SoulCollage®: I am the one who takes your mess and makes it white.

I am the one who is busy.  I am the one who juggles everything, yet somehow I get it done.  Even if it's not on time, I get it done.  I am the one who takes your mess and makes it white.  Fresh start.  I am the one who sits for a moment, but is still thinking.  I am the one who is finding a way to do the old and mundane, so that I can bear to keep doing it.  I will be this way till the day I die. This is my skeleton.

SoulCollage: I am the one who pauses





I am pausing

I wonder why I don't jump in

I hear the ocean

I see the party

I am over here


I pretend  I like it

I feel the disconnect

I touch my heart

I cry when you don't see me

I am camouflaged


I understand you

I say listening noises

I dream you understand me

I try and wait

I hope it's worth it

I am


Want to know more about SoulCollage®? Click here.

I am poem format from How to Make MeCards for Kids by Nancy Weiss

Color Crushes: eggplant + aubergine

Product List

Margot Austin - blog - farrow & ball great outdoors gallery http://www.margotaustin.ca/blog/farrow-ball-great-outdoors-gallery.html

Vintage Flock Wallpaper by Kelly Hoppen - Purple Damask Wall Coverings by Graham & Brown http://www.grahambrown.com/us/product/30-382/vintage-flock

Lt. Amethyst Glass Cameo Intaglio Pendant 1Pc. by artthrobsupplies https://www.etsy.com/listing/198476196/lt-amethyst-glass-cameo-intaglio-pendant?ref=sr_gallery_3&ga_search_query=amethyst+glass&ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery

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Life is a shit sandwich.  Sometimes you just have to take a bite & chew

When I had had enough of trying, this is the guy who said to me, "Life is a shit sandwich.  Sometimes you just have to take a bite & chew".  He is the one I can call in the middle of the night because he doesn't go to bed until 3 am.  He also has a machete in case he needs to cut down "bananas".  You just never know...

Today is his birthday.  He is a Pisces.  If you're not familiar with the shorthand of astrology, being a Pisces means he:

  • likes to daydream & stare out the window
  • likes to escape & has a "rich" inner world
  • prefers to go bed late and get up late
  • moves & speaks when he feels inspired to
  • is well-informed
  • reads anything that is in front of him-- milk carton included
  • is a true friend to the underdog
  • will accept you warts and all

A word to the wise: Don't try and be slick around him or hide behind schmaltz and pretense.  He can smell bullshit from a mile away.

So long as you're yourself you can hang.  And if you haven't figured it out yet,  it's worth it.

This guy is my Dad, his name is Kevin.  He had a strong hand in shaping who I am, especially my humor and understanding of the human condition.  Despite life handing him well over his share of shit sandwiches, he has managed to not wear it on his sleeve or take his life's bad dealings and shove it in your face.  As a matter of fact, you'd probably be surprised by what he has survived.  He takes his life's experiences and makes them useful; if they're not useful he gets rid of them.  He says smart things like, "An event is just a piece of information.  You can decide what to do with it".

It's no secret.  I lucked out in the Parent Department .

Dad, Thanks for always continuing to move forward and never forgetting what it's like to be my age.

Happy Birthday! -XO Amy

Lockers: a must for eclectic decorating

I love eclectic decorating.  I always have.  And I have a house to prove it!  The thing I find so endearing about ecclectic decorating is how it tells a story.  Quirky pieces used in unique ways double the fun and the good conversation.  I have a locker in my kitchen right next to my fridge and pretty much everyone who sees it makes a comment about it. Everytime I open it to grab my Kitchen Aid or cookie sheet I am reminded of my locker in school.  The first thing I ever really had a lock on! There's something about the clang of the metal door that just sends me back.  Not to mention it's an excellent place to display my sticker & magnet collection.

Check out my Pinterest Board on Lockers and get one in your house soon!

