Can You Hear Me Now?

About a year ago, I was considering a significant change in my professional world. I teach in a public high school and had been approached by a private, religiously affiliated school in my area to consider teaching there. To say that I was torn is an understatement. I was blessed to be working in a school often referred to as the “best kept secret” in our county because of its small size and close-knit community with a big heart. However, in case you’re not involved in education or have missed the headlines, public education is a mess right now. For teachers, the demands keep on piling up and the funds keep on getting cut in a climate defined by teaching to tests with very little accountability placed on students. The private school seemed to be an easy fix to those problems. More importantly though, the prospect of being able to express my spirituality freely in the process of mentoring youth was quite tempting. Still, I was content where I was, no need to fix what wasn’t broken. As I struggled with whether to entertain the idea of a switch, I prayed over and over again to God, asking for a sign of what I should do.

He gave it to me. As I drove to school the morning after my first incessant series of requests to Him, I saw a rainbow. Not just any rainbow, a rainbow right over the school I currently teach at. I would like to say I recognized the sign and listened right away, but I can be rather, well, slow at times. A good friend whom I taught with had just been diagnosed with cancer and she lived right by the school, so when someone pointed out that God had sent her a rainbow, I quickly dismissed the notion that God could be speaking to ME through that rainbow.

A week and two more rainbows directly over the school later, I still didn’t get it. I struggled through my decision on my own, deciding to stay put after countless hours of back and forth, pros and cons, worries, guilt and strife. As soon as I made the decision, though, I felt this immediate sense of peace and finally acknowledged that maybe just maybe, God really had been trying to speak to me all along. I simply wasn’t listening. I can just picture Him sitting back and chuckling at me, like what I do when my Little Miss Independent 3-yr-old insists on doing something “all by herself”. I find it slightly comical to witness the irony of her kicking and crying, “I can’t do it,” because she can’t accomplish a task on her own, but boy do those cries escalate to wails if I offer assistance. “No! I do it my own!!!” Yes, I feel sure that I know exactly how He felt watching me stumble through that week. Fine, do it yourself. But it would be so much easier if you would just let me help a little. If only you would LISTEN!

Double rainbow

My Sign

Since that time I have seen countless rainbows. Honestly, I am sure that I have seen more rainbows in the past year than in all of my previous 35 years combined. Is it just because I’m paying attention? Maybe, but I believe it’s much more than that. Rainbows aside, this has been one of the most difficult years of my life but also one of tremendous spiritual growth. I refuse to believe that it’s all coincidence. You see, I’ve not only seen regular rainbows, but a couple of double rainbows and even a triple rainbow! The first double rainbow I had ever seen appeared on my husband’s birthday in June! I saw rainbows on my brother-in-law’s birthday (March), my son’s birthday (November), and most recently my oldest nephew’s birthday in December. I also saw one over my sister and brother-in-law’s house as we went to visit them just after their son’s birthday (August).  I have seen so many rainbows that I stopped snapping pictures of them months ago!

Looking back at the cumulative sum of these rainbows is astounding, but I have to admit that it took me months along the way to really truly accept that there might be a message in them for ME. Confirmation came to me in the most unlikely way. My family and I belong to a small church full of true believers who ooze faith and love. Through a series of events that only God could orchestrate, our pastors reconnected with some distant relatives of theirs who are also involved in ministry. They were invited to come to our church one Sunday in August, and after the service they stuck around to pray with people on a personal level. My husband and I introduced ourselves to them only by name, yet as we began, they prayed over us for things that no stranger possibly could have ever known. I will never forget the moment when the wife leaned in to me and said “God wants you to know that it’s Him. He’s been talking to you and you want to believe that it’s Him but you doubt. Don’t doubt, because that feeling that you have that it’s really Him is right. It is.” WHOA!

Are you like me? Are you ignoring a voice that’s whispering to you? Are signs being laid out that you’re missing? Is your soul crying out but being muted by the chaos of the world around you? Is God speaking to you but being drowned out by all the other noises?

Truly Alive In My HOME

My recent post, Willingness… To Do What?, was about how I am choosing to be “willing” this year.  Willing to do what?  Well, many things actually.  My list of big things I am “willing” to do include to practice more patience, be more focused and a super biggy – finish my book.  Heck I’m even willing to cuss less when playing Spades on my IPad (my imaginary partner, Megan really makes D.U.M.B. moves over and over!)  Most importantly, I am willing to be me in all the areas of my life, no longer afraid to completely expose myself.

As a young girl I “felt” there was something I was supposed to do.  Perhaps many of you knew as kids or teenagers what your vocation in life would be.  I had no clue, only that there was something.  At the same time while growing up, I was a good Catholic.  I used my Rosary, went to Confession and Communion regularly and devoutly prayed daily.  It must have been weird because I’ll never forget one time I overheard my mother telling my grandmother (my dear Nana) that she was afraid I might become a Nun.  In my child’s mind I deduced that I was too religious.  Well, I’m here to tell you my mother worried for naught – I love physical intimacy way too much to be celibate (sorry kids but it’s the truth)!  Through the years I did stay for want of a better word “religious”.  In college I joined Campus Crusade.  As a married adult I was always active in church.  But for all the years and the various stages of my life my faith participation was in mainstream ways that kept me “safe”.  Even my “then” husband kept me in check.  To this day I can still remember him parking at church with our three kids in the back seat each Sunday.  More often than not after turning off the car engine he would turn and look at me.  He would then gently pat my leg and say, “ Now baby, you know you learn a lot more when you listen so please don’t speak up in Sunday school.”  Not speaking up kept me safe from potential criticism (at home and everywhere else) so I would stifle myself, certain that he was lovingly telling me I was too opinionated, particularly when it came to my faith.  Call it poor self-esteem if you want but I somehow saw my devoutness as a negative and wished I could be looser and more fun.  (Silly me!)

