We All Need A Protective Shell

I recently gave birth to my baby, Shaina Sarah, and then immediately after was slapped in the face with Co-vid.
First I had a baby then my husband, kids, mother in law and myself got Co-vid.
We were all home together for almost 28 days. The experience left me feeling extremely winded.
You know when you find yourself crying so hard, that even after it’s over, you’re still shaken up by how hard you were crying? That’s a lot of what I felt while going through post partum and Co-vid. My days were spent taking one step at a time and then pausing to cry it out. I remember when I got Co-vid, I was sitting in my head having coffee. My baby, 2 weeks old at the time, was in my left arm and my 2 year old daughter was sitting on my right side watching Baby Shark on the Google Hub. I remember thinking to myself, “okay, maybe I can do this.”
Then my daughter knocked over my coffee and it spilled all over my bed. Then I thought to myself, “if I’m going to do this, I’m definitely going to need another coffee.” Now I look back and think to myself, how the hell did I do that?
I think what truly helped me was creating a protective shell for myself.
So imagine a turtle with a hefty midriff all exposed with vulnerability and fear.
Now imagine that turtle, still with a hefty midriff, but this time with a shell around it so there’s somewhere to reprieve into when things get overwhelming.
My home was very much my protective shell.

I’ve spent years collecting and putting together my home so when the time came for me to be home, I was able to enjoy it while I sat around and cried – I want this for you as well. I want you to have moments for yourself around your home while you sit around and cry.
Whether you’re home because you’ve been exposed, or you have Co-vid, or you’re scared of Co-vid, or you have a chronic illness, or you just had a baby, or because you feel bloated and you only want to wear sweatpants, or you’re fighting with your husband, or you’re avoiding life, having your home be your own personal protective shell is so important. Your home is here to nurture you.

“Enjoy the little things in life for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Let’s start with the small but very big moment of drinking coffee.
If you enjoy your coffee, make sure every element of drinking coffee is celebrated.
Whichever way you make your coffee, be close enough to take in the aroma.
Pour your coffee into a beautiful mug, one that you feel connected to.
If you can froth your milk, almond milk, oat milk or whatever liquid you use, do it.
Sprinkle some cinnamon on top.
Find a place in your home that’s quiet – if you have kids, wake up 3 hours before your kids to achieve this – and sit down to sip your coffee.
While you’re sipping your coffee, watch the light slowly stream into your home as the day begins.
Something as simple as drinking coffee can uplift you just by creating more space and joy around it.

Everything in your home can be shifted to create a more nurturing and supportive space.

Make your bed every morning so when it’s time to get into bed, you feel excited.
Spray your pillows with lavender oil.
I have 75 different essential oils next to my bed that I inhale every night.
Keep hand lotion by your bed so you feel taken care of.
Place a small frame by your nightstand with a picture that makes you smile. It can be a trip, a place, a sonogram of your first pregnancy or a mundane moment of your day. It just needs to mean something to you.
When you take a shower, spray your bathroom with eucalyptus so you feel like you’re at a spa.
Hang your bathrobe on a hanger instead of a hook so it feels like you’re in a hotel. Trust me, it works.
Play your favorite playlist while you’re home cooking dinner for children who wont eat it. Surround yourself with a scent that you love, even if it’s during the day and you’re the only one home, you’re enough. Buy cleaning products that smell like geranium and lilac so when you’re cleaning your kitchen table after breakfast, you inhale goodness.
Sip water from a glass cup.
Surround yourself with colors that feel safe to you.

I want to point out the importance of neutral colors when creating a nurturing environment. Neutral colors are so intertwined into our lives and they have so much value and beauty. It’s the neutral colors that everything else is layered into. You need that strong base to build on in order to create something really special.
Never underestimate the right off white. Once they’re in place, you can start bringing in colors and textures that you love. And if you’re Athena Calderone, this is when you can start bringing in the linens and vintage vessels.
We all want a space that feels nurturing and supportive and it’s available for all of us to create #protectiveshell.

You don’t need to wait until you’re stuck at home, take the time now to slowly build your home so that when you need it, it will be there for you.

My Favorite Neutral Colors

Pale Oak by Benjamin Moore
This color feels like someone giving you a tight hug but still leaving you room to breathe. It is a soft white that leans more on the beige side – which means in a home that is really BRIGHT this color will look more yellow. In most homes however it’s a beautiful white that has substance and depth like when you add frothed milk to your latte.

Gray Owl by Benjamin Moore
This color is one of my favorite neutrals. This is a grey with hints of mint green. This color does really well in sun filled rooms, both in the morning and in the afternoon. I painted this color in my apartment and because I was renting I only had one lonely over head light in the dining room, so the color read more green at night. When choosing this color I would suggest pairing it with warm lighting for that perfect balance. This color is the rock star of neutral greys.

Simply White by Benjamin Moore
This white is the best white I have found in my years of designing homes. It’s exactly what it says it is, it’s simply white. There are no under tones of blue, purple or yellow. It is just white. It works well in large rooms, bright rooms, trims, ceilings. It’s a gorgeous soft white that is not offering you any other color other than itself.

Ammonite by Farrow and Ball
I absolutely love this neutral color. It’s an understated grey that feels effortlessly sophisticated. I painted my home this color 2 years ago and I am still in love with it. It’s bright but soft. It’s neutral but sharp. It’s not too warm and not too cold. It creates a calm and inviting environment in an old or new home.

Old School White by Farrow and Ball
I love this color so much. It’s a soft off white with warm tones in it. It looks amazing on a textured wall or a brick wall. It has an old school feel, like it’s been around for a long time which adds character to what can otherwise be a “plain white wall.” This color is also so great because it looks good at night as well. It helps create a really warm and cozy atmosphere. Who doesn’t need that?

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