THE ART OF A HOLIDAY HOME

THE ART OF A HOLIDAY HOME

Decorating for the season begins with a plan that pulls together color, style, and spaces.

Determine your strategy by deciding to decorate by theme, zones or décor style. The next step is to create a space that reflects your design personality type. Carry the Theme Throughout your home. Having a unified design helps the look to flow from room to room or tree to table. You might choose a special ornament or sentimental item to build from. Gather up items that are special to you. Decorating themes can come from many different sources. Think about the colors, shapes, symbols, patterns, even a style or mood can shape your theme. Create a consistent color scheme throughout your home. Focus on the colors you have in your home year ’round and select complementary colors that bring out the seasonal feeling. Focusing on shapes or symbols creates a theme enhanced by a central motif. Include a few larger pieces to make a big visual impact without looking cluttered. Harmonize your interior for an easy transition from room to room. Consider which zones will have the greatest impact. Start with the most visible areas of your home to accentuate your theme. Depending on your house, perfect zones to decorate might be:
  • The front door
  • An entry hallway
  • The kitchen
  • Fireplace mantle
  • Office
  • Buffet table
Decorate for The Holidays by Emphasizing Your Décor Style What is your holiday decorating personality type? Are you a Minimalists where less is more or just the opposite Over the Top – Maximalists? Minimalists – Simple style decorating with a few impactful colors and objects. Start with a white background to appreciate every detail. Bring it to the table by using linen tablecloths and napkins. Set your space aglow! Choose candles and tapers in soft whites, creams, and warm metallics to create a neutral, cohesive look. People do lots of seasonal cooking and white dishes showcase the food you’re serving. Mixing all periods, shapes and materials of white—earthenware or porcelain. Instead of festooning the space with many decorations, select a few ornaments to display in a large bowl on the table, thus paring down the sprawling detritus of holidays past to one simple, meaningful centerpiece. Minimalist decor doesn’t mean sacrificing on cozy! Layer lots of chunky knits, sheepskins and warm, textural decor to bring the snuggle factor. Maximalist – Eccentric style, mixing colors & pattern with old and new decorations. Play up pattern when it comes to your table setting — don’t be afraid to mix and match with seriously colorful china. Is the philosophy “more is more” kinda your thing? Have your tree be as over-the-top as you can dream up! Punch up your mirrors and walls with wreaths in bold colors, shimmering metallics, and interesting textures. Nostalgic – Traditionalists in color and a classic style. Big on tradition but small on space? Just add a mini tree potted in an antique brass cachepot! Spruce up your libations station with fresh cut greenery, plenty of winter citrus, and classic linen cocktail napkins. Let your antique ornament collection be the star of the show! Make sure to put the bubbly on ice. Fill antique champagne buckets with everything from booze to festive branches to ornaments! Take your sips outdoors with vintage enamelware mugs & wrap yourself in plaid blankets. Modernist – Clean and crisp style. Warm up sleek serving pieces with plenty of soft linens, richly hued fruits, and ceramics. Keep your overall hues moody but add a pop of lightness to the space with a sweet, Scandinavian-inspired star pendant. This is the time to let your sleek stemware be the star of the party. Gather gorgeous vessels in varying shapes and heights on your mantel, and fill with single branches for a dramatic effect. Turn your tree into a modernist work of art by keeping the overall palette to a few colors and choosing sculptural ornaments that can shine on their own   Modern Glamour – Art Deco in style, with plenty of brass & gold accents. Impress your guests and make your home truly shine bright by bringing out your finest and fanciest serving pieces in shades of metallic. Embrace your wild side with animal print accents, layered in rich, sumptuous velvet and silk pillows throughout your living space. Then sip in style with sleek crystal stemware and lucite ice buckets. Rustic/Industrial – This style emphasizes the use of unique materials. Compose a cozy atmosphere with a cabin theme of flannel, distressed wood, pine boughs, and burlap. Embrace your green thumb! Understated greenery brings a clean, organic elegance to your space. Construct a Christmas tree of copper piping or pennies. Build tree decorations using gears/hex nuts of different shapes for ornaments. Form wreaths by hanging mason jar lids and attach ornaments inside. Fabricate wall versions of rusty hardware & springs turned into snowflakes, the rustier the better.
What Does It Cost To Be Stuck In Your Story?

What Does It Cost To Be Stuck In Your Story?

