Friday, July 26, 2019

A Pitch for Therapy

There are two things I know. The first is, the truth will set you free. The second is, everyone could use some therapy. 

A skilled therapist holds up the truth and compares it with the story you've believed about your life and what you believe about the world. I began benefiting from this comparison when I went to talk therapy to address sexual abuse I experienced when very young. I was shown the difference between my story (that it was my fault) and the reality: it was my dad’s fault. I learned I could stop punishing myself and after four years with my counselor, it felt like someone had cut loose a bag of bricks I’d been carrying. Life felt wonderfully light. 

Years later, my body started sending me signals we had some unfinished business. Fatigue and migraines were my constant reminder and I researched self-care. I eventually found my way to an EMDR therapist who could help process trauma out of my body, which tests had shown maintained high levels of cortisol all the time. If you aren't familiar with cortisol, it's what your body releases to help you escape if you're being chased by wolves, but having it circulate in your body on the regular makes you sick. Early trauma taught my body to keep those levels high because more trauma was always on its way. 

So I began with much frustration towards my "slow to catch on" body. Why couldn’t it get the memo? I’m safe now. Why couldn’t I feel the truths I knew in my head, deep down in my gut? I wanted so badly to feel safe in every cell of my body and I didn’t know if I’d ever get there. 

This is me with my Grandpa, where I was always safe.

I want to share that I'm on my way! With therapy that keeps me present in my body, a reunion has begun between the body and soul I separated to survive.  

When the abuse started, I only separated from my body during the experience, but eventually, I gave up on going back. It wasn't worth it when all my body ever did was hurt. So I left it behind, even though I dragged it around, but never looked it in the eye. If my body said it needed something, my first response was always, No. 

I banked on my brain. WE would go places. And my brain was kind enough to forget the abuse, so we got along fine. But a brain without a body isn’t much at all. Yoga was where I gave the first friendly side-glances to my body. There were some bashful smiles and then a punishing diet and finally, more attention to what my body had to say. 

Observing my body led to a fledgling appreciation. One day, I was surprised by the thought, It’s not perfect, but it’s mine. By the time I was in EMDR, I wanted to embrace my body, but still felt furious about it’s ongoing struggles, especially the sexual ones. 

So I’d been scapegoating my body all along, despite acknowledging my father's responsibility years ago. If only my body had been able to absorb the abuse without being hurt by it, we could have a good life. But no. It was vulnerable and got hurt and was still not okay today. I felt my body had a terrible track record and there was no reason to think I'd ever find my breakthrough. 

My husband, Brian, asked once, “So you feel doomed around your health?” 

And I said, “No, it’s much more than a feeling. It’s an awful, aching knowing.”

From this place, therapy again held up truth for me and this time, it was getting deeper than my brain. Here are the truths that are dawning on my tired heart and feeling like brand-spankin' new life:

  • Where I felt my father had won and I could never defeat him, I saw I had triumphed the day I told my mom.
  • Where I felt doomed about my physical struggles, I learned they could change as quickly as my requirement to visit my dad every other weekend.
  • I'd always felt it was a lie to tell myself it was over. In therapy, I realized that THAT is indeed over. While I may be victimized in the future, it will not be as a little girl. I will know what’s happening is wrong. It won’t happen over and over. In my home. And it will not be my fuckin’ father. No, I can finally hold little Kendra (because in this moment we are all the ages we ever were) and promise her it’s over.
  • I felt afraid of losing Brian. It’s just now occurring to me that my father threw away everything good about our relationship for sex, but that doesn't mean Brian will. He’s staying.
  • I felt I had to work a miracle to keep Brian, achieve perfect sexuality by erasing every trace of trauma. I had to right the wrong. Well, I can’t turn back time, so this will not be possible. The truth is, I don’t have to work miracles to have happiness. I can just have it. 

These new beliefs are like seeds my counselor planted and now, their roots are sinking in deep. I'm writing this because I want you to know if you are left with deep, deep KNOWINGS from trauma, they can be changed. My therapist calls it blowing them out of the water. And we’re doing just that.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Main Bath

We inherited a bathroom with more...bead board! Now, I don't think bead board is a bad choice, but it's a little on the too country/too busy side for me. Rather than skim coating this the way we did the kitchen bead board, I decided to paint it a rich blue. All the bathrooms I've admired lately are blue with lots of neutrals and pink touches, so I decided to go for it! It's bold and I absolutely love it. Here's how it looked before:

We knew right away that vanity was too small and the medicine cabinet and light would be coming down. We took the vanity and faucet down to the basement bathroom (that was just a toilet in and an ancient sink in the middle of a huge room, but more on that later.) Here it is with blue paint, the new light fixture and the vanity.

