Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Name Change Game

Mornings are my time to think. To be alone in the silence of our home with a cup of something hot. To sit and gather my thoughts for the day. Prepare myself mentally for what is ahead. Sometimes I go on walks, like today. I clear my head. I breathe in the air and feel myself grow taller. I run things through my mind. I notice the little things. I observe our neighbors houses. I contemplate going back to get my paddle board if the water is flat. I watch the cars go by and wonder where they go so early in the morning.

It suddenly occurred to me this morning as my feet hit the pavement and small rain drops hit my head, that I will no longer be "Maria Powell".  In 142 days I will give up my last name. That is a weird concept.

For 28 years I have been called the same name (well, that is if people can pronounce it). And all of a sudden, with an announcement and some signed papers, I will be someone entirely different. "Maria Coughlin". I don't know yet if it rings. It sounds strange.  But I imagine, that like a new pair of shoes,  I will get comfortable with the feel over time. The name will flow. I will be proud to carry this new last name. And I will feel connected to my new family - the one in which we created as a couple and share in the same name.

My curiosity got the best of me though. I started researching the different ideas and perceptions about changing your name when you get married. I personally have a hard time with what to keep as my middle name. In fact recently there are all these people asking me about what name I will keep as the middle... Do I keep my true middle name that I love and identify with because it is unique and now is branded into my photography business? I love "Burton". It is from my mom's side of the family. It was her brother and father's first name.  I have a connection to it.

Or do I keep my last name as my middle name because it is such a part of who I am and a reminder of where I came from? My personality and looks some say are the spitting image of my dad's mother, and she carried that last name. So do I keep that to honor my dad's side of the family?

From some brief research this morning, there are many opinions out there. There are feminist views that you should keep your own last name. The writer in this feminist article argues that by not changing her name it signifies that her marriage is equitable. I disagree. I am an independent woman and I do not think that by taking my husband's last name that our marriage, careers, or responsibilities will not be equal because I gave up my last name. When we get married we become a team…in fact, as a couple, even now without marriage, we are a team. Teams carry the same name. 

Some people decide to hyphen their last name. Honestly I don't see the point in it. And seriously, how confusing and long winded is that for your kids. Life is confusing enough. If you don't have kids, I guess that is another story.

The whole making up another last name really isn't an option I would even consider. Then you both have no identity to your families or where you came from. That is the idea of a name I think. To provide a connection. An identity of who you are and where you are from.

And so I have 142 days remaining to claim the name "Maria Burton Powell". To say it with pride and humility and joy. To recognize that in 142 days Andrew and I will pledge the same name. Same team.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Reflections on 27

I wrote a bit of reflections on 27 yesterday morning, on the eve of turning 28.

"I should be sitting answering dozens of emails, but I decided that a bit of reflection on the past year was more important. These silly emails, our way of communicating these days, consume our time and I just want it to stop. At least for 20 minutes so that I can sip my hot chai tea latte and journal in peace and quiet on an overcast, foggy New England morning. I never journal anymore. I used to do it every day. Or at least attempted to do it everyday. Now a days, if I journal once every three months I have truly made an effort.

I don't know exactly how I got here - to this point in my life - age 27 on the eve of my 28th birthday. Life was moving at a normal pace - fast some days and slow the next, but it all evened out. Nowadays I feel my life is moving at a incredible speed that I only hope to keep up with. Is this the new normal? The time in your late 20's when you realize life is real and the fun, easy going, time for journaling each day, stress free days are a thing of the past? I don't' know exactly but 28 feels monumental. Like I am entering this new stage of life.

27 was a good year. Lots of new friendships developed. I gained new family members. Friends and family got married, had babies, and we celebrated each wholeheartedly. Andrew and I bought our first house. That has been an adventure I never could imagined the day I signed the papers. I spent another summer in Nantucket - picturesque, yet challenging in the realities of appeasing rich owners. I realized in that summer that flexibility is key. That some things work out and some things don't. It all balances out in the end. I traveled near and far. I learned what hard work owning a house requires. I gained new skills and was challenged. Thanks to my dear friend Maaike I launched my own photography business, Maria Burton Photography, and am so encouraged to see it grow one client at a time. Andrew and I enjoyed one last hurrah in the yachting world aboard Spartan. I watched my sister marry her best friend and love of her life - I surprised myself and cried through the whole thing and the days following. I opened my heart, I closed it. I had highs and lows. I believed in the great days and had doubts in the gray ones. And then we got engaged - what I thought I ruined turned out to be all the more perfect. And so 27 was great. A truly blessed, humble, and challenging year."

