As the year ends and I am pondering what 2013 might hold, here are some pictures of my walk through Narnia over the past week (we got a bit more snow since the White Christmas).

narnia woods

This will be my only post for this week as I am processing the year close-out and also working on de-cluttering my home.


snow crystals

It’s a ponderous process, and as I sit and reflect and set my intentions for the coming year, I feel the need to journal on paper more and return to the computer later.

peanuts tree


I do wish you a lovely and celebratory New Year’s Eve, and look forward to sharing more marvelous adventures with you in 2013.



See you next year!


smiley tree

White Christmas

A solo Christmas can be a bit murky at times, ranking up there with Valentine’s Day as movie after movie re-enacts the notion that within a span of 24 hours families reunite, love shows up at the front door, and financial and health problems miraculously get resolved.

snowy lake

In real life, there was jarring news that showed World Peace doesn’t magically happen on Christmas Eve. It was a period of reflection and re-setting, and getting to the heart of Christmas.

I was cheered by this video that shows we don’t have to wait for grand Hollywood gestures to occur, but that split-second random acts of kindness can have a chain effect too, connecting us all.

The next morning I woke up to a White Christmas, which felt like another signal that it isn’t all so bad out there.

Christmas morning view

The blanket of snow was light enough to make travel possible, yet with enough coverage to create a crunch under one’s feet and be wrapped in the joy of a a storybook White Christmas.

snow berries

The snowflakes looked like they came from a theater set.

REAL snow flakes

I smiled as I listened to the laughter of children sledding and throwing snowballs. Parents cheered as a toddler’s first mini-snowman was built.

toddler's first snowman

The Peanuts gang popped in my head at the sight of this tree.

Charlie Brown tree

Plus another tiny snowman rivaling Pig-Pen.

Pig-Pen the snowman

The scent of fireplaces burning made me happy.


Cultural integration, the true spirit of Christmas.

Culture meshing

Reflective took on a humorous meaning as I snapped photos of giant ornaments.


When I returned from my walk, my footprint heart was still intact.

not walking over love

It was an affirmation that my neighbors aren’t blind to love when it crosses their path, and these little blessings are what lift my heart and make me believe in the goodness of the world. Gotta keep on giving that love!

Radvent 2012 10: Wishing

“No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from
Fill your lives with love and bravery
And you shall lead a life uncommon.”
Jewel, Life Uncommon

Technically Radvent is over, but in Germany it is the second day of Christmas, so I can keep going! Princess Lasertron’s Radvent on Wishing has some great prompts as I close out 2012 with Leonie Dawson’s Create Your Incredible Year In Biz + Life e-workbooks.

peace with hearts

Reassess the hopes you had for 2012.

Last year I made the following pledges:

1. Give the positive exponentially more value than the negative, every day

When the negative threatened to overtake, especially during tragedies on a large and smaller scale, I found comfort in talking through it, connecting with loved ones, and clinging to words of hope.

“If I could tell the world just one thing
It would be that we’re all OK
And not to worry ’cause worry is wasteful
And useless in times like these
I won’t be made useless
I won’t be idle with despair
I will gather myself around my faith
For light does the darkness most fear”
~ Jewel, Hands

2. Honor people as they are, including myself

My Self-worth post revealed that 2011’s Style resolutions needed revisiting and reinforcing, but I see that many of us struggle with this on a regular basis, so I am being kind to myself about that. Meeting the Arts of Life artists has put honoring people in a whole new perspective.

3. Stick to the artistic journey and give it room to expand, shift gears, grow

Oh my goodness, I had no idea where this would take me. The artistic journey will warrant a whole post of reflection. I think shifting gears might have been asking for more than I intended!

4. Continue to build relationships (in-person and online)

Directly linked to #3, I have made numerous wonderful connections this year and deepened relationships that began over the past year. I am so blessed to truly have a community now.

5. Draw inspiration from life every day

I literally learned to draw, which did teach me to see things even more intensely than I already did from the photographer’s view. Now the ‘scenic eye’ also notices shapes and patterns everywhere. There is so much to express from all that I have ingested this year, and I look forward to doing so in 2013.

