The Loss of “Nothing”

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I want my tenure as President of NCIDQ to stand for something. After long discussions with the other officers and staff, I chose to make it about leadership. As the volunteer leader of this non profit board that certifies interior designers, I want this team to work like a well oiled machine. So at our first board meeting of the year, which was face to face in Washington, DC, I gave out homework. Each board member was required to bring a song that identified who they are. The playlist was very interesting and spread across the generations from Aretha Franklin (since Interior Designers are always seeking “Respect” for our profession) to Kelly Clarkson (“Miss Independent” and “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”). We learned a lot about each other from our music choices.
I chose Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi because I am an environmentalist at heart. The music speaks to my soul. I remember overhearing a cowboy in Wyoming one time lamenting the loss of his personal wilderness: “When I first moved out here there was nothing, and now it is all gone.”
My belief in stewardship led me to buy a Toyota Prius recently. I couldn’t pass up this cream puff vehicle, a 2008 with 21,000 miles on it. My other vehicle is a Chrysler Town and Country van for hauling sofas and antiques. But I never feel myself in a van, as I am definitely not a soccer mom type. I go zipping around in my Prius getting 49 mpg and singing ” you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone”. I notice people are passing me when I am going 92! It feels like I used to feel after one drink too many in college, driving along going 12 with one eye closed, wondering why everyone is leaving me in the dirt. Or is it similar to life which seems to be going faster and faster while I struggle to stay current? Then I realize that I have accidentally hit the kilometer button instead of the trip odometer. It helps to read the manual…


localvoresI stayed at a lovely organic lavender farm in Albuquerque, New Mexico a couple weeks ago. NCIDQ held its annual council of delegates meeting at Los Pablanos. The setting was lovely and fit me like an old tennis shoe. Because it is a working farm, I had the feeling that I was back on my Aunt Louzina’s farm where we spent so much time as children. That self sustaining farm in Liberty, North Carolina also had livestock, chickens, and produce. Although I was born a city girl, I always feel more grounded on a farm  or in the wild.

My husband and I grow a lot of our own food and subsist off of the deer and fish on our property. We process it ourselves. I find myself increasingly buying the local organic meat for its flavor and safety. We cook with the rosemary and herbs from our landscaping. If it weren’t for the Airedales, I would have chickens and goats.

When anyone asks me what I plan to do when I retire, I tell them that I plan  to slow down to 40 hours of design work a week and add a chicken coop and bee hives. Maybe I will become a plein air painter and potter. Maybe I will sit still occasionally, but I seriously doubt it.

The Fruits of Volunteerism


I just returned from several days in Tempe, Arizona observing the grading session of the NCIDQ exam. I am always amazed at what makes people leave their jobs and their weekends at home to volunteer their time to a cause.

Not-for-profit organizations operate off of their volunteers. I am approaching a year of serving as President of the Council of Interior Design Qualification. When my husband, who knows how busy my design practice is, asked me why I would want to do that, my answer was that I didn’t  know how not to. A friend told me that my clients would not care what was on my resume. That caused me to do some soul searching for the answer of why I would give that amount of time. I know that it will give back to my profession that I still love as much as my first day in it. I will get to travel over the US and Canada, meeting with others leaders and volunteers, eating great food and seeing things I would never see on my own. But I think that mostly I am doing it for myself, for the personal growth. Volunteerism is a low hanging fruit that anyone can pick and profit from. And it looks great in your obit.

Tragedy in New Orleans

cropped-photo.jpgI attended the IDEC (Interior Designers Education Council) in New Orleans in March. We landed on Fat Wednesday and we’re amazed at the beads still hanging in the trees and wrought iron balconies. We did all the tourist things and spent a long afternoon at the MOMA New Orleans. What an amazing museum! The outdoor sculpture garden was enchanting. After the museum visit and a glass of wine, a past president of NCIDQ and resident of New Orleans picked us up and took us on a driving tour of the town. We spent a lot of time discussing the tragedy and recovery from Katrina. When driving through the garden district, we asked our guide if the waters rose into these magnificent homes. Our tour guide (who will remain nameless), replied that this area was spared from the flooding, but lost electricity. All the five star restaurants here lost refrigeration and consequently all their fine wines. Only a local would see it on this level. Katrina spared no onenew orleans sculpture!


imageI never knew I wanted to go to Chicago.  It is a city that will steal your heart without you ever seeing it coming. I went to NEOCON this past June for my first time and experienced the latest in commercial furniture design. All the showrooms were dressed to the nines trying to grab your attention and draw you into their space. We designers spent so many years moving everyone out of their individual offices into “systems” furniture and flex space. The pendulum is swinging (as it always does in design) to put us back into multi use,  semi-private spaces that convert from workstations to spontaneous meeting rooms. Heights change from seating to standing with the flip of a switch. Lines are clean and sleek. If you look backwards down the tunnel of the past, the design pendulum goes from overdone to minimalist, vertical lines to horizontal lines, pattern to solid; can you see the trend? I believe this is not a conspiracy of the manufacturers to force us to reinvest in our surroundings, as much as our need to change and explore. It is the same desire that has dispersed humans over time and led them over the mountains to “see what they can see”.

Actual Circa 1915 View From My Window

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When I look out of my window at any point during a given day, there is a path that led me to this window. My circa 1915 office window is overlooking a turn of the 20th century neighborhood in Georgia, which is my comfort zone. I am drawn to historic houses and friendly gentrified neighborhoods. My window at home overlooks a pond and woods full of wild things, a place I willingly followed my husband of 37 years. When I travel around the US and Canada in my role as president-elect for NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) the view from my window is overlooking various great cities beckoning me to come out and play before and after meetings dealing with Interior Design qualification and certification issues. Come with me as I travel around the US and Canada while I learn about Interior Design issues, leadership and myself….