 

Check out this little darling I stumbled upon at Homegoods:

 

Color Crushes: Fluorescent Accents + Embracing Your Inner Katy Perry

I love the fluorescent and neon accents next to icy neutrals. It's looks so strange in the middle of February. Reminds me of the movie March of the Penguins. The only colors present in the whole film were variations on gray, blue, black, white and a fluorescent orange sun. Severe and stunning. Check out my Pinterest Board dedicated to these amazing and bizarre colors. http://pinterest.com/designintuitive/fluorescent-neon-accents-interiors/

thanks to Sharpie for the image.

The February Cure

My daughter and her 8 year old cohorts are very interested in defining mother nature, gods, the universe and things like that. What does mother nature do? What does she look like? Where does the universe end? What if I am dreaming my life? I can't help but wonder if February's imposing nature is helping to cultivate these thoughts. oh and yeah, these kids are thinking my 15-year-old self's thoughts: evolution? I believe so.

My friends and I have also been musing on February --I mean, what else can you do? We are stuck inside 99% of the time right now:

How do we release ourselves from February's clutches? Can we really outsmart it? February is the month when things that need to die, die. It takes no prisoners. It also holds Valentine's day in its very middle. It's loaded and it's short. But, thankfully, it's predictable.

Lets look at its tactics: Boredom- the kind that makes your fingernails itch. Dryness- there's a humidifier in every corner, wet towels draped on the radiators, hand lotion and chapstick stashed in every drawer and pocket. Coldness- the type that produces the feeling of trapped because you can't stay outside for any length of time, and if you do venture out, you are so... bundled. Scheduled Snow- who knew Mother Nature had a snow schedule? I always took her for more of a "go with the flow" sorta gal. I am sure February probably imposed this weekly snow schedule on her.

I have had my rows with February. Full, drag-out brawls. In the past, it has brought out the VERY worst in me and my loved ones. I am realizing I have lived most of my Februaries as a 28 day-long Groundhog Day. It's been my broken record month- me on autopilot repeating the same unfulfilling patterns. You see, no matter how hard I've tried to outwit it, my destiny seemed to be ending up under its thumb.

It's not like I have blindly gone along with it. I have made plans for myself and even carried them out.

These have been some of my go to's: • clean the house • make cookies • organize the underwear drawer • read a book • start a project • get a pedicure • have a potluck • sleep even though I am not tired

Problem is it feels like something I'd read in REAL SIMPLE, do it, and still feel empty. My actions had no heart. These are all superficial cures in relationship to a month like February. A bandaid just isn't going to sooth it. What to do?

This February I am starting to feel different. Don't get me wrong, I have been pissy, itchy, caged animal-y like the lot, but I decided to rise above and take a bird's eye view for a moment. Instead of expecting February to change I have made a change. I have changed my reaction to a response. (Why didn't I think of this sooner? This is like basic psych 101)

February is begging for conscious action done with heart. Could it be this simple? REAL SIMPLE? ahem.

This change in my attitude has allowed me to dig deep and look at the things that are essential to me. What a gift!

Thank you, February? (it feels like thanking an abuser)

This weekend I went to The New Britain Museum of American Art with a dear friend. She and I have made art together, free-ranged our kids together and all the while we exchange lots of ideas. I just love her. Because of this, I knew we could go to a museum to experience art together.

We got to the museum and as luck would have it there wasn't a soul in the place. Thank you, February.

Only in this type of quiet and well-curated museum could vulnerabilities fly around like fireflies- completely undisturbed. An invisible display. I felt it. Could it be the art is so much more alive than any other time of the year, completely unencumbered and free inside this perfect climate- controlled capsule? I hope so. It's like the art doesn't even know February is happening! It is so good in this place. It causes me to pause. I feel so welcome. I feel like I can breathe. There is a path. Negative space. This is a luxury.

This experience was my wish for the Matisse exhibit- one week later I've manifested it. I am amazed. Thank you, February.