“Naming a wish is step one,
and working toward it is steps two through ten-thousand,
every step after that, and that’s where the work is done.
I promise the universe will give you all the help it can.
But you’ve gotta want it and work for it
and wake up every day excited to go get it.”
~ Princess Lasertron


Consider and record your wishes for the new year.

Leonie Dawson has a ‘100 things to do in 2013’ exercise which I am thinking through. I want those ‘tasks’ to relate to the broader goals that I have yet to clarify (which her worksheets will help me do over the coming days).

peace is always here

As I look back at last January’s wishlist, there are pieces I abandoned that I want to reconsider for the coming year. Priorities shifted, practicalities got in the way, and new opportunities put some things I really wanted last January on the backburner. There needs to be a balance of seizing the opportunity/moment with being aware of how a shift or a decision will impact other aspects of the journey.

“Things change.
The things I wanted, the things that inspired me,
and the priorities I had were really different
at this time last year.”
~ Princess Lasertron

I am proud of myself for saying yes, and for going with the flow, but just because I don’t know how to accomplish something doesn’t mean I cannot try to implement some guideposts for myself to check on whether I am getting there.

be nice

Are you careful what you wish for?

Many of my goals were achieved through visualization, determination, discipline, and practical working toward it. Other things came to me by taking one step onto a new path and then being surprised and blessed with revelations and gifts as I kept moving on. Then there are other wishes I’ve had since I was a little girl that haven’t worked out. This month I am sorting through the patterns and scripts and fairy tale ideas that may be blocking or hindering the adult version of the child’s dream. Princess Lasertron’s prompts are a great way to look at these:

“What will create an outcome that is compatible
with the values and goals of my life right now?
Why do I think I want this?
What are the motivations behind my desire?”
~ Princess Lasertron


Five wishes for myself.

1. Allow my intuition to be my primary guide — over logic, practicality, and what others are doing. 

I’ve let some goals slip because I got intimidated, couldn’t justify funding it, or listened to nay-sayers (some in my own head), rather than having faith that the path and the means would present themselves, as has happened with other things.

“When I envy people who show their happiness to the world, that robs me of my happiness. It is so much easier and fulfilling to be happy for them, be grateful for the gift of joy they’re sharing with the world, and project my own authentic joy in my own way.”
~ Princess Lasertron

2. Become better at expressing my (true) self

I’m a listener rather than a speaker, and observe more than I participate. I’ve watched Princess Lasertron strip away some of her facade over the past year, and I admire her courage in expressing more of who she is as a person. “She who dies with the most likes wins” by Jessica Valenti gave me pause when I read it, and I want to ensure I am living my own life, instead of being lived by others.

“Wanting to be liked means being a supporting character in your own life, using the cues of the actors around you to determine your next line rather than your own script. It means that your self-worth will always be tied to what someone else thinks about you, forever out of your control.”
~ Jessica Valenti

3. Continue to surround myself with people who allow me to be me, rather than those who project a role of what/how I should be

Fortunately I’ve had the privilege of getting to know a few gutsy ladies who tell it like it is over the past year, and I really really like these women. Admiration of someone’s authenticity is far better than just being liked for being nice in my book, so I will take a cue from my own response to them in being braver along my own path.

“The truth is that we don’t need everyone to like us, we need a few people to love us. Because what’s better than being roundly liked is being fully known.”
~ Jessica Valenti

4. Finally start writing that book.

I’ve always wanted to be an author, and each year slips by without an outline. I have an idea forming in my head, and am pursuing research toward it. This year I want to at least have an outline drafted, instead of closing another year with “I will write a book someday.” Cue the comments to wish #1!

“I really believe that everyone has something awesome about them. Something they’re really proud of that deserves to be appreciated. I’m so motivated to share those things and show the world how powerful it is to embrace and celebrate what others do.”
~ Princess Lasertron

5. Be present when magic happens

There have been many magical moments this past year. I noticed most of them as they were happening, but there have been times where I didn’t recognize it until later, after I’d slowed down from my rush to get things done. The media is full of fear-mongering that has us hunkering down and creating comfort zones for ourselves that are hard to break out of. By ensuring that sense of control for ourselves, we also rule out the opportunity for serendipity and wonder. Being among butterflies makes me feel like I’m among fairies, no matter how much I study the biology and anatomy of these creatures. I believe that angels walk among us, and that we need to be open for extraordinary moments in mundane places.

