via Amy L. Cummins

While I was in Mexico, I had nothing but time. Time to sleep in, time to lounge, time to sit back with a drink in hand and think about Life. And that’s exactly what I did. I thought.

I thought about heading home after vacation and falling right back into the daily grind. Cleaning, cooking, changing diapers, chasing dogs, and struggling to maintain some sense of peace as the chaos keeps building and building.

So I made a promise to myself upon my return that I would declutter. I would let go of all that baggage that was – IS – weighing me down, physically and spiritually. I will finally tackle the guest room that has also become my home office / storage for miscellaneous items. I will clean out my closet and toss anything that doesn’t fit my body or state of mind. I will organize the pantry. I will restart my daily journaling. I will set aside time to decompress. I will revive old friendships. I will rediscover love. And I will build my confidence up by tearing preconceived misconceptions and anxieties down.

Picking Peonies  via James Fitzgerald III

via Flickr

Because Life is too short to hold on to all that negative energy – in the end, that is exactly what holds you back. The fears, the insecurities, the excuses. They eat away at your better self and breed more fear, insecurity, and excuses. A vicious cycle. So why not stop it?

Instead of harping on the weight of the world, find ways to relieve it. Let go of that negative energy. Perhaps that means liberating yourself from a bad relationship. Or finally dropping that last 15 lbs. Or maybe it simply means cleaning out your garage. Start small if you must. Organize your spice rack, then move on to your bookshelves, then tackle your closet. Toss or donate anything that is too tight / too big / too short / too whatever and keep only those pieces that make you feel good, damn good, and wear them frequently. Perhaps then you will find the energy and gain the confidence to hit the gym. As your body grows stronger, so will your confidence, and perhaps then, and only then, will you find the strength to leave behind a toxic relationship. Keep the end goal in mind, and take as many steps as you need to get there.

 White Free People Dress

via Frank Vinyl

It only makes sense that the less negativity we hold on to, the less negative we will feel, right? So I created what I like to call the Declutter Checklist as a kind of big picture affirmation that I am responsible for my own happiness. It’s not your typical to-do, check off as you go kind of list, but a reminder to eliminate the negativity and chaos by creating and embracing positivity.


And finally, if you need a little more positive motivation, head on over to this lovely and newly discovered blog: Amy L. Cummins. Or, if you prefer to just sit and contemplate Life, you may want to have this little treat in hand while you do so.

Happy Friday!



YOU ARE A BADASS (or so I keep telling myself)


Well hello my dear friends – it has been far, FAR too long! I took a much longer “break” than anticipated in my attempt to get into the swing of this whole motherhood thing. Some people fall right into a routine and get that system down from the start, and some people…don’t. I fell into the latter category and 15 months later, sometimes still find myself struggling with the daily routine. I’m not the only one out there feeling this way, right? RIGHT?!

Anyhow, while I’ve been quiet on this site, I’ve been not so quiet behind the scenes, trying to get myself back into working order. In this oh-so brief time I’ve been away (ehem…), I’ve managed to nail down a studio space and created a new site (someone managed to pull The Modage Cottage domain name out from under my feet, so I am officially at – feel free to bookmark the new page!). I’m still in the fledgling stages with both the studio and the new website, but with a little encouragement and a lot of work, I hope to hit the ground running very soon!


YES! (pulled from one of my favorite sources of inspiration: Knack)

Please feel free to subscribe/like/bookmark, etc. the new site and any feedback, suggestion, and constructive criticism is greatly appreciated! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU (really, I can’t thank you enough) to all those that have stuck with me through thick and thin…and long radio silences. You are the reason I keep plugging away at this.

I will have this site up for a few more weeks, and then I will be transferring it over to the new site. Cheers to new beginnings (no matter how slowly…) and I hope you will join me on this new and exciting journey.


Quick Thought of the Day.

While I am still in my “overhaul” process, I quickly wanted to reach out and welcome my recent new readers – thank you for following and I hope that I don’t disappoint!