If I can make one thing easier for you, it's painting toilets. I'm green so I rarely use Saran Wrap, but now is the time. Painting around a toilet can be tricky and this makes it way easier. Also, eat raspberries when you paint. They help you clear out the toxins specific to paint! And they are easy/delicious which is the perfect snack when projecting.

So here we are! This little bathroom was challenging because I've never done a bathroom with this much brass and brass colors are all over the place (a.k.a. don't match each other). And some are downright ugly. Like greenish or they look silver at a glance. Since we have very few options in local stores, it was a lot of ordering and returning and frustration. 

My advice in the end:

1) They don't have to match perfectly. Find them in the non-ugly range of brass you enjoy and call it good. Unless you buy everything from a single line, this will be the case AND IT LOOKS GREAT. 

2) Don't make it all brass. The matchy-matchy old lady inside you may be screaming, "Brass everything!!" and she's sweet, but she's wrong. For example, our shower curtain rod is not brass with brass rings. They make them, but it was not a good idea. Brass is pretty loud and I don't want the focal point of our bathroom to be basic hardware. We also went with a brushed nickel faucet and it plays well with others. It saves dollars too, since brass is still new enough to be more expensive.

mirror | light

toilet paper holder

See? Lots of colors of brass and our shower rod is brushed nickel, which works well because of all the grey in the room. I'll admit that toilet paper holder isn't my fave, but it's there until the right one comes along. 

rug (similar)
Once again, I've got creams and whites and blacks and grays (even a little tan in the vanity top) in this room and it gives it a soft, casual vibe. 

white canister - Hobby Lobby

seascape print | picture frame | towel (similar)
I love the look of patterned, mismatched towels, which is also brilliant because when some wear out, you aren't stressed about finding something that matches. The towel on the left is from Target, the one on the right is an old World Market find and the hand towels are also from Target. I think this bathroom post could be sponsored by Target, now that I see how much of it is from there! One of my favorite pieces in this bathroom is the seascape above with the Opal House frame that feels vintage and interesting. I. Love. It. I love seeing it every day. So many sweet surprises packed into this tiny room, which makes me feel like a lucky ducky even if winter is lasting forever.

rope basket

Above the toilet, I have this DIY cat silhouette portrait of my previous cat, Leopold. This is super special to me and I realize now I promised a tutorial on this and never followed through. Sigh. I promise I will - it's so easy and you HAVE to know. 

Here's the cubby we added by taking away part of the guest room closet. Before this was just a wall and we needed some place to put stuff. Now my hamper is tidily tucked under there and extra toilet paper is in plain sight (I recommend this for the sake of guests' stress levels) and I don't have to have a medicine cabinet that sticks out and blocks light over my sink. Win! 

medicine cabinet (similar)

Here's the closer view. We'd hoped to do some kind of solid surface shelves, considering scraps wouldn't be very expensive, but we did this for now. It works and doesn't need extensive bracing. But wouldn't some grey marble be pretty?

curtain tie back

I'll admit, I have a couple issues with towel rings: they're ugly and they don't work. Towels are always slipping out and ending up on the floor. So I was determined to figure out something else to get my hand towel off my counter. I landed on this vintage looking brass curtain tie back from Anthropologie. I got it on sale before Christmas and that made it less painful cost-wise. I love it. I have a thing with birds and that he's perched on that little good. Now if you buy it, buy the opposite side you'd think based on the photo. I got about three that faced the wrong direction before getting them to send the right one! 

Well, there it is. In the end, I feel this bathroom is small, but posh; zen, but colorful. Basically, all my favorites! 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019


Hello again! Today we're going to zip through a reveal of our hallway, which is small, but sassy. Here we go!

The first thing you notice is the rug. I got mine at Home Goods, but if you need it in your life, Wayfair has it here. It was my jumping off point and gave the hall such a colorful vibe, I was able to put some of my favorite (very colorful) kids' art in here. It's a loop, rather than a pile, so I hope it will wear well in this high traffic area. 

The light fixture in here was an accident of sorts. I bought the brass fixture for over the kitchen sink but it seemed too big and competed with the basket light over our table. I had ordered it from Menards and it had a clear glass globe, which broke in the hubbub. Unable to return it, I added this pretty globe from Home Depot and hung it in the hallway. It's SO much better than the boob light from which we'd been averting our gaze! I feel lucky since I wouldn't have prioritized a statement light fixture for the hall.

It's a small hall so I decided to keep my grouping of art small too. I didn't want to feel like the walls were full and coming in on me. Or that we'd be in danger of bumping them off whilst passing by. These are the new concerns of a small house, but we're enjoying the challenge. 

I love seeing these cheery little pieces every day. Here's another view going the other direction so you can get a sneaky peaky of the room I painted a pretty color!! 

Can you see it?! It is different and exactly what I wanted for my office so when I'm in there it FEELS different from the rest of the house. 