So there is all of that. Then there is being with my friend in this special place. My cup runneth over. It was our gallery. Our private gallery. We didn't even have to pay because the front desk gave us a visitor's pass. Sharing impressions, excitement, distaste, etc-- all of the human responses are available to express and then you can just walk away. No attachment. It was a perfect day for any month of the year. Not for measuring against. Not to try and recreate. It was for taking in. It was our medicine, with the longest lasting effects and complete with with drowsiness upon returning home.

And now I know in my bones experiencing art with dear friends essential for me. Thank you, February.

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all images are from Nobu Fukui's Incredulity, 2012 at the New Britain Museum of Art

Quiet is a luxury, Matisse, Bob Dylan + other musings

Part 1 Are you inspired? How was NYC? What did you think of Matisse?

I often feel a little guilty when asked these questions after a much anticipated trip or well-known event, because my answer can never just be: Good! I loved it! NYC was the BEST!

There are many times I wish my answer could be one of those. Wouldn't it be easier?-- I often fantasize.

The truth is yesterday's Matisse + NYC left me feeling like I need quiet.  MoMA's Matisse exhibit was shoulder to shoulder and groups of children sitting crisscross applesauce watching videos of Matisse creating-- all set on the stage that is NYC.  It was a sensory overload and hard for me to respond to his art in the moment-- I found it frustrating.  I spent a good deal of my energy in NYC fantasizing about quiet or being up several floors from street-level which produces that lovely soothing muffled noise of traffic, creating the feeling of insulation.

For me, quiet is a luxury.

I've met people who are surprised that I choose to live in this plain jane of a town. (sometimes one of these people is me). In my town, I have managed to make and maintain a quiet space for myself. Right now, I am upstairs in my bed listening to the muffled sounds of my family as I type: Heaven.

And on the topic of sound, I feel it's important to share that I rarely listen to music and when I do it's alone.  The music I tend to enjoy usually has a singer who is hard to understand- think Bob Dylan, except I don't really care for his music... so maybe think artists who are heavily influenced by Bob Dylan.

Can you imagine that? I suppose this is a little elusive. Like a slippery bar of soap you try to hold by squeezing your hands together- it slips out from your grip, but if you hold your hand still it will stay put.

The feeling I get from listening to music like this IS somehow synonymous to how I feel when I experience nourishing quiet and good design.

For me the junction between chaos and organization is the point where good design, music & art happen.

Part 2

Matisse felt he "painted with scissors" as he made his cut-outs.  He blurred the lines between the canvas and the wall by removing the canvas altogether.  The canvas was never big enough, the walls were never big enough, the house was never big enough to contain Matisse's essence that he expressed in his cut-outs.  His cut-outs that became his "wall-paper" seemed to be the only way he could make peace with having to be contained by the shelter he had to live in.  Being human demands we contain ourselves for our own protection.  I believe because of his drive to reconcile this basic human need of shelter with his essence, that these cut-outs were created. The cut-outs were primarily created in the later years of his life when he was not well . He relied on his assistants to help execute his art: energy and vision. He created beautiful works from his bed or chair with their able bodies-- many works being larger than my living room floor! He trusted other people to help carry out his vision. He collaborated.

Is his art any less impactful because he had others help him physically create it? No.

This makes me think of the design work I do -helping people get clear on how they want to decorate and giving them the easy steps to do it.

Does it make your home any less an expression of who you are if you seek and employ the guidance of someone like me? No.

What also strikes me is the myth that colors our idea of how beautiful, meaningful things are created. The myth that beautiful & meaningful things are created alone – void of input from others.  Either you're creative or you're not. That even though you may pine to create art or make a beautiful space to call home, if you don't know how, or are not able to do it all by yourself somehow it's inauthentic and doesn't reflect you.

Are you telling yourself some version of this myth?  Is there a project in your home that has been stunted because you're afraid to ask for help?  What is it?  I'd love to know!