Running a blog can be such a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it gives you the opportunity to reach out to a community that would otherwise be completely unknown to you and share yourself. You’re able to put your thoughts, your passions and desires, your soapbox opinions, and every ounce of feeling out into the world the moment your are thinking or feeling them. And it provides such an amazing sense of freedom, accomplishment, and joy that there are people out there actually listening.

But on the same hand, it also produces a sense of terror…holy crap, there are people out there actually LISTENING! That thought can stop you in your tracks. It’s truly terrifying to realize that you are sending a part of yourself into this unknown world, a part of yourself that you can never really get back. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. The moment you hit “PUBLISH,” there’s this overwhelming feeling of Oh. My. God. What have I done. And that is a feeling that never really goes away.

But you quickly realize, as much as this blog gives you the opportunity to share yourself – some of which you may regret down the road – it also gives others the chance to share themselves. If my blog can offer the slightest bit of inspiration, or provide even the smallest sounding board, or simply gives others a chance to learn from my mistakes, then that is inspiration enough for me.

So thank you, dear readers, for following, for listening, and for inspiring me in return! You are all a Godsend and a blessing.

Thank you


Oh yes, and please, feel free to comment at any time. Don’t be shy! I get sick of my own thoughts sometimes so I would love to hear your own. If there is something you would like to see more of, or less of, or if you have any specific opinions and/or suggestions – do share! Your comments (even negative ones as long as they are constructive) are the fuel to my fire.


No Apologies…

Be yourselfWith motherhood looming, I find myself re-examining myself and this thing called Life. Not that I’ve been unhappy, but I have been in a bit of a rut for what seems like years, coasting through life rather than actually living it.

Sometimes, I think I just feel so much that I become overwhelmed, overstimulated, and over-sensitive to the world around me. So I simply shut down, out of fear I suppose. Fear of failure, fear of disappointment, fear of not living up to expectations, fear of judgment.

I look at all the other amazing and inspirational blogs out there and think, “wow, why can’t I write like that? Or decorate like that? Or cook like that? Or even look like that?” Where  is my sense of style and creativity? Where is my passion? Where is my personality? And how did others get to be so lucky? These are questions I ask myself with a growing sense of dread. I will never be perfect…

But perfection isn’t what we should be striving for. Character is what we should be striving for, with all of its ups and downs, its messiness, its risks, its heartbreaks and failures, its grace, its pride, and above all, its love.

No one is perfect, no matter how hard they make themselves appear so, and I am no exception. But, taking a little inspiration from this post, I am offering no apologies.

I don’t apologize that:

My house isn’t clean 98.8% of the time. I have berated myself for this time and time again because somehow, I got it in my head that my house should be 100% magazine ready 100% of the time. This reach for perfection has led to many a tear, more than one argument, and a crap ton of needless stress. For what? So I can brag that I have a clean house? Ridiculous.

My photography skills are less than amateur. I have no idea how to work my camera most of the time, and Photoshop still requires a huge learning curve. But it is a work in progress and something that I can actually see developing into a passion.

I DO NOT jump out of bed with a smile on my face every morning. In fact, there are some days, even weeks, when just getting out of bed at all is a struggle. More often than I care to admit, I wake up grumpy. Grumpy as hell. Sometimes, I remain grumpy all day. And yeah, this makes me feel pretty damn guilty, which makes me even grumpier. But hey, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate my happiness without a little bit (or a lot…) of grumpiness thrown in there, right?

I cook only because I have to, not because I like to. And by no means do I cook gourmet meals. Or even attempt to. I’m a chicken and rice kind of girl. Like, salt and peppered chicken in a skillet and a box of flavored rice. Sometimes I’ll go out of my way and mash some potatoes instead. To give myself a little credit though, I do try to go fresh and organic as much as possible. And I always have a side of veggies.

My closet is NOT full of brand name clothing. Kohls, Old Navy, and Target have become my staples (actually, I recently discovered Steinmart, which will now be added to the circulation). This isn’t to say that I’m not into fashion – I actually do try to keep up with the trends, but in a casual, comfortable, and frugal kind of way. And honestly, I’m in yoga pants more often than not these days, so…don’t judge.

