No good title for these ramblings.

I think I’ll just cut right to the chase here: the holidays are a tricky time. I mean, I love them. Pretty much all of my happiness is tied up in some combination of friends, family, food, and wine. Plus, I really love leggings and sweaters and other comfortable cold-weather clothes that cover my pale, squishy extremities. Fall and winter are my favorite; the time from Thanksgiving to Christmas is my jam. But it can also be hard, right? For a lot of different reasons.

The holiday gatherings. Gatherings of family and friends are a time to catch up, but sometimes the catching up can actually feel more like a comparison game. Milestones are shared and celebrated (new house, car, promotion, vacation!) but sometimes also seem like a ruler by which to measure your own accomplishments. Our house is never going to stop being old. Cars and vacations aren’t exactly in the budget. Neither of us chose career paths laden with promotions and perks. What would our holiday announcement sound like? “We’re still, you know, here.”

And then I started to think, what if that was the kind of announcement we celebrated? In a world of shiny Insta pages; in a world of holiday newsletters, where everyone is achieving and thriving; in a world where talking about challenges is seen as weak or unappreciative; what if we were honest about all of the things, instead of only the best things?

I am finally on the other side of what had so far been the darkest, heaviest time in my life. It wasn’t until I got here that I could see how bad it was back there. What lingers with me is the physicality of it. It was like living without a layer of skin; everything was excruciating. I didn’t even remember what it was like to exist any other way.

Wouldn’t see that in a holiday announcement, now would you?

I have a job that I love. It’s a career that I’m passionate about, and it’s so hard, and I’m only just now righting myself after having the wind knocked out of me last school year. I am so grateful to be able to find some confidence (and joy) in it again.

David is building a small business that he loves. He was passionate about bringing his knowledge and talents here, and even though I was skeptical, I am so grateful to see him helping people in a lasting way. Your health is your wealth.

Our house is still old. There’s a section of roof that leaks. We haven’t started on any of the big projects. Everything is expensive, and most days I’m relieved to drive up and find it still standing. But it’s super cozy, and definitely unique, and I’m never worried we’re going to ruin anything because in 100+ years, it’s probably seen worse. It’s a good house. It’s our home.

Speaking of home, here are some small updates:

David’s woodworking hobby is progressing. From our tables and butcher block, he’s moved into more mixed-media work. He took pipes from our old dairy barn…

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…and built a lamp and our a-ma-zing bed.

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He also salvaged floor boards from the barn…

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…to create my shiplap accent wall.  (Now painted white, as previously seen above.)

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And his first custom creation for someone who isn’t us was completed (in collaboration with his brother) and delivered!

IMG_4256That lovely farmhouse table found its way home to Reston, Virginia. Keep an eye out for David Shaffer Designs. 😁

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As you get ready to ring in the New Year, remember something. It is oh-so-easy to draw comparisons, and I almost feel like humans have a natural inclination toward “woulda, coulda, shoulda” and “if only.” But just because things could have been different, it doesn’t mean they would be better. Instead of thinking of unknowns as dead ends, try thinking of them as limitless possibilities. And always remember your gratitude. Like I’ve said before – happiness can be more within our reach than we think.

Be well, everyone. Here’s to the limitless possibilities of 2020! 🥂

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