Written By Guest Blogger: María Tomás-Keegan is founder of Transition & THRIVE with María and a certified Life Transition Coach for Women, specializing in Divorce Recovery.  She inspires professional women to take divorce in stride at work and at home, while helping them to heal on the inside—and design a new life based on Values, Vision and Passion. One of my stories was, “I’m divorced twice. I’m a failure at relationships. I can’t trust myself to make good decisions. If I’m a failure in life, I can’t possibly be successful in my career.” And on and on, like an endless loop of irrational negative thoughts that beat me up daily. It cost me a lot to be stuck in this story. I felt sorry for myself. My confidence had cracks in it too wide to leap over. Decisions at work became hard—my usual quick assessments, attention to detail and decisive actions were nowhere to be found. A client contract was at risk. My management team, while patient at first, had a business to protect. With great kindness, my manager came into my office, closed the door and asked me to sit with her for a few minutes. We moved to the couch for a very personal conversation. We talked about many things—the business I managed; how my staff was feeling; the attitude of my clients towards me; my future. It was hard to hear. She said something to me that hit home and it has stuck with me ever since—helping me still when I get stuck in my story, whatever it is. “Look what it’s costing you to stay stuck in your story. Is that where you want to stay?” I left work early that day, went home to my quiet sanctuary and pondered her question. The answer was so clear to me. “Of course that’s NOT where I want to stay! The cost is too great to me—and it is costing people I care about, too.” The next question, though, was a tough one to answer. “How do I move past my story?” I asked this same question of the women in my private Facebook community called, THRIVE after Divorce: Your Journey Begins and some of their thoughts and advice is intertwined with my experience in these … 5 Steps to Get Unstuck from Your Story  
  1. Stop Talking About It — The more you talk about it, the more it stays in your present world. Kick it to the curb. Stop engaging in conversations with family, friends and colleagues about what happened to you. Let them know this is not a topic you will discuss any longer. It’s time to move on.
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  3. Shift How You Think About It — This much I know for sure … just because you’ve stopped talking about it with others doesn’t mean it’s not still in your own thoughts and feelings. It will be—that’s normal. The choice you have is to think about what happened differently. Where is the blessing in disguise? What are you gaining for yourself? Who can you become now that you are the Leading Lady of your own life? Asking questions like these can bring powerful answers and insights.
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  5. Rediscover What You Value Most — So often, and especially if you’ve been married a long time, you lose connection with your own values—you may have compromised them to keep the peace, for instance. Your values are a guiding light and a checkpoint for any choice or decision you make. What are your values? Family? Independence? Freedom? Ask yourself, “Does this choice I’m about to make honor my value of Independence?” Using this checkpoint will help steer you in the right direction. Every. Single. Time.
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  7. Care Less About What Others Say or Think — This is a tough one for many women—including me. I’ve been a pleaser since I was a child and it’s hard to let go of the belief that, if I’m not making everyone around me happy I’m a bad person. What I’ve learned to believe instead is, if I’m not happy no one around me will be happy. So, I started to care less about what everyone else was thinking or saying about what’s good for me or what I should do or who I should be. By clinging to my own core values, I was able to let my intuition become my guide. I started making choices that made me happy. And, guess what? Everyone that I cared about followed my lead. Those I didn’t care about didn’t matter. AH-HA!
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  9. Dream Big — It’s hard to dream new dreams when the old dreams have been shattered but, to really move on—leaving behind the old story and writing your new story—a big beautiful vision is required. Don’t hold back. Don’t let anything you’ve heard before stop you. Did someone say, “You can’t do that!” Ask yourself, “Is it true?” If it’s not true, you don’t have to believe it anymore. You get to do and be whatever and whomever you want. It’s your dream.
Transform to live deeply and fully again

