So you are sadly looking all around the Internet for a way to make your small space look so much more than it is. It’s not that you want to make it appear like you live like Donald Trump, you don’t. Right? It’s just that you are really trying to live within your means now and you’ve scaled down appropriately, but you can’t figure out how to make it look nice and big. Big without looking like you have just squished a Hummer into a compact space. I got ya.
Show a little leg. You know how there are some couches where you can’t see the legs? Yes, they still do have legs under there. Really. They aren’t held up by some really strong dude. All day long. Sheesh. Come on.
So, find yourself a sofa or a chair, whatever you’re in the market for, and go for the ones that don’t have those cute little skirts. Yes, you will have to make sure you keep your floors from looking like the wild west of dust bunny tumbleweeds, but you can do it. It’s called a Roomba.
See-‐thru tops. I know you like to be modest most of the time, except when you’re shaking your moneymaker. This is one of those times where I need you to get a little loose. Glass top coffee and side tables are gonna help you out. While you’re at it, order up some glass shelves for the bookcases. What? Yeah, it will cost money, but you want your place to look light and airy like some waify super model right? Well, put up or shut up.
Lighten Up. You may be the depressive type and go for dark colors to get you thru your Nirvana phase. He’s dead and you’re not. Let’s pick lighter colors. Which just so happen to be my February Freebie right now- my top neutral paint colors! Things that would remind you of pretty fantasyland with birds and nice china. Not like Alice Cooper’s your personal stylist.
Skip the Hokey Pokey. Think of patterns like a hokey pokey. Nobody likes to do that stupid dance and you don’t have the space for it. Really, they don’t like doing it, stop asking. Hokey pokey is intrusive like patterns in a small place. Put your left eye here, put your left eye there, put your left eye here and swirl it all about. Jesus! You’re gonna poke an eye out with that kind of patterned nonsense. It’s too much. We need our eyes to swirl around your room like a smooth wave of bliss.
And before I forget, since February's topic of the month is Artwork- how do you incorporate it in your small space? You don't, you burn it. Okay, I'm kidding. But really, if space is not your friend but you have some fancy smancy artwork you want to show off, a bold piece of wall decor is all you need to bring character and visual interest to a room. Remember that less is more.
March is almost here, and we will switch focus...don't miss out on my February freebie! Sign up with your email when that obnoxious box pops up on your screen again!
I always have the feeling Valentine’s Day comes so suddenly, almost not giving me the time to prepare a cool gift for my husband. However, to be fully honest, even if I started to think about the potential gift 3 months in advance, it would still be so difficult to find something! Although some guys might say they don’t want any gifts for Valentine’s Day, I still think it is nice to give them something as a ‘thank you’ for their daily support and love! A nice cologne, a classy watch, hipster socks? Yes, he will tell you he loves it, but that forced smile on his face betrays him a bit. Husband's are after all not so demanding, but it just seems very hard to find something unique every time! Then there's my kids. They of course have all the fun with their classmates from school- classroom Valentine's Day parties (that was my favorite when I was young) but my kid's are a little more demanding than my husband, and do expect a little Valentine's Day love from Mom too.
Because I have faced this problem for so long, I have started creating DIY gifts, and I absolutely love it! They are more personal and unforgettable, and you can have a lot of fun while creating them!
Here I have compiled a list of my suggestions:
Idea for couples who love food, but hate gifts, Valentine's Day Breakfast
Trust me, when guys say they are of a simple nature, they are, indeed, telling you the truth! Most of the guys love to eat, so why wouldn’t you cook something delicious in the shape of hearts or X's and O's? In this way, it won’t just be an every-day meal but will also have a nice romantic touch. If cozy breakfasts are your thing, get up a bit earlier and cook a nice breakfast in the shape of hearts! Who could resist heart-shaped pancakes with Sugar Bob's Smokey Syrup, chocolate chips, and of course champagne? Not for the kids...sparkling cider works for them.
Host A Valentines Day Movie Night
Simply choose one of the Valentine’s Day movies for kids that the whole family can enjoy together (check out my list of movie ideas below) and gather your family for a night of cuddling and watching together.
You can serve fun snacks like:
* Microwave popcorn sprinkled with Valentine’s Day candies
* Heart shaped sugar cookies
* Pink milkshakes
Give the family a "heart attack"
Make the whole month of February fun for your family by doing a “heart attack” on their bedroom door. Each day you write a little note on heart doilies telling them something you love about them, or why they are special. You can write them all yourself, or make it a family event and have everyone write a heart each day. I actually did this for my family last year, and they all saved the heart notes.
Make a Special Valentine’s Day Dinner Together
There are so many fun heart shaped foods to make and enjoy and this is always my kid’s favorite part of the day.
