A Well Dressed Bed

I am an all or nothing kind of person, who, when overcome by the sheer volume of anything, retreats into a shell of safety. The obvious result is that the volume of stuff that sent me into that shell, continues to grow exponentially while I blissfully hide, pretending to be unaware. 

Nearly five months into my new life and I am, slowly but surely, coming back into my own. During the Yarntopia years I was gone, or preoccupied, so much that my sweet Hunter-Gatherer husband assumed many of the household duties. When I cooked, he did the dishes. He would do some of the light cleaning and generally kept things running. He even started doing the grocery shopping. I didn’t feel good about this, but fighting was futile, so I gave in. I’m good at that sort of thing. So, now I’m home and I want to take the reins of managing the household and let HG go out into the world to slay the beasts and bring home the bacon.

This is all I have ever really wanted out of life. As a girl I can remember telling my mom that all I wanted to be when I grew up was a wife and mommy. I had no loftier goals than that. My mom always worked outside the home and generally she had some kind of business. I was the cook and housekeeper. I think I did so much of that domestic stuff as a kid that I rebelled against it in my early adult years. Some of my apartments were nastier than a college frat house (or so I imagine). But now, in my so called retirement, I am enjoying relearning the pleasure that can be found in a well run home.


Bedtime Story

By the time I went to kindergarten I had learned to properly make a bed. Back then this meant folding the bedspread over the pillow and neatly tucking the bedspread under the pillow. Today we use comforters, duvets, and hide our pillows with shams. For nearly all of our marriage I have left for work before HG. Being a salesman whose office is down the hall, he has never needed to be up and gone early. It was always easy for me to ignore the bed as there was a man still enjoying his beauty sleep. A habit developed and I became blind. 

Now, once he gets his body moving in the morning I am in there tightening those sheets and making the bed. He noticed. The other night when we went to bed, he told Maggie (the dog) that this is just like being at a hotel. That felt amazing. Is that silly? Do I sound like a repressed 1950’s housewife who is being held down by her domineering husband? I hope not because that could not be farther from the truth.

The truth is that doing that one little thing makes life more pleasant for both of us. It is a simple thing I can do for my husband who supports all my whims and lets me do pretty much anything I want to do, and also works hard so that I can live this life. The life of a housewife…the life I have always wanted. It is a small thing I can do to nurture the man I love. I see nothing wrong with that at all.


Decorating The Bed

So now that I have established a good bed routine, I really want a pretty bed – and this is where HG rolls his eyes. He wants comfort and good sheets; pillows and fru-fru just get in the way. I struggle with this more than any other decorating decision in the house. Is it too many choices? 

Polyvore is an amazing tool. You can access it from their website, or like me the app is easy to use and you can save your collections and then publish them to Pinterest or other social media. I’m so visual that having a virtual mood board really helps me, plus it is portable. All the images come from the businesses selling these items, so if you find something you love…you know where to go to find it and how much it costs. For me Polyvore is a great way to shop without spending a cent!


The above choices are all from Pottery Barn. I currently have the one in the center – but didn’t spend the money on a duvet insert from Pottery Barn and the lesser expensive one from Target just didn’t fit properly. So, now it is folded up awaiting a new insert…or not. I love the red one above it as well as the neutral in the bottom corner. It seems to me from looking at these that I’m drawn to paisley. I’ve never thought of myself as a paisley person, but maybe it is a way to have a variety of colors without being floral. 


Color Inspiration

Currently our bedroom is painted a nice shade of brown and the blue green color palette was chosen to complement some of the things in the room that have meaning to us. In addition to the art inspiration, I’ve always loved blue and green together. It goes back to the blues and olive greens of the ’70s. 

These prints are from a Texas artist by the name of W. A. Slaughter. My inlaws had these in their den as long as I knew them and when my father-in-law passed, they became ours. I love them and am considering moving them to our living area. I think the gold frames would look great against the grey of that room. Bluebonnets against green grass – every Texan worth their salt has at least one bluebonnet picture in their house; we have three.

This is the corner nearest my side of the bed. We love books and this is just one collection. The Carmel poster on the right (sorry for the early morning glare) is from a family vacation and has hung in my home since the ’80s. I love it as much as I love Carmel, California.

And last but not least, this is a highly cropped version of what is currently on the bed. Three quilts which never quite work right. Something must change and I have $300 in Pottery Barn gift cards burning a hole in my pocket. 

