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Shabbalicious Living: Finding and Following Your Passion Dedication This book is dedicated to my beautiful children – Jaden, Paige, Lawton and Landen. You are my world.

Copyright Title: Shabbalicious Living: Finding and Following Your Passion Author and Publisher: Bea Hare Š 2013, Bea Hare, Victoria Point, Queensland, Australia 4165

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher.

Acknowledgements I have been blessed by many people who have touched my life, directly and indirectly and in person and from afar, which this virtual world now enables. I have come to learn on this journey that we can take nothing for granted. There is always a reason, even if we cannot see it at the time or even at all. Whilst I count myself as incredibly blessed, this life has bought with it significant challenges and tests that on a number occasions just made me want to lock myself away and hide. But as I have read on many occasions by those infinitely wiser than I, those times will (and indeed did) pass. On this journey I have learnt however that you can’t just withdraw. I believe we are all called to follow our path, fulfil our destiny and make our own unique contribution to this world. On every occasion when challenges presented, there were always very special people who touched my life in very profound ways which have always resulted in personal growth, increased strength of character, beautiful friendships and most of all, an ever expanding ability to Love unconditionally. It has been through these times that I have learned the critical importance of finding and following our passion in life. There are thousands of books on the market aimed at helping us find our purpose in this life. This book has come into being based solely on my journey and my experiences. It does not aim to create a new way of living for us all to follow. It is simply my story which aims to be the catalyst for any person who is searching for their passion and purpose in life. It has come into existence as a product of finding and following my passion. I wish to thank my closest friends, my beautiful children and my loving companion. Here is to shabbalicious living!


Shabbalicious Living – What is it? Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you. Oprah Winfrey “Shabbalicious Living” is a term I have made up that tries to describe what it is like when you find and follow your passion. How often do you hear people talking about passion? We all throw the word around pretty loosely, but what does it really mean? Well I guess it can mean many things but for me I want to focus on the energy that motivates us to move beyond our comfort zones and achieve the potential that resides in each and every one of us. Or, as I like to describe it – being fully self-expressed. It is one of those things that cannot be imposed or mandated on us from the outside. But as you do discover your passion, it compels us to move outside and engage with the world around us. For me it is really part of being truly alive, vital and provides a clear direction for me as to what I need to do not only now, but for the rest of my life. So in this regard, passion really is about a “restof-life” pathway that endures and grows as I discover how much potential there really is. When I reflect on my journey since discovering my passion, I had absolutely no idea that I could or would have achieved what I have in such a relatively short period of time.

As my passion has grown I find that I am very difficult to distract and so very focussed on my quest. If you knew me when I was younger, I am pretty sure that I would have had a lot in common with a butterfly – just aimlessly flitting from flower to flower. Since discovering my passion I am much more like a little bee – purposefully going about what I need to do gracefully and purposefully. The contrast is amazing, in fact, transforming.

There are so many words that attach themselves to passion being lived out in your life. Some that come to mind are: Passion is about performing … Passion is about progressing, but not necessarily being a perfectionist … Passion is about connecting … Passion will take you places beyond your dreams … Passion is about being authentic … Passion encourages you to take calculated risks … Passion is about discipline and that special energy that drives us through seemingly insurmountable obstacles … Passion can make you happy, but is not happiness in and of itself … This little book aims to show you what finding and living your passion looks like. I do this by sharing my real life experiences and stories. My passion is all things shabby chic, so let me take you on my shabbalicious journey of discovery …

Why Shabby Chic? “There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living”. Nelson Mandella This book is about heart. That might seem a little bit strange when you consider the title is “shabbalicious living”, which actually suggests that it’s about shabby chic furniture and home furnishings. Well yes, it is about shabby chic furniture and home furnishings but it is also about self-expression from the heart. Shabby chic, in my opinion is one of those rare means that enables people to truly express themself from the heart and in so many respects, is a reflection of life itself. When you look at shabby chic creations, they are always unique, just like their creators. In the age in which we live, many people are seeking authentic ways to express themselves amongst the hurly-burly of daily living. I am sure I am not alone when I talk about the impact of stress in our modern day-to-day living. Many of us look for a form where we can express ourselves from the heart against a rather daunting backdrop of hustle, bustle and busyness. For me, shabby chic does this perfectly. When you look at a shabby chic creation, it is never perfect. But then, neither is life. Many shabby chic items display wear, tear and a few bangs and knocks. That’s what life does to us. And isn’t that interesting, that these items are in many respects more beautiful than when they first came into being. I like to think that we are all more beautiful as we go through our life experiences too – even with a few knocks and bangs.

So as you can see, shabby chic for me is much, much more than just painted furniture. Each piece of furniture has its own story to tell, its own way to express itself to the world, its own reason for being and own special place in our homes and hearts. When I acquire or create a piece of shabby chic, it always has a special place in my home which not only has a special place to be, but it also has a special meaning. One of my favourite mantras is “home is where the heart is”. In this sense, pieces of shabby chic are an excellent way to show heart in someone’s home. I wasn’t fully aware at the time, but looking back now I have noticed that my initial projects always had a heart incorporated into the makeover. My desire to make creations from the heart was a lot stronger than I realised. I have also found though, that it doesn’t matter whether it’s a grand piece of furniture taking pride of place in your favourite room, or a small decorator item that sits quietly on a shelf. Both are wonderful expressions of heart in your home and can bring their own special energy and meaning to our homes, families and lives.

I am also a firm believer that a happy house is the foundation of a happy home. By this, what I mean is that if we surround ourselves with beautiful things which have meaning to us, it provides a wonderful environment for a happy home environment to grow and thrive. The other wonderful aspect of shabby chic is that it’s available to every single person no matter what your financial status or the size of your budget. Each item can be very simple and very inexpensive or at the other end of the spectrum, extremely grand, beautiful and at the top end of the price scale. The main thing is that the scope of that spectrum is extremely wide and can encompass any person, any budget and any ideal and still exude class, style and presence.

Another important context for me when considering shabby chic is its impact on the world in which we live. Many, many shabby chic pieces exist because they are enjoying a new life, a new creation, a new purpose. Recycling, re-purposing, and just plain old reusing underpin the existence of many shabby chic creations. So shabby chic is not only good for the heart and good for your home, it is also great for the environment because core to its existence is recycling and ensuring that everything is in use in a new life in your home. It very much challenges the “throw away” mentality of the modern consumer age in which we live. Shabby chic owners and creators around the world will tell you many stories of how a single piece of furniture has undergone a transformation time and time again. This is in stark contrast to some who choose to redecorate every few years with the mindset of “out with the old – in with the new”.

I am sure we all know people who do this, and furniture ends up on a scrapheap or in landfill. I am a big advocate, of ensuring that the home is a place that continues to evolve and grow. This encompasses both the physical sense and spiritual sense. It’s not hard then to see what is best for the environment, our souls and the household. In a nonphysical sense I am sure we have also seen many who live the life where the “out with the old” mentality applies to much more than physical possessions. Increasing divorce and relationship breakdown rates definitely point to this. Don’t get me wrong, I am not being critical, just observing life about me. The key thing that shabby chic has taught me, is that there are no rights and wrongs, just what is. It is that simplicity, which speaks so profoundly to me on so many levels. With the ever increasing levels of complexity in our day-to-day living, shabby chic has become an important oasis which grounds and connects me to the true essence of living and life for the very moment so I am grounded in the present. I have come to learn that it is the present moment where peace, happiness and contentment reside.

What Is Shabby Chic? “A girl should be two things – classy and fabulous” Coco Chanel Wikipedia defines Shabby Chic as “a form of interior design where furniture and furnishings are either chosen for their appearance of age and signs of wear and tear or where new items are distressed to achieve the appearance of an antique. At the same time, a soft, opulent, yet cottage-style decor, often with an affected feel is emphasized to differentiate it from genuine period décor”. For me shabby chic is one of the few forms of interior design and decor that allows its creators energy and passion to shine through. It does this in its most basic form through its simplicity and elegance. But when you look deeper in what I term as “authentic shabby chic” there is a life story and energy that always shines through. Have you ever been in a place and wondered what stories could be told “if only the walls could speak?” Well I have the same view about pieces of furniture. They all have their own stories to tell. We just need to know how to unlock that story. I have tried to illustrate this with some stories in this book with some of my favourite creations.

The shabby chic style is understood to have started in Great Britain and evokes the type of decoration found in large country houses where there are worn and faded old chintz sofas and curtains, old paintwork and unassuming 'good' taste. But as we all know shabby chic is now a worldwide phenomenon with lots of regional and cultural interpretations. The end result of shabby chic in my view since is to achieve an elegant overall effect, as opposed to the sentimentally cute Pop-Victorian.

Recycling old furniture and fabrics is an important aspect of the look and energy and was especially popular with modern Bohemians and artisans that made up a sidelined counter-culture movement during the 1980s when expensive quality decor became very fashionable with the upper middle classes. Now of course it is available to people of all budgets. That in my view is one of the wonderful appeals of shabby chic. It’s accessible to all and can include high end high-quality items right down to the most basic day-to-day pieces. The original shabby chic interiors were usually considered in themselves works of art. And this is a very important point in my view, as each individual piece in my mind is a “creation”, an expression of its creator and owner – not just a painted piece of furniture.