“It’s time to dream a new dream. Time to create an incredible year for yourself, your world, the world. First comes the THOUGHT, then the WORD, then the ACTION. That’s how change happens. Are you ready?”
~ Leonie Dawson, Create Your Incredible Year Workbook

world peace

Pictures of the prayer flags were taken at a neighborhood Montessori School.

Radvent 2012 9: Stillness

Lately I’ve been craving stillness. It has been such a tumultuous year for me, my family, my friends, as well as the world at large, and I’m a bit exhausted from it all.

stilling the heart by Maike's Marvels

Excitement, fear, worries, celebration, new ventures, discarding the past, learning a lot, getting to know new people. It all takes energy, which when not recharged can cause fatigue.

“Best of all is it
to preserve everything in a pure, still heart,
and let there be for every pulse a thanksgiving,
and for every breath a song.”
Konrad von Gesner

Sometimes we get so caught up in moving forward and doing the next thing that we don’t take stock of how far we’ve come since last year, or even the past month at times.

So since dropping off my art work in St. Charles and Geneva, I have been reflecting a lot on all that has happened this year. When there was a big snow warning Thursday evening I was hoping it would happen, so the world would just snuggle up in its white stilling blanket—but we had whipping winds and falling temperatures instead.

It still precluded a planned venture out in the city, and I took a hibernation day anyway. Laying in the dark helped me process a lot of thoughts and truly check in with how I feel about the year’s events.

“In silence, at first, you can ‘hear’ EVERYTHING you’re internalizing.
It’s not calming, it’s not comfortable, and
if you keep listening to those voices, engaging them,
conversing with them, they will never subside and
allow the possibilities of quiet to unfold.”
~ Princess Lasertron

The next day I walked to the lake to breathe out all the changes, and breathe in the gorgeous colors of the chilly sunset.

being still by Maike's Marvels

This year our family decided that our together time over Thanksgiving was the gift of the year, and none of us need anything else from the store.

Initially it was jarring to not have to get caught up in the hoopla of shopping or checking wishlists or coming up with something clever to give. There is still that trigger with every ‘last minute holiday deal’ ping in my inbox, out in the stores, on the web. But that too, has had me thinking of how Christmases past were focused on things, a tally of what everyone would get, rather than the quality of time spent together and the memories shared (check out the Princess’ Giving Radvent, by the way). These memories of togetherness turn out to be far more meaningful, several de-cluttering stints later.

“ ‘It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes or bags!’
And he puzzled three hours, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store.
Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!’ ”
~ Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas

So I am glad to spend this Christmas in stillness. I have one present under the tree from a friend, and seeing it along with all the holiday cards each day, knowing it represents all the other wonderful people thinking of me, makes me happy.

I may pull out a movie, or get absorbed in a book, or start working on the 2013 planner I’ve recently ordered. All is well in my little world, and love stretches through time and space across the miles, across continents, and even from beyond.

Amidst all the hurry to get presents wrapped and to your holiday destination, between the shuttling of family members to church services and other events, as you check the timers for your ‘roast beast’, find a moment of stillness. Watch the flicker of a candle, reflect on the meaning of that manger scene. Ponder the concept of solstice and evergreens. Look for the sparkle of a fluttering angel’s wings. Kiss your sweetheart under the mistletoe just a tad bit longer. Hug everyone a little harder to thank them for their presence, not just their present.

stillness by the lake, Maike's Marvels

Be still.

“Learning how to be still,
to really be still and let life happen –
that stillness becomes a radiance.”
~  Morgan Freeman 

Wishing you a lovely Christmas time, however you celebrate it.

For more reflections on stillness, look at Princess Lasertron’s fabulous HaikuDeck on Silence (it only takes 5 moments).