I snack far too often on cookies rather than carrots. I like my carbs. So what? Particularly in this last trimester of pregnancy. I dream of cookies. But every darn time I have that delicious morsel, that little voice in the back of my head screams at me, “don’t you want to fit back into your post-pregnancy clothes?! What the hell is wrong with you? Carrots, carrots, carrots! Cookies are the devil!” And then, because I feel so damn guilty, I grab another cookie.

I work out spontaneously – at best. I love going for a walk on those beautiful, sunny days. Before I was pregnant, I would even break into a run. And on those not so great days, I will very occasionally motivate myself to go to the gym, but that is only because I ate those extra cookies…otherwise, like most people, I count cleaning the house as exercise.

And I am scared to death of becoming a mother. Sometimes, I can hardly take care of myself, and very soon I will have another human being totally and completely dependent on me. This innocent, tender-hearted being for me to shape and mold and build into a man. Hopefully, a good man. No, a great man. And, dear God, that is a great responsibility that I can only hope to live up to. Where do I even begin?

But that last point there, that is really why I am re-examining my life. Because while I know I will not be perfect, I want to be the best version of me that I can possibly be. And I don’t think I am there yet.

You see, I want to live my life with pure intention and joy, rather than basing it around to-do lists and petty insecurities. I want to find enjoyment in the small things, rather than enduring them with machine-like intensity. And I want to stop hiding behind this façade of perfection, let go of my fears, and embrace this messy, chaotic life…because heck, life is only what you make of it! To me, that is the greatest lesson one can ever share with a child: to live life to its fullest.

So, with ALL of that said, my friends, I am going to take a week or two off in order to give myself and this little blog o’ mine an overhaul. Because I believe that a part of living with intention is writing with intention, and I think I have been failing in that respect.

Of course, there will still be plenty of posts about fashion, home décor, and DIY because frankly, that’s where my passion lies. But I will be writing only about what truly and honestly inspires me – not about what I think you want to hear – with the hopes that it will inspire you too. I also hope to insert a little more of my very imperfect self: my beliefs, my frustrations and heartaches, my fears and insecurities, my progressions and successes, and little tidbits of my daily thoughts. ME.

Because truly, what’s the sense in writing if not from the heart? The very best I can offer you is myself and for that I have no apologies.

XOXO. I will be back soon.

YOU ARE A BADASS! (or so I keep telling myself…)

As you may have noticed, I’m a bit of a blog browsing fiend. I love reading about what’s trending on the West coast, discovering new perspectives, styles, and taking in all the glorious eye-candy the web has to offer. It’s addictive. It gets the blood boiling and the creative juices flowing. But it also awakens that little green monster called envy.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m fairly comfortable with myself – I have a sense of style that fits me and my lifestyle pretty well. It’s lived in. It’s 1 part put together, 1 part messy, with a dash of fabulous and a pinch of crazy for good measure. All in all, it works for me. But sometimes I feel like it’s just a little too cautious; a little too comfortable. Sometimes I wish I was a tad more fabulous or had that extra dose of crazy (although I’m sure there are many out there that think I have more than enough crazy on my plate!). And that’s where the green monster comes in.

via | life is for deep kisses

I touched on this subject many moons ago when I first began writing this blog…

…I actually begin to lose my point of view, and “my voice” begins to sound like someone else’s. I begin writing differently, to fit the mold of what I think other people want to hear or see, just to gain more followers. And so the competition begins…

I’ve stopped writing posts for weeks, even months at a time because I’ve felt that downward spiral of losing myself. I actually become disappointed with how I choose to live my life because heck, there are so many people out there that are doing so many bigger and better things! I’m a pretty competitive person but when I begin feeling overwhelmed by all the greatness surrounding me, I just kind of…quit. No, it’s definitely not my best quality.



So I then fall into a bit of a despair and think to myself, “I just can’t do it.” Or “I’ll never be good enough. Or simply, “who do I think I am?!” Whaa, whaa, whaa. And then at some point along this journey of despair, I suddenly decide to take the high road. With tail between my legs, I will myself to find some semblance of composure, tell that whiny voice in my head to shut the hell up, find the motivation to start over, and then move on with my day. Just like that.

