Influenced by Your Surroundings

My Studio Creative Space

This is a little different post for me, but I feel so strongly that many are living with less and less satisfaction and well-being on a daily basis and need some encouragement. I have found that my surroundings make a HUGE difference in how I feel, and how I handle the challenges and disappointments that come into my life. Do you think that your surroundings play a part in how you feel on a daily basis?

Today, let’s talk a little about how your environment impacts you.  I believe, you may understand that you can influence your mood and well-being. For example, rooms with bright light, natural or artificial, can improve depression and anxiety. It can motivate you to action. A room that is cluttered and messy will probably be someplace you will continue to drop things as you come in the room or entry. However, a space that is cleaned and organized, will motiviate you to keep it that way. It will encourage you to have a new habits of wanting to put things away in their place so it stays that way. Let’s take an entry for example of your home or apartment. Does it invite people to come in?  Does it encourage or discourage interaction among family and friends by the way you set up the chairs or furniture in the room you will walk into? Does it encourage people to sit for a spell? Reducing stress or creating stress is also influenced by your feeling of well-being so how it appears when you come can determine your feelings, as well as, your guests. So… we can see by a couple examples, that this it isn’t just what is going on in the inside of you but also what is going around on the outside of you. How you see your space has a great impact how you feel in your surroundings. All this in turn has impact on your psychological health as well.

Think about this scenario, you have dishes in the sink and on the counter from dinner or maybe even a couple of days, and it bugs you to see it before you go to bed, but you don’t feel like doing it. However, doing it makes you feel like you are accomplishing something, and you will feel better waking up to a clean kitchen the next morning. Or, maybe its city life that makes you anxious and you would rather be in the country, even though friends, and even family members, love the hustle and bustle of the city. Maybe you are like me and the ocean is your happy place. I love the ocean and it does it for me every time. There is the place where I get quiet enough to lean in to hear what God has to say to me. The water and nature do that for me. It may be different experiences for you that cause stress or help you dial down. Looking at your surroundings as you read this, is there good light around your home and work space? Do you like what is around you? Do you like how you feel sitting there in that spot? Your mood is affected by that. What about the dynamics of your surroundings?  Do you thrive in high-pressure, or does it make you shut down? Messy work spaces elevate stress and the feelings of chaos. Do you need to attend to that area?

Here is the bottom line…your surroundings are so impactful to how you feel on a daily, or even an hourly basis. You may be in many different environments during a day. But do something about the ones you can control…your own.  Your surroundings influence your senses such as what you see, smell, touch and hear, and even the colors you have in your surroundings. Color can completely change the whole feel of your room or home or space and paint is inexpensive. All of these areas has influence on how you feel. Just like you love to go to the beach and see a lovely sunset, so it is with the feeling of our homes. It welcomes us in with a feeling of belonging. It is a soft place to fall.

Sometimes, our environment and/or circumstances can dictate what we choose to do rather than what we want to do. Your environment is what is important to YOU. So if you look around and see with new eyes what brings you joy and well-being, and also what makes you anxious, then you can begin to take the first step in making your surroundings special. Gain habits that help you keep that environment. Minimize distractions around you whether it is furniture, too much in the room, or messy areas that need to be tidied up. Items you might need to get rid of or share. You know we hear daily how we can change our lives, but we forget that we have a real need to feel content in the place where we live out that life. First let’s change our surroundings where we can so we are more motivated to make the changes in ourselves, to be used of God.

It is a proven scientic fact that when you have things around you that bring you like, or you see things that bring you a feeling of love, it changes you inside…that feeling of contentment. It increases your endorphins. It changes then how you look at life. It helps us enjoy life more. It motivates you without you having to push yourself. You begin to WANT to have it look a certain way because of how it makes you feel. It may begin with the smallest step like changing furniture around, or adding a piece that helps you organize the space. It may be adding a special item to your space. But the change gives you the sense of accomplishment and that one small step is making some progress toward that feeling of contentment and well-being.

