The word design is defined in the dictionary as a plan or drawing, produced to show the look and function or workings of a building, garment or other object before it is built or made. Purposeful planning that exist behind an action, fact, or material object.
Decide upon the look and functioning of a building, an outfit, or object, typically by making a detail drawing of it.
Based on the criteria exposed above, I think our lives can be designed by each of us. As the only rational animals, we have the capacity to find our life's purpose, consequently we have the responsibility to not only find it, but also to use it by serving our fellow humans, and therefore creating a better life for ourselves and the society around us.
Ever since I was a little girl, I remember arranging and rearranging furniture, or accessories around my house. I also felt the necessity to redecorate every home I went to visit, even though I wasn't authorized by the owners of such thresholds, causing momentary reactions of: surprise, wonder, disappointment, delight, amusement, and especially embarrassment from my dear mother who would have to explain my actions to her friends and family members "oh she loves to decorate" she would say to them.
"Honey, could you please leave the vase on the windowsill where you found it, and move the chair back to where it was?" Sometimes a friend or two or one of my aunts will say "No, please, keep it like that little one, you have done a great job. I never thought about it, it looks really nice." Other times some people will say "please don't touch my stuff. I am very particular about my things". My poor mother would cringe, while gently excusing herself and I on our way out the door.
During my teenage years I started to listen to rock music, more specifically, heavy metal. This was a tough time for my mom because she loved classical music and used to take my brother and I to concerts of this sort held in theaters, public libraries, churches, or even parks so when she saw the changes in me, going from the sweet little girl to the little rebel.( I started to wear mainly black outfits, combat boots and tons of eyeliner and dark brown lipstick), Our relationship took a dip, from being best friends to, you know the typical teenager-mother (conflict) type of interaction. One of the worst of these episodes was when I started collecting posters from the heavy metal band Iron Maiden and other rock music bands to decorate my bedroom (at the time I was 16 years old, dating a guy who had a rock band, whom my mother didn't approve of). "Oh what kind of stuff are you displaying in your room? I am not going to tolerate this in my house!" she said with anguish that afternoon and proceeded to rip them of my bedroom wall (with the help of my younger brother) and then burned them in the backyard. This was of course heartbreaking to me and I understood the same feeling of invasion those people felt, when I used to rearrange their stuff without permission.
By my 19th birthday I evolved into a more sensible person. I stopped the rebel act and got my act together (sort of for that age). My sense of style went from all black attires to more colorful and youthful clothing pieces, and even though my musical taste hadn't changed, I still loved rock music, but in a wider arrange. I even started to appreciate the classical music my mother loved so much. I also started to attend college to study journalism and went to work as a receptionist in a non-profit environmental company.
My mother was a happy camper, besides by that time I also had a boyfriend that she adored.
Another crisis arrived when we had to sell our home for very little money and we moved from place to place, trying to figure out what space would be more suitable for us (less stressful) because we were not able to have our own rooms anymore. My brother and I shared a room and this wasn't easy at all.
The habitual fights became unbearable. We couldn't stand each other. The battle for territory was unnerving to my mother, until we finally found a 3 bedroom apartment.
I wasted no time decorating, I felt like I was reborn, doing what I had always been passionate about. I was praised for my ability to transform an underwhelming space into a beautiful stylish one. My friends started to ask for decorating advice, my need for moving things around was no longer stopped like it was when I was a little girl, Instead, I was being asked to move things around!
I enjoyed it so much that I never thought of it as an income generating activity. It was my way of having fun and most importantly a way of helping other people. Seeing their happy reactions after my job was done, made me very happy too. This made me realize that to design a life filled with happiness, the key is to give happiness to others!
Life went by, we had settled in. One day my mother said to me "you should go and apply for the USA visa, your love for everything American; from the language, the music, the movies, the style etc...makes you a perfect candidate to go and explore the possibility to put down roots there. I see you making yourself at home in America".
