Events/Performances, Fun

The Weekend Comes to the Verizon Center

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6lack warming up the crowd

(Note: There is an image slideshow at the end of this post.  All videos can be found on my YouTube channel.)

On Thursday, May 18th, 15,000 people were treated to a dance party by Belly, 6lack, The Weeknd, and some surprise guests, including Rae Sremmurd and Gucci Mane, to perform “Black Beatles”.

One to make an incredibly strong entrance, the crowd went positively insane when The Weeknd appeared in the middle of the runway stage, to perform “Starboy”.

His set list included all of the crowd’s favorite hits, including “Party Monster”, “Often”, “I Feel It Coming”, “Six Feet Under”, “I Can’t Feel My Face”, “Reminder”, and “Secrets” (amongst others).  Which, whenever he began another song, he had to shush the crowd, due to the deafening roar.

But the special touches are what made the show amazing – he performed along with a live band the whole time, which when you look at the overall stage shape, made you realize he was walking along a futuristic guitar.  The floating stage morphed into so many different origami-ish shapes, including a spaceship, a plane, and an X (amongst others).

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Overall, I kind of wished I had bought floor seats, as opposed to my 200-Level ones, as it would absolutely have been worth the ticket price.  If you’re on the fence about spending the money, do it!  If I had the chance to do it all over again, I would!  (Click here to access his tour dates.)

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Fun, Other Things I Like, Style

OMG – I Bought a Home!

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March 16, 2017 – greatest/scariest day of my life

Okay, so this post is a couple of months late, but that’s because there was no way I could share any pictures until my home had all the furniture I ordered, actually in it. 🙂 Plus, there’s a lot I learned about the “joys” of homeownership, that I’d be remiss not to share.

45 Days of Impatience

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As you saw in previous posts, on my home buying experience, if there’s two things I don’t have much of, it’s patience… and eyeballing measurements.  When I put an offer on my home, and it was accepted, it took 45 days for closing, which is a short amount of time, compared to the standard (60 days).  This meant I was moving out of my apartment a full two months early, which meant breaking my lease (guess who won, financially, from that situation – hint: wasn’t me).  It also meant having two weeks to pack up as much as I could, trying to sell almost all of the furniture that wouldn’t fit (note: I sold more than I needed – who doesn’t like new stuff anyway), and buying all of the paint I needed to begin painting, the minute I had my keys in-hand.  Being a planner, it was the most painful experience, having to wait close enough to closing, to make absolute sure all of the financing went through.  If you don’t have thick skin (mine is still in development), you’ll end up with a few breakdowns, panic attacks, and bouts of “I want to buy that couch before it’s gone, oh my god, it’s gone”) impatience.

To add to this, the last time I got to see the place was one week after I put the offer in, which meant the proper thing to do would be to take great measurements and pictures.  In my excitement, my handwriting was chicken scratch (with the notes I took anyway), and no photos were taken because at the time, I though “I can totally eyeball this”.  Thank God for the MLS listing, and being able to save the seller’s photos!

Moving Week

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If there was any time to have a reality show, it would have been “moving week”.  First, I never should have said the words, “Watch it, it hasn’t snowed all winter, and it’s gonna snow the week of my move.”  Guess what happened?  Second, I grossly underestimated the amount of time it would take to paint extremely old walls.  My house was built in the 40s and while cozy and charming, the layers of paint, spackle, divots, holes, and bumps, were no match for my paint rollers and brushes.  (The upside, going up and down ladders for days, made for a tighter glutes.) And while I was cursing up a storm, getting paint everywhere, my saint of a boyfriend underestimated the time/strength it would take to move my stuff in simultaneously (which he thought he could do alone).  After some reinforcement was called, and everything was in one place, we survived the following:

  • Snow, ice, mud
  • One back injury
  • One old knee injury flare up
  • A few hundred man hours of moving help
  • 16 hours of painting
  • 8 coats of paint
  • A lot of junk food consumption because the kitchen wasn’t unpacked
  • One sad pup who was passed off to family for a week, coming “home” to a different place than where he started

That Moment When you Realize You’re Responsible…. for Everything…

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I knew that when I bought the place, I’d be responsible for anything that broke, needed maintenance, renovating, etc.  However, like anyone that brings home a baby, a puppy, or anything else delicate for the first time, everything freaks you out at first, and I mean EVERYTHING.

