The Unexamined Life..Of Your Coffee Table

I love to explore, I like to plan a whole day in a new place, it gives me a new perspective to return home with. Traveling has been an influence on everything in my home. Experiences bring my imagination to life and I love to daydream about all the possibilities.

I try to make the best of what I have to work with, in part out of care for our environment but also because every object has potential!

So in cultivating my blog over the years I’ve been exploring avenues that I enjoy. Some of the most exciting experiences I’ve had in my life I’ve been completely terrified of. Example: every single place we traveled in California had to be on the side of a mountain, and I am not a fan of heights. Am I glad I did them, yes. Was it terrifying, also yes! College, scary, did that too. Living with other people I didn’t know, scary, did that. Running for a town political role, suuuper scary but also exciting! Buying a home, scary, but extremely rewarding!

So what I’ve been doing lately has been designing a business. Im terrified. I really don’t like change. I have a pretty cushy job, and a pretty easy life. What business do I have trying to mix that up? Well the goal has been to step out of my comfort zone, to give the world a chance to understand what it is I want to give back to it and to try to live my best life!

So here it goes…

Background: I grew up an only child. Which requires me to answer the question, how did you like being an only child? I’ll be honest, it was fine. I pretty much had my imagination to entertain me, instead of another human. I think it also made me look closer at myself (critically) and also the relationship I had with other people. My fatal flaw is people -pleasing. While my parents were older from start, I had to grow up relatively quickly, with a few challenges. Mom had mental health issues, Dad had some workaholic issues. Everyone has issues, but it made my story, and shaped a lot of my strengths.

Neither parent really cared about our living space outside of whether it was clean(it was very dysfunctional). So I found myself making my bed, fluffing my stuffed animals and putting my own decorative towels in the bathroom for when guests came over. Right… I know, people pleaser. They didn’t see the value of a well designed home space. They did have some taste (sort of) Dad was kind of hippy, which now in the era of mid century modern times has found its way back in vogue (go Dad). Mom was more artist, mixed with Greek iconography. So my house was a shmorgusboard if hippy, Jesus and artwork. Not the most cute assembly of furniture pairing. Lots of random paint splatters, brushes and equipment… but it was home.

What I found myself doing in my younger years was constantly reorganizing my own space. My room was like my safe place. The family didn’t always get along, and life wasn’t always roses and sunshine. I tried to stay positive, keep my own space in order and looking as good as I could have it with the resources I had. I remember the feeling of seeing the redesigned space. It was like a breath of fresh air. The odd thing was remembering where everything was placed in the new arrangement. It was necessary to use what I had to work with because asking for something deemed “unnecessary” was more aggravating than making the best of it. In a lot of ways this allowed me to utilize the things I had creatively. I credit the rents with giving me a hard time enough that I had no choice but to make my own designs.

So here I am adulting and trying to find my purpose, and recycle, and drink enough water, and meet my personal goals, you know, be responsible (eye rolling emoji). What I’ve found is that I really want to help people live in the space they feel the most at home. Some people see the value in simplicity while others want their Pinterest dreams to come true. I’ve just found a happy balance of function and artsy, with unique hand made peices. What I’ve always wanted is my space to feel comfortable to anyone who enters. After years of trial and error I think I’ve achieved my design goals.

What is so counter intuitive to so many of my friends and family is making their space work for their family while still meeting their asthetic goals. I’ve always loved Martha Stewart, and I’m a huge fan of HGTV. The difference between my inspirations is that I try to incorporate personal experiences into spaces.

So many designers make your kitchen look like a home and garden magazine but fail to reflect the people who live there. One thing I love is holding the mirror up and saying you are, where you live. Your space is part of your health. Your wellness is directly related to your environment, and for me, I find clarity in order, and reorganization.

Part of the journey I am on in life is bringing my life experiences into my living space, as a reflection of who I am, where I’ve been and what I love.

I have so many photographs of my better half, Joe and I. I have pictures of our cat. I have my mothers artwork, our grandparents wedding photographs, friends, family, trips we’ve been on etc. Our kitchen has been completely redone (by us), and is now pig themed, subtly. before

(Two different times of year so bare with the decor in these pictures)

Our chandelier is restored from basically a dumpster to full beauty (Joe deemed it to be trash).

We built our own bar, we built our headboard, our kitchen island, our entry bench, our master bedroom bench. We redesigned our bathroom fixture. We built custom shelving, we built our ottoman, we’ve upcycled more stuff than we’ve bought. I’m proud of that.

Everything in our home has a story, and it’s about who we are and what we love.

We have made a beautiful space using mostly what we had, and adding our own spin. Our molding may not have perfect lines, although he did a very nice job for a beginner! Our life might not be exactly what you see in a magazine but it has cracks that came with weathering. My favorite part about our home is our life in it. After so many life experiences it’s easy to lose track of where you’ve been. I find a memory around every corner in the lake house that we love.

So I am officially beginning the exciting (and scary as hell) adventure of starting a consulting company for interior decorating, with a focus on life experience, and functional needs. I love to be reminded of all the fun I’ve had. I love my family, and my friends and I make it a point to focus on the positivity both in my life and in my home space. I have helped so many people see positivity and opportunities in their space so they can grow into it or shift into a better arrangement.

As for the coffee table, we turned it into an ottoman.

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Life’s Interruption

I have interrupted this (normally super positive)blog to bring you life’s interruption… a little dark cloud that creeps in when you are least expecting it. I promise to return to light hearted travel and journey blogs right after this…

I think I’ve been trying to avoid this topic but in the midst of quite a few close friends (and family)experiencing a loss, I thought it would be appropriate timing.

