New Year, New Perspective

Something strange happened. I woke up today and it was the year 2016. The year 2016 isn’t strange, and I suppose waking up isn’t all that strange (unless you’re a morning person and get up at 5am – weirdos), but somehow I missed the fact that we started a new year. I’ve never been one for making resolutions or marking the start of the new year with any empty significant promises, so the calendar roll-over must have snuck past me. Opting out of a New Years Eve party isn’t particularly strange, especially when charged with caring for a tiny human who has no concept of time beyond “now” (as in “feed me now” with extra emphasis on the now). I suppose refusing to acknowledge the passage of time by keeping last year’s calendar perpetually displayed on December 2015 could even be construed as somewhat normal had I not already marked December 31st through with a big red “X”, betraying both my innocence and sense of good housekeeping.

The strangeness of waking up in 2016 lies somewhere between yesterday, when I was oblivious to the date, and tomorrow, when I’ll likely have moved past any semblance of significance contained within today. The realization of it being the year 2016 only occurred to me now: two weeks into January, and only after sitting down to write a blog post based on our monthly #Architalks prompt. Where did the time go? What did I do with 2015? What should I do with 2016? What is that smell [insert new mom joke here]? These are pretty easy questions to answer in a general sense (especially that smelly one), but when I really start to think more deeply about my successes, failures, goals and aspirations, I have these moments where it feels almost like an out-of-body experience. As a highly visual person, I can replay images in my head of the past and construct imagery of possibilities for the future. I ‘watch’ them from a different viewpoint, as if I’m an observer to the events of my own life. It is during these reflections and daydreams that I can evaluate my life from a different perspective.

Before baby arrived, I had a few bouts of sickness in my 30 years, but was generally in very good health. With the arrival of our daughter almost five weeks before her due date, I spent two weeks in the hospital with potentially life-threatening pregnancy complications. Now safely on the other side (and with a host of expecting friends to compare notes with), I can clearly see how fortunate I am to be healthy and to have a healthy, happy baby. Before baby, I focused heavily on career advancement and personal achievement. My life goals were centered around very tangible constructs: products, places, and the like. Now, I contemplate what being a good role model looks like, or what values I want to instill into this tiny person. Previously, I worked fast and hard to do more, be more, and have more, without pausing to consider what the deeper costs to achieve these goals would be. Now, I carefully evaluate what the impacts will be to my health, peace of mind, relationships and happiness.


Ultimately, I’ve discovered that with the arrival of our little girl, my entire perspective on life has shifted. I never understood what people meant when they said that your priorities change when a baby arrives. I suppose it is true, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s not as if once the baby comes you suddenly wake up one day to throw out all your past goals, desires and dreams. I didn’t simply stop caring about the things I used to spend my time on, I just cared about them in different ways. I viewed them through a new lens, a new perspective. It was as if I had a moment of realization and clarity, with full resolve and empowerment that lasted beyond the setting of a new year’s resolution. Previous life goals were still important, but on a different timeline. They were still legitimate longings, but I sought to achieve them in a different way. It didn’t turn out to be an either/or proposition as I had once imagined, but rather a both/and pursuit. It’s a shifting not of the “what” but the “how”. The arrival of baby shifted my priorities in such a way as to trim the fat, simplify the path and get to the essence of what was truly important in my life.

I often refer to our little girl as my catalyst. She’s the reason I pause more often to savor life. She’s the reason every person in our family has made big changes to welcome her and be the best versions of ourselves. She’s the reason that 2016 is already in full swing and I didn’t seem to notice that the calendar still reads December 2015. I suppose I was too wrapped up in snuggles, smiles and spending time with her. I’m certain my life will be full of ways in which I re-evaluate the path I choose, and I’m grateful to this little person for shifting my perspective so that I can discover the path less traveled; one sure to be filled with adventure, satisfaction and hope.

Here’s to a New Year, and New Perspective!