I learned this years ago, and have always set the priorities for our home to be in good order where possible. It feels good to have things in place. When I have too much in a room, I tend to think about it and it is stressful to even have the items. So in the last few years, I have been slowly trying to streamline my home and everything in it, so that, I will have a feeling of calm in my home. I love it when people come in and feel comfortable in my home. That is my goal; to make any guest feel welcome.

So let me share with you how I have done that in my surroundings.

  1. I alway surround myself with items I love. I have surrounded myself with family heirlooms, photos that give me good memories, my Norwegian heritage, music, collections, good books, candle light is often seen in my home, and items given as gifts to me. I love to look at them and remember how they fit in my life story.
  2. I have colors I love that brings me joy. I love reflected light of crystals hanging in strategic places to catch the sunlight. I hope to paint the whole condo at some point, but I’m also open to God opening a door for just the right stand alone home too! He works behind the scenes, so I’m ready. But in the mean time, I am making this environment what we love.
  3. I change the look of each home I have lived in. It is important for me to make it my happy place. I spend a lot of time here. Once again, I also like it to feel that way to others also.
  4. I also include things around me that enhance all my senses. For example: I have a wonderful soft, furry rug that is placed by my bed. I love waking up to put my feet on that rung every morning, and to enjoy it at night as I get into bed. Candle light and the fragrances relaxes me.
  5. I almost always change lights in my home to styles I really like. It isn’t that expensive if you shop around, but it sure boosts the well-being factor to see them up in our home.
  6. I’m a vintage gal, so I love old things and the stories they could tell. Some of the stories I know. Others I do not. But, I am the keeper of that secret story.
  7. I live in a condo that is very dark. In the day time, if I don’t have lights on, especially if no sun is out, it is very dark light almost like evening time. That’s hard for me because I love windows and light. So I do whatever I can to make it lighter and brighter with shades up and the right kind of light bulbs in my lights and lamps. Sounds simple but it can make all the difference. Use of full spectrum lighting can also make a big the difference in the lighting of your home.
  8. I changed my whole bedroom around; moved furniture, changed bedding, new curtains on sale, different furniture that fit better with the new set up, added a few pieces that I love to the walls, rugs in the floor, and I have a room I love to walk into.
  9. I’m a fireplace gal, so I often have it on in the mornings and later at night, with my mocha of course.
  10. I burn candles whenever I can. Something about them…and that light. I grew up in a time where many of my relatives when I was a child, used kerosene lamps for lighting, so it has good memories for me too.
  11. My surroundings start with a quiet time in the morning, with my mocha and fireplace burning and devotions. No better way to start my day. When I am feeling good about where I am, I can so feel the work of God in my life. I’m motivated to be a part of what He is doing around me.
  12. I inspire myself by looking at ways to bring the outside inside. I like to spend time on my patio and that is a place we are working this spring. So I will want to see that space from rooms on that end of the home. I love outside lighting also and hope to do that soon on the patio.
  13. I enjoy the BBQ life and do it often all year long. I really enjoying have that good smell going on a super crisp day, knowing I have a good meal planned. I get to enjoy being outside also. God has made a beautiful world around us. Let’s look to the good things we can see and hear in nature because God has given that gift to us.
  14. I spend time doing what I love. Activities such as music, photography, creating items with photography, drinking mocha from my cup collection, and reading to just name a few. So I have spaces in my home where it invites me into that activity. Nothing better than making music and singing to Jesus at the piano.
  15. I have a couple of essential oils I use every night before getting into bed. They relax me and give me that sense of well-being… and sleep comes. It is something I look forward to. A little step that may seem insignificant, but it can be huge to my well-being. I also have a diffuser so I can bring wonderful fragrances in to my rooms.
  16. My husband and I love to go for drives. It is very enjoyable for me to get out and see what I can see. Getting out to in a different environment, can change up an attitude in no time. I will sometimes just get in the car for a ride with my camera to enjoy the beauty around my area. Or as in our case, go to the cabin and enjoy the outdoors, camera in hand. I also enjoy traveling to Norway and seeing my relatives there and learning Norwegian VERY slowly…well more like turtle pace. But I’m learning.

