Surface Treatments Have Become New Surfaces

We decided to try our hands at concrete, when we purchased the antique credenza to use in the bathroom and it had a large gouge in the top, thereby reducing the price by a hundred bucks!  We gave each other a wink as I bartered with the dealer, knowing we intended to replace it anyway.  We didn’t want to have to worry about water’s effect on wood, so concrete seemed like the best alternative.

Cement bathroom counter top in progress. At this point we had removed the sides of the mold and completed wet grinding the surface.

Following the guidelines of a YouTube video, we completed our first one with only one problem:  we bought quick-set concrete and it started to harden before we could even smooth out the pour.  Since it was intended to be the bottom, we didn’t worry too much, but Patrick spent the better part of a day finishing it to the shine we could have had in half the time, if we’d paid better attention to the concrete we should have used.

Here's the cement counter top post installation. Notice how smooth and shiny top surface is, the result of hours of wet grinding!

We really did love our finished product and installed it in the bathroom, vowing to make another one, to top a counter next to the front door, where a fake plant had taken up residence with the former owners who lived in the house from 1963, when they first built it, till I purchased the home in 2006. I think these planters must have been the rage because I have lived in two other homes that had them, both built in that era.

Here's where I learned the difference between cement and concrete. Unlike the bathroom counter, the newer counter top is concrete and contains thousands of small stones. Smoothing them out with the wet grinder reveals a variety beautiful colors.

This planter has provided me with a challenge since I moved in. I intended to get rid of it, but soon learned a) it was built into the wall, which would have left giant holes where it stood, in the wall and on the floor and it was also electrically wired with a small fluorescent 20W strip in the top shelf.  In its day, this would have been the ultimate in modern, functional luxury.  For me, removing it would have been a costly fix.  And, as it serves as the entrance to the house, it needs to designate itself as such.

So, I decided to consider it Design Challenge #403 and work with it.  It is as strong as a battleship, so for the time being I covered the planter with pieces of slate and lived with the uneven surface. I painted it the color of the walls to blend it in, and I started dropping hints to Patrick that “I really think a concrete counter top would motivate me to find the antique doors I need to close off those shelves.”  

I don’t know WHAT got into him, but he disappeared one day and came back with a car full of stuff.  “I got everything I need to do the counter in the entrance. I’m going to build the frame and pour it this weekend.”   Lately, we have undertaken projects as solo acts.   We collaborate on the concept, but—depending on the project—one or the other of us executes it.  Heavy (or really skilled) = Patrick.

Here's the completed entry. Notice that I left the sides unpolished. I swear it was an artistic choice for contrast, not because I was lazy!

True to his word, the man made me a counter top!  And this one’s even better!!


This is my latest addition to the house.  Our house.  Our gallery, showroom, sanctuary, fortress . . . It’s where I gave myself permission to be an artist.  I had to do things myself—to save money—because at the time, I was broke (and kinda broken).  I’ve always known I was more creative than pragmatic, but putting it out there, whatever “it” is requires a certain vulnerability that I didn’t want to take a chance on expressing.  I’ve since learned that suppression of the creative is not good for human beings, and the willingness to be vulnerable is what taught me that taking a risk is a good thing. The first one is always the hardest.

Since I decided to be me, it’s pretty hard to see a wall or piece of crummy furniture or junky floor or perfectly good merchandise that might be the wrong color and not think of a way to make it better.  I don’t know why washers suggested themselves to me on this bathroom wall, but they did.  So began my hunt for washers.  I teach research, so I can usually find anything I want Online, and this time was no different.  I strive to spend as little as possible on materials for my projects, so I decided new washers at a big box store, which would have cost four or five hundred dollars (plus Liquid Nails . . . I went through five tubes at 5 bucks a pop) was too much.  I finally found 600 2” washers on Ebay for under $200.  Of course, I didn’t do the math or calculate how many I’d actually need for the wall, or if I’d get to the end and only have an inch of space—I’m an artist, not a mathematician—so I winged it.