Here are a few of our favorite Valentine’s Day dinner ideas:
Aren’t these ideas so cute! I can’t wait to spoil my family and surprise them with these fun activities we can enjoy together.
I would love to hear from you! What are your favorite ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day as a family? Please comment below!
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.
I think we've all done it, you know, go on that much needed vacation to get recharged then start taking mental notes of all the exciting things you plan on implementing into your daily life once you arrive home. There is just something about changing the scenery for a week or two that makes us ready and excited for change. Perhaps it's the break away from work and how it makes you reflect on how much time you spend away from your spouse and children. So you tell yourself that as soon as you get home you won't go to the office on your days off like you used to, and you'll spend more quality time with your family. Or maybe you are finally able to relax while on vacation and as soon as you get home you'll carve out more "me-time" in your daily life. Whether it's a monthly trip to a masseuse, more reading, or even meditating more- but then we actually get home and reality sets in. And we end up doing the exact opposite of what we intended to do.
We go back to work, we go back to the same routines, and vacation becomes a distant memory. We end up getting stressed out, forget about that masseuse appointment because you've got meetings and deadlines, kid's school projects to help with, things begin to pile up and you don't have any "me-time". Before you know it your cup is overflowing and you are ready for another vacation...the cycle just repeats.
But what if there were a way we could make our vacation more intentional and nurture our entire lives (not just the week you're there)? This is where I really had to be mindful of what I wanted to get out of my vacations once I arrived home, but there are some things I needed to do before I left for my vacation as well. One of the biggest things I realized was the first day or two of my return are just as important as the week away. Honoring this transitional time is essential, not only for integrating all the nourishment I received on vacation, but also to ensure that my energy tanks remain full and it continues to support me as I move back into my day to day life.
How To Create A Safe Landing Arriving- Home Routine!
1. Give Yourself a “Buffer” Day
You can’t expect yourself to go straight from the beaches of St. Thomas to doing the normal hustle and grind in just one day — at least if you want to hold onto some of the beauty, peace, and relaxation you cultivated while you were away.
If you know you need to be back at work on Monday morning, plan to arrive home Saturday night, so you have one day to settle in, exhale, and get ready for “normal life” to resume. Traveling is stressful, and I won't even get into how hard it is when you are traveling with children — even if you relaxed on your vacation. We all experience that natural “dip” in our energy and mood after the happy change of pace from being away.
Use your “Buffer Day" as a time to just unwind, readjust, and reflect on the experience you just had.
2. Unpack those Bags!
I am definitely not that person who leaves my suitcase around for two or three weeks, after a vacation! (Nor do I let my children!)
I have learned: it’s SO important to unpack your bag as soon as you get home. When you leave it lying around, the truth is…. part of you is in denial that you are still on that beach in St. Thomas!
Unpacking closes the energy of a trip and helps your body and mind settle back into home-life. You are able to transition easier to real-life too!
3. Love & Clean Up Your Space
Like I stated before, there is a natural dip in our energy when we arrive home from a vacation. You may even get a little depressed (my husband is the worst, he actually sulks for days after we arrive home) Making sure your home is a beautiful place that you truly love makes everything so much better! After all: when your home’s a wreck, and you have nothing to look forward to, depression is a pretty normal response.
I ALWAYS clean my house before we leave for vacation.. But if you've ever left the mess for a week only to arrive back home to it- well, that is definitely not going to help your "end of vacation blues" I do all the laundry, wipe down the kitchen counters, make sure there are no dirty dishes left out, vacuum, make the beds...I think you get it. I make sure everything as beautiful as I can for when I arrive home.
Whatever you need to feel in love with your space, and focus on what’s great about being home.
4. Immerse Your Life with Vacation Lessons
I believe it’s so important to honor the beautiful experiences in our lives, and find ways to carry them forward with us — in our hearts and in our homes.
One way I do this is with my gratitude journal. I even bring it with me on vacation. I take a few moments every day to write not only bout what I am grateful for, but three feelings I experienced that day. You can also journal about what you loved most about your vacation, what you did to relax...make a list … and then, ask yourself…. “How can I create these feelings in my home and life right now?” Think about the areas of your life where you lose touch with these precious priorities, the daily thing in your life you can be grateful for. Come up with a few simple, creative ways to connect your vacation-world and home-world.
Your home can be beautiful support for this process as well! I always buy artwork from every trip we take, but you can pick a souvenir or photo from your trip that most exemplifies one of these qualities. Place it in a spot you’re likely to see, everyday. This will remind you of what matters most … and keep you connected to the beauty and experiences of your vacation, long after the sand is out of your shoes.
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."