Transform to live deeply and fully again

by Paddy Rasmussen, Organizational & Re-Creation Specialist, Interior Designer, Allied ASID The rebirth of spring always follows the death of autumn and the stillness of winter. Beyond mere coping or finding a sense of peace, the transition of a loved one can bring about opportunities for emotional and psychological healing and divine growth. Overcome your fear and grief by having courage to act and transform your life. Peak experiences may mark a time of spiritual emergence and self-realization. By surrendering to the process, you can awaken spiritually, reborn into a greater definition of yourself and open a new meaningful chapter to your life. These practices take many forms from formal meditation or prayer to a mindful approach to gardening or walking in nature. Transformative practices include intention, attention, repetition, guidance and acceptance. Intention: First, we can bring our intention to learning and growing from our pain or loss. Open yourself to the pain, allow yourself intentional moments to transcend your mind & body with meditation or prayer to experience an inner sense of peace, joy and well-being of where you are right now. When we take the time to cultivate greater awareness, we can align our intention to guide us to our highest potential. Attention: We may stay connected to our loved ones in our hearts and minds. Beyond merely having faith in the afterlife is the experience of surrendering to a loved one’s continued presence in your life in spirit form. The wind rustling the branches of a tree, a butterfly fluttering above your head, or a dream of them comforting you are all signs of the continued connection and communication between your souls. Honor these communications and know your loved one lives on and may have signed up to guide you. Repetition: By engaging in transformative practices in a systematic and repetitive fashion, we can build new habits or responses to our own fear and grief. Certain events or times of the year trigger reminders of someone we miss, especially during anniversary dates of their passing. It’s normal to have moments just don’t dwell in it too long as it won’t help you move forward. By remembering with gratitude, you are filled again by those very experiences you so cherished. Writing entries in a journal about how the person inspired you and added to your life but more importantly the process will fill your heart with appreciation. Through gratitude new meaning is brought to the relationship. Remember: Nothing they added to you can be taken away with their passing because they left you a gift. Guidance: Revise your assumptive world, do more than survive, flourish through your grief awareness. Reinvent yourself! Build a support system with family, friends, church and community to help you move forward and transition. I used my faith and my yoga practice to help me through my grief with its mindful meditative breath work and attention to poses and repetition of them. It was a great healthy de-stressor for me to empty my mind and just to be. I always felt so much better and enlightened after my yoga class Acceptance: Acknowledge the reality of the loss. The gift of acceptance allows us to experience life on its own terms. “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” To let go doesn’t mean you forget or go on with your life as if their passing meant little to you. Letting go means letting go of them to embrace yourself and the life you envision for the future. If the life of the person who departed was truly meant to bond others more deeply by a common thread, then reaching out and coming together not only fosters strength and support, but also honors the life of the one who brought you together. People engage in different practices to honor their lost loved ones. Such practices are used to help transform grief into an honoring of life. In this process, grief becomes a tool to help us grow and thrive in the face of death. I honored my husband’s life through creating stability for my children by sustaining them in their lifestyle and their home until my youngest daughter graduated from high school. Two weeks after his passing, I returned to school to finish my college education and graduated with honors. On the day of his passing, I honor his life by celebrating him on that day. Books and songs, websites of poetry, forums for the bereaved, and organizations founded in memorial to someone are all examples of the meaningful ways people put their creative impulse to good use. To cope after the death of someone suggests merely surviving but to create something lasting is to renew your life and contribute something meaningful and beautiful in memorial. I have learned to transform my own grief into a gift that has served to help my life and my work through the transition of others and their space. Learn and grow from your pain and loss. There is no set formula for moving through the grieving process with grace, however these divine keys may be just the ones you need to help ease your grieving heart and transform a difficult time into an internally meaningful experience. Live deeply and fully engage in life again.
Clearing clutter is energizing!

