A Little DIY French Country Decor  

Posted by Heidi in

(Read how I attempt to answer a common but difficult question about Mormons at Mormon Women: Who We Are.)

I must say living with three clinically depressed people makes being cheerful a bit of a challenge. This is why I asked you for ideas and I appreciate every single one. However, this is the part where I have to confess--I set you up. All of the things I suggested in my post as ways to beat the blues (and many of the ones you all suggested) are ones I can’t participate in for one reason or another.

For example:

Due to the combined mood disorders of our offspring and the Little Guy’s vulnerable lack of size, the Spouse and I have been unable to leave the house without any of our children but a handful of times in the past three years. (I'll bet you're wondering what this has to do with decor, French country or otherwise. Don't worry, I'm getting there . . .)

For the same reasons, we haven’t spent the night away from all three of our darlings since I was expecting our 15 year old.

I can eat what I want but not only do I pay for it in extra pounds and sugar crashes, I experience a great deal of pain when I eat comfort food because of the problem I have with wheat. (I ask you, what’s comforting about that?).

I have a shower but I think the hot fudge sundae wouldn’t hold up very well in the downpour.

Family vacations? Well, let’s just say I’m so glad we took the two or three of them we did when we had the chance. It’s been a few years but I’m hoping to live on the memories for as long as possible.

And girl friends—I’m afraid that I’m too gun shy for many of those. I might be able to keep up my end of the relationship bargain for a while, but then something will happen--I’ll have a fibro flare or one of my loved ones will become dangerously depressed or I’ll be worn out from every day living and I’ll retreat for a while to refuel. When I have something to give, anything at all, whether it be time or talent or energy or friendship or money or encouragement or whatever, I share it pronto b/c it feels so good to have my personal resources go to anyone who lives outside the walls of my home. But, when things get hairy around here, I have to retrench, reform and renege on my relationship obligations (much as I have done with blogging—notice I haven’t been to yours in ages?) and that’s just plain painful.

If you think that’s sad, check this out. I can’t read fiction anymore. Being published has ruined it for me. I have heard this is not uncommon (I am just too distracted by the construction to have my disbelief adequately suspended) so reading a good book is out OUT OUT. (Pray for me)

To distract myself, I watch a lot of décor shows on TV and look at pretty magazines. This might be an indication of my recent brain decay (or the source of it) but this is why so much of my blog lately has been about décor (also, blogging about what is really going on in my life right now is depressing and might worry people I don’t want to worry).

One evening I got it into my head that my rather plain bench (see above)that lives behind the dining room table needed some bling, so naturally I started surfing eBay for the appropriate jewels when I realized that 1) I can’t afford to buy much right now 2) I can’t justify it, either and 3) I had the perfectly appropriate bit of bling sitting atop my gold mirror which I purchased at an antique store in Ramona (near San Deigo) for eight measly bucks thirteen years ago. This bit of carved gesso would be worth a pretty penny today if I were to offer it up for sale. Instead, I felt riche, indeed, in spite of the mirror’s sudden aura of nudity, as I snatched it from its perch and tested it out on the bench.

Now comes the part where I feel obligated to share some precautionary measures.

Do not merely toss your outdoor holiday décor extension cords into that red and green plastic tote. One is tempted to think it is the work of a moment to tame the tangles the next time they are needed—after all, there’s tons more Christmas stuff to put away TODAY, right? Au contraire! What would take 30 seconds per cord to wrap and secure translates to long, exhausting, frustrating and agonizing minutes of pure, procrastinistic torture. (Not sure “protastinistic” is a word. I’ll look it up later.)

The extension cord was needed for the electric drill/screwdriver. Oh, how I love my power tools! This is something I never anticipated when I was a young girl dreaming of my future life (partly because they didn’t have power tools and partly because I had the wrist-strength of boiled noodles) but don’t they look smashing amongst the pink and white? Which brings me to my next warning. Do not attempt to drill a hole anywhere you might encounter something metal with the tip of your drill. Ai Chihuahua!