I recently picked up a book called You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero and it’s actually been a huge motivation in my most recent journey back to the high road.

It’s quirky, humorous, sometimes a little self-deprecating, and most importantly, real. Basically, it’s a book that slaps you right in the face, shakes you around a little, and tells you to suck it up. Because we all need that confidence boost every now again, right?!

It’s not always an easy process; trusting your inner-voice, convincing yourself that the future holds that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow while still keeping your feet and happiness in the present (dammit, I want that pot of gold NOW!). Particularly when the present isn’t always that techni-colored rainbow.

But, not to sound too sappy or cliché, you can’t enjoy a rainbow without bouts of rain and yes, that’s a metaphor for Life.

You’ve got to appreciate the good with the bad. Remember, it’s all about perspective – you make your own reality and build your own truths. So, you can simply create a positive reality and choose to be happy. It’s that easy!


I have this quote hanging by my bedside – the first thing I see in the morning. A reminder that yes, it really is that easy! (although not always easy to remember when your dog eats your couch, or after your computer crashes and you lose a huge chunk of data, or when you’re so bloated that you have to resort to wearing leggings for a week…)

Oh, and here’s another little reminder:

Words to remember....

I’m just going to cross out “Beautiful” here and replace it with – excuse my language – “fucking awesome!”

Hope that gives you a little confidence and motivational push on this Tuesday morning. You ARE a badass!


For me, December is a time not only for good cheer, but also a time to reflect on the year behind you and look forward to the year ahead…

I am incredibly grateful for all the amazing opportunities in my life, for a husband that has allowed me to freely pursue my passions, and for friends and family that have offered shoulders and ears and helping hands. In a single year, I  have learned such a tremendous amount about myself, about business, about sacrifice and heartache, about joy and wonder, about friendship, about failure, and about all the wonderful and terrible things that come with life and living.

I readily admit, however, that this was not an easy year for me. My marriage hit a few bumps in the road, my pregnancy didn’t quite come to fruition, my business venture was failing me, and depression was consistently on the periphery of my vision. I had fallen into a rut and my demons were getting the better of me.

SO VERY TRUE- why do we fight it... Never be afraid to fall apart

I had fallen apart indeed, and now have the labor of picking up the good pieces, tossing out the bad, and rebuilding a better version of myself. And you know what? I’m already feeling happier and healthier and ooh-so hopeful…

That’s one of the of the many wonders of December and the ensuing New Year: the strength it provides and the multitude of possibilities it brings.

Sometimes the bad things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us.

I do feel as though I’m on a better path and while I’m sure there will be more bumps in the road ahead, I am without a doubt that 2013 is going to be a great year!

don't put off your happy

My new philosophy for the New Year: “be present and be happy.” What’s yours?


“There. I said it.” As many of you may have recognized, I completely stole this title from a Miss Mustard Seed post written back in early October, but it struck such a cord with me that I’d like to ruminate on it just a bit more.

I think for so many of us, putting ourselves out there in any form can be an enormously daunting prospect. The possibility of embarrassment, of failure, and the ensuing disappointment and heartache…it’s just too much. So instead, we keep our feet solidly on the ground, silent in our pie-in-the-sky dreams, but secretly hoping – if we dare – that one day, perhaps that pie will drop right out of the sky and fall directly into our very ready laps.

Unfortunately for most of us, that’s simply not how life works. To transform dream into reality takes effort, a tremendous amount of trial and error and, I think most importantly, the ability to fall and land softly. What determines success is what you do after the fall – do you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on with timid grin? Or do you loll about, dejected and spent from something you’ve really only just begun?

For me, starting this blog was a huge step forward. But every. single. day. the thought of putting myself out there makes my heart lurch. I’ve spent sleepless nights wondering what people are thinking about me. Are they laughing? Do they think I’m nothing more than a joke? A failure? Or perhaps they’re not thinking anything at all because no one is even reading this itty bitty blog in this big, bad Blogdom.