Are you getting the idea that your surroundings are important for all areas of your life? Can you see how you are affected by the lack of any of these things or can benefit from including them in your life? I have been sharing these types of ideas in photos to encourage others to change their surroundings for many years. Some have been inspired and made the changes and are loving every minute of the changes they made. It doesn’t have to be costly because many things I have done are through thrift stores and selling apps or groups. I have found some great items!

It comes back to the big take away…our surroundings most certainly affect our well-being!! Changing our surroundings changes us. It makes us feel like we can tackle our world. Because we are happier, we feel more motivated to make the changes and live with joy. That in turn gives us just what we need to be Jesus to someone else. It’s an exciting way to live. Life is hard at times, and we need need that soft place to fall called “home”.  We need that place we go to for work every day to be as much of a spot to enjoy as we can make it. Even where we eat lunch, if we are at work, can make a difference how refreshed we are going back to it.

Hit the Reset Button in your surroundings and see what you can change to make your surroundings more like a place that brings a sense of well-being to your soul. I believe you will build an environment where God can really grow you in ways you may not have thought of just by making a place for your soul to be content. I walk into the rooms of my home and feel a sense of peace, calm, and contentment. It always makes me smile. It is exciting when you get started and I would love to see what you do. Please feel free to leave your big and little changes in the comments. Start with one step.

The best way forward in our lives is to start back at the beginning…changes in our surroundings.

Until next time,

~JoAnn

 

Road Trip Part 4

img_1934Here we are in Part 4 of the Road Trip.  Isn’t is amazing that we can go from sharing a postcard with someone when we are on a trip, to posting in on a blog and letting many, many people share in your experience?  Changing times…

To catch up you, we are now headed to Wenatchee and meeting up with a cousin of mine that I haven’t seen in years and years.  As we drive into Wenatchee, we are wondering which way to go because it has changed so much since I last was there!  So with my Maps on my phone and hubby’s good sense of direction, we were able to find her house.  What a fun reunion we had visiting and catching up.  They took us out for dinner and we got to keep the conversation going.  It was once again a reminder that family is so important, and that losing contact with them is such a waste of great fellowship!  We need our family and surprisingly, they need us too.  Don’t let time constraints keep you from staying in touch!  I got the address of a cousin that was my best bud when we were five years old and sent him a couple of pictures of us.  I am in high hopes he will contact me back!

So after that wonderful visit, we headed toward Leavenworth and to our home for the night.  We are staying at Thousand Trails, Leavenworth and thought we had a pretty good idea where we were going.  I even got directions from the reservations operator.  Yeah…well…not really.  She had us going the back way in, we had no idea where we were and it was getting dark.  I thought I would use my phone and see where we are!  Wrong.  Got our pin point location and then lost signal because we are up in mountains!  Ok, how about the map?  Nope.  The roads aren’t even on the map and this is a new map!  We would get a signal and then hubby would move forward with the car and lose it.  Of course at one point he just stopped but that wasn’t the place where we could get signal.  If it wasn’t getting so annoying that we had such poor directions without technology, it would have been kind of humorous.  So after a lot of, “I don’t know.  I’ve never been here before either!” comments, we just kept driving and I started praying that we would find it soon.  Nobody to ask because there weren’t that many houses there.  When we did find someone place to ask, at a small hotel, they didn’t answer their door for service.  So we got back on the road and kept driving.  Several more miles down the road, and we saw the sign.  We had been driving total of at least 50 minutes looking.  But, we DID find it…thank you Jesus!  And below, you will find a picture of our home away from home.  Not bad, huh?