Radvent 2012 8: Expression

“See your surroundings as a channel for self-expression.
What can you do to love where you are?”
~ Princess Lasertron

I decided to weed out my book cases this week, and it has me on a mad organizing bender. Basically I’ll be pulling everything down on the floor and then re-arranging the books. Prior to this though, I need to declutter the dining table, and that is much more work.


So enter Princess Lasertron’s Radvent post on expression, in which she writes: “Think about the spaces where you spend the most time, and how you can make them more meaningful.”

I’ve decided that my dining room will now be dubbed the library, because I never dine in there. The table functions as a desk during freelance projects, and a paper-catcher for most of the year.  When I moved in I had visions of entertaining, but I’ve only hosted one party in 7 years, while out-of-town visitors want to see the city instead of staying in.

It’s an interesting shift to realize that I don’t have to host parties, nor insist on using the dining table to dine on. After spending time in the studio my creative juices are too sapped to cook a meal, so I tend to whip up something easy or grab a pre-cooked meal out of the freezer. These are consumed in the living room, which is relaxing after sitting at the studio table most of the afternoon. For a nice meal I tend to make an occasion of it and have a restaurant cook for me.

So I look forward to thinking about the flow of the room in terms of a true library, where I keep my favorite books and also have a good system in place to keep the paper accumulation at bay. With pillows the radiator cover could serve as a cozy reading nook.


Un-used books will be donated to a local resale shop, where they can inspire others. A few titles I feel I should read will go on a designated 2013 shelf. If after all these years I still haven’t touched them in 2013, they’ll become part of the 2014 donation pile.

While I enjoy being a bibliophile and there are some books I’m genuinely attached to, the public library is a fabulous place to check things out from and not bring more things into one’s space. Fascinating passages get recorded in my quote book, and if I find myself jotting down a lot I put the book on my wishlist for later. Borrowing books can also be a lovely bonding experience. One friendship is bound by the love of Anne of Green Gables, whom we quote to each other to this day.

My place will never be truly streamlined (I know myself well enough by now) but I do enjoy taking cues from “Move your stuff, change your life” on occasion.

“Try using a different space in your house for a few days
and see what feelings come to you.
Even just a photo or a candle can help make you feel more grounded,
connected, and grateful for what you have.”
~ Princess Lasertron

Radvent 2012 7: Relaxation

Radvent 7 is about Relaxation, which I have a hard time with. The things I used to do for relaxation (blogging and art-making) are now my work, so I have to find new ways to unwind. Currently the weather precludes sitting on a rock by the lake, which always has my eyes gazing at the horizon and calms my breath as the waves count out the rhythm.

To find something less work-related to do, I recently took a pinning class, which will be a wonderful way to preserve the moths that accumulated on my back porch over the summer (it was many a flying insect’s final resting place).

Incidentally, part of the instructions included creating a relaxing chamber. When insects dry out they become brittle ‘like potato chips’ so they need to be humidified before they can be shaped into the ‘pose’ you want to display them in.

crispy butterflies

Brittle ‘potato chip’ butterflies

To remedy the crispiness, you take a container with a tight lid, add sand, mouthwash and plastic to it and place in the insects to relax them for a week or longer.

relaxing chamber

Relaxing chamber

We do have such relaxing chambers of our own, the bedroom, the sofa, day spas… yet sometimes, like the insects, it takes a week or so to truly unwind. Aside from sickness, we don’t always have someone place us in such a chamber to get our potato-chip muscles unwound and nimbled up again.

relaxed butterflies

Relaxed butterflies

We learned how to adjust the wings into a drying position, and then took our specimens home on their pinning boards to reshape themselves for a week or so.


Pinning specimens

After I undid the pinning papers a few lost their wings, so I’ll be having a gluing session before placing my new companions in a shadowbox.

lost wings

Lost wings

Princess Lasertron’s relaxation tips are things I know, but forget often.

  • Let your body idle
  • Read a poem
  • Stretch
  • Make a long-term investment in a relaxing habit

On Sunday I took an offline day, and I noticed how much easier it was to relax without my phone buzzing or the computer pinging me another message.