The participants of this ArchiTalks blog post series are asking you to help a friend of ours who is dealing with a family tragedy. Rusty Long is an Architect based out of Portsmouth, Virginia, whose son Matthew is fighting for his life. Here is Matthew’s story, as told by his Dad, Rusty:

Matthew Long was born May 29th, 2013, happy, and seemingly healthy. Less than two days later his mother and I found ourselves in an neonatal intensive care unit waiting room, listening to a rushed intensive care doctor explain how our son needed immediate dialysis to save his life. The disease, he briefly explained, was one of a group of disorders called Urea Cycle Disorders, which impact the way the body breaks down protein. We later discovered that Matthew’s particular variant is called OTC Deficiency, a particularly severe form of it in fact, which results in a rapid rise of ammonia in the blood, called hyperammonemia, resulting in devastating neurological damage. This form of OTC is so severe, Matthew has virtually no peers who have survived it. Once the immediate crisis was arrested, we came to find out more about the disease and the impact of this initial event.

The disease is inherited, and the damage is permanent. Treatment consists of a combination of medications, low protein medical diet, and ultimately a liver transplant. Matthew was fortunate to experience no additional hyperammonemic events in the following fifteen months of life, and had a liver transplant on August 24th, 2014. The cure for the disease, a transplant, isn’t so much a cure as trading one condition for another. While we will never risk the chance of another ammonia spike, Matthew is on a half a dozen or more medications at any given time to avoid rejection. Despite these challenges, intensive daily therapy for cerebral palsy (a result of the initial damage), limited motor function, and various other challenges along the way, our son is remarkably happy and has changed all our lives for the better. He’s taught us to be stronger than we ever thought possible, to have faith beyond human understanding, and the immeasurable value of life.
The #ArchiTalks community is hoping to raise $5,500 to help Architect Rusty Long and his family reach their financial goal on If each reader of this post contributes a small amount, our impact will be massive and we can make a difference for Matthew’s family. Click here now and donate $2.00
Check out the other participants of the #Architalks series and be sure to find us on Twitter to keep up with everyone!

Enoch Sears – Business of Architecture (@businessofarch)
New Year, New Community on Business of Architecture

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)

Matthew Stanfield – FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
New Year, New CAD

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
New Year, New Adventures

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
new race new year new start

Mark R. LePage – Entrepreneur Architect (@EntreArchitect)
New Year. New Budget.

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
New Year, New Goals

Collier Ward – One More Story (@BuildingContent)
New Year, New Business

Nicholas Renard – dig Architecture (@dig-arch)
New Year, A New Hope


Jes Stafford – Modus Operandi Design (@modarchitect)
New Year. New Gear.

Cindy Black – Rick & Cindy Black Architects (*)
New Year, New Casita

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
New Year, New Underwear

Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design (@EquityxDesign)
New Year, New Era

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
“new year, new _____”

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
New Year, New Plan

Amy Kalar – ArchiMom (@AmyKalar)
New Year, New Adventures

Michael Riscica – Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
New Year, New Life!

Stephen Ramos – BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)
New Year, New Home

brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
New Year, New Adult Architect

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
A Little Premature


Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w)
new year, new [engagement]

Sharon George – Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge)
New Year, New Business

Brinn Miracle – Architangent (@simplybrinn)
New Year, New Perspective

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice AIA (@egraia)
The New New

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
New Year New Reality

Anthony Richardson – That Architecture Student (@anth_rich)
New Year New Desk


Greg Croft – Sage Leaf Group (@croft_gregory)
New Year, New Goals


Jeffrey A Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
New Year New Office

Aaron Bowman – Product & Process (@PP_Podcast)
New Year, More Change

Kyu Young Kim – Palo Alto Design Studio (@sokokyu)
New Year, New Office Space


Jared W. Smith – Architect OWL (@ArchitectOWL)
New Year, New Reflection

Rusty Long – Rusty Long, Architect (@rustylong)
New Year, New Direction

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