Category Archives: Things I Believe

For Theo, Finally

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My friend Theo recommended I watch Frances Ha ages ago and, on December 8th, I did. And I loved it. First, it needs to be said that the main character, Frances, is a little bit like all of us: hopeful, uncertain, trying to find a way to manage her values and dreams whilst still being able to pay her rent. Greta Gerwig, who wrote and stars in the film, wrote a story and gave a performance that made me feel– made me feel a whole lot– and I’ve been carrying the film with me and mulling it over for quite some time.  After my initial viewing, I told Theo that I’d send her a response soon. Well, Theo, this is my response. And soon is a relative term, right?

Theo,

I wept at the end of Frances Ha not because I was nostalgic for a time that once was, but because I wanted to be. If you took the reel of my life and rewound it four years, I was in a place where I would’ve watched this film and said “Oh, I am Frances!” and I would have felt excited and safe knowing that a future of 20-something struggle, mishap and adventure was mine for the taking. That it was normal.  At that time, I was loving my single lady life in Boston. I had moments where I hit the sauce too hard and made some questionable life decisions, but I had good friends to pass the time with and a solid support system. It’s like that Sinatra song: “When I was 21, it was a very good year. I used to walk through the city and feel like everything around me was raw and electric and full of opportunity, when I was 21!” (Oh, those aren’t the lyrics? Oops.)

I met David in February of 2010 and I can now see that my own life trajectory is also a lot like Sophie’s, Frances’ best friend played by Mickey Sumner.  Like Sophie, I fell in love (unexpectedly), said bon voyage to my roommates, to all my undergraduate furniture and to the vagabond uncertainty of my single life and exchanged it for the special kind of freedom that comes with being in a committed relationship. The freedom to focus. The freedom to mix your books on the shelf with someone else’s and not worry about getting them all back when the lease is up. The freedom of knowing that no matter how bad things get, you have someone who’s going to fight for the future right alongside you.

I wouldn’t change my decision to marry and move to a new country, but this film made me wonder what would’ve happened if I hadn’t met David, if I had instead moved to Minneapolis or New York, or even stayed in Boston, and had to figure my shit out on my own.  What crappy job would I have taken and where would it have led? What roommates would I have gotten drunk with and cried in front of and how many broken hearts would I have survived– both romantically and otherwise? Would I have given up my dreams or would I have fought, alone, for whomever it was that I wanted to become? It’s silly, but this film made me nostalgic for the life I never lived. It opened the door in my imagination to the land of What If.

Over the weekend, David and I went to London to visit a friend who lives in a great apartment (one that wasn’t very self-aware, might I add) with three roommates, all of them living on top of each other like puppies in a cardboard box, lovingly tumbling over ears and paws and tails until they’re scooped up, one-by-one, and brought somewhere new. It’s a transitional kind of happiness, these roommate situations. Little families are formed and a special kind of balance between intimacy and privacy happens. It’s exciting but it’s stressful and sitting at my friend’s kitchen table, with empty bottles lining the cupboard tops like trophies, I felt that familiar undercurrent of raw electricity and my Frances musings came full circle.

In the film, Frances says, “I’m so embarrassed I’m not a real person yet” and when she said it, I was like Yeah, me too sister. Even though I have a mortgage and a cat and a permanent roommate (hi, David), I can still relate. We always think the next step forward will be the answer to all our uncertainties, will make us a little more whole, but we’re all still figuring it out.  We’re all a little bit like Frances, regardless of whether or not we can be categorised as “real people” yet.  And isn’t that kinda the beauty of life?

I feel like I’m saying this all wrong, like I’m not really making sense, but I hope you know what I mean. A little bit, anyway. Maybe we can talk about it over a drink one day.  I would really like that.

Until then,
K

*Yes, there are a lot of generalisations in this post. No, I don’t want to get into a discussion about how problematic that is.  Thanks. 

Photo via Frances Ha

Things I Believe About Open Hearts & Open Minds

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#Sadtimes
There isn’t a Tuesday With Vous today, again.  Maybe this project is turning into a failure (oh, that word!, it makes me sad) or maybe I just need to reassess my expectations and re-think the turn-around time for contributors.  Probably the latter.  No, definitely the latter.  Either way, I’m sorry for letting you down.

