This morning, Emma is back at school, I am sitting in my new kitchen office (that Mike and I created yesterday... I'll share it later this week when I've had a chance to style it), drinking coffee, watching Mr. Darcy play in the backyard, deciding what to make for dinner, doing laundry, writing about happiness and enjoying the new Capri Blue "Currant Blossom" candle I splurged on this weekend.  Happy. 

Last year about this time, I wrote a post about my vision was for this blog entitled, "Let Your Heart Be Light."  I wrote:

"Life is to be lived and felt - richly and abundantly.  We are all so blessed - stop worrying and live happily." 

January has arrived again, and I find myself very happy.  Not because of the endless list of blessings in my life (which are all good reasons to be happy), but because I choose to be happy.  I make small and big decisions all day long that fulfill the decision to be happy. 

A couple of weeks ago we met with an architect to talk about the addition we're planning for our house.  She was fabulous - asking all of the right questions.

"What do you want out of the new space, beyond the rooms and the physical vision, what is it that you're looking to feel, experience and do in your home that you aren't able to now?" 

I started spouting (in a hurried fashion, of course):

I want to be able to work and leisurely cook in the kitchen while being able to watch Emma.  I want a cozy table in front of a fireplace at which to spend hours on Saturday morning enjoying coffee and long dinners at night after Emma goes to bed.  I want us to have a big pair of cozy leather chairs (also near said fireplace) to lounge in and watch TV.

When I start talking about the picture perfect scene that the new addition would create, I can't help but double back and think, is it really possible for a room to add that much happiness to my life?  In some cases, yes.  I love to cook and being able to cook while giving Emma space to be (safely away from boiling water and frying bacon) would make me happy.  But can't we sit around our current dining room table and have long leisurely brunches?  Yes.  And don't we have a leather chair in our living room that is pretty darn close to a fireplace and a TV?  Yes.

There is an trend in our culture that says, I'll be happy when.  Instead of waiting for those things to happen to be happy, go ahead and make the choice to be happy now. 

Slow Down.  Relax.

As I begin to examine that picture in my head, the big thing I notice is the casual, laid back, easy going, relaxed feeling that I see.  Most of the time my life does look and feel like that.  But... sometimes (ok, too often) I find myself rushing through things.  Dinner, cooking, shopping, working, writing, shooting photos, cleaning, even vacations... everything.  I find myself feeling like I can't relax until everything is done, or everything is clean, or everything is put away and neat.  When Emma is at school, I run around the house multitasking my a** off so I can "feel good" when I get home.  Huh?

Don't get me wrong, in my true core, I'm a very, very laid back person.  But sometimes I find myself getting sucked into keeping the same standards I had for myself, our home and our lifestyle before Emma.  And the reality of it is, is that I just need to let it go.  Rushing around for hours so I can feel relaxed for 10 minutes at the end of the day because my to-do list is checked off doesn't make a lick of sense.  And it drives me crazy.

So, here's to lounging on the sofa and reading some blogs, flipping through Foolproof (continuing my "Month with The Barefoot" Project) deciding what to make for dinner instead of putting laundry away

At least for a good 20 more minutes this morning...

While Mr. and I are lounging, enjoy this update on our living room.  You can visit this link to see previous progress photos, as well as sources for purchases and paint colors in the room.  As you can see, there are a couple of new additions.

Mainly this painting created by... me! 

I'm not claiming that it is a masterpiece, as it is surely very flawed.  But I like it.

I based it on this photo I took on our honeymoon in Tuscany.  It is the first "real" thing I've ever painted... besides 100's of pieces of furniture, over and over.

Mostly, besides that it reminds me of the amazing views off of our honeymoon terrace, I love that I could use any colors I wanted and I could customize it to be exactly what I wanted for our living room... something I was struggling with while looking for artwork.  I chose a more muted palette than that of the photo, as you can tell.

My method was simple : I drew a grid on the printed photo, then a grid on my canvas.  Then I just started sketching and painting using acrylic paint.

I love the texture I was able to get with the acrylic. 

I'm looking for a gallery light to hang above it... but they seem to be very expensive, of course.  It only took me a couple of hours - and was fairly inexpensive (less that $50).  I'm thinking of creating something a little more airy for the Spring and Summer months...

Here is a pin for your bookmarking!

Other new things around the room include drapes and antique brass drapery hardware (similar to our master bedroom)...

And the paperwhites have replaced the garland on our mantle.  Cozy, don't you think?  I think I'll grab yet another cup of coffee and light that fire : )

As I said, daily happiness is a choice that we make through small and big decisions we make.  A little one for me it is consciously taking my time and choosing to be relaxed even though my list is long and my to-do's many. A big one is the 6 day vacation I just booked to Seaside (where we got married) for us in February - talk about relaxing!   See that photo above?

You might remember this photo from my post about happiness last year - Mike and I in Seaside just after we got married.   I can't wait to share our favorite place in the world with Emma.   How do you choose to be happy?  Please share - you might inspire someone... or me!

Just a reminder, you can visit this link to see previous progress photos, as well as sources for purchases and paint colors in the room.