It’s the time we all seem to look ahead with hope and anticipation, new goals and bright ideas. It’s also the time many of us look at the last year with reflection. A review for what worked and what didn’t, pride for the things we accomplished and regrets for the things we didn’t, all through a different perspective now that it’s behind us. Hopefully learning something ourselves from the last twelve months.
Or is it just me?
I am here to kick off this new year with the energy that I seemed to be missing in 2023, if I’m being honest. I’m a pretty open person, even with my clients and potential clients. I share parts of my life because I always believe that what we live through and how we do it may benefit someone else in some way. Everyone can learn from someone else’s experiences or share similar ones. Never know, right?
Of course I should be telling you all of the amazing things Christine Kohut Interiors did, and there were definitely some really cool things.
But I know that I could have done better.
For me to be better next year, I took a hard look at it all. You don’t have to read the rest to know that in the end I’m going to always strive to provide exceptional service to you. If you want to know how what’s been going on, please continue!
The last year has been very hard for me.
There has been some big personal upheaval or disruption, with my father in law moving in with us last November. It’s been a little over a year, and it’s requiring a lot of my attention as my new, unexpected and sometimes overwhelming role of the official caretaker for someone with early stages of dementia.
The last three years have been a test of wills, with moving across country, starting over during the height of Covid, discovering my sister in law (my husband’s only sibling) has terminal metastatic melanoma, constantly renovating my own house and planning and hosting my oldest daughter’s wedding, my husband’s big career change that now has him traveling all over the world all the time…
When I write it all out, I’m wondering how on earth I got my new NH business started and did some amazing projects, with no employees to help me. Yet I know I can do better.
My work is has been my passion since I was a teenager. My creativity has given me such great joy. My desire to give people a space they find beautiful and functional, but most importantly FEEL SO GOOD in, is limitless. I live for that happy energy.
So I can’t give that up.
Unfortunately, to be able to use my creative brain requires a clear head and that hasn’t quite been the case, especially over the last few months. Creative work is 100% mental work that gets translated into material things or spaces. Every client is unique, every project is different, every personality gets equal consideration.
That doesn’t make it more challenging than other people’s jobs
It’s just different. It’s also why sometimes I can’t shut off the brainstorming and I’m working through the night, or up before the sun because I have to get the crazy ideas down. Clients are paying for this intellectual property. Anyone can go shopping and buy a basic sofa. It’s the rest of space that percolates and comes to life in my big fat head and I turn it into something meant just for you.
Then the stuff you don’t see
There’s a significant amount of work that goes into the back end of all projects. Space planning, sourcing and finding items that are not only going to look good but are good quality, fit your budget, and have some reasonable availability (which is still laughable post Covid) and all the paperwork, payments, and ordering involved. Constantly tracking everyone’s stuff and hunting down merchandise that fell off a ship somewhere in the middle of the ocean, coordinating deliveries, or chasing the tradespeople who are overwhelmed as well.
Traveling isn’t an option
But it’s not a vacation! I didn’t make it to a lot of events that I planned to attend but I did get to be a part of some cool stuff. Last year I traveled to various places to help some brands fine tune their products by testing, brainstorming, and giving feedback so that they create something you will love and be able to use. I’ve attended trade events to educate myself on the latest materials, products, design trends and technology and smart home innovations. I’ve developed relationships with new brands, as well as networked with current vendors who might be helpful or more generous during current or upcoming projects. All of this is so that you can benefit from my experience, knowledge and relationships. I love learning and sharing that information.
Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.
Who the heck came up with that totally untrue statement?? I love what I do, and I could work every day of my life, I think. Well, maybe not EVERY day. But you get what I’m saying.
But man, forget every other thing I just said. Because, DEMENTIA.
Even though my father in law’s dementia is not completely debilitating yet, it is HARD. And throw in some severe hearing loss to boot. So sometimes he can’t remember what you said. Sometimes he just can’t hear you or thinks you said something else. Sometimes he can’t remember what he did or what he didn’t do but he will swear that he knew what he did all along.
Last night, he forgot to shut off the faucet and he couldn’t hear the water running all night. I discovered it this morning. That’s a new one!
It’s mentally draining and it’s a time suck as I try to unravel and fix what was done, or undone (or done again even though you explained in detail not to do that again) each day. Sometimes he’s just walking into my office while I’m working, with someone on the phone that he can’t understand. Other times I’m sitting with him and going through his emails, voicemails and texts to see who he talked to and what they got from him, blocking and reporting shady accounts, trying to block his access to other accounts, changing passwords. Other times he is trying to hide whatever he’s doing from me.
