Brandyn Blaze

Life Between The Scenes

Category: From The Mind Of Blaze (page 1 of 11)

How Revamping A Dresser Changed My Outlook On Life

My basement and office are both full of random objects I’ve saved for future DIY projects. I tend to come up with ideas faster than I can complete them, and it’s turned into a bit of a hoarding situation. Lately, I’ve been motivated to complete as many of them as possible to free up space, especially since my husband and I have been kicking around the idea of moving out of state. I definitely don’t want to drag so much junk along with us!

Aside from the space saving benefits of finishing these projects, there is a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from taking old junk and turning it into treasure. This is something I’m reminded of daily when I take clothes out a dresser I refurbished a couple summers ago.

Since I can never do anything without writing about it, I had posted the following piece on my old blog and I decided to share it with you today as it was originally posted on April 12, 2015.

***

Every now and then, I find myself battling envy as I’m confronted with photos of beautiful homes, expertly decorated with the latest trends. I look around my home and dream of the day when I can afford to choose the things I surround myself with. Nearly everything we own has been a curb find, thrift store bargain, or a hand-me-down. There is no “theme” to speak of in any room in our house and our worn-out furnishings serve as a constant reminder that we’re not quite there yet.

A few weeks ago, I was in one of these funks. For days all I could see was the negative. I was fixated on all the things that were wrong. All the dilapidated furniture, the leaky ceiling, the dryer that has to be run 3 times per load, the bills that are always stacking up…all of it was just eating away at me. I felt stuck. Trapped.

As I was wallowing in self-pity, I looked at my beat-up dresser and began to imagine what it would look like with a few modifications. Soon, the thought occurred to me to stop complaining and do something about it. We may not be able to buy new things, but we can certainly make the things we have better!

ugly white dresser, cheap refurbishing

 

I became fixated on this idea. Suddenly, the project took on a sense of urgency. The only thing that I needed to figure out was how much it would cost to get the necessary materials.

Luckily, I happened upon some adorable contact paper for a little less than $3 at Dollar General while I was picking up pull-ups for my daughter. I snatched it up immediately and began formulating my plan.

About a week later I picked up some blue spray paint and a small bottle of gray craft paint at Wal-Mart, bringing my project total to just under 10 dollars!

refurbishing a dresser cheap
I had Almost-Husband scrape off all the old, cracked wood veneer while I painted the knobs gray. While he was working on the top of the dresser, I spray painted the drawers. There was a little ridge around the drawers, so I taped that off before we sprayed it, then I painted it the same color as the knobs. Finally, we lined the drawers and top of the dresser with the contact paper.
Beautiful blue and gray dresser refurbish, diy project

 

It turned out even better than I had envisioned it! I finally have something in our home that I can be proud of!

So many good things came out of this simple project. I had a blast working alongside Almost-Husband while our daughter ran around the yard, and it was amazing to see one of my many ideas finally come to fruition. I had previously believed that I had no eye for design, but I managed to create something I love!

If I could take an eyesore like that and turn it into something beautiful, then I can do the same with anything in my life. Starting with all our run-down furniture! It may sound superficial at first, but I feel like surrounding ourselves with nice things will motivate us to keep working our way up. Each project we complete will serve as a reminder of what we are capable of and that if you put in the effort, you’ll see results.

Making do with what you have doesn’t have to mean settling!

 

Rethinking Your Schedule: Cut Stress and Find Your Path

I’m not sure if I’ve let you in on this before or not, but I love lists. Lists, schedules, file folders…I love to feel like I have everything together.

Lately, I’ve been trying the bullet journal thing, and I have to admit it’s made a huge difference. Keeping all my lists in one place and being able to combine my diary entries and daily planner has been a great move. However, this isn’t really what I want to talk about today. At least, not entirely.

Because of my love of a well-defined routine, I decided to set out my blog schedule for 15 months. The idea was to use the time between books to write a ton of posts and schedule them out, so that I wasn’t trying to juggle both parts of my writing life at once.

This worked well for awhile. At the beginning of the year, I wrote 15 or so posts and scheduled them out. I focused on my next book, and it ran like clockwork. Then I stopped writing posts to add to the queue. Now that my book is ready for release, I decided it was time to get out in front of the blog posts again.  Until I looked at my schedule.

A few of the ideas no longer felt like a good fit, and even more of them seemed too time consuming. I know I’ll get back to the “harder” ones once my brain has made the shift out of “book mode”, but it still highlights a very common struggle in my life: overestimating what I can do.

 

de-stress, get rid of stress, bullet journal, unclutter your mind, overestimate what you can do, relax

 

One of the things my bullet journal forced me to do was shorten my daily to-do lists. I have my progress trackers for long term goals: daily word count, exercise, guitar techniques I’m working on, and so on.  I also have longer lists of various projects I want to tackle and things I must do. This cuts down my daily to-do lists considerably, so that I can focus on two to four things I know need done.

Somehow, I stayed locked into my old blog plan, though, and it seemed to be causing me more grief than necessary.

