Image Image Image Image Image
Scroll to Top

To Top

Rants and Wisdom



In Rants and Wisdom

By lthomas


On 22, Jun 2015 | In Rants and Wisdom | By lthomas

I have been seeing and reading this term more recently. Or perhaps, now that it is summertime, things slow down a bit and I am more ready to listen.

I am starting my 29th year as the owner of this business. How do I always remember how long I have been doing this thing, this self-employment-becoming-a-business-owner-and-employer thing? Simple: My son just had his 28th birthday.


I started Melville Thomas Architects when he was born, not wanting to return to the given hours of a corporate job, but wanting and, more importantly, needing to work. Just try raising a family on one architect’s salary. Not happening. But I still wanted to do what I loved — Architecture, design, making things and drawing. I have written about this life journey in several previous essays and written about what I do and why I do it. What I care about.


Now, here I am staring down at 30 years at Melville Thomas, years full of both pride and exhaustion. And I wonder if it is time to do something else for a while. You know, “pivot.”


For an Architect, a creative person like me, what could a pivot look like?
  • I could now take that sometimes ridiculed “Gap Year,” you know, the year before going to college, when you travel the world on someone else’s dime trying to decide what to do when you grow up.
  • Or I could go on “sabbatical.” This the term used in educational circles for time off to further fine tune your educational and teaching path, typically on the university’s dime.
  • Or maybe now would be a good time to take my maternity leave. I never had the luxury to take it before. I had a fledging business and projects were either completed or not. It’s hard to tell a client that I would finish their drawings in six months—no problemo, right?


I can say that I am not certain what the pivot will be right now. But the feeling that I should pivot is there, and getting stronger. I would want to leave this firm in good shape for another 30-plus years, with talented people in place who are as passionate about Architecture and design as I am and who also have some brains to run a business, because these are very different skills. Getting work, doing the work, paying and supporting the talented people that help get it out the door, taxes, rent, insurance. That’s the business end of the design business.


I might want to teach. Business skills for women entrepreneurs, sketching or drawing. I am still passionate about drawing by hand, and it seems like a dying art for many young architects. I could have more time to volunteer. I might want to just make things. Design, create and make. Fabric to fashion? Clay to pottery? I find these ideas very satisfying.

Luckily I have time to figure this out. Children grown and gone. Firm strong.

Stay tuned… I see a pivot in my future.