What do you do?

You’ve agreed on everything, the divorce papers are signed, and he’s moved out. You walk through your quiet home and everything is familiar, yet oddly foreign-feeling. Oh, there are reminders; the forgotten sock by the dryer, a couple of beers in the fridge (you drink wine). You feel a little emotionally hollow, as you haven’t quite bridged the gap yet. Then you see IT. The hole in the wall where the 56″ black monster of a TV used to hold center court. It’s absence while welcomed, is at the same time a mirror of the “hole” emotionally left in your heart.

Getting from point A to point B.

The hard part will be reconciling where there was once two of you, only one remains. You’re in the midst of a divorce’s emotional, roller coaster process, having left point A but not quite arriving yet at point B. However, since you’re a positive, forward-thinking woman, you begin to consider and weigh “what are my possibilities here?” “How can I turn my home into a place that truly reflects who I am and who I’m becoming?” You are intrigued at the prospect of feeling excited once more; of discovering your own “secret sauce.”

Alexandra Stoddard, a noted interior designer, said “we live our lives in chapters. If that’s so, why wouldn’t our homes change as well?” You’ve ended a big chapter in your life, and now you’re turning the page and welcoming a brand new one.

Why change your home?

When you change your home so that it fully supports you, it gives you a confidence that you take out into the world with you. There’s a buoyancy, a delicious lightness of being. You begin to see the possibilities. That pale pink living room with apple green accents you always wanted? It’s yours. The home office you had to share? You hated it because his area was always messy? Well guess what, it now has your name on the door.

Say goodbye to the “hole.”

A friend of mine told me that the Chinese symbol for chaos contained within it the symbol for opportunity. Ironic really, because by its very nature, divorce is chaotic mentally, emotionally, and physically. It is draining even when invited. When you pass through the chaos, and you will, you uncover new possibilities. Once the emotional “dust” settles, your new world comes into focus. From the chaos of his departure, arrives the freedom for you to really fly.

There’s something quite special about having a home that is beautiful to you and fully functions and supports your needs. It puts everything into perspective and becomes a source of empowerment. When your “nest” is right, the whole world feels right.

Yes, he left a space behind, the proverbial “hole-in-the wall,” but now you’re able to replace it with something you love and that calls to you and you alone.

The “hole” need not become a metaphor for your life. It now can represent a new beginning that will reward you with more joy than you ever allowed yourself to dream. Your “nest” is in order, you will see your way clear. YOU and YOU alone are the author of your life. Embrace it, embrace yourself and then let yourself fly to wherever you want to go.

P.S. One last thought. If at all possible, replace your bed. Somehow, that new bed really frees you and allows you entre into your new, exciting life.

As always, share your thoughts on my Facebook page.

Until next time…

Blessings,
Nancy

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Baby Boomer WomanHow Widowhood Affects Your Home

How you live in your home after being widowed, can be a daunting task. After the funeral service, after family and friends are not so present, after the shock has worn off abit, you look around and hear the quiet and wonder “what now?” For Baby Boomer women, the challenges on all fronts can become overwhelming. What to do?

JANE”S STORY

Every widow has her own story and set of circumstances that are uniquely her own. I’m going to share the story of one of my clients. For privacy, I’ll call her Jane. She contacted me month’s after her husband’s passing. Up to this point, she had done all the right things—nothing. The biggest challenge of her day was getting out of bed each morning and putting one foot in front of the other. The next right thing Jane did was contact her accountant and a financial advisor. Together, these experts were able to help her untangle the laborious task of her husband’s investments, bank accounts, insurance policies, etc. She initially tried doing it herself. However, when she was told she needed her husband’s signature on a particular document, and she couldn’t get through to the clerk that her husband was deceased, then she knew  professional help was the order of the day.

When she called me, Jane was ready to start making some changes in her home. We began the process of figuring out what her possibilities were. There no longer was a “we.” “We” became “me” and what on earth did “me” want? After 38 yrs. of being a couple, how do you begin to figure out what singular means?

For Jane, we concentrated on the 4 areas most important to her. She took baby steps that kept her moving forward a little each day.