When is a Leak a Catastrophe?!

Week two and I find a tiny drip coming from the hot water heater, and you would have thought I thought it broke.  “What if that slow drip turns into a bigger leak?  And, what if that leak turns into a puddle, which turns into a flooded basement?”  Were the questions I asked to my mom, before getting the name of her plumber, and calling my dad. My dad (who is the BEST Mr. Fixit), took one look and said, “You just need to tighten it.  Go buy the wrench and some Teflon tape, just in case.”  After I got over the shock that I didn’t even think of that, I took my ninth trip to Home Depot in two weeks (side question: When do they start customizing carts for repeat customers?), bought what I needed, and fixed it.  I was proud of myself for being responsible (and now having enough tools to be the community’s handy-woman).

I Hate Bugs, No Seriously…

One and a half months in, and it’s spring, which means unwelcome “visitors”.  Anyone ever seen a Centipede?  Anyone see one RUN on 100 legs, about 5 feet from your bedroom?  Yep… mama Centipede was squashed (by my own personal hero, my boyfriend, because I ran to my room and shut the door, screaming) but it turns out… she had kids, which when I found one in our bedroom, it went something like this:

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Thank God my sister is my Realtor, and she could hand me the name and number of the Pest Control Inspector (Pest Now) we used for inspection.  They have become my own personal heroes.  For $89 a quarter, Pest Now is coming out and spraying because God knows I don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night with a scene, straight out of Arachnophobia.

Realizing If You Break a Window, You Have to Pay For It… So Move Furniture In Gently

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Not an exact depiction… but it did take four people to get it in…

If I was renting this place, I’d never give a second thought to popping out a window, in order to move furniture, in.  I’d chalk it up to being part of the deal with moving into an old house with tight corners, and if it broke, no big deal.  BUT, since this is MY place, I’ve twice had to enlist the help of three people to carefully remove the windows, so two couches could come in through it… which begs the question of why I never thought to do it, while moving…

P.S.  I’m pretty sure two sets of furniture delivery men hate me now.

The Fun Part…

Regardless of all the money you “bleed”, the sweat, tears, swear words, ripped/stained clothing, and physical pain you go through, to start turning a house into a home, it’s so completely worth it!  I’ve already got renovation projects and small touches, on schedule for the next two years (take note of boyfriend’s total patience and encouragement, here).

In the meantime, while still a “work in progress”, I’ve managed to make our house a home.  Below are before-and-afters of the rooms I’m sharing for now.  Stay tuned for the myriad of decorating ideas, renovation projects, and any mental breakdowns that will come with this 🙂

Guest Bedroom to Chic Office

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Design Notes: Still searching for just the right artwork to complete this room.  The paint is by Behr in Island Aqua, lamps from Safavieh, rug from Houzz, desk from Overstock, bookshelf from Overstock.

Drab Bedroom to Cozy Bedroom

 

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Design Notes: Pain by Behr in Espresso Martini, nightstands form Pottery Barn, lamps from Home Goods, bedding from Pottery Barn, fur throw from Z Gallerie, area rug from Home Depot, artwork from Home Goods.

Comfortable Living Room to Cozy Chic 

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Design Notes: Floor lamp on order, followed by two side tables, a mirror, and centerpiece display.  Pain by Behr in Perfect Taupe, Dryden couches custom made by Crate and Barrel, coffee table, drapes and rug from Z Gallerie; painting by Maggie O’Neill, media console by Z Gallerie, travel books made by me on Shutterfly.

Multifunctional Dining Room to Dedicated Space

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Design Notes: We are refinishing this dining room wall with stone next year!  Table by World Market, dining chairs by Pier One, artwork by me, candles/candlesticks by Pottery Barn.

Outdoor Functional to Chic Outdoor Space

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Design Note: Next year there will be flower pots!   Outdoor set by Houzz.

 

 

 

Date Ideas, Events/Performances, Fun, Other Things I Like

Celebrating Love, Friends, and New Adventures!

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On top of the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C.

