And G-d Answered Me

The responsibility of naming a child has always felt really big to me.
This is the name that is going to represent the child and how they’re going to be known.
I want to get it right, but what the hell do I know ?

When I gave birth to our daughter we were sitting in the hospital together going through our options before @ezwass went to officially name her. We knew Leah would be part of the name, after @ezwass grandmother and my great grandmother, and we were trying to figure out the first name.
I wanted Ilana. I thought it was really pretty and feminine but @ezwass wasn’t connecting to Ilana.
He kept asking me, “What’s the meaning of Ilana? It means a tree, how does that connect to us?”
( If @ezwass knew I would one day give myself the title of #crazyplantlady, maybe he would have felt differently. )
And I just kept answering him, very slowly like when trying to convince a toddler to share a cookie with you, “because I like it.”

“What about Eliana? Eliana means G-d answered me.”
And I looked at him and thought, how did you know?

Here I am at the age of 25 years old, two and a half years after getting divorced with the belief that failure was my path in life. I remember being 22 years old, separated at the time, crying to myself and to G-d, asking for peace. I was asking for the better end of this experience because I was too young and insecure to handle what this meant for me. I felt unworthy and craved acceptance. My solution at the time was to hide. I thought hiding would make it go away, but it was all still there to greet me when I showed myself again.
Now it’s two and a half years later and I’m holding a baby girl. I didn’t think it was possible for me to produce anything female after growing up with 6 brothers.
Here I am, at 25 years old, after getting divorced, after hiding myself, after starting to find myself, holding my baby girl, sitting next to the man I love, feeling accepted.
If G-d could speak, it felt like He had spoken and He answered me. He answered me through @ezwass.


Today Eliana Leah is 9 years old. (kah)

I spent the week preparing for her birthday. Naturally I asked @dlnew to bake a cake because my mother gave me many skills but cooking is most definitely not one of them #loveyouingrid.
After asking @dlnew to bake a cake, these are the type of questions I asked her.

What is icing? What is frosting? Why do we need both? What are we using it for? Does it make sense for the frosting to be watery? I bought the frosting but it’s not kosher, do they make kosher frosting?
Are you making a cake or a cookie ? It turns out, she made a cake made out of a giant cookie and I am very grateful.
I tried making it easier for myself by ordering most of what I needed through instacart and instead received a lot of ‘replacement items’ which needed to be returned. So my intention for convenience turned into me standing in line by publix watching a stranger take her unwashed finger and pick something out of her teeth, all while wearing a mask.
It’s definitely safer to stay home.


Happy Birthday my first child, I love you.


This Was The Year of 2020

This was the year I started exercising every day.

This was the year I needed to get the hell out of my house every day.

This was the year I biked along the beach every morning.

This was the year a british lady called me a fat idiot ( if you want to know more about that experience, I have a detailed account of it on my blog. The title of the post is “You Fat Idiot.” )

This was the year I cried my eyes out from feelings of exhaustion.

This was the year I thought I would break over and over again and here I am seemingly not in pieces.

This was the year I stepped away from socializing and now I can’t see myself stepping back in.

This was the year I started to heal from past wounds of failure ( have we ever discussed my first marriage and divorce? No? Okay. )

This was the year I baked chocolate chip cookies with tahini and halva.

This was the year I ate tahini and halva by the spoonfuls.

This was the year I spent most of my mornings watching the sun come up.

This was the year I addressed my fear of not being enough over and over again.

This was the year I watched my parents feel isolated and heartbroken.

This was the year I felt far away from people I used to feel close to.

This was the year we drove our minivan to Canada to spend the summer by the lake.

This was the year I promised never to drive our minivan up to Canada.

This was the year that felt like time was standing still.

This was the year I realized how quickly life passes us by.

This was the year I created some beautiful moments in my home.

This was the year I renovated two bathrooms and I feel proud of myself.

This was the year an old man coughed in my face because I was biking on the walking path.

This was the year I learned assholes still exist in a pandemic.