This another selection from Polyvore. I just kept clicking on things that struck my fancy without editing as I did it. Interesting combination, don’t you think? I have moved to gray as the wall color in most of the house with a deep gold in the dining room. We had the bedroom painted about seven years ago and that doesn’t really need to change. I think any of these options would look great with the walls and several have gray in them which would tie our room to the rest of the house. What do you think? The top left is from Pottery Barn….and I do have that money just waiting to be spent…

I’m off to do my Monday grocery shopping and run a few errands, and who knows, I could detour through Pottery Barn!

~Until Next Time


 

The Freedom of Aging: Personal Style

Growing up in the sixties through the mid seventies it was not uncommon to wear home made clothes. In fact, I don’t even remember buying clothes other than under garments until I was a senior in high school. It is possible it happened, but I truly don’t remember. 

Simplicity…Butterick…and Vogue, Oh My!

Every year before school started, my mom and I would pour over pattern books and decide what I wanted to wear that year. I know I got to help plan but my memory is foggy. I wasn’t devoted to clothes and the times were just so different. Even in junior high, a time when conformity is mandatory for survival, I don’t remember comparing my clothes to other people or having to have a certain look. I continued this tradition of making my own clothes right through most of my first marriage. In fact, I didn’t put the machine into time out until after my divorce in 1987. Since then, an occasional hem or repair is all the action that machine has seen. It was time for change in all areas of my life.

Round Body In A Skinny Jeans World

I became a devoted watcher of “What Not To Wear.” I secretly wished that someone in my life would arrange for Stacy and Clinton to surprise me at work, whisk me off to New York and then teach me what to do with my this short, round body I inherited from my Scottish-Irish ancestors. I understand that this body type is designed to survive the harsh climate of the North Sea, but let’s get real…I live in tropical Houston, Texas, how do I make this look good? I watch Outlander and think to myself, in real life Scotland in the 1700’s Claire would not have been a svelte woman. But, then Jamie wouldn’t have looked that good either. But, back to me.

Of course I tried most every diet in the world, but it seemed that no matter my weight and the distribution of said weight, I never was able to dress myself in a way that I felt reflected who I am on the inside. This dilemma led to many different styles through the years until I finally just gave up. I gave up trying to create a persona via my clothing. I think there is something very telling in that last sentence but I don’t wish to dig through that psychological mess at the moment. It was in the giving up that I think I found myself. I had arrived at an age where I accept that I am who I am and I need to make the best of that rather than trying to be something or someone else. As I have said many times, I’m a slow learner.

My Pinterest boards Aging Beautifully and My Style are the places I record visual reminders of what I love and who I admire. I recently logged back in to Polyvore and designed my go to fall outfit.          

Polyvore, like Instagram can be a black hole where people like me fall never to be heard from again. But, it is also a wonderful tool to see what is possible and passively get the shopping experience without spending a dime or being woefully disappointed by what is looking back at you from the mirror. In this fantasy can look just the way I want to look.

You can see evidence of my 1970’s Southern California Boho taste in this ensemble. Somethings never change. In a world that seems upside down and backwards, I take great comfort in a little bit of status quo.

~Sheryl                                             

                                                                                 

                                                                                  

The Freedom of Aging: Acceptance

I am about six months away from a major birthday. Forty was fabulous; I freaked out at fifty; and now I’m staring at sixty. 

The Culture of Aging

The American culture is devoted to youth and perceived perfection.  It is an inevitable fact that at some point this earthly vessel will wither and die. So isn’t it a show of honor to the life we have been given to accept, relax and enjoy the journey? Now before any of you are tempted to jump on a soapbox, I am not talking about letting one’s health go to hell in a hand-basket filled with fried chicken, pizza and hamburgers. We should all take the best care possible of our bodies. Eat in moderation, be physically active, and keep our brain and spirit active as well. I’m advocating a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order for the outward appearance of the physical wear and tear on our bodies. Face it, the folks advertising anti aging anything do not have your best interest in mind. They are looking to make money from your fear. We have been given a gift, and I was taught to always say thank you and cherish what has been given to me. 

My Crowning Jewel

Ahhh….my hair. The one physical attribute that I have loved, cherished and obsessed over my entire life. As a third grader I desperately wanted a pixie. I have no recollection of why, probably because my best friend from the third through fifth grade had shorter hair. No amount of pleading with my mom could make it happen. Next I tried asking for bangs. Still the answer was no. My hair and how it was styled took on a whole new meaning in the my life. It represented power. 

