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…

How Will You Be Remembered?

I’ve been mulling over and over in my head now for several days how to word what I want to say on the subject of being remembered by others.  In fact, I had hoped to get this post out last week while the experience that prompted my musings was still fresh but it just wasn’t forming enough to put on paper.  So, here I am writing and I realized the publishing date is September 11th.  Coincidence?  Nope.  I don’t think anything is ever coincidental.  September 11th is one heck of a day for remembering others.

If you lived in the United States on September 11th 2001 today’s date is a day you will always remember.  Even if you didn’t live in the U.S. on September 11th back in 2001, you couldn’t help but know the horror we in America were experiencing that day that we still remember today.  Some things you just never forget.

All these years later I feel very certain that every single person that died that day by the hands of terrorists is remembered in some way by the people who’s lives they touched.  Any time someone passes, regardless of the circumstances, those around them reflect back on them.  I know this first hand as my future daughter-in-law’s father passed away unexpectedly a week ago – which by the way is what prompted the thoughts whirling in my head that I’m now writing about.  He got to go the best way possible- while he slept in his bed.  But, for his grieving family and friends, it was w.a.y. too soon to have him leave.  I had not had the pleasure of meeting Lailuma’s father yet.  I was going to meet him on September 15th at a party for Lailuma and my son, Jimmy to celebrate their engagement.  Instead I was getting to know him at a gathering in a funeral home and then later, at a memorial service.  You just flat never know what’s around the corner do you?

The funeral home and the service were filled with family, friends and co-workers.  My nieces, Blaire and Liz and I undoubtedly were the only ones there that had never met him.  I don’t know about Blaire and Liz, but not knowing Lailuma’s dad gave me a unique vantage point from which to observe.  Honestly, I think because I didn’t know him, I watched and listened more intently to get to know him.  After all, I needed something to remember him by.

Funny, I never knew him but I now dang sure have something to remember him for ~ LOVE.  The word “LOVE” was used over and over and over again regardless of the person speaking about him throughout the various events over the weekend.  I talked to family and friends.  I also listened to family and friends speak about him and reminisce over pictures of him.  Several co-workers spoke at the Memorial Service.  Sure, they praised his work ethic, his attitude, his enormous appetite and his physical strength but without exception the remembrances of him they chose to share were about his love of family – his deep from the heart but feel in the gut love for his four daughters that he wore like a uniform every single day.  I listened to each person and at the same time began to question in my head what people would say about me if they were standing at the podium at my memorial service.  What would they find most important to say about me?  And to make me ponder even more, while sitting there I learned my ex-husband and his young daughter were a mere few rows behind me in the church.  Was she thinking about what it would be like to loose her father?  How would she remember him?  What was he thinking about?  Was he wondering how the three children he had with me would remember him once he passed?  Odd isn’t it what enters your mind at times like sitting at a memorial service?

Life cycle events always mark change and give pause for reflection.  Celebrating the life of someone that has passed is no different.  So, my message to you dear friends is to aspire to inspire others with how you love.  Let it be the most important thing you are remembered for – not your brain, your job, your abilities or materialistic accomplishments.  Spread love in every direction and in every way that you possibly can.  Heck, just throw caution to the wind and let it blow from you wild and free.  It is the greatest gift and the greatest teaching you can give to others.  And in my book, it is absolutely positively the most important thing to be remembered for.  What greater honor than to be remembered for how you loved, I mean truly loved others while being part of this world of humanity is there?

As I left the church that day, I knew Phillip Walker Miller, III.  In fact, I knew all I needed to know about him.  I knew him through the eyes of his four daughters and through the eyes of many others.  What an incredible gift he was and continues to be through his giving and spreading love.

