Thursday, February 9, 2017

What’s saving me as we speak

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Found on Tumblr

We’re barely past the halfway point of winter, which, in Indiana means the sky is gray.

Oh-so gray.

Day after day after day gray.

It tends to get even a boho mama like me down, if you know what I mean. Add to it the current political climate, and fair weather can seem pretty far off.

I read a lot of home interior and lifestyle blogs, but one of my favorites is Emily A. Clark: Design Simplified. Last week she posted on “What’s Saving Me Right Now,” an idea she got from yet another blogger she follows, and it got me thinking about how to frame some of the things I’ve wanted to share with you.

Yes, I confess, up front: This post is a bit of a copycat. But not to worry, both Emily and her blogger pal Ann suggested anyone who wants to steal the idea should. After all, it’s important to focus on what's keeping us going rather than dwelling on what stops us in our tracks.

So here I am, choosing to focus on what’s saving me as we speak.



1. The sun, when it does manage to break through

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Kacper Kowalski photo

Like today, as I write this. 

If I have interior photos I want to take for future blog posts, I have to jump to it whenever a sunny day rolls around because who knows when we’ll get another in Hoosierland? That's enough to keep me going either (1.) until spring, or (2.) until my next beach vacation, whichever comes first.


2. Losing weight


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Yann Arthus-Bertrand photo

I’ve lost more than 100 pounds since mid-March last year. Sixty-five of those came off through a medically supervised diet in preparation for bariatric surgery. In mid-November I had a sleeve gastrectomy, which reduced the size of my stomach to the size of a banana. Thence began a regimen of small-but-increasing portions, tiny bites, lots of chewing, eating slowly, and hoping I didn't throw up. I don’t count calories, but I must count protein consumption and stick to a strict course of vitamins, which I’ll be on the rest of my life.

I used to take three blood pressure pills. The doctor took me off two of those straight out of the hospital. My blood pressure still got so low that six weeks later I no longer needed the third one. All total, I’m down from 11 medications a day to just four. Plus I’ve gone through one closet clean-out and am about ready for another.

I still have a long way to go to reach my weight-loss goal (like winter, I’m around halfway done). But I know I’m going to make it this time and keep the weight off because of the surgery. There’s no more joy in eating, so I’m challenged to find pleasure elsewhere. 

No one said it was going to be easy, but it WILL be worth it. 

In fact, it already is.


3. Reading + exercising


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Dragon boat festival, China. VCG photo via Getty Images

I’ve always been a voracious reader. And yet the only reading I did in 2016 were the blogs I follow (looking for ideas for my own!) and a few books on home interiors. You might think that sounds pretty good, but it wasn’t for me. I love literary fiction, creative nonfiction, biography, poetry—my list goes on and on, but I didn't feel like reading.

Finally, about a month ago, I saw a movie that made me want to read the book it was based on: The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham. It was a quick read, and I honestly liked the movie better (which isn’t usually the case), but it got me wanting to read again.

National Book Award nominees came out not long after, and I chose Swing Time by a favorite writer, Zadie Smith, next. After downloading the electronic version to my tablet, I had trouble making time to read it. But since I was already riding a stationary bike for a half-hour three days a week, with only speed, distance, and heart-rate tracking to distract me, I decided to give reading while pedaling a try, and I LOVE it! The 30 minutes FLY by now, and I find myself pedaling longer so I can read even more. What a trick!


4. The New York Times


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An outdoor movie screening in Bryant Park, NY. George Steinmetz photo

In spite of earning a degree in journalism, reporting for a daily newspaper, and teaching journalism, I’ve done a lousy job over the years of keeping myself informed. That changed with the 2016 elections because so much was at stake. I became more and more frustrated (and angry) sifting through all the fake news spreading online like lice at a daycare center. I tapped my go-to sources—the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal—so much that I ran out of complementary reads. So I bit the bullet and chose my favorite, the NY Times, to subscribe to electronically.

Now every morning I read my briefing and have a FACTUAL handle on what’s going on in the world BEFORE I log onto Facebook and start feeling the frustration of lies and innuendo eroding our freedom. I’m still not pleased with the path the country is on. But at least I have a way of sorting fact from fiction, and that’s comforting. It also helps me confine current events to the start of my day, over coffee, while I’m waking up, then move on to get some work done.

Because it's true, we really are what we do.


5. Blogging again, but with more gusto!


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Water Spring, a rug by Alexandra Kehayoglou

After nine months of posting to BoHo Home all five weekdays and six months of posting Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday, I stopped writing. The month of November 2016, I posted twice. Shock simply shut me down. My surgery came a few weeks later, then the holidays. I was paralyzed.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have time to write. It wasn’t that I was out of ideas. I just had no desire. I was stuck. I thought New Year’s would get me going again, but Jan. 1, 2017, came and went with no BoHo Home to ring it in.

What DID get me going again was an artist friend I met through my Everyday Artist features, Robin Roi. She emailed to ask if I was okay and to tell me she missed reading BoHo Home. It was a simple gesture, but it meant so much. She creates such extraordinary, patterned pottery, and yet she missed what I do with my clay—my words. It turned out to be just the kick in the pants I needed. 

Suddenly I have lots and lots of new ideas not just for content, but for ORIGINAL content. Stay tuned!


6. Finding & hanging with my tribe


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Found on Twitter

In 2016 I reconnected via Facebook with two friends from high school, and the connections made a huge difference in my life: Cara Jean McCarthy, my first Everyday Artist and the one who recruited all the others, and Linda Marianos Goetze, an economist-turned-antiques-dealer, whose kick-ass democratic spirit keeps me going. 

And now Cara and Linda are connected, too! They both traveled to DC to participate in the Women’s March—Cara from New York and Linda from Utah—and I’m so proud to call them my pals!! 


7. Art based on a birds-eye view


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Shain Blum photo

When I was in my mid- to late-20s I had a compelling dream in which I climbed a mesa to reach its top. From there I could look out over everything—all the places I’d been, all the people I’d known, everything I’d seen and done. And suddenly (in the dream anyway), I understood everything, saw the pattern, knew finally what it was all about.


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Kacper Kowalski photo

When Chris and I visited New York City in 2002, I remember the approach the plane took toward the city over Pennsylvania farmland. As we swept in over fields tilled and harvested, the intricate patterning and undulating curves pressed themselves on my consciousness. 

It occurred to me these fields I looked down upon, as they gave way to houses and then tall buildings, were planted thus to take advantage of prevailing winds.


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Pittsburgh mural by Kristin Williams

The next year, at an art fair in a nearby town, I fixated on ceramics by a young artist, who told me she patterned her work on the look of neighborhoods seen from airplanes. The idea comforted her, she said. It comforted me too.


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Yann Arthus-Bertrand

These days, images taken from the book Earth From Above by Yann Arthus-Bertrand rub elbows on my office moodboard. They cheer me and inspire me because they help me see differently. My last post illustrated how they even inspired me to approach a bedding refresh with new eyes.

Don’t laugh! Of course, I know coverlets and sheets are not fine art, but I’ll take inspiration wherever I can find it. Because isn’t that really the secret? Isn’t that the mesa we’re all trying to scale? Aren’t we all trying to get to the flat place at the top where everything suddenly makes sense?

It’s also a big part of what’s saving me right now. And even though I still don’t understand everything, I’m grateful to be where I am.


What’s saving you? 


www.bohohome.com @bohosusan
Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Keep the energy going and use the comments either to post your thoughts or a link to your own blog where you share what’s saving you right now. 

And, as always, subscribe to BoHo Home using one of the services at the bottom or this page, or follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Until Saturday, then!


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