The Shoulda, Coulda, Wouldas

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As human beings we are often programmed to live life in forward retrospect. While time is moving forward your mind keeps going back. I like to call this a case of the shoulda, coulda, wouldas. Often times this is brought on by menial daily things like ‘I shoulda said something to that mom who looked at my daughter a little crooked- she knows nothing about our life.” Or, “I coulda managed that employee differently.” Or, “If I woulda known she was a raging lunatic, I wouldn’t have invited her into my home for girl’s night.” Most of these things can be handled with an extra glass of wine, a more developed managerial plan, or a pass on the girl’s night in favor of staying in and eating takeout in bed.

But, when tragedy strikes the shoulda, coulda wouldas aren’t as easily solved.

You find yourself at a loss for words or even the ability intellectualize what has happened. Your brain is foggy for days or even weeks as you process emotions you didn’t know you were capable of. The shoulda, coulda, wouldas aren’t as concrete now as they were when it came to the mean moms or problem employee. The tragic shoulda, coulda, wouldas can suffocate you. Leave you feeling helpless and sometimes hopeless.

The recent passing of an icon, Kate Spade, had me in shock for days. Though I never met her, our lives were very much paralleled. We both had fashion businesses we built with our husbands. She started her business a few years before I did and I always looked to her as a beacon of hope. If she could do it, maybe I could too? Even though the first handbag factory I met with in Brooklyn rejected me by saying “I only make Kate Spade handbags” I never felt at odds with her- no not even in the slightest. I had this feeling that we were both just two women who believed in ourselves and wanted to live our dreams everyday.

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When the alert came through on my phone about Kate’s suicide it brought me to my knees. I was truly sad, as though I had lost a friend. To be honest, wasn’t Kate everyone’s friend? Even if you didn’t carry her products, there is no doubt the corners of your mouth turn upward when you see her brand. I poured myself into reading all the articles I could about her in an effort to find answers. The shoulda, coulda, wouldas crept into my mind – the illusive questions that we will never know because we are thinking of them in retrospect.

As I read more and more about her, I started to understand our similarities and how creativity, art and design fuels us. But, I also got to thinking about how draining living a creative life can be. You pour your heart into creating something people may or may not like or even worse into things that never come to life. And, in Kate and I’s case we are both under the pressure of running businesses tied to our creativity. The pervasive feeling of having to move on to the next thing to create something bigger and better feels like a hamster wheel of never feeling ‘done’ or ‘brilliant’ enough. It can be lonely and intoxicating all at the same time.

Should we have seen this coming? Could someone have helped? Would the help have made a difference? We will never know.

But what I do know is this. The retrospective shoulda, coulda, wouldas are healthy for a little while, and then they are debilitating. We cannot trap ourselves in the past in hopes of changing it.

We can shoulda, coulda, woulda to learn but not to live.

As my business has changed over the years I have caught myself ‘reminiscing’ in the shoulda, coulda, wouldas more than I should. I have let myself get bogged down with answers I’ll never know about scenarios that will never replay themselves. I’ve learned through a series of both fortunate and unfortunate events that life will keep moving without you. If you allow yourself to stay back with the shoulda, coulda, wouldas the life you eventually go back to has moved on without you. You have to show up everyday. You have to fight the good fight. You have to live with purpose- even when the shoulda, coulda, wouldas invade your psyche.

You SHOULDN’T fall backwards while trying to move forward. Think of what you COULD miss, WOULD you really want that? Because, it’s right here, right now, where we find each other, and with each other we have all we need.

Rest in peace Kate. I hope heaven is as colorful as the legacy you left behind.

XO, Elaine

Princess Leia, Hurricanes, and Tatas.

Have you ever had an out of body experience? Where you are pulsing with energy and your life just doesn’t feel real; almost as if you are hovering above yourself witnessing something too complex for the human mind to process? I have. In fact, it was so profound that it has taken me weeks to put pen to paper–errr, finger to keyboard.

I’m talking about Mardi Gras.

Yes, you read that right. Mardi Gras was a profound experience for me and DEFINITELY not one I expected. All I set out for was a girls weekend of guilt free debauchery, and I left with a pocket full of wisdom and a suitcase full of beads.