One thing we plan to do in the future that will transform this hallway is to add trim to the doors until they look like this:

Then if we switch out the current knobs for some simple black ones, we'll have some handsome doors. Why? Well, the current ones are not only showing their age, but they're brass on the outside of the door and chrome on the inside. Was that a thing? Anyway, it will be a grand upgrade. 

So there you have it! I've got two more rooms photographed, so hopefully I'll be back with the main bath and the master bedroom soon. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

New Year: Celebration Over Goal-Setting

Happy New Year, friends!

My first thoughts on the new year were, "Peace out, 2018," because it's been a doozy, but when I looked at my best nine collage on Instagram, I realized the hard years have THE MOST to celebrate. Survival for one.  

As usual, I'm not into setting goals for 2019 (let's be real, I always have plans and things in the works), but I would like to take a few moments to acknowledge the parts of 2018 I feel proud of. 

1. I started a prayer meeting aimed at nourishing God-followers on their journey. 
I've got big dreams for church and how I'd like to see it grow and reshape in my lifetime for the benefit of my kids and the folks it's actively hurting. I feel a glass ceiling effect with what my church offers, needing more of this or that and not finding it offered. So this has been my way of making change in my corner. It's been empowering and satisfying and shown me I'm not alone.

2. I began a daily meditation practice in September. 
I've wanted to get still and know God is God for a long time, but not known how. My mind races. I don't know how to sit at Jesus' feet and just be with him. To learn how to do this, I've used the app Headspace and it's been a game-changer. Meditation has made me a better human, but I'll go into that more later. 

I would say my desperate need for things to get better fueled this attempt. I've lived with fatigue for a long time now and the addition of selling our house and moving last winter was more than my body could take in stride. A couple more stressors and I was the most fatigued I've ever been. I couldn't get out of bed in the morning and was late to work regularly. I would sit up in bed (so I couldn't fall asleep) and fall asleep sitting up. But this is when I started meditating. Desperation isn't all bad.

3. I survived Brian's illness.
As soon as we were beginning to get settled in our new home, Brian became severely anemic. He was bleeding internally and did a lot of testing to find out why. It was a frightening process, especially before they ruled out blood cancers. We got through even though neither of us had any energy, largely because friends swooped in to help with yard work and meals. 

4. I got help.
Desperation made me reach out and try (again) to find someone who could help me make a comeback health-wise. I've spent so much money and energy in this direction, often without a return, so this is like pulling teeth. Teeth that aren't loose. But you guys, I found a kinesthesiologist who's been able to help me! She tells me which supplements to take (specific to my body) so I can heal. I still can't believe she knows what's going on with me. 

5. I faithed.
Faith is taking the damn supplements when nothing seems to be changing and it's never helped before, but you believe God wants you to be well. It's telling yourself it will be okay that you can't get to work on time or yoga at all and believing the sun will come out again. Faith is also when you have a blessed day in the middle.  When you FEEL the belief taking hold of you and putting wind in your sails. You gasp your lungs full because the next day is sure to be hard, but with that glimpse of what's possible you can hang on by your faith fingernails. 

6. I got healthier.
In October, I realized I had the energy to dream of the prayer meeting AND try doing it. I've been able to get to yoga three times a week for MONTHS. I'm back to how I felt before we had to move and I'm excited to keep healing.

7. We took a vacation.
With Brian's surgery looming, we took the vacation we'd planned on even though the money we'd saved for it had to go toward other things. I learned somewhere that spending more than you make is the cardinal sin, so this was not easy. But we drove to the ocean and played in the sea and saw friends and it healed us. 

Those are the things I'm most proud of and looking back gives me great hope for the future. If you need a little gumption to take into 2019, maybe spend some time celebrating. And take the time to tell a friend. The best thing about any new year is we don't have to do it alone.

You triumphed over 2018. 

And here is 2019, just waiting for us to create it. 

I love you. 

All the years. 


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Home Tour: Kitchen

Our new kitchen got the most attention when it came to updates. Our goals were to add storage, update the lighting, install a back splash, lose the bead board, and install hardware. This kitchen offers much less storage than our previous one and the lighting was such that any food we worked on would be in shadow. 

This custom open shelving offers a lot more storage than the single cabinet we had before. It's also a super convenient place to have our dishes since it's by the table and the dishwasher! For reference, here's how it looked before...

Lots of beadboard. I thought it would really compete pattern wise with the backsplash, besides the fact that I'm not a big bead board kinda girl. We couldn't just tear it off because it had some weird fuzzy stuff behind it, so we had our drywall guy skim it with mud and then the cabinet guy added trim pieces to make faux wainscoting. So. Much. Better.

As far as style changes, we added a back splash of square tiles in a brick-lay style. I love the simplicity of it and it's a variation on my go-to subway tile. We added hardware to the cabinetry and finding a brass knob I liked proved a challenge. I finally landed on this simple one from CB2.

