Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Choices, Consequences, Love and Loss

I am writing this post because of an assignment in the blogging class that I am taking, How To Build A Blog You Truly Love.  Last year in the class I wrote a post about the fear that I live with daily since I was raped.  (You can find it here.)  That was a hard share; I really dug deep to tell that story. 

For this post, I had two other story ideas before I landed on the one I am about to tell.  The first one, a good story that I will share in a later post, was easier to tell than the assignment required.  This story won out over my other option due to the timeliness of it.  This one is raw and fresh as recently as today.

If you are a regular reader here, you know that I share my life with a wonderful man who makes me very happy.  I would love to say that I've only made good decisions in my life, that my mister and I have been together for eons and ages and celebrate a wedding anniversary every year, but that is not the case.

(Art from Ripplespeak on Etsy, the shop of fellow
 classmate, blogger and friend Jennifer Richardson)

As a young woman, I married a man thirteen years my senior, with three children, after only dating him for a few months.  I thought that we were going to have the perfect life.  The reality of the situation is that we fought on our wedding night (we eloped), two days before Christmas.  But I took him to my grandmothers house, announced our marriage, and told my family that I was ecstatically happy.  He called me an" f-ing c word" the first month of our marriage, because I got my car stuck in our driveway during a snowstorm.  But I stayed with him.  A few months later, first one child and then another moved in with us.  And I stayed, because they needed me, and that felt good, and right.

I don't regret any of the time that I spent with those children; in fact I feel sometimes like they are the best part of me.  But I regret that I allowed myself to settle, to endure verbal abuse, and to be treated as less than, all in their presence.  I often wonder what it did to them; I am estranged from them now as well.  This is a situation that I understand and respect; they were forced to choose between our home and their mother's home all of the time during the years that I spent with their father.  (Not becasue of me; I advocated for family harmony; I lost.)  They chose our home because they needed the parenting I provided them, and I am proud of that.  They choose their mother again when they became independent, and have since been estranged from both their father and myself.  It was then that I found the courage to leave him.

That was eight years ago, and we are still locked in a battle of attorneys.  There was a meeting on Monday between my attorney, my "ex" and his attorney to exchange information, and it feels that we are inching closer to the finish line.  But it was a dark day for me, a day of living in the memories of my life with him, memories that are hard to shake.  Memories that haunt my dreams at night, dreams that turn to nightmares. 

There is a shame that accompanies living the wrong life, and it is hard to describe to anyone who has never experienced it.  I didn't want people outside our home to know that I had made a bad choice, so I pretended that everything was perfect.  I kept my clothes and personal items in the master bedroom, but slept in the guestroom.  I know now that it wasn't the right thing to do for the sake of the children, but at the time it made sense.  Their mother had shared with them all of the things that did not work with her marriage to their father, so they were not shocked to see us have many of the same issues.  I think that they were just happy to live in a home that revolved around them.  I wish now that I had tried harder for harmony with their mother, but at the time, at my age, it didn't seem possible.  Hindsight, right?  It haunts my dreams.

(Inspirational art by Liv Lane from her
Choosing Beauty Etsy Shop; it hangs in my home.}

There isn't a happy ending to this story, at least not yet.  My mister and I hope to get married this year, as we have every year since we've been together.  Maybe being together at all is our happy ending.  Maybe the rest of it is just the price to be paid for the choices made as a young woman.  Maybe it's the price I have to pay for having those beautiful children in my life for a time.  One thing I know for sure is that time will tell.  Time provides the answer to all of our questions.  Sometimes it's a brutal wait, but the answer eventually comes.  I just have to wait.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Escape From Darkness {Release Of Fear} And Miracles

You may have read in earlier posts that I am taking an online class, "How To Build A Blog You Truly Love".  I am thoroughly enjoying it, and a big part of the reason for that is how engaged all of the participants are.  We interact in comments on class posts, in a private group on Facebook, and by visiting each other's blogs. 

One reoccurring topic of discussion is the feeling of fear that overcomes most of us, even paralyzes some, at the thought of being exposed in our writing .  I well remember how afraid I was the first time I hit the "Publish" button!  There it went, a little part of me, forever into the universe, for all to view.  But must we experience fear?  Is there an alternative?