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We even had a BBQ on our deck we could use.  I think we will come back to this one!  It was beautiful!  As you can see, it had a pool also!  Oh yah!!  Course, I won’t be seen in any form of a bathing suit, but it is way cool to have a pool.  Maybe a midnight swim when no one is looking????  I always wondered why some designer hasn’t designed a swim suit for “the less likely for two-piece anymore” kind of gal!  You know, one that comes almost to the knee?  Skirt type with a BIG flair to it?  I can see it, can’t you?  But I digress.

IMG_1644So we unload our things from the car and walk into our house and the lights are on and music is playing…I like that they wanted us to feel right at home.  Kind of like the Motel 6 commercial where they talk about leaving the light on for you.

IMG_1635IMG_1640We really enjoyed our stay here and kicked back for the evening.  Resting up was important because we have a big day ahead of us tomorrow walking around in Leavenworth!

So the next morning, we are up and going and headed into Leavenworth to have breakfast.  It is so nice to just have no particular schedule and just enjoy the moment.  Breakfast was very yummy!   After eating we parked our car on the main street and hit the shops with great anticipation.  Oh my!! SO many things to look at.  Look what I found in the first shop!!  I put my keys on it right after this picture was taken.  I even got a “J” charm to add to it!  Yep, its me!!

IMG_1680IMG_1679The of course, I had to walk across the street because I saw chocolate.  And hot or not, I had to get some to enjoy!  Oh yummy!  The store is full of wonderful chocolate of all kinds!

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I just loved this shop window!  It was fixed up so cute!  And look at this chocolate covered macadamia nuts!  I also got some chocolate covered orange sticks too!  But I DID share with my sweetie.

IMG_1661IMG_1655IMG_1654Wasn’t that “eye candy” for the chocolate lover’s soul?  It sure was to me!  We walked to another little shop and found the coolest furniture made from whisky barrels!  I would have loved to buy the table and stools for our bedroom.  Yeah…that’s another story.  But anyway, we sure did like them; very creative style.

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IMG_1662IMG_1652It is a nice ambiance walking the streets of Leavenworth.  You can find some very unusual things.  One store had a statue that my hubby had to show me because I am Norwegian and it is a statue of the Norwegian God of Folklore.  He really liked it!

IMG_1671I also have always wanted to get an old vintage trailer and fix up.  I have some great, creative ideas but not always as practical for me, because who would remodel a vintage trailer for me?  I certainly don’t know enough.  But I have learned about some ladies who call themselves Sisters On The Fly who have done it.  They inspire me.  I had to get a couple of books to read all about it!  Pretty cool!  So watch for future episodes.  It just might happen for me before I’m wear grey hair!

IMG_1676I have been known to stand in stores and read cards and laugh my head off.  People look but I don’t care.  If it is funny, I laugh.  I like clean and funny and these little one pieces for babies made me laugh right out loud in the store.  Sometimes I wish I could come up with these things.  It makes you wonder what type of person thinks these up!  But then I remember that I would like to be one of those persons, and I laugh again.  They would be like me who laughs in a store at a card that is funny, and sees the humor in all things.  I laugh at commercials at home all the time!  I think we need humor in our lives and maybe more of it.  Laughter is good for the soul!

IMG_1658IMG_1657So we have walked around, listened to music piped through the town square, enjoyed a Stawberries and Cream Frappe at Starbucks and talking about heading home.  We both wish we could do a couple more days of this.  But then I think everyone feels that way about a great get-away.  We walk back to the car and head down Tumwater Canyon and I take some shots as we go.  The beauty around us is right there, but we sometimes take it for granted.  Here are a few shots of my canyon run…

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The water along the river is so gorgeous!  I loved the movement and of course I could sit there all day listening to it!  I took a rock at one point and put all my concerns on that rock and threw it in so it could be washed away and I could walk away clean from my concerns.  That is how it is with God.  We give him our worries and troubles and He takes them away to Himself so that we can be free.  He smooths all my rough edges.  I was free that day once again.

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It is so nice to see all the waterfalls, great and small along the way.

