Posts in home
I don't have a lot of friends...and actually, I'm ok with that

For most of my adult life I haven't had a lot of friends. I still don't.

I've never written about this because I've always believed that the measure of a successful life is having many, many friends. I've worried that my lack of friends means something is wrong with me. That is it somehow MY fault.

If I was just happier, kinder, more fun, more involved, more  _____(fill in the blank), I would "attract" friends, lots of them.

But I've tried really hard. I am friendly and empathetic and "likable." I have no problem talking with and meeting new people.

But here's the honest truth:  I don't maintain an active and busy social calendar because...I like being at home.

I don't host dinner parties or entertain during the holidays because, well...large groups of people frighten me—especially if they're in my home. I don't like traveling because I get terribly homesick. I don't like group activities because I chafe under membership requirements, rules and expectations. 

I guess you could say I have social anxiety. I mean, I know some of this is fallout from being raised in a cult (I associate social activities with trauma). But even if I hadn't been raised in a cult, I still wouldn't like group activities.

My idea of torture is a party. Or a women's Bible Study. Or a mommy-and-me group. Or—God forbid—a conference. But if you don't go to parties, or attend lots of group-y things, then how do you make friends?And we're all supposed to have lots of friends, right?

OK, but maybe having lots of friends isn't a good measure of a happy life. Maybe it's ok if we just have one or two friends. 

One of my therapists recently asked me if my friends could tell that my mental health has improved over the last couple of months and I just stared at her, embarrassed. "Well," I squeaked. "I don't really have friends that I hang out with regularly."

To my surprise she didn't react negatively. "That's ok," she said. "You're more of a homebody, right? You're more family-centered?"

I almost wept tears of relief. Because YES. And also: It's OK? It's ok for me to be like this?

Here's the thing: I am a very happy little homebody. I like being in my garden with my roses. I like watching my dogs play. I like my bedroom and my writing desk and my art corner and my books. 

For me, a quiet home is the measure of a happy life.

And I'm finally ok with that.

My living room fireplace with my original artwork, "Blue Roses." I love this little area of my home.

My living room fireplace with my original artwork, "Blue Roses." I love this little area of my home.

I like being home and I like taking care of my home. I like arranging and rearranging the furniture. I like organizing and decluttering.

I like couponing. I like sewing and baking and painting (---> those paints over there? my FAVORITE watercolors!)

I like quiet nights by the fire. I like animals and trees and looking at the night sky.

Whenever I have to leave home, I feel terribly homesick.

Some flowers from my garden

Some flowers from my garden

Things like parties make me very unhappy and very homesick.

Parties are so noisy. So many people. So many lights. So many facial expressions I must plaster on my face.

Weirdly, though, I love the idea of a party. I have this fantasy party in my head which is a small gathering of two or three likeminded people who enjoy deep, quiet conversations. This doesn't happen at any of the parties I've ever attended. Especially when it's a kid party or a party where a lot of alcohol is served.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a little wine with a nice dinner. But I get very nervous and even frightened when people drink too much. They start getting noisy. They say things they don't mean. They think they are so funny and expect everyone to laugh at their jokes. They break things. Sometimes, they lose their tempers. Why risk that kind of evening when I'd be much happier at home with my dogs, reading or writing by a cozy fire?

A built-in bookcase in my living room plus the marie antoinette costume i sewed last halloween for my daughter

A built-in bookcase in my living room plus the marie antoinette costume i sewed last halloween for my daughter

Here's the thing: I am an ambivert. I am energized by people. But I also need a lot of quiet space.

It took me FOREVER to learn that while I am energized by people, it has to be the RIGHT people in the RIGHT setting. A quiet lunch with one or two friends is quite enough for me. I have the ability to connect deeply with people but I don't have energy to connect with all the peoples.

To the outsider, my quiet homebody life might look boring. Or like I'm not DOING anything. But this quiet life IS something.

It is something very, very important to me. And it is also vital to my health and wellbeing. I need quiet and space to reflect, to come up with new ideas, to stare into the garden, to take a long walk in silence. I need time to really SEE things. I can sit in one place staring at a tree for thirty minutes and find so many wonderful things happening there.

