Hand-me-downs

As I survey my home I see that I have filled it with hand-me-downs. My couch began life at my mother’s home then moved to my brother’s and now to me. The table beside it was my uncle’s and then I swiped it from my mother. Until a recent change my beautiful bed was my grandparent’s. The buffet came from my husband’s basement as it is used to be a tool chest.

recycled furnishingsThe shelf above the buffet is my mom’s old mantlepiece. 2 dressers were my grandparents. Many of my nicknacks are from my childhood home, too. I actually have very little that was purchased new. I do not believe I have ever spend more than $300 on a piece of furniture except for my mattress which is heavenly btw. I love craigslist. People are funny. When they are through with something they want it to be gone and it is amazing the deals one can find on there.hand me down couch

I really like that as I look around my home there are memories beyond my own that belong to the pieces in it. I like that I get to meet the people on craigslist that I buy stuff from and get to know them just a little bit. I even got to know the wife of a man that grew up in my house. How cool is that? She was a client of mine and we figured it all out one day. He came by and chatted with my husband a few days later.

I do think it would be really cool to spend time finding and choosing beautiful pieces of furniture without thought of price – only design and quality. I know exactly where I’d go to find just what I would want. I am glad that in real life I went to my family, craigslist and a few local antique stores to furnish my home. Maybe it’s your grandma’s lamp that is sitting on my uncle’s table next to my mom’s couch in my friend’s husband’s childhood home.

a vintage lamp

How to survive spending time with family without being the one to ruin it.

I recently spent a great deal of time with family. Tis the season to do so, right? It isn’t always an easy thing to do. People are messy. We get tired and grumpy and irritable or are just rude. What is worse is when it is yourself that does these things.how to survive family gatherings

I have the loveliest family. Their get togethers are fun and easy…until I show up.

One of my favorite family members was telling a very funny story about a trip she took to her hometown. Right in the middle of her punchline my mouth opens up and starts talking over her. She even asked me to wait for her to finish. I just said the remaining words faster. omg.

I often come home from parties and second guess what I did or said. I hate that. I would like to be able to have enough style and sense to act like a civilized person without fear of some ghastly tidbit falling off my tongue or thoughtless act visited upon everyone by me. A list of rules will help me, I think. You can help me, too. I will begin the list and you add any that you can think of.

 

Leave the cell phone in the purse. period.leave the cell phone in your purse

Maybe during the last 5 minutes it would be okay to take it out and snap a few photos of the pretty Christmas tree or cute puppy.

 

Don’t talk when other people are talking.don't talk when other people are talking.

duh. I also have a bad habit of always having a similar story. Do you know what I mean? Someone tells a story about when they were in the first grade and so I have to tell my story about when I was in the first grade. Everyone who knows me and is reading this is nodding their heads right now.

 

Don’t bring up sore subjects.don't bring up sore subjects

This can be tricky but try, anyway, to not talk about other people’s past mistakes or embarrassing events.

 

Compliment the hostess/hostcompliment the host

People work really hard to make things nice in their homes before we all descend upon them. Mention how pretty the house is and how yummy the food tastes. I think that is one of my favorite things about visiting and having guests: all the care and energy put out for each other.

 

Hostess gifts are really nice.hostess gifts are nice

I love it when my guests bring me a little something. It feels very thoughtful. I need to get better at this. Plus if you’ve acted rudely at least you also brought a gift.

 

Don’t be the last to leave.don't be the last to leave

If you are at my house ignore this rule. I love lingerers But hosting is exhausting and I think it is a good idea to wrap things up and get the hell out in a timely manner.

There is a thing I have been seeing around the web lately about not saying goodbye at larger parties. I love this. It seems people have realized that they spend their whole party saying goodbyes instead of enjoying their guests. Leaving can also be catchy and it seems when one or two guests start leaving too loudly everyone else also thinks it is time to go and, before you know it, everyone has gone home early. This happened to me once. I spent a long time getting everything ready for a dinner party. One hour into it one of the guests had to leave and in 5 minutes everyone else left, too. I was left wondering if the food I served was awful or perhaps it was something I said….

