As I’ve gotten older, more mature (haha), and learned more about who I am, my decorative expression has grown decidedly weirder. I used to love show homes and would always want to copy the bland, one-style-fits-many esthetic that most of them have but these days the idea of blandness leaves me cold. I have grown into a sort of Alice in Wonderland meets Grey Gardens meets bi-polar 50s housewife kind of style, which I’m super proud of. Mr. Dreamy and I spend much of our free time hunting for unique items in antique shops that express our special brand of freak. In this post, I’d like to share some of these items with you. Enjoy!
I got this chair at the Salvation Army Thrift Store for $25, and painted the wood teal. I added a bright floral cushion from the same store for $3. The canvas painting of the woman is from Coombs Genaral Store on Vancouver Island (bought years ago), and the starfish on top was painted black by me. The bamboo tree and lamp are both from Homesense, and were bought to stage homes when I had a homestaging business.
This is an antique picture of an Asian boy I found in my Grandmother’s collection of family photographs. I’ve had him in different houses and different frames, and I’ve named him “Grandpa”. In front is a little Logo frame from an old coal stove, and a dead grenade, both from the Dreamboat’s collection. Books are everywhere in our house; it’s always a challenge figuring out where to put them all but I wouldn’t have it any other way
Part of my jewelry and hairband collection. The frame is found, and it was brown so I painted it white and stapled chicken wire inside to hang pins and earings on, as well as hooks on each side for necklaces. The tiered tray is from the Bellingham antique mall and the necklace holder (used for hairbands) was a gift. The round crystal perfume bottle is from my MIL, and is very old from Holland.
This painting I found at Napiers Antiques in Langley, and I painted the frame a rich yellow. We have two mini-daschunds, so it’s totally appropriate. It reminds me of the Kramer portrait.
This is our entryway closet. I don’t like closet doors, so a long time ago I converted it to a bench and hooks. More recently, I installed paintable wallpaper, painted it teal (it was a teal phase), and put in an antique coat rack we found in an antique mall in Edmonton. I found the cushions a little later, and voila! Welcoming entry closet. The umbrella was used over 60 years ago by my husband’s Grandma, and given to me by my generous MIL.
We found these little framed silhouettes at an antique mall in Leduc, Alberta. Look closely, they’re Dickens characters! I love the literature theme, and that there’s no way I could ever have found these on purpose.
I found this big fish thing at Goodwill in Edmonton, and decided it would be agreat place to stash my dishcloths. The picture to the right of it is of me and my now deceased brother Tyler, and the little Eiffel Tower was purchased by me at the actual Eiffel Tower.
This is a signed picture of Robert Loggia. Never heard of Robert Loggia? Yeah, that’s kind of why I got this picture. I used to travel every second week for business, and one night I was sitting in my hotel room being totally bored, thinking “you know what would be awesome? A signed picture of an obscure actor in our living room.” So I went online and found this beauty for $40. He’s been a part of our decor ever since. Behind Mr. Logia are some manzanita branches, and above him is an exit sign from Napiers and a flower painting from Goodwill.
This little Day of the Dead skeleton was found by Mr. Dreamy this past New Years Eve in the Bellingham Antique Mall. He has moving parts, but mostly just sits on the windowsill behind our bed.
I use fake flowers in sort of an ironic way, and also because I have a proccupation with 50s vases and there are only so many empty vases a person can take. This one disguises the ugly oven clock, and above it is a picture I took in Venice.
So that’s a little bit of where I live! Let me know what you think, and share some of what’s in your home!
The best sermon I ever heard was at Creekside Community Church, given by pastors Jim Gaull and Colin Griffiths called The Vomit Pile. The two pastors delivered it together right after New Years, about the things they do over and over and over that they wish they didn’t. The term “vomit pile” is taken from a verse in the Bible found in Proverbs 26:11 that says “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” You know when a dog throws up, then goes back to eat it? Yeah, we all do that in life. Metaphorically. Pretty disgusting right? It’s also pretty human, unfortunately.
