Holy shit! I can’t believe it's only a month before Thanksgiving! Time is flying! Then Christmas will be here before we know it. However, I think it is safe to say we are all excited to get 2020 over and behind us.
For me personally, it has been a crazy couple weeks with design appointments, interviews for my new designer position, homeschooling 4 kids, and I still have several more weeks of design appointments before I can get excited about taking a few days to relax and spend time with family and close friends.
I'm thinking about hosting holidays at our home this year, so I wanted to spend my day today making my home cozy and beautiful. It's snowing today, so there's no reason for me to go outside, nor do I want to. You may be wondering why would I care about how my house looks and feels a month before the holiday season officially begins. If there is one thing I have learned from COVID, it is I DO have a little more time to plan things, where as before it would have been a very different scene….. most likely where I spend the whole day of, running around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to find just the right napkins, plates, name tags, flowers, etc. for the perfect holiday dinner. The day would then conclude with me frantically screeching into the driveway, unloading bags of “stuff” I don’t need, feeling incredibly stressed and probably picking a fight with my husband because he is sitting on the couch with his feet up doing exactly what the holidays are all about… relaxing and enjoying himself!
Over the years I have had to learn about the “art” of being not only a happy host, but also a happy guest at my own party.
Something else I've learned from COVID is how quickly the things we once took for granted were taken away...quickly. No more birthday parties, weddings were cancelled, vacations (not us) cancelled, dinner parties and date nights forbidden, the list goes on and on. Once we were "allowed" to have those moments back (with limitations), I realized a great occasion is really about presence. Even if we’re surrounded by the very best and beautiful things, we can’t enjoy them if we don’t have the presence of mind to truly be in the moment.
Whether you are going to be the host or a guest the year (because WE WILL NOT LET THEM CANCEL OUR HOLIDAYS), the most important element for a Happy Holiday gathering is your presence, more so this year than any.
When we are present (instead of perfect), we have such a greater chance at enjoying everyone around us, dancing with unexpected twists ’n turns, and most importantly being grateful for what we have.
With all that being said though….
There are many tangible things we actually CAN do to help ourselves be more centered and grounded this holiday season.
Below are some of my favorite tips for being both a fabulous host and guest this holiday season! I hope you find these helpful and be sure to share any other tips and tricks you may have of your own in the comments below!
Wishing you a beautiful, peaceful and fun holiday season with your family and friends!
Holiday Planning Tips For Hosts
Look at lighting.
Beautiful lighting can create a sense of warmth, connectedness, and flow. Adorn your home with candles, soften those overhead lights, and make it cozy!
Think about who’s coming, and what would make them most comfortable.
Would your guests get squeamish if you asked them to take turns saying what they’re grateful for? Then don’t do it! Tailor your plans for your guests’ comfort: from the food to the activities to the seating arrangements.
Be a peaceful leader.
As the host, your presence truly ripples out to everyone there. If you’re stressed about the turkey or anxious about Uncle Jack, your guests will pick up on this, and be stressed, too. However, if you’re calm (and not just pretending to be calm!), everyone else will relax. Plan for everything to be ready and settled 20-30 minutes before your guests arrive, so you can put up your feet, read a magazine, and enjoy the calm.
Ask for and receive support.
(Disclosure- this is a struggle for me) Get creative with this! Can you have someone come clean your house the day before or after? Could you book a massage the day before? What about cooking the turkey in the morning, then watching a movie before everyone arrives? Accept support from others before, during, and after the event. (Often, tension as a host comes from a reluctance to receive support, believing we have to “do it all” ourselves. This is complete bullshit! When you ask for help (or receive it graciously when it’s offered), you’ll invite others to take care of themselves, too … which leads to more presence and peace … and that’s where the real magic of a gathering begins!
Shift your furniture to facilitate connection.
Create little areas for different-sized conversations. That lone chair you read in? Pull up a companion for it, so two people can have an intimate conversation. Create larger and smaller arrangements so different sized groupings of people can talk easily.
Adorn your home with intentions.