I had a couple of messages this morning, asking me if I stopped meditating, since I’ve not posted in close to five days.  I’ve definitely had my morning practice however, I did not finish the 21-day Meditation Challenge.  So much of what I shared, over the last 2 1/2 weeks, was already shared.  I felt as though a bit of it was too repetitive and thus, I’m not comfortable writing a blog post if I can’t give unique, applicable content. So instead, I’m going to show you proof of what “hope” looks like…

This past weekend (includes Thursday) was filled with celebrations of love, new milestones, and great friendships.  It’s one of those rare weekends that I was constantly on the go, but so happy to share in the joy in so many other people’s lives.  Below is a peek into my weekend, and what I am most grateful for because of it:

Thursday: A New Year, and New Connections

My “weekend” kicked off with the birthday of my BFF, and a date auction.  (Yes, I’m taken but I also happened to throw a male friend up there, and wanted to be there for moral support.)

I am so grateful for my girlfriend (pictured below).  While I have so many amazing women in my life, she’s seen the good, the bad, and the ugly.  We often joke we’ll be living together at age 80, watching Star Wars movie marathons, while knitting.  Thus, a year hasn’t gone by where I’ve not celebrated a birthday with her.  In fact, it’s also the anniversary of when we met!

For her celebration, a bunch of us girls took her to Cafe Milano for dinner (complete with a firework slice of cake).  (If you have never been there, I HIGHLY suggest it!  It’s home of the power dinner, where the “who’s who” goes to dine.  It’s also home to some of the best gluten-free pasta and rosé in D.C.)

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While her own personal celebration had concluded, we weren’t done with the evening.  We all headed over to Capitale for our friend Sher Mathew’s date auction.  She is in the running to be LLS Woman of the Year, and she’s knocking it out of the park with about three events A WEEK!  It was there it felt like one, big friend reunion, complete with stage takeover to sing my friend Happy Birthday!

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Photos, courtesy of Vithaya Phongsavan

Friday: Celebrating My Most Favorite Person in the World

My other half is seriously THE BEST.  Between the move into our new home, my compulsive behaviors to get everything unpacked, put away, and decorated; AND putting up with my work schedule, he’s a complete rockstar.  Thus, I wanted to surprise him with a dinner outside (check out Cactus Cantina if you want some great Mexican food and drinks, on an outdoor patio with a view of the National Cathedral) and a quick stop at a private Tiffany’s event in Chevy Chase, to buy him something he’s always wanted” a Dog Tag.

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Saturday: Celebrating New Beginnings

Last year, my mom, sister, and myself held an annual Bags, Baubles, and Bubbles fundraiser at Westwood Country Club, to raise money for the Stroke Comeback Center.  I wrote about the Center last year when we were getting ready to hold the first annual event.  It’s a wonderful place for Stroke and Trauma victims to rehabilitate, and certainly, there have been some amazing comeback stories because of it!

This year was bigger and better, with a private fashion show, hosted by Bloomingdales; hundreds of auction items, a beautiful luncheon, and even more attendees!  I was so grateful to be a part of it again!

When it was over, I was down for a quick nap and then onto the last event of the evening: Saying goodbye to one of my close friends and her husband (plus pending baby), as they are moving to San Antonio!

It couldn’t have been a more perfect evening, atop the Watergate Hotel (I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you check this out), with the sun setting (everyone was grateful for being able to witness the most perfect sunset from the best view in DC), being surrounded by good, close friends.

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Sunday: Celebrating Love

To cap off the weekend, we were grateful to be able to celebrate two amazing people who are the absolute epitome of true love.  It was so special to be amongst our close friends, and both the bride and groom-to-be’s respective families, in one of the most beautiful historic homes in D.C.

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It’s weekends like these that make me thankful for the friends, family, support, and love I have in my life!  Stay tuned for Mother’s Day weekend, when I take you all down to Williamsburg, VA with me!

 

Style

Style: My Style Revealed

Last night, I was out with a group of girlfriends, and one of them suggested I post my style in my blog.  Up until now, I had been using Pinterest however, it was noted that not everyone is on there.

Having been a former fashion columnist for Washington Life Magazine, I used to love writing about fashion and certainly, I enjoy wearing it 🙂

Below are my looks, broken into 2010 – 2016, and then a separate one for 2017 (so far). I tend to opt for classic pieces, adding a bit of flare here and there to stand out.  You will see a couple of repeats because recycling isn’t a bad thing!  I’ll do my best to share more of these from now on!