To love and actively spreading it …

Construction Zone: Rehabbing My HOME

Imagine building a new house.  The foundation, the frame and exterior structure give stability to the interior rooms of the house.  They support what’s on the inside of the house.  But, step inside the house and see the real beauty.  The interior of the house is what the home is really about.  The same goes for us.  The exterior of our bodies is what we physically present to the world.  The real substance though is on the inside.  Each of us has a custom interior.  Who you are on the inside, down to every single detail of your character and personality becomes the HOME you present to others on a daily basis.  Your HOME, much like the physical home you live in should be beautiful through and through.

Many of us get used to living in our HOMES much like we get used to living in our houses, often ignoring things that are in disrepair.  I learned this for myself after a chance encounter on an airplane in 2006.  Well, actually my David experienced the chance encounter.  But, it had to do with my past and of course, he shared the details of the encounter with me.  This chance encounter that could only be described as “God’s Synchronistic Work” forced me to look at myself and see the pieces inside me that needed repairing.  Pieces of me like fear, hurt and anger that had real potential to ruin any beauty in my HOME.

That’s when I started work on rehabbing my HOME with a new custom interior devoid of these pieces that quite frankly, had become junk cluttering me up.  And as you know if you have ever undertaken a construction project, the work takes time, energy and funds.

Time takes time if you know what I mean.  My construction zone has been an ongoing process since 2006.  Though it has indeed taken a lot of time, like any beautiful new space, I absolutely, positively love the emerging custom new me!

Energy expended in doing the work in my construction zone has been incredible.  There have been moments when I thought the work was way too hard.   I have felt exhaustion on every level- physically, emotionally and spiritually.  But somehow, someway I have found the necessary energy for each new stage of construction.

Funds are essential to every custom home project.  I have to tell you – I have had an abundance of funds!  Mind you, I’m not talking cash here.  I’m talking “Love Funds”.  The love to fund my project has been over and above what I could ever have imagined and by now you may have guessed it – the funds came from David.

David, loving life

David, loving life

Speaking of David, today marks ten years since I first met him.  I remember it well and even remember telling him I had no desire to start a relationship with anyone including him.  I also remember well leaving the restaurant after that first meeting and when we walked outside, oddly enough we realized we had parked side-by-side.  Here we are ten years later still side-by-side loving the journey of the rest of our lives together.

Happy Anniversary David and thank you for the unconditional abundance of love you have so freely given me to rehab my HOME.  I will forever be giddy over you!  And I have to say, although you don’t complete me, you darn sure compliment my HOME well!

To love and life…

Honoring The Month Of Love In Your Home Décor

When I was growing up and even when my children were young, the only big holiday anyone decorated for was Christmas. Today, most of us decorate for holidays such as Halloween and Easter often weeks ahead of the actual day the holiday falls on. Honoring Valentine’s Day has become one more holiday with which there are ways to decorate your homespace. Retailers have an abundance of accessories you can add to your home decor. Everything from red dishtowels and red coffee mugs to whimsical throw pillows with love quotes on them can be found in the big box stores such as Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel and Restoration Hardware. For the month of February, love is in the air everywhere you turn in the home decorating industry.

I happen to be a decorator so certainly I like to decorate for any and all of the holidays my David and I observe. However, I also believe in being practical and cost-conscious so here are some ways I suggest decorating and celebrating the month of Love:

