When we reached out to our Day Designer community for our #welldesignedlife series, we knew we were tapping a resource of inspiring ladies, but we have been overwhelmed by the incredible levels of grace, determination, vulnerability, and authenticity that they have shown us. Today’s interview with Vanessa Kass is no different! We love her sense of humor and are so inspired by her willingness to pursue her values.
Let’s start off with an introduction! Tell us about yourself. Roles you play and what you do.
I am a funny girl. A dry sense of humor with a liberal dose of sarcasm. One of my favorite things that I do is make my husband laugh. I am a wife of 7 years. Momma to two ginger boys, 5 and 2. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Former teacher. Researcher. Girl that wears her big ol’ heart on her sleeve. I just recently left my full-time, outside-of-the-home job to live my dream and be home more with my little one and mother the way I want to mother. Currently I am working on balancing working from home part-time and being the best momma I can be.
What accomplishment are you most proud of in life so far?
I took a HUGE leap, left my union-protected, salaried job to come home and be home with my little one. I am so proud of that decision. Second/the same is just being a good person. It looks different to different people, but I strive to be a good person and I have made some tough, misunderstood and unpopular decisions that have enabled me to be good. I am immensely proud of those decisions.
Tell us about your big dreams. Where do you want to go, what do you want to do, and why?
I want to build a strong, loving family unit and a warm, inviting home in our house. I want my boys and their friends to feel safe and comfortable and loved here. I want my friends to feel the same. I want my home to be a warm haven that opens its doors always. A place you can always return.
I want to build a strong, thriving team with Stella & Dot. This journey has changed my life. It allowed me to leave a toxic job 6 months earlier than planned. It has changed my life. It has allowed me to lead and friend and bring joy in to people’s lives. Whether someone wants to pay for their school loans, summer camp for their kids, needs some financial freedom, alone time or fun money, I want to help women do that. I want to help women walk through the world, independent, head high, smiles on their face and joy in their heart. It is what the job has given me. I want to give that, too.
I want to finish my PhD. There are constraints in place that I have been unable to overcome. Bureaucracy and personality and forgetfulness. There may be a new path and a new way. I have always wanted to be Dr. Kass. Maybe I don’t have to let that dream go.
What are some struggles you’ve faced in achieving your dreams so far? Have you learned anything from them that you want to share?
SPEAK YOUR MIND/ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT AND NEED. If people don’t like it, they may walk away. But they likely weren’t a positive influence in my life anyway.
Don’t dim your light because it scares other people. I spent many years doing that. The other people will never change. You need to. Be bright. It’s why we are here.
Your husband is not a mind reader. Kinda self-explanatory. Also, see #1.
Do your dreams look different now than they used to? If so, what changed about them?
Yes. I wanted money and things and whatever “they” had. The grass was always greener. Now I want experiences for my children, a harmonious marriage, a strong circle of friends and a thriving business. These are new in the past 5 years. Presence not presents. Time not things.
If you could go back and visit yourself at any age, what would you tell your younger self? What kind of encouragement or wisdom do you wish you had at that time?
To my little girl self – I understand and it feels impossible to survive some days. But you will. And you will thrive. You are immeasurably loved and you will learn that in time.
To my mid-twenties self – slow down and stop freaking out. Everything you want, you will get. Relax. Exhale. Enjoy.
In looking at that second one, I am thinking I should probably say that to myself today.
What three daily things can you not live without?
Kisses from my Basses.
A little quiet time for reflection.
What is something you strive to be intentional about? How do you design it into your life?
Coming from a place of honesty and sincerity.
How? I plan what I am going to say to women when I call them to be a hostess, a stylist or a shopper. I literally write it down.
How? When I feel myself start to fudge the truth, I TRY and stop and think about why I am doing that. That doesn’t mean I don’t fudge, but it often gives me something about myself to work on.
How do you create balance in your life?
I signed up for kickboxing. I meditate. Honestly? I use my Day Designer!! I put down a reasonable amount of things to accomplish. If I get them done, I can feel accomplished AND relax at day’s end.
What does your daily routine look like? Is there anything that helps you feel most successful at the end of the day?
Depends on the day. Usually drop off the older one. Run errands or come home and play with the little one. During his nap, I do work and tidy the house. We pick up the older one and have snack and show. Then it’s play, dinner, tub and bed.
If the kids and kitchen are clean by bedtime, I feel very accomplished.
My feeling of accomplishment is also directly related to how many to-do’s I have crossed off.
What checklist(s) do you live by?
Daily to-do’s and weekly planning.
If I don’t write it down, it doesn’t get done. When I was a teacher my students would write reminders on post-its for me. It was clear even then. 15 years ago.
What do you wish you had more of in life? What about it makes it so special?
Money. Simply because I want to give my children the world and a passport full of stamps. Being debt-free would make that so much easier. We are working on it. We will get there. My kids will have those experiences.
What do you wish you had less of in life?
Stress. Mostly about money.
Doubt. Mostly about parenting.
Are you willing to share a story with us about a time in your life when things felt out of control? How did you get back on course?
I thought about driving in front of a truck to have some moments of quiet and silence. Not to end it. Just to get a break. Doctors, thankfully, don’t allow for that distinction. Come to find out, I was in the very ugly, deep, darkness of postpartum depression. Undiagnosed for over a year. To get back on course, I went on medication, was honest with people I loved, asked for help and practiced a lot of forgiveness. The medication righted me quite quickly with regard to the ugly and the dark and the deep. The forgiveness came from the incredible love shown to me by my loved ones and the complete and utter love of my son.