I need to consistently remind myself that it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that I have taken that step forward, I have put myself out there, and I have found the courage to dream out loud…

…but with all this said, even I have fallen, and I don’t always land softly. In fact, I’m only just beginning to pick myself back up after a recent hard fall, which is exactly why I felt so inspired to write this post.

there's so much to smile about

I love decorating, I love styling my home and offering inspiration to others; I love antiquing and “picking” and realizing the potential in dilapidated furniture pieces; I love transforming these pieces into something unique and beautiful, and I love having the opportunity to find them a new home.

I have a dream to one day own a studio and showroom space, a little piece of creative heaven, but in the meantime, I have very little storage and work space to build on this endeavor. So while I wait (and wait and wait…) on an appropriately priced opportunity, I find myself losing a little bit of faith. Frankly, my work has stalled and my drive is failing me.

Pinned Image

I need to remember to believe in myself; “pushing through the self-doubt, the fears and anxieties, and the nay-sayers” (per Miss Mustard Seed). And, as she also so wisely advised, I need to put it out there in writing.

So, as much for myself as for all those silent dreamers out there, this is my dream:

I want to find a healthy balance between my love for home styling, furniture refinishing, and events planning, and have a conglomerate of these things within my small business. I want to have my own studio space in which I can showcase my services: provide styling ideas, tablescapes, and vintage and refinished products all available for purchase. I want to be able to articulate my dreams fully, because so often they become lost amidst so many other ideas and aspirations, and I want to create a clear and concise business plan that I can pursue without hesitation

I have no doubt that it will take time, a huge amount of work, and I’m certain that I will fall more than a few times, but I have every intention of getting back up each and every time. All I ask of myself is a little patience and a lot of strength, and all I can ask you, my dear readers, is for an encouraging and supportive community!

Oprah Winfrey quote by Marloes de Vries

There. I said it. And I hope you have the courage to say it too. So tell me, what’s your dream?


Well hello my friends and my apologies for the brief radio silence! I decided rather spontaneously to take some time for myself this week, clear my head, and reflect on all that I am thankful for. So, with only a vague destination in mind, I went for a drive and now find myself on the beach…VA BEACH 3

Actually, I write this from my hotel room – the weather isn’t fully cooperating with my intentions! But I have a perfect view of the ocean from my balcony and there’s something so incredibly soothing about the crashing waves and the infiniteness of the ocean that I can hardly complain.

VA Beach 1

I’ll be here for a few days, giving myself the break that I think we all need from time to time. And while I will be writing, it will be sporadic at best, so I hope you will forgive the lack of routine this week! With that said, and to give me a little bit of time offline, my sweet husband decided to step in and write a piece on happiness from his perspective (written last night). Before I hand you over, however, I must warn you – it is a long read! But worth it. So without further ado, my husband….

To be honest, when my wife asked me to write a guest post for her, I was hoping it was for a DIY Thursday. A handyman post seemed somewhat more fitting for a Carpenter. The topic of happiness might seem wasted on someone my wife describes as an emotional “robot”. But alas, I think my wife loves making me uncomfortable and I simply can’t say no to that smile. Challenge accepted!

I find myself with three things going tonight. The first is the distraction of election night in America. The second is the challenge of a writing assignment. Finally, I have a cold North American Lager in arms reach, but I’ll get to that later. So it’s basically me, a laptop, Wolf Blitzer and a beer. All in all, a sound recipe for the subject at hand. Sadly though, it is missing one vital element, my wife, who’s fittingly in Virginia Beach with her feet in the cold sand, relaxing her mind and exploring happiness on her own.

So, happiness … where do I begin? Luckily for me, I wasn’t given much instruction. I was, however, mandated a word count. So in the spirit of making my wife happy I’ll distill my many random thoughts down to five simple points: 1) take advantage of the now; 2) remember your foundation; 3) find juxtaposition opportunity; 4) balance just the right amount of selfish; and finally 5) know where your heading and look up occasionally. Thankfully for me there are no right or wrong answers in happiness. So let’s begin.

