Sunday, January 29, 2017

Where The Road Takes Us.

It's funny what interests you that you don't even think will interest you. I have always been a lover of old house renovations. About 2 years ago, David and I bought a lot in Downtown Murfreesboro because it was a great deal and we thought that maybe someday we could resell it for a profit or build a house on it. Honestly, I really always thought that our "product" to the world was to renovate OLD homes, not building new ones. It's just not really my thing. I like the character of old homes. The older and weirder, the better. I like to walk into the space and feel it and make the changes in my mind, which is why renovation has always been a passion.

David, however, really wanted to build on this lot. We found/modified/drew house plans for a new construction home that would fit in with the historic neighborhood- a craftsman bungalow with lots of charm and detail. As fun as it sounded on paper, I just wasn't super excited about it- even though this was going to be a house that we potentially lived in, for a while at least. Because this is the industry we are in and we move alot, it is easy to kind of go with something even if its not your 100%-most-exciting-thing-ever kind of idea. Plus, David was excited about it, so there's always that.

We started construction in August as we were finishing up a renovation across the street. Starting was kinda fun, but not that fun. Pouring a footing, putting up block, kinda cool I guess. Then we started framing and that was fun because you could kind of see the actual rooms, but still I was just kinda "whatev". Thennnnnnn the magic happens. We started really designing the inside, picking the finishes, tile, trim, beams and the real design and function of it. THAT is when I really made the shift. My "new construction is not really my thing" quickly shifted to "new construction is definitely my thing." However,  that should be clarified: The exciting part of new construction to me is picking the plans, flow and finishes that really make it stand and make it unique. I don't want to build a standard house in a standard  subdivision with no character. I wanna build this funky house with borderline odd decisions that when it all comes together you're like....O...M....G.

 This picture was taken at night, so its obviously weird. This is a rough look of the outside of the house.  We are still lacking columns, steps, paint, you know... all the fun stuff.
 This is a picture of the main living area looking in to the kitchen area.  It's going to have some funky white beams going in the living area and a shiplap fireplace that goes up to the ceiling. #joannagaines
 This is a look from the kitchen area into the living area. Having an open main living area was really important because I wanted it to create an area of community. Having everyone in one main area really does that.

Here are two pictures of the master shower because it's probably my favorite part of the house. The funky black and white tile on the floor was a stretch, but its something that I think will really pop and make the house funky. The shower itself we designed ourselves- it will have four showerheads (including two rain heads) with no lip walking into the actual shower.  You will just step right in. There will be glass above the file half walls to shield any water from coming out.

This is the laundry room tile- I am so exited about this hex pattern. I just thought it was a great timeless color and design but with a little spunk.

We are both really enjoying this process and it's alot of fun to see David's creative juices flowing and coming alive in ways that I never saw before. I'm definitely seeing a different side to each of us throughout this process. We have truly designed every aspect of this house ourselves with a lot of research and heart. Whether it looks amazing or looks like crap, it's all "us". We joke all the time about how once we are finished we may just be like ......"oh gosh, what have we done, this looks terrible"- simply because we haven't really "seen" some of these things before, but we are putting them together in this house. Hopefully it will come together and be everything we pictures.

Either way, this new passion is an exciting one. It just goes to show that you truly have to be open to things in life that you may not have ever thought you would care about. Will we ever renovate old houses again? Yes, of course we will. In fact, we are looking at one right now. Will be build again? Absolutely and we hope to do another weirdo fun new construction this year. At this point, we are just gonna see where the road takes us. It's a fun road, full of potholes , flowers and detours. But its the only road I wanna be on.


Saturday, January 21, 2017


I am the FIRST person to call a "jinx". When someone says something the same time as someone else, wears the same outfit, posts the same picture, you name it...I'm calling "Jinx." There are about 88 thousand cokes owed to me in the world due to such a fantastic Jinx Calling Ability that I, Annabelle Louisa Mae Alcott Flashlight Foster Rowland, possess. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

However, I think the cosmic karma of such a skill made me call my own jinx lately. Just two posts back (When Furniture Rigging Turns Emotional) , I was weeping over the keyboard about finding my journal from when I first got my diagnosis of my nephrotic syndrome.  In that post I shared of the emotional journey through appointments and going into remission and just how much stronger I felt now, having overcome. More importantly, I shared that I was in remission, no longer even thinking about this random disease that popped up and smeared my life for a little blip.