While waiting for my washers to arrive—I cannot tell you how much the box weighed, but it was HEAVY—I scrounged around the house and garage, to come up with the smaller ones, and joyously embarked.  I decided to post photos on Facebook during the process, to see how my friends would react.  The most frequent question was, “How are you going to keep those things from rusting and bleeding down the wall, when you shower?”  As much as I would love the idea of such a thing—Patrick even threatens to rust them himself, with a technique he has perfected—I reminded people that a) the washers are stainless steel--not supposed to rust--and b) the area I did is only a bathtub. No shower. No water hitting the wall.

I wondered if the humidity from the bathroom (there is a shower on the other side of the wall) might have some impact, but in the two months since I attached the last washer . . . no change.  

I called the installation “Wash” because it’s made from washers, it surrounds an area where one washes, and bubbles in a bubble bath have a way of dispersing that reminds me of this.

Button, Button . . . Who’s Got a Button?

We completed this wall about three months ago.  During construction of the new studio/classroom, Patrick got the idea to cover the entry in buttons, and we set out to find what we guestimated we’d need, a couple thousand.  We still don’t know how many we ended up using because we replenished about four times, then hit up everyone we knew for their extras, but we figure there are closer to 6,000 buttons on this baby.

As we conceived it, I was insistent on maintaining a neutral palette.  Patrick snuck in a green or red or blue one here and there when I wasn’t looking, but as you can see, they don’t scream.  We knew if we painted the wall behind them a darker color, they’d pop more, so step one required a coat of brown paint. I decided to paint the other wall brown, too, but I might re-paint it white . . . still deciding if it looks too choppy.

We acquired most of our buttons from Etsy—a number of different vendors—so we mixed them together in an antique dough bowl I have and started the process of applying them—one by one—with Liquid Nails.  An hour in for each of us, we realized this was NOT going to be a one-day project, so we picked an audio book and hunkered down, actually find the process kind of meditative.  Within a couple hours we knew the 900 I had purchased initially weren’t going to do it, so—before running out—I ordered more, 2000 more, thinking we’d have plenty (remember: I am not too mathematically inclined). A week later, Patrick ordered another 2,000.  I felt like a farmer with seeds, saving a few hundred each time, to blend with the new, so the wall wouldn’t look striped.  We also worked randomly, gluing buttons wherever the spirit moved us to.

It’s funny how most people instinctively reach out to touch the wall the first time that they see it.  Because the Liquid Nails did the job and keeps them locked in place, we watch people reach for the wall and encourage them to keep going.

I'm Officially IN Business

It has been over a month since I’ve written, and I think it’s because I’m still in shock.  When a person decides to start a business, it either takes some major financial backing or some large cojones. I have the latter—figuratively speaking, of course—but before saying good-bye to my six-figure corporate job and deciding to also build the classroom/studio, I decided I wanted the leap to be an act of faith, rather than desperation.

I got in touch with my spirituality, when I directed my first psychodrama (my own) in therapy twenty+ years ago.  As the psychologists so accurately say, “What you think is wrong is only the latest manifestation of something that happened a long time ago.”  The old Family of Origin Dysfunction, as John Bradshaw described it through his own recovery.  My Self fractured when I was ten years old and my mother died.  I concluded she didn’t love me, and I was certain God didn’t love me, so I abandoned my Self as quickly as I could and became an overachieving person, in the hope if I DID enough, I’d be forgiven. Of course, this was all SUBconscious.

I participated in a group, where our therapist had the members of my group reconstruct family of origin psychodramas, in which we’d choose people in the group to play people from our past, who screwed us up:  mothers, fathers, teachers, siblings, religious figures, other relatives, babysitters, God, etc.  Then we’d explain what those people said or did to hurt us.  The theory behind this is that—by psychologically traveling back in time to the original pain but still being in our adult bodies—we can safely confront the abusers and witness—from our adult Self—what happened when we were defenseless kids.   We can then tell those people how we feel about what they did and begin to release the bottled up pain and abandonment issues and start to recover our original, healthy Self.