So I think about my vomit pile a lot. I know that I have a tendency to be aggressive with people who are close to me. I know that I overdo eating and shopping when I’m stressed. I forget the little things, and put way too much presure on myself. The thing is, I know these things, but daily life gets in the way of conciously knowing them and actually correcting them. Enter: reflective vacation.
I’m in Hawaii right now, siting on a pation while Mr. Dreamy sleeps in our rented condo. I have two cups of coffee, one for now and one for five minutes from now. There’s a little stream with coy in front of me, with a lush jungle setting around it, and birds and other unidentified animals calling all around. This trip was a surpsrise to Mr. Dreamy and myself; my co-worker told me she owned a condo in Kauai and that it was vacant just four days before we flew here. We had been planning a vacation for around now but had decided not to take it because I started working and Dreamy hasn’t started yet. We’ve spent the last year living apart trying to accomplish our seperate goals to set our life together up properly, and once we got to living in the same house again we thought it called for a vacation celebration. So even though we thought it wasn’t meant to be, when this little jewel presented itself we decided that it was the right time after all! We made quick flight reservations and got here Tuesday afernoon. Siting here in paradise, reflecting on our good fortune, I think it’s a perfect time to take a bird’s eye view of my life; my choices, my triumphs, my failures, and my blessings and situate myself within them. Hence: the vomit pile.
I told Mr. Dreamy the other day that on the whole, I’m proud of my choices in the past few years, and that’s the truth. I went back to university, which wasn’t an easy thing to do. I moved away from my love to do it: even less easy. I found work in a profession I’m honoured to be a part of, funeral and cemetery. I look around at my friends and family and am proud of the relationships I’ve built. But there are some things I want to stop doing, and that’s what this post is about.
My Vomit Pile
I am so darn fast. In regular life situations it’s good, but interelationally it’s very bad. I rush people, I get visibly and verbally frustrated and annoyed, and generally make others feel crappy when they’re slower than me. And most everyone is slower than me. A good friend once said to me “Brianna, the thing about you is that the stuff it takes most people a year to get to will take you maybe a month, and you don’t understand that about them.” It’s true, I don’t. I understand concepts faster, I figure stuff out faster, I move faster…and I have very fast patience that runs out much too quickly. I need to slow down. Part of the problem of being too fast is that I miss things, like appreciating the world around me, or appreciating the people. I need to take stock, take a breath, and slow it down. Ironically, I married a man who is quite literally the slowest person I know. He takes his time, he double and triple checks things, he is careful and consistent. I love and hate that part of him every day, but I know I fell in love with him for a reason, and part of that reason is to help me slow down so I can be a better me.
I have a highly developed sense of self-loathing. This is a big one. There are diferent schools of thought on how best to attempt self-improvement. The first school says that self-love is what inspires a person to improve, and the second says that self-loathing is the thing to do it. I have always said self-love, but acted on self-loathing. I tell people to accept themselves while completely rejecting myself. It’s a funny thing. I’m fairly certain this idea comes from my Dad, who has since mellowed out tremendously. But growing up, I really internalized that anything short of his idea of perfection was not ok. And it’s not that he meant to be such a hard-ass, it’s just that he saw the world a certain way. So now I have to really get in to my brain and do some renovations. Is it ok to not be at the peak of physical fitness? Yeah. Is it ok not to be exactly where you thought you’d be career-wise a year ago? Yeah, it’s ok. There’s a big difference between wanting to improve and beating yourself up for what is. That’s something I want to not just say anymore, but really believe and practice. Because I think that relaxing my inner dictator would help me accomplish my goals even better: it’s a carrot vs. stick thing.