De-Cluttering Your Space

by Paddy Rasmussen, Organizational & Re-Creation Specialist, Interior Designer, Allied ASID So how do you start? First, you need to be in the right mind frame. Then you need to recognize the energetic impact that your thoughts and emotions can have on your living space. How do you feel when you walk through your door? How do you want to feel? Clearing old habits and resisting behaviors takes time. In our Western culture, we’re taught to be productive, always doing, going, staying busy but sometimes you need to slow down and just be. Sometimes you need to let go of things and thoughts that are no longer serving you. It’s about letting go to allow yourself to live in a peaceful place that creates a feeling of calm & order. So how are you going to create a system or a process that works for you? Clearing is an inside job that begins and ends with you. Secondly visualize how you want the space to look? The best way to start decluttering is to schedule it on your calendar. Pick a time frame that works best for you don’t worry about blocking off a full day for the job. Choose a small chunk of time, whether it’s 15 minutes or three hours, and really go for it. Set a timer if you need to. Listen to your favorite music. Start with the area that will impact your daily life the most! Visualize how the room will look uncluttered. Then figure out what is essential and get rid of the rest. Notice the big items creating chaos in your space. What are the most essential pieces of furniture? The placement of furniture in a space like your coffee table, sofa, bed etc. can often contribute to visual clutter and make it more difficult to stay organized in the long term. If you have too much furniture in a room or there are large toys that haven’t been used in a long time (over a year) then move those items out first. What doesn’t belong in the room but has just gravitated there? What is on the floor (hint: only furniture and rugs belong there) and what is on other flat surfaces? Reorganize the space and this will invariably motivate you to keep going. Next, get your house so that all flat spaces are clear of clutter. Start with visible surfaces like tops of counters, tables, desks and dressers Wherever you start, make a rule: nothing can be placed there that’s not actually in use. Clear off everything possible, except maybe one or two essential things. Everything else must be put away! Papers often account for a lot of our clutter. Designate one spot for incoming papers. Create an inbox tray or spot, this little change will transform your paperwork. Then set up some simple folders with labels & categorize your papers. Once you’ve created your system, learn to file them quickly. Go through your pile of papers one at a time starting from the top working down. Make quick decisions: trash them, file them immediately, or make a note of action required then file that in the “action” file. Don’t put anything back on the pile or put them anywhere but a folder or in the shredder or recycling bin. Once you’ve cleared the clutter from those areas, you can dive into your drawers and cabinets and closets. Ask yourself do you use it regularly, love it or if not then lose it? Use the four box method: trash, donate, keep or relocate. Take baby steps – one drawer or cabinet at a time using the same technique. Categorizing things as you go through them and keeping like things together forces you to organize your home. It’s crucial to find a designated space for every item you own. If you don’t know exactly where things belong, you must designate a good spot. Store like items close to where you use them. When placing items back into the drawers try adding dividers or small containers so you can store like things together. Once you’ve created order, always put those things back where they belong. This will save you time by reducing frustration in your daily life. Decluttering closets is therapeutic but it’s no surprise that we are prone to stuffing or leaving things we don’t want to deal with in closets. Out of sight out of mind! The process of going through clothes, shoes and other long-forgotten belongings will help you cleanse your house and your mind of any emotional baggage that may be connected to these items. Start from the Bottom of the Closet and Work Your Way Up. Cleaning up and clearing out the mess at the bottom of the closet will free up space in which to work. When sorting clothes and shoes, ask yourself: does it fit, is it damaged (stained, torn, faded) and has it been worn in the past year. If your answer is “No” then put it in the box to either donate or trash. If you have something that is sentimental or only wear it on special occasions, put these items in a storage bin to free up closet space. The same goes with shoes.  Install another shelf at the top of your closet for storing mementoes and out of season clothing. To weed out the rest, try the “backwards hanger” trick over the course of the next year. Start the year with the hanger tips all facing the front of the closet (backwards). After you wear something, put it back in the closet with the hanger facing the back. At the end of the year, you’ll be able to easily identify the clothes that just aren’t worth keeping anymore. Clean Up Closet Shelves Remove everything from your closet shelves, wipe down the shelves and then get rid of anything that isn’t adding value to your life. Visibility is key, use clear storage bins for smaller items. You should be able to see everything in your closet without moving too much. If you are decluttering a closet that you don’t use to store clothing, it can be really tempting to stack, don’t do it! Consider adding more shelving above things that you may keep at the bottom, like a vacuum cleaner or storage bins. You can also add hooks inside the door for brooms, mops and dustpans. It’s a daily journey to keep order in your home by consistently picking things up and putting them away in their place, a habit to instill over time. You should expect regular upkeep, but just be glad that the new system is far more efficient than the old one. The goal is to set up a space that works well for your needs and ultimately makes you calm and happy!
Transform to live deeply and fully again