I am hopeful for 28. I think it might be one of the best yet. My horoscope at least thinks so. I have a lot to be thankful for.

And so I start a new goal for 28 - to post a quote every day. One that inspires me, gives me perspective, or makes me laugh. I don't necessarily have to post it on the blog, but for certain around my house, to remind me of what is good in this life, who I aspire to be, and what I dream for.

So in honor of feeling old at 28...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Egg-cellent Weekend

Our Easter weekend looked a bit different this year. There were no easter egg hunts, fancy brunches, or even a chocolate bunny to be eaten. Instead, there were rooms to be primed, ground hogs to be caught, and dirty floors to be moped.

Eight months ago I would have moaned and groaned. I would have had an adult meltdown and had people take pity on me for missing out on Easter traditions and time with friends & family. I would have wished my time was spent doing other things (well, Sunday I kind of did…I'm a work in progress). In the past eight months I have learned that time is to be cherished.

That this time in my life might look different, but it has its own importance and moments to be treasured. Building this house with Andrew is time I hope to always look back on - not with the things I missed, but with those I gained - gratitude for hands-on, hard work; new problem-solving skills; an admiration for Andrew's carpentry skills; an appreciation for learning new skills; and a humble respect for what it takes to build a home.

Time at Middle Ave was NOT on Gary's side.

Just hours after putting out a new "Have a Heart Trap" and a fresh banana, SNAP. Gary got caught. I managed to grab a mug shot before he was whisked away. In honor of Caddy Shack, Andrew dropped him off at the local golf course across the bridge. Yep that's right. He ran across that green like he belonged.

We realized afterwards that there is a bike path entrance at the golf course that goes over the bridge back to Tiverton.  I hope Gary doesn't catch a ride across…

Again, time always looks different. This Friday night I had a hot date with some wallpaper remover, a paint roller and some "Lazy Gray".  I tackled the bathroom in hopes of making it tolerable. I hate that bathroom with a passion. It has been the #1 item in our house I want redone. Turns out projects take longer than expected, so we had to put the bathroom on hold until the late fall. I decided that I needed some paint on the walls to be able to get through the next six months. Its not much of a change, but it seems a bit better.



It wasn't just work all weekend long. On Saturday I visited the Mount Hope Farmer's Market in Bristol with my friend and had a ball. I soaked in the fresh air, warm sunshine & time away. I bought some beautiful flowers to freshen up the house. To Andrew's dismay, I bought pansies for the window box on the garage…i.e. his shop. I was told that that was not very manly or the proper thing for a wood shop - however, I came bearing a case of beer and some soil & the boys got it done. I think they spruced up the place! 

A lot of effort was also put into finishing the office this weekend. It is the kind of project that seems to be moving at a snails pace. A little bit here, a little bit there. No longer. We are done with the snail and on to the hare. We want this place DONE and back to some place of organization.

After patched in floors, 2 coats of primer, and 2 coats of ceiling paint we moved onto the walls last night. Here's a sneak peek of what's to come…

Stay tuned for more on Middle Ave

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Build a Closet

I did it again.

I fell for the American consumeristic "I have to have it all or I won't be happy" attitude.  I felt ungrateful, impatient, and "unhappy" because I don't have the money for lots and lots of things.

And you know the way to fix that attitude?

Build a closet. 

Sand it. Prime it. Paint it. And then put all the things you DO have in it.

You will immediately feel embarrassed, relieved, and whole heartedly grateful for each and everything that you own.  I didn't realize how much I had because half of it was stuffed in boxes or overflowing from baskets scattered in our tiny guest room oasis. But let me tell you, I do not need anything.  All those Jcrew emails that tempt me in my mailbox…no more…you are just a tease that I don't need to please:)

Now that Andrew and I have finally moved into our closet, we are that much closer to finally moving into our finished bedroom. This weekend we plan to move in the dresser and bed. I've been saying all along that Andrew has to finish sanding & staining our hanging bed before we move in. Incentive at its finest. Last night I let in. I agreed that our life is chaotic enough and that it would be nice to move the mattress from the dining room and finally sleep in our room! Turns out I am a push over.

