Tuesday, July 23, 2019

One Year On...

We recently had our first year renoversary - the date on which we returned to our improved home from the rental where we lived for 18 months. In case it warrants articulation: the work is not "complete" - though I now understand that completion is just a continuum. I imagine that interior work will be finished within a year, though it doesn't pay to speculate. If you take one thing from this post it's that it doesn't pay to speculate - that attachment is the root of all suffering. Who would have imagined that renos come with a free side of Buddhism??

Unquestionably, we're getting there. If you came over for dinner, you'd think it was almost done because, frankly, one can stop at any time and we're the only ones I know who've ever gone this far. See: Continuum.

The word recreation is one I often consider. I love what it connotes, especially when you put a hyphen between the first and second syllables. The notion of shaping my environment (environmental plasticity) has never been more appealing as I manage systemic health challenges, transition back to the lifestyle of the child-free and become ever more aware of the temporality that binds us all (the gift of age). Inasmuch as everything is metaphor for something, this house is the metaphor for my Self. For years, it was close - beauty dimmed by darkness and decay. But I found my voice - or should I say my vision. I exercised every facet of my free will to affect profound change. Now it is haven in chaos. Something rebuilt for strength and longevity. A space of artful introversion. Uncluttered and encroachingly serene. And goddamn sexy.

We have a new rule in this house. We're not talking about the reno-past. Note: we often break the rule and catch ourselves but it's our yoga. In the words of Scott, talking about it is like pulling a scab off a third-degree burn. When your body is critically injured, you do everything to heal it because, if you don't, it may lead to serious repercussions. What do you do when your consciousness is injured? Do you run from the awareness? Do you entrench in it?

I can't run, but I won't linger. Every day, I pay attention to the merciful beauty around me - the floor boards that actually shine from the reflection of light streaming into the vertical windows, the shards that glint off the brick wall. Green subtones in the greige walls reflect nature and the sky, in every weather. When I see what we've saved, what we've loved, what we've gained, what we've released, how we've collaborated in the most natural fashion - I am tremendously gratified.

But enough philosophizing.

Here's what I said I was going for back in 2017:
  • Cleanness - I need a space to be actually clean-seeming but also visually undistracting.
  • Colour - I like neutrals and wood tones but they usually don't cohere without deeper or brighter colours, IMO.
  • Warmth - Cuz Canada...
  • Architectural Intrigue
  • Practicality - Show me some kind of ingenious, attractive space-saver any day...
  • Elegance
  • Light
Well - I didn't waver, though I couldn't begin to remember what I'd said (though I remember I'd said something) and it took me 10 minutes of looking through previous posts to find the details. I might as well have just said - and yeah, I know this makes me sound SO basic - I want to live in a boutique hotel / spa:
  • The kind you find in urban Europe that is so chic and is so impossible to get into that you throw caution to the Visa card and stay there for two days cuz fuck moderation.
  • The kind in that restaurant-dense, boho neighbourhood that defies homogeneity in the spirit of staunch individuality.
  • The kind with the yoga studio that has all the best Iyengar props and an onsite teacher to whom you have unlimited access.
  • The kind with multiple terraces that overlook some sketch - but endlessly interesting - domains.
  • The kind that you take 37 photos of, per hour, because every surface is so appealing that you cannot stop yourself.
  • The kind with the heated bathroom floors and the sauna and the gorgeous grounds, set like a jewel in the most beautiful ring.
  • The kind that comes with the best espresso you've ever had and the warmest, sexiest fireplace to sit in front of as you drink it.
  • The kind with excellent towels and bedding and a ceramic essential oil diffuser to set up every space by scent.
  • The kind with an awesome in-house restaurant that produces profound meals from the simplest of natural ingredients, rounded out by confident service and capability.
  • The kind with the downstairs sitting space where you can read quietly, knit or engage with others at your own leisure.
  • The kind which, when you check out on the morning of the third day, you feel a pang of loss over, and the impulse to rebook immediately.
  • The kind with timeless architectural reminders that the past is in the present and the present drives toward the future (but can never leave the echoes of the past).
Reader - I've done this. And in the process I've gone from being stuck in the darkest recesses of myself to being nurtured by the strength that bounces, like radiant heat, from restoration (another word I like to put a hyphen in, for kicks).