Thankfully I listened to my mom's wise words and ran all the errands needed and gather all the required paper work, I got the appointment at the American Embassy to apply for my visa for the following month. By that time, my mother and I had gotten airplane tickets to travel to Cartagena, a beautiful city in the Colombian coast (We lived in Bogota, the capital city of Colombia). My mother was in the process of packing and making the necessary arrangements before our trip, including her annual checkup.
On the day of her doctor's appointment, we said our" good bye, I love you," in the morning. I went to work and later on to study, and she went to her appointment and then to get blood work done. When I came back home that night, my mother wasn't home yet, which was very unusual. A friend of mine stopped by to hang out with me for a while before going to her house. Minutes later I got a phone call from my boyfriend saying that he had just taken my mom to the hospital!
When we got there, I was able to see my mother, when she saw me she whispered " mi amor (she used to called me that ,it means my love),my head hurts a lot" I replied "don't worry mommy I am here with you and you will feel better soon so we will travel together next week." while holding her hand and then I planted a kiss on her forehead. She was then taken to get a CT scan, but while she was getting the test, she suffered a stroke and was taken to the ICU. That night my brother and I hugged each other for the first time in years and understood the meaning of having a sibling. When we went back to the hospital the next morning, we saw our mother connected to all source of wires and tubes going down her throat to keep her breathing, but she was already gone because her brain was no longer working.
That ominous day of November 24th 1998, my beloved mother, my mentor, my best friend, passed away. The day of her 53rd birthday on November 26th,1998, she was buried. My brother and I wounded up going to Cartagena a few days later, even though we were so sad. Our aunt convinced us that our mother would had been very happy if we went. We traveled to honor her memory and to not die of heartache.
I fell into a deep depression and didn't want to do anything or to go anywhere, but when the day of my appointment at the American Embassy came, despite of my profound sadness, I went because of my mom. She wanted that for me.
I got the visa and even though my boyfriend had asked me to marry him, I went ahead with my travel plans. I decided to take the risk of leaving everything behind and start a new life. Though it hurt to leave my boyfriend, my family and friends, by taking the plunge, I learned that designing my life required me to face my biggest fears like: living alone, to do jobs that I didn't like ,to make new friends in a strange land where I didn't speak English (I am still learning, especially working on writing it and on my pronunciation), and to go forward against all odds.
Working in catering, babysitting and also as a human resources assistant, helped me to develop inner strength and character. The best thing that ever happened to me while working as a waitress in catering was meeting my husband, the love of my life.
Two years after getting married I had an emergency neck surgery. Since that happened I had to stop working and a terrible depression took a hold of me. My husband suggested I travel to Colombia to visit my family and friends. "This trip should help you to feel better sweetheart" he mentioned while giving me a sweet gaze. I traveled the following month.
One day while walking with my friend, Alexandra (the same friend that was with me the day my mother went to the hospital), along the Bogota streets, we stumbled upon a pet store, we went in just to look around. The assortment of cuteness was staggering, but a tiny miniature schnauzer caught my attention. I asked the pet store's owner to let me hold her, when she handed her to me that little puppy crawled in between my neck and my shoulder and started to lick my cheek, she had such a sweet disposition. She looked at me and I felt as if she was literally speaking with her eyes asking "Take me with you, please." This was enough for me to fall in love with this adorable salt and pepper colored doggie!
My friend advised me to buy her "she could help you heal from your pain and depression" she remarked. I took her suggestion and proceeded to pay.
When I arrived at the airport with Blossom, my husband instantly felt in love with that tiny adorable puppy and she couldn't have been a more loyal and loving doggy to our family.
Two years later, our amazing blessing, our son Philip Daniel was born and when we came home from the hospital with him, Blossom welcomed him with the biggest joy and love a dog could give.