I worry about how everything looks. The part of this that I like is my personal style: I always try to look put-together and reflect who I am in what I wear, how I decorate etc. The part of this I don’t like is the neuroses that stem from it. And because my vomit pile is all interelated, this involves a lot of self-loathing. Because I don’t always look the way I think I should, I agonize. For example: gaining weight. It’s a fact of life for a lot of people, and as I’m sure we all know, it’s about more than just eating and exercising; it’s about what’s going on in your head. Just before I got divorced I lost 30 lbs, fast. I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t eating. People everywhere told me I looked great, so I kept it up. I was miserable but at least I looked good! When I moved to Alberta and felt isolated from the life I had created in BC I put on 30lbs. These two incidences were both all about how I felt and the fact that I dealt with both scenarios through eating or not eating. In high school I toyed with bulemia and anorexia, though no one would have guessed, and at this point I just have to be honest about myself: I deal with a lot of life’s problems through food control. Me and Oprah, and like thousands of other men and women do this. It’s pain avoidance through creating a new pain. Makes no sense, but there it is. It’s not just my body though, I worry about how my house, my car, the people around me and how my life looks. And the problem with that is that instead of feeling my feelings I spend way too much energy worrying about how I am perceived by others. It’s a waste of time, and I know it. Because it means that other people’s values and ideas, which I have no control over, end up being more important than my own. And I know it’s ridiculous, but it’s something I do. I’d like to stop though. I’d like to feel what’s in me and deal with that, and have that be the end of it. I’m working on it.
So that’s the condensed version of my vomit pile. It’s there, I see it, and I’d like not to go back there anymore. I guess this is life: being honnest about who you are and what you do, and trying to become the person you want to be. The effort of doing this, the experience of evolving is what I think living is about. And I suppose that without these struggles we’d be awfully bored. So hooray for self-realization, hooray for epiphanies, and hooray for Hawaii, where I can ponder these things in between snorkeling expeditions. I hope you can identify your own vomit pile and make a plan to stop going there. Let me know how it goes, ok?
For those of you who’ve been following for awhile, you’re aware of my love of listing. Those of you who are new, I’m going to tell you something: Lists are gifts to us directly from baby Jesus.
This week I’ve been thinking about being more mindful and thankful for all the great things I have in my life, in order to focus on the positive and maybe even enhance it a bit. Cuz my life is cool, celebrate!
So here’s my five for January, enjoy
5) No wheat diet. I never thought I’d be one of these people, because I likes me some wheat, but I could no longer ignore what’s happening around me: we are living in an increasingly wheat free world, and it seems like every one of my friends who goes to a naturopath ends up giving up wheat and immediately raving about how good they feel. Well now it’s ME raving!!! I’m eating almond flour bread, coconut flour cookies, lots of veggies and a a little meat. I feel so good right now! I’m working on the dairy component, and I have to say coconut yogurt is yum. I ate some cheese today though, so you know…baby steps
4) My history class. Right now I’m taking Tudor and Stuart England, and oh my goodness, it’s like watching an amazing documentary twice a week, only better because I get to ask questions. I can’t beleive this is how I get to spend my days!
3) Harry Potter. Right now I’m on The Goblet of Fire, and I’m alternating between that and the movies. I never got into the books when they came out, but my sister told me I had to do it so I started the first one during Christmas break. I’m finding that reading something for myself during school is actually helping me focus on my school work even more, because it makes me happy. Nice
2) My new yellow peeptoes. Sometimes a pair of shoes really does lift your mood, and these are just so special and fun! I got them from Modcloth, and I’m just itching for Spring to arrive so I can wear them outside. Because, you know, I’ve been wearing them inside every day. All day.
1) My husband. I know I know, he’s always on my list. But right now, I’m so super duper proud of him I could burst. While I’ve been in school basking in the comfy world of academia, he has finished our renovations, staged and sold our house, then sold a whole bunch of the stuff we didn’t want to move and packed the rest to come live with me in BC. He quit his job, he’s leaving the home he worked hard to buy on his own, and he’s just done it with so much generosity and patience that I am in awe. The icing on this perfectly baked man cake is that the other day, I realized that maybe one of the reasons I fell in love with him in the first place is that he looks like a blond JFK…Seriously, I don’t know how I got so lucky.