NOTE: You can pause this slideshow and flip at your own pace!

2010 – 2016

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2017

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Healthy & Beautiful, Meditation

Meditation Day 17: How Hope Goes Viral

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I once had a boss that no matter what I did, I was never good enough.  I was constantly micromanaged, belittled, and picked apart, regardless of the fact that I increased her small business by $1.2 million in less than a year.  She just didn’t like me and she thought that by using negative tactics, I’d mold myself to who she wanted.  When I left, she threw me a party, to thank me for leaving.  I left relieved but incredibly scared that I wouldn’t be good enough for my new job, and unfortunately, that had a rather negative impact on my entire being, often forgoing sleep to get ahead on the next day, ensuring I was always the top performer.  It wore me out a year later.

I’ve learned a lot since that experience, namely that confidence is everything and if you waver, it leaves you highly susceptible to bullies, and other negative types of individuals. This was a key lesson for me to continue to remember when I eventually became my own boss. I learned a lot about how when other people are controlled by another force, those people, in turn, will do the same to you, whether that’s adhering to another culture, personal work style preference, etc.

Now, imagine working for the world’s greatest boss, where you are encouraged to thrive, think outside of the box, take on new skill sets, and learn from your failures.  He encourages you to keep pushing forward, praises you when you do great things, and helps you become better at the things that need work.  In other words, he instills the hope and confidence in you that you can be great, resulting in great work, and even greater performance.  (Shout out to my current boss, who is THE BEST!)

The reason I give these examples is to show what today’s practice is trying to teach us.  The more we encourage others, and not intentionally try to change them, the more hope and confidence are instilled in them, to be better for themselves and for others.  The more we encourage, the happier we are, the happier we are, the more positive place we are all in.

 

So whether you are the controller/the great “boss” that encourages people, and/or the recipient of this, it’s important to remember that kindness and encouragement, from an internal place of nurture, are key to instilling the right hope in others.

My ask to you is to find one person you know who could use a compliment and PAY it!  Yes, it must be sincere.  But I guarantee you that that little compliment will brighten both your days and you will soon find that, that happy/peaceful feeling is addicting 🙂

Namaste

Healthy & Beautiful, Meditation

Meditation Day 16: Reigniting the Spark of Hope

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I’m sure you have heard the term “pay it forward” and perhaps, you’ve even been lucky enough to receive unexpected kindness from another.  I constantly hear stories from people I know who were randomly treated to Starbucks, a door was held open for them, or some other act of kindness was paid upon them for no reason at all.  Even I’ve been the bestower and the receiver in my life (I’ll never forget the time I held the door open for an older man and he was so touched that he insisted on paying for my coffee). In turn, I’ve seen my friends bestow countless, selfless acts of kindness on others, knowing that at the heart of it all, we’re all humans who could use a little pick-me-up now and again.

What we don’t realize is that with each act of kindness we’ve either bestowed or received, we are instilling a little ray of hope in more of the human race.  It’s that ray of hope that can flourish into so much more, the more we all pay it forward.

SO – the next time you see someone who could use a brighter spot in their day, or you feel like making someone’s day for no reason at all, do it!  Let’s spread “hope” by giving someone the best gift of all – a smile and a warm heart 🙂

Namaste

Healthy & Beautiful, Meditation

Meditation Day 15: The Inner Child Reborn

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While I’ve never been to burning man, I absolutely love this photo.  It depicts, so well, what “inner child” truly means (at least to me).

When we were young, we were innocent – free from judgment, criticism, and ego.  We were naive to the world, happily playing outside, dreaming big things.  When we started to get a big older, and understand the difference between right and wrong, particularly as it comes to personal feelings, we started to develop a sense of mistrust in another, perhaps maybe due to some abuse and trauma, which triggered our psyches to eradicate most of our naiveness to the world.  It is through these triggers that we developed into the adults we have become.

As adults, we know the difference between right and wrong, well.  However, we have enough life experience behind us to now choose how we will handle certain situations, as we now understand what it means to place meaning behind something, and what the outcome will be.  But what is so fascinating is a trigger that set off a particular emotion as a child, can certainly trigger that same emotion as an adult.  The only way to change that particular behavior is to remain present and self-aware.