Understand that I’m not looking for sympathy here.  I don’t for a second blame either one of them for making me feel like whom I really was needed some toning down.  I’m the one who chose to take their words and let them affect me in a negative way to the point that I kept my deeply spiritual nature at bay.

Beginning at the age of 40 serious trauma-drama began to creep into my life over and over again.  Each new challenge strengthened my faith only I still kept my spirituality somewhat to myself.  So, I guess I had to get a huge roadside flare to get my attention.  That flare came on December 6, 2006 in the form of a woman from my past suddenly there to expose stuff.  To this day I am grateful for her and the far-reaching tentacles of consequences her talk with me created.  Many things in my life changed at that point and I truly, truly began to open up and express my spiritual side.  I started a Blog.  However, even with my Blog I was gingerly showing my true self trying to be ever so subtle with expressing my views.

All that changed when I received the email from Lori.  Lori’s word for me, “WILLINGNESS” reinforced the voice I had been hearing in my head for several months telling me to put myself out there once and for all.  I call it coming out of the closet because to me, I am choosing to tell the truth about myself much like others do when they have something important to say about themselves that they are afraid to share but can’t hold in any longer.  So here’s what I’m willing to say…

I am a deeply spiritual human being. I believe that my body is a vessel for my Soul.  I believe that this vessel should be as free of negative things like anger, hostility, jealousy and fear as possible to honor my Soul.  I believe that my Soul is more important than my Ego.  I passionately believe in God, the Universe and yes, even Angels.  I believe in goodness and want to be an active participant in spreading it.  Though I view myself as a simple Soul, I am an “Old Soul” with a deep understanding of things.  I believe that I have a purpose in life that is meant to be for the greater good of mankind.  I believe that I am a healer and have the gift of healing with my words.  I also believe I have the ability to heal through creating beauty spatially and when I work in people’s homes as a Decorator I feel the energy and know where it needs to be balanced.  I have no desire to attach myself to any specific denomination or creed, as I believe my purpose is to include rather than exclude.  While I will not hold tight to religious rules and regulations, I spend much of my time in prayer and would put on my Bucket List a chance to go on a pilgrimage journey.  (By the way I have no real clue what I mean by that – just that my heart and Soul yearn for it.)  I believe that our world is a changing and people like me want to show a better way through love and care.  I believe that Peace is attainable.  I believe that Love is attainable.  I believe that Harmony is attainable.  It is all a matter of choice.  Most of all my spirituality is part of every moment of every day and at the end of each day my hope is that it has shown in all my actions and yes, reactions to my life’s journey that day – including what I write on my Blog.

I read something the other day that really spoke to me.  “Many of us are struggling to stay true to what we know is the right way for us to be.”  That’s how I was for over 56 years.  I struggled with who I am because I thought I was weird.  No longer.  The rest of the time I have here on this earth I’ll be truly alive in my Home, my vessel for my Soul.  I’m finally free to be me.  Oh and after all these years I’ve figured out what I’m supposed to do as my vocation in life – encourage and promote Peace, Love and Harmony.

To being alive…

Willingness…To Do What?

I got an email from my dear friend, Lori Saylor Milan the other day. We’ve known each other for many years and although she lives in Portland, Oregon and I’m in Chicagoland we have a bond that’s tight. You see we met at a very traumatic time in both of our lives through a Bible Study back around 1996. Since then when we talk or write to each other it’s as if we can both feel the deep connection and by the way, we both know it is a connection made by God and the Universe. No doubt about it.

Anyway, months can go by in between our emails to each other so when she wrote to me the other day it was wonderful to hear from her. Little did she know the incredible inspiration her words were for me. Here’s what she wrote:

“I wanted to tell you Happy New Year and also to see if you are doing all right. I had not seen your blog for a while. I hope David is doing good. I know you have lots of coals in the fire and just might be plain ole busy but I do hope that is all that is going on.

I started a new tradition several years ago. It involves having friends and family pick an angel card from a deck when we meet at Christmas or New Years. I have all my co-workers, children, siblings and friends take one. The angel cards have words on them. During the year each person is supposed to remember their word and meditate and think about it on and off. Look all around you for the meaning. I drew a card for you.