Take advantage of the now. Admittedly, telling someone to enjoy the moment is rather cliché, but in my defense happiness doesn’t require an advanced degree. It’s not easy to sustain, but it’s simple to achieve. Of course, as often is in life, things tend to get in the way. We all have responsibility and probably more work, chores and to-do items than any of us really wants. We can’t escape it. Life, at times, seems to require it. Our society, culture and way of life is built on hard work, deadlines and productivity. We all need to provide for our families and ultimately our way of life. At times, I know it distracts me from what’s important and prevents me from focusing attention where I should. Sadly, we can’t avoid life. We can’t avoid responsibility. The key is deriving happiness from what we have in front of us. Try not to delay happiness for some distant time. Start small. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Seek out opportunities to laugh. Find moments in your day to cherish. As you walk from the car to the office in the morning, remember it might be the only time you see the sun all day so make sure you notice and appreciate it for a moment. Think about how you can enjoy the challenges in front of you. Don’t find yourself muttering to yourself, “I can’t wait until this (day/month/year) is over” because you’re missing opportunities to find happiness in the things you can’t avoid. Make a benign moment of your day less ordinary. Every day the best part of my day is driving up and seeing my wife’s car parked out front as I approach and knowing she’s on the other side of the front door. This was particularly stark because today that car wasn’t there. Tragic, I know. Ultimately, it all boils down to approach. It’s amazing how much a slight change in point of view can make such a significant impact. To this day I haven’t fully gotten used to the idea of a paid holiday. What a concept! But the beauty of this illusion I’ve built is that no matter how my wife and I choose to spend it, “we’re getting paid to do it!”. Never fails to deliver a smile.

Remember your foundation. Sometimes we, as a society, have a tendency to devalue something once we have it. Or perhaps to take it for granted. Obviously, we aren’t all there, but for those fortunate enough to have the means to provide, a roof over their heads, sufficient food on the table and family/friends nearby have a rock solid foundation for happiness. These aren’t the only elements of happiness, of course, but from time to time it’s always good to reflect back on these elements. Remind yourself of what’s important. Don’t lose sight of them amid the noise of life. It’s somewhat tragic that the biggest deterrents to happiness are sometimes the things that matter the least. Often it’s not until catastrophe strikes that we realize it. I sometimes need to remind myself that no matter what I’m doing, as long as I’m doing it with my wife, it’s instantly better. That goes for painting the side of the house, cleaning the kitchen or traveling across the world. I can mix the variables but I only need the one constant. With that said, life is short. Life is hard. As much as my wife sometimes wants it to be, life cannot be 100% happiness. Some things are unavoidable and some things are frankly not enjoyable no matter how much you spin it in your mind. And in these times, just remember to keep it in perspective and know that these moments have a purpose as well. This leads directly to my next point.

Find juxtaposition opportunity. At times there are few things greater than doing nothing at all. But usually it is best after a long period of hard work, stress or exertion. If we spent all our days doing nothing, we would be bored and probably unhappy. A juxtaposition, in this context, are those moments of contrast in our lives. These carefully placed juxtapositions are perfect triggers for happiness. I know after a long, painful month at work there is nothing greater than traveling to somewhere with better weather, nicer scenery and sitting out with a beer, a crossword puzzle and momentarily not a care. In fact, this applies to most times where I just take a moment, breathe deeply and appreciate the world around me. It’s amazing how little it takes for me to just look up and marvel. A cold beer sometimes helps too. Our lives are filled with comparisons. It’s likely an evolutionary adaptation to quickly form (mostly) accurate conclusions based on prior experience. It makes sense because that’s how we’re wired. However, we also have a tendency to form habits, some good and some bad. But we often find a comfort zone and nestle into a routine. These routines quickly become boring, predictable and on a long enough timeline suck the life out of us. Some take a different route home today. Drive down a neighborhood block you haven’t before. Make your own now moments and enjoy them. Happiness is not complicated. It can, however, take on many forms and to be frank has varying degrees. It’s important to remember to appreciate it as it comes, regardless of the manner. Extreme elation loses its meaning if it happens every five minutes. I can tell you one of the happiest moments of my life was the day I got married. I’m sure there will be other similar events down the road, such as a child birth but all days can’t be like that. For most of life you just need to take the good with the bad. Appreciate the good and never lose sight of the fact that the bad is good because it makes the good better.