I pulled my copy of "A Course In Miracles" from the shelf to do some exploration on the subject, and this is what I found ~ ~

***(please note: The Course uses Christian terms, but in non traditional, non religious ways.  Feel free to substitute anything you are more comfortable with; Shiva, Allah, Krishna and Goddess, to name but a few, work just as well.)

The escape from darkness involves two stages: First, the recognition that darkness cannot hide.  This step usually entails fear.  Second, the recognition that there is nothing you want to hide, even if you could. This step brings escape from fear.  When you become willing to hide nothing, you will not only be willing to enter into communion, but also understand peace and joy.
Holiness can never be really hidden in darkness, but you can deceive yourself about it.  This deception makes you fearful because you realize in your heart it is a deception, and you exert enormous efforts to establish its reality.  The miracle sets reality where it belongs.  Reality belongs only to the spirit, and the miracle acknowledges only truth.  It thus dispels illusions about yourself, and puts you in communion with yourself and God.  The miracle joins in the Atonement by placing the mind in the service of the holy spirit.  This establishes the proper function of the mind and corrects its errors, which are merely lacks of love.  Your mind can be possessed by illusions, but spirit is eternally free.  If a mind perceives without love, it perceives an empty shell and is unaware of the spirit within.  But the Atonement restores spirit to its proper place.  The mind that serves spirit is invulnerable.

An important takeaway for me is not that I need feel compelled to share every bit of my story with my readers,  Rather, in order to be at peace and to experience joy, I cannot deny any of my truths to myself.  It is in forgiving myself and loving myself that the darkness is driven away.

The Amaryllis in these photos is this year's edition of what is an annual miracle for me.  Every year in December I receive from a beloved Aunt a pot of dirt containing Amaryllis bulbs.  I take it out, place it somewhere that I will see it everyday, water as instructed, and wait.  In a few days a peak of green appears, and over the next days and weeks is the slow unfolding of what you see here.  Some years it blooms white or pink instead of red, some years yield but a single massive blossom.  I never know what will emerge, but for me the miracle is that something always does.  A bit of grace from a handful of dirt.

Do you believe in miracles, friends?  Please do share your thoughts; I would love to hear!

xoxo, Anita

Friday, January 27, 2012

Listing My Bliss {And Linking With Choosing Beauty, Number One}

Liv Lane, of Choosing Beauty and How To Build A Blog You Truly Love {I'm a second time student!} fame, has chosen Bliss as her focus word this year.  Last Friday she posted her first ever bliss list, and this Friday she debuts a Little Bliss List Link Party for all to join.  Won't you pop over and share your bliss, too?

Here is what has brought me bliss this week, in no particular order:

A heavy down pour this morning and scattered showers all day that feel and smell like Spring.

The new Chesapeake Bay Candle manufacturing facility in Anne Arundel County, Maryland just (one town over from me!), which promises to bring much needed jobs to the area and a boost to the economy.  Support our local work force and look for the "Made in Glen Burnie" label.
{Fun fact ~ CBC is the love child of Blissliving Home creator Mei Xu.}

Making breakfast for lunch with my mister.

That these amazing 1950's "sister" dresses, sourced months apart in different locations by the amazing Lauren of Dear Golden Vintage, both belong to me. 
{Stay tuned for outfit posts!}

That finally accepting that as much as I love making a home and working from home, it isn't good for me to do EVERYTHING from home.  This led me to join a gym, and I'm treating myself to (almost) daily workouts.  Bonus = indoor Olympic sized swimming pool!

And most of all, that the mister is excelling at his out patient rehab, is ahead of schedule in his recovery, and that we have had the love and support of so many amazing people along the way.

Where is your bliss coming from these days?  I would love to hear!
xoxo, Anita

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

For The Love Of Indie {Dodo Case}

I finally broke down, joined the masses, and purchased a Kindle.  Full fledged Amazon addict that I am it was inevitable, I think.  In the few days that I've had it, I already prefer reading a magazine on it over the paper format, and love how immensely portable the device is.

A big part of what makes it an enjoyable experience for me is the case I got for it, by DODOcase.

 I came across these awesome cases while {indie} Internet shopping during the holiday season.  They are handmade in San Fransisco using bookbinding techniques that were developed hundreds of years ago. 