The early forms of shabby chic were rather grand but the style has evolved taking inspiration from many forms of decoration. These range from 18th century Swedish painted decoration, the French Chateau as well as the American Shakers where simplicity and plainness was essential. So as you can see, this phenomenon is rooted more in humanity than any geographical place. And that is a key part to its beauty and appeal. It is a full medium for each and every one of us to express our uniqueness through each piece that we either create or own. As the style has evolved over time and through more and more interpretations, it is most recognisable as worn, distressed white furniture, elegant lamps, romantic flowers, chandeliers, slipcovered sofas, raggy cushions, fine china, and anything scrolly, pretty, elegant and homely. Shabby chic also has a very cosy, cottage feel and has become an extremely popular style of decorating. The dominant colour is white, also incorporating soft pinks, sage green and plenty of flowers. It is certainly a decorating style that can be achieved on a budget, as most things can be second hand things which you fix up yourself.

I personally have found that it is a wonderful way to express yourself and add your own individual interpretation, creativity, personality and flair to. So I say to all those shabby chic lovers around the world and those new to the world of shabby chic-express yourself through this wonderful, wonderful medium and watch your heart sing.

Passion and Being Fully Self Expressed “Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart”. Winnie The Pooh Each and every one of us has an implicit desire to express ourselves as an individual in this infinite universe. It’s in our DNA. Throughout human history it is evident that each individual contributes to the collective consciousness on this Earth (and probably far beyond). These sound like big and out there sort of statements for a humble little book about shabby chic. But, when you really think about it, each and every one of us does have our own destiny and our own unique way to express ourselves while we are here on this Earth. For me, my passion is “shabbalicious”. It holds so much meaning for my life in so many ways. If you pause a moment and just look around at family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues, etc. it becomes clear that each and every one of us has our own passion, has our own drivers and our own energy which propel us through this all too brief life. The ability to find that passion and energy can sometimes be very elusive. Some people find it earlier life, while others find it much later in life. But as I have said before, there is no right or wrong, there just “is”.

I am sure we have all experienced those times in our lives which have turned out to be fundamental points of change. For me, there have been a few moments which at the time seemed absolutely terrible, but turned out to be some of the greatest blessings in my life. One of those turning points for me was in a job that I had where I worked with the elderly. I was a health consultant who provided advice to the elderly on health aids that would help them with their mobility and comfort. Much to my surprise, nearly every day I encountered people who were sad and experiencing much regret. Often I found myself spending more time talking to people about their life, and their sadness than doing my actual job. On a number of occasions I can recall just sitting there holding their hand and crying with them over a life of regret and unfulfilled or missed opportunities.

This taught me many, many lessons. Firstly, it showed me to treasure every moment of our all too brief life. It is very easy in my view, to go through life living as if you will live forever on this little planet. Clearly we don’t. It also taught me, to live a life doing what we are absolutely passionate about. This is easy to say not always easy to do. There is much about day-to-day living which can attack and undermine our passions and our heartfelt energy. But I have come to learn, that with a lot of focus we can live a life of passion, love, and positive energy no matter what. The key to happiness is living in the now, in flow with the entire universe. We might be a very minute particle in our universe, but part of it just the same. And that never changes. When you fully contemplate that fact and understand its implications, we carry an important responsibility to ourselves and everything else. After a particularly tough day at work one day, I decided that I needed to follow my true passion – shabbalicious! So the next morning I went and registered the business name “Luv My Stuff” and decided to follow my dreams and passion for shabby chic from that moment forward.

My very first project was a little old coffee table. I was still working in my job at the time, so I had to make this creation at night-time after my day job. When I was working on that coffee table, time seemed to stand still. I was just immersed in a world of thinking about wonderful ways to decorate this simple little old table. When I finished her, I listed my little creation on eBay and in no time flat I had a buyer. The lady who bought my little table lived more than two hours away from my home. I can remember the day she came to collect her little table and the wonderful look of joy on her face when she saw her in real life. It made my heart sing. As she handed over the money for her wonderful new purchase, she told me that “she had the best coffee table in the whole world�. So from that moment on the die had been cast. I decided that I was going to follow my passion no matter what. A short time later, I quit my job and started Luv My Stuff on a full-time basis.

From time to time people ask me if I have if any regrets about this decision. And when I look deep into my heart, I can honestly say I have no regrets whatsoever. Sure, there have been days when I wonder whether my dreams were too big and unrealistic. However, I have come to realise that when we are open and passionately believe our dreams, God brings opportunities and people into your life no matter how big or impossible the dream might seem. So when I really look deep into myself and listen to what the universe says to me during my quiet times, I know deep within my heart that it is my passion and destiny, and absolutely the right decision for me to be fully selfexpressed and alive. In that regard I feel so blessed and complete as a person. Each and every day I now have the opportunity to work on big projects and small projects, each with their own particular story to tell. Each and every one of those projects, no matter how big or small is just another way for me to express what flows through me.

It is difficult to describe the feeling, but I have come to the conclusion that my creations in one sense come from outside of me. It might sound a bit weird, but before I start any particular project, I just sit and listen to see what the particular project wants me to do. On occasions when I choose to try to impose my will on the project, I often find it fights back and flow just stops. So in that sense, when things are in flow I know I am connected. When things aren’t flowing, I know it’s time for me to refocus and reconnect with the universe. This has now become an important life practice for me in all aspects of my life.

Inspiration and Its Sources “My favourite thing is to go where I have never been”. Inspiration for me comes from many sources. As I sit and think about sources of inspiration, they generally fall into one of three categories. These are: 

Observations - the here and now;

Memories - the past and life experiences; and

Imagination - what might be and infinite future possibilities.

Each one of these contexts can and does provide rich sources of inspiration. For me, one of the richest sources of inspiration is day-to-day observations. By just being present to what is going on around us in our day-to-day lives can provide a very rich source of inspiration. It might be something in nature like a tree, a leaf colour and pattern or a colourful landscape, passing cloud, or a beautiful sunrise or sunset. But I do have to confess that one of my greatest sources of inspiration is pink roses and the magnificent colours, textures, shapes, perfumes and energy that they display to the world.

Since I have been following my passion, I have found that I’m much, much more aware of everything that is going on around me. This is probably because I am always on the lookout for new ideas and sources of inspiration. I find myself looking at patterns in nature. By this I mean combinations of textures, patterns, colours, and shapes. Living by water has given me a very rich environment for inspiration. I find myself looking at trees, birds, natural patterns in the sand, and a very rich environment where two mediums come together such as water and land, air and water, or air and land. These “edge areas” where two or more mediums come together are very rich environments for life and energy. As I have followed my passion, particularly as I try and build a greater level of personal awareness around me, I am finding that I have a much greater appreciation of the simple and beautiful things in life. This has a remarkable calming effect on me and puts me in total connection with the universe. I like to think, that all the energy the universe provides through nature, flows into my creations and shines through for all to see and experience.

The second category of inspiration, are my life memories. We all have those little glimpses and windows into our past which also provide us with rich sources of inspiration. When I think about some of my life experiences, I try to recall them with all my senses – the smells, textures, sounds and tastes.

It could be an ice cream van who had the most wonderful ice creams that I used to visit as a child which had the sweetest pink sherbet on top of the creamy white ice cream. I remember how I loved how it looked in pink and white, but in particular the beautiful sweetness is such a wonderful memory. Isn’t it funny how these early childhood experiences have stayed with me and now influence me in my creative pursuits? It will probably come as no surprise then, that I have created a range of decorator items that I call my ice cream sundae range. It is so delicious you can almost eat it.

I have also found that when I reflect on the past and use it as a source of inspiration in the here and now, it can be quite healing. For me, it has not been a very easy life in many respects. But rather than dwell of what could or should have been, I always try to turn my attention to now and moving forward. It never ceases to amaze me how sometimes things can just bubble up from out of nowhere when you least expect it. I like to think that as things are released from my deep subconscious - like an air bubble rising to the surface from the depths of the ocean and disappearing into infinity as it breaks the surface, that it enables me to continue to heal, grow and evolve as a person and continue on my quest to be fully self-expressed. The next category of inspiration is my imagination. In this area, it is full of infinite possibilities. I like to use my imagination particularly when I am creating little decorator items. Sometimes I feel my imagination is like when we leave the gate open and your puppy runs free. That happy, joyous feeling of freedom is a wonderful feeling and a very rich source for the creative juices to create beautiful, shabby items – those special moments where time stands still and your soul is completely open to creation. It is at these times where you do not even have to think – just let go and let the flow happen.

So as you can see, the sources of creation and inspiration can come from many and varied places. In my experience, what is most important is where you come from. By that I mean being present, being aware, and letting the energy flow through you. In that sense, shabby chic is definitely more than just a painted piece of furniture.

Overcoming Obstacles and Staying Connected “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It is about learning to dance in the rain.” I can well and truly attest that following your passion can be filled with challenges and trials. Don’t just assume that following your passion will be the end of all your worldly problems. I wish, but no, in my experience it is definitely not the case. Some days can seem so hard, but having said that, the rewards can be so amazing once the challenges have been overcome. I have a little daily routine that I follow which has been invaluable when confronted with obstacles and self-doubt. I am not saying that you should do this and that it applies to you or anyone else for that matter. Just the same, I am happy to share my experiences as a way of helping you focus in on what may work for you. Mornings are very special and sacred to me. I am an early riser so my morning routine tends to happen at or about sunrise. I am also very fortunate to live in the beautiful part of the world near the water. The water gives me a very special energy that helps me connect with the universe and heal.

