Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Before and After

I was unsure about how to start this new year. Do I acknowledge the last twelve months at all or do I just sweep it all under the rug and make a fresh start today? This last year has been the least chaotic for our family in a long, long time. We did not buy a house, sell a house, have a new baby, have children that were constantly sick or needing operations, start at a new school/kindy or discover any new dietary limitations for anyone in the family.

Our complicated child in this last year has seen his paediatrician twice. Prior to that he was known by six specialist paediatricians and a selection of therapists. For us, it is quite a novel thing to only be dealing with the usual, the everyday. There are of course ongoing complexities for our family but they are all old and familiar and I am a seasoned veteran with these and mostly in the last twelve months life has become much simpler. 

My chosen word to represent 2012 was " Grow". Ironically, this is the first year in six that I probably did not have to grow much at all. In hindsight, the previous six years that were so hard, so challenging, caused me to grow so, so much. Of course you don't realize while you are doing the growing.  So this year was perhaps a year to "Bloom" instead. For me that meant being able to take the time to do things that make my heart sing, instead of just doing what is needed to keep everyone else afloat. 

There is a lot of colour and pretty on this blog. There are a lot of frills and fluff. When your life is a layered cake of complex and difficult, it is so good to have a space to go that is all about the icing and sprinkles.  Here are all the befores and afters from this year while I crafted and created to my happy place. (I didn't feel that I did much at all this year, but surprisingly it's not as insignificant as I thought).

What became of my gratitude project? The one where I planned to post a letter of thanks every day for a year. Well, I did around 90 and then gradually life just got in the way. Many months passed and I had not written a single thank you. Then our much loved neighbours, the Menace brothers, moved , to the new house they had built a few streets away.

They may as well have moved to the Outback. Our yard was suddenly quiet after school and I realized that the year of  precious memories of happy, noisy  gangs of children playing in my backyard was a moment that had passed by. I wrote my neighbour (the mother of those wonderful boys who accepted my complicated child wholeheartedly) a thankyou card for making such a difference in our family's life, just by sharing her children with us. 

She turned up at my house a week later to thank me in person. She told me that she had just been out doing a presentation to the Country Women's Association in rural Queensland. That she had been envious of the solidarity and support that these country women had for each other. That she was saddened that her life in our little suburb did not reflect this kind of care and connectedness. And then she arrived home the next day and there was my card in her letter box. We both had a cry. And if that is not a sign that this gratitude project is an exceptionally meaningful commitment, well just bludgeon me with a hammer.

I did in fact write a list of resolutions last year but given my penchant for scribbling on scraps of paper, it is nowhere to be found. I suspect I achieved very little of it. I am only cross about not doing a camera course to learn how to use my camera properly, I did try three times but each time the course was on a day that I work. Hopefully, this year it will be easier to make it happen.

This year, I suspect is going to be very full, very busy. There is supposed to be a renovation for Betsy you know. It is supposed to start in March. I know in advance that it is supposed to take around four months. I have the good sense to know that this could be delusionally optimistic. I also have the good sense to know that it is probably going to be somewhat painful to live through but at the end it will be so, so worth it.

But the mantra for the year ahead I could not distill down to a single word this year. About a year ago, a lovely girl posted a few comments on my blog. I popped over to her blog to see what she was all about. I liked her blog a lot. It was about living simply, with less. Strangely, after commenting that day on my blog she did not post again and has not for over a year. So I won't link you over there but will say thank you to her for providing the words for me for 2013.

Less Stuff, More Life. 

I have felt bogged down by our stuff for the last three years. We have been culling and selling and donating more than I could ever have imagined and we are not done yet but we are getting there. As each item leaves our house, I feel a bounce in my step. It all started when I read this book, It's all too much by Peter Walsh a few years ago, when we were moving into Betsy and realized we had way too much stuff. 

Much of our stuff was child related paraphernalia and as time passes much of it is no longer needed. A small number of the most treasured toys and books have been boxed up to keep, most is going or gone. It is getting easier to be ruthless and emotionally detach. I am quoting William Morris daily.

"Have nothing in your home (life) that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

Ugly serviette holder made by me in Grade 9 woodwork- gone. Shoes from my wedding that were ugly and uncomfortable - gone. Every sipper cup in the house- gone. Thankfully milk glass and vintage sheets fulfil both criteria to stay  so there will still be some very selective op shopping.

Luckily, these two are both useful and beautiful so they get to stay. Hugs are a rare commodity, sometimes she gets lucky and he tolerates it. This is twelve months ago.

This is yesterday. She is catching up with him now, soon they might look like twins.

Happy New Year to you all and may you all have more life and less stuff this year too.


  1. Ohh your blog is very nice!!! I'm a new follower! and happy new year!

  2. Happy New Year to you too lovely lady. A most poignant post which I really enjoyed reading. Taking the time to thank your old neighbour rather than just thinking it is a really big thing as in our busy loves we often don't get round to those things that mean so much and make life even better.

    We have so much clutter. Constant cries of don't throw the pringle tube out or that box. Always making something from it which is lovely, but no room for all these creations in our wee cottage.

