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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

My blogging decision



Hello friends.

How is your October going?
I don't usually say much about the topic of blogging here, but for some months now I've been having to face the question of what is going to happen to my Gwen Moss blog. And I thought I would share this with you. 

I hate to bore you with my blogging problems but I've been having issues on the Blogger platform for a long time now. Lots of little things with font sizes and photos, but the latest technical glitch that really bothers me is that I can no longer respond to my comments or if I can, it's very sporadic. 

I can't tell you how bad I feel when I read my comments and write my response and then when I go hit publish it doesn't show up. From my IPhone or laptop.

Another more serious problem has to do with the fact that for some bizarre reason, I can no longer publish my posts on Facebook because FB won't accept my blog URL address, gwenmossblog.blogspot.com. 


            

Crazy, right?  But wait.  Here's where it gets comical. Do you know what happens when I try to publish my blog on Facebook? 

I get a message telling me that my content doesn't comply with community standards. Yes, friends. 
Somehow all those angry, crazed conspiracy theorists spreading lies and promoting violence have a voice on FB but Gwen Moss? She's too radical. 


Anyway. Please know I'm chuckling as I write this. I haven't lost my sense of humor, thank goodness. 

But if you're wondering. That's why you don't see my latest posts on Facebook anymore. And honestly, I don't know how people get to my blog anymore because Instagram blocks my blog address too, which prevents me from putting my latest blog post in my IG profile.











In case you're wondering what my options are, there really is no solution when it involves getting a response from Facebook. I've tried. And I've gotten similar feedback: don't hold your breath.

And so I've had to ask myself, what happens when you keep running into closed doors?

At this point, it's looking like I'm going to have to retire my blog name and address. I've been blogging here for more than ten years and to say that I'm overwhelmed with love and gratitude for all you, is an understatement. I can't imagine this ending. 

Whatever I do I will keep you posted and in the meantime please know that your comments left on my blog are vital part of Gwen Moss. The wisdom of your comments enlighten and lift up --not only me--but every reader who visits here. If you ever need to get a direct response to something you've shared, you can always email me at: mizgmoss@yahoo.com
 



Sending love and abundant blessings,

Leslie

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Rustic Fall Tablescape





Hello there friends.

Today I'm joining Cindy and Mary Ann along with some talented blogger friends to give you some ideas for your next fall-inspired table.

I'm so happy to be included because I really enjoy playing around with flowers and putting together a pretty table. And you know me. I'm a big believer that if I can do something, you can too, so today I thought I would share some basic ideas behind my fall table.


The Charm of Rustic

For this project I decided to use my actual work table--the one I use for my table saw with all it's old paint stains and nicks. I even decided to skip placemats to show off all that rough wood grain.


For me, using a rugged aged table as a backdrop for the earthy colors of fall is a way to create a friendly, laid-back vibe. And that's how I want my guests to feel when they come to my home, completely comfortable and at ease. 


fireplace in-progress

My decision to set my table outside was also inspired by our new outdoor fireplace that my Dad helped us build on his last visit. And I promise to do an entire blog post on this fireplace, but today you'll get to see it (mostly )in the background.



Creating a fall table: 4 simple ideas
 
1. Find your inspiration

This is the first thing that I did when I got an email from Cindy inviting me to put together a fall table for this project. Before I rushed out and selected any flowers. Before I pulled out any dishes or stemware---before I did anything.

I had to get my creative juices flowing and that comes from being inspired.



When it comes to finding your inspiration for your table--it can be a smallest thing. A  set of napkins you found on sale. A piece of fruit. A collection of leaves you gathered on a walk. Or in my case, my  location.


Since my backyard is filled with hot pink bougainvillea and since I already had a burnt-orange linen runner, I decided to go bold with high contrast colors of orange and pink for the color scheme. 


Nothing muted or sedate about these colors.


Starting with an inspiration piece will provide your color scheme and from there----you can set a casual or elegant tone by the pieces--dishware and accessories-- you choose for your table.