  • Find inexpensive things to purchase to help create the theme of love in your homespace for the month of February. Just like any other holiday you decorate for, keep all your “Valentine Theme Décor” in a container for that holiday in an easily accessible place. (HINT: If this is a new décor idea for you, like with all holiday décor, often the best time to purchase Valentine’s Day items is after February 14th then you can be ready for next year!)
  • Make a family picture on Valentine’s Day to commemorate one more year of love in your family. Add to the collection each year and for the month of February display all the past family pictures in a grouping in your homespace. Having everyone wear red for the “Kodak moment” makes it even more festive and fun!
  • Make your own “Love Tree” simply by making heart shaped cards on construction paper then writing different love quotes on each one. Hang them by string on a sturdy plant in your homespace such as a Weeping Fig or a Norfolk Island Palm. This is a fun activity you can get the entire family involved in or you can even invite friends to make a Valentine for your tree. (Remember, plants are a vital part of making a healthy home as discussed in a recent Blog post, Top Twelve Best Indoor Plants For Purifying The Air)
  • Make everyone happy with Homemade Pancakes this month – only use a heart shaped cookie cutter to make heart shaped pancakes. I guarantee you; smiles will be abundant in your household! (For my fave recipe for Pancakes check out my post, Homemade Pancakes – What Could Be Better?)
  • Switch out your decorative candles to red (or even pink) ones, particularly in the more personal spaces such as bathrooms and the master bedroom.
  • Nothing beats fresh flowers for any occasion. For the month of February fill your homespace with the colors of love – red carnations, red roses, etc. with splashes of pinks and whites.
  • Go to your local bakery and pick up a few professionally decorated Valentine’s cookies and display them in a glass cake saver for pure delight. Better still use festive looking doilies for them to sit on to add more interest! (Remember, you can freeze these cookies and display them from year-to-year.)
  • Fill your homespace with the aromatic scents we connect with feelings of love in your nebulizer or with scented candles. For a relaxed, peaceful feeling of love look for oils such as Rose Oil or Rose scented candles. (Oil from the Pink-Red Damascus Rose is one of the best.) For feisty (feelings of love that is) look for spicy scented oils such as Ginger and Cinnamon. Regardless of which scents suit your taste, diffusing essential oils into your homespace definitely enhances the mood of your space. (See my post, Aromatherapy In Your Home.)

HELPFUL HINT:

The most important thing to remember in decorating is my motto “Less is more”.  There is absolutely, positively no quicker or better way to destroy a classy look than to take a theme into overdrive.  So with the color Red being the warmest color on the color wheel (as I discussed in my post, Seeing Red) subtle uses of the color will speak volumes.

Picnic of love

Photo Credit: Kristin Vining Photography

Enjoy loving…

Love In Your HOME

February is the month of love.  February is also American Heart Month; a designation approved by Congress in 1963.  From all the research I have done on both topics, one has nothing to do with the other.  Yet, both have to do with the heart and are recognized in the same month.  It is the “love” part of February I want to speak to today.

Recently I found myself in a situation whereby Webster’s Dictionary was pulled out, referred to and actually used to define some very simple and common every day words.  I’m talking about words such as “shall” and “all”.  Everyone thinks they know what these words mean, but evidently their meanings are still open for debate and interpretation in some arenas. The word “love” is used all the time and yet, many of us don’t really think about what it means either.

In a recent post I made a statement that I firmly believe to be true about the word “love”. In my post, Cleaning The Mirror, I said, “Love is the most important verb in the English language.”  Now most of us think of the word “love” as a noun.  Here’s the definition found in Webster’s Dictionary for the word “love” used as a verb:

To hold dear; to like or desire actively; to take pleasure in

There’s a reason why in my post, Cleaning The Mirror I referred to the word “love “as a verb.  I personally don’t think most of us participate in it enough.  I know I don’t.  Clearly, verbs are action words.  To use this word as an action word, it requires you to do something.  So, what I want to impress upon you is to use the word “love” this month as a verb.  Actively participate in giving love this month- each and everyday to everyone in your HOME – be it your personal homespace, your workspace or your earthspace – after all, these are all parts that make up your HOME.  Get creative in the ways you go about this.  You will amaze yourself with what you come up with.  Simple acts of love such as bringing your loved one a cup of steaming hot coffee in the morning, reading an extra book to your child even though you are exhausted and ready for quiet time yourself, wrapping your child in a warm towel after a bath, calling a shut-in and saying hello, keeping your thoughts to yourself when someone annoys you, offering to take out the trash, closing the lid on the toilet, turning off the TV to talk to your partner, saying hello to people on the street, bringing cookies to work for your co-workers, complimenting someone you see, calling an old friend you haven’t touched base with in years, resisting the urge to get the last word in, smiling often, giving the waiter or waitress an extra tip, treating someone to an ice cream cone, texting someone that you love them, saying positive things to others, picking up litter, asking someone to go for a walk, etc., etc., etc.  The sky’s the limit on creative ways to actively participate in giving love to others!