A hand carved bamboo tray cradles your device.

The outside is covered with a durable cloth (most are black, though there are more options for the iPad) and the inside comes in your choice of a few colors, depending on your device. 

There is a fun paper book plate on the inside front cover, and the elastic strap that keeps your cover closed also allows you to use it as a stand.

{All of the above photos are from the DODOcase web site.}

I find the experience of doing business with small indie companies so pleasant!  It just makes me feel good to support hard working people dedicated to the success of their business, one product and one customer at a time. 

And I love their name!  According to Wikipedia, a Dodo is a bird believed to be extinct since before 1700.  The Dodo became well known thanks to a notable role in 'Alice In Wonderland', and in current culture is associated with the notion of extinction and obsolescence.

Have you made any stand out indie purchases lately?  I would love to hear!

xoxo, Anita

p.s.  There is a nice selection of Dodo cases currently being offered by J.Crew, here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Are you doing what you love?

The life that I had prior to October 2010 was filled with work, work related social events, and not much else.  When the job that I had devoted my life to for so long suddenly came to an end, I found myself in need of a new direction.  I realized that I had no desire to continue in the fast paced world I had been submerged in, but rather to focus my energy and efforts on the most important (and most neglected!) areas of my life; my home and family.

I quickly discovered that cooking, cleaning and gardening weren't enough to keep my fulfilled, though.  So I sat down with a pad of paper and a pen and made a list of everything that I enjoy, in free form writing style, with no more concentration involved then keeping the pen from drifting onto the table.  When I stopped and looked down, I saw a recurring theme.  Words like clothes, fashion, couture, vintage, collections, hand made, sewing, embroidery, antiques, styling and designing jumped off the page.  I had forgotten until that moment how much I loved to make clothes, design clothes and collect clothes!  I had all but forgotten how much I loved fashions from the past; while I was working I was only able to indulge in my love of vintage through jewelry and accessories.  No more!  These days I dress in new look 1950's one day, and maxi dress and poncho 1970's the next.  So fun!

It was during the days following that free form writing session that this blog was born.  I started it to document my projects, but it has evolved into more of a documentation of my life.

These days I sew and stitch, create new recipes, collect and catalog vintage and take tons of photos.  I am currently taking a blogging class, teaching myself photography and photo shop, and have another blogging class and then a photography class lined up for later this winter.  I am working toward the dream of turning my passions into a business, because I've realized that life is just far to short to spend it doing anything less than what I love. 

How about you?  What do you love to do?  I would really enjoy reading about it! 

xo, Anita

Friday, January 20, 2012

Reason And Perception {finding joy in the night sky}

Projection makes perception.  The world you see is what you gave it, nothing more than that.  But though it is no more than that, it is not less.  Therefore, to you it is important.  It is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition.  As a man thinketh, so does he perceive.  Therefore, seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world.  Perception is a result and not a cause.  And that is why order of difficulty in miracles is meaningless.  Everything looked upon with vision is healed and holy.  Nothing perceived without it means anything.  And where there is no meaning, there is chaos. 

~From 'A Course In Miracles'

What do you see when you look at the photo at the top of this post?  When I first viewed it through the lens of my camera, it looked a bit like lightning across the night sky.  It's just a tree limb of course, dormant for the winter, not dead at all, though it may appear that way.  Look again; can you see the buds, just under the surface, waiting for Spring to bring them to life? 

Happy Friday, dear friends.

xoxo, Anita 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cold Fun In The Wintertime ~ Vintage Style

At this time every year, with the holidays behind us and spring still so far away, I resign myself to making peace with the lingering winter. 

During the years I spent living in New York and Pennsylvania, ski mountains were plentiful and just a short drive away.  For the price of a lift ticket, winter and I spent many a fun filled day together. 

Now that I live in the Mid-Atlantic, my skies gather dust in a corner somewhere, and I no longer own a pair of skates.  {I do have a closet full of fashionable winter clothing just waiting to be worn, however!}  Aside from taking a walk with my camera on a cold winter's day, I am at a loss as to how to make friends with the season. 