Today, I was “supposed” to share a short story I’d been working on. Because I’ve been focusing on my impending book release, it obviously didn’t get finished. I still felt that I needed to put something out, so I started this post, hoping I would find something I wanted to say.

And I did.

After thinking about the stress my rigid schedule has caused, I decided to let go of it. Instead, I have a list of possible post ideas that I can pull from. I can still write them in bulk and schedule them out like I have been, but now there’s more room for new ideas. There is also more room to move things around as needed.

The other day, I posted on Facebook that despite the fact that nothing major had happened, I was feeling very blessed. Everything has been humming along rather smoothly lately and I am constantly amazed at how much love fills this house. I can’t help but think that this new shift in my prioritizing has had a big hand in that.

Instead of constantly thinking about all I have to do, I’m focusing on what I can do today. I’m giving myself permission to relax and to let go of the guilt I’ve always felt when I don’t check off every single item on my list. I do what I can and catch up the next day if I need to, which is a big change for me.

 

don't stress, relax, all i can do is all i can do, rethink your schedule

 

I’ve been putting a lot of emphasis on getting rid of stress and mental clutter lately, and I have to say, it feels great. I’ve also been trying to focus on using the inevitable stress we all feel to propel me into action, which is tough when you’ve always used it as a reason to avoid something.  Reminding myself that doing something now will cause less stress in the long run has really gone a long way.

And that’s the point I want to get at. Never stop looking for a better way. We weren’t meant to spend our lives stressed out to the max or pushing through things that bring us no joy. Sure, there are times we have to do things we don’t necessarily like (scrubbing toilets, anyone?), but we can always change our perception and focus on the payoff instead. And if there is no payoff? We can change our course.

 

less stress, relax, change your path, quote, thousand wrong roads

 

This journey has been incredibly eye-opening. Each and every day I am working towards building the life I had always dreamed of, and I know each one of you can do the same. The trick is to not get discouraged and keep trying new methods until you land on something that works. Don’t fret over what hasn’t worked, or things that have epically failed, just keep charging forward.

Two years ago, I would have told you my dream was to own my own home, to have a happy family, to write full-time, and have time for my music. Today, all of those things are a reality. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still some kinks to work out, and the steps towards those goals started many years before that, but we got here. Now it’s time to focus on the details to bring that picture into focus.

I wrote about dreams awhile back and how important it is to have a clear vision of what you want. I still believe that’s true. You need to know exactly where you want to go so that you can create a roadmap. However, sometimes the only way to figure out what you truly want is to start hacking away at the things you don’t want so that it can reveal itself. You also have to be prepared to take the scenic route and get lost a few times along the way.

Have you figured out where you want to go yet? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!

What Fuels Your Soul?

With me rockin’ this work at home gig, and my husband working for four 10 hour days, Thursday is my family’s Friday. It is also payday, so I spend the morning ordering our groceries and taking care of bills, then I prep and freeze as many  meals as possible for the week ahead. After that, I catch up my housework and try to squeeze in some writing. By the time my husband gets home I’m  more than ready to start our weekend.

We usher in the break with a few adult beverages and hours of good tunes. We sing and goof around, and just relax. Until our daughter’s bedtime rolls around, she rocks out with us. It’s my favorite part of the week and makes me think of my own childhood.

Music has always been a big part of my life. My passion for music began at home. My parents always had the radio on, and my dad is a musician. My mother was passionate about it as well, and we spent many, many nights dancing together in the living room. Those memories are priceless and I love creating more of the same with my child.

As I was sorting through some old posts from my now-defunct mommy blog, I ran across a post that perfectly summed up how I feel about the role of music in my life.  I smiled as I read about the way my daughter reacted to music at such a young age and I couldn’t resist sharing it here today.

passion for music, set your soul on fire, my daughter and I

*Originally published on December 19, 2013 at Life, Motherhood, And The Pursuit Of Happiness*

My daughter’s favorite song is “Hold On Loosely” by .38 Special. Every morning she picks up her daddy’s cell phone and hands it too him, watching expectantly as he puts on her song. She immediately snatches it from his hands and begins dancing. Watching her react to the music fascinates me and always puts a smile on my face.

Even in the womb she reacted strongly to music. At 7 months pregnant I went to Beatlefest in Chicago (which I guess is now called The Fest For Beatles Fans, but I refuse to make the switch), like I have every year with my mother, my aunt, and my best friend. Every night that child would kick my insides until I was sure she’d come bursting through my belly.

She did the same thing when I was 8 months pregnant and went to see Kiss and Motley Crue. I must note that she kicked more to Kiss than she did to the Crue, which disheartened me a bit and delighted her uncle.

She was born to a Beatles playlist and the instant she entered the world she was greeted to her father and I singing “All You Need Is Love”. Since then we’ve exposed her to a variety of music and there isn’t much she doesn’t like, although she is definitely starting to show some preferences.