JANE’S PLAN

1) She decided she wanted to remain in her home for the rest of her life, Not only did she love her home, but it would be a poor time to sell  given the current real estate market and her home was paid for which gave her more financial cushioning. We agreed that as she began to enter her senior years, we would make the necessary changes to insure she’d age-in-place safely and securely.

2) Organization. Years of accumulating “stuff.” Closets and drawers that contained far more than the space allowed. With a friend to keep Jane in check and on task, I gave them three large containers labeled keep, sell, give away. Jane sold the massive T.V. in her family room that her husband had loved and she hated. Clearly, a guy thing. Jane hasn’t yet been able to remove his clothing, yet, she needed the space. We solved it by moving it all to the basement, making sure it’s protected until such time she is emotionally ready to give his clothing away.

3) Physical fitness. Very important for Jane’s physical and emotional health.  She has a problem knee, so daily walking was the answer for her. I also recommended yoga which is terrific for maintaining and/or improving flexibility and balance—two critical factors as she moves into her senior years. Another benefit of yoga is mental. It’s calming and allows the mind to center itself.

4) Interior design. We changed much of her home’s interior paint colors. We re-arranged furniture, changed out lighting, and even removed a non-bearing wall that opened up her living/dining area. For Jane, what really made her smile, was re-doing her master bedroom and bath. It was clearly a masculine feeling room. Yes, there was another monster T.V. that had to go and was replaced with a plasma attached to the wall. It also contained too many large, dark pieces of furniture. After new color on the walls, light-colored furniture to the scale of the space, new window coverings, bedding and giving the bath a fresh new look, Jane now has a serene, private space that gives her a feeling of joy, peace, and beauty.

Do all of these wonderful changes take the place of Jane’s husband? Of course not. But for Jane, she did discover a new sense of self and an emotional strength she didn’t know she had. Her self-esteem has grown and she is able to see positive possibilities in her future.

None of us knows what the future holds. One thing is certain, and that is change happens and there will be events that we can’t control, such as the death of a spouse. How we adapt, and how we forge a positive future, is something we can control. It’s in our hands, hearts, and minds.

In future blogs, I will talk about other transitions that affect Baby Boomer womens’ homes. Subjects such as re-marriage, combining families, downsizing, and merging three generations. Until then, I invite you to share your ideas and opinions on my Facebook page. There is strength in numbers and no one shares better than we women.

Until next time…

Blessings,
Nancy

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baby boomer divorceHow to Make Your Home Your Own After Divorce
According to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, overall divorce rates among people age 50 and older has doubled. The reasons are many and I won’t go into them here. No matter the reason, it’s a time of great emotional upheaval with changes that affect the entire family and sometimes beyond—sort of like watching ever widening ripples when we throw a rock into a lake.

Home as a Haven
How is our home affected by divorce? In many cases, there are still children living in the home and it’s much easier for them to deal with a divorce if they can remain in a familiar place. For other women, it just makes better financial sense, especially with the current real estate situation, to keep their home.

So here we are, living in a home that screams with memories. Some terrific, some not so much, but memories shared over many years cannot be discarded, nor should they be. All of these memories make us who we are today.The good ones we hold onto and the others we learn from.

A Renewed Focus
I had a client contact me because she she was divorced after 38 yrs. of marriage. After this much time sharing a home, she wanted to know how to make it her own. It’s not easy to see and live in a place that’s been shared with a husband or significant other. She realized she needed to see her home with new eyes. She needed a plan, a step-by-step action plan. Through a series of dialogue, she came to see who she is now, and where she wants to go. Recognizing that, she became excited with a renewed focus for the direction she wanted her life to take and it started with her home.

This kind of planning is important because it’s not just re-arranging furniture, but re-arranging a life.

What To Do
If you are stuck and divorced, or about to be, the following suggestions can help get you started:

A) Paint- Nothing can change a space better or, more quickly, than new colors.  Now’s the time to paint your living room or bedroom that perfect shade of pale pink that would have sent your ex-husband screaming into the street. It’s your choice and it can be whatever makes you feel good.