I like to exercise, dance and quietly sit down near the water’s edge every day. There is a large public park area with beautiful tall trees, amazing bird life and energy that is hard to describe in words. Needless to say, it has an amazing calming effect. It is my sacred place. My routine takes a similar path each day. There are a few stages to it including: 1. Reconnection – the process of clearing my head, calming my body, becoming present, and just being; 2. Gratitude – the process of giving thanks; 3. Creation – quiet, deep listening and being: to see what emerges from nothingness; and 4. Manifesting – my requests to the universe, creating my day and giving me little sign posts. The process starts by fairly rigorous exercise were I run and dance so that my body moves and gets my heart rate going. I find that moving my body helps move any negative energy and pent up tension out of me. If I am feeling upset or stressed, I just dance like nobody is watching. I also like to sing out loud. This is so good for my soul. But I am not a very good singer, so early in the morning down by the water is best because it is out of earshot of most people. Luckily the early risers and exercisers have come to know me and just accept it as me. Apart from physically feeling good, this then prepares me for the “quiet” aspects of my morning routine.

After the vigorous exercise, I take some time to just sit and be present. It is during this quiet time that I go through the gratitude, listening and creation phases of my routine. I usually do this by sitting on a rock beside the water’s edge. It’s my own form of meditation. I like the “edge” location as that is where I find the energy flows best for me. This three-step process is one where I deeply feel thanks for everything that I have – even if I don’t really understand why something may be happening in my life at that point in time. The expression of gratitude is a very unique feeling. It is humbling in some ways – particularly when you realise the provision of what we have comes from Grace. It also builds contentment. For me it also grounds me back to the here and now of where I am on my path or journey.

The next element is deep listening. This is a little hard to describe, but it is something like the feeling you might get if you awaken suddenly in the still of night by a noise, but then nothing happens. It is like that moment when you strain to listen and there is nothing. But it is also learning to listen with the ears of your heart. So I guess in that sense it is more like “sensing”. So, what happens? Well for me it is usually that something will just appear. It might be a word, or a colour, a smell or a feeling. It emerges from nowhere in silence and stillness. But when it does, it always has meaning for me. I am never disappointed, always amazed and very thankful for what does “turn up”. Although, it is important not to expect anything – just sit being open. If nothing turns up, that is OK too.

The final phase of my morning process is where I like to create my day and look for special signs. This is during this process, particularly in times of doubt, I ask for a sign to see sometime in my day and confirm that I am on the right track. One particular sign that I ask for is for the dolphins to come and swim past. Whenever I see the dolphins after making a request, I take it as a sign from the universe that yes; I am on the right track. The universe never fails me. Whenever I ask to see the dolphins they always appear in a day or two. I also have a few other little signs which come along during the day as gentle reminders to stay present and be focused. These can be little like a little white feather on the ground or a butterfly coming flying around me or an eagle souring overhead (which I always take as a sign of courage and strength). These signs mean so much to me each day. I very much see it as a sign of my connection to the universe. The wonderful things about “signs” is that they usually appear when you least expect it and often in ways that always surprises and delights. They are always clear indicators of “connection” for me. When I am doing my projects, sometimes I find that things just won’t go according to plan. The way I characterise this is to say that the project is “fighting me”. When this happens I know it is

time to stop and take stock of what is going on. What I have found, is that in my enthusiasm or excitement about a project, I inadvertently take a shortcut from my well established “creation process”. What is my creation process? Well it is just like putting on make-up. We all follow a basic process of preparation and cleaning, priming, foundation and finishing. Compare this to our make-up routine – we prime, put on a foundation, add colour, eye shadow and lipstick with powder to seal. These bring out the best in what we have. This is also true for shabby chic creations. So, what I have coined now when I find a project fighting me is to check whether I am figuratively trying to “put my foundation on before I have ex-foliated”. Of course we wouldn’t do that when we do our make-up, so using that analogy with my projects often results in a “doh” moment. Consequently, the flow returns.

Another important example associated with not resisting relates to when the rain comes. I always laugh now how a few drops of rain gets people scurrying away in great haste. You would swear the sweet rain was cat pee! I have learned not to resist the rain. I actually love it now and can attest that the feeling of summer rain on your face is one of the most exhilarating experiences there is. Instead of running away, just stay present to the moment and enjoy what nature has in store. Don’t be frightened to get out of your comfort zone - you will love it! So in my neighbourhood, I have a reputation for being the crazy lady who dances in the rain and jumps into puddles.

Letting Go and Feeling the Flow Be yourself – everyone else is taken. Oscar Wilde I have truly learnt that being in the now and being present is so important. It is very important in my view to acknowledge each moment for what it is – a passing moment. Much of this realisation has come to me when I am alone by the water. I stretch out my arms as if to embrace the heavens, breathe purposefully in, then out and feel the energy flow through me. I also try to sense everything about me – the trees, the water, the birds and the breeze through my hair. It is then that I truly feel at one with God and all creation. The feeling is so humbling. But I have also learnt that being in flow means moving at the speed of the flow. There is only one speed – the speed of the flow. But as I have mentioned before, this is just my routine. I am sure many readers will have their own routine which brings them to now and full connection with where we are. Another little practise that I like to put into place is to read inspirational sayings. I love the wisdom that so many people have to share based on their own experiences and their own perspectives in their life. Here are some of my favourite quotes about overcoming obstacles: “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them.” George Bernard Shaw “The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” Moliere

“It was so risky and so scary, and yet at the same time, so beautiful. Maybe the truth was, it shouldn't be easy to be amazing. Then everything would be. It's the things you fight for and struggle with before earning that have the greatest worth. When something's difficult to come by, you'll do that much more to make sure it's even harder -if not impossible- to lose.” Sarah Dessen

“Those who don't know how to suffer are the worst off. There are times when the only correct thing we can do is to bear out troubles until a better day.” Deng Ming-Dao “Never trust someone that claims they care nothing of what society thinks of them. Instead of conquering obstacles, they simply pretend they don't exist.” Tiffany Madison “Convince your enemy that he will gain very little by attacking you; this will diminish his enthusiasm” Sun Tzu “Well, if it can be thought, it can be done, a problem can be overcome” E. A. Bucchianeri “The most important reason for your “no” is that you need your downtime so you won’t behave like a jerk because you’re depleted. And you don’t want to battle an appetite spiked by the stress of over-commitment. But that’s your secret; others don’t need that information. So just smile, say no, thank you, and keep moving.” Holly Mosier

“The pressure of adversity is the most powerful sustainer of accountability. It's as though everything you do is multiplied by 50 in order to surpass those with a head-start. I was never capable of slacking when at the threshold of failure.” Criss Jami “Take a limitation and turn it into an opportunity. Take an opportunity and turn it into an adventure by dreaming BIG!” Jo Franz

“Before your reach your destination, you'll find yourself going through the wilderness. There's some survival skills that you'll need master through the wilderness journey. While in the wilderness, your faith will be tried and tested. You'll become humble. Your vision for your life will get clearer. You're in training for your purpose. You'll lose some friends, because there are some folks who are only with you because of where they think your journey will lead THEM. Don't worry, they're a little confused... but it was meant for them to get lost during this phase. Walk on.

Continue on your journey. Soon, you'll be approaching the mountain. Get ready to climb!” Yvonne Pierre “Always follow your dreams, even if they lead you down a few dark alleys.” Teresa Mummert

“If God closes a door AND a window, consider the fact that it might be time to build a whole new house.” Mandy Hale “If you expect life to be easy, challenges will seem difficult. If you accept that challenges may occur, life will be easier.” Rob Liano “Without difficulties, life would be like a stream without rocks and curves – about as interesting as concrete. Without problems, there can be no personal growth, no group achievement, no progress of humanity. But what matters about problems is what one does with them.” Benjamin Hoff “Some people will just go with the flow of things and sway in life, while others will fight against the currents and go upstream to reach their destiny.” Anthony Liccione “Don’t run from your weakness, you will only give it strength.” Stephen Richards “If it is going to kill you,” Enso Roshi says, “then let it kill you.” T. Scott McLeaod “The major lesson Tiggers need to learn is that if they don't control their impulses, their impulses will control them. No matter how much they do, Tiggers are never satisfied because they don't know the feeling of accomplishment that eventually comes when one persistently applies one's will to the attaining of non-immediately-reachable goals.” Benjamin Hoff

“You become limitless when you overcome what holds you back.” Lorii Myers “Overcome the prideful need to measure your worth by how much more successful you are than others, by operating from a core belief grounded in abundance.” Richie Norton “We are the same, you and I. Whether samurai or night-hawk, the Suruga Dainagon or member of the Toudouza, it makes no difference. My sword is the proof.... These words, wrung from the very depths of his soul, surprised even Seigen himself. He had not risen in the world merely in order to satisfy his ambition, but in order to repudiate hierarchical society and the fixed class system.” Takayuki Yamaguchi “Think of the most discouraging thing that you are currently carrying or the biggest project you can’t seem to tackle. Forget about how it happened, forget about how you got there, just look at the clock, and before that number changes, do one little thing to make it better. After you do, enjoy your moment of victory, and then do it again. In less than the time it takes you to blink, the past will burden you no more.” Dan Pearce “Unlike humanity, my mind isn't so frail as to simply climb under gravity and submit to God.” Lionel Suggs “Don't allow life to pass you by because you are afraid of [looking] stupid.” Richie Norton

“Overcoming procrastination is not, I repeat, not about cramming additional work into your day . . . overcoming procrastination is about simplifying your life to make space for the activities that matter most.” Richie Norton

Getting Started “Home is where our story begins”. Sometimes we can identify a thousand reasons why we shouldn’t start something. Sometimes there might only be one reason why I should do something. If that one reason relates to following my passion, and it is a compelling reason, then I say let’s go and do it. And there is no time like the present to get started. For me, the process of getting started was pretty simple. I knew that I wanted change in my life. I had a very strong sense that shabby chic was my passion. What I wasn’t sure of is whether I could make a living out of following my passion. The big unknown to me was whether I would be able to sell enough of my creations to support my family and my way of living. The only way I could get an answer to this question was to just start doing it and seeing what my customers thought.