We bought a house before Philip turned 4 years old. It was one of the most exhilarating, overwhelming and also gratifying experiences. We had owned and remodeled an apartment previously, but what a big difference it is to remodel an apartment from remodeling a house! It is an absolute challenge! But the fact that I was able to completely transform an old and underwhelming space into a welcoming, beautiful, modern jewel box, was very rewarding.
I went all out with the design process. Metallic silver paint and navy blue for the living/dining room combo, black and white stripes for the walls and high gloss black paint for the cabinets in the kitchen, red and grey for the basement/playroom and Kelly green for the laundry room.
The second floor stairs landing featured a black mini gallery wall and the bathroom was painted in a beautiful burnt orange shade that complimented the light wood cabinetry. The master bedroom had a soft pale yellow color and our son's room was painted in a sapphire blue tone that resembled the Batman outfit(grey, yellow and blue) from the 60's.
We celebrated birthday parties, surprise birthday parties, Christmas with extended family, we hosted, play dates, sleepovers, and movie marathons at our home. We also had a constant traffic of visitors from neighbors with their friends and family, friends of family members, family and friends of friends...It is safe to say that I received an astonishing amount of compliments for my design work.
My next door neighbor asked me to redecorate her house and she even painted her living room walls the same orange shade I used for my bathroom. Another friend got her kitchen painted the same orange color and asked me to redecorate her apartment. My husband's nephew and his girlfriend at the time, had me redecorate their studio and painted the walls the same red and grey combo I used for the basement/playroom. I had a lot of fun fulfilling those requests!
As some of you know, home ownership comes with a long maintenance list attached to it.
No matter what, the snow has to be shoveled and the grass has to be mowed. In our case, we had to change the boiler and the roof within the first year of having bought the property. It took all of my time to upkeep the house, and all of my husband's time off to maintain it. My son loved having his own playroom and had his friends over for play-dates almost every day, Blossom enjoyed the backyard and running around the whole house, and I absolutely loved the remodeling and decorating process, but the amount of time it took to maintain, was overshadowing our quality time as a family.
We finally made the decision to sell our house after Blossom passed away... On February 26th, 2016, the epilepsy attacks took a toll on her. This was devastating for us. Our little girl left this world, but we have the assurance that in spite of her illness and constant seizure; taking medicines 4 times a day, having blood tests taken on a regular basis; she had a wonderful life filled with love, joy ,delicious treats, and even a stylish home that she enjoyed like everybody else from our family and friends.
That summer we moved into the apartment we are currently living in and we don't regret it. We realized that we are definitely apartment people. Owning a house was an interesting experience and we are very thankful for the opportunity, but having more time to enjoy together as a family, instead of having to tend to a long list of chores and repairs, had given us a new perspective.
Personally I never thought that getting rid of extra stuff (by donating or selling) would make me feel so relaxed and light as a feather. Yes, I love to decorate and my love for design is and will always be a big part of who I am, but by having quality time to enjoy doing what I love, (Painting, writing, decorating, playing video games with my son, watching our favorite shows with my husband ,or going out for walks when the mood strikes), makes me realize that regardless of the place or its size; TIME, LOVE, HEALTH and PEACE OF MIND, are what really matter.
Off course I have continued to decorate. The gallery wall in my apartment, which features all of my my son's paintings, as well as mine, with a few other store bought additions, and even a bag from India that my dear friend, Surbhie gave me; (that wall) is a magnet of compliments from every visitor we have.
I understood that my life's calling is to be an interior designer, a writer ,an artist, or anything that makes me happy and anything that I can do to make my fellow humans happy!
I am developing this blog as a way of sharing my insight and experiences, to somehow inspire or help anyone who is interested in designing a lifestyle worth living, no matter what that means to each one of us, as long as it is aligned with our own values.
I also want to continue on a path of personal growth and discovery, to continue to literally design my life.
What is your life design?
I invite you to tag along and together find out and pursue our purpose in life. Let's help each other with ideas and constructive criticism to continue to grow and live a lifestyle worth living.
Thanks for stopping by to your new favorite blog, Carsly Design!