I promise I’ll behave if you invite me to your house! Surely there are things I’ve forgotten to make this list complete. Do you have any rules to add to this list?

5 Easy Steps to Add to Your Beauty Routine

There is a new member of our family. She is so very beautiful and I can’t wait to hold her for hours and hours. While we are all beautiful at birth our beauty changes as we move through life. Our faces and bodies reflect our history. What we eat. What we absorb as truth. What we think and hear. How much sun, wind and rain we stand in. Our laughter and anger. Our love and our indifference. All of these things have an effect on our soul which in turn effects our countenance.

I was convinced as a girl that I needed contacts for my poor, blind eyes, name-brand jeans for my butt, clearesil for my skin, cherokee shoes and I can’t remember what all else. I needed these things to be beautiful. I had none of them. My mother sewed my clothes and I had knock-off shoes and jeans. I think I used ivory bar soap.

The things I really needed to be beautiful was good relationships, love, acceptance, passion, health, curiosity, generosity, kindness. Slowly I learned this over my lifetime. I learned it as I saw it in others. One of the most popular girls in my high school had none of those things on the first list either. She was simply nice to everyone. She had all the stuff from the good list. I am friends with her on Facebook and I love seeing the photos from her life. She is a happy, beautiful woman.

Following is a 5 step guide for sustaining our beauty everyday. My favorite almost-six year old is here to help us with our beauty steps.

5 Steps for a Successful Beauty Routine

Step one to be beautiful

Be generous. Volunteer in your community. Your local school, political party, neighborhood library, CASA program, hospital, meals-on-wheels, Big Brother/Sister program will all make you beautiful.

Step two to be beautiful

 

Eat well. Spend quality time picking out and preparing your food. Caring for yourself in this way is a beautiful thing and will pay off for you and your loved ones.

Step three to be beautiful

 

Choose happiness everyday. Our feelings are choices. They don’t just randomly drop on our heads. They are not controlled by outside forces. My father used to say this to me all the time and he is right.

 

Step four to be beautiful

 

Have fun. Spend quality time doing lots of things you enjoy. I don’t feel guilty anymore when I spend a whole day futzing around my house rearranging, painting, organizing, etc. Or shopping in antique stores. Love that!

Step five to be beautiful

 

Be brave. Try those things you think you might not be able to do. Things you might be afraid to do. You just might fail. But you might not. I have never tried water skiing. It looks like so much fun but I’m sure I’ll never figure it out. Maybe one day soon I’ll be brave and try it. Maybe.

Easy things to do every day to bring beauty into our lives and right onto our face!

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Volunteering to help Foster Children – CASA

I just returned from court. It was a very good day for me there. I have been advocating for three children and today, in court, they got to return home full time. I volunteer as a CASA which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for children in foster care, to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in inappropriate group or foster homes. Volunteers stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many children, their CASA volunteer will be the one constant adult presence in their lives.advocating for foster children

I had often wished that there was a volunteer store where people with time would come and pick up volunteer hours to help with the foster care system. Turns out that there is such a place. In my town it was at the YWCA and in your town there is such a place, too. Simply go here and find yours.

Last year, more than 77,000 CASA volunteers helped 234,000 children find safe, permanent homes. CASA volunteers are everyday citizens who have undergone screening and training with their local CASA program. Unfortunately there are far more than 234,000 children that need CASAs. These children need you.advocating for foster children

I had assumed many things about families who have their children taken from them. I had assumed many things about foster parents. Turns out that most parents really love their children and will go to the ends of the earth to get them back. Turns out foster parents have amazing amounts of energy and patience. The social workers work very, very hard to do their best for the families, too.advocating for foster children

You will enjoy reading this lovely story about how a volunteer CASA helped a teenage girl named Jacke. With several phone calls and a few visits this CASA made all the difference for Jacke.

You do not have to be a lawyer or social worker to be a volunteer. CASAs are people from all walks of life. They are simply people who care about children and have common sense. As a volunteer, you will be thoroughly trained and well supported by professional staff to help you through each case.