I decided that the best way to run my business was as an online business. This saves me all of the costs associated with running a bricks and mortar retail outlet. All I needed to establish to get my business going was a Facebook page, a website, and product to sell on eBay and other online marketplace websites. Over time I have also expanded my online presence onto YouTube with my own TV channel called Shabbalicious TV. I have found that the audience that I have been able to build by running an online business is significantly surpassed that possible by running a bricks and mortar retail outlet. Apart from reaching a significant audience, I have been able to do it at very low cost and basically from my kitchen table. This has enabled me to have a fairly unique lifestyle and freedom that having to attend a bricks and mortar shop would not provide for me. I do have some of my products in traditional stores, but I have put them in existing retail outlets on consignment and other arrangements with the owners of those stores. I have found that this provides win-win for both the store owner and me as I am able to drive traffic into the store through my online audience. Those that visit the store are always happy to see my furniture in person and I have also achieved a number of sales through this channel as well. I am a big fan of the concept of community. In the age in which we live we now have the option of having a real local community as well is a large online community. The huge advantage of having a large online community is that there are no geographical boundaries. This really resonates with me particularly with the way that connection with the universe is so important for the way it provides for me. Having a large on-line community has all of those elements associated with

“putting something out there and seeing what comes back”. I still find it incredible, that I can have conversations basically with people in any part of the world. And what it also shows to me, is that shabby chic spans all cultures and all geographic locations of the world and all languages. And why wouldn’t it? Its beauty and appeal and energy are universal.

I am often asked if I ever have difficulty in finding furniture and decorator items for me to work on? Well no, I have never had any difficulty in finding my base product. It comes from many sources. Some of these sources include online marketplaces such as eBay and Gumtree, garage sales, local markets, and through family and friends. As my business has grown and evolved, I have also built a network of like-minded business operators. The nature of these arrangements is one where we have synergies. This means that we don’t compete with each other or copy each other but add value to each other’s business by either providing sales channels or manufacturing options which our individual businesses alone would not be able to deal with in an efficient or effective manner.

The dynamics of running a business online initially did seem quite daunting. But it is really a very simple thing to do. There is ample support both online and in my local community that has enabled me to build a very large audience in quite a short period of time. I am very proud of the online audience that I have built up as it is what I call a truly authentic audience. I know that there are options to go buy “likes” on Facebook or generate artificial traffic to YouTube, but in my opinion the only person we are fooling is ourselves if we think that that will actually add value to our business. In one sense, that would be like renting a crowd to attend a community meeting.

It really has no authentic purpose. If you build a healthy community, whether that be online or in the local community, it needs to be a real thing driven by values, heart, authenticity and a true community of interest. Building an authentic following does take a little time. But like most things around sustainability, it does need to be done properly to deliver the results that will sustain your business over a long period of time. Anything less and you may find you are only building a house of cards which comes tumbling down in no time and takes a lot of your valuable time along the way. It always goes to show that being honest and pursuing the truth will deliver authentic results, and sustainable results for your business and your way of life. For me, this is also a significant expression of freedom. And of course, one of the most important tests of whether this is a success or not, is whether I am happy. And yes, I can emphatically say that I am so very happy living my dream and watching all of my plans unfold in front of me. So my advice to anyone who wants to follow their passion is to just start. That doesn’t mean you have to quit your job straight away. But it does invite you to take the first step and just start doing something that your heart yearns for. For me, my very first project was a little old coffee table. It

was not a grand project or a challenging project, just a simple little old coffee table that was looking for a fresh new life. It was such a rewarding project to do and I will remember it the rest of my life.

When I look back on my journey in my very own business, I have come a very long way in a very short time. In my opinion, following your passion is available to each and every one of us. I think it is the ultimate of self-expression. I would strongly encourage anyone who is interested in following your passion to do so without hesitation.

Listening To Your Projects “Always listen to your heart because even though it is on your left side, it is always right”. I have found that unique pieces of furniture and décor items seem to find me rather than the other way around. It is only fair then, I guess that I take the time to sit and “listen” to see how they want to be transformed. That listening process mostly involves just taking some time to “be” with the project. This involves just sitting with it, noticing its unique elements in a controlled and systematic manner and “feeling” its energy. It may seem a bit strange, but “feeling” the energy of a piece is very important to me and for my creation processes. It is important not to forget that each piece is unique. I never try and take a “mass produced” approach to my creations. I have found that pieces have to reflect their history and have their own story to tell. Some are proud, some are beautiful (even though they are tired and tatty), some are sad and some are stubborn. Sounds like life, doesn’t it? Well, yes it does. So, I try to feel that energy and use it to guide me as to how it wants to be transformed. This process is never about just “painting furniture”.

In many respects this sensing and project planning phase is one of the most critical phases for the creation of successful projects. It is a little difficult to tell when this process actually starts. For example, does it actually start during the process of finding the furniture? I am not entirely sure myself but I do know that pieces tend to find me rather than the other way around.

Notwithstanding this, I find it really important to take the time to just be with the piece before I actually plan on what I will be doing with that particular project. Some pieces tell me they want to be grand and full of colour while other pieces are much more conservative. On the odd occasion I even get pieces that just don’t want to be anything. With those particular pieces I find they have a change of heart mid-project but I usually have to cajole them a long a bit before they cooperate. I have highlighted a couple of those projects in my specific projects stories later in this book. All I can say, is I hope you don’t have too many of these chaps when you are undertaking your own creations. They tend to be very challenging. When I encounter these projects they are a great source of humour for my partner. He always laughs and would say “gee, what is it like to have to work with somebody who keeps changing their mind?” I can’t imagine what he is talking about.

The other issue which comes from time to time often occurs towards the end of the project. This usually relates to the final detail finishing of the project. Examples might be the placement of appliques, decals, special trims or other fine detail like typography. Again, it is important to take time and just feel the energy of the project. You will know very quickly whether or not it is on track or if you need to make modifications. The feel of the project when it is truly completed is a strong sense of contentment and a real presence within the project itself. This is a little hard to describe, but you will certainly know when you have achieved it by the feeling and energy that is present.

I find this so rewarding. When I finish a project and just take a few moments to look and reflect, it always brings a big smile to my face. Having put part of my heart and soul into the creation always adds to its uniqueness and energy. My customers often remark on this when they come to collect their treasures. Sometimes I go back and look at the pictures of the various projects I have completed. That energy still comes through those pictures, even now. So I have grown to know when something is in flow and in sync and when it is not. So once again I have found that shabby chic creations teach me so much about life itself. And that is wonderful.

I have also had some interesting experiences when quite unexpectedly I get a “tap� on the shoulder when something wants to be found. For example, recently I was out and about doing some errands. I dropped into the Post Office and as I was leaving I noticed a charity store nearby. I had this really strong sense that I should pop in. I can’t really explain it other than to say that I was being strongly drawn by something. When I went in I saw this tatty old wall plaque that had the most divine metal rose stem on it. It so happened that I had been on the lookout for some inspiration to make my own appliques. This turned out to be an amazing candidate. The best thing of all was that it was only one dollar. That little wall plaque has been the source of some wonderful appliques which has featured on some of my best creations to date.

What I have come to learn is that by being present and listening to those little “taps on the shoulder”, is an important part of the broader creative process. You just never know when something is reaching out to be part of your world.

Stories of Love, Passion and Inspiration Up to this point I have talked a lot about the “why” of shabbalicious living. To further demonstrate some of the “how” of shabbalicious living through shabby chic creations, I thought I would share with you some of my favourite creations, their stories and important contexts that guided their “new beginnings”. Perhaps I should start with that principle – new beginnings. One of the most wonderful aspects of creating shabby chic creations is that it always represents a “new beginning”. Something that may appear to be at the end of its useful life can be far from that. In fact, like our own lives, a change in circumstances often heralds a new beginning and a new direction on our life journey, even if it comes in seemingly traumatic circumstances. The same applies to my creations. They may be at a stage in their life where they are battered, showing the makes of family life, tired and dowdy. But this does not mean that it is time to throw them away. Far from it. For me, it heralds a new beginning and just another chapter in the life and journey of these wonderful pieces.