2. Use what you have.


This is for all of you who don't have seasonal dinnerware or expensive stemware. It's great if you're a collector and you have classic china patterns etched with berries or autumn colored stoneware. But it's ok if you don't. When setting a fall table there's so much charm that comes with the simple beauty of plain white dinner plates and then accessorizing with nature.




I clipped olive leaves from my tree for the center of my table and added a few bittersweet branches with berries that I tucked around the flowers. I also happen to be someone who washes and saves my lemon curd jars (so yummy with Greek yogurt) that are perfect for votive candles and flowers, and help add layers to your table.




For this table instead of taper candles which tend to obstruct the view in real life, I tied jute string around pillar candles.

3. Shop the vegetable section of your grocery 


Golden-hued pears. Shiny red pomegranates. Garnet-colored figs or pink pumpkins. Whether you use them in your centerpiece or in lieu of a place card or just for colored texture between your votive candles, don't forget the rich colors that can inspire you from the produce section of your local market.


4. Simple is good

 I've been purging a lot of stuff lately and that includes all my colored stemware. These blue stem wine glasses are my only colored glassware now and to be honest, I tend to prefer stem-less wine glasses anyway. I just like the ease of them. 

I mostly use white dinner plates when entertaining too. I do have Christmas and Thanksgiving dishes packed away but as you can imagine, holidays are hard to think about now. 



For this table I used my navy blue salad plates along with these blue stem glasses to balance all the warm colors. I always prefer to use crystal goblets for water with slices of fruit. I think I got the plates at HomeGoods. The gold matte silverware is from Target and I love how the matte finish looks on the table. Stuff I had already.



Because I recently got rid of my old outdoor chairs, I'm using my leather dining room chairs outside. I also brought out this bench from the hallway and topped it with a miniature faux animal rug.




Well friends, I sure hope I gave you a few ideas you can use. And now you have to check out the gorgeous tablescapes from my talented friends. I know I'm excited to see what they've been up to.















Thank you so much for stopping by,
xoxo
Leslie


Monday, September 21, 2020

Random home photos and the question that heals





The other day I got a chance to hear a beautiful conversation.

I was in a group being led by a yoga teacher- therapist named Wendy.

And a woman who had lost her husband of 43 years was talking about how she didn't know how to live without him. I've known him for almost my whole life, she said, and I don't know who I am now. I feel so lost without him. I keep wanting him next to me. 
Why? Why can't I let go, I know he's gone... but I just can't accept it. 

Listening to this woman from behind my Zoom screen was strangely more powerful than seeing her face. Who was this tiny voice out in the world, opening up and sharing her most tender feelings?  I could feel the rawness of her words and my heart instantly softened.

The yoga therapist was so gentle and kind--she had lost her own baby boy years ago--and at the right moment in this conversation, she reassured this grief-stricken woman that everything she said was so normal. This is simply our humanness, she reminded her, reacting to our heartbreaking loss. Of course we want them back--of course we want their physical bodies right next to us again. Of course your heartache feels unbearable at times.

She talked about the "dance" we all do when we're struggling to get out of a dark time in our lives. It's always three steps forward and a couple steps back. 

And I don't know why. 

Maybe because I had just limped past the heaviness of Patrick's September 15th angel-versary date, but I found this dance of healing to be a beautiful analogy. And so true. 

(Today, where are you? If you're a few steps back don't be discouraged. I'll wait for you)

Then Wendy offered the sort of words that were tinged with her own familiarity with suffering and healing.  

She said, "I know it's hard. I can feel the enormity of your hurt when I lean into your loss."

".....when I lean into your loss."



                     



Can we all just stop and think about that comment for a second?

My first thought was, how brave. Wendy wasn't simply listening to this woman's grief like some interested observer, but she was willing to open her heart up to the intensity of this woman's emotions. And even allow herself to feel the impact of this woman's sorrow.

As a former therapist I know this can be tricky, especially for women who are sensitive care-taker types. This example happened to be in a class on grief with a trained teacher, but what happens in real life when someone is emotionally distraught, how do you react?