Needless to say, the end result made all the pain and suffering worth it. I adore the French country flair of it all. The dog seems to agree because she has spent an inordinate amount of time snoozing on the bench compared to its bling-less state (she’s such a princess).

However, the uplift of this project did not last for long. The truth is, the best way to beat the blues (unless they are caused by a lack of chemicals which requires the imbibing of prescribed meds which is something I highly recommend should you be one of those people because there isn’t much you can do at all whatsoever when you are huddled in a dark corner biting your nails and refusing food and water) is to serve others.

I must say, I do a lot of serving of others in my own home (as do you, I feel confident in assuming). However, I can’t help but feel that being 45 years old and having been married for nearly 24, most people in my position are pretty much done with the child-rearing. Since my youngest is only eight and my special needs twenty-year-old eldest is akin to Baby Huey---mostly loveable but a ton of work, often annoying and about 95% of the time utterly shirtless—I’m not really seeing a light at the end of this particular tunnel.

True, there are times when I absolutely cannot serve anyone outside of my home. And then there are times when I’m afraid to spend any of my resources on those outside of my home because all the tanks are so empty and I don’t know when I, with plenty of my own needs, weaknesses and challenges, might be needed to charge in and save the day again.

However, I have come to the conclusion that service is 110% about sacrifice and that service doesn’t serve us in any way, even if it serves someone else, if it doesn’t pinch a bit. In other words, I can no longer justify looking around and asking from whence the cavalry cometh when I am not able/willing/ready to saddle up myself. The truth is, most often all that is needed is a word of encouragement, a phone call, a kind smile, a card in the mail, or any other small means of letting someone know that you care.

Pres. Thomas S. Monson said "We are surrounded by those in need of our attention, our encouragement, our support, our comfort, our kindess. Be they family members, friends, acquaintances or strangers, we are the Lord's hands here upon the earth with the mandate to serve and to lift His children. How often have you intended to be the one to help and yet, how often has day to day living interferred and you left it to others to help? We become so caught up in the busyness of our lives. Were we to step backwards, however, and take a good look at what we're doing we may find that we have immersed ourselves in the thick of thin things."

I am grateful for and love all of you. Thanks for being there for me. (The good news? No more "blue" posts!) (Promise.) (With cherries on top.)

This entry was posted on Friday, February 5, 2010 at Friday, February 05, 2010 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

32 wise, witty and wonderful comments

Heids, there is no part of you--blue or not--that I would shy from. I know and love all of you and you is what I'm here for. Always.

February 5, 2010 at 2:50 PM

I love your house! You do such a nice job keeping it looking lovely!!

February 5, 2010 at 2:51 PM

Heidi, you are simply amazing and strong. Your family is so lucky to have you in their lives, as are all of your readers.

Your house is gorgeous!

February 5, 2010 at 2:52 PM

The whole time I was reading this post, my almost four year old daughter Lydia kept exclaiming over how pretty and how beautiful all of the pictures were. I do love your decor. It's okay by me if you have more blue's posts. I like what you say about sacrifice having to pinch - I remind myself of that, because often I feel like in my stage of life I don't have much to give, whether of time or energy or money. But then when I do give in service somehow, it is very fulfilling, not because I'm magically blessed with extra time or energy or money, but from knowing that I am doing more than wallowing in my own circumstances (which are not that hard at all, really).

February 5, 2010 at 3:32 PM

I love your decorating. It is just lovely. I'm sorry you aren't able to get out more...That's why we live through the net, right?

February 5, 2010 at 3:51 PM

I love what you do with your home. Although we have very different styles, I so wish we were neighbors so we could help each other with projects!

And so I could help you with other stuff.

I love your thoughts about sacrifice and service. so true, and I feel that so many times I'm only willing to serve if it's easy. I can definitely be better.

February 5, 2010 at 4:16 PM

I think you are such a trooper and a great mom and wife. I am sure you do all you can for your own family and for others.

I'm with Lara. I wish we were all neighbors. The whole blogging experience would be different, but it would be a good trade!