Bernie relaxing in the backyard :)

Bernie relaxing in the backyard :)

I decided to write about this today because I know I'm not the only one who enjoys a quiet life at home.

If you feel badly because you don't have a WHOLE BUNCH OF FRIENDS or you're feeling somehow guilty because you don't keep a busy social calendar, I want you to know that you're not weird. There's nothing wrong with you.

People may misunderstand you but that doesn't mean you are required to meet their expectations. Or even explain it to them.

 Sometimes my kids are frustrated that I don't go out very much. I know they sometimes wish I enjoyed going to parties like all the other "cool" parents. They often ask me to be more involved in their schools. Or chaperone field trips. They get annoyed that I so rarely allow their friends to sleepover. They wish I was more comfortable in crowds so we could enjoy a whole baseball game without me needing to leave at the 7th inning, or refuse to sit in a seat unless I'm on the aisle.

I don't expect them to like my rules or like my peculiarities. But I do expect them to be respectful. They know that I have anxiety issues. They know I need my home to be a safe, sacred space. Over the years, they've learned to accept me and they are very understanding. I think when they are adults they will realize I gave them a different kind of gift: the gift of a quiet, loving, stable home. A home where they could always find their mother. A home they could always return to, no matter what.

climbing roses in my front garden

climbing roses in my front garden

I am not a good cook. I don't use my back yard for entertaining. I have mental health issues. But I love sewing for my kids. I love creating beautiful spaces for us to enjoy as a family. I love nurturing pets and roses and connectedness. 

My sewing, painting, art corner.

My sewing, painting, art corner.

I have finally figured out that it's ok for me to be me. And guess what? It's ok for you to be you, too. Comparing yourself to someone else's life will only lead to despair. We can be quiet little homebody nerds together, k? Look, here's a little birdie I painted for you. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go cozy up with a good book and hot cup of tea.

Speaking of books, maybe you'd like to try something like this? I suggest "Big Little Lies." It was FABULOUS.

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Pinterest helps me decorate my house like nobody lives there
I didn't even tell the dog to lie down there. I was trying to get a good shot and she walked in and positioned herself perfectly for the picture. Because she's psychic. Because she knew I was trying to imitate Pottery Barn. Or at least get 3.2k likes on Pinterest.

I didn't even tell the dog to lie down there. I was trying to get a good shot and she walked in and positioned herself perfectly for the picture. Because she's psychic. Because she knew I was trying to imitate Pottery Barn. Or at least get 3.2k likes on Pinterest.

When I was a little girl growing up in a cult, the world was always ending and woe unto you if Jesus returned to Earth and found you playing with a Punky Brewster doll. Life is too short to waste on things like fun, children. Watch and pray. And keep your room tidy.

I live in the outside world now and although I'm not the best at keeping things tidy, I do love decorating. And re-decorating. Arranging. And re-arranging. Especially if I'm on deadline. OMGOMG WE HAVE GUESTS ARRIVING IN THREE HOURS LET'S RE-DO THE ENTIRE DOWNSTAIRS. I love blasting through the clutter and chaos until my home is a sparkly, newly-baptized, born again believer. Behold mine newly sanctified Entry Way:

Please note the empty coat hooks. This will last about 2.5 seconds. Then it will be back to the Zone of Disaster again.

Please note the empty coat hooks. This will last about 2.5 seconds. Then it will be back to the Zone of Disaster again.

Please note that this picture captures a fleeting moment in time and in 2.5 seconds, this "Entry Way" will revert to its normal state, aka "Disaster Zone" because five children live here.

But I can't help it. I love making my house look all pretty. Even if it changes in a twinkling of an eye.

Guys, I admit it. I love Pinterest.

Pinterest teaches me how to decorate my house so it looks like nobody lives here!

Isn't that what we're all striving for?

This is what Pinterest has taught me about Entry Ways:

Pinterest says an Entry Way is very important because it is the first thing people see when they enter your home. It might be tempting to use the Entry Way as a landing zone for backpacks, keys, shoes and school papers but DON'T DO IT. If it's practical it's problematic. <---memorize that!

Pinterest says an Entry Way is for displaying things. Perhaps that Jute Vase you snagged for only $225. Or perhaps a simple, round mirror you picked up at the bargain price of $1,648. If you want to make a really beautiful first impression, don't forget a Hand-Forged Iron Horse Ring—a real steal at $2,800.