For years – even through my early 30s – my parents could say something to the effect of they were disappointed in me, or lecture me on something with “that tone”; and I’d immediate revert back to a childhood response that was less than adult.  It was weird to me because I’d never react that way to someone else.  As I got older and started to see my friends become parents, my perception changed, and I started putting myself in my parents’ shoes.  It was then that I realized if my “Inner Child” is going to come out, it should only be for the fun stuff.  Here are some examples:

  • My mom still has an Easter Egg Hunt on Easter… and it’s still super competitive
  • We still rip through presents at Christmas like kids, with the same excited reactions when we see what we get
  • When my mom or dad announces they are taking us on a trip, all four of us girls jump up and down like giddy 8 year-olds
  • When a sister and myself get together, we tend to revert to childhood foods, snacks, drinks, and movies, desperately wanting to wear feet pajamas

The point with bringing up these examples is, finding that inner child to have a good time with, helps bring you back to your true self.  That wonderment and excitement you felt when you got the toy you wanted, or someone was proud of you for doing something great, etc. – that feeling deep down is something you want to hang onto and find more of. It’s that feeling that brings out the best in us, enlightens us, and affects others.  It’s something that keeps us young, and keeps us reaching for more.

To conclude, if I could still get away with playing with my Barbie collection and building lego mansions, while dreaming of starting (another) business, I would.  Instead, I have to give a shout out to Lisa Frank for developing “adult coloring books”.  You’re my hero.  I’m going back to my pillow fort now…

Namaste

 

Healthy & Beautiful, Meditation

Meditation Day 14: Living by the Light of Hope

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“There are over 7 billion souls on this planet, all with a different way to live in the light.” — Deepak Chopra

When Deepak said this, during my meditation this morning, it reminded me of just how different we all are – that we, as individuals, are unique from one another in our hopes, ideals, customs, cultures, etc.  It’s these differences that make each soul special in a unique way, and touch all of our lives, whether we know it or not.

 

I love traveling to different parts of the world, experiencing different cultures and customs.  It’s an almost indescribable feeling to allow the entirety of your being to immerse itself into a different world, so far from your own.  To be able to remain present and experience something perhaps slightly outside of your comfort zone, is exhilarating.

I’ll never forget my travels to India and what that did for my soul.  I was 100% in a different part of the world that held extremely different ideals and customs that required a shift in my thinking, and in my presence. When you go to any part of the world that is unlike your own, if you’re able to remain open and present, your experience is even that much more amazing!  I realized that over a billion people can exist in a country, in harmony, simply be remaining focused on themselves, while accepting that each soul they are surrounded by, is simply living their life as well!

When you think about this and apply it to your own life, you start to take stock of who you are and what you contribute to this world.  Don’t think you’re contributing?  You are!  Here are some examples of how:

  • The clothes you wear – you have an individual style that was an inspiration from someone, who was inspired by a different culture, location, era, etc.  However, when you wear those clothes, you are exhibiting a unique style that’s exclusive to you!
  • Any hobbies you have taken on – While many of us can have the same hobbies, we each bring a unique contribution to it!  No two people will paint the exact same way, dance the same way, debate the same way, etc.
  • The thoughts we contribute – No two people will apply the exact same meaning to a situation.  Each of our contributing thoughts will be delivered in a different tone, in different words, with a different level of education.
  • Life experiences – No two experiences in life are alike.  It’s our experiences that contribute to the overall world we live in.

Understanding that you ARE contributing to the world we live in, regardless of how big or how small, shows that you are living in the light – your own light – that helps to make this world brighter!

As a feel good exercise, list out some of your unique contributions and read it back to yourself.  Celebrate that you are a unique light in this world that is making a difference!

Namaste

 

 

 

Style

How to Create Chic Artwork for Less!

Moving into a new house is an amazing experience – having your own place that you can modify and decorate, to truly make it your own – is so much fun… and so much money.  We’ve been here a month and although we’ve completed everything we want to do this year, we already have a list of renovations for the next two!

In the meantime, we found inexpensive options to make our house our home.  One room in particular that we’ll be redoing next year is the dining room.  We are looking at doing a stone wall but the costs are too great to complete it this year.  In the meantime, I knew I needed something there, as I can’t bear to look at a bare wall!  Thus, I scoured so many sites, looking for inexpensive artwork that would fill the blank space.  I couldn’t find a single thing I liked that wasn’t pricey.  Thus, I made my own!