Having a drop of Chinese blood in me is the genetic marker I associate with the appearance of my hair. It may not be true, but I’m sticking with the theory. My mom has told me stories of trying to comb out my hair after a shampoo and how I screamed and cried through it all. About once a year she would trim the ends, but that is as close as I ever got to a hair cut. I was stuck with long, thick, straight hair. By the time the early seventies rolled around and I was in junior high, my hair had become my crowning jewel. While friends with wavy hair were using giant rollers or ironing their hair, mine was wash and go fabulous. The length might vary from waist length to just below the shoulders, but that is as close to short hair as I ever got…until the spring of 1976.


I was a senior in high school, eighteen years old, had a job, money, and access to a car. After senior pictures were taken I took the first bold step of my fledging adult life. In one short trip to the JC Penney hair salon I discovered a kind of power I would never relinquish. Fortunately for all concerned I do not have photographic documentation of this step. It lives on only in my mind. The act was far more impressive than the hair cut itself. 

For over forty years my hair has still been the place where I exert control and authority in my life. When I perceive someone or something is trying to control me…I change my hair. Need a change in persona? Color the hair. Now that I am planning for the decade of being stunningly sixty, it is time for my hair to represent who I am today. I remember Vivian Vance (Ethel Mertz from I Love Lucy) telling Johnny Carson one time that the secret to her looking ageless is that she never dramatically changed her hairstyle. That clearly has not been my philosophy, until now. Ageless isn’t the goal, authenticity is. 

For ten years I have said that when I turn sixty I’m going to stop coloring my hair. I’m not even sure what my real hair color is. I know there is some gray up there, but that is about the extent of my knowledge. At my current length and rate of growth it will probably take almost six months to have all natural hair again. This coincides perfectly with my birthday. I am ready to embrace reality instead of covering it up. This place in life can only come by paying the dues and doing the time. I am reaping the rewards of many years of life; some of it good, some not so good. So, if these good things come with age, who am I to deny it or hide it? It is time to embrace the freedom of aging. Unlike when I was fifty and I thought I could trick the world into thinking I was younger, I now know better. One look at my neck or hands and it no longer matters what color my hair is…I’m no kid anymore. 

My Hair And Life Lessons

Like everything else in life there are lessons that can be learned from my hair journey. Here are mine.

  • A hairstylist can make or break the next six weeks of your life…choose wisely.
  • There are very few things that a little time and really good product can’t solve. 
  • Hair grows out, life moves forward.
  • You are never too old for a pixie!


Until next time….

~Sheryl

Table For One, Please


When do we out grow high school? It took me a very long time to break free from some of the stigmas associated with adolescence. 

I did things kind of backwards. Junior high was a breeze for me. I had a strong circle of friends, got good grades and did well in band. Other than the occasional girl drama, life at Coakley Jr. High School rocked. My first year of high school was in the same town. I didn’t continue in band so I wasn’t as connected but I still belonged. 

Then we moved. We actually moved back to the exact neighborhood where had lived five years earlier. I had stayed in touch with at least one friend so I wasn’t terribly worried about fitting in. How precious and naive of me. 

It didn’t take long to realize that in those formative years I was no longer like the rest of them. I dressed and spoke differently. Apparently I had a Texas accent. Who knew?

Introverted by nature, I became quite insecure around all these super cool California kids. The group from fifth grade had now splintered into several cliques all dominated by one of the original quintet. They were the usual high school stereotypes: the cheerleader, most likely to succeed, band nerd, and the brainy one. And then there was me. I didn’t fit in anywhere. As a result nearly every lunch was spent alone. I tried to be as inconspicuous as possible. I think I was quite successful as even by graduation, very few people really knew I existed. 

For years I viewed eating alone in public as a sign that I am a social outcast; a person to be mocked or pitied. I always reverted back to that high school girl who just wanted to fade into the background. 

I broke this curse by forcing myself to go out to lunch by myself. This was in the days before cell phones and at first it didn’t dawn on me to take a book. I was exposed for the world to see. I hadn’t let myself be that vulnerable in years. I couldn’t eat fast enough. I just wanted to get out of there and into the safe anonymity of my car. 

Through the years I forced myself outside my comfortable cocoon and subjected myself to a type of  aversion therapy. 

I went out to eat by myself. 

