Monday, May 20, 2019

replenishment and a fresh flower wreath.

Good morning friends.

I'm starting this week off sharing a simple fresh wreath I made for my front door. But as my fingers click on my laptop keys I keep thinking about the word "replenish," and how important it is to recognize whenever we're feeling this way. I even love the definition. 

Replenish: to fill something up again. To build up. 

Don't those seem like such uplifting words?

It's a topic on my mind because I felt so content while I worked on this wreath. Quietly engrossed in cutting each stem, touching the smooth leaves with my fingertips and tucking each purple flower head into the green wire.

I wanted to keep it simple and quick so I started with a flower bouquet from Target and wire wreath I bought at Joann's Craft store.

Olive branches from my tree.

Recently I was listening to an interview with Rick Hansen a psychologist and author who specializes in emotional resiliency and he says that we can actually re-wire our brains to be happier.

It's called neuroplasticity. And it happens when we stop and acknowledge those moments when we're experiencing something that feels truly authentic and good to us. 

He calls this "focused attention," when you stop in the middle of feeling replenished. Take a few breaths. Notice what feels good about this moment and then try to feel it in your body.

This 'focused attention' allows your brain to recognize what's rewarding about this experience and then your brain 'flags' these moments as keepers.

Science confirms that we can build up a positive reservoir of emotional skills and inner resiliency this way. 

But it means that we must accept this powerful truth: we are the "Choosers" in our life. 

You are the ONE person who gets to act on your behalf at any moment and even when your circumstances are hard and painful, you can still try to become more aware of where you rest your attention.

Are you reaching for the light or are you marinating in a dark, painful thought at this moment?

It doesn't mean suppressing your feelings it means experiencing them in a space of awareness, but then allowing these darker emotions to pass.

It's a process I'm trying to be aware of right now, especially because I'm still struggling with traumatic images and thoughts related to Patrick's accident and I won't lie, it always takes real effort to stop the flow of these kind of thoughts. They happen mostly at night. 

This past weekend I was so grateful to spend a beautiful afternoon with Heidi and Rob and we were even joined by Chris--one of Patrick's closest buddies. And we drank Margaritas and beer while foamy waves lapped against the crusty pier underneath us, and we laughed and talked for hours.

Afterwards I felt so incredibly blessed.

What things are replenishing you today?

Thursday, May 16, 2019

I never want to forget this.

I was talking to the beautiful and kind-hearted Sophia.

We were halfway through our four-hour visit, sipping our purified water in wine glasses with lemon and strawberries, and I was talking about those early months when I would be walking through the grocery store pushing a cart and crying softly throughout the aisles.

I never want to forget that feeling, I told Sophia, of feeling so alone with my grief and later even confused that no matter how many times I cried under the bright florescent lights inside a bustling store, not once did anyone seem to see me. To look twice at my crying. To ask me if I was ok.

Of-course to me this was perfectly fine. 
When you lose your child your once-powerful ego instantly dissolves into harmless dust and you suddenly experience a strange liberation from the regular world, and all your previous wonderings about who is watching and what other people might be thinking about you.

What did Eckhart Tolle say in his recent talk in Pasadena? It’s all such useless thinking.

But I tell sweet Sophia about my grocery store experiences and that I want to remember how it felt to be so unseen during those moments of my despair. I guess it’s because it was so stunning to me. And so shocking that not once did anyone ever come up to me and inquire about my obvious pain. Or even acknowledge my red eyes in the grocery line.

Apparently tears in a grocery aisle do not register a single blip on the public radar.

Sophia says that she was sobbing in a crowded public place in Newport Beach when she found out about Patrick-and she had the same experience. People just keep walking past you. She says most people don’t want to feel things, and I guess that kind of intense emotion would be uncomfortable for your average rushing-to-somewhere person.

 And I totally understand.

The reason I want to remember how raw I felt is so that I can forever keep my eyes open for that one woman or man that I see standing in the ketchup aisle. 
And maybe like me, they’re suddenly hearing their son who is no longer alive ask, “Hey Mama is there any ketchup for my eggs?” Because of course you’re remembering that he always had ketchup with his eggs. And as his mother you’re also seeing all his favorite foods on every aisle and having flashbacks of your joy as you watched him devour your food because he loved every-single thing-you-ever-cooked-for-him—which opens the door to so many other tender moments.

And soon your heart is breaking so loudly in your ears that you can no longer hear that irritating soundtrack playing overhead. All you feel is that horrific realization that he’s gone. And then the thud in your chest of missing him so much you could literally collapse from pain if you weren’t clinging to your cart.

I wonder if other mothers who have lost their hunky, big, healthy sons have these foodie flashbacks inside grocery stores.

Because I’m ready if I see them.

I already know. If I see someone crying in the grocery store, wandering through aisles looking broken and sad, I dream about going up to them and asking them if there is anything I can do to help.

Can I reach this box of cereal for you?

I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just nod and whisper how sorry I am about their sadness.

 Lord knows there are no magic answers in odd, public moments like that but my own grief journey is making me so excruciatingly sensitive to people who are hurting. I personally know how we notice each tiny speck of kindness that floats into our throbbing universe.

And I’m learning that there is always space for compassion, even if it’s a quick meeting of the eyes. A silent flash of human contact when you look at someone and let them know, I see your pain.  