Maybe the idea of leaning-in toward somebody's intense grief is totally uncomfortable. That's ok too. 




On thing I did find interesting. After each person had a chance to speak from her heart and have Wendy respond, she then lead the group (who only listens) in what she calls a "falling-out" breath. 

I hadn't heard of this before.

This falling out breath is simply a deep inhale and long exhale that's intended to be a physical release of the other person's emotional energy. So our bodies aren't unconsciously taking on all that emotion. 

And it's also a way that Wendy is teaching healthy boundaries, showing you that in the face of intense feelings you can listen and be fully present and compassionate without walking away feeling the other person's turbulent feelings inside your "tense" shoulders.

Maybe you might try this after an intense conversation.




By the way, I used to love the month of September. 

Everything about it. The changing colors of the leaves, the scent of wetness in the cool mornings, the giddy energy that came with a new school year. And of course, to me September was the official beginning of all the holidays and traditions that I so adored.

How bizarre that September 15th should be the day.

Although I've stopped asking "Why?"

Or worse yet, "Why me?"

Because--believe me dear friends--these are the questions that will keep you chained inside a pit of grief. 


These days I've discovered the One Question that invites awareness and healing is, What am I supposed to be learning from this?






















                                  



                              





What have you been learning lately?


I would love to hear.


Abundant blessings,
Leslie



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Thursday, August 27, 2020

the face you see in the mirror




In the beginning it felt like I was groping in the dark.

Nights were the worst. I had to take half a blue pill from the over-the-counter-bottle on my nightstand to make sure I was deep in sleep, before the clock crept into the vicinity of Patrick’s car crash. Breaking the blue pill in two was my nightly ritual. It was my protection, in case I happened to wake up anytime near the hour of the accident--- and my mind would become hostage to a relentless cycle of horror-gazing, as I played out the final details of my son’s life, all the while being brutalized by my imagined scenes of the accident.

I consider it the mental version of hell, and depending on my sleepiness, I could be suspended there for hours.

I didn’t get much relief in the mornings either.

In those months I would wake with the pressing weight of an elephant on my chest, struggling to breathe while those first anguished thoughts of the morning, which were always about Patrick, rolled over me like a Mack truck. 

Turns out, when you’re lying in bed staring at the ceiling, and your heart is being pulverized from within, the worst part isn’t even the pain. It’s the realization that there is absolutely no where you can go for relief. Nowhere to escape this new and horrifying reality that cannot be changed.

Did I mumble prayers? Did I drag myself into therapy sessions? Did my survival brain help me with numbness? Yes, yes and yes.

But this was a free-fall into a no-man’s land that I had never encountered before, because I had never felt so deeply traumatized.

I think that’s why I kept writing, too exhausted to open my laptop, I would simply jot down fragments of thoughts into my iPhone at all hours, day or night. If I felt lost and shivering inside a black forest these harried notes to myself were the tiny bread crumbs I left behind, in the hopes that someday I would find my way out of this unbelievable nightmare.
Of course, back then I had never heard of Gabor Mate, the international expert on trauma, who eventually helped me put words to my experience, albeit after the fact.

  • Trauma is not what happens to you.
  • Trauma is what happens inside you as a result of what happens to you. 
  • Trauma results in a disconnection of the Self.

It’s only now can I look back at those post-traumatic months and recognize the ways that this disconnect with my physical body showed up in my life. 
 
One evening Jim, Michael and I met an old family friend, with his wife and daughters at a loud, crowded pizza joint, and I remember how excited the wife was about the results of her recent plastic surgery. We sat together and talked. And although I had never noticed them before, I complimented her new eyelids.

I smiled and sipped my diet coke and I told her how great she looked because she did. Trim waist, a boob job from years ago, that still looked natural. Cute outfit. She was as sweet as ever but suddenly I remembered I had no mascara on (I’d stopped wearing it because of my crying) and oh yeah, I honestly could give a shit about what I was wearing.  As the evening wore on—amid the laughter and conversation at the table, I began to feel miles away from this kind, pretty wife, who seemed to be living a life I used to have.