If you look at potential projects in this light, you will have a whole new outlook when assessing pieces that come into your life. I have found this principle applies equally in many other aspects of my life. For example, I am always open to meeting new people as they come into my business. You just never know how these people may be an important catalyst for another phase of growth and development of my business and product offerings.

Another important aspect of applying these principles to shabby chic creations is to give them names to make them something much more than just a painted piece of furniture. I name each piece – a little like giving names to your children. This came to me one day when I sat quietly on my rock down by the water. I felt that something was missing, so I asked for guidance and received an answer almost straight away – give your pieces names. I guess as parents we all were guided by different things when we formulated names for our children after they were born. Well, this process is a little like that – in the sense we are giving a new life to the piece. The process of naming each piece for me also brings new and important dimensions to the creation process.

For me, it brings with it a sense of humility that I am the creator of this part of the piece’s life. In one sense it is a little bit like the story of Pinocchio and Geppetto (his creator). His little puppet was much more to him than just a carved piece of wood. Similarly, my creations are much more to me (and my customers) than a painted piece of furniture. You will get a better sense of this as you read the stories of some of my favourite creations. So as you will also see by now, there is a very strong foundation and connection between Shabbalicious Living, following your passion and how that manifests in the various aspects of our lives. My business, Luv My Stuff is based on “heart” and “energy” within the context of “Happy House, Happy Home”. Our logo tries to encapsulate this rich tapestry of living in a simple little heart logo. You too can manifest your passions by some simple changes to the way you interact with your world. This gift is available to each and every one of us. The most important thing to remember is to see what emerges from your heart. It is never about copying someone else. Just be true to yourself and see your own unique passion arise from within

your very essence. My ideas and creation come to me during my quiet times. For me that is important and a sign of authenticity. Let your inner passion come forward. You will be so happy when it happens.

Stories of Love Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. Oscar Wilde Lacy Lady Lacy Lady had reached a rather sad and lonely stage in her life. Before she found her way to me she spent a number of years in a rental property occupied by students near a college. During these years her predominate role was a bar maid. The scars of these years were well and truly evident with her top covered in drink stains, scratches and the odd cigarette burn. Whilst being a party girl can be fun to start with, it does take its toll. In human terms, she was hung over, had smeared make-up and very untidy hair. There was also a shoe missing and Oh ‌ My ‌ God; I have no idea where that tattoo came from! The big moment of change for Lacy Lady came when the owner of the rental property decided to sell. The new owner of the house inherited Lacy Lady with the purchase of the property and as he was going to renovate the property as his new family home, was confronted with one of two

decisions – take her to the dump or see if someone wanted her for a restoration project. Fortunately, he chose the latter. Being an enthusiastic young entrepreneur, he did see through all of the knocks, bangs and stains a glimpse of some of her former beauty and a deal was done. She was coming home with me. Lacy Lady’s heritage looks to be of European origins – probably from Wales or Scotland. Far be it for me to criticize the Welsh or Scott’s, but this girl had some real attitude. I guess when you hang out with hot blooded students in a party house for many years, a few bad habits are sure to form. My partner (and part-time furniture removalist) loaded her onto his utility for the journey home. Boy oh boy, didn’t she give him some attitude! Let’s just say that cooperation was not her strong point and she clearly had an opinion about riding in the back of a utility truck.

The journey home was adventurous to say the least. About two kilometres from home, Lacy decided that she had enough of the Ute and tried to make a run for it. Much to the surprise of the poor guy driving behind my partner at that time, he had to take rather urgent evasive action to avoid being hit by Lacy Lady’s top. I was a little surprised when my partner arrived home looking flustered and muttering swear words under his breath about this meek, innocent looking little lady. She in my opinion was nothing like the word used to describe a “female dog” that my partner portrayed her to be at that

point. So, by the time she got home, she not only showed years of wear and tear from partying, but now had skinned knees and bruising from a failed attempt to flee mid journey from the back of my partner’s utility truck. So after she settled into my studio, we got acquainted with each other to see what the next chapter of her life was to be. I cleaned her up with lots of sugar soap and water, followed by sanding off what was left of her finish (not to mention the removal of that awful carved name on her table top). The clean-up process reminded me a little bit of Pygmalion. This little Ms Eliza Doolittle had plenty to say about the removal of all of the built up grime and grunge. In fact, we had a few things to say to each other at times – much to the delight of my partner who was quick to point out that “he told me so”.

Standing there naked, back to her original essence she started to show her true beauty once again and a truce was struck between us. After a little heart-to-heart early one morning, we settled on making her a truly unique beauty. She was lovingly painted in beautiful silky pink chalk paint and also in my favourite American antique off white colour, some pink rouge and topped off with a couple of beautiful appliques. She was silken to touch and very classy without even a hint of her recent years in “that party house”. The final touch was to put beautiful antique lace around her arched hutch. She is a sight to be held.

After she was finished, I toyed with the idea of selling her into a new home. She wasn’t very impressed with idea, so she now has pride of place in my family room, displaying some of my favourite shabby home décor creations. She is happy and so am I.

Shabbalicious Living Lesson No matter what our past, new beginnings are available to us if we choose to live a life of love and passion in the now. Forte Et Sage This little lady had all of the appearances of a proud and beautiful life. But behind this proud and shiny veneer exterior, there was a very different story to be told. She came into my life courtesy of my partner. He by chance saw her for sale on a marketplace website for what seemed to be an absolute “throw away price”. My partner has on occasion been known to have an odd impulse buy and so was Forte Et Sage bought into my life. I went with my partner to pick her up. She was living in a fairly grand modern home. It struck me at the time I first saw her that it seemed a little strange that her owners wanted to part company with her. The space she occupied in their home “seemed right” but nevertheless they were very keen to load her into my partner’s utility. She was very heavy and the sellers implored my partner to be very careful during the loading process into the truck. She sat in my partner’s lounge room for nearly nine months. I didn’t really think about her at all. But on occasion my partner would ask me about my plans for her. I am not sure whether it was her extremely dark finish (almost black) or something else which meant we were not connecting. As I discovered later, it turned out to be the “something else”. When the day did come when she was dropped off into my studio, we just sat with each other in silence. I tried to feel her energy and get a sense of who she was and what she wanted to be. I encountered a lot of resistance with her. It was if she was saying to me to “just leave me as I am – don’t touch me – I am fine just as I am”.

She had some very intricate features as she was. These included lots of little hidden drawers, a slide our work platform area whose existence was only shown by a discrete little knob and little cupboards with locks and keys. Parts of her were intricately carved and she had a real presence. But something about her was “hidden”. I couldn’t put my finger on it, so I just decided to start the preparation process and see what emerged through the cleaning and preparation phases.

Well it wasn’t long before the walls started to come down. As I went through the cleaning process I decided to turn her upside down so I could work on her legs. As soon as I did this, it became apparent where her “pain” was. Her legs weren’t hers. The legs that she had were obviously put on her sometime in her past – and not very well. I even today can’t imagine what her original legs must have looked like. She is quite a heavy piece, yet her legs clearly were designed for a much lighter body. With a little poking and prodding, low and behold, two of her legs virtually fell off in my hands. This brave and proud exterior was hiding an illness that was putting her very existence in peril. Yet her response all the way along was to try to hide it and “push it down”. In some of “talks” with her we discussed at length how for her to be fully functional, she needed to be strong and stable. How do you expect to have clever people work and create with you if you can only be “looked at” and not fully functional? There was no other option. Major surgery was necessary. We worked hard to repair and strengthen her so that she would be strong, functional and beautiful. This was more difficult than we originally anticipated due to the weight of the main part of her body when compared to the delicate areas where the legs were attached. It is a good thing that one of the talents of my wonderful partner is “fixer”. Well I am pleased to report that the operation was successful and virtually overnight her energy changed. Instead of a feeling of “hiding something” and “pushing something down from view”, she stood proud, tall and inviting. The contrast between energy was incredible. One was shrinking and

consuming energy while after the changes she shone and gave energy generously. She was finished in my favourite American antique white chalk paint. I also gave her a big applique and aged her with a dark wax which gave her presence, charm, elegance and grace. Finally she was waxed with a beautiful citrus wax which had the duel effect of making her feel beautiful to touch and delicious to be near. The time had come to start the next chapter of her life with new owners. She had dealt with her demons, was fresh and new and had a beautiful energy about her. Instead of hiding a deep secret that was putting her very existence in peril, she was now authentic, healthy and ready to be loved once more. She was healed. Her new owners fell in love instantly. I felt a twinge of sadness as I watched them drive out of my driveway but knew deep in my heart her future was now positive with nothing to hide. What better foundation is there to build a love story?

Shabbalicious Living Lesson Lasting loving relationships can only exist on a foundation of authentic honesty. Bon Appetite The humble meal table is a very special place. For me I sometimes visualise it being like the ancient camp fire which the tribe gathers to eat and be together thousands of years ago. It is one of those human traditions that have endured for thousands of years. In that sense then, the place where we gather to have our meals and those all-important meal time conversations needs to carry with it a beautiful energy and appeal. Bon Appetite came into my life as a result of her previous owner moving in with her partner and all of a sudden had lots of “two of everything’s”. At this time she has served her owner well but there was a real sense of urgency to just “get stuff out of her life” to make way for her new relationship. The process of finding pieces in one sense can bring up mixed emotions. On the one hand I felt a little sad for this pretty little suite that it was so unmercifully being booted out of this person’s life with such haste. I often imagine the poor little table being upset for not even the slightest thought

about all of those wonderful times together. But I guess as the winds of change blow in – sometimes at gale force speeds, it is also important to look forward to new beginnings. So when we found each other, I as usual sent my partner off to rescue this little dining suite. The nice thing about my partner is that when he goes off to retrieve my next little project, he always brings back some much more than a little piece of furniture. His stories about the people and his “rescues” are just as much of the home coming process as is dropping the piece off to my studio.