Balance just the right amount of selfish. I suspect I might get some flak for this one. Remember though, in an emergency, when the oxygen masks deploy … secure your own mask before assisting others. This is not meant to be selfish, but rather, if you are only giving and never taking time for yourself you run the risk of losing sight of your own happiness. Luckily for us humans, happiness tends to be contagious. Chances are if you can find a way to improve your own state-of-mind it will pay dividends to those around you. The bottom line is don’t lose focus of your own sanity.

Look up and find direction. We’ve already established we’re busy. We are continually distracted by our instantaneous, digital world. Instant Tweets are in and email is too slow because typing more than 128 characters and thinking about something for more than 12 and a half seconds is inconvenient. We don’t have time to wait for the microwave, much less worry about our next moment. Too often we get caught up in the things directly in front of our nose. That immediate thing somehow becomes elevated in our minds. It needs immediate attention; often at the detriment of something else, more important. In a sense one might wonder if this goes against the thought in the first bullet. Still strive to enjoy each step along the way, but still know where you’re headed. Make sure you’re on a rewarding and fulfilling path. Don’t wander aimlessly from text message to text message, deadline to deadline or bill to bill. The moments of happiness are great, but ultimately lasting happiness is tied to long-term fulfillment. Be that in a marriage, a job or a lifetime journey. Know where you’re headed. Have a purpose, a destination. Don’t be consumed by it, still enjoy those moments. Depending on your goals, sometimes it’s important to break them up into milestones. Challenging goals can be the most rewarding, but even if you fall short, make sure there are achievements along the way. Remember to enjoy the journey and enjoy each step along the way. We’re all headed to the same destination, so make sure the trip is filled with happiness.

So, the polls are closing and my quota has long been eclipsed. As you’ve probably guessed already, I may not be the best at following instructions. But hey, surprisingly, I’m having fun with the journey. The best part of happiness is that it’s individual. My wife has read hundreds of self-help books on happiness or related topics. She’s probably cringing a little right now as she reads my unreferenced stream of consciousness and possibly shaking her head slightly at my drivel. But the source doesn’t matter and that’s sort of the beauty of it. We’re all similar creatures on some level, and the basics are fundamental. I don’t have to tell you about happiness because when it happens you can feel it. And chances are you already have. Simply rinse and repeat. But don’t stop exploring the world around you, reaching outside your comfort zone and seeking new juxtapositions. Where risks are high, rewards are high. Simply stated, happiness is derived from your perception of the world, so choose your temporary state of mind wisely. It’s a fleeting moment we try to recapture as often as possible. The less than 2,000 words of this blog aren’t going to change your life. But if you’re at all like me, and I think you are, then sometimes you need to be reminded of a few simply things. We all know the drill and we’ve probably spouted similar words of wisdom to others. Every once in a while, stop and remember to take your own advice. So, to you and to my lovely wife: look forward, follow your dreams, remember what’s important, enjoy the moment and occasionally pass out a reminder to the rest of us. Some of us need it. I know I do.

SHARING THE LOVE….(and leading a fulfilling life).

Day 4 of head cold and while I am able to function, it comes with a lot of wheezing, sniffling, and a voice that sounds a bit like Kermit the Frog. I have no idea how I’m supposed to run a meager 5K tomorrow, but heck, it’s for a good cause so I’m going to get my wheezing and sniffling butt off of the couch and run dammit…or at least go for a light jog…or perhaps a brisk walk…?

So…onto sharing the love, and truly, I have so much to share!