Every time I light a candle, I say a little intention (for joy, ease, love, etc). So when my guests arrive and there are lots of candles in my home, they’re actually walking into a meadow of meaning! This way, even if my guests aren’t the kind of people who’d love sharing appreciations or setting intentions out loud, I’ve already enjoyed this ritual, in my own way. I also suggest smudging your home beforehand too. Start at the front door of the home and light your smudge stick. Then, begin to move around the home. Move mindfully and with care, walking clockwise around the entire perimeter of the home. Be sure to allow the smoke to drift into even the hidden spaces, like inside closets, basements and dark corners. When you arrive back at the front door, chant your final mantra or prayer. Visualize the entire home is filled with bright white sunlight. Then speak your intention one last time to close the smudging ceremony.
Play soft music.
I think of music as the thread that weaves an event together. We want it to be soft enough so it doesn’t steal the show, but pleasant enough to set a beautiful mood.
Make time for your favorite parts.
For the reasons I mentioned above, you can imagine that Vince (my husband) used to hate it when I hostessed parties. I ran around like a crazy person, attending to all the details — and it wasn’t fun for anyone. When I finally realized that in order to create an enjoyable experience for my guests, I needed to enjoy myself too, everything changed! For me, this meant identifying my favorite parts of hostessing, and making time for them. Back then, I would spend so much time cooking (which I didn’t love), that I’d run out of time to do my favorite: make things beautiful! Now, I’ve learned to get support for the cooking, so I can spend more time doing what I do best and love: creating a beautiful environment for the gathering. Take a moment to identify what you love most about hosting, and find creative ways to make more time for it.
Holiday Planning Tips For Guests
Even if you aren’t the host, you can show up as a leader: model presence, love, and calm for everyone around you. You’ll have a better time — and so will they! Take a few minutes before you leave the house to breathe, relax, and set the intentions to have a wonderful time.
Calmly offer to help your host, in small, creative ways — like setting the table, pouring drinks, or cleaning up. Be sensitive to the fact that your host may not want to receive help, though; if taking care of everything is a source of pride for them, don’t deprive them of it.
Be responsible for your own comfort.
If you need a break, take one. If you get cold, put on a sweater. If you’re allergic to nuts, make sure you don’t eat any. If you feel more comfortable wearing a mask, wear it. If you feel more comfortable and free without a mask, then don't. It sounds simple, but taking responsibility for your own needs is actually one of the most helpful things you can do. Strive to care for yourself gracefully — and you just might inspire others to do the same. This will help everyone have a better time (including the host!).
Things probably won’t go exactly as you imagined. Go with the flow: embrace that new tradition, try that new recipe, have a talk with that new friend.
Hosting a big gathering takes a ton of work, so be sure to thank your host. Share specific things you enjoyed and appreciated. Let them know that you know how much work they put into things, and how grateful you are.
Whether you’re the host or the guest this holiday season (or staying solo!), take a few moments to set intentions for yourself, get grounded, and truly arrive.
Then let the magic and merriment begin!
#planningfortheholidays #octoberdesigntopic #interiorcoaching #lifecoaching #lifestylebydesign #interiorcoach #mindfullness #holisticdesign #holisticdesigner #coloradodesigner #livewithpurpose
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Recently I was given the opportunity to design a small apartment at a local assisted/independent living facility. This little apartment is going to be used a model/virtual tour for future retirees. I was so honored to take the project because several months ago I staged one of the independent cottages affiliated with the same company, for a Realtor who was referred by another Realtor...talk about a long list of referrals!!! That was what made it such an honor and so exciting!
Anyhow, this cute one-bedroom apartment was so much fun to design, but there was just one issue...it was small. So how do I make the space look functional for future resident's? That was my biggest challenge going into this project.
Starting with the living and dining area, these two rooms share the space; that there wasn't a lot of. I wanted to use a regular sized sofa and oversized accent chair, but what about the small dining area? Well the good news is there is a restaurant inside the facility for it's residents- so the dining area wasn't something I really wanted to play up. I used these fun gold barstools and a small bistro table and chairs set, allowing for at least 4 guests to sit comfortably in the dining area. Without having to sacrifice the living area, I added the ottoman that functions as a coffee table and storage- because yes, the top comes off! This piece serves 3 functions!
SMALL SPACE PRO DESIGN TIP- Adding texture to the room helps create dimension in a small space
That oversized wall art above the sofa- one wouldn't think incorporating something really big in a small space would be right. Wrong! Texture gives the eye something to investigate, something to sink its teeth into, something that makes the whole space feel a lot bigger.
