It has taken me a little while to be able to write this post. In December 2019, our golden doodle, Savannah, was diagnosed with lung cancer that had metastasized to her heart and spread throughout her body. Within two days of getting this diagnosis, she had such trouble breathing that we had to put her down.
Anyone who has loved a dog knows how hard it is to live without the excited tail wags when coming home from work, the wet tongue kisses and fuzzy ear rubs. It has been especially hard for me-Savannah was (as the cliche goes) my best friend. She followed me wherever I went, she sat down wherever I sat down and laid at my feet while I worked on my computer. I talked to her and told her everything-I told her my opinions about a book that I had read, how I felt about a challenging situation at work and how afraid I was to quit my job and embark on a new career at this time in my life. Even though her responses were few and far between and involved only some mild growls and occasional barks-I knew that she was listening – I knew that it helped me to believe that she was listening.
A week had passed, after her death, and I wanted a way to remember her -to make sure that her absence did not stop me from remembering who she was for me. I knew that she had come into our lives for a reason and that she had left our lives because she had fulfilled on that reason. I concluded that she represented kindness (she was very sweet tempered), cooperation and allowing (if you accidentally stepped on her tail, she would not cry or fuss-she would just brush it off and go on with her day), and pure unconditional love. I pondered on how these qualities affected me and made my life better and I concluded that I would be a better person if I embodied these characteristics too (kindness, allowing and unconditional love). This was the reason she was here.
On the day after she was put down, I prayed -I asked her to give me a sign to indicate that she was in heaven. Although it doesn’t seem extraordinary, I woke up and found a rubber band under the blanket where I had slept. This had not happened to me before so I took it as my sign. I then proceeded to ask google if there was any significance to a rubber band. This is what I found:
Ahh- she had been listening to me. She knew that I was feeling broken-completely lost without her soft body, warm black nose and calm eyes to comfort me through this year of change. She knew that I was scared I would not succeed and that I was facing a harsh inner demon that resurrected as soon as it learned I was upending my life and embarking on a long forgotten path of following a dream. Now, not only did I have to face the demons but I had to face them without her unconditional love to remind me that all would be okay.
Yes – I am broken- my heart is broken but she reminds that I am also transformed. That taking on a new life (in my case a new career and livelihood) is not for the faint hearted- you have to be brave, you have to stand up to nagging thoughts of opposition with an apocalyptic fury and get back up even when all you want to do is surrender and find relief. She tells me that I am strong even at my weakest point (especially at my weakest point) and that she is still and will always be with me.
In order to alleviate some sadness, to do something to remember her by and to start moving forward with this new chapter, I decided to take a walk every morning. Every morning I would wake up, bundle up (Colorado has had a lot of snow lately), and pretend that Savannah was right alongside – in her blue gingham collar and bedazzled name tag. You know what else? Every morning along my path I have found a rubber band! I pick them up and put them in my jacket pocket (I now have quite a stash). I am going to get a pretty container to hold them in and continue to walk and collect more.
Have you been invited to a vision board party? Ringing in the new year seems to have brought with it the practice of getting one’s friends or co-workers together to create vision boards.
What exactly is a vision board? A vision board is a collage of images, affirmations, or quotes that represent a person’s dreams and desires for the upcoming year. It is believed to assist in the manifestation of these things into one’s life.
I am not new to the practice of creating boards. In fact, much of the interior design curriculum involves gathering images, drawings, plans, fabric swatches and material samples and placing them strategically on a board. These boards were usually made of 1/4″ white foam core and the act of placing things on them involved many hours of wrapping, pinning and gluing small fabric swatches around additional small squares of that same white foam core. The key was always to find and use the adhesive that worked best based on the type of material that I was trying to place on the board-rubber cement for fabric, spray glue for paper (floor plans and catalog photos) and a hefty double-sided tape for vinyl coated wallpaper samples. Of course, white foam core has given way to the technology age and the act of creating digital boards is now as convenient as saving images (even images of fabric samples) to computer desktops and uploading them into a Photoshop collage template.
But enough of that..after all vision boards aren’t really about the images, quotes or materials used to create them – they are about the VISION. The vision that when focused upon, brings up the feelings of joy (aka happiness), love, security and abundance. When I want to conjure up these feelings, I focus on how I would like my life to go-the places that I would like to visit (or have visited and want to spend more time in), the things that I would like to surround myself with and the adventures that I would like to experience. I also think of all of the people in my life and in the world as thriving and realizing their own dreams and desires.
Vision boards are personal. Maybe too personal for posting to a blog (much less a blog that is posted to my business website). But I am going to do it anyway…
I included this quote by Elsie de Wolfe at the top of my 2020 vision board. Elsie de Wolfe was one of the first American interior designers. For many years I have carried another one of her famous quotes, “I make everything around me beautiful. This will be my life”, as the background wallpaper on my iPhone and computer.
Why does this quote speak to me so much?
