Unexpected pops of blue, gloriously creaky old floors, and the simple little glinting treats of beautiful brass door knobs from a cobblestone street. All of them, a gentle reminder.


I was drooling over doorbells, y’all.


History can haunt you in a way that nothing else can. I jarringly gentle push to appreciate everything around you, and the stories they have to tell. The legacies they leave behind.


Sometimes our views are fixated on something so small, and we get so caught up staring at that canvas. We run the risk of overworking our current ‘works of art’ because we think we can just push through it. If we don’t walk away for a while, we’re dangerously close to over-saturating, smudging and outright ruining something that’s actually beautiful just the way that it is.

Someone told me just last night, that it’s okay to be tired. And I realized I’ve been denying myself that.

Once you smudge that canvas, there is no command Z.

{That’s design nerd talk for undo.}

charleston_architecture3 charleston_fire_department charleston_gardens church_door coastline cobblestone_streets gate grave graves lion_door_knockerchurch_doors old_house_charleston

No. Rando getaways to beautiful cities like Charleston sans the kiddos are not always realistic. But it was a refreshing reminder for the first time in probably well over two years, that sometimes you need to stop and step away.

To breathe.

To soak it up.

And maybe I should readjust my view so I can come back as a better mother, artist, wife and friend.

Stepping back. From whatever it is at the moment.

Even if it’s just the occasional, all-essential drive to Starbucks. ;} It’s kind of important.

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Responses to the importance of stepping back

  1. Kara says:

    I love this! And the photography is just brilliant. Thank you for this reminder today :)

  2. I’ve never been there but now I want to go!!

    I know exactly how you feel… I was an art major and what we thought was tough at the time seems easy now with work, kids, house, bills, etc. I like to take a step back when working on home projects to focus on all that I’ve accomplished instead of always focusing on the To Do list.

    Have a great weekend!

  3. Alexis says:

    I love this, too. It’s so important to remember that. Oh to visit charleston! So glad you had a great time.

  4. Jenna says:

    I completely get it. Oh to return to college! I couldn’t agree more with stepping back. It’s such a good thing. Props to you for your honesty!

  5. Laura G. says:

    I fell in LOVE with Charleston when we went last year for the first time! We are going back this month & I can’t wait. It is so beautiful there. And I need exactly what you are talking about…for sure. I think all mamas do! Thank you for sharing!

  6. Elizabeth S says:

    “Someone told me just last night, that it’s okay to be tired. And I realized I’ve been denying myself that.” – I sooooo needed this word today! 3 littles 4 and under (with one who thinks she needs her mama every 45 minutes at night {NOT kidding}) and a home business … it’s so easy for me to spiral down into a vat of self pity/tears/hopelessness just because I refuse to admit that I’m TIRED. So, so tired.
    I’m not sure what I’m going to do after I admit I’m tired, but at least it will be a starting point!

    Thanks so much! <3

  7. Summer Hogan says:

    Wow, what a great reminder and your photos are amazing. Charleston is my favorite place in the world and it does make you stop and reflect. I feel like I am always behind and never able to check enough things off my list but it’s okay. I especially realized this after the Allume conference this weekend (after meeting The Nester, yay!). Thank you for this refreshing post. I love you blog, your style and your adorable family!


    • You’re so sweet, Summer! We were going to go to Allume and had to cancel about a month before hand because of something that came up. But I hope it was a blast! That Nester is a blessing of calm sanity in a crazy world. ;}

  8. Your photos of Charleston make my heart swell of memories. They make me long for simpler times. Isn’t it ridiculous the pressure we put ourselves under for the silliest of things? Nothing like a small vacation to put things into perspective. So glad you could do it!

  9. I’ve been to South Carolina but never to Charleston…now I want to go!

  10. Sarah Bonn says:

    Are those the doors to St. John’s Lutheran? And its graveyard?

    • It might be, Sarah! ;} I am awful but I think so! ;} It was gorgeous! ;}

      • Sarah Bonn says:

        You may note my last name, it’s actually a shortened version for internet safety since it’s so rare. My husband’s family has belonged to that church since its start and we were married there. Now we’re more than 1000 miles away and he’s quite homesick. I’ll have to show him this!

  11. Sarah says:

    Are you still in CHS? We moved here a year or so ago, and love it. I’m glad you love it! It is an incredible place to visit! The architecture and design is something special, but the food … Oh, the food!

  12. Kathy says:

    Your blog is very inspiring, and most of all…it exudes sincerity and “real”. Thank you for bearing your projects and heart felt ideas. We are all the benficiaries!
    It was meant to be for me to see the Charleston pics today. Hubby proposed taking a trip to Charleston over Thanksgiving week. (I’m on vacation that week) Possible home projects danced in my head…but you reminded me to take time out for renewal. Charleston, here we come! :)

  13. Heather says:

    Thank you for the beautiful photos! Makes me homesick for my hometown!

  14. Mindy says:

    Stepping back gives a different view, a new perspective doesn’t it? Great pictures!

  15. tara says:

    so good to step back and breathe.
    grateful for your time away…it’s essential for us.

  16. gloria says:

    Right on. A weekend in Charleston is nourishing broth for all that ails. Loved your quote about history being a gentle reminder of legacy and the story everything tells.

  17. You’re making me MISS Charleston! Gorgeous shots, lady. And I love the sentiment. AND I LOVE THAT YOU VISITED NESTER!
    Have a layed-back week, even if you have to pretend it at times.

  18. Aubrey says:

    Thank you! This is just what I needed today. And that doorbell that says “press”? I love it!

  19. BethJones says:

    I came to your blog via NestingPlace. So glad that I did. I love your writing, and your photography. I am in desperate need of “stepping back” and your post was just what I needed to remind me of that. Thank you. (Oh, and that little photo of the number “22 1/2″….? Brought tears to my eyes. My husband and I began our married life in that wonderful little carriage house tucked away in the garden on Church Street. We spent the first three years of our marriage living there. Your photos bring back sweet memories!)