There were probably ten people in my Group, and watching these psychodramas week by week and the impact they had on the person doing the work (and the rest of us) is more than I can put into words. What also made this process so intense is that the therapist would direct the actors in ways the individual didn’t anticipate, to create an even more powerful healing experience.  I partook in these dramas, playing various victimizers in people’s lives, in an effort to help them heal.  After each psychodrama, the person who had done the work would address each of the actors and tell the person they played what he/she wanted to say, as his/her adult Self, in the present. After that, each player would reclaim his real identity: “My name is Debra. I am not your _________.”  Then we’d each explain to the person who’d done the work how it impacted us.  NOTE: We didn’t evaluate the person; we discussed the issues in ourselves that their work tapped.  VERY POWERFUL stuff.  Finally, the person who had done the work told us how it felt before, during and after the psychodrama. After all of that (I need to sigh, even now), the therapist would talk.

Rather than bore you with the details of my own psychodrama, suffice it to say my relationship with a higher power (the Universe, God, etc., whatever we call the Master) had been utterly destroyed with my mother’s death.  I lived in fear my whole life, which turned me into an over-achieving people-pleaser.

And, as a result, the people I chose for my psychodrama weren’t other people; they were facets of me: the very small child who needed attention and nurturing; the preadolescent who assumed the role of glue after my mom died; the overachieving student, cheerleader, actress, artist, comedienne, singer, performer and all-around chameleon.  Whatever someone needed . . . I became (it’s why, as I decided to take that leap almost a year ago, I came up with Teach, Design, Create and Represent).  Why on earth would I do just ONE thing?!?  I also had the Rebel and—finally—the Co-Dependent (which is how I got to therapy in the last place).

So . . . when I did my psychodrama I began to heal from the notion that I was so awful, not even God wanted anything to do with me.  

We are combinations of physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual being, and as long as we’re fractured, we can’t operate functionally. I have to maintain my conscious contact with the Universe in order to feel grounded and know in my gut that I’m on “the path.”  

I also had a reading with a numerologist whose first words two years ago were, “Why haven’t you started the business?!? You were supposed to do this years ago!”  I told her I had the plan absolutely FINE TUNED to the gnat’s ass but I didn’t know how to launch it.  She said, “That isn’t your job. That’s God’s job. Get to work!”

A YEAR later, I took the leap. It took me that long to trust the process enough to win . . . or crash and burn but trust that no matter what happened, I’d be OK.

As you know, if you have read the other blogs, the classroom/studio didn’t take the 30 days I was told by the contractor I hired to do the job . . . it took nine MONTHS. I asked him prior to starting, “I have only one request and that’s to please not start till you con go straight through and finish.”  He said, “No problem.”  GET IT IN WRITING. Live and learn.  But that’s all in the past.

So, why am I in shock?

A week after the contractor finished his job, while Patrick and I worked non-stop on getting the landscaping done and working on the button wall (another blog I’ll write, once we take delivery of the last 2120 buttons to complete the project), I got a call from a friend who asked if she could come and see the room.  I told her, “It isn’t done-done yet, but sure.”  She asked, “Can I bring a friend?”  I said, “Of course.”

An hour later my friend and her friend came by and the first thing Ann said is, “You HAVE to show Lee the house!”  So I did.  Room by room, project-by-project, story-by-story, I showed her what Patrick and I had done with 1100 square feet, initially.  When I bought the house, it consisted of two bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room and a kitchen (no appliances, forty-year-old cabinets around half the kitchen and a linoleum “parquet” floor.  The ceiling fan blades were covered with contact paper from the 60’s).

I feel very passionate about design and what we’ve done without palette, so my show is really a show and tell.

Little did I know . . . the “friend” was really interviewing me. At the end of the tour of the landscaping and a quick lighting demo in the new studio (I can demonstrate the five kinds of lighting and why using them together is the way to go), we sat down at the new table, and she said, “I want to hire you.”  “Great,” I said. “What do you want me to do?”

“I just bought a house up the street from you.  I want you to do your thing on it.”

“Which part,” I asked (feeling my adrenaline start to pump).

“All of it.  I live in another state and won’t be leaving there till the end of October.  I want to drive up here with my dogs, cats and suitcases, and take up residence.”

Do you have any idea what it’s like to wonder if you have heard correctly but know you have?  I learned a long time ago not to fake it, so I said, “So . . . you’ll do the rest once you move in?”