That being said, my lovely contributor and friend who was scheduled to post today is simply having one of those days.  You know, one of those days where everything at work feels really urgent and you hardly have time to refill your coffee cup, much less send Kate Sims an email full of Tuesday snapshots.  So, I get it.  I’m bummed, but life happens, so please bear with me and I will post the photos when I have them later in the week.

#Happytimes
This lack of a TWV allows me to tell you about my goal for May today, at the very beginning of the month, so really it’s quite serendipitous the way this has unfolded.  As some of you may have noticed, I’m not always great about taking my own business advice. I mean, I love coming up with creative and authentic ways for my clients to toot their own horns, but when it comes to my own self-promotion, I’m kind of shy.  Even silly things like sending an email to an acquaintence I’d like to have coffee with or leaving a comment on a blog whose author I’m totally girl-crushing on can leave my fingers a little tongue-tied.  No bueno, so this month, I’m going to reach out in a way that scares me every. single. day.

How?  Well, I’m going to send emails to people I admire, I’m going to contact dream clients, and pick the brains of my peers.  I’m going to be bold and stop worrying about the whats and the ifs.  I believe that open hearts open doors and open minds are keen to grow but I also believe that we often have to take the first step to develop opportunities, that we have to reach for what we want.  I believe this is true in all aspects of life– our careers, love lives, spirituality and friendships are all contingent on the fact that we reach out and connect, engage, grow.

I’m not one to subscribe to the idea that ‘If you build it, they will come,’ instead, I believe that we need to build it, promote the hell out of it, and then, if we’re genuine and enthusiastic, if we have something valuable to offer, maybe they will come.  And that promoting, that connecting, it can be scary.  But it can be a lot of fun, too, and I’m excited to see where it leads. xx

Things I Believe About the Work / Life Balance

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In the last four years, I’ve learned a lot about how I work, how I want to work, and how I play.  And now that I’m freelance, the difference between my time on the clock and time off has become a little bit blurry (all you freelancers and small business owners out there, I know you feel me).  To ensure I maintain a healthy work/life balance, I’ve created a few guidelines to keep myself on track and help me run my business without feeling like I’m being run by my business.  These are principles I believe in and am constantly reminding myself of.  I find them helpful and I hope you will, too.

  1. If you want others to respect your time, you need to respect your time.   When you’re at the helm of your business, its success relies on you, and it’s all too easy to cave into the pressure or doing everything for everyone– everyone except yourself.  Luckily, it’s pretty easy to give your personal life the TLC it needs; all you need to do is declare when you’re unavailable, and then disappear (for real, put the phone down!).  If you’re like me and don’t believe in answering emails on the weekend, let your clients know.  If you take a yoga class in the mornings or take Fridays off in the summer, let people know.  And when they call on a Friday, don’t answer.  You’ll be surprised by how often the world will wait for you.  You’ll also be surprised by how nice it feels to take the time to focus on yourself.

  2. Manage expectations.  Like all relationships, the key to a successful business relationship is to manage expectations.  Tell your clients when you’ll deliver the goods and then do it.  Be realistic about what and when you’ll deliver and you’ll never let your clients down.  Similarly, tell people when you need things from them and hold them accountable.  This will help you feel in control of your business relationships and allow you to produce better work on time and with minimal stress.

  3. Say yes. I say yes to many opportunities that come my way.  You want me to give a talk about social media at your networking event?  Okay!  You want me to snap some photos for an article you’re writing?  Absolutely!  You want me to be a brand ambassador for your clothing line?  Great, tell me more!  Be open to new experiences, new projects, and new adventures, they can lead to fantastic places.

  4. But say no, too.  As it sometimes goes when you jump at a new opportunity, you realize the initial offer was a lot sweeter than the nitty gritty details.  Perhaps the payment you’re being offered for the set of photos will be “a link in the article” when the guy writing the article is being paid with, you know, real money.  Or maybe the brand you’ll be representing struggles to email you back in a timely manner which makes you question whether they can actually deliver the important things, like inventory.  In these situations where the integrity of your work is being negatively effected, your standards are not being met, and you’re compromising and feeling uneasy, by all means say NO.  It will be difficult, but it’ll be so much better for you in the long run.  Trust.

