Friday, December 29, 2017

Christmas Cottage Tour 2017--and Life behind the pretty pictures

Hello friends and welcome to my little Christmas home tour.

I know-I know... in the blogger world— I’m light years behind all the wonderful home tours that have come and gone, but did I tell you? I’m living my design life out in dog years, so my holiday decorating now happens several years behind the blog world—and it’s working out pretty well for me.

Are you in the mood for some Christmas pictures from around here?

Wonderful!! I wish I could hand you a glass of wine through the computer screen, but we’ll just have to pretend about that part.

 I do however want to welcome you into my home with one caveat: you should know that behind each of these pretty photos is a lot of messiness. And I’m not talking dirty-dishes-in-the-sink-messiness I’m talking real life messy stuff that’s been a large part my 2017.

I’m talking about the stressful family dynamics that were happening not only in my little family, but also in my extended family as well.  

And I mention this because I’m sensitive to the power of images, and how easy it is to post a bunch of pristine looking photos for everyone to see--- that might give the impression that because my house might look spotless or stylish when I snapped the picture, my life must somehow resemble these ‘perfect looking’ images.

I know this because it happens to me.

 I can be busily blog-hopping through some crazy-beautiful Christmas tours and suddenly my eyes zero-in on all the negative parts of my own home with its dated kitchen and ugly master bathroom.

Please be aware 0f this sneaky kind of dissatisfaction. Because it robs you of gratitude for the most ordinary little details of your day and it confuses you into thinking that you don’t have ‘enough’ to be happy right this minute.
And have you noticed how comparing ourselves with others  creates invisible wedges between us? It happens when we assume that someone else is living a ‘perfect’ life or that their life is problem-free, and because we know our life is NOT, a subtle distance happens. Even if we're admiring them there's a sense that "well that's not me." And so we might miss seeing who they really are or most importantly, we miss the chance to relate to them with compassion.

A few weeks back I was talking with my Mom about a touchy family situation among my siblings and she seemed most upset about the timing. She actually said something like, “I just wish (this situation) would’ve waited until after Christmas.”

And although I have a lot of empathy for my Mom because of her painful childhood, and I can understand she has an image of how she wants the holidays to go, I also realize that having this “ideal” image of the holidays can really set us up for disappointment. To my Mom’s credit, this year she was more flexible than ever before.

But hers was a conversation I kept having throughout my holiday season. Whether I found myself in a wildly, loud Karaoke bar in Long Beach, or at a fancy-schmazy dinner with dear friends and regardless of any special date on the calendar, I kept hearing about real life struggles. The ugly aftermath of a divorce. Depressed feelings. Struggles with addiction. Having these raw, open-hearted talks with friends or family against the backdrop of white, twinkling lights, loud music and clanking glasses was a powerful reminder that behind every perfect image is a real person with real problems. And it’s these open wounds and human-ness that we share with each other that truly connect us.

When I’m able to talk about my personal struggles- or listen to someone else’s pain, I feel a warm connection with them. And after these recent conversations I was reminded of this distorted belief so many of us grapple with: that struggling is somehow NOT OK. Or that to be struggling emotionally, mentally, or physically either is wrong or bad or something to be ashamed of, especially during the holidays.

And it’s this judgment about what we’re experiencing or what we’re feeling that makes things so much worse. If this is something you do, please know that you’re not alone. And please know that you have absolutely nothing to be self-conscious about, nothing to hide. Seriously. You're doing great. 

Being Ok with where you are today is so important. Let’s not wait for all the stars to line up the way we want before we relish the beautiful parts of our lives. 

Whatever happened in 2017 is over. And I hope you join me in welcoming whatever Life brings to us with curiosity and humility. Instead of resistance or worry…. let’s ask this question instead:

“What can this experience teach me? 

How can I grow from this struggle?”


I hope you enjoyed seeing some of my pictures around here.

But as you leave my home I also hope you walk away feeling aware of your own specialness. I hope you pause to remember that no matter what your house looks like on any given day, it doesn’t say anything about the inner strength you’ve gained from your own life struggles along the way. And your house while lovely, certainly doesn’t tell the story of your unique brand of wisdom and the forging of your identity over the years.

As 2017 winds down, I do hope you think deeply about what really matters to you so that this coming year can truly be the year that you tap into your purpose in life.
Let’s stay in touch and encourage each other along the way.

Thank you so much for being the best part of my blogging.

Merry Christmas and Happy 2018!



