The Experience, and the Thing

comments: 47

Photoshoot6Yesterday was very cool. I really liked it. It's strange how you can get to know people in one day, but as I look at this picture of Jamie-the-photographer and the Jacqueline-the-editor of Romantic Homes in my kitchen, I really miss these two! I miss you guys!!! That was fun. A big photo shoot is so long and so intense that by the end it's impossible not to feel like you've just hiked the Grand Canyon, swum the Channel, or made an entire Thanksgiving dinner together. There are moments when things are precarious and tense (the light just will not cooperate, it just won't), and there are always lovely, surprising triumphs (you look at the thumbnail and it is simply magical, so much better than it looks in real life, somehow). The light is one of the most important elements in the day, and it is fickle, teasing, restless — it never sits still for long, and while that heightens the tension it also brings the promise of an even more beautiful moment, in a few minutes, maybe. Maybe not. We are all at her mercy, in a way, so scoring big feels extra sweet and tinged with a kind of rosy grace. We look at the thumbnail and we go, "Ahhh!"

Photoshoot7 To answer the people who've asked, I honestly don't know how magazines find their locations; I expect that these editors just ran into me on-line somewhere and then called me. I've been so busy lately with all my various store closing/booth opening/creative bill paying projects, but when the phone rings with opportunities, no matter how busy I am, I really do try hard to reshuffle the deck and say yes to the ones that appeal to me or that I feel I can do a good job with. As I grow older (I'm not that old, but, you know, older than I was before, at least), I realize (over and over and over) that the point of the thing, any thing, is the experience of the thing, not just the end result. I guess that sounds pretty obvious. You probably already know it. But it wasn't obvious to me a few years ago when I was a book editor myself, for instance. I would get so focused on the book and so stressed out about it that I'd practically make myself and everyone else crazy. I would often grow to hate the experience, and then when the book came out, I'd actually be too busy working on the next one to even look at it. Can you imagine? I've lost sight of the "experience" many, many times since becoming self-employed, as well. I want to make good things, but I also want the experience of making the thing (whether it be a handbag, a meal, or a photo spread) to be, you know, a nice time for all of us. To actually be truly enjoying it while it's happening and not just getting through it, somehow. I've written about this before (BRS — Broken Record Syndrome, but as I said, slow learner, me) — here in May and here in June, about how things were for me in autumn 2005 (a hard time) — and I probably will again. It can't always be a nice time and everything, I know, but . . . doesn't hurt to try, right?

When I was in college, the chair of the English department, who was one of those phenomenal women who had been around forever and knew everything and also happened to be my advisor, had this little embroidered quote above her desk. It said, "There is no solution. Seek it lovingly." I used to look at it all the time. I thought it was the most bizarre thing. I seriously couldn't understand it. I thought it was illogical at best, or just plain confusing. I never forgot it, though. Makes perfect sense to me now. There is no solution. Seek it lovingly. Okay, trying.

Photoshoot4I'm so glad I said yes to this experience. I think it was one of the highlights of my year: I had a great time and I feel really honored by the photos they took. I saw most of them and I was thrilled. Our visions were so in synch, and that was very cool. I also feel that our missions, our theoretical missions, are the same: We are all interested in attempting to distill the soul, the real heart of what is special, even spiritual, about home and daily life. Sometimes it's hard to do that on deadline, etc! But that's what it takes. I felt the integrity of our intentions keenly. It was a wonderful feeling. Romantic Homes magazine has gone through a redesign recently, and I am very interested in watching it evolve and grow. It's exciting to be included in the endeavor. These are my kinda peeps. This article will be out in the March issue, hitting stands February 6.

And as promised, I'm now going out on the town, so Chez Paulson can enjoy her well-deserved little nap. Thank you, sweetie. I'm proud of you. Good girl.


Reminding us to enjoy the experience of it all is a much needed lesson in our rushed society. I love doing craft swaps but someohow I always do them the day before I need to mail them and I have to rush through them. But even as I am rushing knowing I have a deadline I am enjoying the experience. And while I am doing it I am asking myself why I didn't do it sooner. When we take long trips and dh is moaning about the long drive I try to remind him that the drive is part of the enjoyment of the trip. Stopping in new towns, thrift stores to explore for me and parks for him and the children (he has his blackberry with him so he's entertained) and just being able to talk to each other. What an amazing experience this must have been for you. I think it is a dream come true to have your home be featured in a magazine. I look forward to seeing it when it comes out.

Hi A -

It sounds as though you had such a wonderful experience and had the insight to enjoy it. I've always been highly results-oriented and don't really like to do something unless there is a useable end result. But, reading your thoughts about enjoying the experience and how your attitude has changed over the years has brought a new awareness to me.

I bet crafting has a lot to do with it because often projects don't work out as expected, but that's ok. It's part of the process. Sometimes, I feel paralyzed by that and unable to start something.

Hmmm ... interesting food for thought. Looking forward to the Romantic Homes issue.