It takes only a few hours of your time each month. A few hours that can make a huge difference in the life of a child. Hit that link and find your town’s CASA program. It will make a difference in your life, too.

 

all photos are from the CASA website

 

 

We’ll all be dead in 60 years

I love looking at old photos. I don’t even mind if I don’t know any of the people in them. Imagining their hopes and dreams, loves and sorrows, histories and relationships is fun. One thing that always strikes me, though, is that it seems life was over so quickly for the people in those photos. Does anyone even remember them? Will I be a stranger in a photo someday?vintage-photo-friends-on-golden-gate-bridge

 

I am old. Older than I’ve ever been. I guess that is always true. With my latest age has come a realization that life is short. I find myself thinking thoughts that many before me have also thought:

  • There is nothing new under the sun.
  • Why are we here?
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • Have I made a difference?
  • We’ll all be dead in 60 yearvintage photos.

 

I find myself camping on this last idea. Perhaps it is my way to gaining a calm life. If I am aware that life is short then worry and stress seem a waste of time. Finding the answer to how best spend my time seems easier, too. If I screw around all day, sleep in one morning, do whatever the hell I want I simply remember that it doesn’t matter because…..we’ll all be dead in 60 years.vintage-glamour-shot

Thankfully I also really enjoy hard work and being creative, hanging out with friends and family, being of use, doing the day-to-day mundane stuff. And with my new attitude I enjoy it all the more because the pressure is off, expectations are lowered, the outcome is not as important.

The handiest thing is when I think/worry about other people’s problems I have an easier time realizing that it will be okay if they screw it up as they won’t have long to suffer because…we’ll all be dead in 60 years.

The truth is probably this is just a way for me to get past growing old and wrinkled. I’ll soon just be a stranger in an old photo and no one will even remember that I have wrinkles! Wrapping one’s head around finite time is something everyone must surely do. It is my turn, I guess.vintage-photo-3-friends

Pretty vs Practical

As you know I think cute is important. I really, really do. All the time. I think I am also a very practical person. I like things to be useful. I don’t see why those two things can’t be easily combined.

I was over at my mom’s this weekend helping her re-pot some plants on her deck. By the end of the afternoon she had laughed at me more than once watching as I would tisk tisk over finding the plant description labels still stuck in the potted plants.She has watched me tisk tisk over finding labels still stuck to storage containers, price stickers stuck to decorative items, tags left on pillows, anything that could be pretty-in-a-minute that isn’t. How hard is it to spend a second to transform the ordinary into the cute? Take those ugly stickers off! plant pot with label still stuck in it

My mother insisted I leave the label in the plant. “It’s handy to be able to tell what kind of plant it is.”  My response wasn’t very nice. “It’s a perennial, Mom, it will just do what it’s gonna do.” I went home and realized I was no better. Look:plant pot with ugly sticker

I promise to work on that sticker. I also promise to lighten up. Maybe.

 

 

Assumptions

I just had one of those weeks that is both lousy and great. I have been reflecting on how to respond to the lousy part. It is easy to make assumptions. I think when my feelings are hurt that 90% of the time it is due to an erroneous assumption. Assumptions are relationship killers. (almost) Every single time I have decided that my husband is an ass I have been wrong.

you know what happens when you assume something

Once we had just gotten two kittens. As he reached down to pet one she hissed at him and tried to scratch him. “I am not going to live with a cat like that” he bellowed. “Oh great”, I thought, “now he wants to get rid of the cats”. What a jerk. Meanwhile he had gone and changed into a long-sleeved shirt and put on some gloves. He came back and picked up the kitten and began stroking her and cooing to her. “I am going to desensitize her to me,” he said. Sweet.man with a cat in his coat


 

 