This was a girls weekend that was planned a year in advance- organized by one of my favorite girlfriends.  She has a joyful spirit and spontaneity about life that is infectious. Truth be told she’s one of my favorite people in the world because she makes me feel alive when I am around her. She lived in New Orleans for several years, and is the only person who could make my true Texan blood crave a N’awlins address.

From the minute we arrived, the city felt electric. You know that feeling in a stadium when the music starts blaring as the team runs out and it feels as if everyone in the stands is bouncing in excited unison? It was palpable.

The first thing the Uber driver said to us was, “I need to hurry and go see my son walk in tonight’s parade- I count down the days until Mardi Gras, it’s better than Christmas for our family. We live for it.”  He was smiling ear to ear and it brought an immediate feeling of joy to me to see this man revel in the Mardi Gras spirit. There was a sparkle in his eye that was full of truth- a sparkle I couldn’t quite forget.

As I sat back in the Uber, pulling out my phone to check work emails, I pondered do I take myself too seriously? Do I not have enough fun? There is a true importance in stopping to recognize that life should be celebrated and embraced- are we underestimating JOY? At that moment, I tucked my phone back into my bag and said f’ it. I’m here to experience life in a way I never have before- I wanted to see what that sparkle was about. I vowed to myself to let go of my phone so that I could have two free hands (well maybe just one free hand…one hand is for hurricanes) and a completely free spirit.

I know the Mardi Gras reputation can weigh heavily on overly gluttonous drunkards all parading down Bourbon street wreaking havoc on the city- but to be honest, I have never witnessed such authentic joy. People could walk down the street naked, at any size, with glitter pasties and be celebrated- not mocked. People of all shapes and sizes stand shoulder to shoulder in the name a of a good time. People from all different walks of life come together to celebrate more than just Mardi Gras- they come to celebrate freedom. Freedom to be whoever the hell you want to be, to let your true freak flag fly, and to find a little youth and rebellion at any age.

The spirit of the city was so intoxicating that I found myself totally comfortable dressed as Princess Leia throwing beads off a float. In fact when we got back to the hotel that night I almost crapped my pants when I looked in the mirror and remembered what I left the hotel wearing…I will say some of that is due to alcohol, but most of it is attributed to being in a place of acceptance of all absurdities.

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At the end of the trip, I had learned a huge lesson about acceptance. I even had to accept that I was now 5 lbs heavier and would have a headache for days- but I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. I saw the true beauty in humanity, I saw the fire that lit a spark in our drivers eye. Pulling back from all the negative connotations I had about the chaos of Mardi Gras, I was able to open my eyes to what was going on between all the tatas, costumes and public drunkenness. I was able to see people celebrating each other for being exactly who they are in that moment.  Allowing myself to let go and live in the moment with my friends- laughing, being overly indulgent, and even doing downward facing dog in public (clearly I was overserved), is something I will cherish for a lifetime. I’ve already found myself trying to find ways to bring a little Mardi Gras spirit to my life here in Houston and I’m even saying ‘Dah’lin’ a little more too.

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XO, E

 

 

 

 

Women For Women.

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Where would we be without each other?

We all know that our friendships with the most important women in our lives are often our deepest and most profound love stories. As women, we get it. We all have an unspoken understanding of what it means to be a woman – the overwhelming impossibility of it all: our sensitive, vulnerable, breakable hearts, our complicated body and lady parts, our innate drive for perfectionism, our desire to be the best Mother in the world, our unbound, infinite love we have for our children, our dutiful, caretaking spirits… I guess you could say, intimacy begets intimacy and a new found emphasis on female support and friendship isn’t just good for some women; it’s good for all women. With this new awareness around bringing more women in to boardrooms, government and leading Hollywood roles, I am hopeful we are on our way to real, tangible change.

By creating an arguably stronger cultural focus around women; I believe female friendships, mentorships and overall support for one another can multiply. As a result, helping women increase their professional power and fulfill their highest potential could create a ripple affect that subsequently reduces gender inequality.

When women work together, they also succeed together. We all NEED to embrace the Tina Fey/Amy Poehler, Gayle/Oprah love fests! Celebrating female friendships, rather than competition between women will help the next generation of women embrace, rather than resent, the strong women around them. Plus, let’s be honest between juggling all your roles as a woman, it’s just too damn hard to keep up with the competition- so pull up a seat, pour a glass of wine and cheers to the power of being a woman.

 

xo, E