I think texture is something most people forget when designing a small space. They focus more on storage solutions, often it’s intentionally overlooked for fear of cluttering up an already small space.
You can add some small extra home décor pieces to add textures to your space. Focus on the finishes of your existing furniture pieces too. Like the faux fur rug I draped over the ottoman, the gold side table and gold hammered lamp. It could even be a simple fabric couch with wooden arms and legs. The key to achieving visual balance and to keep visual clutter at bay is to have one or two pieces of furniture in similar textures. The faux rug on the ottoman ties into a larger faux rug under the dining table.
Another way to work in texture in small spaces is through adding texture to walls. Textures on walls make a big impact and they don’t take up any floor space. You can do so through a variety of ways including wallpaper, textured paint like Dulux’s Ambiance Paints (the paints can offer up anything from a rustic linen feel to a luxurious marble finish), wall cladding or wall moulding. In the living room I added a hanging ladder to a decorative hook then folded some textured throw blankets. An easy and unique way to not only store extra blankets, but also adds texture!
FINAL SMALL SPACE PRO DESIGN TIP: When adding textures to your space, use juxtapositions e.g. metallic vs matte, weathered vs smooth, see-through vs opaque. Keep in mind that textures don’t have to be felt to be sensed; they can also be visual to make an impact
I recently interviewed Pam Greenway with Greenway + Giovanni Creative Business Consulting. During our little chat I learned a lot of things I didn't even know about Pam. I mean, we are friends, but it's crazy how my little Podcast allows me that opportunity.
In case you missed this week's Podcast, Pam has over 26 years of experience in the healthcare profession including private practice & starting a Non-Profit for children with disabilities called KC: Art Without Labels. However, Pam has now ventured into the business consulting world and it has been an easy transition since she is still able to serve others.
I asked Pam a couple questions before our on-air interview, so you all could get to know her a little better, and of course you can listen to our the entire interview by clicking here
C: "If heaven exists, what would you like to hear G-d say when you arrive at the pearly gates?"
P: "I think the end goal of living a life for Christ is to hear the words at the end of your earthly journey ...Well Done...enter in my good and faithful servant. I was raised to be respectful of others, to love others as Christ loves me...but to also to stand firm in my beliefs whether that's about my faith or any portion of my life. If we never take a stand for anything we'll fall for everything. My Dad was a strong man...and always showed me through his actions more than words what it looks like to love people...but to also be a strong person who isn't afraid to speak their minds."
C: What is your favorite word?"
P: "One of my favorite words is Ping. It's a nickname a sweet little boy gave me years ago...Eli Jack Malone...he's one of the sweetest boys ever....and before he could really speak...one night it sounded like Ping and it stuck. I always loved hearing his tiny voice say Ping...I love you...so sweet. I cannot believe he will be 13 in August . Crazy how time flies."
C: "Room, desk, car- which do you clean first?"
P: "It's funny because when I say clean my desk...sometimes it means moving a few piles of material to the other side. But it's organized chaos. I know exactly where everything is and can find it immediately. I've never in my life lost anything important. I've had people over the years who tried to change my ways and get me "organized" the way they were organized but it never worked for me. I have to do it my way to stay organized...so years ago I embraced my organized chaos and have lived happily ever after."
For anyone who is looking for help to grow their business Pam helps Realtors, Network Marketers & other service based entrepreneurs with strategies and tools to stop chasing unqualified leads & focus only on generating consistent, qualified leads who truly want what the biz owner has to offer. She comes HIGHLY recommended by me personally.
Want to know how to get in touch with Pam?
Email: email@example.com -or- firstname.lastname@example.org
Danielle and I are got to meet up this week, for my relaunch of my Podcast 'Lifestyle By Design' not too mention one of my most favorite photographers Brett Neilsen was there to film it all...as this special Podcast has a video! So a big shout out to him for helping collaborate on this project!
With the two of us getting in person time, I started thinking about what it means to find your tribe. This woman is so much more than a friend. She is a support, encourager and empowers me. For me, she is a bad ass professional woman who has collectively seen and done it all. And when I struggle with issues in my personal or professional life, I know asking her for advice means I’m getting thoughtful and compassionate advice.