Trying to prevent him from giving out his personal information to all the spammers and scammers out there is a daily thing and I can’t catch them all, and it’s been so hard to keep up. I don’t have the ability to restrict his access to his phone yet so I just try to do my best. He’s addicted to his iPhone, loves surfing social media, reading “news” and clicking on ALL the pop ups and bad links and signing up for everything.
Trying to keep a handle on impulsive and repetitive purchasing is also a daily thing. You should see how many pairs of sunglasses have been delivered. IN ONE DAY. I mean, some of it is funny, but reckless or odd spending is something people really have to keep an eye on when caring for someone who is more than simply forgetful.
And the glasses are all ugly and don’t fit, but I don’t know where he put them and he can’t remember so we can’t return them!
I now attend each and every doctors’ appointment, and schedule all of his medications. He can’t remember the details as soon as he leaves or he misheard what was said. I act as his advocate and have to discuss and SEE all sorts of things I didn’t ever think I was going to have to about my FATHER IN LAW.Friends Oh My Eyes My Eyes GIFfrom Friends GIFs
Imagine trying to get (and keep) someone’s life in order while they have enough clarity to feel like they’re losing their independence and be angry about it (and guess who is the one getting yelled at), but just enough forgetfulness that, just five minutes later, asks for help about the same exact thing they just were mad at you about, while saying they are so grateful for all that you do every day. It’s a roller coaster of emotions!
It’s a challenge to walk that fine line of giving him the support he needs while trying to make him feel independent. I have to find creative ways to do the things he needs, and try really hard to be patient and not take things personally because I love this guy, and I want him to be happy.
Ok ok, that’s enough
I am working with and getting support from the VA, since he is a veteran. They have a lot of resources for caretakers (and not just for dementia patients). They test me and make sure I know what the heck I’m doing and what I need to do. The education and awareness is both good and nerve wracking. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, don’t you think? Knowing so much about the different types of dementia can make you think too much about everyone else’s future as well.
Am I forgetting where I put that fabric sample because I’m developing dementia or is my brain just tired??
But, just like I consider it my job to know about your stove’s BTUs and your recess light temperatures and stain resistant fabrics, this is also my job to be as educated as I possibly can.
It really can be a full time job, which might leave you wondering how the heck I am going to keep going at Christine Kohut Interiors. That’s what this whole message is about. I just have a long way to get to the point.
As the new year comes, so does some planning.
I plan to have MORE help with my father in law. Square up some things like setting up financial powers of attorney, and having activities to keep him busy and entertained (and off of his phone). Maybe switch him to a flip phone!
There are plenty of things to do in the next year for him, but I do not plan to do it all by myself like I’ve been doing. The goal is that all this delegation will allow me some more headspace and time make some design magic happen.
Because it has to happen.
I intend to hire administrative help and add some new processes to help streamline the back end. There may be student interns as well.
Mini Design Ninjas!
I will continue to be very selective about worthy projects and working for good people, and offering online options and products for people who don’t need full service design.
My “nudge” word
I read this and discovered my word for 2024. It’s not a resolution but a word that will impact all areas of my life this year.
I have some exciting jobs in the works and I can’t wait. I have some 2023 projects that need my undivided attention and finishing up. And then I hope to have lots of things professionally photographed too. Sitting here, thinking about those things doesn’t overwhelm me. Rather, they give me a positive buzz. Writing this post has me feeling less stressed today and more recharged for what’s to come. Once I have all those “extra batteries” in place, I should be good to go!
The rest of 2024
Oh, and the usual, get my health in check, lose weight and all that. I have more motivation since I’m going to be a grandmother in 2024. Plus being healthy helps stave off vascular dementia.
If you or someone you know is living with a person with dementia, please feel free to get in touch. Whether you have helpful knowledge to share or need information and resources, I’m here to help.
In the end, I am thankful for you.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Thank you for trusting me with your home, and the work we’ve done together. You have been a bright spot in my 2023, and I appreciate all the good things that did happen last year! I hope your 2023 was filled with joyful moments as well, and that 2024 will be even better.
I apologize if I have seemed disconnected at all. The last couple of months were more than I bargained for, and definitely not what I planned for. Life has a crazy way of, well, just happening.
Let’s get together soon, get things done and think about the next big thing!
PS Get your skin checked too! Melanoma sucks.