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Today, I met with my freelance network and we were discussing the way in which creative design and other artistic crafts are being “traded” in today’s marketplace. Open borders via the internet have made made creative services incredibly accessible and very low-cost (see Fivver where you can purchase any gig for $5). Is there still a market for original design? Who is will to pay for it?

Designers are also having to recreate themselves. Someone like Ayse Birsel a product designer turned systems- thought- life-designer is an excellent example of someone who has gone beyond her traditional vocation. She is adapting to the new age where thinking is designed just as well as her JCPenny kitchen collection. The same processes/journey can be applied. I had the privilege of attending her workshop “Design the Life You Love” in NYC in November, 2014. It was simple and authentic breakdown of a complex subject: life.

Even though there are logos are being bought/sold for five bucks, we still believe adamantly that there is a market for original work. Work that involves research, analysis and collaboration. There will be people who will appreciate this just as there will always be people who appreciate music that is recorded with real instruments vs computers or photos that were taken on a manual camera vs photoshopped or clothes made by hand vs mass-produced in cheap factories. The success of platforms such as etsy and dewanda are proof of this. There is something to be said about owning something truly original. A craft remains a craft. The perceived value is perceived.

As I’m going through this very challenging process of refining my professional self after having raised two babies into toddlerhood, I am realizing the struggle is compromising, or feeling like I am compromising.

From the author of “Path of Least Resistance” Robert Fritz:

“If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.”

Yes, what I want seems totally unreasonable. I even think it is unreasonable and tell people that it’s not possible to “have it all.” i was wildly nodding my head in agreement while reading Indra K. Nooyi, PepsiCo CEO’s interview with The Atlantic on why “Women still can’t have it all.” I have come to the conclusion that if we are viewing life from the perspective of the social mammoth and not our authentic voice, we definitely cannot have it all. If we define our professions based on salary, social status, number of direct reports, awards etc, then truly we cannot have it all. So then the question is…what does my authentic voice say?

I love learning. I am addicted to it. My parents, both academics, instilled this in my brother and me very early on. My father’s text to us today: “Learn something new today. Be happy.” ‘Nuf said. I took pregnancy and motherhood with the same thought in stride. I tried to learn as much as I could about how to care for and guide our children. Starting with what to eat when I was pregnant to how best to stop my son from sucking his thumb. My mom said that I was “making a science” of it. Yes, this is how I problem solve. I look stuff up, I talk to experts, I analyze what how to best apply that to my life, and I share my experience with others. Oh, and by the way, this process is very similar to how I solve problems at the work place. So if “learning” is authentic to me. In fact, it’s been injected since my childhood, so few things are as authentic, then I must be “having it all.”

Head, Shoulders, Knees and OW!

Today I read an interesting article titled “House of Pain” by Ashtanga Yogi Anne Finstad – describing her relationship with pain in practicing ashtanga yoga ( Since the birth of my second child, I have had problems with my knees. After a meniscus tear in my right knee was established, I was operated when my second born was just under a year. One full year, yet another relocation (with Germany but still…) and not enough hours of yoga later, I still felt like my knee was not right. I got a recommendation to see a doctor in this area – a surgeon who also treats the 1.FC Nuremberg football team. Bedside manners: he had never heard of ’em. He took one look at my knee, and told me that there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. He said it is physiologically mended – der Kollege hat es gut gemacht. He was done (he actually accused me of wasting his costly time that would be better spent in surgery – I suppose for “paying” private patients).

I was well experienced with the brevity of German & Austrian doctors. I persisted. But why then did I still have the pain and why can’t I stand up from a squat etc? While still complaining about his time being wasted on me, he started to really diagnose me. He started up from my hip (slight alignment problem – this I knew from my physical therapy in Dusseldorf), all the way to my neck (always the right side), to my jaw. He asked if it is always my right side bother me: YES! Even while we were still in China, I had TCM therapy for my neck/right shoulder pain. It still hadn’t gone away – but after two children and two relocations within two years, I didn’t really expect it would. I just accepted it as a minor nuisance that was now a part of me. He told me that is a problem with my bite – my teeth – and sent me to a dentist (!) in Nuremberg who practices alternative medicine and who could rid me of the “infection” behind my molars.

This all sounds incredibly hokey as I write it now, however this doctor actually brought tears to my eyes (no, not from his snide jabs – my German-healthcare- skin is pretty thick) but because his diagnosis seemed to connect all the problems in my body over the past years and it finally all made sense. IMG_6548Seeing that it was not a big investment of time or money,  I did go to that dentist in Nuremberg and I did get the painful jabs in my jaw (this time, from a homeopathic injection) and the knot in my right shoulder/neck did go away. And in time, my right knee pain too. I started practicing ashtanga yoga which is rigorous no the knees but also on building up the thigh muscles. Now it’s again one year later. The reason I landed on Anne’s article today was because I was researching how to modify my ashtanga practice for knee pain. My left knee hurts.