Friday, July 25, 2014

Creating a Home I Love

Follow your inner voice to create a home you love.
~ Maggie Reyes

Summer vacation? Ha! While it's true that I have had, for the most part, a break from my teaching routine, I have been keeping myself very busy.

I moved into my current home in the fall of 2001. It was shiny new at the time but has been well used during the thirteen years I have spent in it. My three children grew into adults here. We have raised numerous pets here. I teach piano lessons here; every week, forty students and various family members walk in and out the front door. It's all been good, but it has taken its toll.

I may not be able to live at the beach but my dream has long been to paint the walls of my house in the bright colors I love. I started three years ago, when I painted my piano studio purple. This spring, my ex-fiance surprised me by having my kitchen, dining room, living room and hallways, and master bathroom painted in other colors I had chosen: sky blue, coral, yellow, and flamingo pink. I am forever grateful to him for that. This summer, I finished the project.

I covered the dull brown walls in my studio waiting room with the color of the outside of a lime; I painted the adjoining bathroom the color of the inside of the lime. I painted my bedroom the pale pink of the inside of a conch shell. And I painted the third bedroom a lovely shade of aqua; it is now my craft room. Here are a few pictures showing that process.
BEFORE 1. Boxes and bins filled with whatnot.
BEFORE 2. More boxes and bins filled with whatnot. 
All the boxes and bins sorted, organized and stowed in the closet.
The painting begins. It took two coats to cover the dark green with the aqua.
AFTER 1. A cheerful beading nook.
AFTER 2. A happy sewing corner.
After almost fifty-five years of life on this planet, I finally have a room of my own where I can sew, bead and scrapbook to my heart's content. A couple of days ago, I sat in this sunny space and created something beautiful.


Yep. It was a dream come true.

Since then, I have had new vinyl plank flooring installed in my kitchen, foyers and master bathroom, and tomorrow I am looking forward to the delivery of a new refrigerator to replace my twenty-year old leaking side-by side and a new range with a double oven to replace the builder-grade range that came with my house. I will post more pictures later. In the meantime, I have a couple of questions for you.

What is it that your heart desires? What can you do to make your dreams come true?

For me - at least this summer - all I needed was a few gallons of paint and a lot of elbow grease. I'm glad I stopped waiting for the perfect time.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Six Months


Someday you're gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You'll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing...
~ Elizabeth Gilbert

When I pulled out my journal Wednesday morning, I noticed the date on the first entry - February 3, 2014. It gave me pause to realize that little composition notebook chronicled the bulk of my relationship with my ex, from a few days before we became engaged through the demise of the relationship and beyond. I spent a few moments pondering that, allowed my mind to wander back through everything that has happened since I broke up with my previous fiance' and - well, I didn't like what I saw. This is what I wrote afterwards.

I refuse to allow history to repeat itself again. For the next six months, at least, I hereby declare a moratorium on dating. I'm going to spruce up the house, practice the piano, finish my novels in progress, start another one. I'm going to eat and drink healthy and exercise regularly and lose the rest of the twenty pounds I have been carrying around since menopause had its way with me. I'm going to put together a family cookbook and stitch memory quilts and hit the beach as often as I can. Then, after Christmas, I will open my heart up again - not with expectation, but to possibility - while continuing to do the things I love to do and spend time with the people I cherish.

Then I set my journal aside, made a pot of coffee, and checked in on Facebook. To my delight, one of the first things I saw was a post from Elizabeth Gilbert, in which she re-posted an essay from last year "about how important it is for women to learn how to be lonely." Liz had had met a young woman who had just broken up with her boyfriend of four years because he didn't treat her right and become concerned when the woman proclaimed, "I gotta go out there right now and get myself somebody BETTER." This was Liz's response.

Once you learn what is good for you, you settle for nothing less. And you can't learn what is good for you until you spend some time getting to know yourself. So six months, I made that girl promise. At LEAST six months alone, I made her swear. We shook on it. And it was sort of comic - here I was, a perfect stranger, and she was agreeing to my demand that she commit to celibacy for half a year...AT LEAST half a year. But that's, I believe, what even she knew she needed. To be lonely until it didn't scare her anymore. Until she wasn't just throwing herself at the next warm body that came along, out of panic and fear of her own being. 

Click HERE to read the entire essay. Liz's words are so much more powerful than my own. But I found it serendipitous that she had come to the same conclusion I did - validating my thinking in a comforting and relieving sort of way. 

And so I begin six-months of life-changing aloneness. May I come out better on the other side.