This was the year I watched skin care tutorials for too many hours.

This was the year I bought too many skin care products and I’m thinking of making a garage sale. Who’s coming?

This was the year @ezwass worked from home and first we loved it, then I hated it and now I miss him.

This was the year I started telling my kids, “because I said so.” It’s so unwoke and I love it with all my heart.

This was the year we made Pesach on our own, without family.

This was the year I saw that we can do it.

This was the year I used my phone too much.

This was the year I started having fake conversations on vintage phones.

This was the year I accepted parts of myself I used to hide.

This was the year that people starting wearing bandanas as masks, G-D BLESS AMERICA AND ALL ITS IDIOTS.

This was the year I named caterpillars Lysol and Rona.

This was the year I lost my mind.

This was the year I feared death.

This was the year I read a book called falling apart.

This was the year I fell apart.

This was the year I put myself back together.

This was the year of 2020.

It’s My Birthday and I Want to Talk About It

My birthday has always been a bigger deal to me than it has been for everyone else in my life. My parents always tried their best. Sometimes they bought a cake, sometimes they bought a present, sometimes they said happy birthday, sometimes they remembered and sometimes I reminded them a week later.
I don’t blame them for not knowing that I always wanted a fabulous Prince Ali parade through Agrabah in order to feel like my birthday was celebrated – I was asking a lot from them. I wanted them to make a big deal over my english birthday and an even bigger deal on my Hebrew birthday. My Hebrew birthday is more meaningful because of the spiritual connection that it brings. This is the day G-d chose to bring  me into this world and I am thankful to be given this time. And shouldn’t the rest of you feel the same way?

What I’ve come to learn over the years is to create the day that I want. If I want the day to feel special, I am going to make sure I have a crown or a sash draped across my body so strangers and friends are forced to say, “happy birthday!” no matter how uncomfortable they feel by my childish decisions. I’ve spent so many years trying to justify why my birthday is a big deal and the answer is, I don’t know.
It just is.

I’m going to tell you about my 20th birthday.
I was in Israel for the year and I flew into Miami for my brother’s wedding. I arrived the night of my birthday and my mother came to pick me up. I was walking out of the terminal like Sandra Bullock
from Miss Congeniality, all wind blown and ready to for my celebration.
My mother embraced me, I embrace her and then there was this moment. I’m looking at her with wide expectant eyes and she’s looking at me with squinted, quizzical eyes.
“What’s wrong chana?”
“Do you know it’s my birthday.”
“Of course I know! I know! Look what we have for you.”
Okay, crisis averted. That was close. This was almost a really shitty night.
I walk with my mother to the back of the car and she opens the trunk. I see a balloon that says ‘happy birthday.’ The balloon had no life left inside of it because it was one of those balloons that you get from CVS, that you blow up on your own. Clearly not much effort was put into it. I was happy it said ‘happy birthday,’ it just didn’t look much like a balloon. It looked more like a string with a hazelnut attached to the end of it.
“Happy birthday chana!”
Yes happy birthday to me.

Now I’m going to tell you about my 34th birthday.
In the morning, my family and I went to the beach at sunrise for a photo shoot with @rachelfelligphotography. She was able to capture beautiful moments in between my kids complaining about how cold it was.  @rachelfelligphotography said it perfectly, “They’re like iguanas, as soon as it gets cold, they start falling out of trees.” Yes they completely fell apart in temperatures below 60 degrees.
We had coffee, we posed, we tried to relax and we watched the sun come up.
My next stop was the pool for some laps and then I sat down to write.
I had lunch delivered by a friend. I said Tehillim. I gave Tzedakah. I had family come over to spend time together.

The rest of the day was spent cleaning up from the weekend, preparing lunches and uniforms for my kids, trying to toilet train my toddler and carpooling my kids around town because they’re young and think I’m an uber driver. I’m looking to invest in a plexi glass divider for my minivan to benefit from their delusion.
The day was perfectly set in reality and at the same time felt special enough to feel celebrated.