B)- Goodby to the easy chair that he left and you’ve always HATED. This goes for any pieces you may have chosen together, but were not necessarily your first choice. Better to have an empty space than fill it with something you
don’t absolutely love. Few of us can get rid of everything at once, but we can do it gradually. I had another client who had to get rid of the “marriage bed.” New bedding wouldn’t suffice. It had to be a bed that had never been slept in. For her, this was moving forward in a positive way.

C) The Man Cave- No longer needed, unless you have teenage boys, and maybe not even then. This might be the perfect time to turn that room into your dream space. A place where you can enjoy your interests that you couldn’t fully
embrace while married.

D) Re-arrange your rooms to whatever suits you in your new life. Too many T.V’s and you don’t watch that much? Sell or give away what you don’t need or want. Think that his office is o.k. the way he set it up? Make it your own. Make it a space that allows you to work and be your most creative.

The same goes for all the rooms in your home. With a pad and pen, do a walk-through and look around. What feelings do you get? How would you like to feel? If you can’t make big changes, make small ones. You want to feel in charge and in control.

Whether divorce was your choice, his choice, or mutual, you have opened a new chapter in this book that represents your new life. Make it a best seller. In spite of the pain and upheaval, it also allows you possibilities for a life and a home you never dreamed of before.

Until next time…

Blessings,
Nancy

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capitalI was thinking this past week about all of the turmoil going on inside the hallowed halls of our Congress in Washington D.C. The Republicans don’t want to raise taxes. The Democrats want the wealthiest of Americans to pay more. The Tea Party wants a revolution that will force the government to change to change its spending ways—no matter the consequences. It reminds me of monitoring a children’s playground.

The problem, as I see it, with so many points of view, each thinking their version is best, how can a consensus be reached? It can’t. It can only happen when all parties meet in the middle and accept that no one group gets it all their way.

COMPROMISE = A HAPPY HOME
As Baby Boomer women, compromise is one of the things we do best. We’ve had to do it for years and we’ve turned it into an art form. Balancing jobs,children, parents, spouses or significant others is second nature to us. We haven’t even thought of it in those terms. What was best for the group, as a whole, was our challenge and sometimes, even to our detriment because we put ourselves last.

Now we’re at a time in our lives when we face new challenges. The children are out of the house or soon will be. We’re planning our retirement or have already done so. We have to decide what’s best for aging parents. We may want to start a new career. And, as life has it, some of us face divorce or widowhood.

OUR GOVERNMENT COULD LEARN FROM US
All of the challenges we face now, we will solve as we’ve always done. We figure out what we want and need, and what’s best for our group, make a plan, take action and make it happen. The problems facing Congress are certainly much larger and more complex than we face. However, solutions are found the same way we do each and everyday.

Sounds simple, right? No, it rarely is. It can be fraught with uncertainty. But, we don’t and never have had, the luxury to do nothing, to let issues slide, and hope for the best, or turn it over to a committee.

COMPROMISE = A HAPPY COUNTRY
We don’t make important, life-affecting decisions based on re-election. Congress shouldn’t either. Just as we consider our home, our life, and all who are affected by it to be of paramount importance, so it is with Congress. The problems we share in America touch us all in very serious ways. A compromise must be reached to remain a strong country. Just as we do everyday to insure a happy home.

Until next time…

Blessings,
Nancy

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Noted interior designer, Alexandre Stoddard, says that we live our lives in chapters. If that’s so, why wouldn’t our homes change, too?

Think back to how we decorated our college dorm room. We might laugh now, but back then it served our needs. Or, if it didn’t, we didn’t know or even care.

Next came our first apartment. We didn’t have much money so family took pity and gave us their left-overs. We also became familiar with yard sales and flea markets. Where was Ikea when we needed them?

For most of us what followed was marriage and children. A far cry from our single days. We now not only needed more room, but we had a spouse and kids to consider. Function became paramount.

Now we are baby boomers and we’re into yet another chapter. Our home needs to reflect what we most want and need at this time in our lives which is different from what came before.

THE TOP 5 MUST HAVES IN OUR INTERIOR DESIGN

1)  Ease of care. Homes that are uncluttered with easy to care for furniture and surfaces. We want quality but we don’t want anything that requires undue maintenance. Been there, done that.