 “Try to make sure that the time you set aside for yourself
doesn’t become ‘catch up on other projects’ time by default.
Princess Lasertron

I lost that habit of allotting specific computer time. As we integrate technology into more and more activities, it is harder to walk away from the screen. All my record-keeping is on the computer. My TV is Internet-connected. This year even my Holiday cards were done online. While I think of Facebook as fun and relaxing, keeping tabs on friends and family or being ‘fed’ opposing opinions can create pressure and stress too.

So I’ll be booking a massage appointment this week, and will have a 24-hour computer fast on a regular basis. It’s good to let one’s mind wander.

Yesterday I stumbled across this website, with a fabulous list of things to do to ‘lighten up’ I look forward to reading more about radical self-love later.

How do you relax? Is there a season in which it is easier/harder for you?

“But remember that relaxation is not a competition.
No one is watching you do it and keeping score.”
~ Princess Lasertron

Radvent 2012 6: Advice

Princess Lasertron’s ninth Radvent post is about Advice. I am not always good at taking advice. It occurs to me now that I tend to confuse advice with direction and even criticism at times. Being told to do something doesn’t always work for me, unless I am inviting the instruction in. So I will let Princess Lasertron’s words sink in.

“I think that listening to what others
have to say is a way of doing ‘due diligence’ for your own choices–
you either make sure you haven’t left any considerations out
or become even more emboldened in your decision.”
~ Princess Lasertron

When I started posting my Maravilgia pieces to my personal Facebook page in October, I did get some good feedback (hey, I like that word better!) including that some friends would like to see a Verses series of pendants. So I scoured the used bookstores for a Bible that had text in pendant-size columns.


These second-hand Bibles are pretty tattered and well-used, and I don’t feel bad about tearing them up for a new purpose.

I measured out the column size in wire to try to fit in whole verses, but in some cases smaller is nicer, and just knowing that well-memorized verse is close to your heart will be sufficient. For Noah’s story, I colored a rainbow on tissue paper to go within the coil of the pendant.

Esther’s crowning was a sign of Xerxes’ love for her, which had to be documented with a heart.

So here’s the starter collection of Maraviglia Verses, featuring: James 2:15-21; Genesis 9:12-17; Genesis 8:22; Esther 2:16-18 and Esther 4:14.

Let me know which shapes you like, and what part of the Bible inspires you most. Yes, I will be accepting your advice!

Since we’re on a sacred topic, The Sacred Show is closing on December 15. The reception is from 5 to 7 p.m. and will coincide with the Chicago Painters and Artists Meetup Holiday party.  It will be Sassy Aphrodite‘s last public appearance, as two collectors will be drawing straws over where she gets to go next.

Princess Lasertron has some great prompts on her blog about giving and asking for advice. I do need to re-read my Knowledge post over the next year, because I do think that is some of my own best advice. I’ve also recorded many inspirational quotes over the past few years in designated quote books. Some find their way back in letters and on pendants, and as I re-read them and incorporate them into my art, I take that advice as well.

“Record whatever advice you would give a friend, sister, or daughter
about confidence, ambition, and self-love and read it to yourself.
Post that list where you can see it! Bathroom mirror status!
You wouldn’t have written it down if you didn’t believe it,
and you deserve as much self-respect as you
would give to any other girl or woman you love.”
~ Princess Lasertron

My advice to you? If you’re struggling with something, start drafting an e-mail about it or write a letter to someone you trust. I have found many times that I didn’t need to send that letter, and even when I did, the dialogue gave me so much more insight and helped me decide just by putting it in writing. Journaling and blogging have the same effect.

What advice do you have?

“The lessons people share
say a lot about where they’ve come from.”
~ Princess Lasertron

Radvent 2012 5: Humbling

How often do you truly appreciate your health: the ability to be fully in command of your body, mentally and physically? This spring I came into contact with an organization that has me reflecting on that a lot.

The Arts of Life provides studio space for artists who don’t have full control over their bodies, and whose minds preclude a mainstream lifestyle. I don’t know what it means to be on watch for a person who is present, but cannot express him or herself. I’ve only spent a chaperoned hour or two with them, but not a whole day, 24 hours, and certainly not multiple decades.