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Close up of the river and the crashing waves against the rock.  “BE STRONG, I heard.  BE BOLD, I heard.  Never give up even when things are crashing in around you.  I AM HERE.”  Phew!!  Good to get that reminder!

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Look at this pretty waterfall so high up in the mountains supplying the water to the river below.  I saw this waterfall and thought it is a lot like God.  He supplies our needs from His High Place to our us.  Beautiful scene!

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Up river a little further, is the waterfall you see below.  It was so pretty.  There wasn’t a place to park, so we walked a ways to get this shot but well worth it!

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The photo below reminds me that we can have all the chaos around us, but if we have God in our lives, we can have calm right in the middle of it.  Do you see in this photo how the center is open and the waves are crashing all around it threatening to close in?  We can feel like that in our lives at times, and that is why these times away to reflect and enjoy life are so important for us.  Our perspectives are given an opportunity to see things from a different light.  Certainly, that happened for me during these three days!

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My hubby and I talked about where we want to go on our next trip.  Because you see, we need to do that.  It is a healthy choice, both for relationship and for healthy mind, soul and body.  What do you need to move around in your life to make time for the important?  It is well worth the sacrifice to do it.  Make a road trip fund and start right away!  We have our next one planned!  I would love to hear your thoughts on this trip and places you have visited or suggestions.  Where will your next get-away take YOU?

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I leave you with a photo that speaks of my feelings about the trip.  It is so pretty and very peaceful.  That is what this trip meant to me.

“When peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll.  What ever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul!”  Horatio Spafford 1873 from Psalm 146:1.

Thank you for coming along on this Road Trip with me.  I have enjoyed sharing it and I hope you too can say daily, “It is well with my soul.”

Walking the journey with you…

Road Trip! Part 1

IMG_1747In a day and age where so many people are flying everywhere, it is really refreshing to take to the road!  Instead of flying over everything, we are seeing it as we pass by it, or better yet, stop to SEE AND explore it! So, I thought it would be fun to share my trip and thoughts in three or four posts here on the blog.

Part 1

This last week, my husband and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary.  We have had some rough times, but one thing we know, God has been faithful to us. We decided to celebrate by taking a road trip to areas that my husband had not seen, and where I had not been in years.  We left early on Monday morning and headed over the North Cascades to see what we could see.  I am anticipating a wonderful time of leisure with my hubby and my camera because I know each time I take the time, God always shows up with some amazing thoughts and experiences.

 

The first place we stopped was in Marblemount, Washington.  This is a kind of last stop before going over the pass.  As kids, we knew if we needed a potty stop, this was the last one for a long while.  So for old times sake, we stopped and walked around.  There were IMG_3788some wonderful lilacs along the fence line that I had to take the time to smell and photograph.  We walked across the road toward the bridge because I wanted to try IMG_3798and get a photograph of the fog bank over the water.  But instead, I found a wonderful perspective of the bridge to take.   So, I walked to the bridge and took this photo from my point of view and looking to the other side.  It just reminded that no matter how grey and foggy our life may seem at times, that if we will walk in faith to the other side, we will see a different perspective and maybe find God is doing a new thing!  I felt that day, that God was doing a new thing in our lives.  I was to walk “in” it.IMG_3796

 

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IMG_3794Then, as I turned, I looked down river and took a few shots of the fog.  Every couple of minutes it would change.  It was kind of funny because as I was trying to get a photo, a big 18 wheeler came over the bridge and the bridge vibrated for several minutes afterwards.  It took a few minutes for the bridge to settle so I could get the shot.  But the scene made me want to tarry a while to enjoy the beauty of the green tree-lined river.  It was so peaceful.  This is what it is about; the ability to take the time to enjoy the beauty God has given us.

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After I took my bridge and river picture, we get back into our little red car and head up the mountain.  We stop where ever the notion hits us for a good photo-op, and we certainly found a few; pretty riverbanks, water falls, and deer along the road, tunnels and park areas.  It is amazing what you see when you go with the intent of seeing, and not just letting it pass you by, on the way to where you are going!

