Monday, July 12, 2010

A Room of Her Own

Every young girl needs a space to call her own, a space to dream, a space to create, and a space to seek refuge from the everyday drama of teenage life. My almost teenage daughter is ready for a room that will provide her with just that.

A plastic shoe bag, hung over the back of the door has become my favorite kid room organizing idea. They are great for holding all kinds of stuff that would otherwise give way to clutter. The clear plastic kind works best so kids can see exactly where things are.

While Carlsbad may not be brimming with places to shop, digging around town can offer some surprising finds.

The theme for this room is fun and beachy, but not too kiddish; she's a big girl now:

I was going to leave this chest of drawers in its current shabby state, but with the rest of the room being crisply painted, I'm afraid it doesn't go. A new coat of white paint will be in its future.

I dug this bed out of the shed. My father made it out of sturdy oak. A coat of paint gives it new life and a new purpose.

I found this old frame at one of my favorite antique stores in town (Then N' Again)--the added cork board makes it the perfect place for hanging pictures.

Starfish glued to the ends of seagrass help to make a fun alternative to a traditional floral arrangement (Two Creative has the best selection of floral picks in town).

The initials were once solid black; I added some paint, plastic pearls, scrapbook designs (from Treasured Moments), and sea shells to salvage this artwork.

This desk was half off at an antique store. A coat of paint and new hardware make it a perfect fit for this room. Accessories from the clearance isle at Marshall's (Ok, I do some of my shopping out of town) are the finishing touch for my daughter's new space. I look forward to all that she will accomplish while she is here, and I know that before I am ready for it, she will be sitting at this desk, studying for her driver's license, filling out applications for college--they grow up so fast!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

welcome home

The perfect home: architectural detailing that makes it stand out from all the rest, a patio or deck that extends the living space outdoors, a lush manicured lawn with fountains of flowers dripping over moss covered planters, and a front porch swing swaying in the wind. Do these homes exist? They do in my dreams.

For myself, this is where I call home:

The front yard is dead and filled with weeds. Paint cracks and recedes under the demanding heat of the sun. The old single pane windows allow the scorching heat to penetrate in the summer, and invite chilling winds to enter during winter. Despite its quirks, this home is a blessing. I often think of this house as a metaphor for my life. Life will run us down if we let it, but if we focus on healing and recovering, we can and will.

In the midst of chaos, there are also places of rest. Even though things may not be perfect, we can choose to have a better perspective. My father once told me that true happiness does not reside in the acquisition of new things, it’s learning to be content with what you already have. I am still learning.
The house stands ready and waiting. I face each day with anticipation. If I think about all of the work that needs to be done, I get overwhelmed. But if I take my time, introduce myself to each room of the house, focus on one project at a time, the house reveals its secrets.

And I am privy to a new awareness, so that even a dying branch on an old apricot tree holds value as a place of rest.

Friday, July 2, 2010

connecting with Place

What is it about a place that helps define who we are? There are places we fall in love with, places we hate, places where we wished we lived, and places we can't wait to escape. We are bombarded with images of people living in places that are better than ours; they look so happy, but are they? Is life easier in a place that you love? Mostly, I think of places that no matter how hard we try to leave, they will always be a part of us.

I am torn between places. As a daughter of an Army officer, we never had one place; life was a series of different places.

When I was 10, my dad received orders to move to Alaska. We all fell in love with a new sense of place. The surrounding forests in Anchorage were lush, rocks and mountains were jagged and raw, water was abundant in a way I had never seen. A short drive down the Seward Highway would grant endless waterfalls edged with lacy ferns. Ponds, lakes, streams, inlets, they are everywhere in Alaska.
Then came the visitors--close relatives, distant relatives, and friends of distant relatives, all eager to visit this place. I never knew when I would be giving up my room to guests, but it was always inevitable.

As I grew older, the elements began to wear me down, or so I thought. The darkness began to suffocate, the cold snaked through layers of my winter coat, snow was no longer fun and enchanting, rather it was something you had to scrape off your car window before you could go somewhere. Life was throwing me punches, and place became easy to blame. I often heard myself say, "I can't stand these long winters," "I can't remember when I last saw the sun," "I would take the baby for a walk, but I'm afraid she'll get frostbite," and finally, "I hate this place!"

Through a series of events came the opportunity to move. My grandmother's house stood empty in Carlsbad, New Mexico. It was built in the 60s, nothing special or unique, the wood paneled walls and dust covered carpet smelled of age and work that needed to be done. Yet I knew I would see the sun, I knew I could walk along the banks of the Pecos River, and I knew I could make something of this house and its small plot of land. It could be a home for my children and myself.
And so I moved. August will mark my third year trying to establish myself in this new place...