There really isn’t a good time to talk about it… and if you are someone who has never lost a close relative, or friend, someday this may make sense..

Suddenly in the middle of a perfectly great day, we get interrupted.

Unfortunately, sometimes it’s not as simple as a customer service call… No, sometimes it’s an important call that sends our whole world into a frenzy. Sometimes it’s just the flashback…of the call, the day or the feeling we had…

I’ll warn you now that if you wanted a light hearted blog this isn’t the one, it gets kind of emotional but very real. So carry on at your own risk.

The call is, never the one you want. It’s never the right time, or the right day or the right weather.

It’s never the right response.

You never get to forget it either.

Every moment during which this call takes place you are actually living in slow motion, but yet you wish it would’ve been over faster. It’s, not the IRS.. (sorry I joke when I’m nervous)no it’s the “something has happened” call…

I’ll tell you, I’ve had a lot of experience with death, and yet it still comes back like acid reflux every time I hear of anyone’s loved one passing… I have been in the trenches of mourning and I have known the loss that few (my age) have known. It’s not a club you want to be in..

My phone call came at approximately 6:25am on a tuesday morning. July 11th 2014. A flash bulb memory…

It’s like how you remember exactly where you were the day you found out about 9/11. What’s weird is at the time of 9/11 I didn’t know what the World Trade Center was, or what was happening. When I got the phone call my dad had suddenly passed away in his sleep, after seeing him less than a week prior, I knew what it meant.

So what happened after the call? I couldn’t breath, or eat or speak. I didn’t cry right away…

In slow motion, I managed to go through the entire week feeling like I got sucker punched… Then for months I relived my sorrow over and over, and while that was happening, so was life… like normal every day things, which was so inconvenient!!

How exactly did I not see this coming? No one did, and for most people death doesn’t work into our plans…

We don’t think about death unless it’s effecting us at that moment. We protect ourselves from this fear and this sadness by avoiding it.

I was fortunate to have my band aid torn off in some ways.

My dad was definitely not the “bed ridden kind”, nor would he be a good candidate for any kind of “treatment” except “special treatment”. He really got out in the best way he could have, really.

My dad lived. He sure did fear death though, as I think we all do. The uncertainty of it makes the concept very scary. That is why many people have faith in god, others in reincarnation but whatever you believe, know that you will some day get a “call”. Maybe not a sudden and severe one, but one that will stay with you. It changes you, and the way you think of things…

It’s not that I want to dwell on death, in fact I try not to be morbid most of the time. I can’t help but know, with such certainty, that life is short. If we have good years in our life than we have lived.

Loss isn’t always the same. However, I’ve found that personally, there have been two distinct experiences that are universal:

1. Sudden and unexpected. Which consists of losing someone as a result of a car accident, an overdose, a health related incident that couldn’t be rectified, a miscarriage, SIDs, military related, gang related… and a million other sudden traumatic losses…

2. Slow, steady decline. Slow is a relative term. The usual example is someone suffering from an illness who is going through treatment, or a grandparent experiencing age related failure.

Each type of loss is equally as traumatic and devastating, I’ve experienced both. Each type comes with their own distinct feelings, as did the relationship with that person. When I lost my dad, I thought of friends I had who had also lost theirs. I instantly felt like now I could relate. Now I knew what they meant when they said things. I never knew the feelings could be so different.

We all feel loss one day, and we can never truly know the feeling until it happens… but we should know how to be there for someone during this horrible time. Whatever you say, don’t say “let me know if there is anything I can do”. Make it a point to schedule a coffee date or just say “sorry for your loss”, it’s worse to make empty promises.

When we lose someone we evaluate ourselves.

Just like we evaluate all the company around us, and yet we don’t do this in our day to day. We struggle to make it to the end of the week or just to make enough to get our needs met and yet we forget how important people are. The kindest words, the greatest stories are told to our loved ones at the wake of death. That must change!

Could we be better at telling the stories we love of each other today, instead?

In life we get schedules and routines. We make things important and other things “not so important”. We go so fast, yet so slow, but do we see each other? Do we look past the “good morning” or the “how was your weekend?” Do we care enough? It’s hard to take care of yourself during times of loss, and it’s easy to hide in plain sight.

The months that follow…

After the loss, we drift away from the person who has experienced it, knowing we said something, or sent some flowers. We forget that they don’t continue their lives the same way they were before. We assume they say everything is fine and move on, selfishly or consciously but with little consideration of if that is actually true…

The person who has lost their loved one, does not snap back into reality (at least I didn’t). No, they wake up everyday to remember they can’t call their dad or their mom, or their friend and tell them about their day. They won’t see them at their regular holidays. They remember good times, they remember bad times but they know they are lonely. Some people (like myself) don’t like a lot of attention with sad connotations. I’d much rather be happy, don’t we all feel that way!

There is a feeling that no one understands the feelings, or has experienced this specific scenario. The reality is, grief is universally individual. You feel your feelings alone, no hallmark card, or edible arrangement can fix or soften the experience. It’s about being seen. If we can see each other’s needs, care enough to make their day a little easier, it helps. Every little thing helps in a small way, to dig you out of your dark sad space.

Empathy.

See the persons feelings and know that you might not understand, but it’s not your time to. You might know their lossed loved one or you might not. What a grieving friend, coworker, loved one needs, is just to be seen, heard, and held. There is nothing to be said. The less you say the better. You just need to be there.