Do I wish it hadn't been so difficult (to understate things entirely)? Oh, you have no idea. Do I wonder about potential long-term impacts across the board? Often. Do I sometimes look more at the imperfections than the big picture? Counterproductively, I admit that I do, but I'm learning to see the forest for the trees.

Everything is imperfect. Nothing even strives for perfection because the underlying premise - the intelligence of this universe - is that it's unachievable and one is maladaptive in its pursuit. The thing that remains unfinished is not wrong, it's in play. Another metaphor to add to the mix.

I intend to spend as many moments as I can in play - and to enjoy the big-picture beauty I've created.


  1. Lovely! I know that it takes work to hold yourself in this contentment and awareness and wisdom. . . but it truly is a pleasure to see it -- both for your sake, and because it's an inspiring model. xo

    1. It's a kind of bramacharya I couldn't have imagined at the start. In fact, this is the life experience that has taught me about self-containment. I do wish I could have brought more peace (or even the appearance of elegance) to the process but I am coming back from the death of expectation and this process is incredibly informative. But I am never doing this shit again Frances. (Note: Scott has not stopped talking about the coach house idea?!?!?!?!?! Ain't gonna happen.)

  2. Good for you! We’ve recently finished a much smaller building project and that was quite stressful enough. I would love to see pictures of your new space if you ever felt like showing off!

    1. I will do so as soon as I figure out a way to easily get my phone pics onto my computer. Not sure if you are on insta but I have posted many pics there over the last year. My handle is kristinm100...

  3. Wow! How beautiful. Calm and wise, the sense of contentment comes through but also the light hold, the acknowledgement of our own humanity.

    Your Reno has been far more hellish than mine and I am humbled. I am not one to deny that trips through hell and back can have their rewards if one has the fortitude to push onward, and yet I continue to be amazed at the ways we can evolve. I am so happy to read this, and to sit back in awe at what you've accomplished. The house is only the half of it, if that...

    1. Mardel - thank you so much for this comment. I've watched your fortitude with amazement - that you have undertaken this sort of project on your own blows my mind. But it makes what you're in the process of accomplishing all the more amazing. Your blue kitchen is perfect in complementing the incredibly gorgeous green space outside. I can imagine the espresso machine reflects it fantastically!!! I'm sure there are some "rewards" in going to hell and back - and so many ways to undertake that journey, I realize - but can't say I'd recommend it :-)

  4. I love how much you love this house. And how much it is starting to love you back.

    It very much feels like it's starting to feed your recovery and some much needed equilibrium is returning.

    I'm very happy to hear that! Long may it continue.

    1. Why thank you Evie! It's been a long and convoluted journey - but I am so grateful to be able to feel this way. For a long time, I felt emotionally dead - which scared the shit out of me.

  5. Well, this was a beautiful read. It’s all so profoundly true. In the words of Mommy, you manifested your dreams- entirely and completely. The best part is that you realize this and are striving to stay in a place of appreciation and gratitude. Those are living and breathing ways of being that bring continual joy and peace to your life.
    I read something yesterday that is rooted in overcoming racism and oppression. Without getting into too much history, (but at the same time showing deference to the source) it was originally coined by a Greek poet and borrowed by various groups of people- specifically Mexicans. Anyway, I have already reflected on it numerous times and have begun to see how it can be related to many types of oppression and conflict with outside sources and even ones own inner struggles.
    Here is what I read: they tried to bury us but they didn’t know that we were seeds.
    After reading your post today, you can see how you were very much a seed. I see you now as the tree that comes from the seed that will need continual nurturing to grow and thrive. You will forever need to manage, love, and tend to yourself. It is comforting to know that even when a tree goes through hard times and difficult weather, it’s hardwired to sprout new growth and persevere. Almost always, it is easy to have trust that new leaves will sprout each spring. Admittedly, I am writing this in the late hours of the night and probably feeling a little too sentimental- but I am one of your lucky readers that has had the pleasure of knowing you from the beginning to now and also knowing your home from the beginning to now. Without a doubt, everything you strived for you reached. I loved this post the most. You can reflect on it during “stormy weather.”
    I look forward to returning to your boutique hotel soon! xoxoxo

  6. I am so glad you are loving it.