Andrew is finishing up mudding & sanding the office so that we can put in the final push to complete that room in 3 weeks. It will be a squeeze, but the room is being turned over to me in a matter of days. A year ago I wouldn't have dreamed of "turning over a room to me to be finished".  I didn't know the first thing about culling wood, polying floors, priming walls, using an impact driver, cutting sheetrock or properly cleaning a paint brush (see the proof? Andrew says it's because I finally learned how much a paint brush actually cost - there certainly is some truth in that statement!).  It's amazing to see the change and progress a year can bring.

This weekend we took advantage of the Spring Sale at Sherwin Williams  in Middletown. Apparently it is National Paint Week so we decided to jump in. With 40% off paints and 30% of painting supplies, lets just say Sherwin Williams lost A LOT of money this weekend.  Andrew and I decided to hire a contractor for the 3 rooms downstairs - we just don't have the time or the know-how to skim coat the plaster walls. It is a fairly straight forward job and these guys will be in and out in a week, so we decided to go ahead and pick the paint colors for all the rooms so that we could take advantage of the HUGE savings at Sherwin. We basically bought enough paint and supplies for me to paint every day until we get married in September:)

We sampled 5 different navy blues for the front living room and finally decided on "True Navy" with "Pure White" trim. It is exactly what I was envisioning for the nautical, classic look in that room.

We were all over the place for the upstairs office - we sampled a few blues, a "cucumber green", a bottom paint green "Julep"and decided on a darker green called "Surf Green" with "Pure White" trim. (Pictures accidentally got deleted thanks to my faulty card reader, so imagine the paint samples all over the walls)

In order to coordinate with the fabric on the dining room chairs, I chose "Sea Salt" for a cool, crisp look for the dining room and adjoining breakfast room. This light turquoise color should go beautifully with the natural linen curtains I plan to make (in my spare time…insert sigh here).

And finally, I chose "Rainwashed" for the guest room. Andrew plans to demo this room when I am gone in May. I am so grateful for him taking on this task as the thought of gutting another dusty plaster room sends chills up my spine. He is a saint. Truly, I owe him, especially since I will be working in the Caribbean for most of May.

As I resurface in feelings of gratitude and appreciation for what I DO have and not what I don't, I encourage others to read this article about living a successful life without any basis on money.  This quote gives me perspective on WHY we continue to improve this house that is our home - "It seems that great achievement always correlates to money, power, possessions, and impressing other people. Is that it? Is that all we can define success as? When our skin wrinkles around our eyes and our bones grow weary, will money and power alone warm our souls and allow us to think, "I've lived a good life?"

And so the projects continue. The long nights ensue. The attitudes adjust. The joy in building something, creating and making it better transforms our lives.


Happy Spring! 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Furry Friend Friday

I hate taking out the trash. 

It's not the act of putting the trash in the actual bin, or even taking the bag out of the bin, it's the annoyance of having to put on shoes and take the bag out to the trash cans behind the garage.

Most of the time I leave the bag by the door and hope that Andrew will take it out. Which usually he does. With a side of eye roll.

So last night, as I was fixing dinner and humming a tune, I glanced at the trash bin and noticed it overflowing as I continued to throw in dinner scraps. I put on my big girl pants and decided to take out the trash - shoes on and everything.

As I came around the corner I noticed this brown thing to my left. As I'm realizing what it is, I yell, "you little sh&*!" as it scampers faster than imagined behind the propane tank and under the back living room to safety.

Gary is back. 

I cannot believe that Gary the groundhog is back.  I wrote about Gary back in September.  It seems our furry friend DOES in fact have GPS and knows a good home when he sees it.

This weekend Andrew will have to go buy a new Have a Heart Trap at Home Depot. 

If I had it my way, unlike my last post on Gary, he would NOT live to see another day. 

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