The Nature of Small Steps/Big Projects

(Note: As a creative being, sometimes I get inspired by things other than writing. While I wouldn’t consider myself a super crafty individual, I do find great joy in organizing and decorating my living space, and I’ll tell you that as long as I’m being creative, it’s always poetry.)

My insanity stems from the fact that I have a lot of amazing ideas all in this brain of mine, but I lack access (I assume) to the other parts of my brain that would allow me to implement them, so they just loll around and fester.

But, I have a solution! SMALL STEPS! You are amazed at my ingenuity.

Here is the wall above the sitting area in my house today: 20130702-162026.jpg

We moved into our first house in October 2012. After we received that giant M as a Christmas gift from my mother, my husband and I had talked about how cool it would be to have a “gallery wall.” Some awesome wall space that would “really represent us and our interests” and be a “good focal point for visitors” (I doubt we said these things to one another.).

Since Christmas, I have agonized and agonized over what to put there. I bought a couple of frames at garage sales, purchased little things that might one day make it up to our gallery wall, but did nothing further. I kept thinking (because I’m insane) that it just wasn’t a good idea to start nailing things up UNTIL I had every piece I wanted to put up.

The reason why that is a total fallacy is that when can I ever know I’m done if I haven’t even started yet? What would be the end point: when I have the 12th picture or framed piece of art, when we’re putting the house up for sale? Either way, my husband said to me three months ago, “Why don’t you just hang up what we’ve got and add the other stuff later?” That made good, proper sense, but I still languished in procrastination.  I got jealous, then I got insecure, then (and only then) I got motivated.

When I get jealous is when it gets bad for me. I define jealousy here as when I find myself hypercritical of that friend of mine’s choice to hang a framed photo of their nude baby in their dining room. I find myself saying things like, “They just hung a picture of a nude baby in their dining room. How does that have anything to do with dining? Don’t they know their guests are not going to want to eat mac & cheese in range of that thing? Yeesh!”

Jealousy is, for me, always about not liking the fact that I’m not doing something in my own life that I see other people doing. I can usually figure out how to completely remove my feelings of jealousy and judgement if I can answer the question: “What do they have that I wish I had? What could I do to get that?” The answer to this for me was, of course, that I wanted to decorate my own space.

Once I figured out that I was jealous and why I was jealous, these insecurity voices started piping up. They said, “You don’t know how to do this right. You’ve never done this before. You’d be insane to do it any other way than the way Better Homes and Gardens says it needs to be done!” I had recently read this article about how it was “so much easier” if you traced the frames onto Kraft brown paper and figured out the arrangement by taping up the paper before nailing.

So when my husband said, “Why don’t you hang up what we have now?” I know I said, “Well, I need this brown paper,” and he was like, “What brown paper?” And I was like, “This special brown paper that I can trace onto and then nail through once I figure out the arrangement,” and he gave me a look and said, “Okay.” But then I never bought the paper and just continued thinking, “I can’t do it if I don’t have that paper!” Somehow, I think my mind thought that If I continued thinking like that, eventually I’d buy the paper…But insecurity, remember? When I feel insecure, I don’t want to do anything that reeks of security!

But, finally, I just did it. I hung what we had, which is really what I should have done all along. Yes, I’m going to make mistakes, but I needed to try first, right? Like if I want to write a book of poetry (which I’ve done), shouldn’t I go ahead and write a poem first? And since I’ve written a book of poetry, shouldn’t I know how to finish projects?? (The answer is Yes.)

The M seemed the logical midpoint, so I then started with the  other big pieces: the black framed photo collage and our framed wedding photo. Those made sense on a diagonal from one another. Then I put the mirror up. I wanted the spacing to be a little different, so that went between the M and the wedding photo, but much higher up, and then last, the striped framed photo. The important thing for me was making not everything perfectly symmetrical and playing with the spacing, since we intend, at some point, to put more stuff up there.

1. Giant M: Christmas gift from my mother. These can be found anywhere or even made. Our particular one is made out of metal.

2. Black framed photo collage, upper left: This was a gift from a friend for our wedding. I absolutely love it because I know I’d be unlikely to purchase or make this for us myself. Here‘s a way you can make one yourself. I don’t particularly like that the frame is black, so I might go back and paint that frame another color at some point. For now, it’s okay.

3. Striped framed photo, bottom left: I bought this frame on sale from Target. I’d been stalking their frame section for a while, hoping to find some interesting frames on the cheap and finally nabbed this one for $4. The photo inside is one of those silly photo booth photos taped not exactly perfectly on top of the pink insert that came with the frame (I liked the contrasting colors). Here is a closer look of the photo: photobooth 4. Mirror, upper right: This was a find for $5 at Antique Warehouse here in Memphis. They often have some good sales going on (the booth I bought this mirror in was having a 50% off sale that day).

5. Framed photo, lower right: I’ve had this wedding photo in a plain black frame on top of a lawyer bookcase for a while now. It sort of looked depressing up there, rimmed in black, so I decided (finally) to do something about it. I had recently purchased a $2 framed picture of a medieval unicorn (this one, to be exact) from an estate sale. The frame wasn’t in perfect shape, but the picture had matting around it, and I think matting makes pictures look cleaner, so I usually try to pick up cheap frames that have them when I can find them.

I took out the original picture (no, I didn’t want a medieval unicorn on my wall…) and used some wood stain marker (in mahogany) to cover the scuffs on the sides of the frame. I then picked a colorful piece of scrapbook paper that was lavender like the dominant color in my wedding bouquet. I turned the scrapbook paper upside down on the table and placed the matting on top and traced around the matting. I then cut it out and glued it (colorful side on top) to the matting. The scrapbook paper wasn’t long enough to do this in one go, so I ended up having to use another sheet and some careful maneuvering to cover the bottom section of matting as well. Voilà! Framed and matted wedding photo.

Here’s a close-up. I know you can see some of the imperfections in the matting, but you should be distracted by our loveliness instead.

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