I felt sure she noticed this new hollowed-out version of me and later that night in the parking lot saying our goodbyes, I remember it distinctly. That moment I first began to suspect that I was becoming unrecognizable to others. Yes, I mean physically and I know that sounds weird, but now I understand ---it emerged out of this strange disconnect I was feeling with my body. I guess I thought if I didn’t recognize myself, why would anyone else?

Soon after this evening--and only several months after we lost Patrick--I somehow mustered enough energy to make an appointment with a cosmetic dermatologist in Newport Beach. Nagged by the dryness around my eyes and my apathy about my disappearing looks— (shouldn’t I care that people won’t recognize me? Answer: not really)-- I had hopes that this physician would miraculously restore me back to normal. 
 
While I sat in the waiting room flipping through the pages of beautifully, photoshopped women inside the Vogue magazines, strewn over a glass coffee table, I searched for the dates of each edition. Before September 2018 meant Patrick was still here. And I could close my eyes and pretend I was back in time. After September 2018 signaled tragedy. A shocking turn of events I still couldn’t believe.

Inside the exam room I was pleasantly surprised to meet a fresh-faced dermatologist with little make-up, except for lipstick. When she asked me why I was there, I didn’t see how I could avoid telling her about Patrick, but I dreaded it. In those days my tears would spill out uncontrollably. This was my new normal. One minute I’d be talking mid-sentence—and then crying, then I’d stop, and continue talking.

I was always amazed that the person I was talking to at the time, rarely showed a reaction.
As I told her my story, I watched her move across the room and grab a box of Kleenex, keeping a few for her own tears before handing me the box.

Next, she held the biggest magnifying mirror I had ever seen up to my face and said, 
“Tell me what you see.”
Boom, just like that, it was the mirror and me under the brash lights.
And wow. I didn’t expect to feel so exposed. I lifted my eyes to the mirror in slow motion, afraid that all I would see was my broken heart and this made me feel like crying again. My god, I was so fragile.
She moved the mirror closer to my face, her dark eyes watching me, but once I looked at my reflection it got easier. Focus on the enemy. The puffy lids. The dry patches around my eyes. Oh. What about my lines? Once I got started, I kept going until I finished with a vague accusation of, “I just look so old.” 

She responded instantly.

“No, that’s not what I see. All I see is the natural result of daily tears.” 
She went on to explain about tear ducts, and composition of tears and the effects on skin but I was only half listening. I was waiting for my miracle cream.

“Ok. Now show me where you look so old. What wrinkles are you talking about?” She was waiting.

Whoa. I don’t know what I expected, but this wasn’t it. And this second look into the mirror was much harder. All I saw when I looked at my face was skin, brittle from shock and sorrow— in full display. My eyes were deep pools of grief. Whatever beauty I might have had once, was gone. And at that moment I truly believed that I would never look the same again. 

She watched me point to different parts of my face and then she put the mirror down and shook her head. 

“You don’t even need fillers,” she said, while she opened a white cabinet and began scouring through samples of creams in the drawer. 

“You just need to heal.” 

She handed me a prescription for a cream I never used, gave me a hug and walked out of the room.


Well. That was seventeen months ago. And sometimes you have to look back—to see how far you’ve come. 

I’ve learned a lot about healing since that afternoon appointment in Newport Beach. But when I think about that experience, what stands out to me, was how powerful it felt to look into the mirror in the presence of an observer--and have my reality challenged.

That image of us we see in the mirror? It's always going to be affected by the emotions and thoughts streaming through us at that moment.
But this is what I know. 
We are all beautiful souls living our lives inside these human bodies. 
Aspire to remember this truth when you go looking for yourself inside a one-dimensional mirror.
Surround yourself with people—like this female physician-- who insist on seeing the beautiful and eternal You that’s always there beneath the surface—even during those painful times when you can’t see her.
It will feel like love.


xo
Leslie




Friday, July 10, 2020

my guest bathroom reveal





Hello there friends.