We pulled over to get a beautiful shot of the water fall.  There were so many along with way but it wasn’t always easy to stop where we saw them so I did a lot of walking.  Here is one of the falls I saw a little ways up the mountain.  Close by, the deer pictures were taken through the car windows so we could get as close as we could without them running off into the woods.  They were just curious enough to turn around to get a good look at us.
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IMG_3896We came through this tunnel and I got the brilliant idea that I wanted to take a picture from one end of the tunnel to the other end.  I seemed to be getting that idea at the beginning of this trip; the idea of “looking through to the other side.”  We couldn’t park there, so we had to go up the road ways to park the car, and I ran back to take a photo.  Every time I would get out into the middle to take a photo, a car would come.  Back to the side I would go.  The car passes, I would go out to the middle and try again.  Here came a car.  So, finally after about six tries, I had a break and got out to the middle quickly, and took the shot just as a truck came around the corner!  Phew!!  The things we do for a photo!  In the time it took to get this shot, it had started raining, and quickly turned into a downpour!  I needed to get to the car.  Terry couldn’t back it down because there was no place to park.  What to do?  Wait it out?  Put my camera under my coat and run for it?  I was standing there laughing so hard at my predicament, that I just decided to put the camera under my coat and run for it!  About that time, Terry gets out of the car with no jacket, and starts coming for me with an umbrella.  We meet up and run to the car under the umbrella laughing so hard we could hardly breathe!  It was quite a distance!  I was trying to tell him about the cars coming every time I wanted a picture and we just burst out laughing again.  What a pair we are!  But he is my knight in shining armor who came to my rescue in the pouring rain, to help his photographer wifey not get too wet.  It’s times like these you never forget!  Love that man!

Now that we warmed up in the car, we decide to move on up the road and came to a park information area. We stopped in to see what we could learn.  Inside we found information about the whole mountain area, all water ways, and a little shop.  In the sitting area, we found this above the fireplace.  In light of our world right now, these words could never be more true.  It IS up to us to take care of our land, but not just that, but to put our life priorities back into place on a daily basis.  We found good information and I bought a map so we could begin to map out on the map of Washington where we are visiting on this trip and future trips.  Away we go again.

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We made another stop at Diablo Dam.  It was kind of ire to see the dam without the water flowing over it as it is so black in color.  But I have seen it when the water is flowing and it is beautiful!  The picture above shows the dam.  The next photo is from across the dam and looking up at the mountain.  It was so majestic looking even with all the fog.  But it stands strong and unyielding between the green of the other mountains.

You drive down the hill to this quaint winding drive with light posts that line the whole distance of the drive.  We drove across and I took some shots around the area.

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IMG_3902When we drove around the lake and I looked back at the bridge, one thought came to mind.  When I look at this photo, it looks like the bridge is a pretty straight shot.  You can’t see the twists and turns or the drive.  Our lives our like that.  We think it should be, or we want it TO be a straight shot.  We don’t want any of those twists or turns, or ups or downs.  When it happens, we find ourselves disappointed, hurt, or angry.  But we are told to expect them, so it depends on how we look at them.  What is our perspective?  I found that when I was up close, I could see the beauty even IN the turns.  The ups and downs of the road led me to this place of beauty.  I believe it is like that in our lives too.

Well, here we are and we aren’t even that far into our trip!  Both Terry and I said so many times that first day how much we were enjoying the leisure time to get out and see what we could see.  Spending time in God’s creation is always a great way to draw near to each other and I think God designed it just that way.    I think He wants us to look at our lives the same way.  It is an adventure and a journey.  There will be rain, storms, losses and all of that.  But we can keep looking forward to what is around the next corner, the next hill, the new thing to learn, the next moments to spend with ones we have and love, and above all, to spend time with the Creator who made it all for us to enjoy!

I will leave you for this part of the journey and will post the next in Part 2 of…The Road Trip!

Walking the journey with you…only this time, you are walking the journey of mine with ME!