“What rest,” she asked?  “I want you to do EVERYTHING.  Just like you did here, only I don’t want you to take ten years.  I want you to do it in five months.  Since it will almost be Winter, you can do the landscaping in the Spring. “


I learned through all the therapy, self-help books, journaling and creative visualization I’ve done, that seeing something in your mind is the first step to manifesting it.  And seeing it is one thing, but believing you DESERVE it is another.  I think that’s why it took me another year after my numerology reading to be ready.

The nine months of waiting was my test.  BY NO MEANS was it a cinch.  I agonized and questioned myself nearly every day before stopping in my tracks and affirming, “I trust the process of life.” But in that time—as I contemplated why I should be on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and all the other Social Media sites I’m still learning about—since I’m LOCAL, I opened my thinking to the possibility that “Hey, I might get a call from a person in California who says, ‘I love your work. Come out here and do every door in my house,” or “How fast, if I have the material, can you collage three kid’s bedrooms?”  Or any other challenge beyond a 30-mile radius of Munster, Indiana.

I never dreamed it would be my first client. So, in the last month, I have hired an architect who’ll design the few structural changes we want to make, assembled a list of sub-contractors who’ll do radiant heat on both floors; re-configure the bathroom and add another one downstairs, tear out walls and ceilings, add, subtract, install, and finish.  Every square inch. I’ve started designing every room up and down; hunted for suppliers/wholesalers and discussed “surface treatments” by Cut+Paste with the client and Patrick.

And I have conceived of it all, as Mozart said in Amadeus, “in my noodle.” It has gone from the indivisible to the divisible.  Now I’ll start the process of making it all visible!  And I’ll chronicle all of it at 8237 Design, Inc.’s website, as soon as I get Patrick to design it!  It’s great to be busy doing what I love.  I strongly recommend it.

It's a classroom... It's a studio... It's done!

Patrick has likened this addition to a pregnancy for the last trimester (yes, it will be almost nine months to the day, since I wrote the first check to the contractor). And, like I remember feeling in that last three months each time, I have been increasingly anxious, moody and eager to get on with it. Unlike a pregnancy, though—where each week means greater likelihood of a healthy, fully developed baby—this thing dragged on . . . and on . . . and on . . . with lots of excuses but no real reasons.

I feel like I’ve been in labor for the last week or two. Ever the mellow and understanding homeowner (Patrick escapes to his studio as early in the mornings as possible), I reached the breaking point and became the squeakiest hinge you have ever heard. It worked! As you can see—just like the final push, which delivers that new life into the world—we have a new classroom/studio, where we will hold classes and meet with clients to discuss making their dreams a reality.

And all that’s left for us to do (besides all the landscaping and patio outside) is add our Cut+Paste touches. I did the stairs, and once the guard and stair rails are installed (this WILL be 100% complete, someday soon), I’ll do the risers.

I have been utterly freaked out that this has taken so long because it officially launches the umbrella business--8237, INC.—from which Cut+Paste, TEACH, and DC2 are components. Like pieces of a puzzle, these facets come together to support each other, as I pull out all the stops, to create my dreams. I have learned to “trust the process of life” in this time, and as I have watched my bank account dwindle, instead of utter panic, I have affirmed that “the universe works in perfect time, to provide me what I need, when I need it.”  

My leaving corporate America—where I earned a steady paycheck, drove a company car, filled it with gas paid for with a company card, and entertained my clients with a company AMEXCO; had health, eye dental and company paid life insurance and ten paid holidays—was a giant leap of faith. I was miserable.  I am an artist, not a sales person. I love lighting (DC2), but I want to give my clients the best product for their application and aesthetic, not necessarily what the company manufactures. I didn’t want to live out of a suitcase or put 30K miles on a car, even if it wasn’t mine. My life in the lighting industry since day one: merger/acquisition. I could go from being a secure National Sales Manager to “We won’t need you anymore; we’re keeping our existing management team in place.”

Time to go. Probably five years ago. But I was too worried I wouldn’t be able to make it on my own. The universe’s voice grew louder and more reassuring. Living with an artist who praised my every creation, fueled my fire. My kids turned into thriving adults, who begged me to go for it.  And I reached the point, when I decided to leap. I neither took wing nor crashed and burned. The universe had other ideas. So, I have free-floated, sometimes hitting turbulence and other times just enjoying the view and learning lessons.

