Hallmark holiday or not, Valentine’s day represents the season of passion, sharing and expressing your love to those you love. Well, if it isn’t obvious already, James and I love what we do as designers. We’re also extremely intentional when it comes to exploring our interests and hobbies.

In a world filled with soooooooo much noise and abundant superficial connections, it’s easy to have our time sucked up by things that are not really all that interesting to us. When that happens we stop growing, life becomes dull and passive. We know that’s not how you roll.

For Valentine’s day we want to hit you with an inspiration arrow by sharing our personal passion projects. We also want to challenge you to intentionally explore what fires you up.

Creative Being Women's Retreat.

Creative Being Women’s Retreat

From Laurel:

After half a year dedicated to a 200-hour yoga teacher training, it was hard not to implement my learnings into a concrete program. Aside from teaching students at Moving Mountains Yoga during the wee-hours of the morning and maintaining my own practice at home, I wanted to share the freedom of creativity that yoga has given me with others.

While I was digging in on anatomy and yoga pedagogy, my good friend, Colleen Kradel (of Be Well), was diving in with Brene Brown’s Daring Way training. We’re the original running duo, so whenever we were together for a run, we spent time catching up on each other’s training programs. Neither of us really expected to see so much overlap, but it was geeky-cool to see the correlations between our two unique programs.

Fast forward to the end of each of our trainings, and we found ourselves trying to figure out how to take what we learned and share it in a meaningful way. How can we share the same sense of immersion and rejuvenation that we received each time we went off for a training day? A retreat!

One of the misconceptions about yoga is that it’s simply a physical practice: poses, breathing, meditation and done … but it’s really a guiding system for enriched living—on and off the mat.

Yoga not only helps with the inner insight we have towards ourselves, but also our outward sight, and truly defining what possibilities you’re creating in your life. For example, mine is the possibility of creative expression (insert the “you know you’re a designer/artist/creative-type when” lines here). Though it seems obvious, it wasn’t something I was fully aligned or in-tune with in my day-to-day. And, now that I am, it’s not only a guiding light for how I plan and set goals for myself, but it’s also a tool and flame that I want to share to inspire others.

Yoga + Design

The design and branding process is a lot like a yoga practice. To achieve meaningful creative solutions requires being open to discovering the many “coulds” that are right for each client’s unique problem. A meaningful yoga practice requires each of us to be open to what is right for our needs

It shows up in my yoga classes, as I encourage students to free themselves from the “shoulds” of yoga — “this pose should look like what I saw on Instagram or that super-flexy person in the room” or “this is yoga, I should be able to touch my toes” or “meditation should be long and I shouldn’t have any thoughts during it” — and help them open up and explore variations of a pose that feel good and offer a reflection of their experience in it.

In a conference room during a facilitated workshop, creative expression shows up as a similar encouragement … less shoulds, more unbound possibilities and explorations of coulds to create Meaningful Moments of Connection.

What’s ahead?

Well, first off, the Retreat! We still have room for a few more at our inaugural Creative Being, and we’re developing a wonderful retreat for all women to refresh at the start of the Spring season.

Plus, we’re looking at other ways Creative Being can come to life to make a larger local impact and expand to touch more people and communities. I’m continuing to teach yoga (and if you know me, I also have a passion for teaching), as well as continuing my studies at home. I’m excited for how my pursuit of this has evolved over the last couple of years and really come to life recently, and eager to see how it plays out in the future.

George Washington loved Madeira from a story on Wine Like an American

Wine like an American

From James

I’m motivated by a deep love of two things … nature + people. As a designer, I especially love exploring the stories that are created when those two things intersect.

I imagine that’s why I’ve always been drawn to branding and interpretive projects … and definitely one of the reasons I fell in love with wine … it doesn’t hurt that it’s delisious.

It may be fermented grapes, but that juice is the history of human culture. It’s been with us for the last 8000ish years and it’s one of the biggest reasons we decided to put down roots and build villages and give up our wandering ways.

Wine’s humanity-scaled impact is even more profound on the human to human level. I mean … how many corks have you pulled with friends and loved ones in celebration of a special moment — or a Friday night?

I have an Italian friend who’s family—like many Italian families—makes their own wine. Each year a little wine from the previous year is mixed in with the new. This has been going on for generations. When he shared a taste with me, we were drinking a tiny bit of wine that his Grandad and Dad made. There is some very special magic in that experience.

It literally is time in a bottle.

People + Purpose = History.

I was pretty fortunate to fall in love with history as a kid … not with the dates, but with the people who lived it.

Thanks to my Dad and a few great teachers, I developed a serious case of empathy for those folks who came before. That empathy is one of the reasons I’ve been able to help my customers connect and inspire others as a designer.

When my serious wine exploration began four years ago, it was an accidental diversion from my typical business reading or presidential biographies. By this time last year, it had escalated into a full-on obsession.

When our friends would visit, they’d be subjected to everything I was learning. Seeing how much fun they were having with the stories and their enthusiastic encouragement (although … maybe they just liked drinking my wine) they gave back to me was the little push my entrepreneurial spirit needed to take the next step and launch Wine Like an American.

Where’s it going

Wine Like an American helps folks celebrate and connect to the passionate people, amazing places, tasty wines, and interesting stories that make wine in American great .. and to have a little a little fun while doing it.

Right now, it’s just me doing what I love and sharing what inspires me. Last week at an event in Virginia I had the unique experience of meeting one of my wine heroes as well as being welcomed into “the trade”.

An added perk is that I get to be my own client for a change.

When Can I get that? Is today too soon …. Do you think the logo should be bigger … What’s with the white space?

Oh yeah … I know all the lines.

Adding more to add more.

We know that you have just as many—or even more—things taking up time and energy in your lives. Anyone who knows Laurel and I, knows that we have one or two … or 10 … things in the works all the time … we get it!

While it may seem counter-intuitive to add more to your plate, finding hobbies that you love outside of your main gig can actually recharge your creativity and even give you more energy.

A good passion project will grow out of the hobbies and interests that fuel you up.

The secret … When you start saying YES to spending more time on the important things you love doing—for me that’s telling stories and using design to make a positive impact and inspire joy—you’ll find you naturally start to say NO to the things that don’t matter as much.

But … what happens when the downtime distraction becomes a daytime todo?

To be successful requires a plan and a purpose, but that does not mean that the play should end. Passion projects are all about what YOU want to put into the world.

If your hobby grows into a business, make a plan and build a brand that infuses all the reasons you fell in love with that thing into your vision.

They say If you build it they will come … but we say only if you build it with passion … and a plan.

So … What’s your passion?

What are the things you just can’t stop thinking about?

What gives you energy?

Would you do it even if you didn’t get paid?

We know that your days—like ours—can’t always be filled actively exploring what lights you up, so how are you making time to fuel that flame?

If you saw Laurel’s holiday tips post, a couple of tools from there might help you make space for a passion project in your life. Start small. Make an appointment with yourself to spend ten minutes everyday day drawing, writing, reading, running, fill-in-the-blank … just find a few minutes to do something you LOVE to do.

Little-by-little add to that … maybe it becomes 30 minutes 2-3 times a week, perhaps more.

Nurture that inner-flame. It’s not only good for you, but it’s a great way to connect with others too.