I have a big major crush on the poor porker. They moved across the country, from L.A. to a Florida town nearby, and now they're spreading sweet sugary joy around our community with a big dose of style and substance.
Robyn and Jarrid's story resonates with me in so many ways. Two people who are crazy about each other take a giant risk and jump head-first into a business together.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,300 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 7 years to get that many views.
End of November is here and this is what it looks like in my world: papers, exams, projects, presentations, Christmas gift shopping online, getting together with friends and family, texting like mad with Mr. Dreamy AND reflecting a little on the past year. You know that thing where you’re just GO GO GO and you don’t stop too often to look back or like, breathe? Yeah, me too. For some reason right now though, I’m thinking about where we’ve been this past year, where we’re going, and even patting myself on the back a little for coming this far.
I’m just gonna say it: this year was ROUGH. It was all by choice: Mr. Dreamy and I decided that I should leave Edmonton and go back to school and that he should finish up our renovations, sell the house and meet me in BC where we’d start our new life by summertime. I left almost a year ago now, and he’s still in Edmonton. Things don’t always go as planned. Going back to school at 32 was exciting and terrifying, and doing it while my husband lived somewhere else added another dimension of difficulty. Mr Dreamy had to handle all the house stuff on his own while I’ve been here, and though it’s been beyond difficult getting it together, he’s done a bang-up job. So at the end of a year living apart, I can honestly say that we’re even closer than we were. I’m not sure what it is, but I have the idea that adversity combined with true love is like a recipe for amazingness. Apart form that, we’ve both been pushing the envelope personally, and get to share that with one another at the end of every single sometimes gruelling day. It’s funny: we tend to aim for calm waters as human beings when it’s the storms that make our lives better. I can honestly say that though this year has been Brutal (see the capital B?), I wouldn’t take it back. I don’t tend to make conventional choices, and those choices yield unconventional results. I like that. On the bad days I look around and wonder why no one else I know seems to be going through the crap that I am. And then I remember. Most people I know would never make the choices I have. Duh Brianna. When I think of where I’m going and think of where I’ve been, I’m happy. Mr. Dreamy and I have some big plans, and they’re going to require big sacrifice. If I can do this adventure with him for the rest of my life, I’ll have no complaints.
So I’m calling it: 2012, I owned you!!!!!
I have a confession to make, and it may surprise you. It may not though, you may have guessed this all along. I have no idea how many people will be surprised by this admission, or relate to it, or have their suspicions confirmed, or just plain not care, but here goes:
I have no idea what I’m doing.
My life plan has always been simple: be awesome. Sometimes I feel awesome, other times I don’t, but it’s ok because my plan has nothing to do with feeling anything; it has to do with being something. And while my goal is simple, it’s also not measurable in any way. So far, I’ve liked it that way. See, to my way of thinking, awesomeness is such an elusive thing that I have to strive constantly to meet it, and only sometimes do I ever feel that I have achieved it. I felt awesome when I started my interior design business and started to get jobs, but then the jobs weren’t frequent enough or prestigious enough to remain in the awesome realm, so I fell. I felt really awesome when I met my husband and fell in love, but then we didn’t achieve enoughas quickly as I thought we should so I fell from awesome again. Over and over again, no matter where my life takes me, I follow up my feelings of achievement and elation with a plunging sadness and despair at not doing, achieving, or being enough. I logically know that I have so much to be grateful for, but I’m nagged by a persistent feeling that all of my blessings are on credit, and have yet to be earned by my future, awesome, accomplishments.
While I know this all sounds ridiculous, I look around and get the impression that I’m not alone. Especially for the women I know, achievement and perceived success seem to be their drug of choice. We are never pretty enough, fit enough, smart enough, successful enough in our careers or with our families, we don’t earn enough, we don’t see our friends enough….we don’t have clean enough houses or cook all our kids meals from scratch! Now we have pinterest to keep a visual reminder of all the things we should be or do, just in case we forget. And I’m am not knocking pinterest by any means: it’s a great idea and can be used to get ideas for lots of stuff we want to do. But many of us use it to further enslave ourselves to the new “shoulds” of life. Our “shoulds” seem to have taken precedence over what is. And the problem I have with this in my own life, is that what is isn’t even bad, it’s actually good. My life is far from my lofty ideals, yes, but shouldn’t I be experiencing the wonder of what it is rather than making myself miserable over what it is not?