2)  The right amount of interior lighting. Our vision isn’t as keen as it was at 30. so we need lighting that allows for easy reading and working. Many homes don’t have enough lighting. We must have task lighting (no squinting), over all lighting, and mood lighting. No dark corners and certainly no tripping and falling.

3)  Furniture that works. If we have downsized or intend to, baby boomers need furnishings that are in scale to smaller square footage. Furniture that is easy to get in and out of without needing a crane. Easy care fabrics that are beautiful but give us no worries when our grandchildren visit. Enough storage space that’s cleverly designed to hold alot and doesn’t take up too room.

4)  Style or function? Both. We know we aren’t going to sacrifice comfort for whatever the latest trends are. We also know that we will not choose to live in surroundings that are too utilitarian. Designers and manufacturers are making it easy for us to have comfort, beauty, and function at many different price points.

5)  Multi-purpose spaces. We may not need as many rooms now, but we want room enough to have overnight guests, a place for paying bills and holding our computers, enough room for gatherings. This is why open space plans work so
well. Office/guest room, bathrooms, and bedrooms need doors, but a smaller space that is open allows for more light, ease, and it appears larger.

O.K., we may have given up our 5 inch Manolas, but we’ve found so many chic and comfortable lower heels, that it no longer matters.

The same with our home. For what we exchange or part with or add to, requires no sacrifice at all. We embrace this new chapter in our lives with grace and excitement for all the possibilities that are ahead of us.

So, baby boomer ladies, we will continue to want it all just as we always have.

Until next time…

Blessings,
Nancy

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You have spent your entire lives taking care of others, and now it’s time to work on “me.”

It’s time for YOU! You have raised your family, been there time and again for everyone else, and taken care of and supported all of the people in your life. Now is the time for you to go forward in your decision that YOUR life matters, too! Imagine creating an IDEAL INTERIOR ENVIRONMENT that supports you and everything you want to be as you go forward building the life or your dreams, which includes a fully supportive home tied to a life that makes room for all of the gifts inside you that you want to now explore and develop.

Not sure where to begin?

Here are 7 tips on getting going:

1)  Step outside of the box and try to look at your home as if seeing it for the first time. Hard to do, but this is important because when we see something everyday, we no longer really see it; it becomes a part of the landscape.

2)  Take photos of each room. It’s another way to view your space in a more detached manner.

3)  As you view each photo, have a notebook handy and write down your first impressions.Don’t think about it because your mind will start filtering and it won’t reflect your true feelings. We do this all of the time. Our mind is our head space which serves an important function to be sure. But we can’t forget our heart space. This is where our true feelings are and where our dreams live. The very first thoughts that come to mind can also be referred to as intuition, or our “gut feelings.” This is our built-in GPS.  It tells us what we really think. With heart space we think, “what if.”  “What are all of the possibilities?” Our head space tells us, “You shouldn’t think that.” Or, “you can’t do that because…”

4)  When you’ve written your FIRST impressions, think of what your possibilities might be. What could you change? What do you want to change?

5)  Make a spread sheet with the title of each room listed. Underneath each title, write down what changes you’d like to make. It might be one thing or many. The number is not important. The goal of the entire exercise, is to have your home fully serve you.

6)  Think in terms of how the room functions and feels to you. What are your most important needs? For example, you have a formal dining room that is rarely used. Why not turn that space into a room that you can use and enjoy
everyday? Say you love to read, why not make this formal dining room into a library? Add book shelves to hold favorite books. Turn the dining table into a library table. It’s easy to still use it for dining when the need arises. Or, maybe, the formal living would serve better as a dining area. Why not reverse them?

7)  You’ve visited all of your rooms and you now have a “wish” list of what changes you’d like to make. List them in order of preference. What changes you’d most like to make right now? You can go at your own pace, but write down your action steps and set a date to begin your project and finish it.  This makes it a plan and makes you accountable. You’re less likely to let it stay on your “wish” list.

When we reject the “status quo,” and mindfully look at something, it’s amazing at what can crop up. We see new possibilities. It’s fun and exciting. So often, my clients, after finishing this process, say ” Why didn’t I see it?” “Why didn’t I do this long ago?” “Why did I say I guess it’s o.k. when it clearly wasn’t?”