    Lisa X

  3. And this is why we are all so drawn to your happy little blog and sweet family.....to more of the same in 2013, love Heidi

  4. Lovely post! You are turning your house into a home, little by little and it looks fantastic!
    I'm glad things are settling down, it's not always the easiest when you live with complicated children, but boy do they teach us stuff! Eldest Bea is now in her Health and Safety stage, we now have lots of weird and wonderful regulations to adhere too!
    Have a peaceful, creative, quirky 2013! :) x

  5. What a lovely wrap-up post. Here's to taking the time to connect with people (hence my comment, I'm trying not to be so shy in the bloggy & real worlds!) in 2013 - have a wonderful year. S :)

  6. happy new year mel.such a lovely post...and look at all the wonderful projects you have completed in 2012...I love love love lion boys fish tank! reading about your letter to the neighbour made me tear up a little. an effort to connect can change the course we travel. I must tell you that our little connections re our complicated kids and our love for pretty things makes a big difference to my day as well. bring on 2013, theres lots more blooming to be done!
    Allison x

  7. So much to comment on in this lovely and thoughtful post of yours Mel, it has really struck a chord with me - especially your words about living with less stuff. I am in the process of de-cluttering myself. Not the house, but two huge sheds full of things I have collected over the years. Even though I can't see it all (unless I choose too) I know it's there, and just the thought of it has started to make me feel ill. I gave away close to a hundred vintage sheets last year, which made me feel slightly sick (for a couple of minutes!) but once I got over the initial pain of letting them go, I felt fantastic. Less really is more.

    You have made so many beautiful things this year Mel, including this blog. I love reading it.

    I can't believe how much lovelier your living room looks without 'custard' walls. Essentially the same room, same stuff, but so much nicer because you picked up a paint brush and gave 'custard' the flick.

    Have a lovely year Mel, I hope it's a good one for all of you x

    p.s. I forgive you for your disparaging and brutal(ly honest) comments on my gingerbread...um...house. Ha-ha!

  8. Aww lovely post Mel. Love the flashback of projects,well done,have enjoyed them immensely.2012 was pretty good for us as well, no complaints, lets hope 2013 is just as good. Happy New Year!

  9. happy new year mel! look forward to a catchup soon. have put aside a bunch of wallpaper for you to peruse. have a wonderful 2013, have loved your reno projects and flea market finds. xx

  10. Hi, Im new to your blog but look forward to your reno as we may well be in the same boat...fingers crossed, $$$ crossed, builder finding crossed........actually, everything we can cross....and the decluttering is continuing here as well, Vinnies loves me, but the universe is giving me back as I give out...lol...so I need to be a little tougher...hope your year is a great one......x

  11. Happy New Year Mel. I feel EXACTLY the same way, and it certainly appears so do many others. We will be having a monster garage sale/charity giveaways to get rid of stuff that has seems to have built-up over the years. Looking forward to sharing some real-life reno stories over the coming months. xx

  12. Happy 2013!

    What a great post to start the year with!
    I love so many of those projects that you worked on last year...especially those dresses!
    We had a huge garage sale last year...and I am still going with the decluttering.
    I am also planning this year to rearrange some of things we have in the house...I am hoping it will make everything seem fresher and so will prevent me from buying new things!

    I am hoping for much the same from 2013.
    I just want a normal year...one where we are all healthy and happy and mostly organised. And if we could manage to save a bit of money so I can FINALLY renovate my ancient kitchen, than that would be a bonus!

    And in the spirit of gratitude, thank you for blogging...I always like your posts and your photos...I am so glad I found you in 2012 and I am looking forward to following you in 2013!

  13. Look how creative you were last year!! Amazing, love your style :)
    Yay, for culling and feeling lighter for it :)

  14. Oh Mel you lovely lady, wonderful post and gorgeous photos of all your clever projects. Looking forward to following your blog again this year. Hope you are enjoying your book. Elaina xo

  15. Happy New Year!

    I love all the makeovers you did in 2012, I look forward to seeing more this year.

  16. Less stuff, more life! Abso-bloody-lutely! I have taken four boot loads to the oppy, have another in the car now and have only bought one thing from them in all those visits. Rooms have been decimated, treasures moved on. It is cleansing one's palate for life!
    Your complicated child is coming along in leaps and bounds. His art is pure magic and his smile delightful. Your pink one glows with vitality and happiness and creativity! What more do we need in life than happy kids.

  17. What an array of amazing renovating and upcycling, you are one talented lady! I'm glad I found your blog, and I'm looking forward to stopping by in 2013. I hope it is a simple and peaceful year for you.

    Gillian x

  18. I love what you have done with the art deco cabinet!! Fishtank looks faaaaab! I just love those windows in your lounge. Gorgeous! Happy New Year.x

  19. Happy New Year Mel. I'm also very glad to have found your lovely blog. Being new here I really enjoyed this Post and seeing all your wonderful creations. Nothing was more liberating than selling off nearly everything we owned when we left Sydney to fund our trip around Australia. Living in a caravan with just a small bag each freed up so much more life as you say. I completely relate to your thoughts on that. So here's to a wonderful 2013! Mel x

  20. Sorry just getting to read this now . New year long past ... Or so it seems, in January! A lovely and heartfelt post. I love your motto for the year and am tempted to steal it. Lovely to see your re-retroed projects from during the year and your children growing up. Here's hoping your building runs to schedule and that by about October you are competely settled and all the chaos forgotten!

  21. Mel I have often wondered about your grateful project. I am terrible at doing these things but totally know the value in them for self and the joy they bring to others. I think you did an awesome job. 90 is a big effort! I would love to hear more about your challenges and solutions or anything that has specifically helped you to grow and bloom. I have The Happiness Project in my hands and that will be my starting point. You should be so proud of all you've achieved and when you lay it all out on your blog like you have, you can come back any time for a reminder. I love popping by your blog and look fwd to reading this year! Leax