3 Tips to Create an Inviting Outdoor Living Room

3 Tips to Create an Inviting Outdoor Living Room

I just love summer, don’t you? I feel much happier and more relaxed during this season. Since the weather is warm it’s so nice to spend time outside soaking in some sun. With each new summer season I always want to spruce up our patio so we can enjoy it as an outdoor living room.

I’m sure you’ve seen photos of amazing outdoor living rooms. I drool over them daily and finally decided to bring the indoors outside where we spend so much time. Here are three things I did to create an inviting outdoor living room.

3 Tips to Create an Inviting Outdoor Living Room

Bring indoor elements outside

Break all the rules and bring things from inside your house to your outdoor space. There are so many things you can buy now that can be used both indoors and out. Add color that pops with a rug. Or give it a festive feel with string lights. If you have a pergola, like we do, you can even add curtains creating more privacy.

Evoke all five senses

You can increase the positive experience by evoking all five senses. Place citronella candles in your surroundings for a pleasant aroma. Invest in a cute bar cart or rolling cooler and stock it with your favorite drinks. Use a Bluetooth speaker to play relaxing music.

Make it comfortable

No one is going to want to spend time in this space if it’s not comfortable. Thankfully, the stores have so many cute accessories to make it so you or your guests will never want to leave. Maybe it’s a conversational set with stylish cushions. Use colorful pillows and pepper them around the area. There are plenty of ways to make outdoor settings feel comfy. Who knows? You may end up taking a nap.

An outdoor living room increases the amount of useable space within your home. Large or small, these ideas can be used to make your patio beautifully inviting for the season and help you enjoy summer even more.

A New View (We Moved)

Beautiful and fresh grass in the morning

It might come as a shock to some of my loyal readers. I mean, I know it came as a shock to me . . .

We recently moved to a new house.

I wrote this post in March and selling our house was basically the big change I was referring to. I just didn’t want to say it. Maybe because I thought I would jinx it and our house wouldn’t sell.

But I was wrong. We had our first offer within 48 hours of putting it on the market!

In late February my husband and I started working tirelessly to get the house “show ready.” It took a lot of organizing, cleaning and painting. But by mid-March it was in tip-top shape.

We needed to move for many reasons. But we knew it was the best decision for us at the time.

So, when we received a good offer we accepted and immediately started looking for a new house. We knew we wanted to be in a suburb just one town over. It is where many of our friends live. The school district is wonderful and the amenities for families are amazing. The only problem is – everyone else wanted to move there too :/

In talking to our real estate agent we learned that houses were receiving multiple offers in less than 24 hours of being on the market. We were pretty disheartened to think we wouldn’t be able to get into our dream location.

We found one house, made a decent offer, and then the seller suddenly decided not to sell. We looked at a few others and nothing felt like “the one.”

One day when I was diligently looking for new listings, one popped up that met most of our requirements. The only thing was there were no pictures online. I read the description and thought, huh, sounds good. But I wondered why there weren’t any photos.

We decided to be brave and see it sight unseen. When we walked in we almost immediately walked out. It was a mess. Dishes in the sink, stuff on the floor, a bar in the main living room and crazy colors on the walls. I now realized why there were no pictures. Their house was definitely not “show ready.” In fact, it kind of seemed like they woke up one morning, plopped a for sale sign in the yard and hoped for the best.

However, the amount of space was awesome. There had been many updates to all the rooms. The basement was finished, which was a huge plus for us. The neighborhood was sought-after and so picturesque. And thankfully, I am able to see past the terrible colors and decor. I imagined what it would look like with all their junk out of the house and painted new colors.

We went on a spring break trip to Branson and talked about that house all the way there. We knew we needed to act fast if we wanted it. Someone else was probably seeing it as we tried to decide. With nervous hearts we made an offer! We asked for well below asking price and as Naaman and I sat in bed that night we got the text from our agent. They had accepted!!!

We kissed and did a little victory dance. We couldn’t believe that we had found a new house and signed everything through our phones on our vacation! Gotta love technology :)

A very smooth month and a half later, we walked in, signed on the dotted line to sell our house and buy a new one. And it was done. It still feels so surreal.

Sometimes I wake up at night and I’m momentarily confused because the bedroom door is in the wrong place. I’m still not used to the light switches and I keep forgetting which drawer the silverware is in.