I’m not going to let myself think about how I resisted cooking every time my kids told me they were hungry.
I don’t cook on birthdays, I’m too busy celebrating.
I’m realizing now their requests for meals came from a genuine place, they spent most of the day watching movies and eating crumbs from crackers. I do feel some guilt feel but not enough to have done anything differently.

Here’s my birthday wish to you ( today is the Hebrew so it matters; )
I wish for you to find a way to live your life that feels true to who you are and leaves less room for regret and guilt. Thia year should be the year that’s memorable for the leasons you’ve learned and the laughs you’ve shared. And above all, good health for you to continue growing and living a long and full life.
( Amen )

My english birthday is January 13. I accept balloons in all shapes and sizes. I’m just putting it out there.

How Do I Talk About Being Pregnant

I made the decision 4 years ago not to post my kids on social media, primarily my Instagram account because I don’t have Tik Tok, I grew out of Facebook and for whatever reason I don’t have the capacity to maintain my Linked In account.
It wasn’t a hard decision for me, I didn’t share so much of them to begin with and after having my 3rd baby I just decided I’m going to keep my account all about me – I’m wildly entertaining and narcissistic – and I will let them make that decision for themselves when they get older.

Here I am 4 and a half years later, pregnant (Thank Gd) and I’ve been “deciding” whether or not to share the news with you. I didn’t want to make an accouncement about it but I also didn’t want to hide it either – both of these options didn’t feel right to me. So I’ve been sitting here, in the in between.

Should I share this news with you all? Should I continue doing what I’ve been doing? Which has been taking pictures of myself in swimming caps to avoid the belly area.

Here’s what’s holding me back;

My kids, my husband (you guys have met @ezwass) and our family’s life together feels like something that is ours. That’s how I want to keep it. I like the intimacy of it and I don’t want that to change.

What is pushing me to share?

I’m excited about it. It’s a really important part of my life and letting a whole pregnancy go by without addressing it in some way doesn’t feel honest to me.

So here’s what I decided to do,
I’m going to write a blog post about my dilemma over whether or not I want to share that I am in fact pregnant and feeling extremely thankful.

From Middle Finger to Green Thumb

When I was growing up, my exposure to nature started with birds of paradise and ended with body gas. My mother always had a lot of sticks and branches coming out of large floor vases because it gave a corner the same character a plant did without having to do the work of keeping anything alive.

There was a short period where I used silk flowers but it never felt right and always felt like a scam.  My first house plant was a banana leaf tree which was trending at the time in 2014. It has beautiful, vibrant leaves and is very tropical. I bought it enthusiastically and over time, the leaves were turning yellow and wilted, the soil was growing earthly babies and I was overwhelmed because my background in plants consisted of silk and faux.

So bring in my mother in law.  On one of her visits, she told me everything I was doing wrong with the plant. There wasn’t enough drainage, I was over watering and it needed less sun exposure.
I couldn’t really take in her feedback because I was laser focused on how I insulted I was. I wasn’t able to listen to her wisdom about my plant because I was hell bent on being insulted by her honesty and the overall knowledge she had, that I lacked. Looking back, I realize how much energy I put into trying not to make her happy.

Moving forward to a few years down the line and after no maturity –

I bought my second ever house plant, the fiddle leaf. I was told it would be hard to keep up and that it needs a lot of care – to which I responded, “I can and I will take care of this plant. I need to prove it to my mother in law.” They didn’t know who my mother in law was so they weren’t as supportive as I would have liked them to be.

I chose the corner with just the right amount of sunlight and I watered and love the crap out of that tree. I was determined for the plant to thrive under my care. The Fiddle survived and thrived through many more visits with my mother in law. When she felt those lush leaves and said, wow this is doing well, I casually replied, yes I think so too. Did the Fiddle bring us closer?

My love peaked when I started taking clippings from plants my mother in law had in her room for over 20 years. I brought them home and watched their roots grow and eventually replanted them to continue growing and making more plant babies. It is so rewarding to take a small branch and watch it grow into something so much more. I have truly come to love plants and be surrounded by them, they are living beings that grow and bring life to my home.