Last year I embarked on a yearlong exercise in personal growth.  In early January of 2011 I assigned myself a focus word for each month.  My intention was to carefully study and use that particular word each day of that month in some form.  For the month of February I assigned myself the word  “Affection”.  Obviously I thought it was the perfect word to coincide with both Heart Month and Valentine’s Day.  It was wonderful to actively participate in using this word somehow each day.  But, the most rewarding way for me was when I assigned a person’s name to each day of the month.  I actually wrote each person’s name on my desk calendar and highlighted it with a marker so that I visually saw their name all day long.  Then I wrote a personal letter of affection to each person on that day.  (Hand written and mailed.)  It was like giving out Valentine’s cards and letters each day of the month. Sure, it required a lot of time and effort.  But, it was incredibly powerful for me to do it. I have no idea how or if my letter(s) touched many of the people I wrote to because I asked them not to feel the need to ever respond.  The gift of affection was from me with nothing expected in return.  (By the way I am doing this again this year with a new set of names and a new set of letters and cards to send each day!)  Try this yourself and see what happens.  It might just start a domino chain reaction – kind of like a “Love Train” if you will!

“People all over the world join hands
Start a love train, love train…
Don’t you know that it’s time to get on board…
Please don’t miss the train at the station
‘Cause if you miss it, I feel sorry, sorry for you”

Lyrics by The O’Jays
“Love Train”

To actively loving…

Please check out Living in Perfect Harmony’s Facebook Fanpage each day this month for more on Love.

Red rose

Photo Credit: Kristin Vining Photography

Learning About Life Through Your Pet

I grew up in a household that included three brothers and two sisters.  From the earliest that I can remember, we had pets.  Usually, we had several!

You name the type of animal and while growing up, the Balzer family had it one time or another.  Dogs, cats, rats, mice, snakes and yep, a squirrel.  I will never forget the day I got off the school bus and came home to a baby squirrel.  We named him Peanuts.

Now, I know this is hard to believe – often when I tell people about Peanuts they figure I am confused with where he lived.  Surely he lived outside, or surely he lived in a cage is what people say.  Nope, Peanuts lived in our house and had the run of it.  Of course, he did have a cage – but most of the time he ran freely and went where he wanted to.  I remember often sitting in the den watching TV and in Peanuts would scamper.  He would jump onto the sofa and then jump onto my shoulder to nap nestled there snug as could be enjoying the warm sunshine coming through the window.  It is hard to imagine it all now but he was treated like any other family pet!

Cathy and Colby

Cathy and Colby

We even had chickens once.  My youngest brother, Tommy was quite persuasive when he wanted something.  (Maybe he should have gone into politics!)  He convinced our mom to get chickens so we could have fresh eggs everyday – I guess he saw this as a great value kind of thing. (Of course, he is also the brother that once charged admission to neighborhood kids and moms to watch him walk the telephone wires!)  I don’t remember getting many eggs but we sure got tons of complaints from the neighbors from their noise!

The chickens didn’t last long…

Life with pets

Randy and Miso

Randy and Miso

Having a family pet livens up your homespace.  I will never forget George.  He was my cousins’, the Purvis family’s pet duck.  My cousins, Shell, Tony and Andy lived at the beach (Sandbridge, VA).  I loved our visits with them and it was great fun to watch George running around.  He was nonstop entertainment!

My Step-grandson, Austin has a pet turtle named “Spike”. For months and months he had begged for a turtle.  His dad, Brent and my daughter, Sammi told him that once he began to show responsibility enough to have one, they would try to get him one.  Austin set about doing anything and everything to prove his responsible side.  That made Sammi start to fret over how they would get a turtle as they aren’t the easiest pets to find.  One day Austin’s dream came true and what joy for me to get to witness it.