Bon Appetite’s previous owner was apparently a young lady on a mission. The dining suite had to be gone – “like yesterday”. So not only was there a strong “get it out” mentality, but was get it out at any cost. My partner was amazed and a little embarrassed to find that the asking price was only $5. Given the quality of the piece he was a little embarrassed to be taking this little lady away for only $5. To ease his guilt and as he puts it, “to honour this piece”, he also have her four complimentary tickets to a show that his business organises valued at $18 dollars each. He explained to me that he felt compelled to not only honour the piece as something with more value than $5, but also to sooth the karmic winds. He thought the gesture was appreciated. I often laugh with my partner on some of his terms for pieces. He has coined a phrase for those sorts of pieces that really are at the end of their useful life but nevertheless picked up by people who still try to sell them off for a quick dollar because they are free or close to it. He calls them “dump monkey” pieces. In many respects he is right. There does come a time for some pieces to go to the recycling centre to be broken down. The same is true for us. There will come a time to go (and let go) and we should recognise that as well, in its own way, as another new beginning. For me Bon Appetite was one of those dream pieces. She was in excellent condition, beautiful and ready for a wonderful new beginning. I too

felt a strong sense with Bon Appetite to honour her potential. She inspired me to make her look grand and beautiful beyond her wildest dreams. She complied very gracefully and eagerly. Isn’t she beautiful!

Shabbalicious Living Lesson Take time to honour what has been as part of the journey to where we are now.

Stories of Passion If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins. Benjamin Franklin Diamond in the Rough Sometimes things come into our lives that cause grief and lots of resistance. But their presence is usually a blessing, even if we cannot see it at the time. Diamond in the Rough was a great teacher in that regard. We had a love-hate relationship right from the moment we met. Diamond in the Rough was a unique piece of furniture. I haven’t seen anything like her before or since. My sense was she was of East Indian origins. She was very old and made from a very unusual timber. Her wood was a very strange timber that was a paradox – it was dry and oily at the same time. She was a large sideboard and had a rough appearance but at the same time exuded an elegance and class. My guess was in her earlier life she lived a life of royalty or opulence. Her previous owner was a wealthy businessman who was in a new relationship. His new partner decided she didn’t like his tastes so quite a few pieces were to find new homes. I should have had a much earlier sense that she was going to be difficult because the resistance started even before we picked her up.

Her owner was a very busy man and to this day neither my partner nor I have met the man. All of our dealings were done through his housekeeper – a young student from Europe with broken English.

We finally managed to set a time that was convenient to him to collect her – a process that took a couple of weeks to finalise. Low and behold, when my partner arrived at this large opulent mansion to pick her up, he was nowhere to be seen. After a cryptic conversation with the housekeeper, may partner ascertained that the owner was not coming to the appointment. So he decided to just see if he could take her with the consent of the housekeeper. She was pretty puzzled but after a lot of to and fro between my partner and the housekeeper, it was agreed she was leaving with my partner. Now my partner has a little saying when it comes to swearing. He insists that those that swear prolifically only demonstrate a poor command of language. His theory was about to be tested… she was not going to cooperate with the move to my studio. Firstly, she was large and very heavy. The student housekeeper was not going to help in any way with the move. That was OK for my partner so he man handled her into the back of his utility with much grunting and groaning (and maybe one or two words of encouragement from the “cuss dictionary” rarely used by my partner).

At the time, I was living on the second floor of an apartment block. The next big challenge was for her to be taken up two flights of stairs to my then work area. Well my partner enlisted the help of a friend to undertake this what turned out to be giant task. This should have been my second clue to what was to come. Needless to say, the cuss dictionary got another good work out by my partner by the time she was manoeuvred into place in my work area.

A couple of days later I started my routine with her. We sat together, I ran my hands over her and we had a little chat to get acquainted. Have you ever met someone that felt they were above your station in life? Have you ever felt as if your views didn’t account to anything in the eyes of someone in a higher station in life? Enter little Miss Diamond in the Rough to the conversation. It kind of went like this… Me: “aren’t you beautiful?” D in the R: “Excuse me? Are you talking to me?” Me: “ Yes. We are going to spend some time together and give you a makeover”. D in the R: “In your dreams lady”. Me: “ No really, I am going to make you awesome again”. D in the R: “What do you mean again?” Me: “Sorry, I mean more beautiful…” D in the R: “I really doubt you can do anything for me. I am from royalty”.

And so it went on until I just decided to start the preparation process. I went through my usual process of cleaning and surface preparation. As I mentioned, the timber was very unusual. As I started the priming process, she decided to just drink up the paint primer. After I finished the first coat, it almost totally absorbed into the wood giving her a strange faint white hue colour. I decided that a couple of more coats of primer would be in order. Well a couple of coats ended up being a total of five coats. On a couple of occasions I looked inside her cupboards to see if the paint was running out the other side!

The makeover process was taking some time. This project was well into its second week before I felt that I was making progress. And our daily conversation was taking a long time before we started to truly connect and I overcame my self-doubt. As I made the finishing touches to her it was then that I think we both realised that together we had made something truly special. I have never seen such an unusual and beautiful finish. She was truly unique. Her new owner fell in love with her instantly. She left my second story work area without any problems whatsoever. She was a very proud piece and we now had a special connection. But that connection was established through a rocky relationship where I was feeling that “I was not good enough”. I knew that these feelings had come from a much earlier stage in my life, but as I had learnt, were just a story that I had built up in my own mind by years of relationships with domineering and controlling people in my life. Diamond in the Rough very much helped me realise that the “not good enough” story was just that – a story. It was not real.

Shabbalicious Living Lesson In God’s eyes we are all equal, important and part of a wonderful mosaic of humanity based on Love. Follow your passion and be fully self-expressed in this knowledge. Tiffany I could hardly believe my ears when my partner told me that Tiffany came from a brothel! “How do you know it was a brothel?” I was keen to know. He didn’t answer with words, but the frown pretty much said it all. I guess it would be pretty obvious. But nevertheless, my questions continued to flow relentlessly…. “What was it like inside?” “Were you dealing with the Madam?” “How many girls where there?” “What was she wearing?” “Where was the table and what was on it?” “What else was there?” “Why were they selling it?”

Unfortunately my partner was not very forthcoming on the gossip front. All he would say was that it was creepy and he couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I guess it is not the sort of place for idle chit chat. So I found myself looking at Tiffany, a beautiful Queen Anne coffee table and thinking to myself… “I wonder what you have seen?” Tiffany had a real presence about her. She exuded style and class even though she had a few scratches on her top. I tried to imagine her in that place, but unfortunately imaginations can run a little wild. It was not until I just decided to accept her as she was right here and now that the focus turned from “what was” to “what is”. And her “what is” was truly beautiful and classy. I really enjoyed working with Tiffany. She was a dream and lapped up all of the love and energy I poured into her. In fact, if I am honest, I probably lingered with her longer than I would normally with a piece. She really bought me to “now” so strongly, yet so gently. I just adored spending time on her fine detail – carefully attending to her carved highlights, feeling deeply with the subtle shabbing to highlight her features and carefully oiling and polishing her timber surface.

When the time came to find a new owner I really did so a little reluctantly. I had grown quite attached to her and the special energy she exuded. Every now and again my mind would turn back to her recent history. But like many aspects of our life, chapters come to an end and new beginnings emerge from what was. And anyway, who am I to judge. Her new owner was a young girl who was just starting out on her discovery of shabby chic. I was telling her how every piece has their own story and walked her though her fine features and how to care for her. I had to smile to myself when she asked me about her story. I just paused for a moment and said she has a proud history in “hospitality”. We talked about how to feel her energy and the pleasure she bought to all who paused for a moment to just appreciate her in the now.

She wanted to talk for ages. She was fascinated by this beautiful little table and all she had to offer just so long as you just paused and appreciated what was truly before you. My sense was that her new owner was about to embark on her own amazing shabbalicious journey…

Shabbalicious Living Lesson Accepting people in the now, as they are in that moment, brings true heart connection. The Gracious Lady I called her Gracious but I didn’t always feel that Grace was what she was offering to me. But what this piece did do was get me thinking about the idea of Grace. At the time Gracious Lady came into my life I was under a lot of pressure from someone from my past. I found I was dealing with irrationality, bitterness and vindictiveness. When these poisonous emotions flow into your life they are very difficult and upsetting. Each week this poisonous venom was being directed at me. I would be wounded and my beautiful partner would be there to pick me up, cuddle me and dust me off. It was a very difficult period for me. It was at this time that I stood before Gracious Lady. I remember feeling very sorry for myself – in fact quite wounded emotionally. It was hard to concentrate for any period without the urge to go over and over what was happening at the time. I was sad, angry and confused. But one thing that I had come to learn was that my shabbalicious world had so many answers for my life and living. I just needed to look through the emotional onslaught and red mist before me. I set about on Gracious Lady’s makeover. Well there was my first lesson – be present. I started to strip her back to her bare wood. I am not a big fan of sanding. In fact my partner is much better at it. He says that he finds it relaxing and healing and that I should try it. Well this was not working out too good. Every time I started to focus on sanding my mind would wander back to that poison, then all of the negative emotions would bubble back to the surface. Needless to say the sanding process was not very good with a few unnecessary scratches here and there.