Little did I know just threeeeeeeee short days later, my body would relapse. Yuck. I mean, what weird timing?  I had been in remission, no signs, no symptoms and back to my old self again! Only to feel punched in the face with the phone call from my doctor that I had relapsed and needed to start back with my treatment immediately.

There's always that fun day or two where you just mope around like the world is gonna end. Why me? Oh, life is so hard, yada, yada, yada.  The night Dr. Green called to tell me, I laid in the bathtub and cried like a four year old for a solid hour. But in all seriousness, I was stressed and confused about all of it.  I was remembering how the medicines made me feel.. How it wrecked my emotions.. I got a chubby face and adult acne (yay!).. I just DONT wanna do this again.

But then I remembered one of the last sentences of my previous post where I wrote "I am officially in remission from Minimal Change Disease and have no remaining symptoms. But more importantly, I am no longer that scared girl at Dr Greens office. I am completely confident that whatever God brings my way, He will see me through to completion. "   Wait, I wrote that? Oh.... That's a punch in the gullet.  I was reading my OWN BLOG. My OWN words where I'm all cocky and confident about how I'm stronger and better for it and I wouldn't be that same "scared girl" again. And yet Im sitting here weeping in a bathtub about this?

That, my friends, was the ultimate Jinx. And I deserved it.  

I decided to live my own words. You're right, AFR, you are NOT that same scared girl.  And this time is going to be different.

Making that mental shift has made ALL of the difference.  I have been back on my medicines/treatments for about 6 weeks now and you know what? It HAS been totally different. I'm not moping around, sleeping in with unwashed hair and sad eyes. Im waking up early, working out every morning to fight the negative effects the medicine reeks on my body, taking care of myself and trusting my OWN words that God will see me through. With a fighting attitude, I've almost forgotten at times that I have even relapsed. 

Our minds are such powerful vessels-Directing our bodies from movement to movement, big or small.  It's truly unreal how much of our lives are controlled by our thinking. 

Whatever you're going through, no matter how big or small, make the shift in your mind. Make the decision in your mind that everything is going to be great and it will be. It truly is that simple.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Lately I have been thinking alot about what it really means to be "still."

Some days I will come home from work to "rest" but I will end up cleaning, cooking and picking up the house all while listening to Pandora with the TV on the background and David and Abe wrestling in the background. As fun as this can be some times, this is not exactly what being "still" looks like.

On our trip to Italy I took one book with me- Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequest. I bought this book on a whim because I like Shauna's writing style and thought this book could apply to my life lately. Little did I know that this book would have SUCH an impact on me that once I finished reading it, I opened it back up and read it a second time. And I am tempted to read it a third time. It was truly THAT good to me.

What really spoke to me in this book was when Shauna urged readers to start saying "No" to things in their lives. Not just bad things, but good things too. Sometimes good things can become bad things in our lives when we over commit. It's painful to say "no" to things at first. That awkward silence on the other end of the phone when you tell your friend you can't do something.  That weird pain when you cancel plans or bow out of a team or group-even if it's a group that you love deeply. Sometimes, alot of times, we just NEED to say no to things in our lives and experience true stillness.

It really is in these moments that we grow, we learn and we become who we were meant to be. It's hard to make a change or see the potential for growth when we have noises from every direction. Even if it starts with one hour a week of true stillness--- no noise, no TV, no Pandora. Just some true stillness.

As we enter into the busiest season of the year, it seems like my season is going to be even busier than normal. We are building a house, expanding rooms in both Escape Experience Nashville and Escape Experience Chattanooga and all of that is piled on top of normal life commitments of work and family and friends.  Even when it hurts this season, I am challenging myself to say no and experience some stillness in my life. And I urge you to do the same thing.

“But you can’t have yes without no. Another way to say it: if you’re not careful with your yeses, you start to say no to some very important things without even realizing it. In my rampant yes-yes-yes-ing, I said no, without intending to, to rest, to peace, to groundedness, to listening, to deep and slow connection, built over years instead of moments. All” 
― Shauna NiequistPresent Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living