Something changes after you experience a great loss…

They aren’t the same whole person they started with. In fact, some feel the loss of their loved one forever, and while some say it eases with time, that isn’t true for everyone. That’s okay! The reality is, the way they see the world is now forever changed. It’s not that they will never be “themselves” again, but they might not want what they thought they wanted before.

I’ll give you a personal example. I used to work both a 9-5 and a side job which ranged from 10-20 extra hours sometimes even another 40 additional hours. After my dad passed, I had 2 jobs, a mother who had just been through a psychotic break and was being re-medicated, a serious boyfriend (thank god for him) and we had just made an offer on a house (luckily they turned us down). That was my level of normalcy. Going on full time overdrive, running from one job to the next, not spending time on myself or what I wanted out of life.

When we are young, we think we have forever to live. After my dad’s death and several young classmates sudden deaths, I woke up.

I had never considered what exactly my dad did for my life, since I was (an adult) out of the house. He kepted a careful balance of handling shit, without anyone knowing. We didn’t know what he did behind the scenes (what bills, responsibilities etc.). He had a small business, a commercial building and he loved working, he handled everything. He was the one that instilled a deep sense of pride and work ethic in me. Now it was up to me to fill in the gaps, my mom couldn’t do it, the baton has been passed.

My dad missed dance recitals, piano recitals, Greek school graduation and a bunch of other things I don’t remember. He never packed my lunch or helped me with my homework. I never minded, or felt bad about it, because I knew he was there (supportive, but not present). Maybe that was how I made my peace in the end, but I am digressing .

The point is the man worked a lot.

He obviously was successful in doing so, but yet he missed out (or maybe he didn’t think he did), on life’s precious moments. He was there for milestones, the guy wasn’t a total workaholic, but he did miss some things.

After he passed. I quit my second job, (I still went in from time to time) I stopped doing overtime and I realized all the money I was trying to make, didn’t make me happy!

This moment was so important. I was working because I thought I was supposed to work hard, save money, buy a house and that would make me a successful adult. I clearly learned after dismantling his life in the court of probate that life is more important than work.

Yes money was important, and I didn’t quit my day job. It was an extreme change for me. For my whole college experience, I worked every Saturday, and Sunday. I missed Mother’s Days, I missed Father’s Days I missed these little moments and didn’t think anything of it because I had to work.

In the end we wish we had more time, not money.

We wish we could have spent more time with those people we have lost. We regain a feeling that life is short, and so precious, and can be so easily interrupted.

Death changes life, but it doesn’t stop life from happening, it changes our views of it for a time. We are sad, we are lonely, we feel more easily aggravated, we may be angry, but we wake up in the morning, and we choose to get up and move forward.

Sometimes we are affected but it takes an extreme loss to fundamentally shift the way we think. This is what happened for me. I started to look at life as finite. That isn’t negative, it’s true!

It’s hard. Every single day you miss the person you lost. Every day you think of something that reminds you of them. What we don’t remember to do daily is to check in with someone who has just faced, what we have faced. We assure ourselves that because they have a spouse or someone else that we don’t need to say anything or do anything else…

We forget that they are in the midst of the battle that is grief. Once we have gone through a true loss, we are either afraid forever to face it again, stuck in a state of grief where we seek out others who are also experiencing grief or we simply avoid it all together. We protect our delicate selves in which ever way we know how.

I must remind you though that the person who feels the loss may just need a shoulder. I am writing this blog to remind you that life has interruptions. It’s not always happy, and it’s not always sad. It’s not about how much you work. It’s not about the money or the stuff or the status you have. It’s not about the kids all the time. It’s not about your bosses needs. It’s about love. Life is about how much you love. Let your neighbor, your friend, your partner, your relatives know that you love them. Tell them a story, don’t wait to make the phone call.

Don’t avoid love. Wrap yourself in it. Surround yourself with it and give it. Make love your only priority. Love is forever.

Maya Angelou once said, “people may forget what you did but they will never forget what you made them feel”. I always felt that during my grief, there were certain people that stood out, that listened, and that made me feel seen. There were others that didn’t. It’s okay, not everyone understands, but if you know the feeling, don’t let someone feel lonely. They might need you. You might need them. Even if it’s not convenient.

Life is hard for everyone, but particularly hard when you lose someone who is intricately woven into who you are. You lose yourself for a while, and when you find yourself again. You are changed, you see the world differently, maybe better, maybe worse but you are never the person you were before.

Share this with someone who needs to know you love them. Share it because you want them to know they aren’t alone. Share your thoughts and feelings and don’t be afraid to ask how someone is doing. They might need it. You might need to stop in the middle of life and interrupt yourself to see someone else’s point of view. Interruptions happen, sometimes they are life changing and sometimes they aren’t but know that when you least expect life can throw you a curve ball.

Be kind. Extend a caring heart and don’t forget that life is short! Do yourself a favor and don’t hold a grudge, don’t be mean and listen a little more.

We are only human, and we do the best we can. Thanks for listening and please share with someone who might need it.

(Pictured is the wise, chicken scratch of my late grandmother. She may have been the smartest, most loving woman I have known.)

Let me know what you think, if you can relate (I’m sorry for your loss) and if not that’s okay (just be kind)! I hope someone took something away from my story. I’ll be honest it was a hard one to tell. I look back now, still sad and longing for more time with my dad but so grateful for the time we had. So many people touch our lives and make an impression, as we do theirs and so let’s be better humans and love a little more! Until next time…

(I promise for a happy blog next)

6 Steps to a Thoughtful Event


1. Plan plan plan…if you don’t have a plan… You should hire a pro.

There’s a few key elements of a fabulous party… The first thing you need is a date. People have lives and so do you, so give them plenty of time to rsvp.