Your word for 2013 is: WILLINGNESS

I’ve reread this email several times that she sent on January 16th. Each and every dang time goose bumps erupt on my arms; tears form in my eyes and incredible warmth heats up my heart. Lori picked the perfect card for me. And just because I am obsessed with defining words, here’s the definition of Willingness:

Willingness: of or relating to the will or power of choosing

What an awesome word for me to have for the year. And, it couldn’t have been timelier. You see, I haven’t been able to write for a good while now. Yeah sure, I’ve been super busy with work. But truth be told, since September my life has been inundated with really tough stuff. I’m talking gut wrenching, heavy stuff – or maybe I’m just too sensitive. (N.O.T.) If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a gazillion times that my life is crazier than a Lifetime movie or daytime Soap. And these last several months have had some doozie sagas!

Hence, the desire to write was gone. Kaput. Besides loss of desire I was afraid. Afraid? Yep. Afraid to accidentally (or worse, on purpose) say something that had to do with one of the several trauma-dramas going on around me. Too risky for sure. Funny thing though – even though I wasn’t writing, my mind was going, going, going. Thoughts, ideas and words were whirling and twirling through my mind all day long. All of it needed to go on paper- well, actually onto my computer. And all the while this nagging voice in my head kept saying, “Write what you are led to write and NOT what you think you should write.” Interesting.

Timing is everything. Lori’s word inspired me to be willing. Willing to open myself up once more, willing to be risky, willing to put myself out there without fear of loosing readers with the direction my posts will take, and willing to share my stories with others NOT to inform but to inspire. Inspire what you say? Peace. Love. Harmony.

So here I am writing again. Lori’s word willed me to get back to my computer. Joy, oh joy! I forgot how much I love it! There is some kind of deep pleasure I get in writing. In fact, for me it’s much like doing a puzzle – it is cathartic and calming all at the same time and I simply loose myself in it. And most importantly, at the risk of being bold, I know that I’m a good storyteller. I believe God and the Universe gifted me in this way. Which leads me back to that nagging voice in my head. But more on that in my next post…

Roadside Flares

Somewhere recently I read something about messages we all receive. The author called them “roadside flares to get our attention”. Thank you Lori for your email message. For sure it was a roadside flare for me. It got my attention. It inspired me to willingly throw caution to the wind and do what I love to do and what I believe God and the Universe had in mind for me all along. Besides that I have also discovered multitudes of ways the word “willingness” can be used in my daily walk. I will forever be indebted to you my dear friend!

I’m paying it forward

Lori honored me with taking the time to choose a word for me. It means a lot to all of us to know someone wants to give us a gift of his or her time in a way such as this. So I’m paying it forward. Dear readers, consider the word “willingness”. How does it speak to you? What could you be willing to do in 2013?

  • Right a wrong?
  • Resolve a conflict?
  • Spend quantity and quality time with your family?
  • Loose a few pounds?
  • Go green?
  • Get back to that hobby you love?
  • Play more?
  • Join a club?
  • Do charity work?
  • Pray more?
  • Stretch yourself?
  • Start each morning with a smile?
  • Sleep more?
  • Laugh more?
  • Feel free to be you?

Have fun with this word and heck, take the time to pay it forward to someone else. And, write to me if you feel led to and let me know what you choose to do with this word!

Just be willing…

Simple Ways To “Ground” Yourself In Your Home

As an “armchair psychologist of the home” I believe that everything begins in the home – so much so that my design philosophy grew from this belief and so I approach each and every decorating job with this key premise.  No matter what we do or where we go in life, I believe how we act, react and interact in the outside world takes root from how we live in our homes.  To put it simply, how we live in our homes should “ground” us, giving us the foundation to make us emotionally and mentally stable to go out into the world.  This means your homespace is vital to your essence.

I have always been a lover of Nature.  Hiking, biking, camping, kayaking, horseback riding, spending time at the beach, boating, white water rafting or gardening – no matter what the venue, my most favorite times have been spent outdoors.  For me being outdoors was a pleasurable experience.  Only after some trauma-drama infiltrated my life several years ago did I understand the healing powers of Nature.  Nature is flat-out the best tonic out there.  Period.  With this revelation I consciously decided to bring nature into my home in every way that I could knowing that if it worked for me outdoors by golly, it would work indoors, too.

This newfound revelation also became an integral component to my design philosophy and ever since, I have incorporated elements of Nature into all my jobs albeit often in really subtle ways that are only picked up on subconscious levels.  This allows for “grounding” to occur.  I also share with my clients’ ways to infuse Nature in their homes themselves (after I leave their nests) and on a larger scale to audiences such as the readers of my blog as in my post, Two Colors Every Homespace Needs.

Think of bringing Nature into your homespace as being part of getting back to the basics of what the earth has given us, literally.  Call it “grass roots” decorating.  Or call it simplifying your décor.  Heck, you can even look at it as a version of what is called “earthing”, a fascinating concept of connecting with the earth in order to become more balanced.  Ironically, just the other day Susan Weems Muehl, LIPH’s Nature Photographer emailed me a bevy of new nature images (thank you dear friend) and also mentioned that she was practicing the concepts of earthing.  No doubt about it, Susan and I are birds of a feather flocking together!  Both of us absolutely positively get the importance of nature and the earth’s connection to our bodies.  (With all due respect, “earthing” is more about physically being grounded; I am merely relating it to your home and how to bring Nature into your space.  To learn more about “earthing,” read the book, Earthing-The most important health discovery ever? Or go to www.earthing.com as well. )  Whatever you choose to call bringing Nature indoors, just do it.  Here are some simple, sure fire ways:

  • Decorate your home with found things in nature
  • Open up the windows and let fresh air into your home
  • Decorate with live plants, wildflowers and aromatic herbs
  • Pay attention to the seasons and honor them in your décor
  • When building, purchasing or moving into a new home, choose a home that offers you plenty of natural light (sunshine is healing)

Like many of us, I have times I’m in a real funk. I was in one recently for more days than I’d care to admit to.  Focusing too much attention on issues I had no control over and magnifying issues tenfold in my mind had gotten the better of me and quite frankly, I didn’t even find myself good company.  It’s a darn good thing my David had been traveling during this funk or he would have been rolling his eyes at me constantly, ignoring me or worst yet, pulling out his gorgeous silver hair over my attitude.  While in my funk my niece, Marli called me to chat and just my tone of voice when I answered her call made her aware that something was amiss.  I ended up telling her about my seemingly endless days of funk and she listened attentively.  Then she disrupted my pity party by saying, “Aunt Jamie, do what you always say to do.  Go to the woods.  Go to Nature.  Let it restore you.”  Whoa, was she preaching to me what I always preach?  Yep, she sure was.  And guess what?  I took her up on it.  I got off the phone and headed to the woods.  I simply needed an extra large dose of Nature’s medicine – more than my usual daily amount!  I walked and I walked, breathing in all the wonderful smells of Nature as I viewed the changing fall scenery.  So long funk. So long pity pot.  Nature restoreth my soul and I returned home more in tune with the earth.  I filled my lungs with the scent of fresh lavender on the counter.  I enjoyed watering all my plants.  I paid attention to the breeze coming through my opened windows and reveled in the sounds of nature I could hear coming into my home.  Later, as I readied for bed, I felt free of much of my recent anxiety and internally thanked Marli for her advice.

I believe that we all must singly as well as collectively connect or reconnect with Nature in order to truly be balanced and healthy. Infusing elements of the natural world in your home helps to accomplish this and is the single best way to ground yourself.  Remember to bring Nature indoors.  It might seem simple but simple’s good right?  And it might be a small step compared to the “barefoot steps” of earthing but by doing this you will give yourself gifts of healing that only Nature can provide.

To Nature…

Conscious Living

Somewhere along the road of life I realized the deep, deep connection our homes we live in have to our being HOMES.  LIPH began as a way for me to write and speak to others about this connection of Home to our HOMES.  As a decorator I know first hand the beauty that we can create in our homes and furthermore, I clearly get the importance of making our space reflect our individual uniqueness.

B&A Interiors website

Our new website!

Recently my company launched a new look for our website.  By the way, a great big shout out to my fab team of designers that made it happen, Sean Kalooky and John Baxter of Big Sushi.  You guys truly created a look on the site that reflects our personal “branding” of our company.  (Check us out at www.bainteriors.com.)

Anyway, my point to this is that now that our new website has launched I feel I’m further on the road to fulfilling my dream of using stories of people, places and things that I’ve connected with to communicate to others the beauty of life- both in our spatial homes and our being HOMES.  I blog on the B&A website about our spatial homes specific to design and decor work.  LIPH incorporates HOME in all its interpretations – our spatial home, our being HOME and our Earth home.  I feel blessed to be able to share with others ways to live in peace and harmony through what I write, what I speak and what I design and decorate.  Honestly, I’ve had some really unusual experiences and chance encounters (some would make great story line for Lifetime TV) that have taught me valuable lessons of life.  In fact, if my son-in-law has told me once, he’s told me a gazillion times that I am a magnet for encounters out of the norm!  I believe that in sharing these encounters as stories in a way that blends Home and HOME, you can learn from these experiences as well.  I hope so anyway!

Part of my message in both my writing and my design work is what I refer to as “Conscious Living”.  I absolutely positively believe that in both spaces (Home and HOME) it is vital to your essence that you live consciously.  Living consciously allows you to live in perfect harmony – with yourself, with others, with mankind and yep, with our Earth home.

What do I mean to live consciously? I love vocabulary so let me start with a definition.

Conscious: Fully aware of or sensitive to something

Clearly, it’s important to have consciousness – of whatever the experience or situation.  Being conscious means you are feeling, understanding and honoring the situation- yep, you’re fully alive!  And, I believe that in order to live in perfect harmony we must live consciously in both homes.  But, it’s a clear choice to do so.  How to do it?

Conscious Living in your Home

Here’s a way to live consciously in your Home

Here’s a way to live consciously in your Home

Living consciously within your spatial home is fairly simple.  It just takes desire, determination and dedication.  Examples of ways to achieve this range from caring about the Earth and how you incorporate this into how you live in your home, how you act in your home and how you decorate your home.  Here’s my top ten ways to achieve conscious living in your home:

  1. Make your home a “No Shoe Zone” to shoes worn outside.
  2. “Go Green” every way that you can.
  3. Bring Fresh Air into your home regularly.
  4. Reduce Noise Pollution.
  5. Reduce Waste.
  6. Buy locally grown and locally raised foods.
  7. Plant a garden each year and better yet, make it organic.
  8. Reduce Conspicuous Consumption.
  9. Reduce Clutter.
  10. Decorate your home as a unique expression of yourself.