I’ll be teaching at Purdue in the Fall. And now I can go for the rest. I hope you like our classroom.  Can you imagine coming in, getting a cup of coffee or tea and taking a seat, ready to learn in this atmosphere? I hope so!

Now, I’ll be conversing with the universe to send me clients and students. Stay tuned. I think good things are about to happen!


Trust The Vibes You Get. Energy Doesn't Lie.

I’ve hesitated to write because I have been SO frustrated about the time it has taken to build the addition, which will officially launch my business called 8237, LLC.  If you’re reading this, you found it on Cut+Paste, the collage and mosaic/surface treatment offering from Patrick and me. It was the one thing I could start on, while the house is torn up.  
But it’s only part of my grand dream.  We have spent the last nine years turning the house into a virtual art gallery.  In that time, people who have seen it have told me I am in the wrong business (lighting).  My journey as a single mother (for the most part) didn’t afford me the chance to ask myself what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I found myself single with a four year old and a nine month old and started freelance writing and teaching, while I finished my Master’s.
Copywriting lead me to the first lighting manufacturer, just as I finished school, and I jumped at the chance to be their Marketing Director.  As people in lighting will tell you, “Once you’re in, it’s impossible to get out.”  And while I’m famous for doing the “impossible,” part of what I do today is lighting design, so I guess it’s true.  I love, absolutely LOVE, what lighting can do in a space, besides provide light.
For almost 30 years, I told myself, “As soon as __________, I’ll quit and start doing what I love.”  I think I lost sight of that dream, when I realized a steady check and insurance while raising three kids (yes, I did it again) was far more stable than a hit or miss job writing or designing or teaching part time as an adjunct faculty member. I did, however, manage to buy and sell four homes in that time, move to Oregon and back to Indiana (you can go home) and hone the craft of creating cool things on a limited budget.
Regarding the addition, it has been eight months now since I wrote the first check, and I have taken the journey of a lifetime, right in my existing home, while sometimes we see progress, and other times we see . . . nothing. For days.
I didn’t quit my job at Philips, thinking I’d start my new pursuit the next day.  But I did think it would happen months ago.  So, I decided to be like a fisherman and repair the nets, while the conditions refused to let me fish.
I meticulously planned the business: 8237, LLC is the umbrella company which offers everything I have done with the house that I can also do for clients: Interior design, room layouts, material specification and purchase—every single facet of a room, or just a portion—with a concentration on lighting design. Landscapes complete with lighting, to create the perfect outdoor space and gardens. Cut+Paste covers the collage, mosaic, and surface treatment of walls, floors, counter tops and furniture.
And, once the addition is complete, I will have a working studio and classroom from which to TEACH: classes in Composition and Internet Usage (for those who need the extra help), Gratitude and Self Empowerment, for anyone who wants to feel strong, self-reliant and grateful. And each segment feeds the others.  But it isn’t ready yet!!!
So, for now, I found the graphic in this blog appropriate to my message.
Stay tuned . . . for both the finished classroom/studio photos and the manifestation of my dream.  I have found a way to take everything I love—everything I’m good at, everything I’ve been doing my whole adult life—and roll it into one company!!


Searching For Myself

You know how you read along or listen to a song, and all of a sudden a lyric or sentence jumps out at you and makes you think?  It’s one of those “Aha” moments when you say, “That’s what so-and-so meant!”  Or—if you’re like me—you look for those moments, and when you least suspect one, BAM, it hits you between the eyes.

Well, I just had one.  

I have a Pinterest account, with lots of boards and pins, and two of my boards are called, “Things I Think” and “Things That Guide Me.”  I saved the title of today’s Blog as a reminder to myself because, for the last year, I decided to make creating beauty my life, and Cut + Paste is one of the ways I do that.  It has been a week since my last blog, so I scoured around for something to say, when I saw this post and decided to show you the floor, now that it’s had a chance to dry and get a coat of seal.  As I typed the words onto the floor and looked at the pin, to make sure I had it right, the “restore your own soul” leaped out at me.  And I realized about five things, simultaneously (in the old days, I would have called it a head rush).