February 5, 2010 at 4:55 PM

The bench is amazing! And your ruminations on President Monson's counsel are much more productive sounding than my vague feelings of needing to do more.

February 5, 2010 at 5:52 PM

I think you were smart to suggest the things that you couldn't do, so that commenters would suggest other things besides those things. . . I hope your day tomorrow and the day after that, and so on, are much better for you!
And, service in your own home IS the most important kind of service!
(And what a CUTE home you have, too)

February 5, 2010 at 8:37 PM

I know everybody is saying they want to be your neighbor, but I really do (okay, maybe they do, too). Also, I wouldn't mind not hearing from you forever as long as you'd let me pop by and see how you were doing once in awhile.

I'm sorry you haven't had the chance to get away and I really feel for you about your situation. You are amazing because of it, though, and inspire us all. You will have your reward, Heidi! Don't forget that!

February 6, 2010 at 12:24 AM

Shoot, I also meant to say FUNNY about the cord (and not so funny, of course) and I hope you WILL feel comfortable unloading now and again when you need to on here. I really think this is an important part of blogging.

February 6, 2010 at 12:25 AM

Love the decor, toile, the bench, YOU. :)

February 6, 2010 at 9:59 AM

Like LisAway said, we are here for you to UNLOAD!

and we all love you!

I don't want to be your neighbor,
I don't want to live in
N. California. I love Arizona.

February 6, 2010 at 10:18 AM

Sometimes unloading is needed. That's what friends are for...to listen. I will listen anytime! Love you and the decor!

February 6, 2010 at 11:31 AM

You'd proably be surprised at how much of your post I can relate to and I don't even live with clinicly depressed people or special-needs children.

Just wondering if reading fiction like the Brothers Karamasov or War and Peace is any different since it is as much about ideas as it is about plot. Not that russian literature is ... necessarily enjoyable. But it was meant to make long, dark, winters better, wasn't it?

I think your decorations are beautiful.

And the best friendships are the ones where you CAN withdraw for a month, or a few years, and it doesn't bother the other person a bit. :)

Blogs are a great place to just ... say what you think. And I think you are doing a great job.

Life is, I think (this is just a lot of my thinking) what we do with what we've been given. Some people have a lot less to work with, and it is a lot more challenging. But I am hoping that this works out to their benefit in a life that continues long past the end of our current trials.

February 6, 2010 at 1:14 PM

I love you Heidi, I think you have a piece of my heart with you, I feel very much the same as what you expressed. As someone who's been feeling pretty down lately, a kind word or thought does wonders and we are all capable of that! Love the part from Pres. Monson "we may find that we have immersed ourselves in the thick of thing things." ooh, so good!

February 6, 2010 at 10:11 PM

Heidi, bring on the blues posts. That's what we are here for.

Just think, when all this is over and done how grateful your children will be because you were a part of their lives and you loved them.

You are an amazing woman. We all love you. (And your great decor skills, too.)

February 6, 2010 at 10:40 PM

Nice post, Heidi. Very nice post.

P.S. Give fiction another chance!
(Please.) (With cherries on top.)

February 6, 2010 at 11:55 PM

I really related to your post. I think one thing that has not been said is that sometimes it's okay to be blue and to let yourself be depressed. It gives you a chance to re-establish yourself and figure out which direction you need to go. Just don't allow yourself to stay there too long.

February 7, 2010 at 3:12 AM

First of all, spectacular job on the decorating. It looks awesome!

That said, here are some thoughts I would like to share with you. I'm not giving advice, but rather sharing some conclusions to which I've come over the course of my life that have been of value to me.

You cannot give a gift that you do not first hold in your possession. If your tank is empty, then you cannot possibly give anything to anyone. When that is the case, the last thing a person should do is to feel guilty for having nothing to give.

In Cub Scouts (I think that's right), you learn the following about saving a drowning person:

Reach, throw, row, don't go.

In Boy Scouts, assuming you've become a strong swimmer, that changes to:

Reach, throw, row, go.

The danger in diving into the water to rescue a drowning person is that unless you know what you're doing and are a very strong swimmer, the victim could easily wrap himself/herself around you and kill both of you.

