girlfriends & grace

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My best friend, Nicole, and I were invited to a dinner a few weeks ago by a friend who had endured a heart wrenching life change the year prior.  The reason for the occasion was a bit cryptic on the formal yet sweet invitation and so we RSVP’d for the mysterious celebration, no questions asked. We arrived at the venue to discover candles glowing amid a tablescape of fresh eucalyptus, dozens of other women milling around, champagne in hand, some we knew, many we did not.  And none of us really knowing why we were here or the reason behind the occasion.

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The evening began with our hostess giving a brief prayer and speech, revealing the common thread of those in attendance,  “If you are here, you have seen me red faced and sobbing, and more than likely had my snot all over your shoulder at one point in the past year.  You are all here for the simple reason that you loved me in my darkness. And now I want to thank you with as much light as I can muster.”

Tears. Everywhere. Who does this? We were all speechless to be included in her generous gesture of gratitude.

Yes, it is true. The evening she had meticulously planned was an unexpected elaborate thank you, a celebration of healing, of friendship, and connection.  Nicole and I were so very humbled to be among those present, for we felt our qualifications were meager at best.  In the past year, we’d simply had a few dinners and glasses of wine with our friend, we’d empathized with her journey and shared hope for the future based on our own experiences with a similar life path.  Yet somehow she deemed us worthy to partake in her evening of grace.

Wine Toast

She bestowed everyone present with several sweet gifts of appreciation, one in particular was the chance to choose a card printed with a word or phrase for you to hold dear in the coming year.  Around me cards were pulled reflecting such concepts as Hope, Creativity, and Authenticity.

My card had two words: Inspiration & Ideas

Nicole just smiled at me with that all knowing smile that only a best friend can give who knows the very threads of who you are within your core.

Yes. My creativity feeds my soul but what I love more than anything is the sharing of my ideas with the world and inspiring others to do the same.  Our hostess hugged me tight at the end of the night when I showed her my card, encouragement and affirmation in her embrace as we laughed together. “It’s YOU, this is so YOU!” she giggled.

“Do you have a card?” I asked.  “Because if not, I choose the word Giver for you to hold dear. Because that, my friend, is YOU.”

The night ended with old friendships renewed and new ones planted in the fertile soil of celebration. And I came home with a renewed sense of contentment around my choice to so openly share my creativity with others.

And so I jumped on the blog today to get it out, my latest ideas and inspiration.

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I’m sharing our formal living room today as we’ve made some big changes this winter. If you follow me on Instagram (@_grace_1972_) you’ve been taken hostage on our basement family room remodel.  (See my story IG highlights there of the entire saga from start to finish!) My next blog post will detail that journey in full but in the meantime, moving our television viewing space from the main floor to the basement allowed for some welcomed changes.  Where the entertainment center once was is now home to a vintage upright piano.  This large wall is still evolving (teaser: think wallpaper!) but here is a little view of its former and current state.

Prior arrangement:

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New arrangement:

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Not only is the room now much more open but I am personally enjoying not having a television in our main living area, it as changed the entire vibe of our home.  I turn on the fireplace every day, light a scented candle and take advantage of our new Sonos sound system we added during our basement remodel that floods our home with music for whatever mood we happen to be in at the time. (I am listening to Piano Chill right now on Apple Music as I write this post.)

I’m in the process of adding more navy blue into the neutral color scheme and as I hinted earlier, wallpaper is a comin’ for the large wall the piano currently sits on so stay tuned for that big impact.  And when I say big I am not kidding. Wallpaper is a serious commitment, this seems like a bigger deal than accepting my husband’s marriage proposal back in 2012.

But I’m going to be brave like I am when I vulnerably share my design and decorating ideas with the world and just go for it.  And I invite you to be brave, too, in whatever way life is encouraging you to do so.

So hang that scary wallpaper, invite that friend to dinner who is going through a rough patch, (or if you’re the friend in the midst of a rough patch, call your girlfriends and put some snot on their shoulders), raise your glasses in times of joy and times of pain, laugh together and cry together. Live your life, share your ideas and give of yourself in small and big ways.

Who knows? You may just end up unexpectedly at a candlelight dinner for not doing anything spectacular at all, but just for showing up. Or you might be the one who rounds that corner and throws a dinner of her own once the dust has settled and the future turns brighter.  For the beauty of life is in the simple, the ordinary and the mundane. In the moment what seems so uneventful may actually be a miraculous gift for someone else.  For only when we look behind us, can we then sometimes see with crystal clear clarity the beauty we created out of what we thought was nothing special at the time – but by simply being who we were meant to be all along and sharing of ourselves with others.

 

Peace, Joy and Blessings!

~Audra

 

 

 

 

 

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