I dream of meeting that person in the grocery store someday.

Now that I know that this alternative universe exists where there are people crying in public because it hurts so much and they can’t help it, I want to stay aware.

Even if the relief only lasts a few seconds, I want them to know  they’re not alone in their darkness.

Yesterday was the dreaded 15th of the month and for the first time it was different.

I noticed that I felt lighter and I’m sure it was because of my visit with Sophia, a close friend of Patrick’s who reached out to me recently with a beautiful letter and followed it up with a visit from LA.

Sophia teaches meditation classes. And we had so much to talk about. She walked inside with a bouquet of yellow sunflowers and instantly noticed the Cleo Wade’s poetry book on my table and said, “I know her!” Turns out we were both at her book signing in Los Angeles, sitting upstairs in the children’s section of Barnes and Noble, listening to Cleo and Nicole Ritchie chat, and only several feet away from each other.

Who would have guessed that the Universe would bring us together this way?

Also, I finally solved the mystery of the tender note I had found tucked in the flowers and random candles that marked Patrick's fallen spot. 
Now I know it was Sophia, and that she was also back at the site on the six-month anniversary because she saw the IPA bottle that we left after we had toasted to Patrick and talked to him.

Sophia is an incredibly talented songwriter and singer and she sent me a song she wrote that was inspired in part—by Patrick. Her voice is stunning. But the best part of her story were the incredible signs she felt from Patrick, as she was talking with her producer “about Pat.”

I love hearing about these inexplicable signs because I’ve had some stunning ones too.

We spent hours together and afterwards I felt myself enveloped in a bubble of pure love and healing that seemed to carry me through the entire dreaded day of the 15th of the month.

This is how we do it, dear person who-might-be-reading-this-and-feeling-down.

We have an option.

We can be a Light for others, that’s a wonderful distraction.

In fact Anne Lamott says that when people come to her and tell her they’re depressed she tells them to go flirt with the old people in the health food store. Or take some waters to the nearest shelter. She’s using humor but her point is, sometimes we ‘need to get out of ourselves’, and service to others helps us do that.

When you can’t be a Light because you’re hurting too much, you must be willing to stay open to the delicate signs that the Universe will send your way. A chance meeting. A simple conversation.

Pay attention to synchronicities in your life because they are there, waiting to be seen. And waiting to point you gently toward your path.

I said “Yes” to a spontaneous meeting because whoever loved Patrick, I love.

And it was the best thing I could have done for my healing.

We have to be willing to be surprised if we’re going to get through our darkest days.

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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

my dark little laundry room transformation!

Remember when I went into Home Depot and saw those thin cedar strips in the lumber aisle? 

I instantly knew they should go on this ceiling despite how low it is(7' 5 inch). And maybe I should have been nervous, but I admit---I tend to make design decisions with my gut. 
And lucky for me this time it worked.

new view from the bathroom

Turns out that putting cedar on the ceiling draws the eye up and combined with the horizontal planks that I slathered in white paint, this small space feels much more spacious.

We actually got used to looking for clothes with the lights from our IPhones for awhile because of wiring issues. And now with two light fixtures it's so bright and happy looking! 

Here's a few more changes that made this space work for us.

1. Changed our stacked washer/dryer and re-routed water and electrical lines for this.
2. Added countertop
3. Added industrial rods to hang clothes

 After the plumber and electrician were done I could finish installing the planks. The ceiling was already done. And I was ready to decide on the countertop.

When it came to the countertop I originally planned using the butcher block from Lowes, but I couldn't get the depth of 33 inches without it being an expensive special order.

So I went to the lumberyard and picked some smooth pine pieces and made my own with my Dad's help.

Oh yeah. And one funny confession I have to make. 

When discussing the two industrial style rods I wanted add on the side walls, my Dad happened to ask me one crucial question,
 "You did nail your planks into studs right?"

Me: Gulp

I know. What the heck was I thinking? But in my defense it had been awhile since I installed planks. The good news is that I got lucky and hit the studs on most of them. But to make sure I went back and with my Dad's help, located the studs and I completed the job.

If you follow me on Instagram you already know about this black door. 

When I went to sand it for some touch-up paint, strips of black literally peeled away. 

Since I had to re-paint the entire door anyway, I decided to paint it with the same Behr Pure White as the walls. This is the door to the garage so I felt ok about changing it even though the rest of my interior doors are black.

The bathroom is directly off this little laundry room and since this door is black, I didn't like having both black doors so close. This white door enlarges the space.

In this picture you get an idea of how many cuts I had to make when installing these planks. Not only did I install all the ceiling strips but every plank in this room. Then I had fill the nail holes and paint everything.
If you're ever in need of a helpful distraction from your grief, this is a good one.

I was standing in the aisle with all the cabinet hardware (Home Depot again) when this woman asked me for my opinion about these pretty glass knobs.

 Not only did I encourage her to use them on her shabby chic dresser but I bought them myself for this storage cabinet in here. And no, I didn't have to build it, it was already here it just needed some fresh paint.

I'm so glad I found this vintage oil painting in the consignment store. Nobody wanted her so I got her for half off and the colors and the vibe---along with the cedar strips became the inspiration for this entire project. 

One little thing leads to another. 

Have you noticed that too?

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Inspire Me Monday

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