The stripping process was long and painful. But as I was about to find out, this would be nothing compared to what was about to come. I sat for a while with Gracious Lady to get a sense of what she wanted to be. In no time at all I got an overwhelming sense she wanted to be grand and beautiful. “OK” I thought to myself, “no problem”. But boy, was I in for a surprise. I went about the priming, undercoating and top coat painting process. I have to confess that it was not my best work and I was very distracted. This became very evident when one morning I went into my studio and stood before Gracious Lady. I opened her draw and much to my horror a big strip of paint peeled off. I could have (in fact I think I did) cry. The paint did not adhere to the bare wood. I have never seen anything like it. The paint just peeled off in big strips. Before I knew it I had before me the bare Gracious Lady and a pile of paint strips on the floor.

I just stood before her in despair. It was at that time I decided to go to my quiet place. I just went down to the water and sat. Emotions boiled over like a boiling pot left unattended on the hot plate. I felt helpless and lost. I lifted my head for a moment as there was a flapping noise nearby. As I looked around me I saw that I was surrounded by birds. Big ones, little ones – all shapes and sizes. Pelicans, seagulls, cockatoos, Rosellas – birds of all descriptions. And it was at that moment that an overwhelming feeling of Love and Grace washed over me. I just sat and thought about Grace. Tears welled up and flowed freely. As I thought about Grace, I started to think about what that truly meant. Grace was being bestowed on me. I didn’t deserve it. I couldn’t earn it. But just the same it was there for me.

I pondered my freedom to make decisions in my life. I did have choices. I could choose to react to the outpouring of venom being directed to me or I could choose to focus on what was most important in my life – following my passion and living with integrity (what a wonderful, wonderful word!). There was no doubt about, I knew the choice I had to make. The next day when I stood before Gracious Lady, the energy was completely different. I stood there humbly and thanked her. I decided to start over my process, right from the beginning – but this time completely present to what I was doing. The energy flow had begun again. I was present and in the energy flow from the universe. In no time at all was she looking resplendent! She was dressed, trimmed and looking absolutely gorgeous. I took a few moments to really appreciate her for what she was and what she gave so generously to me. I again felt that overwhelming sense of Grace. So it was done. I there and then named her Gracious Lady. This is a poem I wrote about her when she was finished which came to me as I stood washing my dishes – just the way inspiration just turns up… As I looked and I studied and waited with patience, This beautiful lady all silent and gracious As I looked at her I started to smile, talk to me lady, tell me your style, I want to be elegant , I want to be royal, I want to be worthy of my owners new home. So I took a step back and I started to focus, I listened carefully all quiet and still, and created this lady all covered in will. As I painted her day and night, and at times we didn’t agree, I filled her with my energy and the love that flowed from me.. ♥ I hope I served my purpose and created you well, now go forward with passion, and know you are made with love and goodwill. For your new owner will love you as your made from the heart, from a woman whose passionate and creates from her heart... ♥ Bea xx ♥ xx

Shabbalicious Living Lesson Grace is never earned or deserved. It flows to us from God according to free will and unconditional Love.

Stories of Inspiration The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart. Helen Keller The Grand Lady The drive was a lot longer than we both anticipated. And the longer we were on the road, the more sparse the local population seemed to be. We also had strict instructions not to enter the gate – we were to stop and sound the horn of the truck. We started to wonder what was about to unfold before us and whether this was such a good idea after all. Well finally we arrived at a rather remote place with high fences all around. And within what seemed like seconds of pulling up at the front gate we quickly saw why following the instructions about waiting was so important. Bounding up to the gate were five of the biggest dogs we had ever laid eyes on. It turned out the owner of the Grand Lady was also a breeder of Great Danes. We were ushered into the property by the owner and asked to follow a long drive way to a large shed at the rear of the house. Now I am not a tall person by any means, but I swear that these dogs were taller than me. I am pretty sure that I could have ridden those dogs had I been given a saddle and reigns!

But I digress from our reason for stopping by. We were there to pick up a large kitchen hutch. It seemed to me that we must have entered the land of the giants as everything about this place was big! When the doors of the shed were swung open, against the wall stood one of the biggest hutches I had ever seen. It was huge. But in this land of the giants, it was also sad to see that her role in life had been relegated to a storage cupboard for dog food.

I walked up to her and ran my hands over her. She was to my eye beautiful, but in her current state sad and neglected. My partner tried to cheer me up by joking with the owner to please check the cupboards for any valuables that were to stay behind. I nearly burst out laughing when I heard him say under his breath, “like rats, snakes and other assorted vermin”. It wasn’t long before she was loaded onto the utility and we were to make the long drive home. As we slowly drove down the driveway, the giant dogs trotted along with their enormous heads at window level of the truck. I gave my partner strict instructions to keep the commentary to himself until after we left the property. I was certain he was going to have me laughing wildly about what we had just encountered. As we drove out of the gate, we both burst out laughing at what we were sure was some sort of science fiction movie set. My partner’s trousers were half soaked in giant dog slobber. At least he saw the funny side too.

The Grand Lady’s makeover was another story. Whilst we didn’t find any rats or vermin, we did find plenty of evidence of where they had been. Let’s just say that the cleaning process was one of the most thorough that I have ever had to do – with maybe one exception. I scrubbed her, washed her and then scrubbed again. The Grand Lady was a further extension of my experiment with the colour pink. Whist she had leanings towards a country style hutch, I decided to push the boundaries a little and take her back towards France. And she responded beautifully. What a magnificent presence she had when she was finished. The other interesting fact about this large majestic lady was that she seemed to like travelling large distances. Her new owner in fact lived on the other side of the continent – some 4,000 kilometres away.

Her new owner saw her pictures and fell in love instantly and just had to have her. I am amazed today as I was then as the cost of transporting her was more than the cost of the hutch purchase price. She really did love that hutch!

Shabbalicious Living Lesson Good things don’t only come in small packages. Live large and dream big! I Found Home Serendipity is probably the best word to describe the happy discoveries that come along from time to time. I never quite know what will turn up next, but I have come to learn that if I remain open, the most amazing pieces will find me. One little warning though – don’t always expect the discovery process to always be a “sweetness and light” process. The discovery process for “I Found Home” was a real adventure, with a few scary moments along the way. I kind of wondered why my partner game me a strange look when I gave him the address to pick up my latest find – a beautiful corner hutch. Well I thought it was beautiful based on the really bad picture that had been posted on the marketplace website. He didn’t really say much as we set off on our latest adventure, but as we got closer to our destination, I could see that this was far from an ordinary neighbourhood. Nearly on every street corner there were car bodies; graffiti everywhere and very run down houses. When we pulled up at the appointed address I looked in horror what was before us. There were three savage dogs barking wildly at us at the front gate, the front yard was overgrown and down to the side of the house were a number of rusty shipping containers that had been converted into shanty style housing. An old lady using crutches came to the front of the house and shouted at us in a very gruff manner, “what do you want?” I rather meekly replied that we were here to look at the advertised hutch. She then started swearing at the dogs and swung her crutches at them. Much to my surprise they scampered off into one of the rusty shipping containers. I looked at my partner and all he said was, “geeez”.

So we drove the truck into the front yard and gingerly got out of the truck glancing over our shoulders half expecting to be mauled by savage dogs at any moment. The old lady didn’t say much other than grunted and headed back to the house, so we followed obediently behind. The front veranda of this house was packed high with furniture with a tarpaulin over it as well as several large bird cages with large squawking parrots. It was as we walked up the three steps onto the veranda that a strong odour which as far as I could tell was a mix of stale urine, bird excrement, stale cigarette smoke and possibly a few other unidentified odours to boot that attacked our senses. “I Found Home” sat there beside the front door. The old lady waved a crutch at it and grunted, “there!” It was about that time that I was certain that I was being attacked by a wave of black fleas. My legs were itching and I was uncomfortably dancing from leg to leg. My partner said quickly, “looks good, I will load her up”. I could see he was wanting to run a mile right there and then. You should have seen the look on his face when I asked the old lady if she was negotiable on the price. He didn’t say anything out loud but I am pretty sure he was mouthing the letters: “W – T – F” to me. Now it takes a fair bit for my partner to swear, so I could see he wanted out, NOW.

I was just about to say, “oh, it’s OK” when a young girl appeared at the door wearing a short black dress complimented by black eye shadow and black lipstick. She didn’t say anything other than in a raised voice, “it’s mine”. To this impromptu appearance the old lady swung around and scowled at her and she disappeared as quickly as she appeared.