I hate the word decorating

I hate the word decorating. It's so June Cleaver. And while there are some attributes I love about her, she's filled with a quiet rage. I don't relate.

Decorating reminds me of the word hobby. Another word I hate.

Decorating feels so limiting. Who does it anyway? Not me. It conjures up images of tiny movements that make no impact, organization porn on Pinterest and falling victim to someone else's idea of what you should be.

CREEPY.

and most of all it's repellant to people who want to make a kick-ass space.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Pinterest. But like any tool it can used for evil or just plain mediocrity (evil). Making a great space doesn't come from buying the whole room collection from pottery barn or correctly executing that Pin from Pinterest. If you ask me, those over-curated rooms and Pins are just versions of the 1990's bed-in-a-bag. Once attained, it feels like stiff shirt -looks crisp but feels like you can't relax. GET ME OUT!

Creating a space you love takes time-- but before I lose you, not THAT much time.

Comment with a picture of room that keeps stumping you and I'll give you some quick ideas.

Thanks for the image, pixie.com! http://pyxie.com/trends/hair/mom-hair-through-the-years/

A woman's work is never done

Scan 28_2original SoulCollage® Card by Amy McNamara

It's so amazing to connect with like-minded people.  It blows my mind. This path that I am on has given me so many opportunities to do just that.  Today I talked to a woman on the other side of our world.  She had just finished her dinner and I my breakfast.  We got into a whole conversation about how this movement of learning to "play" has given work a bad name.  She said you can't uplift something by putting something else down.  So true... work had been put down by play.  That's no fair and I'm here to set the record straight.

 

Well meaning self help books and gurus would tell me:

You need to learn how to play
me: Huh? That sounds stupid
What did I do when I was a little girl?
me: I took things seriously. Setting up the perfect doll house- I was a pro. (short answer: work)
Where's your happy place?
me: Wandering around my house and rearranging furniture, finding new uses for old, loved pieces, repainting a room. (short answer: working)

 

When I answered those questions in the past, I would somehow feel like a failure.  Like somehow I had an ability-to-play handicap.  And when I would visit with friends, I was most happy when we could work on their space or make art together.  I somehow came to understand play as this thing where I had to be buying coloring books, and going to the dollar store and buying silly things from the toy isle to appeal to my inner child.  I'm not knocking that, it just made me feel uncomfortable.  Since the experts were telling me to do this and I felt truly incapable of relaxing into it, I thought the problem lay in me.

But after this morning's conversation, I've starting to look at my "handicap" in a new light and with much gratitude.

As I revisit the self help advice given to me with my new found wisdom, I am feeling much better about myself.

When I was a kid I played like it was my job.

I never really saw a distinction between the play and work, because for me they are the same.

I don't want to do something if it's not fun, and if I have to do it I need to find a way to make it fun.  Furthermore, when something becomes not fun, that's a place for me to pause and reevaluate.

Another thing that came to mind during this fantastic conversation was I believe society's definition of work is very product driven, goal oriented, a means to an end.

But for me, work is all about process.  

That in and of itself is a very feminine concept.  We, as women, naturally are about process.  We have bodies that go through regular cycles (processes).  It's been said "a woman's work is never done".  I always took that to be a negative thing.  --Something to keep women down.

But I have come to discover, when you approach work like a woman, it truly is never done because it is all about the process.  Enjoying the process is where play meets work, time stands still and I feel fulfilled.

Mr. Jerk

This morning I remembered this boy I went to elementary school with. I'll call him Alex. He was one of those kids who got picked on. These are the things I remember about him: big brown eyes, corduroy pants with striped shirts, used to make animals out of the foil his lunch was wrapped in, and his mom was really sick with pneumonia and in the hospital. But the thing that stands out the most is the time our fourth-grade teacher, who I'll call Mr. Jerk, decided to pick on him and make a mockery of Alex in front of our whole class. Mr. Jerk dumped Alex's desk onto the floor in the middle of class. That poor kid. All his belongings tossed, including his dignity and foil animals .

