I've got to warn y'all: this is going to be a long post. I used to blog every day back when I was still on Plan A (marriage, kids, renovation, retirement) and writing at MUBAR. For the past almost four years, I just haven't been able to write - oh, I've written technical stuff like a fun business book I plan to shop around in the New Year - but I have not been able to write what was on my heart. Perhaps that ought to have been a big loud warning to me that my life was headed in the wrong direction, as writing has always been like oxygen for me. But I feel like writing again - I crave the feeling of my fingers on the keyboard - which perhaps is an indication that I'm finally back on track.
So, back to the blessings: after finding myself temporarily homeless (the kids and I hung out Chez Parents for a month) I found the most gorgeous home, which, I have to say, can only have been God-given. Somehow I found an affordable home in an area with no affordable houses. It's an old house - my favourite kind - with lots of charming touches such as stained glass and a bathtub that's deep enough for lounging in and reading magazines. Heaven!
Since the new home is a tiny perfect jewel of a place, I had to divest a whole pile of furniture, clothes and art. How freeing that was! I highly recommend it (although I do not wish on anyone the circumstances that drove the process.) I had to think about what I really loved: Books - all of them, except for popular fiction I'd already read and books the kids had outgrown. The piano. The art, but only the traditional oil paintings as I'd lost my patience for anything requiring explanation. Our new home could not fit the giant grey velvet sectional so it was donated. I had to choose between the silvered oak dining room table and the round hollywood table. I adored the round piece, but in the end practicality won as we only have space for one dining/homework/everything table and the silver one is virtually indestructible. My beloved Philippe Starck ghost chairs survived the winnowing process, as did my nailhead studded club chairs. I sold or gave away my writing desk, bookshelves, and bed as well as countless accent pieces and decor items. My daughter's furniture was trop large for her tiny, charming room, so we consigned that too and bought a 1920's mahogany bedroom suite for a song at Antiques Unlocked in Hamilton. My daughter got the pretty vanity/desk for her room and I got the highboy, dresser and a side table for mine. Love! I also went through my wardrobe with a fine tooth comb. So much of my post-divorce wardrobe was about how other people wanted me to dress and I wanted to get rid of anything I didn't adore.
With the money I made from consigning things (note to self: clothes are a far better investment than furniture), I scored some excellent smaller-scale finds from local consignment and antique shops. I found an absolute steal in the form of a three-tiered, brass footed pie-crust table. It was only ten smackers (ten!) and makes a fetching display piece for my beloved coffee table books. I also found a gorgeous drop leaf desk . I'm still moving things around, but here's a little preview of the living room space:
The only downer in the whole process (apart from the obvious) was the three gorgeous vintage chandeliers (think: Venetian Glass!) I'd purchased with the house had been removed when I took possession. The real estate agents and lawyers are handling it all now and luckily I had kept three chandeliers from my old house (again, a blessing!) I hired an electrician to install them so we would not have to eat our Christmas turkey in the dark. At first I thought that my old Schonbek disco ball would clash with the antique china cabinet I bought, but it works quite well on an interim basis.
Of course, the one chandelier I would not have missed was left behind (isn't that always the way!). The photo below does not show how, um, interesting the piece was. It was draped with layers of pearls and beads and looked like a group of hyperactive four-year old girls had crafted it using materials from Liberace's junk drawer. Egads! I pulled out a step ladder to take a better look and discovered that fake pearls and Mardi Gras beads had simply been wound around the thing, presumably in an effort to mask the attached plastic crystals that had become cloudy and yellowed over time. I decided there was nothing to be lost by taking a pair of scissors to the thing. I unwound the beads and cut away the damaged plastic "crystals" that had been part of the original fixture and voila!
There was quite a pretty crystal fixture underneath the layers of dreck. It was sort of a eureka moment for me. When my marriage was ended, instead taking the time to trim away the damaged strands and see if there might be something good and simple and shiny underneath, I got drawn into the dating pool looking to replace what I'd lost. I surrounded myself with fake pearls and Mardi Gras beads only to discover that they actually made things a whole lot worse.
I don't think that God caused any of the events of the last six months, but I still think He wants me to find the lesson in all of this. I think that had things not been as awful as they were, I would have gone back to the place I was in immediately post-divorce. I hated losing Plan A and could see nothing good about Plan B or C or Z. I felt wildly jealous of everyone who was still on their Plan A: marriages intact, health good, bank accounts robust. But now I realize how lucky I really am. Plan B (Ok, Plan C if you are keeping score) has forced me to see my many blessings - good family, helpful friends and access to funds and information. If I did not have so blessings, I would not have the luxury to sit here and think about chandeliers and furniture. I'm incredibly grateful and plan to help those women who have found themselves in similar circumstances but did not have access to the resources I did.
Now that my literal house is in order, I have to start designing other parts of my life: career (writer, career coach, financial adviser to women post-divorce?), charity work (I want to do more at the church and work on something to raise funds for the local woman's shelter), and the activities we want to do as a family.
And I want to get back to writing about the lovely side of life. Because it's always there, even in the pit of darkness. After all, Paul was in prison when he wrote Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
The verse had many interpretations , but I've always read it as a reminder to focus on the gifts we are given. So for this week, I will dwell on a smiling French Bulldog , a fabulous silk frenchie pillow, a pretty leopard-print handbag, and the luxury to watch Downton Abbey as often as I like.