Conscious Living in your HOME

Living consciously within yourself, your being HOME is vital to your essence in ways that greatly affect everything in your life.

Jimmy consciously living his life

Jimmy consciously living his life

The best way to consciously live in your being HOME is to honor who you are and live your life accordingly.  One way to do this is to choose a career that expresses who you are.  My son Jimmy, a lover of the outdoors and in particular, fly-fishing has done just that.  His work mirrors his passion for the outdoors!  Another way to live consciously is to respect who and what you are and freely express it.  Be yourself!  As I’ve mentioned in many of my posts, I learned this for myself after a chance encounter on a plane in 2006.  Believe me, that encounter was a defining moment in my life.  It brought me the clarity I needed to live consciously- yep, absolutely positively fully alive embracing who I am on every level.  I will forever be grateful for the experience!

Living consciously in one home affects the other homes in your life.   It’s kind of like that domino thing you know. Your spatial home, your being HOME, your earth home – they are all intricately connected to each other and so the transition from one to the next must be smooth for proper balance to be obtained in your life and quite frankly, the lives of all you come in contact with.

Take the opportunity today to evaluate your life and ask yourself how consciously you are living.  Whatever you determine, I do know that there is more bliss for yourself and those around you if you are living it fully alive!  So, just do it ~ in your home and your HOME!

To conscious living…

Words To Live By

The school year is coming to an end and graduations come with it.  Graduations from high school and college are milestones that are normally celebrated with words from either a guest speaker, the class Valedictorian or both.  And perhaps it’s because graduations have historically taken place in late May and early June that June is known as the traditional month for weddings.  I guess in years past (many years it seems like) girls finished school and immediately got married which meant June brides.  Whatever the case may be wedding ceremonies follow similar traditions as commencement exercises do and usually have a sermon (or homily) for the couple to give them words to live by in this new chapter of life they are embarking on.  Funny thing, the words spoken at life cycle events such as graduations and weddings have meaning for all those listening – not just the bride and groom or the graduate.  Just last May my niece got married and her grandfather was the officiating minister.  Reverend McAden’s words for Britney and Tim touched me so much that I used them in my blog post, The Sacredness of Home.   I believe that his words laid a great foundation for Britney and Tim and would for any young couple beginning a life together.  If you haven’t read this post, I encourage you to read it and absorb his words.  He truly speaks to what a home is made of.

This June I have a niece and a nephew graduating from high school.  And, I have a wonderful couple B&A Interiors is working with in rehabbing their new home in Uptown Charlotte planning to get married.  Don’t ask me why, but they are rehabbing, moving and getting married all at the same time.  In fact, they just moved into their new digs this past weekend and are getting married on June 9th.  Talk about stress!  Anyway, I came upon a message this morning in a blog that I read that really stayed with me.  Honestly, I cannot think of more fitting words to say to my niece, my nephew and my clients than those I read this morning.  They are such simple words from a powerful woman, Mother Teresa.  I truly believe that if Ciara, Carl, Katie and Seth grasp these words and choose to live by them, their lives will be wonderfully rich.  And if every one of us would also grasp these words and choose to live by them, well heck – we’d be a world absolutely, positively living in perfect harmony. So for Ciara, Carl, Katie, Seth and all of you out there, here are some powerfully simple words to live by…

 

People are often unreasonable, irrational and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.

 

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.

 

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
Succeed anyway.

 

If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.

 

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
Create anyway.

 

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.

 

The good you do today will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.

 

Give the best you have and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.

 

In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.


To living with intention…

 

Look for upcoming posts on the rehab of Katie and Seth’s home.  What an incredible transformation!

A Nursery With Room To Grow

Little Miss Blake

Little Miss Blake

I love everything about Home Decor and love to create unique environments.  In particular, I love to design and decorate nurseries and children’s’ rooms.  Not only are they fun, but they’re also a space that most of my clients are willing to “let go in” and let me be really, really creative.  I’ve done my share of nurseries and children’s rooms over the years in my career.  From baby boys to baby girls, “tweens” and teens – I’ve had fun with every single one regardless of the style or theme being incorporated into the design.  But I must say, nothing beats getting to be involved in someone I love’s room – like my first grandchild’s! My daughter, Sammi was expecting in December of 2010 so together we planned the nursery.  Even my daughter-in-law, Kathleen had input into it.  Team effort for sure!

We had several goals in mind for the design of the nursery that incorporated key parts of my personal design philosophy.  They were to:

  • Create a unique environment
  • Use colors and elements of Nature
  • Plan it so that the décor would transition and provide a space for Ansley to grow in
Magnolia Blossoms as wall art

Magnolia Blossoms as wall art

I don’t believe any two spaces should look alike which is why I say I like to create unique environments.  Ever one to say “Ignore the trends”, I prefer to design space with real personal touches.  That’s what really, really makes the space unique.  We accomplished this by decorating with things such as some of the Vintage collections both Sammi and Brent had as children (like their silver baby pieces and Sammi’s music boxes) to a framed “Onesie” Sammi’s gal pal, Blair Kernodle Scheepers gave her that was hand-stitched in South Africa where she lives.  Having this “Onesie” as wall art in Ansley’s nursery not only connects Sammi and Blair on a daily basis, but it is a piece that Ansley will always have to historically mark her infant days as well.  (She actually wore the “Onesie” and when she outgrew it, we had it framed.)  Seriously, I hope to one day see this piece in Ansley’s own home!