This didn’t happen until I was divorced and having to learn so much about my grown up self. At first I asked for an out of the way table, so I could be pitiful in private. 
Soon I got to the point of looking up from my food to notice the people around me. They were busily eating and chatting. No one really seemed to notice me. It was then that I discovered a wonderful sense of freedom and some important life lessons:

  1. Most people are busy with their own lives and don’t notice that I am dining alone. 
  2. Being alone and being lonely are two very different things. 
  3. I am really quite good company. 
  4. Never leave home without a book. 
  5. Sheryl, you aren’t in high school anymore. 

And life moves on. 

~Sheryl

Higher Ground

The drive to Katy began just as it had for the past eleven years. To break the monotony, I often took different routes for my daily drive to Yarntopia; so the fact that I wasn’t on the most common of my routes didn’t even seem abnormal. Traffic was flowing, birds were singing, and there was a delightful, cool, humidity-free breeze gracing the water weary residents of metro Houston.

Despite my familiarity with the general area I had rarely ventured into the neighborhoods. I was carefully following the voice commands coming from Google Maps. I was so focused on finding the street where I needed to turn I didn’t even realize where I was because something seemed so different. I looked up ahead and saw some trucks in the road ahead and what seemed to be a white film on the street. The sound of my navigator grabbed my attention again screaming at me to turn left.

The cross traffic cleared and I proceeded across the intersection into another world. Nothing I had seem on television prepared me for this experience. 

What was visible of the streets beneath the mounds of rubble was coated in a white powdery film. House after house laid bare, evicerated and on display for all to see…sheetrock, doors, carpet, padding, the literal guts of the house piled up waiting to be hauled away. Once the shock of that wore off I was then able to see the thing that made my heart stop. Peeking out from under the rubble were deeply personal items…furniture, toys, an upright piano, high chairs and bouncy seats, cribs and beds. All these things, just a few days earlier, had been a part of someone’s home. Their sacred space. Their refuge from a crazy and scary world. Now, it was all rubbish on the side of the road. 

I wanted to turn the car around and run away. I felt my chest tighten and I was having a hard time breathing. Was it the mold, the dust, or sheer overwhelming panic? I didn’t care I just wanted to get out. The suffering is too much. I’m not strong enough for this. We all try to imagine how we would react in a crisis. I just found out and I’m not proud. A panic attack is not attractive and is certainly not helpful to the people who really have a reason to panic. 

It’s impossible to see house numbers and because of the debris. I didn’t see cars in front of the houses so I wasn’t sure which house I was looking for. I was still in a state of near confusion. Then I saw a familiar face and they recognized me. I parked and got out. I didn’t think I was going to be of any help. Everyone there knew something was wrong. I was in a daze and couldn’t communicate. Finally when I saw my friend who we were all there to help come down the stairs I couldn’t help it. I just started crying. She wrapped her arms around me and said, “It’s OK. Everyone is is safe.” 

Great. Here I was there to help her and she ends up comforting me. What a pathetic weakling I am. In someone’s time of need I break down. I felt like that stereotypical character in a movie who just dissolves into an emotional mess and everyone around them has to pick up and carry their load as well. Have you ever noticed that often those characters are women or over weight men? Well, here I am an over weight woman living up to my worst nightmare about myself. I am indeed the weakest link.

Once that inner voice got done with the pity party the other portion of my brain took over. I was there. For me and my social and performance anxieties, this is an accomplishment all on its own. I pushed through instead of staying on the couch. So, I am not the strongest or most physically capable person in the world, I’m here and I’ll do what I can. So I crawled through a couple of 2×4 studs and started moving small items out of what I’m guessing was a closet. With each small thing that I moved I felt a little better.

After filling all the vehicles with the kinds of things that have value to my friend and couldn’t just be shoved in a U-Haul van, we traveled to her new home and unloaded. And then we left. We could go back to our homes all relatively unaffected by Harvey. Back to streets lined with homes intact rather than the skeletal remains of a life that is no more. Because, one can rebuild, but life is never the same after this kind of loss. This is a kind of death just as real as any other.

So what is my take away from this experience? You know I always have some kind of greater lesson in the midst of everything.

  • God is present in all situations. We will never understand the whys, it is our job to listen and trust.
  • The emotional anticipation of how to face a difficult situation is often worse than the situation itself. When urged to help…help. After the fact it is all worth the pain.
  • Let yourself receive comfort.
  • If at all possible…move to higher ground.

~Sheryl