So what? Everyone has friends, right? The difference for me is that I’m not going to her for friendship (or just friendship). I go to her for criticism, for improvement and for a road map through murky professional circumstances. And she gets me. No judgement.
In case you missed my interview, you can check it out here. Here are some other questions I asked Danielle before we met up for the Podcast.
C: How would your friends and family describe what you do for a living?
D: My son thinks I'm famous, but he's only 9 sooooooo. My husband thinks I'm running a non-profit because every time he turns around I'm doing something exciting for free or giving something away! But seriously... I'm not sure. I've never asked what anybody thought about what I'm doing. That's a good question though! I might learn something about myself if I asked!
C: If I could remove all barriers and constraints what project would you do and would you want to be known only by that project?
D: Well...let's look at my barriers! The only thing that seems to hold me back is myself. I think. If I had an assistant that kept me on task and handled my media I'd be a rock star! I'm my own worst enemy in a since. So many ideas so little time! I typically have to weigh my options being booked out as far as I am. Focus on work or focus on public relations! You can always tell when I'm lacking in one or the other. I'll probably never settle on one project! Everything is too exciting! I do have a little something in the works! Something that's not related to interior design, but the cards haven't fallen right for that one just yet! I'd love to share more of my life and if I were to make an impact I'd be satisfied!
C: What are you most excited about with your work right now? What keeps you up at night
D: I sleep really well....I recently set goals for myself and met all but one so now it would appear the only thing I dream about....the next step for me would be having someone that knows me well enough to call my next move or help me make my project more public! I guess you could say creating more of a buzz excites me!
Of course she answers a lot more questions on the Podcast, so be sure to check it out!
A big thank you to Danielle for being my guest host and a big thank you to Brett Neilsen, with Brett Neilsen Photography, for the audio/video and for sponsoring my Podcast!
Would you like to be a guest host on my Podcast? Message me today! email@example.com For more information about Danielle and her services, visit
Some of you reading this can remember the voicemail left on my store phone late in the summer- if you aren't familiar with it that's okay, the contents of the voicemail were juvenile and filled with jealousy, and aren't worth mentioning here. That very same day a letter was put in the mail that made it's way to the doorstep of the store.
Finding out your husband has been having an affair with a woman, Natalia, a Realtor here in our big/little city...whom I didn't even know existed...who was so gracious to do me a "favor" and send me an anonymous letter exposing their affair 4 months after the fact...and gives a half-assed apology because she can't even sign her letter...
This day changed me. As you can imagine, finding out this information you really only have two choices-
1. Run, and let all of this manifest itself at some other stage in my life, but it's easier to just divorce him and run. Let it change me for the worst, close myself off to everyone to avoid being hurt ever again.
2. Stay, deal with the hurt, and open myself up to everything the Universe is trying to show me with this lesson (because I believe there are lessons in everything). The much harder choice if you ask anyone.
I won't lie, I have spent the last several months somewhere in between both of those options. I have been in some of the darkest places, explored the inner parts of myself that actually scared me. Friends, family, and even my husband (who I will tell you has been working his ass off trying to rebuild from this entire ordeal) have all tried helping me as I sunk lower and lower. I realized I was comfortable sitting here as a victim. it was safe.
A part of me wanted to keep my eyes closed. I wanted to stay hidden in my fear and anger, to sit in my righteousness with my pointing finger, sit in my victimhood. I wanted to defend why my life was so messy, to scream from the rooftops so everyone could hear my hurt. This pain left me frozen for months. Have you ever felt this kind of pain? If so, keep reading.
I thought to myself over and over, "How can I move forward in the kind of work I do- talking to clients about making their inner worlds reflect in their outer worlds when my life is a fucking mess?" Oh yes, there it is...that little voice of self-doubt had reared its familiar head. It whispered, “You’re a fraud. You don’t know who you are or what you’re talking about. You don’t have your own life put together, and everyone will see right through you, you should just give up, do everyone a favor, divorce your husband and run.” So I sat in that anger and hurt longer until that same voice told me, "there is more to this life than what you are choosing, a place of love. There is a place that is eagerly waiting, a place of truth, a place behind the dense hurt and bondage where the real beauty in life awaits."