I know it's tempting to think that a jar wrapped in cheap, rough fibers shouldn't cost hundreds of dollars but please understand that attaining the "modern farmhouse vibe" requires authenticity and as any hand-forged horse ring will tell you, authenticity is expensive. <---sear that in your brain

So when Pinterest suggests "10 Chic Ways to Decorate Your Entry Way Wall" you need to translate that as: "10 Quick Ways to Spend $10,000." Now stop complaining and take out a 5th mortgage on your faux farmhouse.

Or you could decorate like me. I call it Cult Girl Decorating because it's a skill I learned growing up in a cult.

My interior design philosophy is pretty simple. It goes like this: redecorate an entire room for zero dollars. <---THIS WORD I HAVE HID IN MY HEART. YOU SHOULD, TOO.

Now, let's get started.

Here's my #1 tip for Cult Girl Decorating: never throw things out.

You're not a hoarder, you're an interior designer. You never know when that vintage, Pyrex, serving bowl with the rare gold bird design will come back in style, so keep it. See, here's the good thing about getting old: 1. Stuff piles up and, 2. You've got enough sense to keep it because minimalism is stupid. 

That bench in my Entry Way is 15 years old. The beat-up (vintage!!!!) little red chairs are 14 years old. I've had that runner for three years and the baskets, clock and old books for at least 10. The only things I bought were the bulletin board, the horizontal calendar-thingy and the faux milk jug with faux flowers, all 50% off at Hobby Lobby. OK, OK. I spent more than $0 but compared to $10k, it's basically free, amen?

Let's move on to my bookcases. Redecorating these actually cost me zero dollars.

Cult Girl Decorating Tip #2: Pinterest is like the Bible—a lot of stuff doesn't make sense. Just go with it.

Pinterest told me to turn all of my books backwards and I thought: huh. That doesn't make sense. But apparently, turning books backwards is what all the cool stylists are doing these days and since it doesn't cost dollars, I did it. Speaking of stylists, did you know that "styling" is a thing we do to bookcases now? I thought styling was something we only did to hair. Who knew. ANYWAYS, when my son asked: "But how will we find a book if we can't see the titles?" I sat him down and had a serious talk. Books are not for reading, son. They're for decorating. Don't get it twisted.

Bookcase 1

Cult Girl Decorating Tip #3: if you liked playing dress-up, you'll like putting dress-up on display.

Guys, mannequins aren't scary. Especially when they're decked out in that Marie Antoinette costume you sewed for your daughter last year. After all, popular stylists are always going on and on about texture and dimension. What's more textural and dimensional than a real-life, 3D costume? BAM. Win-win. (Please note that in this picture I have moved several items from Bookcase 1 (ivy plant, cough) to Bookcase 2 (old wedding picture, cough). It's called rearranging. It's also called "staging." HEY, I NEEDED A GOOD PICTURE FOR MY BLOG STOP JUDGING!

Costume Display

 

Cult Girl Decorating Tip #4: use your seasonal decorations year round.

Who cares if it's 115 degrees outside? Bust out the autumn decor. There's nothing like pumpkins and gourds to put you in a good mood. Also, fake daisies. I'm all about the fake daisies. No watering, no maintenance, just an occasional swipe with the feather duster. And why wait for Christmas to hang the sparkly lights? Keep them up, friends. Ye are the light of the world. The light shineth in the darkness and the annoyed neighbors shall not comprehend it.

Piano

Cult Girl Decorating Tip #5: so whether you decorate or redecorate, do all for the glory of scented candles

When all else fails and you have zero dollars AND zero energy to spend on decorating, just light a bazillion scented candles. This is a classic Cult Girl Decorating trick. When your entire house is filled with the glorious scent of lavender-honey, nobody notices whether you have an AUTHENTIC hand-forged iron horse ring hanging on your wall. Believe me. Smell is everything. You could have ALL your books facing forward with titles exposed (gasp!) and nobody would care because their noses are all enraptured with Cinnamon-Nutmeg-Pumpkin-Pie-Spice-Eggnog-Latte smells.

Forget shiplap, guys. All you need is a Yankee Candle.

I'm waiting for your call, HGTV.