If you want this party to be a success send out a real invitation, no Facebook, email, or texting please. It’s just not as effective as a mailed invitation. Plus they allow people to post it on their fridge or in their calendar so they don’t forget!

Paper invitations add taste and flare to your event, it’s a timeless tradition, don’t skip this step.

I’ve been recently fond of the invitations matching the theme, but that’s a personal preference. They don’t have to be fancy, just in writing and in the mail!

Depending on where you have it you may need to confirm your headcount, and you will need to know your headcount for planning food/ booze so don’t skimp on this very important detail.

This is the most crucial peice of the process but don’t worry… Just make sure to thoroughly count your rsvp’s and make sure to advance the rsvp date at least a week (minimum) before your event.

If you are hosting with a caterer they will need a headcount by a specific time, the same goes for an event held at a remote site.

2. Have a theme.

For every occasion there can be an overlapping theme, cause or design scheme. Whether you are hosting a birthday party for a 6 year old (who knows what they want) or you are preparing for a bridal shower, have a theme, it’ll look much more put together.

My mother recently retired from her job. Her life was quite interesting, she’s an artist, she used to teach art classes when she stayed at home raising me, so her theme was clearly art inspired. She not only taught art, but her topic of interest and the theme she painted the most was beach inspired landscapes…

Which coincidentally brought me to my next theme, the beach… Where she was moving to… So!!!! “The art of retirement” was the theme, and I incorporated art and beach themes in unison.

My friend Melissa made this beautiful cake from scratch. It was tasty too!!!

Once you have a theme, everything falls into place: food, decor, booze, everything!!!

3. You don’t have to pay a million dollars to have a fabulous party, just make sure there is food and booze.

Based on your number of people, your guests taste and your theme you have to build a menu.

I typically stick with wine and beer because it’s well received by anyone. Vodka is a taste, gin is a taste and generally people have different preferences but if they don’t like wine or beer… There’s always soft drinks.

Consider about 1/2 bottle of wine per person and 2-3 beers per person. You’ll probably have left over booze but that’s okay! Some places will let you return unopened bottles, but you can regift it or just save it for your next function!


Present the booze or just stick it in a cooler it all depends on your crowd… You know a backyard barbecue does not necessitate the level of preparation as a shower or a milestone event.

The food has to be good. You can’t have a good party without good food. All other things may fail but a good scallop wrapped in bacon never fails! (Just an example, many people do not care for bacon or seafood.) You must know your audience.

You need to know your crowd enough to know if they are picky, if they are upscale or if they are laid back. Ideally, easy crowds are the best but usually you have a few of the picky and classy type mixed in. Pick items that are staple foods either of the culture you/ your crowd is, or just straight American classics.

Your menu should have 3 elements appetizers, main entree type foods, and dessert. Obviously if it’s a cocktail party this may not apply but you want to have a couple light apps, a couple hot apps, and light and hot foods for the main course. Dessert is easy, anything and everything goes, except ice cream that’s a commitment.
I chose to make all my food from scratch, but if you have it catered chances are they will suggest more but you don’t need to have it all, especially on a budget.


Levels are important. You have to have food on the bottom and food on the top otherwise the display has failed.

We chose cheese, meats and crackers, deviled eggs,  antipasti skewers, bacon wrapped scallops and shrimp cocktail.

As you can see there’s some decor mixed onto the display it helps give wholesome theme flavor throughout the party.

4. Don’t stress.Make signs instead!

People are instruction oriented, they need direction, they crave order, they need signs for things so they don’t mess it up. The social pressure at the party is high, don’t make people feel stupid trying to figure out where to start on the table or how to scoop the salad dressing. No one likes to admit it, but people don’t usually think like a host… They need to know what to do.

Signs are pretty, they make your life easier and people feel better knowing they didn’t mess everything up!


Especially if there is a guest book or a special game in place. Directions are necessary!


You can make them jazzy or straight forward but it’s also a conversation peice so think about it before you put it on the table.

5. Every detail counts. If it didn’t matter it wouldn’t be there… 

Here’s a list: (how mine starts anyway)

Tablecloths

Chairs

Centerpeices

Silverware or plasticware

Paper or plastic in general for all materials.

Decor

Think of this as a general concept. The detail can be as intense or as simple as necessary.

Personally I know every table needs a runner and a centerpeice, to make theme cohesive.


They don’t have to be fancy, I took books off my bookshelf, mason jars, wild flowers, shells and then I staggered them with different colored / sized glass containers.

I wanted it to be reminiscent of reading and relaxing on the beach with nature and lots of different colors. I incorporated the beach artist with a New England type of feel. I’m pretty sure I nailed it.

Each table had spray painted copper cans with paint brushes in them, and fun facts with photographs of all my mom’s achievements. Luckily I had a lot of material.


Oh I also had the party in the location where she taught art for 15 years, a small gallery in town. It’s all about the thoughtful details.

6. Have help because you can’t do it alone if you want to pull it off. 

Don’t think for a second that 100% of the work was done by me, even though I’d like to take credit for it. I simply knew what I wanted it to look like, and I directed people accordingly.

I had help to place the food, pour the ice, move the tables and chairs and all the heavy lifting in general. If you don’t have help, you will never want to do another party again. You have to be a team player and you have to assign duties, trust me it’ll save you a headache.