Austin and Spike

Austin and Spike

I happened to be visiting them in Charlotte and  Sammi and I took a nature walk on the greenway.  Out of the corner of her eye Sammi spied a baby turtle.  I just happened to have a small box handy in my purse (don’t ask why, my lips are sealed) so Sammi reached into the water and scooped the turtle up.  When Austin got home from school that day he got a surprise!  Since then Spike has gotten bigger and bigger and Austin has been able to learn more about life as he has cared for him each day!

Pets teach life lessons

Without a doubt I believe that having pets in your homespace broadens your education and impacts you in a multitude of ways.  I know it did for my siblings and me. I feel for kids that grow up in homes that don’t have pets.  I think they are missing out on learning valuable life lessons.  Here are a few life lessons I know having pets teach us:

Sonya and Natasha

Sonya and Natasha

  • Pets give you someone to constantly love and nurture.  They never get enough and love in return unconditionally.
  • Having a pet gives you companionship and can make you feel less lonely as you always have someone to talk to, to touch and be touched in return.
  • Pets encourage and create times of laughter in us.  We find humor in playing with them and love watching them for entertainment.
  • Pets teach children about responsibility.  Helping to take care of the family pet is often a child’s first chore and responsibility as part of the family.
  • Pets teach us to love and also how to accept loss.  The loss of a pet is sometimes a child’s first experience with death.  Though extremely difficult, coping skills and the process of grieving are learned.
  • Pets teach young adults how to “parent”.  Young adults and young couples often bond with their pets in a way that plants the seeds for later parenting.  (I believe that it is no coincidence that many pet names these days are what are normally human names such as Maggie, Hazel, Gretchen and Duncan.)
  • Pets often help get us exercising more, particularly dogs.  Pets needing exercise give us a chance to do the same.
  • Pets can lead you to more social contact.  People very often interact with other pet owners through their pets.  How often have you known someone as Moe’s Mom (or whatever the pet’s name is)?
  • Pets relax us and can help reduce stress.
  • Pets become part of our families.

Spread the love

Lucy

Lucy

Interacting with animals impacts us all in many positive ways.  I say spread the love in every direction you can with your pet.   Share your pet with others that aren’t fortunate enough to be able to have one.  One way to do this is to visit folks that live in Assisted Living Facilities.  As often as we can we Balzer siblings take our pets to visit our mom at Richfield where she now lives as I discussed in a recent post, Creating Comfort In An Assisted Living Facility.  She loves interacting with them and so do the other residents.  Another way to spread the love is to visit shut-ins with your pet.  More often than not elderly folks and those that are confined to their homes love playing  and visiting with pets.

Pure and simple, pets open our hearts and open our minds with their unconditional love.

Enjoy the love…

This Place We Call Home

On June 20, 1782 the Bald Eagle was chosen as the emblem of the United States of America to symbolize all our nation stood for – long life, great strength and absolute freedom.  Today this majestic creature continues to stand for what we proud Americans have always believed- our country is the home of the free.

Something happened though to put a kink in our belief system about America.  The events of September 11, 2001 gave all of us living in America a shocking wake up call.  Home no longer felt as secure.

Out of nowhere planes crashed into The Twin Towers  of the World Trade Center in New York, The Pentagon and the Pennsylvania countryside killing many Americans, all in the name of politics.

I believe that those that perished made their way to a better home.  Those left to pick up the pieces, the grieving families and friends of those that died had to begin to redefine what “Home” means.  I suspect some have worked through much of the grief and have a renewed sense of what matters in life and cherish each and every moment.  But, others I feel sure are still grappling with the process.