I’m here to tell you that you too can become a #crazyplantlady. All you need is a mother in law who is better than you and a high dose of insecurity to motivate you. You can do it!

My Relationship with Instagram

Here’s Where I’m holding

So let’s start with an introduction. My name is Chana, I’m an interior designer based here in Miami. I have a wonderfully down to earth husband who is full of love and blunt observations that my sensitive self is still adjusting to and together we have 4 beautiful children. For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with self doubt. I have this amazing ability to find ways I could have done things better almost all of the time. I find myself falling into the comparison hole of hell which leads to me feeling like who I am right now is not enough. This brings me to why I’m sitting here telling you about my relationship with Instagram.

My relationship with Instagram has always been one with a lot of mixed feelings, there is so much to love and so much I want to avoid.
I love all the inspiration I get from scrolling through designers feeds. I love how accessible designers have become through this platform.
Now I can see a plethora of pictures, behind the scenes footage and their inspiration all with just a delicate flick of my finger. I love watching small businesses grow. I love seeing my family from around the world living their best life – I’m talking about you @chanalemusic. There are so many beautiful ways to connect and support those around us.
And yet I find myself consistently feeling depleted and unworthy when participating on Instagram. I find it hard to watch others “do it” so naturally without over thinking every variable. My first down fall into the comparison hole of hell usually starts with watching other designers creating these magnificent interiors and then thinking to myself, “What the hell am I doing here documenting the life of a caterpillar?” It feels like everyone is accomplishing goals and reaching for the stars, while I’m reaching for my third cup of coffee. Another huge step into the hole of hell is when I see others being mentioned and tagged for things I want to be mentioned and tagged for. Sometimes it feels like I’m Tom Hanks from Cast Away sitting with my soccer ball Wilson, whispering, “They will find us. Our time is coming.”

Recently I’ve been feeling like something is lacking with my content on Instagram and I’m not sure why.
Is my content lacking who I really am?
Do I provide enough design inspiration and finished spaces?
Has the content about my desperate need to hold on to the past been worn out through my use of a vintage phone?
What am I trying to share?
What do I want to say?

What’s important to me ?

These questions kept circling around in my head so I decided to tap out for a little bit to figure out what I want to share and what I want your experience to be.

Here’s what I’ve figured out – have in mind this is always changing because I’m a human trying my best;

I’m passionate about design so I’m going to share as much of it as I can because I believe you can benefit from it.

Sometimes I’m going to feel inspired and sometimes I’m going to feel empty.

My content will always be more intentional because I’m an intentional person and that’s okay.

I want you to feel inspired and joyful when you engage with me on this platform.

My message will reach those who connect with it and those are the people I want included in my Instagram tribe.

It’s okay if I don’t have an Instagram tribe. My value is more than that.

I do best when I look within myself for direction.

I’m working on honoring what I have to offer. Sometimes it feels quieter and less noticeable than everything else out there in this world and those are the times I’m going to commit to my offering with self compassion instead of self criticism.

Side note, how was your Chanukah?
Mine had some special moments but it was mostly hard. I spent most days preparing for the night. Where are we lighting? Who are we having over? What am I cooking? The night always ended with my kids crying because they didn’t get what they wanted or they did get what they wanted, but it wasn’t enough of what they wanted.

“Mommy, can I have….”
My youth? My zest for life? My entire being?
You got it sweet child of mine.

My Flinstone Inspired Bedroom

Welcome to my process

Ezzy and I moved into our house almost 6 years ago (wow) and when we first moved in, I painted the master bedroom Birchwood by Benjamin Moore. It’s a beautiful brown color with hints of taupe so it never feels too heavy. I based the design of the bedroom on the color and had brown linen bedding, dark wood mirror and wood bight stand. The room felt enveloping and monochromatic. I loved it.

This past summer we took on the task of creating a small bedroom for our 2 year old daughter Rachelle. We tried having her in the same room as her older sister but her excitement wouldn’t allow for any quiet or sleep.

