Because the world needs beauty

I am feeling rather nostalgic this week thinking back to exactly one year ago when I spent a week in Charleston learning from Ariella Chezar. The time I spent with Ariella felt magical and completely inspiring in every way. I’ve been meaning to blog about our time together for a year now, so what better time than the anniversary of this trip.

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My friend Erin of Floret Flowers encouraged me to attend Ariella’s workshop and assured me it would be life changing. I was at a point in my career where I needed a change. I felt uninspired and bored and as a result I felt unhappy and dissatisfied with the work I was producing. I knew I needed to do something, but I was so hesitant to sign up for a workshop with Ariella. I had admired Ariella for years, and have always been so inspired by her work. Her name is synonymous with the beauty she creates. Most of what I do is self taught, and I had never received any formal training for floral design. As a result, I was scared she would look at my work and tell me I was untalented. I literally had a dream that she denounced me as a designer, labeled me a fraud, and put it out on social media that I didn’t know what I was doing. It’s funny how our own insecurities can weigh so heavily on our hearts and scare us from taking big steps and trying new things.

I pushed through my insecurities, fearfully signed up for the workshop, bought a few new bow ties to help boost my confidence and headed to Charleston with my wife.

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Jamie took a photo of me as I headed out to class that first day. I felt like I was in kindergarten again, wondering if I would make any friends and if the teacher would be nice. I rarely get nervous for anything, but the closer I got to the workshop, the faster my heart started beating. I opened the door to discover what seemed like a sea of ladies looking at me, shocked to see a man walking through the door. But then I heard a warm, welcoming, lovely and soothing voice declare “Steve! Welcome!” It was Ariella. At that moment every fear dissipated and I felt safe.

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Ariella might be the most gentle and kind person I have ever met. She truly has a beautiful soul and is lovely in every way. She is gracious and humble and so down to earth. No matter what skill level each student entered with, she treated everyone the same, and encouraged the talent she saw within. She gave tips, shared trade secrets, directed us to new resources and opened our eyes to her world. She listened to our stories, asked us about our dreams and made us feel like we could accomplish anything. She believed in each of us, which helped us to in turn believe in ourselves. I came to realize that the reason why her work is truly so amazing and beautiful, is because it is simply an extension of who she is as a person, and her designs flow from within.

Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 6 Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 7Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 8 Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 9Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 10 Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 11Those few days I spent with Ariella were in fact life changing. It was the exact reboot I needed and I left feeling inspired and ready to conquer my dreams. As I went through wedding season, I often found myself referring back to the techniques I learned. Ariella’s influence ran deep and the impact she had on me elevated the weddings I designed to a whole new level. As a result we produced some of my favorite weddings I have ever been part of.

Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 12 Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 13 Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 14 Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 15 Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 16Beyond strengthening my skills as a designer, I think the greatest thing I left with after our time together, was a sense of value for what I do for a living. Sometimes I wonder if at the end of my life I will question what the point of everything was. It is easy to lose sight of why we do what we do when we are inundated with hundreds of e-mails daily and caught up in so many details. I have even questioned the value of spending so many resources on creating something for just one day, only to have our work torn down at the end of the night when the party is over. I’ve even had friends ask me how I feel about helping people squander their money on just a one day celebration. It can all feel meaningless and frivolous, especially with so much of the world in need. That mindset can be de-habilitating and discouraging and leave me wondering if I should do something more meaningful with my life.  Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 17 Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 18 Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 19 Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 20

Ariella spoke a truth into our lives on our final evening together, and I will never forget it. She gave us a memento written in Latin that read “hominibus opus decoris” Those words sat in front of us all evening during our dinner until Ariella translated them for us… “The world needs beauty”

Sinclair & Moore Ariella Chezar 21Those of us who are designers, creators, and artists have meaningful jobs. We live in what can be a dark, scary and lonely world. What we do is create beauty that softens the world. We create celebrations that are remembered for a lifetime. So when I start to question the point of it all… I remind myself that I do what I do… because the world needs beauty.

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In a few short weeks we will hold our own workshops  in our Seattle design studio.  My hope and prayer is that I can encourage, support and instill the same passion for design as Ariella did with me. I hope our attendees  walk away feeling like they can conquer any dream.  Mostly I hope they will leave with the understanding that their role in this life as a designer has great value… and that they will go with confidence and create the beauty that this world needs.

photos:  Corbin Gurkin 

A Thanksgiving Choice

There is nothing better than waking up early in the morning, and starting my day before anyone else is awake.  It’s quiet.  I’m alone. Life is still.  The world is mine.  The chaos of the day has yet to begin.  I’m free to read, think, dream, pray… and just be still with my Maker.

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But sometimes these quiet moments of reflection and prayer quickly turn to panic as my mind wanders to the hopes and dreams that have yet to materialize in my life, and all of my unmet goals.  I worry. I doubt.  I feel behind.  I compare.  My faith dissolves to fear… my peace is replaced with anxiety…  my joy turns to jealousy…  my healthy ambition changes to a competitive spirit.  I rob myself of happiness as I focus on all the things I want, instead of rejoicing for the things I have.

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It’s ungratefulness that feeds this downward spiral.

It’s ugly… I know it.

I also know it’s a choice and that the only thing I can control in this life is my attitude and the choices I make.

And so today I make a different choice.  A choice to live in thanksgiving for the abundant life we are blessed with.

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I choose to refocus my mind on the things that matter.  I will reflect on what is true, what is noble, what is right… what is pure, lovely and admirable. I will think about those things that are excellent and praise worthy.

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I choose to love others more than I love myself.  I will take my mind off of myself, and my dreams, and look to the interest of others.  I will find opportunities to give and to serve.  I will see others’ needs as greater than my own. I will rejoice when my friends succeed, and cry with them when they hurt.  I will remember that there is no greater love than to give your life for a friend.

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I choose to see God’s faithfulness and his endless provisions over the years. I have never gone hungry.  My head has always been covered with a roof.  A loving mother… a faithful wife… committed friendships… my life lacks no good thing.

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I choose faith.  I will believe in what is unseen, hope for what is to come, and trust God with all that I have.

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I choose to be filled with joy. Prayers may seem to go unanswered; dreams might not have yet come true.  But true joy comes from a thankful heart that finds contentment in the present, whether living in plenty or in want.   In both seasons, I will choose joy.

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Jamie and I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving.  Our hope is that somewhere in the midst of all the cooking, eating, football watching and time spent with family, that you will take a moment to reflect on the abundant life you are blessed with, and choose to live in thanksgiving.

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“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.  Know that the Lord is God.  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  Enter his gates with Thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;  His faithfulness continues through all generations.”  Psalm 100

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photo credit: Matthew Land Studios

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