Thursday, December 17, 2009

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff...and it's all small stuff

I just finished reading the book entitled "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff...and it's all small stuff" by Richard Carlson, PH.D. Within the first 10 minutes of the book I had many "ah-ha" moments. This book is now my latest obsession of putting good habits into practice.

As I read the book over a period of 3 weeks I began talking about it constantly. I was astonished to learn that many of my friends had already read the book years ago. To my surprise, I had never heard anyone talk about the book in conversation. Until one day, I called a friend asking her for advice on purchasing a few books as gifts. She immediately suggested this book to me and also suggested that I purchase a copy for myself. I took her suggestion and have not stopped talking about the book since. I find this book so useful that I feel I obliged to pass on it's logical value.

There are multiple chapters in the book that proved to have practical guidance. It would be difficult and too long to list all the chapters that I found helpful, so I will name two to tempt you:

Chapter 89 "If Someone Throws You the Ball, You Don't Have to Catch It".
This is particularly difficult for me because I am someone who really enjoys helping others. I have friends and family who rely on me to help them in various ways and I like to feel needed. However, I am a firm believer that if you take a task or problem on, you do not have the right to complain about it.

This chapter really hit home with practical advice. To quote directly from the book it says "Remembering that you don't have to catch the ball is a very effective way to reduce the stress in your life. Even something terribly simple like answering your phone when you're really too busy to talk is a form of catching the ball. By answering the phone, you are willingly taking part in an interaction that you may not have the time, energy or mind-set for at the present time. By simply not answering the phone, you are taking responsibility for your own peace of mind. The same idea applies to being insulted or criticized. When someone throws an idea or comment in your direction, you can catch it and feel hurt, or you can drop it and go on with your day".

Powerful stuff, right? I can think back on numerous occasions when I really should not have answered my phone but felt obligated to for a variety of reasons. Well, what may have followed after that was requests or demands of my time. It is far more logical to be humble and know your limits. As this book teaches, "life is not an emergency".

Chapter 90 "One More Passing Show".
"Every experience you have ever had is over. Every thought you've ever had, started and finished. Every emotion and mood you've experienced has been replaced by another. You've been happy, sad, jealous, depressed, angry, in love, shamed, proud, and every other conceivable human feeling. Where did they all go? The answer is, no one really knows. All we know is that, eventually, everything disappears into nothingness. Welcoming this truth into your life is the beginning of a liberating adventure."

I especially liked this chapter because it is very easy to focus on emotions when you are a person with feelings of empathy and are sensitive to the feelings of others around you. Yet, everything has a beginning and and end. It is the same thought of "This too shall pass". Once you realize that you aren't destined to suffer from the blues forever, you might be able to sit back and relax when they come. And when you are feeling blissful and carefree, enjoy the moment to the fullest. For it will surely be followed by disappointment or sadness. As the book reminds us, it is just life happening. The quicker you accept all the emotions life has to offer--accomplishments and disappointments--the easier the bad experiences will pass and the good ones will be appreciated.

I also appreciated that this book is made up of 100 short chapters of about 2 pages each. This is great quick reading meaning that you can enjoy the book in small doses. You don't have to read it cover to cover in one week. Take your time, enjoy and let the information sink in. After all, rushing to finish the book would be a contradiction to the title of the book "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff...and it's all small stuff". Enjoy!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Paris Apartment in Los Angeles - Bathroom

One of my favorite styles of decor is Shabby Chic. I am drawn to how it ties together old country with a bit of French elegance and the use of "distressed" items. The soft tones of pastels that are used in Shabby Chic rooms remind me of the days of Versailles when Marie Antoinette herself redecorated her apartments with pastel blues and pinks.

The bathroom is painted "Windwood Spring" (by Behr Premium Plus Paint) with "Shortbread" (from Dunn Edwards) for the trim. I forgot to take "before" pictures of the bathroom, so you will just have to take my word that it is quite an improvement.

We purchased the shower curtain from Bed, Bath and Beyond. Interestingly, Bed, Bath and Beyond has a few choices should you decide to decorate your bathroom with a French theme. I like the shower curtain because it reminds me of something that I would find at my favorite store Anthropologie. At Anthropologie you can find all sorts of cute items to decorate with--that is, if you are not shopping for clothes of course. I further enhanced my bathroom by creating my own French themed ribbon for decorating boxes and hanging pictures.

I was very fortunate when I made a trip to Ross and found the most beautiful Shabby Chic Chandelier wall art. It matches perfect with the bathroom and brought the whole concept together. What are the odds that I would find these pictures with the exact colors that I was looking for? I struck gold!

I am enjoying my new bathroom. It feels very tranquil and fresh. It is soft, pleasant and welcoming. Enjoying my Paris Apartment (sigh, in Los Angeles) is just another day in my European Style Life.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Paris Apartment in Los Angeles - Kitchen

When we went to Europe earlier this year we spent 3 weeks in the South of France. I had visited the south before, but this time we experienced something truly different. We stayed with friends in Bordeaux and were able to experience the daily life of the people. The friends we stayed with lived in houses and apartments that were gorgeous. Not expensive or over done, but simply lovely.

We fell in love with the decor and culture of the south and so it was easy to decide to bring a little of it into our home here in Los Angeles. Again, we used Dunn Edwards paint. The kitchen is painted "Apricot Glow" with "Whisper" for the cabinets and trim.

I am thrilled that while the Eiffel Tower is not outside my window, I can see the Eiffel Tower each time I am washing the dishes. How is that for fantastic?

From our previous trips to Europe we brought back table linens that work well with our new South of France decor. I love mixing the yellow with the different shades of blue and red. We even found a few wall accents that say "Bordeaux"!

Our dishes -a wedding present- match our new decor. In addition, our Eiffel Tower wine glasses -a 1o year anniversary present- bring our French dream to life.

Being surrounded by hues of yellow, blue and red is just another day in my European Style Life.

My Paris Apartment in Los Angeles - Living Room

I may not have an apartment in Paris, but that certainly will not stop me from having a Paris Apartment. Having a Paris apartment is a state of mind in my opinion. And I can tell you that I am definitely in a European frame of mind. I recently redecorated my living room, kitchen and bathroom. Now, my little home reflects my European day dreams.

I love the look of my "new" apartment. My "apartment" actually is not an apartment but more of a back house. I took inspiration from a few of my favorite decorating styles and some helpful hints from my sister's apartment. Selecting colors for paint is nearly half the battle. My brother-in-law helped me pick out some colors via telephone and email. Viola! We were ready to get started.

We used paint by Dunn Edwards. The living room is painted "Teracotta Sand" with "Shortbread" for the trim.
It took 2 days with the help of my mother to paint the living room and kitchen. And then I painted the bathroom on my own on another day. It was an exhausting experience. With a few trips to Home Depot, Target, Marshall's, Ross and Bed, Bath and Beyond I am happy I painted and even happier that it is over!

I simply adore my extra large art work of not only the Eiffel Tower, but of the city of Paris. In this picture you can see the Seine and it's beautiful bridges. I can't tell you how many times I am watching TV and end up drifting off and gazing at my beautiful picture of Paris. Maybe this view of Paris is not right outside my window, but it will have to do for now.

We even added 2 clocks to our wall for a total of 3. We keep track of the time in Paris, Los Angeles and Tokyo. At any given moment we are aware of the time of day for the Parisians.

Gazing into the distance at the lights of Paris is just another day in my European Style Life. In Los Angeles that is.