The best part is what this kind of accessing, making a plan, and taking action can give you. Your reward is the feeling of empowerment that you take out into the world. So, this is YOUR time, YOUR life—reach out, grab hold, and enjoy the ride! Life is too short to do otherwise.

Until next time…

Blessings,
Nancy

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Do Not Call Us Seniors

March 25th, 2011

As Baby Boomers, we know we’re getting older, but we don’t define ourselves as “old.”

We give aging a whole different meaning than it did our parents and grandparents. For one thing, we live longer because we’re healthier. We still feel vital and excited about possibilities unexplored. We feel it’s never too late and in many ways that is true.

However, “age” does rear it’s head now and again. I find that I have had to up the strength of my reading glasses, I have to make lists of whatever so I don’t forget something and names—you know, the feeling of dread when you see someone you know well and their name escapes you?

Yes, these are realities we live with but I decided to just accept and not give too much attention to these irritations. Instead, I just make adjustments as I need to.

So, what does all this have in common with interior design?

Well, a lot. I believe our homes are meant to be beautiful and still fully support us. As we reach this stage in our lives, we face many transitions, sometimes concurrently, that affect how we live and function in our homes.

Ask yourself: “When I look around my rooms, do I see them as a reflection of who I am at this time of my life?”

“Are there things I need to change in order for my home to
function in the ways I need it to?”

“Does my home reflect my best life?”

Our home can be a journey of self-discovery that is so exciting and rewarding, that it can directly affect how we live both inside and outside of our home.

In future blogs, I will share stories of some of my clients who have made this journey and how much more enriched their lives became. In the meantime, please feel free to email me and share your thoughts.

Until next time….

Blessings,
Nancy

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What Now Baby Boomers?

March 5th, 2011

Being apart of such a huge demographic called Baby Boomers, I’ve always felt whatever I needed, the marketplace would provide it. After all, we are so large in numbers, carrying so much consumer weight that our needs and desires had to be delivered to us. And they have been.

Our parents looked at their lives much differently. They grew up during a depression and a world war. When we all came along, our world was one of abundance and our parents wanted us to have more than they did.

Now we are reaching a another milestone. It’s a big one called retirement.
We don’t relate to that word. We feel younger than we are, we are generally fitter, healthier and living longer then any generation before us ever has. We are still vital and excited about what can come next. What are the possibilities in front of us, waiting to be discovered?

We do, however, also have real life issues that we are or will be facing. Challenges that were not in our vocabulary before. Issues like the “empty nest,” children still living at home and parents who need care. Are we getting divorced, or remarried? Are we combining families? Should we age-in-place or downsize?

All of these issues involve our home in very important ways. As an interior designer, and Interior Environment Coach, my passion lies in giving you help to make these kinds of transitions easier. Making sure that your home supports you now at this point in your life.

Until next time……

Blessings,
Nancy

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The Purina Diet

February 4th, 2011

What does diet and Purina have to do with decorating? Absolutely nothing. However, a home filled with laughter is the absolute best. A good friend sent me this e-mail and her home is not only beautiful, but it’s equally filled with joy. I hope you enjoy it!

Yesterday I was at my local Costco buying a large bag of Purina dog chow for my loyal pet, Molson, the Wonder Dog and was in the checkout line when a woman behind me asked if I had a dog.

What did she think I had, an elephant?

So since I’m retired and have little to do, on impulse I told her that no, I didn’t have a dog, I was starting the Purina Diet again… I added that I probably shouldn’t, because I ended up in the hospital last time, but that I’d lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care ward with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IV’s in both arms.

I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and that the way that it works is to load your pants pockets with Purina nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. The food is nutritionally complete so it works well and I was going to try it again. (I have to mention here that practically everyone in line was now enthralled with my story.)

Horrified, she asked if I ended up in intensive care because the dog food poisoned me. I told her no, I stepped off a curb to sniff an Irish Setter’s ass and a car hit us both.

I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack he was laughing so hard. Costco won’t let me shop there anymore.

Better watch what you ask retired people. They have all the time in the world to think of crazy things to say.

Until next time.

Warmest regards,
Nancy

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