But we’ve already done so much to the house that it doesn’t even feel like that same house we first viewed. The projects have been keeping me very busy and it has been really good for me.

I finally feel like I can breathe. I look around this house, and although different, I feel like God put us here for a reason. He wants us here. He knows what’s best. I need to let go of all my plans and ideas for my life and let God do His work.

I’m not saying it feels like home yet. I think that part may take awhile. But I think with each passing day our lives are going to keep getting better and better. And that feels really good.

Where does my blog go from here?

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I’ve been thinking a lot about what to do with my blog. I’ve only written a handful of blog posts this year and I seriously considered shutting it down for good.

But, as I mentioned before, my husband and my best friend encouraged me to open up and to keep going. This blog is 9.5 years old and it would be a damn shame to stop something that I still love.

So where does the blog go from here? Do I continue to write about mental illness? Do I start writing sponsored content again? Do I write about travel, which is something I’m still very interested in? Do I still write about my kids?

I’m not exactly sure yet.

I signed up for a blog course last year and never even started it because of everything going on. It has the potential to really change my blog for the better. And now that I *think* I’ve come through the worst of my depressive episode, I believe I should start and complete it. I owe it to myself to try.

So you may start to see some changes around here. But I hope you’ll stick around and wait for what’s to come. I’ve always had big plans for turning my blog into something that will reach even more people. I’m pretty sure it’s time to put my thoughts into action.

Hopeful.

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Wow. The support on my last post has been overwhelming. Not only have I received amazing encouragement on my facebook page, but I have received messages and emails letting me know friends are there for me if I need anything or they are available to chat and listen.

Just so you know – that means the world to me. It truly does.

It has always been my hope that opening up about my illness could help someone else. I’m still amazed that anything I write would be worthy of saving a life. But apparently it is. And I know for a fact that it has saved mine. Writing is like a life vest for me. I can be drowning in the ocean of depression and writing words will allow me to float until I can reach the shore.

I usually choose a “word of the year” at each start of the New Year. I started thinking about my word in December and thought I would choose fearless. I thought I had come through the worst of my illness and would be able to start a new year as fearlessly as possible.

And then I had another setback and wound up in the hospital again. When I was finally released I came home to ice on the ground and freezing wind. I walked in my house and immediately felt uneasy and afraid. What would 2016 hold for me? If I went by the past year, it didn’t look favorable.

But it’s May 31st and this is the longest I’ve gone without having to go back.

Does that mean the past five months have been fearless? No. In fact, they’ve been filled with fear. Fear of having to go back to the hospital. Fear of missing out on more life due to depression. Fear of people finding out what has happened and the judgement it would bring. Fear of hurting the people I love by not being able to stay well. Fear of how this would effect my children.

Fearful. Not fearless.

So should I be disappointed that the word I originally picked ended up on the complete opposite spectrum of what it has actually been? I don’t think so. Because I don’t think I can take anymore disappointment.

So I’m choosing, instead, to move on. Almost half of 2016 is over. But right now is my New Year. Right now is the celebration I missed.

I’m not saying the rest of the year won’t hold any fear. It will. This much I know.

But it can be full of other things too. Family, laughter, fun. But most of all . . . hope.

And that overrides fear every time.

So, I got sick

If I tell them, they’ll think less of me. Even I have a hard time believing it happened. But it’s the truth. It’s my truth. And after holding it in for nearly a year I’m ready to tell it. My story is worthy of being told.

I got sick last year. Not the kind of sick you’re thinking about. Not a fever or a stomach virus. No, not that kind. And not the kind of sick that is widely accepted in our society such as cancer or diabetes or even a broken bone.

I’ve made no secret on this blog that I am diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder. My life has been a constant struggle of trying to stay well and, let’s be honest, a functional member of society.

But here is what has unfolded in the last three years . . .

When I learned I was pregnant with Sawyer in June 2013, I immediately went off all of my medicines that helped control my illness. I stayed off of them for the duration of my pregnancy. And then when she was born I continued unmedicated for another entire year while I breastfed her.

So, doing the math, I was unmedicated for almost two years. A bipolar person with no meds and hormone fluctuations all over the place. This does not make for a well-adjusted, functional person.

By May of last year, I was an emotional disaster. I couldn’t concentrate or focus on anything. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was in a full-on manic episode, which actually began right after I stopped breastfeeding Sawyer in January. It was bad. Really bad. I didn’t know which way was up or down. But oh, that roller coaster was fun at the time. My thoughts were all over the place. It was like the tilt-a-whirl in my brain.