1. Well, here I am complaining about running a 5K tomorrow, and Lesley Carter over at Bucket List Publications has not only done her share of running, she has gone paragliding, bungee jumping, base jumping, zip lining, dog sledding, and everything in between. She lives her life with one philosophy in mind:

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.”         -Eleanor Roosevelt

Skydiving AdventuresExtreme Adventures

Thank you Lesley, for motivating us all to lead a more fulfilling life! I now feel inspired to create my own Bucket List for 2013 (to be shared in an upcoming post).

2. If you’re now fired up and inspired to lead a more fulfilling life, Lara over at Lara Casey can give you that extra push – her post Get Fired Up: How to Make Things Happen is the perfect place to start! And if you’re feeling anything like me lately, this quick and inspiring post is also a must read.

3. Ok, while I’m now a year over 30….this list is still something to live by!

4. For all you bloggers out there, this one is for you!

5. And if you find your life to be a flurry of meetings, conference calls, and obligatory emails, perhaps you should take a moment out of your oh-so-busy schedule to read this – it’s a breathe of fresh air. (Honey, this one is for you!)

Choose Happiness -- FREE worldwide shipping

If you need a constant and physical reminder to choose happiness, you can purchase this and other inspirational prints here.

Amen. I hope everyone has a fun and fulfilling weekend!


After much anticipation, Nate Berkus’ The Things that Matter is available today (you can grab your copy here!) and after reading an excerpt via Reader’s Digest, now with heart a little more constricted, I have every intention of picking up a copy for myself.

It’s amazing, the story our home can tell. I’ve been arranging and rearranging furniture and nick knacks for years – actually, since I was just old enough to walk and barely strong enough to drag my doll houses and stuffed animals across the room. I would create my child-size story by arranging and rearranging my dolls, by heaving my little kitchenette around until I found the perfect corner to set it in, and when I was finished with my room, I’d move on to my little sister’s room and start all over again.

Regardless of your age, or the size of your home, or the money you have (or don’t have) to fill it, your home becomes a fragment of you: who you were, who you are now, who you love and have loved, and the places you’ve been along the way. Your home is your own little corner of the world for you to make your mark on and your safe-haven in which you can surround yourself with all the little things that matter. When I was a wee one, the things that mattered were my two favorite Popples, my Strawberry Shortcake collection (particularly Strawberry Shortcake, Raspberry Tart, and Lemon Meringue), and my brother’s He-Man collection, which I would consistently steal for my own and arrange quite nicely around my room.

Now that I’m a little older and wiser….I’d like to think the things that matter have become a little more thoughtful. Here are just a few things that matter to me:

The Little Things - Books

A vintage poetry book collection given to me by a dear friend many years ago.

The Little Things - Wine Corks

Perhaps a little silly, but my collection of wine corks from bottles of wine that I drank with family and friends.

The Little Things - Griffin Drawing

The first drawing my nephew ever made for me (love the photo next to it as well, taken in Croatia).

The Little Things - Boston T

This little Boston Terrier statue, purchased at a flea market for my husband, because he desperately wants a Boston T as our second dog. I surprised him with this guy instead – it makes me giggle.

The Little Things - Trunk

This trunk was first owned by my grandfather to hold his military uniforms, then passed on to my own father to hold his own military uniforms – it has travelled throughout the US, to Japan, to Germany, and back again. It was painted this orange color by my dad when he was much younger, to give it a bit of personality, which makes me laugh because it’s hideous! For some reason, I’ve wanted this trunk since I was little, and it was finally given to me a couple of years ago. My husband and I have converted it into a filing cabinet, we now just need to find or build a base for it!

The Little Things - Chalkboard

This chalkboard was the first thing my husband and I built together, built out of old, weathered wood found behind the shed of our very first home. (Ha- and you can see paint samples on the back wall of our kitchen. Obviously we will be repainting soon.)

These – and a dozen more pieces that I don’t want to bore you with – hold so much meaning and so many memories and these are exactly the things I choose to build my story with. It isn’t the things that count, but the memories behind them. They are a reflection of who I am, who I love, and where I come from; they impart a feeling of love, laughter, and happiness. They are me and this is my story.

So tell me, what’s your story?