Finding an oasis in the midst of (December) chaos

December is never an easy month for me, no matter how many preventative measures I try to take. My peak month at work coincides with the holidays, cold and flu viruses, and school vacation (= no childcare). In fact, we’ve already rung in the new month with a bad bout of food poisoning (Fred) and a cold (me).

But in the midst of all this promised craziness are a couple of new discoveries:


A cozy new cafe (not sure if you can see the photo too well) that serves organic teas and coffee and a lot of soothing ambience. Max and I went there for lunch the other day and I actually found myself breathing. It sounds like an odd thing to do but I realize that when I’m stressed I tend to intermittently hold my breath. Without doing anything except sit in my chair, I felt my body responding to my surroundings and the tightness letting go.

Which takes me to my second “discovery,” though it isn’t really a discovery as much as it is my own doing: my home.

Months ago I had bought a livingsocial deal for an interior decoration consultation. I mean, to me that’s like rehearsing a speech for my Best Actress award at the Oscars. It’s so presumptuous because what our house has always needed was a big garbage pick up. I’d bought the voucher because I thought it would give me incentive to clean up. But looking at the interior designer’s website and photos I thought we were lightyears away.

Well, a lightyear comes a lot faster than you think when there’s an expiration date involved. So on the date my voucher was expiring I made an appointment with Laura, and it took every ounce of will power in me to not reschedule. Despite a cold coming on and deadlines looming over me, I worked up to the final minutes before the doorbell rang to declutter the house. I was expecting a lot of psychological talk about what I am looking for and how I would define serenity, etc., but Laura pretty much got right down to business. We were all sitting but she jumped up and said, “Do you mind if I stand? I want to stand back here so I can get a good view…” And by the end of our one hour we’d rearranged the layout of our living room and dining room in a way my non-designer mind would never have bothered to conceive. Laura completely changed the look and feel of our space even just by shifting some of our picture frames around!

I am so happy in this new space now, even working right now on the couch instead of retreating to my bed, which is what I’d normally do if I’m under the weather. Every loose or stray item feels like fingernails on a chalkboard now and I don’t want anything tainting my space. Even Fred has been so much more focused on his homework since we got the new look. Coincidence? I am guessing not.

Mind you, we didn’t get a makeover like the ones you see on cable t.v. (Laura was only here for an hour) but I feel that we now at least have good, basic “feng shui.” Laura’s gift to us was helping us to break out of the rut of how we view our space and from here we can start thinking about our walls, windows, etc.

My cold has still left me weak and tired, but I’m also happy and not stressed. I think I’ve found my cure.


How do you find calm in the middle of craziness? 

26 comments on “Finding an oasis in the midst of (December) chaos

  1. whatmeread says:

    Your new living room arrangement sounds really nice. I too have sometimes had settings that I just enjoyed being in. Our living room isn’t that nicely arranged, but we have 24-foot windows that look out onto a creek and woods, and sometimes I just like to sit there and look at the birds or the trees. When it storms, both my husband and I sit down and watch it. What do I do to find calm in the middle of craziness? Well, I like the holiday season, which helps! I love getting a fresh new tree that smells lovely and then on the day I decorate it, I put on Christmas music and get out the hot chocolate. Then, every day after that I love coming in the house and looking at my tree. I don’t do very much else to decorate for the holidays, but I have to have my tree.

    • Cecilia says:

      Your windows and view sound amazing! I think that would be so calming. I agree with you about the holidays. I love the cheer and the beauty that come with it and only wish that my work deadlines were at a different time. I’m the same with decorations – we do a tree and a wreathe. It’s amazing how magical a tree can be. Thanks for the reminder (we need to put ours up this weekend) and the boost!

  2. Erica says:

    Interior designer sounds fun!

  3. Ariel Price says:

    Sorry you’re not feeling well! I would love to have an interior designer come look at my home. That sounds like a great deal. Glad you have a good place to relax!

  4. Justine says:

    I am so glad the session worked out well! I need to look out for one of those deals by me… And good luck with December. It’s a tough month for so many of us! Fun, yes, but it exhausting!

    • Cecilia says:

      Thanks, you too! Holidays are always exhausting and such a landmine. I do wish my work deadlines were during a different time but I need to look at what I have and be grateful that I have work.

      The consultation was fun. My guess is that you have been doing quite well on your own! (Someday I’d love to ask you for tips.)

  5. naomi88 says:

    Your new room sounds peaceful. Our house feels a lot better whenever it gets a good tidy, which doesn’t happen as often as it should. For me, to find calm in the middle of craziness I go for a walk. When I’m walking, all the things that need to get done around the house fall away, and my mind is left to wander.

  6. Good for You in rearranging your living space:) I found myself doing this about 2 to 3 weeks ago in rearranging the bedrooms and really cleaning the kitchen – it does wonders and makes you feel GOOD too! I schedule a haircut just about every month for some much need pampering and relaxation and especially this time of year schedule another appointment for a mani or pedi or even splurge a bit for an hour massage. I also try to hit the gym at least 2 times a week – my safe place – ha! Happy Thursday:)

    • Cecilia says:

      I love your different ways of caring for yourself, Renee! I agree that it feels great when I clean the kitchen, probably because I do it so infrequently ;-) I definitely need a haircut too! Have a great weekend and hope you can relax :-)

  7. Carolyn O says:

    So sorry you’re sick! My best friend swears by a very strong concoction of water boiled with fresh ginger and then strained — it’s tough to drink, but it does help.

    Excellent idea on the interior decorator! Christmas is my favorite season/holiday/time of year, but I’m also hyper-organized when it comes to gifts and decorations and Christmas cards (probably my favorite tradition), so I can see how it would be stressful for others.

    • Cecilia says:

      Thanks, Carolyn! I’ve been boiling ginger and garlic in water (adding some honey to make it more palatable) and hoping I’ll be okay by tomorrow…I have to be because I need to head to our library book sale at 10 am!! ;-)

      I love that you are so into Christmas. I miss the Christmas card tradition…we get fewer and fewer cards every year as friends now rely mainly on e-greetings (though I am guilty of having done the same).

  8. Fictionquest says:

    I recommend walking… appreciate other peoples outdoor decorations and on a fine evening enjoy the stars.

  9. Ngan R. says:

    Sounds like I can use the help of an interior decorator too! I’m hoping a little rearranging during this holiday season and some festive decor will calm me down this winter. Glad you are getting a little peace and calm from your home.

  10. Denise says:

    Nice cafe, looks very homely.

    It’s nice when you can enjoy being in your house – thre have been times when I’ve felt overwhelmed with mine and that’s no fun. It’s much easier with older kids I have to say.

  11. Denise says:

    Nice cafe, looks very homely.

    It’s nice when you can enjoy being in your house – thre have been times when I’ve felt overwhelmed with mine and that’s no fun. It’s much easier with older kids I have to say.

    • Cecilia says:

      I agree, Denise. My son is still 9 and he still has stuff everywhere, but I’m trying to train him early to *see* things that aren’t where they should be, and spare him the agony I’ve had my entire life! Home really should be the most comfortable place for us.

      • Denise says:

        My main problem, it has to be said, is starting projects with good intentions and then getting bogged down. One of my girls is like that with her sewing projects!

  12. rudrip says:

    I am battling a cold too, Cecilia. It sounds like the new space in and outside your home is just what you need.

    Hope you feel better!

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