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Unknown said...

I think most of us are guilty of this at one time or another. Why do we do this to ourselves? As soon as I start thinking in those terms I stop and remind myself of all that I do have. It's a work in progress!

Susan Nowell @ My Place to Yours said...

Yes, yes, YES! Leslie, your house pics are beautiful as usual, but I suspect you'll be most pleased to know that I skimmed over them briefly as I READ your words—and nodded in agreement. Life is messy. Blogland is deceptive and harmful to our mental, emotional, and relational wellbeing if we don't guard against it. Relationships... Don't get me started. My little family (I love that you use that phrase, too!) has had its share of ups and downs in the past—and now—and we're all works in process. I know exactly what you mean about listening to (or sharing) the hard stories while sitting amidst the twinkle and "perfection" of Christmas decorations. Let's just admit: There is NO family without some level of dysfunction, pain, and/or struggle. Period. Thanks for your honesty. May 2018 bring healing where it's needed to ALL of our families. Mostly, may we Moms do our part to adjust our expectations and help that happen. Happy New Year, my friend!

Karen said...

So true, I'm happy for the reminder that what really matters is the here and now. Family and friends. Not the decor. The truth is, we all have lovely homes and the comparison game is always detrimental to the joy we should all take in our environs when family and friends are here.

Elizabeth@ Pine Cones and Acorns said...

Leslie, I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas with your boys and your parents. I am sorry to read that you have had some family things going on this year. I hope that things are working out.

Your post resonates strongly with me. The holidays are a hard time for many, and it is so terribly difficult to know how to navigate them with those issues.

The beautiful photos on Instagram and on the blogs more often than not are a mask that hides real life, things like a family that is stuggling with a special needs child, a family dealing with aging parents, or member of the family with mental illness, a victim of assault or a woman struggling to survive everyday life while her husband is overseas serving our country.

Every single person has struggles, sadly I think so many feel as if they cannot talk about their problems, issues, feelings or whatever on their blogs because it will turn people off. After all isn;t that what social media is all about, an escape from life.

Luckily whenever I have posted a serious, real life post my readers have been so kind and receptive and more often than not I receive so many emails from them with lengthy responses telling of their own struggles. I think it opens a door or a window for people to walk in and discuss things almost anonymously.

Honestly, my favorite blogs and Instagram sites, the ones that I visit often are the ones that do talk about real life. I am more often than not turned off my too many perfect photos of houses, trips, food, etc.

I wish that more people felt as if they could talk about things, without being ridiculed but the world is a scary place and more so online.

Thank you for sharing your beautiful house! I love all of your improvements and your beautiful decorations! Happy New Year. I hope 2018 brings your family conflicts a little peace.

Thank you for your sweet compliment on Instagram today, you made my day!

auntp said...

Your home is lovely, and I greatly appreciate all of the work that is involved in maintaining and writing a blog, but your words are even lovelier. Thanks for being real and for the encouragement that we all need.

Kind regards,

Blondie's Journal said...

I'm not sure why family issues always seem to rear their ugly heads at Christmas. Maybe it's a season of expectation. A family time, even though some families have been absolutely upside down or far apart intentionally. In my own life, everyone was hiding behind the lovely lights and decor. I try not to project, but I've been sitting silently, waiting for circumstances to change, but after having my heart broken several times over the holidays, I'm determined I'll never willingly try to please anyone but myself when it comes to me, my home, or how I celebrate anything. It was sooooo lost on so many selfish people.

I appreciate beautiful pictures on blogs. I know the rooms have been fluffed, and the messy stuff has been cropped out. Every blog has a purpose or theme. I take it for what it is. Some of these blogs are relying on income. There are other blogs who really want to play show and tell. I just want to see creativity--not one of 300 sets of dishes.

I wish sometimes that I could share my darker days, my problems on my blog, but we are after all, strangers in a sense. I just don't feel I would accomplish anything positive or helpful by airing my laundry. And I have that nagging problem that there are people out there that I have issues with who read my blog.

Your house is so beautiful, you decorated with such a sweet, low key and festive touch. That's something I'm going to remember for next year.

Thanks for another relevant post, Leslie. Just love ya!


Cheryl said...

Thank you for sharing your lovely home with us. I hope you and your family had a wonderful holiday, and I wish you and yours a very happy and healthy 2018. I especially want to thank you for sharing your gift of words/wisdom with us. You truly are a special lady...

Debra@CommonGround said...