What do you do for fun in the winter?  I would love to hear!

xoxo, Anita

Monday, January 16, 2012

Inspiring Words From Dr. King

We must all learn to live together as brothers
or we will all perish together as fools. 
We are tied together in the single garment of destiny,
caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.
And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.
For some strange reason I can never be what  I ought to be
until you are what you ought to be.
And you can never be what you ought to be
until I am what I ought to be.
This is the way God's universe is made...

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

Whether you attend one of the many parades around the country today honoring the work of MLK, or visit a memorial built in his honor, or simply take a few moments to read some of his words, it is important that we remember that he dedicated his life to the advancement of civil rights and the abolishment of the "The Triple Evils" ~ poverty, racism and war, for the benefit of all Americans. 

Let freedom ring.

xo, Anita

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Handmade Goodness {Received}

I love this gift so much that I just had to photograph it to share with you.

(Every single thing inside is handmade!}

{Cherry Brandy, Vanilla Extract, Niagara White Wine}

{Squash Soup}

{Black Bean Soup}

{Pepper Jelly, Salsa, Dill Pickles}

This beautiful gift was made by the hands of the mister's son and his husband in their home in New York, and delivered to us during their Christmas visit.  I can't begin to tell you what a joy it was to receive!  Definetly our favorite gift of the season, by a lot.

How do you feel about handmade gifts?  I would love to hear!

xo, Anita

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sweater Weather, Vintage Style

Even though it's January, we have had very little coat weather around here.  Not that I'm complaining; I love the crisp, sunny 50+ degree days!

 It's the perfect weather to feature a fabulous sweater in style!

Stunning Helen Harper Virgin Wool Twin Sets as seen in 'Charm', December 1948.

A simple pullover paired with winter walking shorts and tights is just right right now!

A ski sweater makes the perfect focal point for a winter day outfit, no snow required!

Tips for buying the perfect sweater from 'Co-Ed', October 1962.

Even though we've made it into January without snow or any true winter weather, I have no real expectation of escaping it entirely.  Just take a look at these photos from the storm dubbed Snowpocalypse, that blanketed (and shut down!) the Mid-Atlantic in February, 2010.

That was quite a storm!  What's the weather like where you are right now?  I would love to hear!

xo, Anita 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Have Yourself A Merry {Orthodox} Christmas


Today is Orthodox Christmas, and in honor of my aunt, cousins and their families who celebrate the holiday on this day, I thought I would continue with the Christmas spirit.

Here is a close up of one of the buildings displayed with my manger set.  They are made from cardboard, paint and glitter, and are just the sweetest little things!  The mister and his brother stumbled across them at an antique shop in our town over the holidays last year, and brought them home because they are very similar to a set they remember from their childhood.  They must be made from a mid-century craft kit.  I would love to learn more about them; if you know anything, please share!*

This beautiful Nativity was a gift from the mister's nephew, using the skills he learned from his grandfather.  (Read my post about his woodworking here.) 

So while today is a business-as-usual day for most of us, and some of you may even be taking down your holiday decorations, mine remain up and lit in honor of the people I know (and those I don't!) who are celebrating Christmas today.  My aunt's home in Northeast Pennsylvania will be filled to overflowing with family and friends, young and not-so, laughing, talking and loving each other.  Oh how I wish I could be there!

How are you spending this Saturday?  I would love to hear!

xoxo, Anita

* Thanks to a dear friend who reads my blog through Facebook, I've learned that those houses are part of a village made by Shiny Bright, and were popular after World War II.  Radko makes a reproduction set.  I am now on the hunt for more vintage pieces!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Use Your Words

Still relatively new to the blogging world {today is the one year anniversary of my first post!}, I am enjoying discovering some of the regular blogging topics.  For example, many bloggers like to choose a 'word of the year'.  Do you have one?  I do and I don't.  I have words that I focus on, but they are life words, not year words.  I appreciate the concept though; maybe I will come up with one next year.

But back to my life words.  I enjoy surrounding myself with them ~

Joy and peace appear in my holiday decorations ~

~while love shows up all year around.

These sentiments were part of the holiday card that went out last year, and the New Year's card that we are working on sending out as I post this.

Do you have life words?  Or perhaps you choose one {or more} annually?  I would love to hear!

Wishing you a tweet New Year, filled with peace, joy and love.  xoxo, Anita