What amazes me the most, however, is that it can just be the sound of one of us drumming on the table and she will stop whatever she’s doing and dance. It’s like some primal instinct that she just can’t control, something inside her just tells her to move. I know that feeling well. That divine moment when the music enters your being, touches you to the core, and everything else just falls away. All your worries, all your inhibitions, gone in an instant.

I live for that feeling. The rush that I get from certain songs and certain artists is beyond measure.It’s helped me through the worst of times and it’s enhanced the best of times. If I am to be entirely honest, it’s the only thing that makes me feel truly alive.  It’s been that way for as long as I can remember, and although it has caused me great joy, it has also brought a degree of pain. I found it hard to relate to other people from a very young age, which pushed me further into my obsession with music, which made it even harder to relate to others. Music was my salvation. Songs can’t judge you, they aren’t going to suddenly change, they can’t leave you.

Over time, music has become as essential to my well-being as air or food or water. Singing has become like a reflex to me, a lot of time I’m not even aware that I’m doing it. I’m sure it gets annoying for the people who have to be around me on a consistent basis, and I’m grateful for the people who choose to put up with it anyway. I’m even more grateful to the few people who really get how important it is to me.

Denied the release that immersing myself in music brings me, I turn into a whiny, nagging ball of stress. Almost-Husband has likened the phenomenon to a wild animal kept in captivity that needs to be let out to run. I think he nailed it.

I’m sure everybody has something that affects them so profoundly. I wonder what it will be for my daughter. While I hope that my daughter shares my passion for music at least to some degree, I also will never push her to it or try to divert her from whatever her passion may be. My only wish is that she finds fulfillment and happiness in life, and that she can put up with her crazy mother with an understanding smile.

Whatever it is you love, embrace it. Enjoy it. And don’t ever let anyone take it away.

I’m Rod Stewart Now: The Story Of A Girl And Her Music

As you probably know by now, I have an insatiable love of music. Much like my compulsion to write, this obsession also began in early childhood. In fact, my dad once told me that I came out of the womb dancing and singing, and I’m pretty sure my mother would agree.

Somewhere in the family archives, there is a VHS tape containing footage of myself as a toddler, miming along to Rod Stewart music videos shot for shot. Before I’d begin this routine, toddler me would announce, “I’m Rod Stewart now,” which my family still lovingly mentions. Around this age, I even demanded to have my hair cut like Rod’s.

rod stewart, passion for music

Of course my baby-fine hair didn’t stand up on it’s own, but it was cute none the less.

In fact, if you’d asked me at that time, I would have told you my best friends were Rod Stewart and Jeff Beck. Around that time, my aunt had a personalized book made for me about my day at the circus with them. What can I say? I was an awesome kid!

For the rest of my youth, it was all music all the time. I was the first grader sneaking issues of Metal Edge magazine into school, scouring the pages for mentions of Motley Crue. In second grade, I would sneak in a copy of Cinderella’s “Night Songs” on cassette. The lettering was artfully scraped off, save for the band’s name. I’d pop it in and rock out while we read books on tape with our little headsets. My Barbies were always in a band. A lot of the time I’d just lie on my bed, listening to music and dreaming of the day I’d make it big. I made my friends pretend to be in bands with me. Eventually, I begged them to learn instruments so we could do it for real.

All through middle school and high school, I’d spend my days sketching out band logos and brainstorming album titles. I’d scratch out lyrics and hum my tunes into an old tape recorder. I’d still spend all my free time just listening intently to my music. I spent hours memorizing the liner notes to my favorite albums and devouring any rock-related biography I could lay my hands on. As far as I was concerned, I was studying for my future.

Around the age of 12, I obtained my first guitar and I just knew I’d be the best some day. Not one to put in too much effort, I flirted with it off and on, progressing a little each time I’d try, but losing interest very quickly. Still, I held onto the dream of one day becoming a rocks star, joining bands here and there and constantly writing music.

Now, I’m just a mom with an almost spiritual connection to The Beatles, an addiction to karaoke, and at least three albums worth of songs that remain unheard by anyone besides my husband and my mother. One day that will change, but for now I’m pretty happy having a small handful of dedicated fans–even if they are people who are required to love everything I do.

A few months ago I made a decision to play my guitar more often. Of course, my dedication to it has waxed and waned like it always has. Recently, I’ve been at it again. As part of my quest for more “me” time, I’ve been making music for at least a half-hour everyday. The Princess is coming to love this part of the routine. She often takes up small instruments or dances and sings as I play. I love watching her interest in music flourish and I love showing her that mommy has many different sides.

A couple years ago, I decided to film myself playing one of my favorite songs. Originally, it was just for me. To my surprise,  I was fairly happy with the outcome and decided to share it online, even if it’s not the most amazing rendition of this tune ever recorded. After all, there’s no such thing as bad art.

I hope that this clip helps to encourage others to take pride in whatever it is that they do, at whatever level of ability they may have right now. Pursue your passions relentlessly and without fear. Be you and you can’t go wrong!

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