So while, yes, service can help lift you up when you're down, you have to be cautious. It seems to me that life has handed you all you can handle and then some. You are very wise, in my opinion, to place limits on the types of service you are willing to give others.

And for the record, whatever service you provide to your family is actually a service to society as a whole. I hope I am not being presumptuous in speaking for others when I say we are grateful all that you do to take care of the special needs of your family.

Hang in there. You're doing a fantastic job. Many people's lives have been enriched because they either know you or have read your blog and/or book. Thank you for that service :-)

February 7, 2010 at 11:40 AM

Love you to pieces.

That's all.

(And if you get in a muddle and a "blue" post happens to get away from you, I'll pretend not to notice!)

February 7, 2010 at 12:10 PM

I don't think this was a blue post. More, pink and white. :)

I can see what you are saying. There have been times when I feel like if I give anything away to anyone but those who live in these 4 walls, the walls may no longer stay together. But you are so right. Service is about giving 110%. Which can be soooo hard, as I'm sure you know, but worth it.

I hope things get better Heidi. I miss you around here, but totally understand that maybe, this just isn't your season to blog. . .

February 7, 2010 at 12:29 PM

James said it well. He's far more eloquent than I am.

Heidi, I can't even begin to imagine what your daily life is like. I am so glad that you share here. I would much rather read what you're really living instead of someone who paints life as always perfect. Reading about your struggles and triumphs makes you feel very honest to read.

Love the decor. You have talent!

The only thing I can tell you that I don't believe has already been said is that music helps me when I'm down. Music helps me whenever!

Love you!

February 7, 2010 at 3:11 PM

Even though we may not be hearing from YOU --we will keep in touch with YOU cause we love ya.

You have your hands full for sure. I often times listen/read to peoples blogs and WISH I could be where you/they are at the moment just to lend a hand or SOMETHING.
I want to do something that is helpful.

and I have always loved your decor and sense of style. Lovely, just like you.

February 7, 2010 at 6:31 PM

As a new follower, I would've never guessed that you have anything but a delightful, fanciful, charming life, with occassional hiccups in your galaxy.
Living with depressed family members can add a film of graycast over our lives, and yet, your rose-covered/colored veiw seems to overpower any gray. Hmmm...there's a word for that...
oh, I know it: Godliness.

February 8, 2010 at 9:14 AM

Well Heidi, you'll be happy to know that the dollhouse you sacrificed to my home is getting TONS of play time. It is a major hit and hours upon hours of time has been spent by three happy girls setting up house.


February 9, 2010 at 3:06 PM

Hey, if you feel the need to do a blue post, do it! We love you blue or pink! :)

Love what you've done! You have such a great cottagey feel to your home. So wonderful! I love doing home improvements. It just makes you feel so accomplished.

February 10, 2010 at 4:12 PM

Like Rachel Sue says, your post was more pink and white than blue. Your house is gorgeous.

I used to decorate and redecorate my bedroom as a teen. Looking back, I think I enjoyed it so much because it was empowering. I knew that at least one small (tiny) corner of the world was all mine to decorate and beautify.

Your challenges are many. Have you read Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning? (It's an autobiographical/ nonfiction book, so I'm hoping you could stomach it! :)

Despite our myriad challenges, there is a way through. And somehow, despite feeling broken and remade again, we will become stronger.

I wish I knew what to say, the words that would buoy you up and help you through now and every time between now and forever. We are here for you. We love you, Heidi.

February 10, 2010 at 9:25 PM

What a beautiful house. And what a beautiful woman creating it!

February 11, 2010 at 7:22 AM

'Protastinistic' should absolutely be a word!

Love what you've done with your decorating!!!

February 11, 2010 at 9:13 AM


I loved this post for so many reasons.

And I am just so very glad to know you, for so many reasons. :)

February 13, 2010 at 12:21 AM

WOWSA! That's your dining room? Beautiful!

We need to do something about you not getting out. Everyone needs a little time away, just for the day...

February 13, 2010 at 5:36 PM

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