1. I have asked myself, endlessly, for the last six months WHY this project was taking so long.  It was supposed to take 30 days, and it was supposed to be done October 31, and . . . it still isn’t complete.  I have watched my 401K disappear before my eyes in this time . . . but I have been learning to trust the process of life, so I haven’t freaked out.

2. I learned what it is to have an intention—to be a successful self-employed entrepreneur—but not have any attachment to the outcome.  Between teaching, writing, designing and creating/representing other artists, something’s bound to stick, right?  I had an adjustment at the chiropractor’s office a couple weeks ago, and when he asked me what I was doing to create the knots in my neck and shoulders, I said, “Failing at learning to let go.  I’m starting a business and building an addition, and I want to already be there.”  And he said, you have to think, “Failure is not an option.”  I said, “No it’s that kind of thinking (masculine) that brings me here.  I have to think my intention, then release it (feminine), knowing it will manifest perfectly, according to the universe.”  He said, “Come back in a couple days; I think one more treatment will fix you.”

3. As anyone who knows me personally or on Facebook will attest, I have been way too involved in politics . . . obsessively so.  A numerologist told me, “Your job is to make the world more beautiful, not fix it politically.”  She’s right.  I carry the weight of the world’s problems on my shoulders, and then wonder why I can’t turn my head.  My soul longs for everyone to love his neighbor and send that elevator back, after ascending each level.  Too many would rather disable the elevator than send it back for the next person . . . and that kills my soul.  My numerologist said my artist Self needs to leave those chores for the Warriors.  "Can’t I be a warrior, too?" I asked her, but she said I don’t have the temperament. “You are here to create beauty and inspire in that way.”  I promise myself I will stop.  After the next election.

4. I realized, in addition to learning detachment, I am restoring my own soul.  I wonder how many of us get into situations where we know we aren’t helping ourselves and think, “I’ll get myself out of this as soon as . . . “.  In my case, I stayed 30 years too long.  I love lighting, and I’m very glad I got a chance to see how designers and architects do their thing.  I really do make the best of any situation.  But I deprived my own artist from doing her thing because I didn’t think I was good enough.  And I still don’t.  But the writer in me knows that spelling it out to myself is the most therapeutic way to overcome my fears.  And restore my soul.

5. Finally, I have really practiced being.  Ever the doer, I equated sitting in a chair or doing one thing at a time almost a waste of time.  If I wasn’t doing two things at once with a stream of thoughts about what else I could do, or at least do next, I beat myself mercilessly. And I could accomplish an array of tasks that would leave most people’s heads spinning.  Why ever would I choose to only do ten things a day, if I could achieve fifteen? I think art has helped me slow down and see the essence of something, by itself or in relation to other things.  I have to, if the composition will work. And, in creating art, I also learned it’s OK to be.  I made a deal with myself to take three slow deep breaths, every time I become conscious of the moment.  It is changing my life.

And allowing the next thing to happen.

On its own.

From the Indivisible to the Divisible to the Visible

From the Indivisible to the Divisible to the Visible

Every finished product was once an idea in someone’s mind.  We grab from the field of pure potentiality and assemble it mentally, before purchasing the first element, painting the first stroke or cutting the first piece of glass.  Or, we surrender and wing it, or something in between.

When I have done things to the house, I’ve usually had plenty of time to create the look because it takes a while to make the money to pay for it.  I literally have ten notebooks/sketchbooks full of lines and boxes with words written on them, depicting the various designs for rooms in the house over the years.

This is iteration # 3 of the basement.  What I ended up doing is a bit different--probably the 15th version--but I learned a few things from this adventure:

  • By putting my intentions on paper, I unconsciously told the universe what I wanted.
  • I thought long and hard and revised and edited my plan, one room at a time, till it was exactly what I wanted, and by then, guess what?  I had earned the money to pay for it.
  • As I write, I also realize the universe supported me in my intentions and helped me manifest them.