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Below are the supplies I used and the steps I took to make these.

Supplies (All Can Be Found at Michael’s)

  • 20 X 20 white canvas
  • Krylon spray paint in flat white + primer
  • Krylon spray pain in gray
  • Krylon Acrylic Crystal clear
  • Mona Lisa Metal Leaf Starter Kit (in gold)
  • Design Master Color Tool Metallic Spray (in gold)
  • Sharpie water-based gold paint pen
  • Multi-Surface Premium Chalky Acrylic Paint by Craft Smart (in gold)

Steps

  1. Spray the canvas with the flat white spray and let dry 5-7 minutes

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2. Spray a larger diagonal line with the gray spray paint and let dry for 5-7 minutes.  You want those stripes to be slightly bigger the the gold stripes that will go on top, in order for the “shadow effect” to show.

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3. Spray the gold stripe on top of the gray stripe, leaving gray showing on both sides of the gold stripe.  Let it dry for 10-12 minutes.

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4. Using the Multi-Surface Premium Chalky Acrylic Paint by Craft Smart (in gold) and a small paint brush, brush a stripe down the middle of each gold stripe.  It should not be any bigger than two inches wide, across the entire stripe.  When you’re done, use a paper towel to wipe off the excess so a faint streak appears across it.  Let dry for another 15 – 20 minutes.

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5. Prep the stripes for the gold leaf to be applied by swiping the adhesive across where you want it to be on the gold stripes (get creative and certainly generous with it – this is what makes your painting pop)!

6. When the adhesive is tacky, tear the gold leaf and apply in a clunky fashion across the adhesive.

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7. Apply the sealer across the gold leaf, which will certainly flatten it out.  I took the end of a paint brush and pushed around the gold leaf to bring it back “to life”.  Let it dry over night.

8. I finished off the piece by adding in some gold dots and paint-like splatters on the white areas, with the Sharpie.

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9. I sealed the entire piece with the Acrylic crystal clear spray – let it dry for 5-10 minutes and then hung it!

NOTE: If you feel it looks too flat (my other half had to convince me it didn’t), you can buy gold foil and apply it here and there to make it pop more.

Healthy & Beautiful, Meditation

Meditation Day 13: Finding the Key to Renewal

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Whether we know it or not, we are growing and changing every second of every day- whether that be mentally and/or physically.  We forget that each second that goes by is one second we will never get back, as it’s sent off to join all the other past seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, and years that we’ve lived.

We’ve all heard the sayings, “Don’t waste your time” or “life is too short”.  When you put into perspective how fleeting our lives are, it reminds you of all of the times you could have been doing something more positive in your life, or at least something that would better yourself in the long run – we all do this.

However, as the saying goes, “there’s no time like the present” to start anew…

That’s the greatest thing about time – it doesn’t matter if it’s right this second, 30 seconds from now, or even tomorrow.  You can always start anew – ALWAYS.

I’ve heard friends of mine say, “Yeah, I would have loved to have done (x) but it’s too late now – I’m too old to do it.”  Tell that to the myriad of senior citizens out there who have accomplished great things later in life that we would have deemed “too old” to do.  For example,  a couple of years ago, Doreetha Daniels became a college grad at the age of 99. Alternatively Kimani Maruge didn’t begin primary school until age 84 in Kenya. John Glenn was the first man to orbit the Earth in space at the age of 77.  Grandma Moses didn’t start painting until age 76. And the list goes on.  What all these people have in common is that they realized they are never too old to start something – they don’t see time as having passed by – there is always time to go onto doing something great.  Thus, YOU have no excuse 🙂

The more we realize that life is precious, the more we want to live a great life, full of beautiful stories.  The more we want this, the less time we want to waste, and the less we want to remain the same.

I’m very appreciative of what meditation has done for me in terms of being so in love with life, that I’m literally the kid in front of the TV, eager to see what happens next.  It’s possible for you too!

Meditation Day 12 had you listing out what you wanted to change for the better, and then putting a plan together for how you do it.  Today, take one of those fears and START making the change!  Believe it or not, taking that first step is you already on your way to a great self-renewal!

Namaste