So we devised a plan to convert our walk in closet into a bedroom (some still call it a closet, personally I’m not opposed to my daughter having similarities to Harry Potter.)

Once we created a plan for the closet, I started looking for a new design direction for our bedroom. That’s where the Flintstones come in. I was very drawn to the uneven finishes and textures. I wanted to  bring in more natural elements and create a tonal color scheme. I started with a lime wash paint for a more imperfect finish, which I love and have used in many other rooms of my home. We purchased IKEA beds, the MALM model, for something very simple. The color is light wood so you can see the movement of wood grains. I switched out the brown linen for white linen bedding that also adds to the texture of the room. Once the base layer of the room was complete, I brought in some color through the rugs and a small gallery wall. The pictures I chose were all based in nature and I added beads because there’s no Flinstones without some rocks and there’s no gallery wall designed by me without some beads. The floor lamp was the closest thing I could get to an elephants trunk so I grabbed it when I had the chance.

We used the IKEA PAX system for our wardrobe. I am very thankful to Hahsem for Ezzy because he took care of most if not al the customization of the closet. I would lay on the couch due to over stimulation and he finalized where every shelf and light sensor would be placed.

He’s not available for hire because he has another job.

Once the wardrobe was finished, we had a company come in and install floor to ceiling drapery instead of doors for the easy access to clothing and it adds a little luxury to the bedroom.

For me one of the most important factors when creating a space is to create something that feels both beautiful and comfortable. I like a room to feel lived in and tell the story of the people living in it. When a space can tell a story, the space gives itself some soul and every room needs a little soul to make it special.

Thank you for joining me in the process of creating a wardrobe in the master bedroom so our closet could become an empty closet that our daughter now sleeps in. You don’t have to say anything,  I already know, #momgoals

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What Does Interior Design Mean to Me?

Chava from Wrapt Magazine recently reached out to me to contribute to their monthly magazine that would feature home and design ideas and inspiration. Chava sent me a list of questions to answer and different prompts to get the design conversation rolling. I’m excited for you to read the article!

One of the questions inspired me and I wanted to dive a little deeper with you guys.
Here’s the question and answer from the article;

What does interior design and decoration mean to you?

Interior design and decoration means a way of living your life with a full heart. I am such a strong believer in creating a space that reflects who you are and your story. When one is in an environment that reflects who they are, they are in alignment with themselves.

After I answered the question, I thought about it some more and I felt like I had a lot more to say and I’m going to share that with you now.

So let’s talk about this. I hear people say so often, “I don’t feel like this space represents me. It just feels so blah.” It is so important for us, as humans, to feel represented – in all all areas of our lives. When it comes to interior design, the need to feel represented is so strong because it’s an experience that involves bringing people into a space that is ours, and that feels vulnerable. At the core of interior design, there is the belief that when one achieves having a space that is in line with their values, they can feel comfortable showing themselves. It makes sense doesn’t it

When we bring someone into our home, without using words, we’re saying “this is a part of me and these are the things that I love.” That’s really powerful. So when we’re in a space that doesn’t feel like us, it weighs on us. And it’s not because we’re superficial or because we value things over people. It’s because our homes and surroundings reflect who we are. We’re all so different and unique, with different design tastes and budgets and I’m here to tell you that even on no budget, your space can represent who you really are. You can do this through the smallest moments throughout your home.

You’re at a point in your life where you’re trying to save and buying new furniture isn’t an option so you’re just going to have to live with the heavy brown sofa in your living room. You can place your favorite scented candle on the coffee table or side table next to the couch. You can have your favorite flowers in a vase next to your couch. You can buy a throw pillow or throw blanket that makes your heart sing. You can have your favorite moment framed and placed on the wall.
In order to have a space that feels like you, you need to be in it. Put the things that you have loved, collected and admired in your home. That will help create a space that is layered with warmth and the story of your life.