Art available for sale at the Arts of Life

As an almost obsessively self-reliant person, I cannot imagine cleaning up after an adult, who might need diapers, who might have seizures, who has no “mainstream” vocabulary, who cannot take care of basic needs on his or her own. I am not conditioned to make sure someone doesn’t eat/drink/destroy something on impulse, who is oblivious to the disruptive repercussions of this momentary compulsion.

Art available for sale at the Arts of Life

Yet on Friday evening, I had a fantastic time interacting with these individuals. People who aren’t “all there” according to our intellectual label of things, but who were far more alive and present in that moment than I was.

Gifts available for sale at the Arts of Life

I watched a fantastic dance-off to the Kodiak Farm Boys during the Arts of Life Holiday Boutique. You know that saying of ‘dance like no one is watching’? Well, these guys were dancing like everyone was watching, and reveling in it. And we loved it and clapped harder to encourage them more. Some of us wished to go up there with the same kind of abandon and just let loose.

The Kodiak Boys at the Arts of Life

The band didn’t mind having the designated ‘emcee’ run up stage and correct the lyrics to Jingle Bells (and proceed to solo the entire song). They probably had the most responsive and most lively crowd that evening compared to gigs in “regular” joints.


Art available for sale at the Arts of Life

I noticed when I bellydanced years ago, that the American culture has lost its folk dancing roots. Clapping is allowed, but spontaneous dancing as a community is nearing extinction. Moves are choreographed now, and getting caught up in the rhythm of a song, swinging hips, shimmying shoulders, stomping feet and clapping loudly is only tolerated momentarily, with much self-consciousness when called to participate in a dance.

Where did our innocence go? Why do we have to be so ‘self-aware’ or ‘proper’ all the time?

Ornaments available for sale at the Arts of Life

Prior to the dancing and clapping, the Chicago Painters and Artists Meetup Group assisted some of the Arts of Life artists with painting holiday ornaments. At a time where I hyper-analyze the ‘quality’ of my own work, it was so refreshing to watch the eagerness of these men to create a craft (Arts of Life is co-ed, but this evening it was resident men in attendance). With the verbally impaired we communicated with gestures, and my sentences were replied to with grunts.

Ornament making at the Arts of Life

You know what became an art and a source of pride? Stapling! Wielding scissors wasn’t an option for the majority of residents in attendance, but they watched like hawks as I fanned a freshly painted (by them) toilet roll to get it to dry faster, and even more eagerly when I cut it into the petals. The moment the stapler was placed in front of them, I could not get the pieces lined up fast enough for them to press that stapler so their ornament would come together. I was art directed quite a bit during a task that in ‘normal world’ I would have dismissed as ‘just stapling’.

T-shirts available for sale at the Arts of Life

These artists create with intensity. Their paintings are vibrant and meaningful. Their art creates a link to the families who at times went decades without being able to communicate with mute and physically hindered children/siblings/aunts & uncles. Now their art gives a glimpse into their observations, and a channel of expression.

Arts of Life Holiday Cards and Calendars 

Some are more expressive than others. A few are more extroverted and become spokespeople for the Arts of Life organization. But each artist resident has something to say. I am humbled by the creativity, joy, expressiveness, compassion and intensity of the Arts of Life residents. They are fully present. They take pride in their work. They are eager to share their work with others.


Buy wrapping paper from the Arts of Life!

We can learn a lot from the light they shine upon the world. From their ability to live each moment with abandon; from the trust they exude as they dance and sing and create. There is no judgment here.

Ornaments made during our craft session

Princess Lasertron’s Radvent 6 topic happens to be Humbling. I am privileged to be humbled on a different level regularly by occasions that remind me to never ever ever judge another human being, and that teach me to not be so harsh on myself, either.

Being humble doesn’t negate your abilities, talents and skills. It is about having empathy, and meeting another human being where they are. Life isn’t all about you or propriety. Allow others to glow in their moment, and let that light shine back on you.

Radvent 2012 4: Decorate

Radvent 5 is about decorating, and for the first few days of December I wasn’t feeling it. I looked at all my clutter and knew that would have to be cleared before I could even attempt to get festive. But I did notice the cute little ‘table-top’ trees at Whole Foods, and after years of tree-lessness, I was feeling an inclination to buy one.