  5. Remember, everyone is busy.  When you’re feeling under pressure and need something done, it’s all too easy to send a frantic email and ask for it Now, right now!  But, before you hit send, ask yourself how you’d feel receiving that email.  Remember, all of us are busy.  We all have lives, worries, goals, and external pressures.  In these moments of stress, take a deep breath and remember to be respectful of others and their time.  Especially if you want them to be respectful of yours.

So here’s what I’m proposing: Let’s create a positive feedback loop of mutual respect and consideration so we can all create comfortable and happy work environments.  I don’t care if you’re a freelancer, start-up entrepreneur, CEO or secretary, let’s be open with our communication, honest and respectful.  Who’s with me?

>>> If you want some extra organisation tips for running your business, check out these 8 Gmail Features You Should Be Using by Jessica Sutton.  I’m a huge fan of Boomerang, which is perfect for sending 12:30 AM emails at 10:00AM, instead.

Be Terrific on Twitter

Social media is fun!  But so often, small businesses get a little tongue-tied when it comes to connecting with their customers on social platforms like Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram (to name a few).  Because I don’t like seeing awesome businesses struggle, I started The Etiquette Shop to help small businesses and creative entrepreneurs find their voice and creatively and authentically tell their stories and connect with their customers online.  One way to do this is through social media, and I work with clients to decide which social platforms work best for them, teach them how to utilise these tools, and then create a strategy to help them connect with their customers and grow their business.

After completing a couple Terrific on Twitter courses last week, I wanted to share five of my fundamental beliefs about Twitter with you.  These simple guidelines will help you focus your content, grow your tribe, and make lasting professional- and personal- relationships online.

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If you want to know more about developing a social media strategy, creating engaging content, or learning how to use a particular social media platform?  Just drop me an email at kate(at)ladykatherinesims.com.  It’ll be fun!  Promise.

Things I Believe About Success

Things I Believe is a series of mini essays exploring something I fundamentally believe to be true, from lipstick to metaphysics, they’re meant to offer a little insight into a little (or big) something.

Success

There were a few afternoons last week when the sun came through the windows at the office, refracted through a cup of water and settled on the wall in a soft little pyramid of light.  On those bright and warm afternoons, I convinced myself that we were having an early spring and daydreamed about bare limbs and fizzy drinks.  This week, the damp cold is again creeping through the windowpanes and burrowing deep into our bones; sundress season, I’m afraid, is still a long way off, but mentally I’m totally there

I’m not one to dwell on the past.  Instead, I’m usually stretching my arms as far as they’ll go, clutching at the future.  I close my eyes at night and imagine what will be; I anticipate obstacles, rehearse speeches and see myself championing difficult situations that will eventually lead to something people define as success.  But the success that I envision is as vague and fleeting as that pyramid of light on the wall.  To me, success isn’t as simple as having Mercedes on the driveway, a plaque on the wall, or a villa in Tuscany, it’s not a plateau on which I’ll stand and look down with satisfaction on all I’ve accomplished.  No, for me, success is the pursuit.  It’s having a goal to chase, a task to accomplish, and a new adventure to begin. The minute you declare you’ve reached the top, the only place to go is down. 

After her win for Best Actress at the Oscars, Jennifer Lawrence, who every girl in the world is vying to secure as their BFF*, answered questions about her win, her fall, and her future.  The last question she was asked –which starts at the 2:45 mark– was, “At 22 years-old you’ve got your first Oscar and you’ve already had two nominations, um, it’s awfully young to have so much success so far.  Do you feel, is it a good thing that it’s coming so early in the career?”  Jennifer’s answer is playful and sarcastic, she hopes it’s a good thing. The journalist then asks, “You don’t worry about peaking too soon?”  

She rolls her eyes: “Well now I am, God.”  

Unless she were to have expired right there with her Oscar in hand, there’s no way this would be her peak.  She might not win another Oscar, but will that make her future efforts unsuccessful?  Will that mean she will never top this performance?  Absolutely not.  So long as we’re challenging ourselves and growing, we’re on a path of success.  As long as we’re working hard and doing what we love, we’re succeeding.  

Just as I know that spring will eventually come and the afternoon light will shine through the window and again cast flickering shapes on the wall, I know that I will always be in pursuit, will always be pushing myself to overcome that next challenge so the brightness behind my eyes can briefly come into focus before forming a new shape and then slipping away, again, just beyond my grasp.  

What does success mean to you, dear reader?  I’d love to know so feel free to share in the comments. 

*For real, I will fight you for her.