So this morning, I couldn’t stop crying. Like really, it was a scene out of some instructural psych depression documentary. I miss my husband who I haven’t lived with for almost a year. I’m sucking at school right now. I haven’t lost the weight I gained over a year ago. My life is not living up to the picture I have in my head, and I feel really far from making it what I want it to be. On top of it, I’m absolutely terrified that you’ll know where I’m actually at. I want you to think I’m together, that I don’t ever have to learn a lesson twice. I want you to see that I am amazing! The problem is, that’s not what I think. I think I’m lost, confused, and tired of pretending I know where I’m going. I don’t.
I went to one of my favourite places today for lunch: Ninja Sushi. I ordered something a little different aqlong with what I usually get called a skinny ninja roll. If you are what you eat, this is exactly what I want to be: lithe, fast and fierce like ninja, skinny like a supermodel. When I got it, I was surprised though. It was slathered in sauce, and looked so far from skinny that I wasn’t even sure I wanted to try it. And the ninja part? There was nothing ninja about it at all. But I tried it anyway, and you know what? It was delicious. It did not look like what I thought a skinny ninja should be, but that didn’t change that it was indeed a skinny ninja. So I thought: maybe my whole life won’t look like what I thought it would: should that cut back on my enjoyment of it’s deliciousness? If I chose not to eat it, I’ll never really know. If I’d sent it back without tasting it, I would have missed finding a delicious new lunch option. If I’d nibbled at it, convinced I wouldn’t like it, I would have not given myself the opportunity to really taste what was right in front of me. Maybe sometimes not knowing is half the fun, and just going with it is the other half. Maybe if I did life more like sushi sometimes I’d be more satisfied. I’m really glad I tried the skinny ninja, and you know what? It was so good I ate it all
I’m going to take some big bites of my own life starting now, whether it looks palatable or not. I’m going to feel what I feel and be what I am. And if I don’t like it, I’m going to change it. But I’m not going to avoid living it in favour of what it should be instead.
Hope your Tuesday is delicious
You ever had one of those days that makes you want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over your head? The kind of day that isn’t terrible, but enough bad happens to demoralize you enough to want a redo? Yeah, I’m having one of those today.
Almost every day I wake up excited and grateful to be alive, to be a student, to drink coffee. Today I woke up and studied, went to class and took notes, then spent another hour and a half studying, went to another class, handed in a paper I’d written yesterday, met with my group for a project, studied while eating raw vegetables, then went to class and took a quiz that I’d been studying for for two days. I took a look at the first page and recognized none of the terms used in any question. The same for page two, page three and page four. Seriously, it was like one of those dreams I sometimes have about high school tests, only I had clothes on this time. I couldn’t believe it, I was stumped on almost every question.
Thing is, I really like school. A lot. I like learning about psychology, I like writing papers, I like waking up to go prepare for my future career every day; it’s neato. Not many people get to learn all day long, but I do and I enjoy every class. mostly. These times when I’m busting my butt to do well, while living in a different province from my husband and trying to live as balanced a life as I can will not always work out. I may study for hours, but sometimes it’s just not enough. With what I’m doing, I run the risk of failure: and if I do fail it’s right there in black and white on my scantron sheet, as well as recorded in some excel spreadsheet by my prof.
I knew when I went back to school that it was a risk, and I banked on me turning these few years into a long, productive, lucrative career. The fact that I could fail made the idea all the more exciting. Now that I think I could have failed something, even though it’s a small thing, it’s terrifying. I came home wanting to sleep, or cry, or eat chocolate. Anything to escape for just a few hours from my fear. Because what if I can’t do this? What if I’m not smart enough? What if…?