This project started 6 months ago.   I sat with my architect and told him what I wanted, then let him take the divisible and make it visible, at least on paper.  At that point, we already knew everything we wanted in the finished product.  I created a Pinterest board, called New Addition  and added photos of existing rooms to highlight a chair or window or door I liked.  This made communication with the contractor much easier.  As the walls went up, Patrick and I talked about what we wanted to do with them (our new canvases).  And as the ideas emerged in our minds, we found a photo that served as the inspiration from which we could pivot. Here it is:

Only instead of brick (no red brick in our pallete) we thought about barn wood, much more reflective of our taste.  In the center, instead of the 10' row of drawers, we decided to look for a piece of furniture we could take the legs off and mount to the wall.  So we had the contractor reinforce that area, to accommodate some weight.  And we decided to paint the interior a dark brown and, instead of gold leaf like this has, we'd copper leaf over the paint.  Like this:

Then I had to find two sconces, not four, since we scaled down. As anyone who does interiors knows, since lighting is one of the last things to be installed, owners have usually blown their budget by then and breathe a sigh of relief when the electrical contractor says he can re-design the lighting and save the owner some money.  Don’t believe them and never let the electrical contractor design your lighting. Ever.  Having worked in this world for most of my career, I purchased the lighting, so I knew what to expect from the get-go.  I knew it would cost about 10% of the budget, but I also know what I’m going to get for my money.  Since I had already purchased all the decorative lighting from Restoration Hardware (yes, I only used my industry for the Halo recessed cans) I opted to continue to go broke with these:

As the contractor was running the conduit for the lighting, I noticed he had pipe running down the wall I had told him I wanted built out about 10” like the brick in the picture above.  I said, “I hate to be a pest, but remember the wall you’re going to build out?  How will you still have switching and power, here?"  He had forgotten. So rather than have him rip out what he had already installed, I told him I could work around it.

We decided to go from an arch to straight corners, get rid of the barn wood idea and, instead build out an even smaller area, paint it the same color as the copper leaf portion and cover the whole thing with buttons.  Buttons?  Buttons.  Like these:

We searched sites like Etsy and Craig’sList and ordered over 5,000 buttons.  We will be gluing them on—individually—for as long as it takes to achieve the desired effect.  Instead of the furniture I had earmarked (we either find things on weekend junking expeditions or Online), I opted for this, mounted at bar height, 42” above the finished floor, with these as my sconces: mounted 28" above the bar and only extending 8” from the wall.  I’ll see if tall backed bar stools look better or low, industrials. 

Here’s a picture of the wall.  You can see where the sconces will go and where the wood is reinforced to hold the bar, which weighs about 20 pounds ( 48” long).

This is how I conceive projects.  I’ve had the finished room in my head for almost a year.  I can’t wait to see and show you the finished product.

If You Remove Fear . . .


How do I talk about my life and the path I’ve chosen—to go after my dreams while I still have any—without talking about spirituality?  I don’t mean organized religion.  I’m talking about what keeps me running . . . where I go when the outside world gets too overwhelming and how I stay focused, when FEAR works overtime to suck me dry. I go inward to a place we all have, where all my answers lie. And I try to get real with myself.

There’s a fine line between answering an inner call and self-delusion.  And I constantly go from, I’m good at this.  It makes me happy.  And I know other people would feel this way if they took my class, or hired me to collage a wall, . . . to You are a total hack and weirdo.  Just because it works for you doesn’t mean people are going to PAY you to do it for them! Get a job!! At least I have narrowed the voices in my head down to two: the rebel and the self-nurturer.

I do believe in a DIVINE order to the universe.  I do believe in the perfection of life. I just need to tap into it. I also believe we, as a species, are on the cusp of a giant leap in consciousness.  IF we give ourselves (and others) permission to be.  IF we dare to allow all that we are to come forth and shine.

Some things in my life have come pretty easily to me. I used to feel guilty about winning, when it meant that someone else lost. But I’ve come to realize that maybe loss is nothing more than the Universe saying, This isn’t your calling, or vocation or path or relationship or _____________.  I certainly know that about the things I didn’t succeed at or win.

Are drive, determination, will, pushing, tenacity, not taking no for an answer, hard work, long work, Failure is not an option, (the stuff of endless sales meetings and Business Success books) keys to winning or the opposite of the heart’s calling and, instead, a prescription for stress.  Two trips to the ER told me I was doing something wrong.  Living with Patrick who is a pretty happy guy—because he chose from the start to do what he loves—has taught me maybe I can, too.