Being 14 in 1976

When I was a child I argued with my mother everyday about clothing. My memory is of never being happy with my appearance or comfortable in my own skin. My poor mother struggled to help me find outfits I could like and hair styles I could be happy about. She would allow me to select sewing patterns and fabric and would sew me beautiful pieces of which I wore almost none. She, I am sure, longed for me to just get dressed each morning. It was never easy. When I was in the 8th grade she put me on a clothing restriction. No new clothing for one year. I remember that I had one outfit to wear to church on Sundays. I can’t remember the everyday stuff. At the end of that summer I spent some time with my grandmother. I arrived at her house feeling very awkward and unattractive. She worked her magic on me and took me to get my hair cut. There is a photograph of me in her backyard wearing that same Sunday outfit but I look great! I felt great, too. My mother sewed up a storm before school started that fall and I had a number of really snazzy things to wear to high school (remember gauchos with matching vests?). I finally experienced some measure of confidence in my appearance.

awkward 13 year old from 1976

After spending a week with my grammie

I do believe if you were to look in my closet and drawers today you might find clothing very similar to these. Mercy! I hope I stand up straighter than this now.makeover in 1976

Treat yourself the way you treat your best friend (Part 2)

You can read part 1 here.

Why is it so difficult to treat ourselves well? Why is it hard to make the choices that make up a high quality life?

I know that it isn’t always easy to do the right thing. That once we are doing the right thing it feels so great. But then it is even easier to stop doing the right thing. grrrrr!

The path of least resistance often seems the most attractive though not in the long run.

Common sense is so soft-spoken. I can talk everyone else’s ears off quite loudly when it comes to how to best eat and exercise yet I still make choices that I know are not sensible. I just finished a non-fat mocha that I paid too much for and always makes my tummy hurt a little. If my best friend’s tummy hurt when she drank something I would never buy her one.

I am thankful for that inner voice trying to reach out to me when I am about to screw up. It is almost as though my best friend is in there cheering me on. Too bad I ignore her sometimes.

Treating ourselves as though we are our best friend should not be difficult. It can begin with something simple. Try sitting up straight. We look pretty cute when we sit up straight. I try to imagine I am Judy Dench who once said that she always imagines herself as the most attractive woman in the room. I love Judy Dench.

After you have mastered sitting up straight try cutting your carb intake by half, volunteering for an hour a week, training for a marathon, getting your teeth cleaned, organizing your closet. Ahhh too long of a list. You know what you want on your list.Anne Lamott quote

Grace

Audrey Hepburn

We all know people who we think are beautiful. Sometimes genes play a large role but most often it is the quality of life a person leads reflected on their face that looks beautiful to us. I have struggled with not feeling beautiful most of my life. Thankfully both my parents are pretty cute and so I had a nice starting point. I am friendly and I think that goes a long way towards getting a positive reaction from people I meet. I have big boobs and so didn’t have too much trouble getting attention from men when I was single.

When I married my husband I felt he loved me because of my charming personality and winning ways. Being married to him has been an interesting experience because my husband is attracted to real beauty; the beauty that comes from inside. He doesn’t much notice the other kind. It took me a while to learn this. Meanwhile I thought he just didn’t find me that attractive. When I asked him what was most appealing to him about women he said it was grace. Grace. I cannot believe how difficult it has been for me to get this idea through my thick skull. It is hard in a relationship when one of the people in it thinks that the other person doesn’t find them attractive. If you had told me I would be with a man who based his attraction to a person on their grace I would have loved that idea. It sounds so great. We all get a little dilapidated looking as we age and how nice to think of one’s husband realizing how much more beautiful they are as they grow wiser and more graceful. But in reality it took me a long time to appreciate how great this actually is. My husband does think I am beautiful. He thinks I am wonderful. He tells me every single day how much he loves me. I have had to learn to believe him in spite of him admiring me in ways with which I was unfamiliar. He simply does not ever objectify women. Don’t get me wrong – he does thoroughly enjoy all of me; not only my grace. The big boobs are just the cherry on top.

vignette

Elegance, grace, and beauty are concepts I think reflect that thing my mother has: peace. I strive to achieve that in myself but also for my home, too. We all can appreciate a room that looks well lived in and contains things that have been collected and loved over time rather than picked out over a weekend from the local fancy furniture store. My environment is very important to me and to my being able to feel energized for life. Plus, why live in boring slobdom when you can live in beauty? I like having things around me that mean something to me and that inspire me and remind me of something beyond myself.

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