Archives for May 2008

Outdoor Rooms: Solutions

Here are a few solutions to common problems with outdoor spaces.

Outdoor Rooms: Solutions

I’ve seen this hint used in Cannon Beach, Oregon. They hang a clear bag of water above doors to keep the bugs out of shops. They say it helps, something about seeing their image magnified or thinking it is a body of water keeps the bugs out. Guess it is worth a try! Photo: Living Etc.

Outdoor Rooms: Solutions

Don’t have enough room for gardening? Try going vertical! I saw this in Living Etc, but couldn’t find the actual product. However, you could hang planters just like you do window boxes, filling up a blank wall.

Outdoor Rooms: Solutions

We got one of these net cabanas at Smith & Hawken last year. You simply put it over your umbrella and it keeps the bugs out!

Outdoor Rooms: Solutions

Don’t know what to do with your patio furniture in the off season? Use furniture covers from Pottery Barn.

Outdoor Rooms: Solutions

Need to cover a less than lovely patio or porch? Or simply want to define a space? How about an outdoor rug?

Outdoor Rooms: Solutions

Want a more permanent solution to spruce up a concrete patio? How about acacia wood interlocking floor tiles from Pottery Barn?

Outdoor Rooms: Solutions

Need some sun protection but don’t have a large space? How about this half umbrella from Grandin Road?

via The Washington Post

Outdoor Rooms: Solutions

Chilly nights? Try a table top patio heater! Via The Washington Post, at Lowe’s stores in July

Outdoor Rooms: Solutions

Need to shade a large area? Use an offset patio umbrella from Cushions and Umbrellas! Use the discount code theinspiredroom for 10% off!

Outdoor Rooms: Solutions

Need to transform an old wood deck? How about painting some diamonds? Domino Mag

Outdoor Rooms: Solutions

If you really want to garden but must sit on a stool, why not throw your pride out the window and wear a strap on stool? Yeah. That is wacky alright. Clean Air Gardening Supply via This Old House.

Outdoor Rooms: Solutions

And last, but not least, if you want to garden in the rain…

Nubrella.com via This Old House

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Living An Authentic Life: My Journey

Living An Authentic Life: My Journey

May 2008
As most of you might know by now, I’m a believer in what I call “Authentic Living.”

This is a topic that really speaks to me because it affects so much of our life either positively or negatively. I’ve learned this through experience, so I thought I’d share a bit more of my journey of discovery.

By my loose definition, authentic living is living a life that works for you, instead of struggling against the one you have been given. It is finding satisfaction, contentment and fulfillment in the present. It is living on purpose and with purpose. And, perhaps more importantly, it is a life where we are useful to people around us because we are able to give of ourselves in the way we want to.

It can be a life filled with dreams, hard work and determination, but at its foundation is authenticity to both who we are and what is appropriate for us at any given point in life. It is like a compass, it helps us to determine if we are spending our time and money appropriately. It is living well within our means not only financially, but emotionally, physically, time-wise, and in other ways as well.

Learning to live authentically has been a lifelong process for me, as I think it is for most people. What was “authentic” while growing up in our parents’ house is different for what we think is authentic in our 20s or 30s. And often times in those early adulthood years, we don’t know what is authentic for us. We might think we do, and some might even have a firm grasp on who they are, but for most of us, we are “just learning the ropes” of who we really are, separate from our parents. We are still trying out different hats, different paths and really learning who we are and what works for us. With each life change (careers, marriage, children, moving, empty nests), we have to adjust our way of living life.

Living An Authentic Life: My Journey

As I find myself in my 40s, I feel that I am poised now to be living my most authentic life, because I have had more experience with what works for me and what doesn’t. While authenticity is something I always believed in, it has taken time, trial and error to really grab a hold of what it means to me and how I live that out. That is not to say I have it all figured out, I’m still learning and adjusting. I’m still on the journey of discovery and growth.

