Crafting a Better Life of Love This Holidaisy

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I’ve been feeling a need to write. It’s been awhile that I have felt compelled to write a personal entry but I miss doing such so here I find myself plucking at the keyboard. I don’t often write personal entries these days because of what I’m still going through and an attempt to keep it under wraps mostly until it is long over. I’m still in the midst of a divorce and custody battle and I feel it’s best to keep it to myself and my family in order to protect myself, my ex and most importantly my daughter. It has been very draining to say the least, to start my life again from scratch after I had given most of myself to another for so many years. However even in the midst of this I have found love, happiness and the beginning of a family I always wanted that came easily and without negativity. Our home is filled with love and once everything is over I can fully start a new and devote myself to my new family, the family I had always wanted for myself and Colette.

So anyway, I am living many of the dreams I never really thought I would acquire. I am a housewife of a beautiful man who is a genius realism artist and gorgeous home in the city where I have everything I need to cook decadent meals and delicious desserts for family and friends. I get to spend my days working on beauty and fashion graphic design from my home office while chatting with my boss who becomes a closer friend everyday. I keep only true friends around and the rare free time I have for having fun I get to spend with amazing and creative women (such as Jamie Sucre) chatting and enjoying the finer things in life like sparkling cider, fairy lights and skittle-flavored shisha. I spend my evenings relaxing by the fire and crocheting with my mister by my side, taking a motorcycle ride through the city for a tasty dinner or playing games with our total of 4 children which include tons of laughter and imagination. I’m so inspired by this life filled with love and whimsical creativity and color that I cannot stop creating and planning for new projects for our family and for our work. I get to do many things it seemed I had no time or energy for in the past because I was so down about things I felt I couldn’t change.

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For instance this year I crafted my daughter’s costume because I couldn’t find a Chibi Moon costume small enough for her size and we dressed up together and Sailor Moon and Chibi for trick-or-treating! It was her first time to actually go and it was a blast. We traveled through the colorful leaf covered sidewalks to houses with lights and faux spider webs to fill our bags with candy. It was like a dream. Then Colette and I hung our tree very early this year, Nov 1, and decorated it with candy sweet adornments. I hung my stocking, sewed a French-y damask one for mister to complement my Versailles style stocking and promptly bought gorgeous, fluffy fabrics for the children’s stockings and embroidered characters on the front. Theirs are still pinned and waiting to be completed but they are oh so excited!

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Winter is my favorite time for yarn crafts as well, don’t you feel the same? I’ve currently got a crochet project going on for Jamie and a knitting project using a magic yarn ball someone made me last year. I was so excited about this yarn ball I saved it until I got settled in my new home so I could look forward to knitting my mother a scarf this winter. It’s not my style of colors and happens to be her favorites: muted forest greens and soft blues and purples all woven together in wool. I’m so taken by this yarn ball surprise I’m crafting one for a penpal friend online and we’re swapping soon so I will be sure to do a feature on that for you to participate in the fun! I feel there was a period in my past I was almost so excited because I spent most of my time crafting things for friends and family while my baby cooed in the background. It’s so fun now that she’s 3 and can actually help me or give me advice on things she likes most. She will always be my little cherub, the center of my heart. She is too perfect and I cannot wait to spend my whole life with her and my soul mate crafting a better life of love, color, whimsy and true, internal happiness which I once thought unreal. I hope you are also feeling reminiscent and content at the end of this year seeing what resolutions you will make and what things you are most grateful for.

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Also for some random updates I finally got my hair done for the holidays as I had planned, scary change but I felt it was time for a big change to match the way my life has changed. I’ve also become really into American Horror Story on FX — I watched seasons 1 & 2 around Halloween and now I’m caught up with season 3. I had stopped watching horror entertainment for my whole previous marriage because my life felt so chaotic without it. Now that my life is secure and stable for the most part, filled with love and calmness, I have gotten back into horror for fun. What are you into this year? XX

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Day With a Camera: Holiday Life in Photos

Sometimes I have a hard time just living in the moment and enjoying life. I’m always thinking about something else and what I have to do next.. it’s quite annoying! As I’ve said before, in therapy I’m learning to let go of any troubling qualities and I’m replacing them with more love.

Do you have to be crazy to go to therapy? NO WAY. It sure doesn’t matter if you are though.. a diagnoses leads to treating your disorder with medication AND with counseling. As we’ve discussed before, sometimes there is a chemical imbalance in one’s brain that does not correct itself with counseling and therapy alone. That’s where I am now, getting the right medication and learning how to deal with the past a bit better.