I Have a Problem and It’s Called a Bedroom

The bedroom that is my boys’ bedroom has been this revolving door of trial and error. I’ve painted and repainted, I’ve changed the layout, I’ve changed the color scheme and I’ve played with lighting. The room still feels unfinished.

Two years ago I painted the walls, ceiling and bunk bed a deep green. I loved how the room felt so strong and monochromatic. I wanted to create a simple, moody space that enveloped you when you walked in. But more often than not, I was enveloped by anger and frustration every time I walked into the room because “something wasn’t right.” When it came to the boys’ room, that moment where everything ‘clicks’ into place wasn’t happening. I tried changing the linen from green, to sky blue, to a darker blue. No click. I moved tbe bookshelf to the other side of the room. No clicking. I installed white sconces to add contrast. No click. The space wasn’t coming together.

I walked into the room one day and thought to myself, “It’s because the walls aren’t smooth. The walls need to be smoothed out so the dark paint doesn’t show every single imperfection.” Okay, I got this! I figured out the reason for all the lack of clicking in this room. I’m going to fix this.

I called someone in to give me a quote on the work needed. Then I got the quote. The walls are still dark green and bumpy like a dinosaur’s back.

The idea that maybe the room was too dark  for some reason offended me. I would very quickly dismiss that idea any time it was brought up. I wanted the room to be dark. I loved the IDEA of this dark room. I had all these hopes and dreams for this deep, dark room that wasn’t coming to life.

So here I am, an interior designer feeling stuck with no way out of this design dilemma. After an unhealthy amount of negative self talk and bullying loved ones aroud me, I admitted the hard truth. The color was too dark for the room. The room is north facing so it doesn’t recieve a lot of light throughout the day, so a lighter color on the walls will help liven it up. It was hard to admit that I made a mistake with the paint color. That feels shitty. It also feels shitty to have a room that doesn’t feel good when you’re in it. So I’m proud to announce, I’ll be switching out the dark color for a lighter color. ¹111

I ordered a plaster paint to help hide the imperfections of the walls. I changed the layout slightly and ordered large, fun prints. This is where I am currently holding in the design process of my boy’s room. I’m invitng you to join me in finishing the room, right up to moment it ‘clicks.’

You Fat Idiot

Don’t Talk to Strangers

I had an encounter this morning on my bike ride that rocked me to my core. I was on the sidewalk and there was a woman in front of me.
I slowed down, “excuse me,” nothing, “excuse me,” a little louder.
She turned around and yelled “YOU NEED TO BE 6 FEET AWAY FROM ME! YOU CAN’T BE ON THE SIDEWALK!”
I was startled and the only thing I could muster was, “I just want to pass you.”
“GET OFF THE SIDEWALK YOU FAT IDIOT!”
I don’t remember how I eventually passed this lady because I blacked out from the pain to my gut those words felt like.

 

“You Fat Idiot”

Is it so obvious? How did she know? I so deeply believe those words to be true that when she said it, it broke me. I cried the rest of the bike ride. I had to end the ride early to go home and continue crying in the shower.
I proclaimed –
“I’m going to write a letter to the Mayor about a stranger calling me a fat idiot”
I quickly realized that doesn’t make sense. The letter will just make him feel uncomfortable and think, “And the sky is blue and dogs have tongues that hang too low.”
It was her choice in words that struck me the hardest. I could handle being screamed at by a grumpy British lady but those words are my kryptonite.

The event stayed with me all day. I couldn’t shake it off.
I was sitting by the kitchen table at the end of the day, feeling exhausted from hauling this sentiment around all day, like a kangaroo with a baby in their pouch.
Ezzy walked in and said, “You’re giving this nasty woman too much power. You are so much more than that.”

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

I felt broken because I heard her say what I’ve said to myself so many times.
This woman’s words echoed what I already had bouncing around in my head.
I had given her permission to make me feel small and inferior because I had given myself permission to do so as well.

Last week a Britsih blonde lady called me a fat idiot while I was riding my bike.

This week I told myself I am powerful and deserving.

Let’s see what happens next week

 

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“fatidiot”