Think of a movie on fast forward mode. That was my life. My mind racing at all times. I couldn’t shut it off. It was SO LOUD in my head. I was tired but I couldn’t sleep. I would stay up way too late writing, many times I was drinking at night. A glass of wine (or two or three) was the only thing that slowed my brain down long enough for me to breathe and sleep.

I was seeing a new therapist and had gone to my psychiatrist begging for medicines because I knew something was wrong. But it was too late. I had waited too long and the medicines weren’t working anyway because of the drinking.

I started running every other day even though I hate running. I lost weight due to my exercise routine and not eating as much. I didn’t need food. I was surviving on how thrilling life was. I’m not sure how much weight I lost but I remember being really excited when the scale read a number that I had last seen when I was in college.

At times I felt invincible, on top of the world. Other times I dropped to my knees, utterly exhausted by my own energy.

I spent a lot of money that I shouldn’t have spent. I made really bad decisions but believe me when I tell you, they felt so right at the time. It doesn’t excuse my behavior. But it does explain it. Read up on bipolar manic episodes. A lot of people think they would be fun. But the aftermath tells a different story. It was a textbook manic episode as I had every symptom. Weight loss, not sleeping, racing thoughts, overspending, obsessing over a certain task (running, in my case), abusing a substance, and some other ones that I won’t even discuss because . . . ugh. I just won’t.

In early June I was hospitalized for the first time. After coming down off of my manic episode with severe depression I was hospitalized a second time in early September. And while everyone else was partying it up for New Year’s Eve, I was once again in the hospital. It was the worst depressive episode I’ve ever had. Going from a manic episode directly into a depressive episode. Oh God. I’m not sure how I’m still here.

I’m finally writing this, at the urging of my husband and my best friend, because they know what I’ve known for awhile. I haven’t been able to write on my blog because not writing about this was like having a huge pink elephant in the sidebar! I have always been honest on my blog. I’ve always shared what’s going on in my life.  But this time, I was deeply ashamed and stayed quiet to please everyone. It is now clear that hiding this has been to my detriment as I have lost something I dearly love . . . writing. Since I was sixteen it has been a sort of therapy for me. Writing and sharing my struggle and all the while still being hopeful. It helps me.

But this . . . I wasn’t sure about telling the world about this. I am scared – no – TERRIFIED, to put this out there. What will people think of me? Will they think less of me? Will they betray me after learning the truth of what has happened over the last year. Will they stop talking to me or wanting to be my friend?

I know I have nothing to be ashamed of. This illness is not something I chose. This illness is not who I am as a person.

The reason I have chosen to be open about this is because I want others who are going through this to know that they are not alone. You are not alone. And if we hide it, try to sweep it under the rug, well that serves no one.

I thought about my kids. I thought about if they, God forbid, have an illness such as mine, would I want them to feel ashamed? Would I want them to stay quiet and go through their struggle alone? The answer is NO. I wouldn’t want that for them. I would want them to feel safe telling me anything. Life is hard enough. I would want them to be open with me and feel free to live their life out loud. Because that is the definition of bravery and hope. Standing up and saying, hey, I’m hurting but I’m not giving in.

This illness haunts me like a ghost. It follows me wherever I go. But I fight it. I fight hard. I turn around and punch depression in the face on a daily basis. I tell it where it can go.

And that’s what I’ve been doing the past year. I’ve been fighting. I’ve been in so much pain and confusion I can’t even explain it. Just know that it is an absolute miracle I am sitting here today, writing this for you to read.

At times, death was a very real possibility. I didn’t know if I would make it to my 37th birthday. (I did so it’s okay!)

I’m not really even sure how to end this blog post. I didn’t know how to start it either. I mean, what do you say anyway . . . “Hi! Oh, you know, I’ve been good. I went to a psychiatric hospital three times! The food was bad. So what’s going on with you?”

AWKWARRRRD.

I will hopefully be able to share more details as time passes. But it was eating me up inside not to share this part of me with those who have been reading for so long.

There’s nothing wrong with me. I didn’t fail. I’m not “less than” someone else because of this. But I still have to tell myself that every single day in order to believe it. Some nights the shame is too much to bear.

But somehow, I still find hope.