The above shows the detail of the counter (which I wouldn't have picked because I'm a picky diva) but it is nice to have solid surface counter tops for the first time ever! Wiping straight into the sink is HEAVEN, people. Really. Also in this pic is the speaker I've waited my whole life for. (A handsome one that I don't have to hide behind things.) It was affordable too...not that I won't invest in a Crosley someday...  

And below you can see the other side of our kitchen. That's our newly installed pantry on the left! It's amazing. If it weren't for this guy saving the day, we'd have no room for food in here. It used to be a coat closet that opened into the living room. We've never had a coat closet, so why start now? 

An electrician added a light in the pantry, recessed lighting in the main area, and a light over the eating area. It makes such a difference since there had been just one light in the center of the room. I created the basket light from a Home Goods basket and a pendant kit from Michaels. So much cheaper than all the pretty ones I found ready-made! Since then, Ikea began offering this lovely option. We also removed the florescent shop light over the sink and installed a pretty light from Ikea. (No pics of that yet...)

Here's our handy centerpiece for the table. It's easy to remove at meal time's on a tray. I love how things get shuffled around when you move. Items you used one way get featured elsewhere and take on new life! This succulent arrangement was in our guest room before. We added the gold spoons (at Target) and the hot cocoa pot. 

The table was a hand-me-down and the chairs are from Ikea. They are surprisingly comfortable for their sleek look. Let me know if there's anything else you spy that you need details on! 

We plan to one day have travel posters or artistic maps of the places we've gone as a family on trips. One thing we don't do a lot because of budget restrictions is travel, but the times we've gone have been absolutely amazing, so I want to celebrate them. Here's a postcard I found in Charleston this summer. Good times...

Friday, October 19, 2018

Home Tour: Living Room

Guess what? I found a few minutes to snap photos of a couple rooms and with that I'm launching a home tour! Maybe I'll get some momentum going and you can finally see where we live. When you walk in the front door (shown above), the first room you see is the living room, so I thought I'd start there. 

Here's how it looked when we bought it: giant ceiling fan, gray walls, and wood trim that made the new windows look out of place.  

And here it is now:

For those who've seen our previous house, you know it was a bit fancier. When I knew we were downsizing, I thought a casual style would help us feel comfortable using all the spaces for all the things AND allow me to mix my favorites together in the same room. To soften it up, I added wood tones and baskets and a colorful, but worn looking rug. The rug was needed anyway, since the previous living room rug is now in our bedroom that doesn't have carpet.

We still use our trusty dresser entryway to hold our winter gear, kids' shoes, and the other things you want handy when you're walking out the door (sunscreen, umbrellas, etc.) The bowl holds my car keys and spare change. 

If you're sick of your stuff, this little tour may be inspiration for you to shuffle yours around and get some new looks. Adding in a few new pieces like the key bowl above (clearance at Target) and the Ikea vase and thrifted vase make big changes without breaking the bank. Below you can see how I pulled art from three different rooms (at our old house) and grouped it here. 

From the front door, you see the view below. That little bench catches a lot of in-coming and out-going items as well as providing a place for people to sit to take shoes off. I worried this guy was too small for the wall, but in my experience, small is better when it comes to benches. Even at the foot of the bed - they look great when they aren't even close to the width of the bed. 

This piece of art got a new matte and frame which makes it look so different. I love how it looks on this wall. So simple. So good. 

This living room is very dark at night and I hope to someday have a pair of sconces on either side of this artwork. And maybe a fig leaf tree where the floor lamp is? Sigh. The gorgeous art is from Jenny's Print Shop...where I happened to get ALL the new art for this house. Almost.

This was the first print I knew I had to have from Jenny's Print Shop. It makes me so happy. 

The book cases are cheap, but we wrapped the backs with flax color fabric. It feels like the shiny backs with their obvious creases scream, Look at me?! I'm so cheeeaaap! This must be silenced and temporary wallpaper or fabric is way less frustrating than trying to paint them. Been there. Never again.

The windows really make this space. I have an ongoing love affair with windows (one of my favorite features of our last house). I'm just a sucker for sunshine and these let it in without needing thousands of dollars of work. This bench maximizes the seating and feels window seat like. I hope to have some blanket baskets tucked under it one day. 

This time around, I tried organizing my books by color. It works well for me because I remember what color a book was, but my husband isn't sure about splitting up authors. I put his complete sets somewhere else. :)

This gold end table became more subtle with a wood table top I bought on Etsy. They sell several sizes, and I didn't have to do anything as far as finishing it. Easy? Yes, please.

And lastly, we added the coffee table. We were without one for a while and boy, is it nice to have a place to set your stuff! 

Let me know if you have questions about anything. I'm a little out of practice!