Are you enjoying everyday to it’s fullest? If you’re not try keeping a gratitude journal and writing down 5 things each day that you’re thankful for. (Jeez — how much do I harp about this??) Another way is to carry your cellphone along and snap photos of fun moments so you may look at them later… sometimes looking over the things you’ve done leads you to come up with more fun activities and to enjoy them to the fullest! Try it~

And here’s some nonsense from my daily life to show you I practice what I encourage~ What things might you snap that make your day special?

Ayumi Uyama cuteness overload dolls. Happy 2011~
Hang me up to dry in the sunshine~ She's a cupcake~
Goldiloks sent me the cutest Xmas package ever~ she even made me ornaments! ;) My bff's tree is made of candy~

How to Prepare for the Holidays

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Like Ram Das says: You want to see how together you are, go spend some time with your family! This sentiment is particularly apt during the holidays, when emotions run high and painful memories are easily triggered. Especially if this holiday things are different than you would like them to be: i.e. you’re single (again), newly divorced, bringing someone home your family can’t stand, or maybe you simply dread the same old story your family dynamics dose on when you get together.

Here are a few tips that can help you face whatever may come with more confidence and grace than you’d imagined…

Embrace “what is”~ This is the quick way to holiday enlightenment! The sooner you accept people and things the way they are and not the way you want them to be, the more likely you are to experience some real joy! While this is no easy pill to swallow when you are feeling lonely, rejected, or not up for going a few rounds with your family, this truth will set you free. Try it; it’s the perfect gift to give this season.

Right-size your expectations~ If you’re aren’t quite ready to accept things the way they are, your next best bet is to curtail your expectations some. Try this (always works for me). Find someone less fortunate than yourself and do something wonderful for them. It’s a sure way to get an additional perspective. Sometimes we can get so righteous or stuck in our story we don’t leave any room for something different or magical to happen. The spirit of giving will soften your grinchy glare and open your heart up. ‘Tis the season to cut some slack. Plenty of time for therapy and analyzing everything and everyone come the new year!

Walk a mile in their shoes~ Refuse to participate in certain members of your family’s antics, or can’t possibly stomach your ex flaunting his “new and improved you” all over tinsel town when you’re still obscenely alone? Try a shot of compassion. While this is not easy, especially for novices (‘cause you have to actually care enough to take a moment and walk a mile in their shoes), in most cases it helps us take the edge off. Understanding that being human is complicated, and that we are all frightened and fragile whether we show it or not, helps ease the burden of needing everyone (including ourselves) to be perfect.

Stage fright~ Are you the type that thinks of the right thing to say or do after the fact? Like, you think of what you should have said, but freeze up and blank out and end up a mess? Then you need to rehearse your lines! Doesn’t matter who you are, when we are upset we don’t think clearly. No matter what awaits you, try and do a dress rehearsal so you can be prepared for anything. Write it down and carry it with you so you don’t get blindsided. And practice all the way there, and maybe even the day before if you have to. “No, Uncle Bart, I am not drinking right now. Thank you.” or “That’s lovely; I wish you both every happiness!” or “Congratulations on your new part in the upcoming porn film, I am sure you’ll be a great success.”

Let the train go down the track~ Need to make an appearance because it’s the right thing to do and aren’t interested in feeling, dealing or healing, or even saying the right thing right now (you know what they did, they know what they did, period)? I always say, when there’s a train coming down the track, get out of the way. Take a few deep breaths, count to ten, get something to eat, help in the kitchen, make call to someone who can help calm you down; and if that doesn’t work, excuse yourself, go straight to the bathroom, and re-group. Before you say or do something you will regret, remind yourself like a mantra, “Why should you always take the high road? Because that’s the kind of person you are.” Otherwise, leave town and send a Christmas card.

Have a pity party~ Speaking of leaving town: you might be fed up, feel the urge to fall apart, say the wrong thing, make a scene, behave badly, act inappropriately for the first time in your life, storm off and leave, or just stay in bed and wait for January. I say, let yourself have it. Maybe what you need is a little pity party. Go for it. Pick a start time and an end time and go for it. Maybe letting yourself feel what you’ve been stuffing is in order. Maybe you need to attend to some of what’s bottled up before it causes more damage to you or anyone else. Heck, you could invite some friends and just have a big negative merge! Who knows, it may be just what the doctor ordered.