The Frog Prince

The Frog Prince

Using colors and elements from Nature is important to us and we are mindful of this in every space we work in.  So, the walls were painted Green (the color of Nature as I discussed in my posts, Using The Color Green In Home Décor and Two Colors Every Homespace Needs) and we created a wall of flowers as art for the space by using plates shaped like magnolia blossoms with hand-painted stems.  A shadowbox of hand-cut butterflies on the wall near her crib also connects the nursery to nature.  Finally, we added “The Frog Prince” sitting on the ledge of the door so that Ansley could connect with the natural world in a wonderfully whimsical way.

Sammi and I both are practical decorators and so creating a space that could transition to her “big girl” room easily was important to us.  Of course, every nursery needs a crib.  But, everything else in the room can transition to any age.  For example, the “changing table” is actually a dresser.  Simply remove the changing pad and it becomes a dresser for a big girl to put her clothes in.  And, my fave part of the room is the hand-painted initials on the wall.  The look of the initials is fabulous and really anchors the space, but once the crib is gone, voila – the initials become the “headboard” for Ansley’s big girl bed.

As a changing table

As a changing table

As a dresser

As a dresser

A view of the hand-painted Initials

A view of the hand-painted Initials

Ansley is nearing the ripe old age of eighteen months now.  I love nothing more than to sit on her nursery floor and have her bring books to me to read to her or to play peek-a-boo as she hides behind her crib.  I have no doubt that she is blossoming within her nursery nest.  And, I have no doubt she will continue to as she grows up still enjoying the décor of her space.  After all, her nest gives her plenty of room in which to grow!

Design Choices and Credits

Crib: Bratt Décor

Dresser: Furniture Classics, LTD

Lamp on Dresser: Thumprints

Hand-cut Butterflies: Found on Etsy

Crib Skirt Fabric: Bergamo

Stool Fabric: Zimmer+Rohde

Window Treatment Fabric: Bergamo

Custom Crib Skirt and Window Treatments: Laurel Lane Draperies

Rocker Fabric: Kravet

Custom Upholsterer: Privette’s Upholstery

Custom Corner Cabinet: Haefele & Associates

Magnolia Blossom Plates: Global Views

Artistic Painting: CKPaints (www.ckpaints.com)

Modern Artwork: Allposters

Custom Framing of Modern Artwork: Campania Fine Molding

Wall Color: Benjamin Moore 2147-40 “Dill Pickle”

Photography of all Images: Cameron Triggs Photography

 

To blossoming in life…

 

Spring ~ The Season For Strawberries

As I’ve written in earlier posts this spring, I love this season and all that it brings.  Trees with new leaves, grass greening up and flowers popping out of the ground are all part of what makes me feel “twitterpated” for sure.

One of my favorite things about spring is that the Strawberry fields begin to bloom and by late April and May beautiful red berries are ready to be picked.  Throughout the years my children were growing up, I took them strawberry picking every year that I could.  Dressed in our grungiest clothes and shoes (besides strawberry stains being a hassle, the fields are notoriously muddy) we would make an outing to pick strawberries.  Once home I would make jam from much of what we picked and of course, we’d eat them for days popping them into our mouths, mixed with other fruits for breakfast or as the crowning glory for dessert.

Heading to the fields

Heading to the fields

Something comes over me when I arrive at a farm to pick strawberries.  I’m giddy, excited and oddly nervous – clearly full of mixed emotions.  I’m giddy with knowing the sheer fun I’ll have, but the excitement about getting to pick mixes with worry that too many people will show up and “crowd” my space in this wonderful task.  You see, I like to imagine myself in the fields as if I’m Laura Ingalls on the prairie; picking berries so that Ma can make dessert for dinner.  Or that Mary and I (Laura’s sister) can take some of our own delicious strawberries in our baskets and go sit under the tree by the banks of Plum Creek and just laze the day away eating till our tummies and hearts are full.  (By the way, somehow Melissa Gilbert’s exposed Tattoos on DWTS just ruin my Laura image!)  I’m much this same way at Christmas Tree Farms, Pumpkin Patches and other “Pick your own Farms”.  So what I have to do is chatter inside my head to myself to remember to just enjoy the moment and not worry about how many strawberries I can take home.  After all, I can always go again!