Patrick asked me to clarify that NO JOB is 100% happiness and bliss. Artists can (and do, in their own venting groups) experience frustration with clients, creative blocks, and fear that one day it will be all used up.  I actually stayed in corporate America for ten extra years by convincing myself that no job is perfect.  Mostly, I didn’t have the courage to go for it till now. I wasn’t ready.

So, I tell myself, in a couple years, when I’m a booming success, I WILL NOT ask myself why I didn’t do this sooner!


Here I Go

I knew before I went to sleep last night that I’d be taking another step today, and it’s a very scary one, so I decided to write about it.  You see, despite working in Sales for the last 27 years, I am NOT a saleswoman.  If a person needs or wants what I have to offer, no problem.  What I can’t do is try to convince anybody that she does.

I’ve always believed in what I sold, so all I had to do is talk about it.  I’m pretty enthusiastic, and my passion is infectious. So, rather than a sales person, I considered myself a product teacher.  And, when I can cut someone’s energy bill in half and the project will pay for itself in less than a year, it’s pretty easy.  Introducing the architects to gorgeous fixtures that would add to their concepts or shine the light on another design element also required none of the used car salesman pitch.  But the initial approach was always scary.

Today, I have to begin distributing the posters advertising the four classes I want to teach from the new classroom.  And, as wholeheartedly as I believe in them, I will need the support of the community to let me post my ads . . . initial approach.  And THAT’s what scares me.  Is it my fear of rejection: Sorry, we don’t allow solicitors. Is it my fear that I’ll post them and my phone won’t ring?  Or, is it that my phone will ring, I’ll fill the classes and SUCCEED!!!!  I’ve read that our fear of success far outweighs our fear of failure.  I think it’s all three.

I’ve thought long and hard about these four classes.  I have taught the Composition class for the last ten years at IUN, Purdue, DeVry, Triton College and Indiana Tech.  People hate to write because they don’t know how.  It isn’t that they don’t have anything to say.  They just get nervous when it comes to the HOW. This class will teach people how to express what they have to say in a cohesive, thesis supporting way, with lots of editing handouts.  New writers don’t allow nearly enough time for either the conceptual phase or the editing facet.

A Writing Class in Gratitude?  I already know this will change people’s lives.  I’ve been practicing since I read Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance in 1995.  So, as a teacher and practitioner, who better than me to teach other’s to tap into an attitude of plenty? I’ve had The Best Thing That Happened to Me Today on Facebook for a few years now, so those who participate can be my testimonials!

Self-Empowerment Through Writing.  I’m sick of reading, every single day, about what happens when people feel worthless.  I have zero tolerance for bullies.  I know, firsthand, what it’s like to be a doormat.  And part of my recovery came from writing.  I can help people become self-loving, the first step to self-empowered.  And I decided the world NEEDS more of this.  It isn’t taught in the schools, and I’m not a clinical psychologist, so I make no claims in that department.  But I have developed a curriculum that I know will work.  And if I can help ONE person realize his or her unique and valuable membership in this thing we call life, I’ll have succeeded.

Last but not least, after spending five years on Facebook and seeing people say things like, “Where did you get that information,” or “How do I find information to back up what I’m saying, “ or I wish I could find a place to ________,” I concluded there is an entire segment of the population who missed the Internet Revolution, who feel lucky to be able to navigate their way to Facebook but wish they could do much more.  A group of people who have no idea that Social Media offers an entire community of others to “interact” with, if they only knew about them.  So—completely modifying the Research Across the Curriculum class I have taught—I’ll teach these people how to find the answers to all of their questions . . . how to use a search engine as an 8-Ball, to do something as simple as figuring out what kind of bird they see at the feeder—to researching their family lineage—to finding an entire group of like minded people who, for instance, want to heal from the loss of a loved one, in my Internet Research class.

And I’ll do it from the comfortable and relaxed setting of my new classroom! With small, groups. No grades, no exams,  and no pressure.  Just an opportunity to improve their outlook on life and ability to write.  And become . . . dare I say it . . . more fulfilled!

OK.  From writing this, I can go out and find places to put up my posters!!!!  The world—or at least the small radius of people who’ll see these and possibly register—NEEDS ME!  Here I go.