It was about this time that the second wave of attack of the fleas was starting to have me skipping about like a cat on hot bricks. My partner opened the cupboard door of the hutch to check if anything was inside. Well it was empty – sort of… about twenty cockroaches came charging towards him like it was a miniature charge of the cavalry. Before I could even react the old lady then produced a large plastic spray bottle and started spraying everything in the general direction of the hutch, including my partner, with a milky liquid. She grunted, “don’t mind them bloody pests”. I am pretty sure that was the cue for my partner to develop Hulk like strength because he single handed scooped up the hutch onto his shoulder and walk around to the truck. As he rushed past me cockroaches were raining out of the cupboard door. I handed over the cash and was about to follow my partner when the old lady said to me, “want to look at any of this stuff?” waving a crutch at a pile of furniture under the tarpaulin. I said I would just check on my partner and be right back.

I quickly walked up to the truck and was surprised to see that the hutch had already been loaded and tied down. I asked my partner, “do you want to have a look at the other stuff?” He shot back in a strained whisper akin to someone being held at gun point, “are you insane?” I took that to mean “no”. I quickly went back to the old lady and just said thank you then trotted back to the truck where my partner was already reversing out of the driveway. I quickly jumped in and hadn’t even had a chance to put my seat belt on before we were quickly accelerating down the road.

Well after the first corner, my partner became a little animated and started with a whole series of questions in a rather high pitched voice, clearly not waiting for any answers… “Did you see the guys in that shipping container?” “Did you see those dogs?” “Can you see any cockroaches running over me? “Has the truck still got all four wheels?” “What on earth were you thinking wanting to look at more stuff?” “I am pretty sure I saw a rat the size of a small dog!” And so he went on… and all I could do was laugh (and scratch) and laugh some more as he twitched nervously. When we got the hutch back to the studio, it was given a good spray with insect surface spray to try to despatch any remaining cockroaches. We could not believe that every day, wave after wave of these things seemed to just appear from this poor little hutch. I was beginning to wonder if the hutch was some sort of gateway to an evil inner earth. Every time I walked past the hutch I would squeal as another roach would appear. After about a week, I was pretty sure that the evil cockroach army has retreated, so I set about starting work on her. This project would have to have been bar none, the hardest and most difficult piece to clean, particularly to try and eliminate the smells that copious amounts of insecticide had made on the inside of the cupboards. I swear that I washed that hutch about 10 times with all sorts of cleaning agents. Eventually a combination of scrubbing, sunlight and ample airing had it back to a stage that I was happy to proceed with the decorating. The flow resulted in a beautiful little hutch that now sits proudly in her new owner’s home – far removed from the nightmare existence she was rescued from.

Shabbalicious Life Lesson Beauty can be found even in the darkest places. Shelly The story of Shelly is really a story about two amazing finds. A beautiful English oak hutch and a beautiful old Shelly tea set. At the time I had no idea that these two very different finds from two

far removed locations would play such a powerful influence on each other. The first part of this story is about the hutch itself. One thing about my journey and I guess all of our journey’s is that the cycle of life becomes more and more apparent. I know what life will bring to each and every one of us with time. My partner’s Mum who is in her eighties often tells him that “Old age is not for the feint hearted”. And in some senses she is right. It brings with it many challenges as part of the physical aging process as well as important life decisions that comes along during our later years.

This pretty little Welsh hutch came to me as a result of an old couple downsizing to move into a retirement home. The hutch was bought to Australian by the couple when they immigrated to Australia from the United Kingdom about 40 years ago. This little hutch was the apple of their eye and parting with her was such a difficult decision. I know how different pieces come to symbolise so many happy memories in the family home. I know that as we go through life stages we have to make changes for our next chapter in this life and this was clearly evident with this couple. That did not however diminish the personal sadness with having to part with her. It can be such a mix of feelings across the sad and excited spectrum as one chapter closes and a new chapter

begins. When I saw her, I too immediately fell in love with her. I decided to put her into my living room so we could get to know each other a bit better. And there she stayed for some months. In a completely unrelated way, my partner decided he liked the look of a fine china lamp that was being offered through a deceased estate sale. He went ahead and bought it. It was only by chance that I was with him when he went to pick it up. He parked the truck in the driveway and I offered to pop in and pick it up. The man was lovely and we chatted for a bit about the lamp and what it meant to his mother who recently passed away. I could see that the home was filled with beautiful furniture and décor. He mentioned to me that he had a few other things he was trying to sell. It was then that he took me to his garage where he had a number of trestle tables set up all covered with fine china. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was around that time that I had been looking for teapots and china to try some creative decorator techniques, but I hadn’t been able to find any. Well, as the doors swung open, I think I let out a squeal of delight under my breath. But naturally at the same time I was acutely aware that these tea sets were obviously important to his Mum and the family. In this regard, I always take the time to assure the seller that the pieces are going to a good home. As it turned out, my partner also bought a beautiful antique hall table as well a few weeks later from him that “just spoke to him” and he had to have it.

So as you can imagine, one thing led to another and I emerged from the garage with the china lamp and a box full of fine china tea sets. I was in heaven. One particular tea set was a Shelly tea set which was ever so delicate with a gentle pink stripped pattern on the cups. With pink being this girl’s favourite colour, I just sat there in the truck with the box of china on my lap drooling. When we got home, I put all of my newfound treasures on display on the pretty little Welsh hutch. It was then that a bolt of inspiration hit me. I looked at the Shelly cups and started wondering what this pretty little hutch might look like in those very same colours. The rest is history. From that day on the pretty little Welsh hutch was known as Shelly.

This day was a very important day for me as it was the beginning of a new direction in my creative style. The colour pink was to become one of my signature colours or as I call it, Pinkalicious!

Shabbalicious Life Lesson We cannot always see the complete picture, but by following our intuition amazing new frontiers can open before our very own eyes when we least expect it.

Closing the Circle – One Last Story You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching, Love like you'll never be hurt, Sing like there's nobody listening, And live like it's heaven on earth. Last year a friend of mine passed on. She was with me for 47 years. After watching her go through long bouts of not feeling good enough, fight feelings of not being worthy, and being domineered by controlling people, the journey was difficult and painful. She was lost, but our love was deep. We were exactly the same, but complete opposites. As younger women we were of one mind, full of fighting spirit, always scheming to better our love lives, trying the latest fashions, always looking for the quick fix, the fast dollar. But over the years, our ideas about life began to diverge. While she continued to be absorbed with her quest for the next phase of the plan, forever trying to find the perfect balance between Love, work, family and money. I discovered that I had become a slave to life, thinking was all there was. We remained virtual alter egos, but each with different reasons for being. Hers was to achieve social greatness, mine to unlock my inner self. Over the years we struggled to find common ground in our way of life, under the influence of daily life we would discuss deep issues eventually leading to life itself. We agonized and argued over which approach was best. Always the restricted fighter, she believed that the purpose of life’s journey was to arrive at one’s destination, for her, the journey was comprised of thousands of hours converted into money so as to get the freedom that she thought that money would bring. We argued that there was an alternative, that the journey’s importance was not how it compared to the past or the future, but rather the quality of each step along the way. My friend devoted much of her life to avoiding adversity, trying to please people who could never be satisfied with her, seeking always to find a perfect formula for personal fulfilment and success and just surviving. Not being enough and not feeling good enough, fatigue and pain were enemies to be out-smarted in order to accomplish her goals. In her heart, things weren’t right, but she was afraid to admit it, and was afraid to leave behind her life’s philosophy, even though it took an ever-increasing toll on her physical and mental health. I worried about her, about us, but our love was deep. The end came quietly on a beautiful serene dawn down by the water after we shared a long meditation. I felt tired but renewed at the end. She had been unusually quiet and I was encouraged because she seemed more at peace than before. We wandered back home really not saying

anything to each other, but just being in the moment together, feeling the gentle breeze and loving the feeling of the early sun caressing our skin. It happened as we lounged together over a casual breakfast on the veranda, as the sun climbed over the horizon and moved on its relentless journey, casting out the shadows, bringing a smile to the approaching day. No one called an ambulance. She just sighed and slipped away, leaving with the fresh new dawn. There was stillness and the stillness knew we were both better for it because, you see, she was also me. Awareness is a moment, a fleeting glimpse. Know your passion, follow your heart and most of all, Love.


The End? – No, Just a New Beginning‌ Remember that Love is the key. Bea.

About the Author Bea Hare is a Princess in the world of shabby chic. But this elevation to “Princess” has been a long time coming. Life has presented many challenges to this Soul, but all of them have been an integral part of her life journey. Bea was born in Australia and in 1966 at age three moved to the United Kingdom with her family. She returned back to Australia in 2002, married with four beautiful children which are the centre of her universe. She has always had a passion for home design and decoration. However the demands of raising a family meant that her primary focus was her family. But as for many, life decided that her path was to change. She found a need to support herself and her children which meant that she reentered the workforce. She undertook a number of vocations including real estate sales and health consulting to the aged care sector. It was about this time that she embarked on a new life challenge and decided to follow her passion for shabby chic. She commenced an on-line business called Luv My Stuff and has been actively pursuing her passion for this self-expression ever since. Her life philosophy is based on connection with the greater whole (the universe and collective consciousness). These principles are lived daily in her life practice and by following her passion. She has affectionately coined this as “Shabbalicious Living”. This is part of that story of love, passion, heart and energy associated with living in the present.

Bea Hare

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Shabbalicious Living - Finding and Following Your Passion  
Shabbalicious Living - Finding and Following Your Passion  

A heart warming book about how shabby chic creations led to one woman finding herself and becoming fully self expressed. Along this journey...