The Way Back Story

I was the first person in my feamily to go off to college. I had no idea what I was doing or what I wanted to study. But I knew how to study and I could figure anything out.

After getting my footing, I switched to Interior Design and studied that for about a year. I always loved interior spaces, organizing-sorting-fixing-cleaning-painting anything, and watching home remodeling shows. The Clean Sweep was a personal favorite. Ahhhh, the before and after. So satisfying. The way a space looks and feels has a really big impact on my state of mind, so my preference is for neat, tidy, and clutter-free whenever possible.

After a year of coursework, including some fun with AutoCAD, I realized it wasn’t the right fit. It started to feel superficial. I thought, “What does it matter what fabric I choose for a curtain?” Did I really want to be layering textiles for a living?

What I really wanted was to change the things that I saw on a daily basis that needed work, like making it easier for people to get around by completing the sidewalk network or encouraging infill development to do something with those vacant lots. I wanted to make my hometown beautiful and economically stable. I wanted to be able to get around without a car. Given these interests and my desire to eventually get a real, grown-up job, I switched to Urban & Regional Planning.

The study of our built environment fascinated me. I loved the history of cities and civilization and how we live and have lived under a variety of environmental and technological circumstances. I enjoyed being immersed in discussions of how to solve “wicked” problems that seem everlasting, such as poverty, hunger, homelessness, and protecting the environment.

After earning my bachelor’s degree, I was ready to become a city planner. In 2005, there were zero jobs in Michigan for city planners. No one was hiring. Especially the small towns I (naively) thought I would change with my progressive ideas.

I didn’t want to leave my home state, my family, and my boyfriend (now husband), so I pieced together part-time jobs for a while. I worked at local coffee shops, a health food store, the Michigan Historic Preservation Network, and then finally for the AmeriCorps Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) through a local community development non-profit doing neighborhood revitalization work.

Historic preservation was awesome because I loved old buildings and I thought I would learn some tricks on the job for my own home someday. Through LISC, I was able to lead a neighborhood revitalization program that allowed me to organize painting parties, neighborhood clean-up events, bulk trash pick-up, and connect residents services and products they were eligible for.

One client in particular will be part of my memories forever. His name was Noel. He was eligible to receive a free furnace and the fact that he lived a targeted revitalization area. When I went to visit him to ensure there was access to his furnace unit, I was surprised by how much stuff he had in his house. This was before the Hoarders TV show and I was completely oblivious. His home was filled to the ceiling, mostly with furniture and electronics. I had no idea what hoarding was at the time. All I saw was a challenge and I thought that I could help him. He had to make a path for the furnace technicians to extract his ancient “octopus” furnace. I offered to help and he never reached out. Beyond verifying his furnace was installed, I never heard from him again.

Shortly thereafter, engaged to my sweet man and planning a tiny budget wedding in the local rose garden park, I was eating right and exercising in anticipation of my big day. On dress shopping day, I went in with my mom, soon-to-be-MIL and SIL, and nothing fit. I wanted a curve hugging, lace gown. I ended up with a dress that was 10 sizes larger than my frame, but was to be taken in to accommodate my growing belly. I was six months pregnant on our wedding day. Oh goodness.

Reality (and anxiety) set in. How would we support a family working part-time with no insurance? How was I going to pay my student loans? I had to find a real job. The kind with health insurance and sick leave. I applied to be a transportation planner working in the area of intermodal policy for the Michigan Department of Transportation. After a crazy rigorous interview, I was hired and I was over the moon. Shortly after that, my husband got a stable job with benefits, too. We were going to be ok.

Fast forward 10 years. I am 34 years old.

I’m starting a business that will help people uncover their floors, but also hopefully discover a bit more of themselves and how what we surround ourselves with and how we live our lives are interconnected.

I’m energized and hopeful and ready to launch. Elements of the process are falling into place, some almost effortlessly. I’m soaking up every podcast I can put through my earbuds. My intention is to blend everything that I’m interested in - beauty, space, energy, emotion, health, happiness, organization, and design - into a service that truly helps people.

Did you have a roundabout way of getting to where you are today?  How long did it take you to figure out what you wanted to do with your time on Earth? Still working on it? Me too. I feel like I’m just scratching the surface.