When I was a young wife, I thought my authentic self was destined to live in some sort of dreamy environment. You know, if I worked hard enough at it I could have the spotlessly clean house, cute cherub children, the perfectly decorated home. It seemed natural for me, as I had grown up in a few homes that were close to most people’s definition of perfection. I had dreamed of my perfect fairytale life as a wife and mom ever since I was little. That was all I knew and it seemed like a realistic option!

But as my husband and I carved our own way in life, it became clear to me that life was different in my new family than it was in my original one. Not better or worse, just different. I had some adjusting to do.

Living An Authentic Life: My Journey

The difficulty I ran into with the perfection route was something always suffered when I tried to achieve it.

Contrary to my original assessment of what life as an adult would be like, I was not in a position to do it all. And usually what suffered were things I held dear. I lacked the time and/or money for my expectations and that led to feelings of discontent and frustration.

It took awhile for me to realize that I was running ahead full steam in a direction that I thought was important, when really it wasn’t what I valued the most or was capable of achieving. My priorities confused me and left me wondering if that was how life was supposed to feel.

So, in the process of redefining how I live, I had to reconcile the parts of me that loved a beautiful environment and the parts of me that couldn’t keep that up! I wanted to live a “beautiful life” and it was part of who I was and how God wired me, but I didn’t always have the money or the time to do things the way I wanted to. I wanted to be true to who I was, but I didn’t know how.

Living An Authentic Life: My Journey

As time has marched on, I have had to redefine for myself what a beautiful life looked like. Again, this process was a part of learning to live authentically. My husband and I moved quite a bit in our married years, I think each time we moved we were seeking more authenticity. A bigger house, a smaller house, a different neighborhood, digging out of a rough financial patch.

While we were able to pay off debts, earn equity in our homes, accommodate career changes and build up our assets, the moving took a toll on our life. We kept working hard on our houses only to move and have to start over.

We’d get our life organized in one house, and then had to re-do it the next. We’d fully landscape one backyard and move to a home that needed the same overhaul. It began to feel like we were on a treadmill and never were arriving at our destination.

It was an exhausting exercise in trying to find authenticity. Looking back, I thought if I got everything arranged in life just so, the right house, the right neighborhood, the right yard, the right decorating and the right size of house, authenticity and contentment would fall into place.

True, if where you are at in life is completely inappropriate for you (your house is way too expensive for your income, for example), then switching homes might be a good idea. And sometimes making a move is just what you need to do to change your life.

But still, many times in life when I made a decision to move or re-do something, my focus might have been off. I would solve one or two problems and create a half dozen more.

Living An Authentic Life: My Journey

What I have learned for myself is that the goal is not always to make everything perfect around me, but to LIVE fully, to the best of my ability, wherever I am. It is being content to balance my life with what God gives me!

I have had to change my focus and perception of how I look at life. Yes, sometimes that means moving to a new house, remodeling or getting a new job in order to live more fully. But sometimes that means projects remain undone for years at a time so I can redirect my time and resources to something else that is more important to me.

Living An Authentic Life: My Journey

Circumstances will ebb and flow, but now that I am fully embracing authentic living, my intent remains the same in spite of my circumstances or whims. Authentic living isn’t necessarily being frugal in every way or living simply, as some people do, it is living on purpose and with purpose according to what I have been given.

I have to make sacrifices in order to fully live with contentment in the moments I have. I can’t chase down authenticity or find it somewhere else, nor can I have every duck in a row at all times. Authenticity looks different at my house than it might look at your house.

You can’t necessarily spot someone who is living authentically just because of the car they drive, the kind of house they live in, the things they have, or the place they buy their groceries.

Authenticity is a series of personal decisions I make every day. While I sometimes think it would be great to go back in time and make life a “do over” I’m content where I am today. Life isn’t perfect, struggles still loom over us and some uncertainty of our future remains. But I’m happy to just fully live in the moments I’m given.

So, in a nutshell, that is my journey towards authentic living.

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