My Journey of Grief

Since this is my first blog I feel the need to write about my journey of grief. When I first lost my husband, Jack I was shocked, devastated and lost. My best friend, my lover of sixteen years, together seventeen years, the father of my children, was gone! I was blessed with the support of family and friends but after a couple of weeks, life moves on. I went back to school, the kids went back to school, friends and family went on to live their lives. I passed through the first stage of grief, I accepted his death. I chose to stay busy – that is how I coped. I didn’t want to take the eleven week quarter off to get depressed or stay in a pity party as I knew that would not help me. My church grief counselor told me that it would really start to settle in at the three-month mark. She was right, he wasn’t coming back, wasn’t on a business trip or a fishing trip so reality really set in. As I was just getting my head above water, I found out that my eighty-four-year-old father was dying. The doctor predicted that he would only live a few months longer. I spend as much time with him as I could as I was a full-time student but would go over after school to check on him and make sure his caregiver was being attentive to his every need. My siblings & I would take turns taking care of him on Sundays. Dealing with all this grief, I escaped my responsibilities by going to yoga, taking time for myself, blocking out any thoughts and just breathing and working through my poses. It was my healthy de-stresser that helped me find my new self. Also I went to church twice a week to meditate which helped to bring me peace. Sometimes I would tear up in yoga and at church allowing my grief to come out. Bereavement counselors told me to get the emotions out, by crying, screaming in the shower or in a pillow so I did. My kids and I would cry together. To maintain stability for my kids, I decided to stay in the family home until my youngest child graduated from high school. I wanted to keep the children in their lifestyle to create some sense of normality. Around the six-month mark, I asked my brother to help me re-design my bedroom in order for me to move forward. We re-arranged the furniture making it asymmetrical, repainted three walls and added crown molding. I chose new artwork and accessorized with new pillows and replaced the bedding with a different duvet cover, sheets & shams. By creating my new personal space, I continued to move forward with my life. I had to learn to be alone and be alright with it. My kids wanted to sleep with me and stay home with me on weekend nights. Finally, I said to them that I wanted to sleep alone and I wanted them to go out and have fun with their friends on the weekends. That I was fine being alone but did appreciate their support. Then, as the holidays approached, I had to decide how I wanted to celebrate them, not that I was in a celebratory state or anything but I had to be the rock, the stable one for my kids. I could choose to do it exactly the same as we (with Jack) had always done or make different traditions. I decided to start fresh by doing all the holidays differently. After going through the major stages of grief that first year, I realized that I needed to re-create myself. It was time to take off my wedding ring- wearing it on my right hand. I asked my sons to help me clean out Jack’s closet. All three of them sat on the sofa not budging. My son-in-law had to give them a nudge. So each of them went into his closet with me and chose their pieces. I organized garments in groups per son in dry cleaning bags. I gave some clothes to my brother as he was of similar size. The rest were donated to charity. Then I had to socialize differently, most of my friends were married so their time with me was limited. I made new friends at grief camps with other fellow widows and widowers. My widow friends encouraged me to join some groups so I did. I met new single friends. I started to go out and have fun with my new friends to laugh and enjoy life again. I became a foodie and a wine connoisseur. The biggest read that helped me the most was Second First by Christina Rasmussen – funny how she has my same last name. As I was reading this book, she talked about being in the waiting room kind of like being in limbo. That after you pass through the major stages of grief, you still haven’t completely embraced your new life yet because you think your old life is safe. After experiencing great loss, the world is uncertain and confusing. So fear, being scared of the uncertainty and afraid to take action set in. Emotionally you don’t realize that you’re in the waiting room, you’re going through the motions of life yet not fully embracing it. As I was reading her book the light bulb went off. I had to figure out how I was getting myself out of the waiting room. How to re-enter life, to embrace it, re-create and re-invent myself. I had to figure out how I was going to start over and re-enter life again. After graduating from college, I spend a month recuperating from exhaustion. I engaged again with my children, trying to catch up with them. I did a lot of soul searching, spent a lot of time thinking and focused on just being in the moment. I re-entered the dating scene after eighteen years which was different to say the least. I started my career as a Design Consultant for Ethan Allen Furniture. I went to work full-time for the first time in twenty years. I continued my career working for other designers & started PR Design. My sons moved out and it was time to get the house ready for sale. It was a big house with a lot of maintenance for the two of us. So after my daughter graduated from high school, the house went on the market. It took nine months to sell my home. It was time to downsize & let go of a home that was no longer serving us. It was the last thing that I had with Jack. I was looking forward to a fresh start, excited to find a new home. I started working for a Senior Designer as I was working toward my NCIDQ. I learned what I could from her but high end design wasn’t my passion. I knew what God wanted me to do so I took the courage to start my new specialty business, New Beginnings “Helping People Move Forward” a re-creation service that helps people through the loss of a loved one, a divorce or downsizing from independent living into assisted living. I have fostered relationships with grief and transition professionals so my team can help people fully engage in life again. I know I will never completely get over my tragedy (nobody does) but I have chosen to move forward with my life following my passion and fully engaging in life once again.