7. Just because you are the host doesn’t mean you can’t party!!!

Part of the fun of a party is relishing in your hard work but also in visiting with friends and family. Make your menus easy and your beverages easy so you can set it up and leave it alone. Don’t forget to enjoy the beautiful event you have created!

You may not be able to stand up by the end of the running around, but sit back and relax with a glass of wine and take in the energy of a group of happy people midway through an event that you made happen.

Don’t forget to accept compliments and remember that the point of celebrating is to honor life’s moments, with people who you love. Take the stress out of the equation and you will be a natural!

Cheers you party animal you!

Romantic Night Stands (DIY)

I wanted end tables with blue and white romantic print.
So I found some romantic print fabric at a consignment shop for $5.00 and decided to make them with decoupage.

I bought these night stands which look like they were attached to a mirror or to a headboard previously. The two together were about $30. Solid wood, with nice but subtle detail, these pieces were going to be our night stands.

 This sad end table had all the integrity but none of the flare… So I fixed that.  Admittedly they weren’t much to look at.

  1.  First I painted them 2 coats with behr oatmeal paint so it was a creamy antique look. 
  2. I painted the drawers as well and added knobs. There were no knobs originally, on the drawers. I just bought 4 individual knobs from Home Depot, in a nickel finish. They looked like hammered nickel which was the look I wanted, and they were about $5 each.
      As you can see there were a few cracks but I liked it that way. I wanted a romantic, distressed look. I even took a sanding block and gently sanded the trim peices and around the edges to give it more a more weathered look.
  3. Probably the most difficult part was getting the fabric attached. I say difficult because you have to be very particular when cutting it. So I started by painting a layer of decoupage on the top of the end table. I then placed the whole peice of fabric on top. I’m glad I did this, because had I cut it prior, I probably would have wasted a lot of fabric.

After placing the fabric on the decoupaged top I smoothed it down, making sure it was straight and also that it showed the peice of the fabric that I wanted.

Making sure there were no bubbles or creases I took the decoupage and painted a layer on top of the fabric. I waited (maybe) 10 minutes, then took an exact o knife and carefully followed the ridge at the top. I was very careful not to pull the fabric as this would cause bubbles etc.  After tracing out the fabric it looked perfect but a little tattered. Decoupage is like a glue that dries clear and instead of potentially compromising the fabric or pulling a thread, I decoupaged the corners and pushed down with the brush so as to guide these frays in line.

Then I added a second coat of decoupage and let it dry overnight.

Finally my end table was complete. I later added legs to the bottom because it was a bit short.

I was pleased with the final product it was exactly what I wanted…

I’ve come to realize that when you know what you want the only way to get it is to create it. When you build something, you give yourself exactly what you want. What is more satisfying?

Happy Building!

Small Town (pros and cons)

 

img_8257-1Growing up I always felt at home in my small town of Marlborough, CT. It was quaint in town, a grocery store, a bakery, a couple of pizza places, a Seven 11, and a full service gas station. It was small, it was quiet and it was home. There’s a lake in Marlborough where I learned how to swim and a playground where people had play dates with their kids. It’s peaceful and clean and everyone is nice. Everyone knows everyone. The ladies at the bank greet you by your first name, and entering the town hall is like a reunion. If you needed to pick something up at 7/11 or Pat’s Market you were sure to see at least 2 people you knew personally, or who knew your family.

It was a great asset to be in a town with good schools, low crime rate, low poverty rate and genuinely good people. Elementary school was filled with activities and the classes were maybe 20 kids each, 4-5 classrooms and you had to take a bus to get to school. No one walked, it’s too rural.  The people you started kindergarden with, were with you until the end of high school.

In middle and high school Marlborough joined two other towns in a regional forum school in Hebron. The purpose obviously was because the towns didn’t have the volume of kids to support individual high schools, (shared costs). It was also nice to meet new people.

Once in middle school and high school all the activities and small town vibes expand to the tri-towns. People have to travel 30 minutes from one town to the next to visit their friends, and a vehicle was always required.

I don’t know exactly why it changed so much in high school, but all of a sudden drugs became prevalent. Anything from cocain to LSD was available and in high demand. It was strange to see how many people were doing drugs. The football team, the cheerleaders, the geeks and the weirdos all. Maybe that’s why everyone got along so, seemingly well. There were never fights on school grounds. The worst thing was someone getting caught with illegal paraphernalia or drugs/ alcohol. The cliques all threw massive parties.

The high school parties shown on tv were real in my high school. We had dj’s, booze and hundreds of people would show up from high school classes 4 plus or minus classes to get wild. There was mud wrestling and jello wrestling and one or two parties included a prize for the best costumes. There were beer pong tournaments, dance parties, people hooking up and the cops always showing up to tell us to keep it down. It was reckless and free. It was awesome. The parties would be wild and the drugs were everywhere. It was funny, after looking back, other towns didn’t do that.

One of my best friends died, we had a friend- fall out before that. She was a tough person to get along with and she sold drugs. She smoked blunts and thought her body was just like a man’s. She thought she could do anything without punishment because she was smart. She wasn’t smart, when she started taking pain killers. Then she started snorting them. Then a year after our fall out I heard she died. I heard it was heroin but I still don’t know. She was smart, funny, and kind. She always rooted for the underdog. She loved fiercely and she was beautiful. She had long blonde hair, and green eyes. She drove me to school. She drove me crazy sometimes. She had a scholarship to Uconn’s Avery point, and she was so bright. Her family was smart, and she played the violin. She’s gone now, but she was a beautiful soul.