For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to live a beautiful house in a beautiful setting. This is the first memory that I can recall having as a child. I suppose I would consider this my ultimate goal. Not that I have not lived in beautiful houses or in beautiful settings already because I have and do. This is different…this is the house that I have been building and decorating in my imagination and in my heart.
The house of my imagination is set somewhere along the American coast of the Atlantic ocean. This is a photo of Beacon Rock in New Hampshire and the first photo that I placed on my vision board. I came across this photo on YouTube and immediately recognized it as the house I have been building and decorating in my dreams. In fact, I was so inspired by this house and its setting that I designed a girl’s bedroom around it. Design below ⇓
As a side note: many of the coastal homes along the New England seaboard are given names. These names appear on placards that are typically hung above front doors or windows. I have named my coastal home Daffodil House (hence the text at the bottom of the photo – Summer at Daffodil House).
Speaking of daffodils…I added the flower truck photo to be reminded to always allow enough time to stop and smell the roses. I know it is cliché. But so what…flowers are more often than not present in the beautiful settings that I create in my imagination and they speak to the importance of nature in cultivating well being. I envision having more of this (time with nature and in recognizing my well being in 2020).
The photo of the Les Indiennes wallpaper, oil painting with white frame, radiator and fan are reminiscent of the simple interiors of houses by the sea. This particular image fills me up with warm feelings of comfort and bliss and memories of past summers spent there.
The girl in the gingham dress is my wish for my body. It involves how I want to feel about how I look all the way down to the clothes that I envision myself wearing. I think often of beautiful clothing and accessories and dub it as “decoration for the body”. While our external appearance has little to do with the beauty that is within us, it does feel so good to feel comfortable, even incredible in our bodies – clothes have made me feel self confident.
This postcard of the Eiffel Tower, landscape painting of South Carolina and photo of the campus at Virginia Tech represent some of the places that I would like to travel to this year. The most interesting of these may be the photo of Virginia Tech. Why do I want to go there you ask? My son is going to graduate from high school in May and Virginia Tech is his number one (it is THE school that he wants to get into and will attend when admitted). Note my wording here – “will attend WHEN not if he is admitted”. This is the reason that I’ve included it on my vision board-to put it out into the universe that he gets an acceptance letter from Virginia Tech (insert a thumbs up emoji here).
This brings me to the final image – the celebratory crowd in the yellow truck.
It is here as a reminder to celebrate everything and as representation of my desire to have many, many celebratory events in 2020!
Now, I’ve come full circle and it takes me back to the Elsie de Wolfe quote-“A house that is like the life that goes with it” means to me to actually live the beauty that I see in the vision of my house by the sea. It means that every life event and adventure be viewed as beautiful and that I act with beauty in every encounter that I have with others. While what is thought of as beautiful may be different for everyone (it is in the eye of the beholder after all), I think that there is a universal recognition that we know it when we have the experience of it. This is how I have come to interpret, “A house that gives us beauty as we understand it”.
My interpretation of the last line “and beauty of a noble kind that we may grow to understand”, is that there will always be more and different desires and dreams that will arise simply by my living in the fulfillment of everything on my vision board. The value of having expanded so much that my life experience is greater than it was before, simply prompts me to dream bigger, create more beauty, maybe even host a vision board party in 2021!
So there it is…my vision- my list of desires and dreams for 2020. I am looking forward to writing about all of the things that came into being in my life this year and I am sending a special thought to all of you who read this post – that you too will realize your 2020 vision!
If you have created a vision board, send me a comment and tell me about it! I love to be inspired by your ideas and aspirations.
I am not hosting Thanksgiving this year but I thought that it would be fun to set the table as if I were. I have always been a fan of doing the pretty stuff and not as much of a fan of the work stuff (i.e. doing all of the cooking and cleaning) wink…wink.
I had wanted to set a summer table scape with these lovely blue and white plates but did not get around to it so I thought why not blue and white for Thanksgiving? I mean there are no rules…right? I really love that one of my favorite flower shops had these autumn themed centerpieces ripe with roses, persimmon, eucalyptus, heather and a variety of other wonderfully smelling blooms. Put it all together and VIOLA a unique Thanksgiving table.
I even went so far as to create place cards. Well…really only one because I only have one shell place card holder. Thank goodness for camera macro lenses!
I bet you are wondering where the forks, spoons and knives are… I mean it is a little difficult to eat mashed potatoes with your fingers (although I am betting that my three year old niece would love that). I went rifling through my kitchen utensil drawer and just could not find a set of silverware that ONE did not have to be polished or TWO needed to be hand washed because they were still wearing the crumb remnants from our last dinner party (how long ago was that?) Hmmm… I am just not even going to think about that. I guess there is a THIRD reason (aside from actually having to wash something) and that is I was sort of envisioning some pearl handled silverware to dress up this table ensemble (are you listening Santa?).
I added some bubbly to the glasses…you know for some added color and texture. How most of the bottle ended up in my glass I have no idea ha!
I think that I will post the rest of my photos to instagram (as I am starting to feel that champagne kick in!)
May you and your family have a wonderful, peaceful and blessed Thanksgiving.