Well.

I wish I could hear your voice through this screen because I really would like to know how you're doing. It's been a while since I've been here and to tell you the truth, even though today's post is about my guest bathroom, the real renovation has been taking place inside me.

But that's a whole other post.

In the meantime it occurred to me that the last update you got on my guest bathroom was when the plumber accidentally cracked my tub -the second tub to get damaged on this project. 

I know, after all that delay and work and I forget the REVEAL part. What kind of DIY-blogger does that, right?

So today I thought I'd get my act together and show you some photos. I'll start with THE inspiration piece that motivated this entire bathroom renovation.

Here it is:


I found this corner cabinet (seen in two pieces here) in an antique store, buried under piles of Indian blankets and dusty magazines. I had no idea if it would fit into my bathroom corner but I lugged it home and spent hours sanding down the black mahogany stain.


Here I am, in pre-pandemic days already with a mask and my palm sander. 
(I sure miss those glasses, do you lose your glasses a lot too?)



After hours of sanding the outside AND inside, I discovered  a really beautiful wood underneath, and I was so excited. Although I still didn't know if it would fit because the bathroom hadn't been demo'd yet. 

But I just "felt" like it would all work out. 



Here's the BEFORE

As you can see there's nothing wrong with this bathroom. 
 Just dark and dated. 


I kept the floor plan and original window to stay in budget, but I traded the miniature tub for a deep soaker that would fit into the space. I think this was tub no. 3. 

If you're interested in that whole story-warning, it's long- you can go HERE.


BEFORE


AFTER



In the end I went with the classic white subway tile and marble floors. And I mixed my metals on my lighting fixtures and faucets--a brushed gold and polished chrome


The only work I did in here was install the wood ceiling, the baseboards, the trim and paint. I found this rustic-looking wood product for the ceiling from Lowe's-- that was so light and easy to work with. And I loved the warmth it brought to all that white.



How do you like my cut in the baseboard...?
I'm getting better with my jigsaw.



When Claudio my electrician came by to mark the spots for my lighting he told me the bad news, the light switch I thought could be moved to make some space for my cabinet could NOT be moved. 

So here's the bottom part of the cabinet shoved into corner as far as possible. It was going to be tight but.. I still felt positive. 


Once the pedestal sink got installed I was finally able to bring the two cabinet pieces into place. 





And although it was a tight fit, I was happy. 

But I had another problem.

Once the cabinet was under the wood ceiling it took me two seconds to realize the shades of wood clashed terribly. I was so bummed. As much as I loved the wood on the ceiling I knew it needed to be white so my cabinet would stand out.


Believe me. After all that time installing this ceiling and loving the look, that first brush of white paint was SO hard. But I've learned the key to that first nervous coat of paint, is don't hesitate. 
Just do it. That's my painting motto. 


Afterwards I knew it was the right decision.



It's hard to see in this shot but I ordered and installed a shower tract into the ceiling, I thought it was a cool touch.


I let Jim pick the mirror out for the fun of it and he picked this "rustic" white one from Houzz, which is actually not wood at all. But I like it. There are those rare moments when I do want his opinion, wink. 











This is very UN-designer-of me. Because I know the first thing to be replaced on old furniture is the hardware (usually with those trendy, long handles) but I didn't have the heart to remove these primitive little wood thing-ees. They're so cute.



Another BEFORE shot


AFTER

Honestly, when you're inside the bathroom it looks like it fits perfectly. And there's a remarkable amount of storage.


BEFORE

AFTER

I just love seeing before and after pictures and if you do too, we're starting renovations on our Master bath on the 20th and I'll share my pictures with you soon. It's small for a Master bath, so I've made some selections that will make it feel larger. At least that's my hope.

Sending blessings of love and health to you,
(don't forget to wear your mask)

xoxo
Leslie




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