I was shocked on September 2001 just as everyone was.  As I mentioned in my post, Houseless Not Homeless, I was in Richmond, VA doing some work at my brother, Don’s house.  Richmond is but a few hours from Washington, DC and that in and of itself was eerie.  But, the sounds of silence were deafening when we walked outside that day- no planes in the sky anywhere.  Period.  I was scared to death and stunned that our country had fallen prey to such evil.  I, like most Americans was used to things like this happening on the soil of other countries- not ours.  In a matter of minutes I had a feeling of vulnerability, insecurity and simple gut wrenching fear.  Most of us did.

But, I had already come to know this fear of losing my sense of home well.  Before September 11th I had lived with it for many, many years.

Let me explain…

Losing the sense of home

Bald eagle perched in tree

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

In the late 1990’s I became a statistic of divorce.  Married almost twenty years and with three kids, my world unraveled in what felt like a skinny second.  Everything changed.  I mean everything.  What happened?  More than a divorce, I lost my family unit.  That was the most important thing to me in the world.  It didn’t matter where I lived, what I was doing, or what I was facing, when my family unit was in tact I felt safe.   Home for me had always been defined as my family and now my safety net was gone.

In losing this safety net I lost what grounded me.  In fact, up until just a couple of years ago I carried a pit in my stomach at all times.  I can only describe it as a pit of fear –  fear of the unknown.  You see, my world had been uprooted and I couldn’t figure out how to reconnect and secure it again.  At the same time that I carried the pit in my stomach, I was plagued with almost nightly dreams that took place in the last house I lived in with my complete family.  Oddly enough, the dreams constantly varied in the details of what was happening but, the house was always the same -  the one in a neighborhood called Giverny in Charlotte, NC – the place I called home.  In some dreams I was putting new curtains up, others I was working in the yard planting flowers and still others I was sitting with friends on the front steps. Regardless of the dream situation, it was clear to me time after time that through these dreams I was processing a redefining of “Home”.  Hence, the new decorating and landscaping in my dreams!  Psychologically, I took from these constant dreams that I now needed to redefine what home meant to me.  I needed to regain the safety and security I had lost.

Then, out of nowhere came a wake up call.  A chance encounter in December of 2006 (oddly enough, approximately ten years after my marital issues arose)  forced me to reckon with my past and all I had lost.  Though the ensuing years have been full of ugliness, drama and consequences I have emerged on the other side of this encounter more centered, fulfilled and blissful than I ever could imagine.  In the process, I learned where “Home” really is – in my heart and soul.  With it there, I have no chance of disconnecting from it ever again.

Now I am in the refining “Home” phase. How exhilarating!

Home’s rightful place is in the heart

What I learned was something I need to pass on.  I learned that I had inaccurately defined home all those years.  I had put the meaning of home outside myself.  It should have been centered in me- smack  dab in my heart and soul.  If I had first had it there, I could have been better prepared for losing my family structure.

Remember my article, Houseless Not Homeless?  Remember how Kenny never lost his sense of home because all the while, even living in his red truck home was in his heart?  Kenny understood better than anyone I have ever met the truth about where home needs to reside.

Bald eagle watching nest

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

A few weeks ago by sheer coincidence (and I really don’t believe in coincidences) I learned about a tragic event that had occurred in the house David and I are renting.  Oddly enough, I learned about this event two days before my post, “What Makes A House A Home was published.  In the article I mention my landlord and her near obsession with this house.  In fact, I talk about how it is her “house” but, it is my “home”.  I assumed she was obsessed with the house because she had wanted to sell it and was worried about “renters” living in it. Oh my gosh, was I ever humbled with news of what had happened here.  It just goes to show you, assumptions are only that- assumptions.  The truth was she absolutely positively lost her meaning of home one tragic evening here in this house.   Dear God, no  wonder she is so attached to it.  I only hope she someday redefines home and I hope this place called “Home”  moves into her heart.  It is her only chance to live again.