I had a love. Oh did I love him, he was my first love. He had red hair, and blue eyes, he was so smart and kind. The good news is that this story doesn’t end as tragically as the last.  My boyfriend in high school, was shot in the face with a bee bee gun, at a party. The kid who did it, didn’t know it was loaded. He was blinded in one eye from the stupid kid who shot him. The doctors gave him vicotin, then he moved up to Percocet, then oxicotin and yes next came the heroin.After high school he went to rehab, but not many people followed him. Many many people went down the same path… His best friends, and the whole circle around us.

It was at least one death a year, each time, a high school reunion.

When I moved to college I came home on weekends and nothing looked beautiful and like home anymore. It looked tainted and sad. People didn’t know eachother anymore, they hid in their addiction ridden holes and if you heard from them it meant they needed something. People still had parties and I attended a lot of them. People still did drugs even after high school and college, these guys owned homes now and had good jobs and yet still couldn’t stop. Some of them did. Those went out to have normal families, kids, and stopped. The rest of them, in AA, or onto their next addiction.

More people died.

Overdoses, car accidents and not one for a good reason.

Each wake and funeral people rallied for their friends, for the people they knew, for eachother. It was a beautiful reunion and never for a good reason. It is always at these funerals that people look back fondly on the departed and reminisce on how things were.

It isn’t that the towns fell apart, it’s that the people who started with drugs who let the drugs take over, stayed. They led the same life they did in high school 10-15 years later doing the same drugs and hanging out with the same people.  They went to the same gas station, and had the same circle of friends. Everyone else moved on. People in high school went on to leave the towns some stayed in CT some moved close some moved far. Everyone took with them the same good times, different memories but always the same gratitude and love for the place they came from.

There aren’t many people I know who grew up in the RHAM community who don’t respect and honor their days in the tri-town area. I don’t know anyone who had a “bad” high school experience, there were cliques but people were generally nice to each other. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t lost someone,  from this place we all call home. I know some have lost a friends due to suicide, others overdoses and some car accidents. Each tragic event built something inside of us all that is resilient and unified. We all know what it is to lose someone.

The pro is that people of RHAM had some of the best and most memorable days partying, going to games, skipping class, being young and careless. The con is that while we aren’t in high school any longer RHAM never leaves us. We are the class of 2007 and we all plus or minus 4 classes love and support eachother in life and in death.

The life we have had together is home. I can’t say with any certainty that it was a good experience but I know it wasn’t bad. In these towns I learned more about life than anywhere else. I still go home to my home town of Marlborough  and now it feels better. It feels like home again. I see people in town and we chit chat. It’s as if nothing has changed, and everything, at once.

The pro of the small towns is devotion, to the place you call home, and to those who spent years by your side, even if you weren’t close. It is a lesson on how to deal with the unexpected loss that life throws at us. It’s being a part of a whole. A small town is not the same as a city but you know if you leave you will see things change. Yet, they will always be the same.

To those wonderful people we lost:

Lija Brigga

David O’keef

Chris David

Greyson Minney

Josh Lejune

Kerry Williams

Brittany holland

Andrew Bartholomew

Eric Hunter

Ryan Kurley

To name a few…

We have known you well and loved you. We are united in spirit, the small town and community of RHAM. Together we rally for eachother and I can only hope that this terrible disease of addiction stops, so that people can stop gathering for funerals and start gathering for reunions.

Addiction has touched the lives of so many, if you or someone you know is struggling don’t feel like you’re alone. Call someone, they probably already know, and want to help!

Ignorance, and a Pyramid Scheme

 On most days you may be just playing the game of life. Showing up doing a job or school or whatever it is and then going home. Once you get into a rutine it seems obvious and comfortable to keep doing what you are doing.

I learned the hard way that sometimes people are right when they say the job, the boyfriend or whatever it is… Isn’t right for you.

Example.

Circa 2010, fresh out of college with no prospect of a decent job I started working at a company called pinnacle marketing. I wore a suit and worked in Hartford so that basically meant I was an adult. Nope!

1 month in I was walking the streets of new haven cold call selling b2b direct energy to business owners that had no interest in saving 30 cents a year on their electric bill. I ate fast food a lot because I was on the road, gained about 15  pounds and kept showing up making just about $200 a week if I was lucky. Sounds like a pretty stupid move on my, now educated self’s part. Well I had another job, thankfully. That was at an upscale Italian restaraunt so I supplemented my income or lack there of with tips.

To be fair, this job sold a pretty picture, that anyone could be an entrepreneur and run a fast paced marketing business just like my manager at the time. It sold me. When we went on a business trip to Nashville and saw thousands of people just like me getting sold the same bullshit. I mean it had to be legitamate if so many people did it. My parents couldn’t be right about the pyramid scheme or the fact that they prey on suckers like me who exhaust their friend-family- network signing up for the commission based pay and then quit. I was better than that, I was going to be a business owner and a successful one! Nope. I was a sucker.

On bad relationships… The beibs said it “My momma don’t like you and she likes every one”…. That’s it. Nothing more to say. Unless your mother is a half wit or a total snob you should probably listen to her instincts on bad relationships. Sad truth is she is usually right. 

If your gut tells you that you aren’t doing it right. Bail. It’s not worth wasting time trying to prove yourself and everyone else wrong if you know somewhere in your heart it’s wrong.

Of course sometimes you aren’t 100% sure that you are doing the right thing work, love or otherwise but if you even have the slightest feeling that it’s not going to be a future for you, don’t think for a second that feeling won’t grow into some life long regret if you keep it up.

