Brandyn Blaze

Life Between The Scenes

Category: Nostalgia (page 1 of 3)

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!

 

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!

Runaway Brain On A One Way Track: Anxiety At Its Finest

Today, I am going to share an old post from my first blog as I attempt to focus on finishing up the next book and do some adulting.  I hope you enjoy this tale of missing phone numbers, anxiety, and a dash of childhood trauma.
*Originally published on February 7, 2014 at Life. Motherhood, and The Pursuit Of Happiness* 
anxiety, bad teacher

 

As many of you know, I regularly drive Almost-Husband to and from his job in a town 30 minutes away. It’s a pain in the behind, but it’s a necessity at this point. Luckily, we’re getting pretty close to being able to afford to move, so I will effectively gain 2 hours each day. Yay!

Anyways, as I have also made clear, I’m a bit of a space case. Now, add to that chronic sleep deprivation and you’ve got yourself an interesting middle-of-the-night drive.

As much as I hate getting out of bed and losing an hour of sleep each night (granted the baby doesn’t wake up), I’ve come to embrace the “me” time that the ride up provides. Since the Almost-In-Laws are home to listen for the little one, I get to make the trip solo, which means I get to crank the radio as loud as I want and sing along obnoxiously.

The other night I was doing just that and I noticed that I kept speeding as I got lost in the moment. Also, I almost hit an owl, but that’s not the interesting part of the story. The interesting part comes after the 5th or 6th time I caught myself driving just a little too fast, no doubt as a result of all the rocking out I was doing. As I forced myself to slow down, I noticed a pair of headlights in my rear-view mirror. That’s when my brain did what it always does and got all crazy on me.

Suddenly, I’m thinking:  What if that was a cop? What if I got pulled over for speeding?

As always, my anxiety had an answer for me. Not only would a speeding ticket hurt us financially, but it would make me late and Almost-Husband would be left worrying whether I was dead or alive as he stood outside in the freezing cold.

But wait!

The cop would have some kind of personal vendetta against short blondes as the result of a romance gone wrong and I would be thrown in jail on trumped-up charges. Then I’d have to decide how to use my one phone call. The best decision would be to call Almost-Husband. He would need to know that I wouldn’t be coming and he could call someone for help (and possibly bail money).

I smiled to myself for a brief moment, thinking I had solved the imaginary problem my brain spewed at me. Then, I remembered that I don’t know his number from memory. In fact, I don’t know anyone’s number by heart anymore. I don’t need to, they’re all in my phone.

Hopefully they’ll let me get the number from my phone, I thought. But I’m sure they won’t. Oh shit! I’m screwed!

After a mini panic attack, I remembered that I wasn’t going to jail and that it was all just a made up scenario. As I took a deep breath, the memory of a slightly traumatic childhood moment popped into my head.

I was in 5th or 6th grade (although my mother assures me that it was definitely 6th), and my class had gone on a field trip. I couldn’t remember exactly where we had gone to, as all the trauma that ensued afterwords has clouded my memory, but my mother believes it was a trip for those of us who were lucky enough to go to the Young Writer’s Conference, so we’ll go with that.

We departed from the elementary school and were dropped off at the middle school. As I stepped off the bus, I took a look around. My mother’s car was not in my immediate view, so I started talking with some friends.

All the other kids started leaving with their parents and/or guardians, and still there was no sign of my mother. She had never forgotten me before, so I wasn’t entirely concerned. I knew she’d be there. After a while, my school guidance counselor Mrs. D, noticed my mother had not arrived and asked if I knew anyone I could call. I thought for a moment and came up with nothing. This was a time before cell phones were really a “thing” and my grandmother had recently changed her number. Being a kid, I went back to talking to one of my friends. Soon, the girl’s parents were ushering her along.

“Call me later,” she called over her shoulder, walking toward her mother’s van.

“I will!” I replied, rattling off her number.

Mrs. D was not impressed. “You don’t know the number for your mother or your grandma, but you know hers?” Her tone was cold and mocking, her face contorted in disgust.

I shrugged and tried to explain that my grandma had a new phone number and I didn’t know my mom’s work number. Plus, I knew my mom wouldn’t have forgotten me. Something had to be up.

old phone, anxiety
This was back when our house phone looked like this.

Instead of being concerned and helpful, my guidance counselor then went on a tirade about how irresponsible of a mother I had, how she obviously didn’t care about me, and somehow or another it was because she was a single mom. All of this to a child who couldn’t have been more than 12 years old. I was, understandably, more than upset. The more I protested and asserted that my mother loved me, the more she ranted.

Eventually, I was reunited with my mother, although neither of us can remember exactly how we cleared up the misunderstanding. Turns out, she had been early to pick me up, but had gone to the elementary school, since that is where I’d been dropped off. An easy mistake to make. I will probably do the same thing at least once in my daughter’s life, I can almost guarantee it. Things like this happen. I can also guarantee that if anyone ever speaks to my daughter the way I was spoken to that day, I won’t be able to handle it with any amount of grace or class, particularly if the speaker’s job is to nurture a child’s self-esteem.

As I look back on it, I think that may have been a turning point in my development. I think it may have been the final blow to my absolute trust in authority and my childhood belief that all adults have children’s best interests at heart. A harsh truth, but something that one has to keep in mind.

I know that as a parent, I will always be on the look out for any type of danger that might befall my child, be it physical, emotional, or otherwise. I will always be taking steps to prevent any damage and to correct any damage that has occurred. I am lucky and extremely grateful to have had a mother and grandmother who always went to bat for me and who built me back up when I was knocked down.

All that said, I think the real lesson here is that I need to memorize some phone numbers, just in case.

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