Baby bald eagle

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

Which leads me back to defining what home is.  I do not for a second believe that I have experienced the worst of the worst in losing my sense of home.  Never have I been without shelter (like so many, many people), never have I been forced from my house (through acts of evil) and never have I faced horrific living conditions (such as concentration camps, relocation camps, political prisons).  I cannot imagine what levels of strength it would take to rise up after an experience such as one of these and try to find home again.  Nonetheless, up until a few years ago my life was missing the wholeness I had once had when my family was intact.  So, I looked inside myself and found it again.

Wake up America

My chance encounter in 2006 was my wake up call to redefining home and putting it in its rightful place- my heart.

Kenny has it in his heart and I pray that my landlord finds a way to put it in her’s as well.

All of us can take adversity, trauma and tragedy to create the balance in our lives we so desperately need.  I believe it begins in the home.

Fly like an eagle

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

On a larger scale, this is what we Americans have had to do as a Nation after the horrible events of September 11, 2001.  Every single one of us has had to redefine what home here in the United States means.  This place called home cannot live outside of us.  No one can create it for us or provide it for us.  It must come from within.  The truth of the matter is that if we have accurately redefined “Home” we are better for it.  We smile bigger smiles, laugh deeper laughs and love with abandon.  For if we put “Home” in our hearts, nothing but love can burst forth.

I urge each of you to embrace the shift that September 11, 2001 and now its 10th anniversary has given us the opportunity to make.  Shift your priorities, shift your values and shift your attitudes to a more basic level of love.  As the country music duo, “Big and Rich” urged the audience to do the other night in concert at Naperville’s Last Fling, get on board the Love Train.

Don’t be left behind at the station.

When you get right down to it, love is everything.  And remember, everything begins in the home.

Love with abandon…

NOTE:  Nature Photographer, Susan Muehl has been capturing the beauty of these magnificent bald eagles throughout the last two years at a lake near her home, Lake Accotink Park in Springfield VA.  They gave birth to twins this spring – to life and living in the U.S.A.!

The Power of Color

The beauty of color

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

Ever wonder why certain colors become the latest trend?  For instance, the trendy colors as I write are gray and yellow.  Just look closely at the backgrounds of magazine covers, the words on magazine covers, the wall colors on top-rated TV shows, commercials, movie-set décor, clothing worn by models, actresses and actors- the list goes on… right now those in the know use the color gray accented with varying tinges of yellow.  Just pay attention to a Sprint commercial on TV next time you see one.  Everything you see is gray and yellow.

Why these colors?  Why now?

The psychology of color

The use of color is a form of non-verbal communication.  It communicates meaning.  Consider these examples of the psychological power of color:

  • The impact of color is direct.
  • The impact of color is instantaneous.
  • The impact of color is emotional.
  • The impact of color can alter moods and behavior.
  • The impact of color often determines the choices you make.
  • The impact of color is much like the impact of smell- it stirs up memories.

Back to gray and yellow

So, I cannot help but try to psychoanalyze why these two colors are the latest trend.  Consider what they symbolize:

  • Gray symbolizes security, stability and conservatism.  It is a balanced and neutral color that doesn’t evoke strong emotion.  A great example of this is the traditional gray suit for men- practical and timeless.
  • Yellow symbolizes joy, happiness and optimism.  It is the color of sunshine so it makes you feel warmth.  A great example of this is radio talk show host and Oprah B.F.F., Gayle King.  She has decorated her home in yellow and look at how we listeners of her show perceive her as upbeat and full of life!

Put the two colors of gray and yellow together and what do you get?  Perhaps you get a combined feeling of optimistic conservatism and stability?  Is this an indication of our economy and the government wanting us to feel secure, stabile, happy and conservative?  Makes you wonder…

Golden mushroom

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

Remember when the trendy colors were chocolate brown and blue?  (This went on way too long if you ask me!)  Now, I don’t know for sure but I was told from reliable sources in my industry that the chocolate brown craze was because of Starbucks coffee.  Can you imagine?  If this is true, isn’t the power of persuasion (and marketing) fascinating?  Did we all go out and buy more coffee from Starbucks?  Were chocolate brown and blue truly our favorite colors to decorate our homes with or were we caught up in thinking we liked them?   I can tell you I really, really tired of doing chocolate brown and blue in home after home.  I wanted extraordinary, not ordinary.  See what I mean?  Don’t you want to be extraordinary?  More you?  Unique?  True to your essence?