At work picking strawberries

At work

This year I’ve already been strawberry picking and I have to say, it’s the best time amongst the strawberry plants I’ve ever had.  Why?  This year I got to go with my granddaughter, Ansley (God’s Littlest Angel).  Oh and we did let her mom, Sammi go, too by the way.  I happened to be in Charlotte working and so we set aside this particular morning for the simple pleasure of picking strawberries.  Now Ansley’s only seventeen months old so, we had no idea what to expect of her in the fields – especially since we opted NOT to take the stroller. But Good Golly Miss Molly, the child is a reincarnation of Laura Ingalls.  She knew Just. What. To. Do.  Totally serious about the work, she picked and picked – OK, she also ate and ate.  Sammi figured she ate at least 30 juicy strawberries.  But, she was precious to watch.  Ever so gently she would pick the berry and then plop it into the basket.  Each berry she put in the basket brought a smile to her face as if she was saying, “Ta Da, I did it just right.”   So, this wonderful excursion to the strawberry fields this year got me to thinking…

The time is Ripe

Having had such a wonderful time with both Sammi and God’s Littlest Angel, I knew it was a moment in the big picture of my life that I would always treasure.  I was reminded of a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The time is always ripe to do the right thing.”

Sure, the strawberries were ripe, but what was really ripe was the moment.  It was the right time to take the time to do the right thing – which was to spend time with my loved ones and especially not worry or obsess over who else drove up to the parking lot of the farm to pick strawberries, too.

And then it hit me.  The time really is always ripe to do the right thing.  We don’t have to wait.  For me, this means making the most of every single moment of every single day to do what is right in that moment.  Powerful words by a powerful man that I need to live by.  Think about it yourself and really digest the truth of this statement.  Yep, the time is always ripe to do the right thing.  We just have to do it.  Oh, and while writing this post I happened upon another wonderful quote, so perfect for this message about spending time with my granddaughter,

“Children are God’s Apostles, sent forth, day by day, to preach of love, hope and peace.“
James Russell Lowell

It’s true.  No matter what’s going on in the great big world, to a child it becomes condensed very simply to the moment and they are guided by a desire to love and yep, live in perfect harmony with those around them.  Hmmmmm…

Ansley eating a strawberry

Yum!

To grandchildren, the best dessert in life…

Using Visual Cues In Home Décor

Everywhere we turn there are visual cues for us.  Driving along the interstate there are billboards after billboards – especially if you are nearing “South of the Border” in Dillon, South Carolina.  Anyone traveling to the beaches in this area knows what I mean- billboards advertising the retail establishments of “South of the Border” are one after the other, literally. I’ve heard there are about 175 billboards advertising for it.  Then there’s the visual cues on the screen at the movie theatres showing people eating yummy treats from the concession stands to wet your appetites and thirsts and compel you to purchase these things before the movie starts.  Drive-in movies were the big thing when I was growing up and somewhere I heard that within the movies there were even visual cues that were so quick they were seen only on the subliminal level, meant to get us to the concession stand for popcorn and treats without even knowing it.  My family – we brought our own. My mom would pop up a huge grocery bag of popcorn and load the cooler for all of us to enjoy while we sat in the station wagon watching two back-to-back flicks.

Anyway, back to visual cues.  Visual cues are a type of sensory cue that work on both the conscious mind as well as the sub-conscious mind to affect us in some way.  Some visual cues (such as the ones at the movies) are meant to entice on a short-term basis.  Others such as the arrows on elevators are meant to instruct.  (They still don’t properly instruct me!)  Regardless of what the visual cue is for, it’s clear that they affect us.

I’m sure most of you over the years have created visual cues in your homes.  If you have children you have at some point most likely posted “Potty Charts” or “Good Behavior Charts”. I had a doorframe in my house where we kept a penciled measuring chart of each of the kid’s growth progress as they grew.  Each line marked the new height and date.  It was wonderful to look at over the years and reminisce and then really, really hard to leave when we moved on to another space!

But, what I’m talking about is a much subtler form of visual cues and is actually part of your decor.  Meant to be part of the décor, these types of visual cues affect the subconscious level of the mind and make you feel good in ways you don’t realize.  Here are some great ways to decorate with visual cues to bring good vibes into your space:

  • Have an area such as a decorative chalkboard to write daily inspirational messages to yourself, your family and guests.  My daughter-in-law, Kathleen painted the entire wall of her mudroom in chalkboard paint.  She writes her grocery list there, her “to do,” list, Ben’s “honey-do list” and friends can write fun comments on it when they visit.  This wall is like a living history wall of the goings on in the Aliff abode and continuously creates happiness.
  • Display a collection that gives you instantaneous feel good vibes such as a wall of crosses.  Several of my nieces do this in their homes, a tradition passed down from their mother, Patty.  This “wall of crosses” has even spilled over into other family members homes such as my niece, Marli’s home.  What a lovely way to constantly observe one’s faith, reflect on it and feel the calmness wash over you!
  • Find a decorative plaque of a positive quote that speaks personally to you and hang it somewhere in your space that you regularly see.  Or hang a piece of decorative art such as a clock I saw at a lake home recently.  The clock was stuck on 5:00.  Talk about instant smiles and instant relaxation.  (And thirst maybe?!?)
  • Accessorize with decorative pillows that have special meaning to you.  Pillows with whimsical quotes are examples that bring on the smiles.

One of the most heartwarming visual cues I have seen in a long time is in the home of a family friend, Jennifer.  Jennifer lost her sister a few years ago and has memorialized her love for her with a frame that includes a quote about sisters.  It reads,

“Sisters…

           from childhood memories to grown up dreams”

Cameron Triggs Photography

Cameron Triggs Photography

This visual cue speaks volumes of love and every time I see it I smile and feel gentle chill bumps erupt all over my body – a sure sign from the heavens above if you ask me!