Cheers ... Cindy

You said that so beautifully! What a lovely reminder for a cold, rainy day. Thank you Alicia! I hope that both you and your little house have a nice rest now.........

did you eat the cupcakes yet?
congrats :)

alicia, you are so amazing. your last line, you talking to your sweet home, makes me want to cry!
i already put a note on my calendar to look for this magazine next feb. however, it's so wonderful to come to your blog daily and see something beautiful from your world...the february thing is just a bonus!

Glad it was such a good day! Our house was the subject of a feature in West Coast Craftsman and we were once included in a historic home toura few years ago and I remember how much WORK both of those experiences were. But great, too.

Here is my favorite quote and I try to use it as my life philosophy:

"Be good to yourself, be excellent to others and do everything with love."

I try to remember this whenever I am doing the big or small things in life- to do it all with love.

I think you're so right about EXPERIENCE. I believe that we're meant to have all different kinds of experiences, become well-rounded mature beings. The nature of the universe is Change, Growth, Expansion. Therefore it makes sense that we are subject to those same laws.

Glad you enjoyed this project :)

what a fabulous post. I think I'm going to print this out and keep it in my 'all things pretty' binder. :) I definetly need to remember to enjoy the experience and not obsess about the end result. Thanks for such a thoughtful entry. :)

I am looking forward to seeing your home in this magazine. I just recently discovered your blog and always come away feeling very inspired. Thank you for sharing all that you do. :)


No, I don't always know that. I often live my life as if I have to just "get through" it and when I do remember to enjoy the experience it is just so lovely. Parenting can often be like that. Just as we are ending some phase, I suddenly find myself able to enjoy it and then "bam!" we're into something new! I am really looking forward to seeing the magazine in February. Will mark the calendar.

I have a very hard time remembering to enjoy the experience -- to live in the moment -- to savor the process and the journey. Having left the world of television production a year ago, it has been very difficult (but so rewarding) for me to shift gears, slow down, and gain a non-deadline-oriented perspective.

Lately, as I've been doing a little freelance TV work, it's been harder for me to hang on that new perspective, even while I realize, dipping my toes in that raging water, exactly how much I've gained in trying.

But I work on it every day, and reading writings like yours helps me so much. Thank you so much for this beautiful entry (your entire blog is beautiful, and I thank you for that, too).

Oh, I can't wait to see that in print! I think that must be one of my favourite fantasies -- having a house so beautiful that a magazine wants to feature it. And you house is exactly that!

When I have to make a big decision, I always try to imagine what I'll think in ten (twenty, etc) years' time. Will I regret not taking an opportunity? Usually the answer is yes, so I keep trying to be brave and dive in!

I didn't know you worked in book editing? I am a magazine editor, and I freelance write for PW. Where did you work?

you describe perfectly the difference between goal-orientation and process-orientation, and how the best way is to be even-handed in how you look at a project. Difficult at times, certainly, but worth trying! Thankyou for your insight.

So busy going getting to the destination and not enjoying the ride. This is a fact about myself that I will likely be working on for the rest of my life - or at least until I am old and wise ...

I started roaming through blogland last spring enjoying reading about folks who lead crafty and beautiful lives. Recently I've noticed that many of the blogs I read are going "public" These wonderfully crafty folks whose words and pictures I've enjoyed for several months now are famous. Congratulations and thanks for all the months of fun.

Can I have a cupcake?

love your blog.
i don't know how i discovered it, but somehow i did, and i'm thankful.

a special treat everyday.

So glad the experience was good for you!

A truly Phenomenal post. Loved it.

Like one of the other ladies, I think I'll print it out.

I subscribe to "Romantic Homes" and will be excited when your issue comes in the mail next year (and we'll be to the New Year before you know always!).

new to your blog but addicted and inspired. thank you.

I am so glad the shoot was good and you enjoyed the company of the people. I send a big congratulations to you and to chez Paulson!
Being present for the experience is hard, but you learnt it the best way, by experience, love it.

Wow - what a gorgeous room! Can I come and stay, and just lie on your couch and bask in all that gorgeousness?

Chris Howard says: October 12, 2006 at 04:18 PM

It's really funny how you can touch on a topic the very same day that I am mulling it over. I've been struggling hard to downshift and enjoy the "experience" of Fall and Halloween without getting caught up in everything I have to do. I am going to spend this evening curled up on the couch watching "Ghost Hunters" and lovingly stitching a sampler for a new baby. Thank you for reminding me of the things that are important.

PS Thank you so much for sharing with us your photo shoot experience. It's really neat to see what they actually do for the lovely magazine spreads we all take for granted. I can't wait to see the house of Posie in February!

Now you can relax.You do things so beautifully Alicia.Remember,"Everything is always O.K in the end. If it's not, then it's not the end".And you met lovely people in the process.So glad you enjoyed the photo shoot. As for Chez Paulson,all that attention from "one's attendees" Queen for the day!

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at




Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.