Do overs~ If I feel like I can’t pull it together, or am unable to say something tactfully or gracefully, am intolerant, or simply full of crap and can’t get out of my own way, I ask for a “do over.” I attempt the right behavior, but if I can’t get it right, I will say something like “That didn’t come out right, I am so sorry, can we try that again?” Or “Maybe it’s better if we talk about this another time.” Then there’s always Plan B. I leave and try again next year… Give yourself permission to do what you have to do to take care of yourself!!

Bottom line: during the holidays, there is no more pain to be felt than at any other time of year. According to John James’ “Grief Recovery Handbook,” this is a fact. There are simply many visible associations with painful memories that keep us trapped in our habitual thinking. If we can remember that we are all connected, that most of us are doing the best we can, and that most of the pain and suffering we experience is a projection, we are less likely to take things personally and more prone to create connection rather than greater separation!

Avoid a mystical hangover this holiday season – watch Maryanne’s advice from author Roger Housden:

Do-it Yourself Holiday Gifts

If you can’t find me on any given Saturday afternoon, I’m likely perusing the aisles at my local flea market or antique store. You see, since I was a wee thing, I’ve been obsessed with all things old and lovely. And what better place to find “old and lovely” than at a store that sells items of the past?

Remember, the difference between flea markets and antique stores is this: Antique stores have done the dirty work for you and have found the best of the best vintage doo-dads. As a result, their prices are higher. Flea markets, on the other hand, are a composite pile junk-things and fabulous finds. Consequently, the prices are much lower.

With that said, I find pleasure in both types of stores. However, I personally feel that flea market browsing is a much more satisfying experience. It’s like I’m a superwoman saving all these beautiful items hidden among the rubble! If flea markets are the way you want to go, keep in mind that it takes patience and a lot of time to have a successful shopping trip.

Now, without further ado, here are a few unique ideas that are half DIY, half vintage-fab. And I promise, they are oh-so-easy to do!

The Candy Dish

I promise that any flea market/thrift store/antique mall will have myriad exquisite dishes. In fact, these items are one of my most favorite to look for, simply because they are easy to find and almost always affordable and different. The best candy dish finds are the ones that have a lid (helps keep the candy fresh!) and are one-of-a-kind. For example, I once purchased a fabulously decadent, blue-glass dish that floated on a stem. Once you find the perfect dish that fits the receivers personality, add some of their favorite candy! Individually wrapped chocolates are always a hit!

Framed Vintage

You can frame pretty much anything you want, but one of my favorites is either sheet music or old magazine ads. These items are usually very inexpensive ($1-$5 on average) and offer a great variety of styles. Just browse through the selection and set aside the items that speak to you. Now that you’ve got your item, all you need to do is frame it. Depending on the recipient and the item to be framed, I like to purchase a modern-looking frame to offset the vintage look or purchase an older frame to drive the point home!

Tip If you can’t bring yourself to tear a page out of a magazine, simply make a color-copy!

The Vase

Vases are another easy find at any thrift store, flea market or antique mall. And just like the candy dishes, there is often a great variety in style and color. I am often drawn to opulant items and so for me, the fancier the better! Since you are purchasing for someone else, try to find a vase that reflects the personality of whoever is receiving the gift.

Once you’ve purchased the vase, head to your local flower shop with the vase (clean it up first, of course!). Ask the shop owner which flowers would look best in the vase and go from there.

Tip You don’t have to buy a large bouquet. A few flowers in a beautiful vase makes a bold statement.

Cookie Jar Frenzy

Who doesn’t love cookies? And if you have cookies, why not store them in a beautiful cookie jar? On your next vintage-outing, search high and low for some interesting jars. I’ve seen plenty in my day, ranging from refined and exquisite to gaudy and fun!
Once you have your jar purchased, clean it out and make a batch of the recipients favorite cookies.

Tip To add more vintage snazz to this gift, put the recipe for the cookies on a vintage inspired (or actual vintage) recipe card and include it with the gift!

Sweet Tea Cup

This is one of my favorites. All you have to do is find a lovely tea cup and saucer set. These are usually priced quite low – anywhere from $4 to $25. After you find the cup and saucer of your dreams, purchase some nice tea bags and a few honey sticks. Put said items in your tea cup and wrap the cup/saucer in tinted (or clear) cellophane. You can usually find cellophane at craft stores (I know Target sells some, too). I like to add a ribbon bow at the top for an extra touch of pretty.