Several weeks ago, my mom asked me to help her pick a paint color for an all-white bathroom. I chose an understated, grey toned purple by Farrow & Ball (more on my obsession with this British wall covering company another time) called Brassica.
What did I base this on? Not much, honestly. There was nothing else in this room, no competing colors, no existing measures holding me back... I just felt compelled to try this hue. Now, weeks later, I am seeing purple rooms everywhere - on HGTV, in my favorite design mags, in Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn.
Why is this? It's clearly unrealistic to think that my color choice for a small bathroom in Manhattan spurred this deluge of violet-inspired decorating (as vain as I may be), so then why the recent gravitation towards purple? The only clear explanation I can offer, is that it must be a matter of perception.
This happens all the time; spy a gorgeous pair of boots on the woman in line next to you, and then see them on three more people the next week. Start looking into a new SUV, and then see it all over the parking lot at the mall. Learn a new word, and then see it everywhere. Alas, apparently it is not my design powers that spur this trend. Apparently there is a name for it: The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.
According to Wikibin.org, "The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon occurs when a person, after having learned some (usually obscure) fact, word, phrase, or other item for the first time, encounters that item again, perhaps several times, shortly after having learned it." Hmmm... who knew? If the theory holds true, you'll hear about it again soon.
So it's happening to me again right now in another aspect of my life: working with my husband Mike. As I've mentioned before, I've recently started working side by side with him on his business. This concept of a husband-wife duo is certainly not a new one, but I've seen examples cropping up everywhere around me. Case in point, last week we were watching Up All Night (a new favorite show of ours - a hilarious half-hour comedy starring Christina Applegate and Will Arnett about their lives as new parents). Reagan (Applegate) works as a producer on her best friend's Oprah-esque talk show, and her husband, Chris, (Arnett) is a stay-at-home dad. He takes a gig doing a recurring guest spot on the show, and suddenly she finds him everywhere - in her office, on her lunch break, in the women's bathroom. She hates working with him.
Uh oh. I anxiously stole glances at Mike as we watched the show, side by side, chuckling at the obvious comedy of them awkwardly working together, collapsing their at-home and at-work worlds into one. Is this how Mike feels about us working together? Does he cringe when I walk into his office with my coffee cup and pink file folder? When I set up shop across the desk from him?
"It's like our living room here," Chris jokes as Reagan gives a wan smile. Soon Chris is getting calls in her office, giving her advice on how to do her job, and even checking her spelling on work emails. Shoot. I do that! I look over, Mike's still smiling. Is that a knowing, "I know how you feel Reagan" smile? Or a "Ha, this is hilarious, thank goodness Ellie isn't like that" smile?
The situation arose again earlier this week when Mike and I were at the Bruce Springsteen concert. (Bruuuuuuuce!) There he was, swinging around the mic stand, interacting with the crowd, dancing on the piano, sliding across the stage... all with his wife not more than 10 feet away from him. Bruce's wife, Patti Scialfa, is a talented singer and songwriter on her own, but is arguably most well-known for her status as back-up singer and musician in Bruce's E Street Band. So there they were, in front of thousands of people, dancing and singing together. Just another day at the office for them.
Clearly this is different from our situation, right? I mean, Mike's but he's not a rock star. Right? (Okay, honey, you're a rock star in your own right...but let's see you crowd surf over your clients' heads like Bruce did with his fans. See what I mean?) But the question remained: does he mind "sharing the stage" with me?
Me? I'm loving it. I love seeing him in his element: working with clients, fielding calls left and right, simultaneously answering emails and employees' questions without batting an eye or losing focus. It's downright attractive. It's a luxury that I have that not many people are afforded. Seeing the one you love doing what they love... it's inspiring.
I'm also loving the thought that I'm contributing to our family business. The idea that I am able to offer something constructive to our livelihood is intoxicating. Each time I hear that Mike got a call from a prospective client who read one of my blog entries, or someone who saw the photos of the house I designed and liked it so much they felt compelled to hire him, I am invigorated and inspired to work harder for him. For our family. For our business.
So I asked him the question that had been on my mind since we watched that episode of 'Up All Night.' On the car ride home from the Izod Center after reveling in the chemistry of Bruce and Patti on stage together, singing their hearts out, stealing loving glances between sets, and making beautiful music together in the way that only a husband and wife duo can, I asked Mike how he felt about us working together. I referenced the show, and the relationship between Bruce and Patti, and waited anxiously to hear his response.
Thankfully, it was a positive one. He smirked. True, he may not always enjoy me glancing over his shoulder at his emails and contracts, and adding my two cents at the end of a phone call he has just made, but he confirmed that the benefits of our working relationship easily outweigh the downfalls. And at that moment I knew I was again afforded a luxury that most people never get to experience - getting praised for doing what I love, for the person I love. I'm one lucky girl, and that's a pattern I'm thankful to be seeing over and over again.
Ellie Mroz is the C.A.O. and Design Specialist for Michael Robert Construction, a Westfield-based Design/Build General Contractor. http://www.MichaelRobertConstruction.com andhttp://www.njdesignbuild.com