Love taught me one thing, when it’s right, there aren’t doubts. You never wonder if you made the right choice to move in. You never question of the other person is who you think they are. The doubt level is always at 0 and no amount of external commentary changes that.

Everyone wants you to think a new relationship is short term and for a lot of people maybe it is, but when you find the right one the one that fills you with no doubt or hesitation you’ll learn that your gut knows better than them.

The moral, be careful what you give your energy to, so often the time we waste could have been better used on something that serves us. Think before you accept an offer and let your conscious be your guide.

Also don’t invest in pyramid schemes they don’t work.  ALL of them.

  Invest in yourself and you will do great things.

10 things to know when you start working in an office…

 

I’ll cut straight to the list…

1. Sick time is sick time for a reason. No you will not get in trouble for using your sick time when you are sick. Yes you should stay home instead of spreading your miserable germs around to all those innocent people here. If you are sick and coughing and sneezing all over the place, you are the reason that everyone else has to take sick time because you are selfish.  Yes this is harsh but no one likes a sick coworker getting their sickness all over… It’s rude.

2. Be tactful. Don’t tell the person who wants to know the truth the actual truth. You will make enemies quicker than high school with brutal honesty. Tell someone politely that they have something in their teeth, not by pointing and saying ” you have spinach in your teeth”. Instead, pull them aside and motion to the tooth and say “you have a little something”. Trust me, no one wants to be walking around with stuff in their teeth, but calling someone out in a crowd is embarrassing.  Emotional intelligence people.

3. Don’t be a kiss ass. No one likes a brown noser, a tattle tale or a teachers pet. No you are not proving yourself to your superior you are making enemies of people on your team. If you have the same interests as your boss, great. Keep it professional. It’s work. Volunteering is good to get your name out there. It’s important to do your best, but I assure you buying coffee for your boss every day isn’t going to get you far, only stepped on.

4. Keep your personal life personal. You don’t need to talk about your boyfriend drama, your family drama or any drama for that matter. If you disclose too much, you will soon find that people don’t care about you, they are simply nosey. People don’t want to hear about the problems you have in your life, they have their own. The best thing you can do it start by telling them about your weekend and quickly turn the conversation to them, they want to talk about themselves anyway. The person here is that aquaintence you say hi to everyday who you don’t talk to outside of work at all. Sure you can disclose information to people who have gained your trust but be careful because that’s a fine line. Bottom line: don’t broadcast your life drama show, it’s not cute.

5. Do add flare to your work and cubical. It’s important to show a little bit of yourself. Put up a cute calendar, a few photos and add one or two details. Don’t put your entire collection of minions on display… It’s fine if you do but… Don’t. If you keep a bunch of strange old bottles of Snapple or a collection of every card you’ve gotten from a coworker or friend on your wall, it’s too much. Keep it clean and keep it simple and remember this is not your home, it’s your office space. It should be a productive space and not a hoarders lair. Bonus- keeping a clean and organized work space will make you more productive. Your cubicle should reflect you, just enough.

6. Pull your weight. Don’t be that guy.. You know the one, the guy that volunteers for everything and can’t even finish his emails properly. The guy that’s always m.i.a and everyone has to make up for their slacker behavior. Do your job and you will be recognized. If you can be counted on, that will speak for itself. If you are a social butterfly but you have no trace of competence in your work, then this is it for you, get comfortable because there aren’t any promotions in your future. Just make sure you do enough so that the people on your team aren’t making up for you, and you aren’t making excuses for your shoddy performance.

7. Be nice, but don’t flirt with your married coworker it’s not cool. If you are polite and nice you will be fine. No, having drinks outside of work isn’t okay either. Don’t be a home wrecker, and don’t sully your reputation by surrounding yourself with inappropriate company. You are an adult. Act accordingly. Don’t seek unnecessary attention, there are plenty of venues for that outside of the office. Come to work and keep your flings outside of it. (Obviously, I didn’t take this advice with joe but… to be fair I did keep it polite and work appropriate in the office)

8. If you don’t know, just ask. Yes there is such a thing as a stupid question but if you have read the instructions, and you still don’t get it, don’t just do it and hope for the best. Ask. This is so important. You will save so much face if you get it right the first time. If you go in blind and fail you will set yourself up for an excuse and no one likes excuses. People aren’t perfect and mistakes happen but if you can avoid a mistake by swallowing your pride, do it. Just ask!

9. Think before you speak. This was such an important lesson for me. If you think before you speak you will be miles ahead of the game. Don’t blurt out the first thing on your mind during the meeting. Don’t send back an email without proof reading it. Do think about people’s reactions and do think about how you should deliver the message. Communication is tricky and especially in the work place because one misconstrued word you might be sitting in the office with HR. So just do yourself a favor and think first!

10. Be yourself. Be honest but careful. If you are phony people won’t like you. You have to be yourself and do your best. You will do great! Show up, be nice, don’t pick your nose, bake if you like baking, be friendly or funny or whatever you are because you are a peice of the puzzle. Without you the office would lack something. Your presence is important but only if you make the best of it. Just smile and nod if you can’t do anything else. If you are the quiet one be the quiet one. Don’t compromise your personality for the rest of them but be mindful and respectful. Everyone is different and comes from different history or background, so add to it with good conversation and little peices of yourself and you will go far. Try not to be negative, it’s never good.


Good luck… and just be you, you’re the best!

For more like this check out:The Law of “Fake it til you Make it” covers a good bit of  how to get the job done without fully knowing what the hell you’re doing…

5 Lady-Skills to Consider..

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1. Be honest about what you want, with him.