Hi Leslie, so nice to hear from you! Your photos are so beautiful, your home is looking so very calm and serene, but most important is your very honest and heartfelt message. So many things that are true for most of us, and we need to be reminded to be optimistic during our times of family change and struggles. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and wishing you the Happiest of New Years! xoxo.

Leslie Harris said...

Hi Linda.
Thanks so much for taking the time to visit my blog I really appreciate hearing from you. I do agree, it’s easy to make those comparisons with others and I like your attitude. Being aware when we do it and being kind to ourselves is a positive way to react.

Leslie Harris said...

Susan I can always count on you to leave such thoughtful reflections. Thank you for sharing your wisdom here. I SO agree. Boy we’re all works in progress and for me, keeping this attitude about myself (and others) helps me stay humble. Your last line is so true. As a Mom I’ve learned that changing my expectations is a total game changer. But it’s been hard. I’m still learning about letting go and not attaching to certain outcomes. Mothering is constantly teaching me about myself and the areas I need to grow. Big hugs to you and many blessings for the New Year.

Leslie Harris said...

You’re so right Karen. Thank you friend for sharing your self here, I’m so grateful for your input.

Leslie Harris said...

I can’t think of a nicer compliment. Thank you so much for being such a positive voice here on my blog. Best wishes for a wonderful 2018.

Leslie Harris said...

Elizabeth, your blog is one of those that I aspire to have--although realistically I probably will never achieve the kind of consistency and topical range that you do with your blog. And that's ok. For various reasons I'm not able to manage my time well for your brand of substantive blog, but I so admire the variety of topics you offer and even when I'm not commenting on your posts, I find myself searching out your latest posts and reading them because so often they contain slices of real life that I find interesting. And thought provoking ....which is one of the biggest compliments I can give you.
Personally I totally get it that some bloggers are simply not about self disclosure and instead are more about offering a creative resevoir for their readers, even a nice relief from reality. I can completely appreciate that's what their blog is about--and I would never want to judge someone for that. I do however notice some bloggers who I experience as consistently ungenerous, but that seems more about their general tone and disregard of other bloggers. Despite their "big" readership. I've stopped leaving comments on those blogs completely, even when I'm linking to their 'link party.'
But hey, blogs are a microcosm of real life and we sort of find our tribe and gravitate toward like-minded blog friends. At my age I personally value niceness more than popularity.

Again, thank you so much for being You--a generous, bright light in my blog world.
Let's have an adventurous 2018 shall we?

NanaDiana said...

Yes, yes and yes to everything you wrote. It is so true. We see all these 'picture perfect' homes, families and lives and feel lacking somehow. I cannot tell you the number of times I have smiled through pain or sorrow so as to not burden someone else...and yet, shared, that burden becomes lighter.

This was a heartfelt, beautiful post----a great way for us to start the New Year. Blessings to you and your family- xo Diana

La Contessa said...

I have THAT PILLOW...BALLARD DESIGN RIGHT?The leopard is a BIT ORANGE but I kept them anyway.....what did you think upon opening the BOX?I LOVE LOVE LOVE that BLUE FLORAL pillow on your BED!!!!!!!!!!!!If I ever come down SOUTH and stay with you BEWARE check MY BAGS!!!!!!!!!!I was counting the things I have that you have now need to go back......the SANTA MUG,the little terra-cotta pots, oh and that STATUE HEAD.......did you get that at ROGERS GARDENS?I think I got mine there years ago........she is all rusted now!
BRING FOURTH 2018...........cause 2017 was NOT MY BEST YEAR!In fact it was the WORST YEAR OF MY LIFE although I had SOME EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCES!!!!!!!!
YOUR HOUSE IS CHARMING and it is SO satisfying when you have DONE A LOT of the work YOURSELF!I know I lived through our re-model the same way...............CHEERS!
LETS MEET in 2018!!!

Holly @ Down to Earth Style said...

Hi Leslie!

What a refreshing post to read, especially this time of year. You always write a realistic story with your posts and I appreciate that now more than ever.

Our boys just turned 15 and life has been a roller coaster in the last few years that took my breath away and I couldn't get it back. Finally - things may be coming together,

I loved reading your message and remembering that you are an inspiration to me and your words have always meant something to me.

I loved this post and I hope you continue to share the real stories of life here.

So happy to see that you stopped by. Thank you!

Lottie said...

Thank you Leslie for your post and thank you for sharing your wonderful writing style.
Wishing you and your family a great 2018!

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