Marli’s wall of crosses

Marli’s wall of crosses

The sky’s the limit on ways to infuse affirming visual cues in your home décor.  After all, each and every one of us can use more positive in our lives.  Our homes are our sanctuaries, meant to vitalize and revitalize us for living in the outside world.  Take every opportunity to create feel good vibes in your space, subtle decorative visual cues being one of them. Your heart, mind, body and soul will thank you and your entire being will blossom from the wonderful surroundings.  I guarantee it!

To loving life…

Using The Color Green In Home Decor

It’s springtime so open your front door or simply gaze out the window and what color do you see?  Unless you look up, chances are you’re seeing the color Green – Nature’s very own!  Yep, springtime is the perfect season to witness Nature’s predominant color in its entire splendor.  And with all the feel good vibes that come with the green of spring, it’s no wonder that the color Green itself has positive emotional impact.

Green:

A secondary color on the color spectrum, Green is a blend of the primary colors of Yellow and Blue.  Green symbolizes Health, Well-being, Prosperity and Life.  Green is the color most favored by people in the helping and healing fields.

The psychology of Green

As I wrote in my post, The Power Of Color, the use of color is a form of non-verbal communication.  The color choices you make in your space greatly impact it and as I discussed in the post, colors not only symbolize certain feelings, they have the power to evoke certain feelings as well.

Studies have shown that Green has its own effects on us.  For example, using green creates a calming and soothing atmosphere.  Here are some other effects Green has on us:

  • Helps to alleviate Depression
  • Reduces Anxiety
  • Reduces Fear
  • Nurtures us
  • Fills us with a sense of balance and harmony

It’s no wonder that many hospitals and medical establishments use Green as the color of choice for walls and fabrics!

Several people I know infuse shades of green in their own homespaces.  Oddly enough they are all in the medical field!  My childhood friend, Julie has soft sage walls in her dining room and splashes of green throughout her entire homespace.  A dedicated nurse and a person full of compassion for others, I’m not the least bit surprised that she loves Green.  Then there’s my dear friend Jolie.  She uses the color Green in her homespace and her office is furnished with beautiful green sofas and club chairs.  Immediately upon walking into her office you feel a sense of peace and calm – important for anyone that seeks out her medical expertise.  Last but not less, one of my niece’s, Jackie uses green in her home décor as well.  And yep, she’s also in the medical field- she’s a speech pathologist and in her personal life she’s always smiling, always upbeat and one that couldn’t hurt a fly!

So knowing that these three wonderfully caring individuals are drawn to the color Green gives me pause to consider the question of the chicken and the egg – you know, which came first?  Did a childhood love of green subconsciously draw each of them into career paths of helping and healing or vice versa?  Now, stay on the path of connecting the color Green with how we act and react and that flat brings out the wanna be psychologist in me and makes me say…

Go green in your space

Infuse the color Green in your homespace.  After all, if green can have positive effects on us, for heavens sake, we all should consciously incorporate it into our decor.  There are a myriad of ways you can do this without going over the top or ignoring the color palette that truly speaks to you such as incorporating it into throw pillows and accessories, but the easiest and for me the absolute best way to add the color Green to your space is with living plants.  Bringing green into your homespace in such a natural way by far changes the energy of your space – not to mention the health of your space (as discussed in a post, Top Twelve Best Indoor Plants For Purifying The Air).

Live green in your space

In recent years it has become the politically correct thing to go green by physically caring more for our environment in ways such as reducing water usage, reducing electrical usage, reducing gas consumption and of course, by recycling all that we can.  Our planet and humanity just cannot keep handling all our excesses, uses and abuses.  Every day the news gives us more ideas of how to physically care more for our environment.  But as a decorator and a homespace coach, what I call a “psychologist of the home”, I cannot stress enough the importance of psychologically caring more for our environment, what I call “living green”.  By going green in our home décor, we live green by reducing anxiety, feeling calmer, more peaceful and relaxed.  By going green we live green and can more easily live in perfect harmony within ourselves as well as with greater mankind.

Living green connects us to Nature

Richard Louv, author of the book, Last Child in the Woods and his most recent book, The Nature Principle, has some very compelling thoughts on the importance of nature in our lives.  He calls Nature the best tonic we can find and says,

“The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”

I emphatically agree with Mr. Louv and have learned this for myself.  There’s no better medicine for me than to get outdoors and connect with Nature.  That’s why I also know firsthand the importance of bringing nature indoors as much as possible and so I highly recommend that everyone do this.  By infusing shades of green in our décor theme, we subconsciously connect to Nature.  It’s just that simple.

Early this morning I walked five miles at the park.  I was overwhelmed with the panoramic view of green around me.  With many of the trees in varying degrees of sprouting new leaves, the shades of green seemed endless.  I felt like Julie Andrew’s character, Maria in The Sound of Music as I realized my arms began stretching out to encompass the beauty surrounding me.  No, I can’t sing, but I sure come alive surrounded in green!

To living green…