"You're a mess, Alex " Mr. Jerk said after he dumped the desk.

As Alex scrambled on the floor to pick up the desk's contents, Mr. Jerk picked up an odd foil animal and said for affect:

"What in the world is this, Alex?"

Alex answered quietly, "it's an elephant"

The class roared.

It's funny how these stories pop into my head sometimes. I believe they come back to me to teach me something.

When life gets messy and overwhelming it has a way of dumping your proverbial junk drawer. Sometimes, I am the one who dumps it.

I remember feeling shocked and sorry for Alex. My grown up self wishes I stood up to help him pick up his stuff, but I am pretty sure my child self didn't want to face what Mr. Jerk would do to me if I stepped in.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, I'm on the floor sifting to through the contents my junk drawer. As a matter of fact, it got dumped it out a while ago, I am the one dumped it and I am growing tired.

This is my life.

It feels really mixed up right now, pretty much like the middle of chaos and my home reflects this.

Luckily, I have lived long enough to know that the part of the project (or life) when you feel like you want to abandon ship is just about the turning point when you find solution or that missing piece. The thing that let's all of the pieces relax for a bit and make sense.

Unfortunately, I haven't figured out a neater, more sophisticated way to dump out my proverbial junk drawer. Sorting through it can be messy, uncomfortable at times, and confusing. I have found staying away from folks like Mr. Jerk when I am feeling vulnerable and taking a step back to be key, though.

Now here's the junk drawer we just dumped out, our garage.  Soon to be my studio & Erik's mechanic shop:

Before

image

During (insulation)...

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During (drywall)...

image

During (primer)...

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Painted & almost done!

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Are you tired?  I am!  

 

what is this middle place?

imageoriginal SoulCollage® card by Amy McNamara what is this middle place?

at the beginning of the month i am always like yes! 30 more days of summer.

then i get to about 15 days in and... i start hearing crickets in the daytime my attempts to boost my fading tan is met with little result bedtime creeps up quicker then there's the smell in the air

Fall is just around the corner.

yeah, we can hope for an Indian summer, but we can only stave it off for so long-- that back to school feeling always sneaks up even though i've been out of school for quite some time.

i just start to feel a little down. the shifting gears and transition times are tricky for me --not always sure what to eat, my favorite summer outfit all of sudden looks drab, and even my summer-ized (sorely neglected) house is reflecting the need for the season to change. leaving me with a lot of question marks.

it's kind of a middle place, neither here nor there. it's a funky place to hang, but i have lived long enough to know that inspiration is just around the corner, new projects and new friends are there, too. i just need to trust.

it's just passing through this middle place and being ok with it --that's the trick.

i find myself more susceptible to the calls of consuming when i'm a little unsure.

i feel like i should be: buying back to school outfits for our daughter signing her up (and ultimately me) for all kinds of activities having perfectly balanced schedule and the list goes on...

it's like i've been programmed at this time of year to give up my sense of self, that always knows what's best for me, just lock in and get on a crazy train of rigorous scheduling and commitments that require my daughter and me to have a whole new wardrobe.

is it possible to not purchase a ticket to the crazy train? i'm betting yes this Fall.

when my husband decided to start working for himself this year, i followed behind him a few months after. he gave up 13 years of security. and me? 9 years. we just couldn't stay in that box any longer. then all of a sudden, it seemed so strange that our daughter would be going to school full time when our household was no longer living in that 9-5 mentality. that's when the seeds of homeschooling that had been planted a year ago started to sprout and became a reality.

do i sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and wonder if we've made the right choices? yes

do i try to convince myself taking the job offered to me twice is the better option? yes

do i question if i've got what it takes to run this household, business, and schooling? yes i am questioner. (in case you haven't noticed) always have been. i thought it might be nice for you to know, i question myself just as much as the world around me. these days it feels good that the answer to a lot of my questions is: trust in myself.