I finally had to open my eyes and be aware. To be accountable, to be responsible for healing my life. I have had to love myself until I was full- I still am. The dark parts of me that I saw didn't want me to understand that the fingers I have been pointing should have been pointing back at me the entire time.
I had to finally ask myself, "is this pain and anger really worth my misery? Is the price I am paying really worth this one precious life?"
I knew at some point during all of this, the time would come when I would be given the task to let go, the choice to be reborn. Betrayal and the hurt that comes with it, also comes the opportunity to chose whether you stay where you are or surrender. Surrender. I finally learned the art of surrender during this experience, and the art of grace as I let things go. The finding of my true self, becoming reborn again. The unfolding of letting things happen the way they are supposed to happen. To have trust that my life is happening just the way it should be, and sometimes the people we love the most hurt us the most. But if you can sit instead of run, you will see there are beautiful opportunities to grow- it is Source's way of giving you everything this life has to offer, reminding you that you are owed nothing from this life and realize instead you owe it to yourself to be more present in your life, to surrender. To surrender sounds scary, bringing more fear, but it is actually a beautiful divine word. It means to give up, to let go, to let go of the things that no longer serve you, allowing divine grace to enter your life- trust the journey, even when your life is filled with chaos and disharmony. Ride the turbulent waters until you make it to the clear water that awaits...it will happen. Trust that the Universe is rearranging your life to make room for the beautiful gifts that await. Because the truth is, life is messy.
Sometimes on the inside and sometimes on the outside. We are all constantly growing and shifting. Transitioning from one thing to the next. Losing our way and finding it again, over and over, rendition after rendition.
My eyes started to open to the truth, and once they did, that truth can never be unseen again. This is what real awakening looks like.
It is with real awakenings comes an understanding that will allow you to stretch into the wide expansive being you were destined to be. Finding out who your true self is as you follow the pain you are holding until you realize there is noting more for you to do with it. Lay it down, sweet friend. Get out of your own way. Be still, as it is with this stillness you will see the glimpses of who you truly are on the other side of the anger and hurt. Abundance is waiting.
It is here that I learned about forgiveness and that any forgiveness I have experienced at this point in my life isn't because someone else made me let go, it was because I chose to. So the power is mine, just like it's yours. We all want forgiveness to be this practical concept and practice- but the truth is we just complicate things, and I am no different. Except this time I surrendered to the practical explanation of how to navigate through this and forgiveness, for there is an intelligence inside each of us that helps guide us and open our eyes to the wholeness inside us. It is the work of magic and miracles, do not overthink it, for love awaits on the other side of forgiveness. And with that love comes liberation. You must listen to the part of you that no longer wants to suffer. The longing to be more alive regardless of the actions of others, for you are responsible for your life- this one life. I hope you arrive at your freedom as I did, because I forgive them.
After learning of my husband's affair in the manner in which I found out, I have personally come to know this entire process as beautiful. The fabric that makes each of us whole and human.
What I discovered is authentic living and having a beautiful life is not about having a perfect house or a perfect life. It is not some static, ideal state of color coded shoes or a perfectly organized closet. It is about staying connected to heart and home.
Creating daily life rituals with meaning and intention. Celebrating realness and creating foundations that function. Beautiful authentic living is about being real and alive. Paying attention to what makes us happy. Living from a place of joy and play.
It’s about trusting ourselves, supporting ourselves, loving ourselves. It blooms with honesty, vulnerability and truth...and never having to send a letter like I was sent, because when you love yourself you don't seek love from someone else's marriage.
Beautiful authentic living is about flow. It’s not a state of pristine, predictable perfection. Nor a plateau of happiness to strive towards or protect, or closing your eyes when things hurt. It’s about creating a home base that is ever-open, ever-changing, ever-evolving...riding the rough waters and sometimes knowing when it's better to surrender.
Beautiful authentic living happens from the heart. It’s as real as your flesh and blood. As human as your desires…your mistakes…and your dreams.
It is the true, raw, ever-changing beauty of this tapestry called life.
Unique to you and woven with love, and even forgiveness
Beautiful authentic living a wild ride. But one so worth taking.
Author, Candance Toscano
"You can design the life of your dreams and acquire that luxurious, fulfilled and empowered lifestyle you know you have always wanted."