This is a major point because so much social media show dishonest men leading women to mistrust, without even giving the benefit of the doubt. Don’t assume his phone is going off because he’s talking with someone else, give him a chance. Maybe you’ve been burned before, maybe you just need a reason to be angry or keep your guard up, but what if you were wrong? Some men, aren’t jerks. Some men, don’t cheat. Some men do, but if you’re honest and you’re nose is clean, you walk away with integrity.

In thinking your date isn’t worthy of trust, many women feel like it’s okay to lie to their partners, then justify it with… “They do it too…” If that’s the case, just get out now.  STOP THE CYCLE OF BAD RELATIONSHIPS. Lying in a relationship is like lying to your doctor, it’s not going to make you better…. Just be honest with each other, because you could continue for 10 years in a relationship with someone you always knew wasn’t right for you, but stayed for all the wrong reasons. Do yourself a favor, and be honest, and if he doesn’t like it… find someone else… It’s not that hard these days, there’s apps for that.

2. Cook. 

Women scorn the kitchen for their 1950’s role of housewife and all their feminist counterparts… But really it’s a life skill. Everyone, yes even men, should know how to make some basic meals, and it is pretty satisfying.  No one is naturally good at cooking unless they have at least given it an honest effort… Ladies, just because we are women doesn’t mean we can’t still make a fantastic meal, we aren’t giving into a stereotype, we are simply making a meal. It’s also a fantastic way to broaden your horizon and do what you are so scared to… Try something new. Try a meal kit hello fresh or blue apron are great for beginners, or just follow any recipe on Pinterest.

If you burn it, throw it out and try again. I promise if you make something that is truly delicious you will be proud and as I’ve said before, bragging rights are an added bonus.  Make yourself a 5 star meal, or make it for your mom, but just try!

 This chicken dish took me a good year to perfect, but it’s worth it every time. It’s chicken,spinach, red roasted peppers, tomato, artichoke hearts and fresh mozzerella in a lemon butter sauce. This obviously was not made with my innate skill set it was made with trial and error.

3. Educate yourself on current events.

How many people follow the local candidates on Twitter? How many women are exercising their right to vote, they should. It has been a long road for equal rights and still woman are under represented in the polls, and in politics. The difference between a woman who has an opinion based on hear-say and the one that has something relevant to add to a conversation  is clear.  An opinion based on facts sticks out very clearly to those who know what the subject matter is. The term it is better to be seen and not heard would apply ONLY if you don’t know the content of conversation. The more you know the more people will respect you.

Respect is better than frivolous attention. Be seen and be heard and make your opinion count.

Be able to talk to anyone on any setting that is a valuable asset.

4. Be polite and praise your fellow lady.

We all feel insecure. We all worry if we have something in our teeth. We are all human but ladies need each other.  Respect your fellow woman. Compliment instead of criticize. Be a woman’s woman, we aren’t all catty cliques stuck in high school. Some women are worthy of friendship but all women are worthy of appreciation because if not for nothing else, we are women!

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Be silly if that’s what it takes to be kind but open your heart to your fellow woman and honor her for her. Men have a fundamental difference in relationships with other men, and that is simplicity. A boy meets another in the school yard with a toy he also likes and they are friends for life… A girl meets a girl, they play for a while, and then challenges her until they can no longer tolerate eachother. Let’s invest in the future by showing our fellow humans respect and honor. Women, be nice to each other, celebrate each other and teach our daughters to be better women too.

Give an extra compliment… Just because.

5. Be present.

Listen. Don’t just wait to speak or hold your next thought while there is a break in conversation, really listen to those who speak to you. You would be surprised what you can learn by simply listening to someone’s story or simply what anothe knows that you do not.  Put your phone away and talk to your company.

Take a breath and realize that nothing in life is permanent and every moment is precious. Try something new, and don’t be so close minded.

If not for nothing else at least you tried…

Check out more posts, like these, and if you’re interested in coaching, check out The Tribe page for more info!

How an Old Chair Became French

Step 1. Find your chair

   This chair needed the legs tightened, some new fabric and a lighter color paint or stain.

Step 2. Pop off the chair seat and pick a fabric that you like. I chose a patterned blue and white fabric to give a French country flare.

Step 3. Place the fabric on the floor and the seat faced down so that the underneath part is facing toward the ceiling.

Step 4. Take a staple gun ****carefully**** and staple the fabric to the back of the chair seat. You want it to be tight enough to hold its form but lose enough so that you don’t rip it when you sit.  Cut any excess fabric from the edges and check your seat to make sure it has no lose corners.

If you find one side is pulling more than the other you can simply tighten the other side and stapling again. The process is very forgiving so give yourself a little credit.

Drink some wine too that helps me.

 The seat is right side up here in step 4 the seat should be side down.

Step 5. Sand any varnish off your chair frame using a hand sander or a sand block. If there isn’t a shiny varnish you can get away with lightly sanding instead of going down to the grain.

Let it fully dry and apply a second coat of paint. I used behr paint and primer for this one but you can use any paint you want, chalk paint is very popular because it goes on even and you don’t need too much of it.

Step 6. This is optional, you can distress the edges if you like that look by gently sanding along the corner of the chair legs and making a few strokes along the middle, not too symmetrically though because you want it to look naturally vintage and not forced.

Step 7 is place your set on top of the completed frame and you can either glue it in or screw it in depending on the chair itself, if the chair has drilled holes for screws, utilize them if not, glue will do.

Ta da buds and gals you did it, you made an ugly old chair beautiful again!


Now celebrate by sitting in your new chair proudly!