And then it hit me: I’m going to fail along the way. A lot. The more I try, the more I will fail. Like a baby learning to walk, falling down is expected. Funny how I had the idea that now that I’m a grown-up I should never fall. But logically, if i never fell wouldn’t that mean I’d stopped trying to walk? What about running, skipping, jumping? They all bring more falling. Thinking about not trying to learn or do things I’m not sure I can do isn’t called being an adult, it’s called keeping my world small. And if I’m going to live at all, why live small?
On second thought, I’ll risk it. Failure is a small price to pay for learning to walk. Winston Churchill said that “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”. And right now, I think it’s true. It’s easy to go to school on days when I have nothing to turn in and no tests to take. It’s much harder to keep going when I’ve suffered a setback like today. But I’m going to keep going anyway. Thanks Winston
It’s been a long time, my lovely readers! I spent the summer watching movies and staring out the window at the lawn that needed to be mowed, and guess what? All that time spent resting totally didn’t prepare me for the CRAZY schedule I’ve got going right now. So the ride this new school season has been fast and dirty so far, but I’m loving it. And it’s a good thing, because I’ve got a ways to go…..a ways to go…
5. I’m really into choosing thematic music for my drives these days. On bright sunny days I’ll go with Kings of Leon or Florence and the Machine. Cold clear mornings call for Bon Iver and overcast days are all about Lana Del Rey. Oh, and if I drive past road kill I put on Neil Diamond. I’m not sure about that last one, but I think that when I’m sad Neil makes the world seem better. Brooklyn Roads? Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show? Yes, Neil makes all that is wrong right again in the world.
4. I was really excited to go to the lake and see if Stella our dog could swim. Turns out she can if we throw her in, but she totally hates it and panics like she thinks she might die. I admit I ruined the whole experience by watching a bunch of videos of wiener dogs swimming in pools (of their own free will), making my dog look lame in comparison. Right after vacation we saw the super dogs at the PNE, so…I now want her to jump through really tall hoops. It’ll happen.
3. Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is my new reason to feel good about myself. Yes I watched it, don’t judge me.
2. I’m taking a volleyball class this semester because my school has this awesome rule that if you don’t have the awkward feelings you had in grade 10 gym class (loserishness, awkwardidity, and suicidalation) then you’re not really earning a degree. In Psychology. Which requires a volleyball and tennis class, naturally. Anyway, my first class ended up being outside where I had to remove my shoes for the beach volleyball court, come up with a team name and cheer, and then I got hit in the face with the ball. Right in the nose from way up high, so it was pretty hard. It jiggled my brain and my nose went numb for awhile. The suicidalation got pretty intense after that.
1. I took this picture at the PNE, and no one in my group was surprised. At all.
1. With all these pictures of my friends kissing their husbands on facebook, I feel like putting a picture up of me screaming at mine. We don’t even have fights like that (I would, but he would just stare at me with a blank look on his face so what’s the point?) but I would stage one just to be different.
2. I’ve been pretty lonely since I went fully online for school, so I think about going to wal-mart and looking around, hoping I’ll run into someone I know and we’ll chat. I realize how completely depressing that is.
3. Lately I feel that my hair resembles that of Sebastian Bach. This is not good. I complained to my Mom and she let me use her expensive Wen shampoo that made her hair soooo soft. It worked for like, half a day, then I was back to a huge 80′s rock ballad fro. *sigh*
4. I made an appointment with a consignment store to sell them mine and my Moms clothes. I sorted them, ironed them, packed them in suitcase and garment bags, filled up my Ford Escape (that’s a lot of space, yo!) and went to my appointment…..yeah, they didn’t want any of it. That was 5 days ago, and I’ve been driving around with a car full of clothes and shoes ever since, too dejected to do anything about it.
5. I’m wondering if when a form asks me for my family doctor, I should write down Google. It’s the truth, after all.