“Take care today.
Nobody has time to redecorate their whole house in December–
just be realistic, be gentle to yourself,
and be proud of what you’ve already done.”
~ Princess Lasertron

Usually I buy a wreath for the Christmas scent, but knowing I could carry a 3-foot tree up three storeys by myself changed the game. So when Princess Lasertron wrote about decorating one section of a room at a time, I decided to make a checklist of my entire home, and then space out in chunks which areas would be tackled over the next month.

Trying to take care of an entire home at once is just too much when you have other priorities. Yet having clutter in every area was making me restless too. So I went to Home Depot to price compare, and found a cute little tree there that was a perfect passenger in my car.

This gave me the incentive to clear my living room first. Everything that didn’t belong there got moved to its proper room, but I refrained from starting to straighten up in that other space. I literally dumped piles and went straight back to the living room, so that at least one area would be done by evening (Flylady has great tips on that, if you need them). After sweeping and dusting and organizing, I rewarded myself with getting the Holiday decorations out.

Like Princess Lasertron, my house got decorated over time, with IKEA furniture graduating to more solid, timeless pieces I saved up for. Now that my mattress has hit the 12-year mark the bedroom is on the list for a make-over, but since I want to invest in a higher-end mattress, the timing is to be determined.

“I choose the furniture and art I have in my house carefully
because I have limited space and limited money.
Building a space I love gradually is exciting
because each increment is such a simple pleasure in itself–
adding a new candle, painting a picture frame, rearranging a room.
If my space was perfect
there’d be nothing left to add, and that’s no fun.”
~ Princess Lasertron

Likewise, my Christmas decor grew over time, so imagine my surprise at the Willow Tree boxes being stowed away for a full year. I actually forgot that I have over the past few years collected the Nativity Scene by Susan Lordi after years of wishlisting it for Christmas. So it was a joy to unpack each box—just like Christmas!— and adorn my fireplace sill with the lovely scene.

The tree ornament box had been closed for years, since I only bought a wreath the past couple of years, and a rosemary tree on occasion. My large ornaments were too big for this little fir, but it was fun to go down memory lane with each whimsical wall-tree character. Here’s the Christmas tree I used to make when I rented.

It’s a different feeling to decorate a tree by yourself rather than with family, but since I am spending it solo this year after seeing my family several times in 2012, it felt right to make my home festive for the month, even if I stick only to the Living Room. Oh, and if you are also spending Christmas solo, I recommend watching Noel anytime other than December 24 and 25. It is a powerful movie, but I am glad I watched it well in advance of the actual holiday.

The rest of my home will get sorted out gradually over the coming weeks, possibly into the New Year, but I like this one room of respite and peace to relax in.

It is easy to stage things on Instagram, and I myself have photographed a room corner by corner, where piles of clutter just got moved out of the frame with each shutter click. I wish I could be more organized and have a model home, but that would mean weeding out a lot of stuff that is still dear to me, and I honestly think it might be too sterile for me.

Being surrounded by things inspires me. Each piece in my home holds meaning or a memory. While I agree with professional organizers that letting go of the thing doesn’t mean we lose the memory, there is something comforting about seeing a tangible piece of that memory.

Seen at PerficalSense Studio

Without household help, my home reflects my priorities, which have lately been outside the home or busy creating things. Since I hardly ever have company, I don’t feel bad if things haven’t been dusted for the past few weeks. Nothing smells and the garbage still gets taken out regularly. 😉

So go make yourself a happy corner, and don’t feel bad that the rest of the home is still a mess. There will always be time to clean, but saying yes to living is another matter.

There are some fabulous tips on Princess Lasertron’s blog about decorating when you get into that mindset. So pop on over to her link and see what you can take away from her words of wisdom. If you keep tabs I skipped over her Radvent 4 post. I may or may not come back to that later, so give her words on Sincerity a read as well.

“Some things we have are so beautiful
that we don’t even let ourselves enjoy them.
Let go of the fear that you will ruin something by using it.
Don’t deny yourself the pleasure!”
~ Princess Lasertron