this is a mood board i made on Friday based on MPD Vision's 'wanderlust' trend color palette, predicted for Fall/Winter 2013/14.

note to designers: they are offering a 125-page trend book for £9.99 (about $15) here. you can download a FREE mini-version of the trend book (including the 'wanderlust' trend description/palette) there by clicking on the link at the bottom of the descriptive text.

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the idea of 'wanderlust' obviously resonates with me and my whole experience of expatriating to the Netherlands. coincidentally, we celebrated my first five years here this past weekend.

i love that quote i included on the mood board and used as the title of this post: 'you can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.' (Christopher Columbus)

i guess i kind of equate wanderlust with restlessness and a desire to be transported to another place. by the time i left NYC in 2007 i really craved a new environment and a fresh start.

these past five years here have obviously been the greatest test of character and the biggest personal challenge i have ever faced. besides moving to a foreign country, learning a foreign language, leaving family and friends behind, there were also a few major life events that took place: the birth of my first daughter, getting married, purchasing our first home, starting my own business and the birth of my second daughter - in that order) ...

but then again, i knew this experience would be a gigantic test, and I chose it for that (and other) reasons. i desperately wanted to confront, and hopefully overcome, some of my most annoying personal limitations. i had been able to live with them - sidestep them - in a place that was familiar. being shy and timid, a perfectionist, playing it safe and generally holding myself back from going for the things i really wanted because i didn't want to fail, look stupid or inspire criticism ... that was my m.o.

i knew if i held fast to those qualities here i'd die a quick and painful death. by surrounding myself with challenges great and small, by basically choosing a world that i would in some ways have to move through at a constant disadvantage to those around me, i'd have to acknowledge and to share my mistakes, imperfections, weaknesses and inadequacies, even with the strangest stranger on the street.

sometimes, even now, i will open my mouth to say something to a stranger on the street, or in a shop, and my accent will inevitably slip out. maybe i am acutely self-conscious (maybe i am not totally rid of those vestiges of my former self), but it always seems to register in the surprised eyes of the person i'm talking to. 'she's not from here. she's not one of us. she's different.'

in a land where, for better or worse, difference is not always appreciated. i guess that is every land, every town, every party ...

there are many times, in the last five years, that I've beat myself up about speaking Dutch like an eloquent second grader, or about not being able to maneuver my bike (the primary mode of transportation in the Netherlands) like the natives. Dutch people (including my husband) can eat bananas, operate their iPods and balance their kids on their shoulders while biking (helmetless, naturally) in rush hour traffic, just inches from passing cars. i get a rapid heartbeat just thinking about it ...

i think i have had higher highs and lower lows than i would have had had i stayed in a familiar place.

but five years is a milestone, and maybe a good point to stop and give myself some credit where credit is due. credit for the courage, the perseverance and the strength that has gotten me this far. of course it's still a work in progress, but even now i can already say i have gained so much from this experience. somehow stars have aligned, paths have crossed with some pretty powerful (in the sense of inspirational) people, experiences have been had ... and as a result i have learned one inalienable and invaluable truth that i will take with me into the future:

in some ways i have changed, taken on new characteristics, new forms. but other things about me are as they've always been. ironically, in going through what i had expected to be a process of 'change', possibly the most valuable thing i've learned is what is unchangeable about me. the love and joy i feel for the people in my life, the passion i have for this work that i do, the gratitude i feel for the place that i'm at. these are the things that make me truly me, that i am proud of, and that i don't need to be afraid of damaging or losing, because they will be with me no matter where i stand, walk or live on this Earth. and i will work for them, fight for them, every moment, every day, month, year ... as long as i stay close and true to me, i have nothing to fear in the world around me, or any of the things in it, over which i have no control.

on top of that, i now recognize that all those limitations i battled with in the past are not inherently a part of me. so wherever i go from here, the load will be lighter.

wanderlust is then, for me, synonymous with courage, strength, weakness (strength in weakness) and a new found sense of freedom. 'losing sight of the shore' means embracing your own vulnerabilities, laying them bare.

it means leaving, before you even know where you are going.

i know i am not there yet, but i also know, now, that i am my own best compass. here is to the new frontier, the next five years ...

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i'm feeling so connected to and inspired by this trend concept that i think it will keep me busy for a few months. and then i need to get the work in front of clients by Fall 2012. as of this weekend i am seriously considering 'making my debut' at the Printsource trade show in NYC Jul 30 - Aug 2. i'd have to make 80 designs by then, which is totally insane, but other than that it seems like a fantastic idea ...

to cross the ocean, again :)

my husband and i made a chart of how many hours i work in a week, to try to figure out if this is even in the neighborhood of 'realistic'. it turns out i work an average of 43 hours a week, in addition to being a full-time mom. did i mention that i don't sleep much?

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p.s. some of the images in this mood board were taken from this month's Dutch publications of Elle, Red and VTWonen.