Think about it.  Really begin to understand what color speaks to you the most and then ask yourself why this particular color or colors do.   And while you do, I will give you a short lesson on other colors, the feelings they evoke and what they have come to symbolize.

The colors of the rainbow

Red ~ Passion, Energy, Excitement, Impulsiveness

Pink ~ Love, Beauty, Healing, Passion

Green ~ Health, Well-being, Prosperity, Nature

Purple ~ Royalty, Richness, Power, Ambition

Orange ~ Encouragement, Stimulation, Courage, Strength

Blue ~ Patience, Tranquility, Wisdom, Youth

Dainty yellow flower

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

I have to mention these colors as well although they are not colors of the rainbow:

White (Absence of color) ~ Purity, Truth, Peace, Spiritual strength

Black ~ Power, Sophistication, Depth, Formality

In an earlier blog post, Color Your World I talk about the importance of being true to yourself through the colors you use in your homespace. So, what color(s) do you use?  Why?  Do you honor yourself by using the color(s) that accurately match who you are?

Manipulating your energy with color

Advertisers, retailers and corporate America all take advantage of the subliminal manipulations color can achieve in us humans.  Think about the colors you usually see in hospitals, doctor’s offices and other health care providers.  The color palette used is most often soft blues, greens and grays. Colors to soothe, calm and center you.  No coincidence there!  By using these colors throughout these buildings, moods and behaviors are altered.

Power of color

Photo credit: Susan Muehl

This holds true for your personal homespace as well.  Just as important as using colors that are true to your essence is understanding that infusing other colors in subtle ways in your homespace can actually help balance you.

So why not start allowing color to influence your homespace and balance the energy?   A little bit goes a long way.  It won’t infringe on your décor scheme either.  Just be sensitive to adding color in simple ways such as with throw pillows, accessories and artwork.

Is your personality a tad on the high-strung side?  If so, add small touches of calming colors such as soft blues and greens in your homespace.   (Do the same for your wardrobe, too!)

Are you meek and mild and want to project more gumption?  Infuse bold colors such as red and orange in both your homespace and clothing choices.  It is amazing what a pair of red boots or a bold tie does to a simple black ensemble.

I read somewhere once about the impact of color on men and women.  I wish I could remember where it was but I do remember being fascinated by the psychologist’s theory that perhaps women live longer than men because women routinely wear more colors to brighten their appearance, which in turn brightens their moods.  Ever since then I have become an advocate of my David wearing really, really colorful ties with his suits each day!  I’ve gotta do everything I can to keep the man around for a long time!  And, I obsess over the news anchors on the TV each morning critiquing their ties and paying attention to their choices.  George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America sure wears some great ones!

What color choices say about you

Color of passion

Photo credit: Krisitn Vining Photography

I would love to hear from you about what colors you use in your homespace and why.  Undoubtedly, unless you are following the latest trends, there is a reason you use the colors you do.  Do these colors match your personality?  How?

Also, just for fun I will follow up this post with a few  more posts on specific colors expressed in homes of friends and family.  I love knowing people that live and breathe their true essence through their homespace décor and I want to share their stories.  Once I tell you a little about the personalities of these people and their color schemes, you will begin to understand how harmoniously they fit each other.  Take Lisa, aka “The Purple Lady”.  What a hoot.  She’s a woman totally in touch with her inner self!

Be on the lookout for these upcoming posts.  I think you’ll enjoy getting a glimpse into other people’s lives.  And, you never know, you might decide a color change is in order for you!  If so, I say go for it!  Life is short so color it in style.  Your style, of course!

Think color…