Wednesday, November 10, 2010

a (rather extensive) window into lola's style & soul

I've always been drawn to the aesthetic in life, so it's no surprise that I am overly observant of a person's style--the way they decorate their physical body and also the way they decorate the physical space they live in. My memory is nearly photographic when it comes to this...I'm actually borderline embarrassed of the level of detail I can recall on such matters. And I've always been this way. I suppose in the past it made me feel self conscious (ok, I suppose it still does!), because I felt so interested in style that it made me such a highly observant person (read: a lot of losing myself in what appears to be spacing out). I could write a book about this topic alone, but what I have been thinking about lately is this sense I've always had about not having my own personal style, which honestly makes no sense, but it's how I've felt up until recently.

As much as I admire and am drawn to some specific styles, when it comes to my body and my home I tend to have a hard time choosing items that I feel like I should be incorporating into my life. It's that idea of "should" that bothers me. And it's the idea of "should" that has led me to feel as if I don't have a personal style. The "should" issue is a long story, but mostly I have felt like I was stuck in an era or numerical age that "should" be over and done with.

The overwhelmingly obvious fact is that I have a rather strong's ecclectic (like me) and fuses together a combination of pretty mainstream style with a bohemian flair and powerful touches of all things homemade and personal. And regardless of my feelings about not having an aesthetic identity, I have forever heard from all that know me "oh, that's SO Alexa!" And I've forever been told that every one of the million homes I've made for myself has had my energy and personality written all over it.

So, here is a little glimpse into my home. A small collection of things that I guess one could say are "very Alexa."

This is my favorite bookshelf in my home. It is a rather accurate reflection of "Alexa." The combinations of colors, the personal items and their meaningful stories (everything I own has to have a "story!"), the way it sits next to the hand drum I bought on the beach in San Diego....ahhh, I just love this display.

I love things arranged by color....I'd wager that almost anything you can think of is organized by color in my home. Example #1: books. Books are equally as lovely to look at as they are to read in my opinion.

Aside from books, you can also find on these shelves: a potted cactus plant that is actually the "baby" of a cactus plant that my long deceased grandmother owned. I believe the mother plant is close to 60 yrs old? Crazy. Next, a gorgeous wooden Buddha head that I bought while living in San Diego years ago. And a wooden box with an Emerson quote inscribed on the top ("What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us."). Inside the box is an amazingly ornate compass given to my husband by one of his many fans (a student of his).

On the second shelf is one of my favorite belongings: my wooden thinker man. He really reminded me of myself when I saw him on a street peddler's table on the AMAZING island of Ibiza, Spain. I HAD TO have him. I remember having left my wallet at our hotel so I begged my wonderful friend Amy to lend me the money to buy him. Also on this shelf is a framed saying that my late (and insanely missed) adoptive mother gave me on my 21st birthday. It reads: "You are loved for the little girl you were...the special woman you are now...and the wonderful daughter you will always be."

Starting at the top: front and center is a multimedia collage that I am absolutely in LOVE with. My husband bought it for me at one of my favorite places in the world, Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, up in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. The color combination intoxicates me. I honestly stare at this piece every day. The bookshelf sits on the opposite wall from my couch so it is often within my view (on purpose). I also love the mass of wild, semi-curly hair on the girl (somewhat like my unruly mane) and the Eleanor Roosevelt quote speaks to me: "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." How could I NOT be inspired by that?

Also on top of the bookshelf: a folded tapestry I bought at another one of my favorite places: Harvest in Manchester, CT. I used to live 2 blocks from this amazingly mystical hippie shop and I always stop by when I'm in town. Then there's the small bronze bowl holding a beautifully perfect shell that I collected from a beach near Boston. Also, a distressed's a Pottery Barn find, but I love it oh so much. Next, a bronze Ganesha statue (remover of obstacles, patron of arts & sciences, and god of intellect and wisdom). He was also purchased at Kripalu. Lastly, a fabulous bronze lantern which was the inspiration for the homemade centerpieces at my wedding.

I love the collection of yellow and orange books. So beautiful to look at! Sandwiched in between the blue/aqua collection and the purple/indigo collection. Love. The titles on the books are also interesting. Notice on the left, a book only I would own: The Hippie Handbook.

Ahhhh, my new dinning room table. I have always dreamed of having a solid place to enjoy the company of those I love that can double as a substantial workspace for my writing, craft projects and photography binges. This table fits the bill. We have only had it for about 2 weeks now and it has already added so much warmth to our home. We had our first family dinner at it this past Sunday, and as my husband and I exchanged glances while listening to my brother-in-law and father-in-law lose themselves in intellectual ramblings, we truly felt "home." I look forward to the lifetime of family gatherings that will take place at this table (which extends on both sides to accommodate our growing clan).
This is the current centerpiece on our table. I will change this often with the seasons and my moods (like everything else in my life). I really love to bring the outdoors inside where I can appreciate it year round and at any hour. I envision myself living in a house one day that has an overwhelming resemblance to the forest (also the theme of my wedding...I can't wait to have pictures to post). I'd even love to have pieces of real trees growing out of the floor. Something like what I saw at the Wild Center up in the Adirondack Mountains: see the indoor birches here.

This area was difficult to capture with my camera given its tucked away nature, but this is what I call my "green corner." I loosely (but sometimes obsessively) incorporate Feng Shui into my living space so my things are arranged according to the element that belongs in a specific directional corner (north, south, east, west, etc). This is the East corner of my home, which is the "wood" corner, with green and brown being the colors associated with it. Using these colors in this corner is said to enhance health, vitality and growth in your life.

Items in my green corner: a canvas that I covered with a green and brown piece of fabric that I adore. The canvas underneath it is actually a painting I painted for this corner--an abstract called "Green Clouds." But, I am a creature of change so after awhile I needed something new to look at and covered it. Also, a tall candle with a green swatch of cloth fastened to the front that reads: meditate. Another Harvest find: my dancing shiva (lord of dance, responsible for "change").

I love to collect beautiful vases. The vase on the top shelf was a surprising find (made by a local artist) at the Whole Foods in downtown San Francisco that I used to shop at. The lotus bowl, another Kripalu purchase, is filled with stones (also Kripalu). I won't get into the detail of it, but I am also semi-obsessed with gemstone therapy. This is a collection of (I think, I can't quite remember) Agate and bloodstone. On the bottom shelf is a lovely gift from my brother-in-law. He has a fabulous friend (in Vermont I believe) who makes her own pottery. Beautiful.

All I can say about this is I LOVE all things warm, yummy and inviting. I am also known for choosing a lot of cream, ivory and white. It used to be a little out of control, but now I have added a lot of pops of brilliant colors to balance it out.

I always wanted to own a white/cream couch before I have children around to destroy it.....what I didn't consider when I purchased it was that I would have a husband who could do just as much damage as a little one.

The couch is covered with welcoming accents of faux-sheepskin, which I cannot say enough about! The feeling of these pillows and blankets against your skin is heavenly! It's like an adult version of a teddy bear or security blanket....we love them! We also own way too many throw blankets, another thing I can NEVER have enough of. I'm a creature of comfort and hibernation.

Lastly is my ocean corner. This is the North side of the house, which in Feng Shui is associated with the element of Water and the colors blue and black. Bringing these elements into the corner is said to enhance career success. I've arranged items that represent water or the ocean, and the colors black and blue, on this antique wooden table from Spain, given to me by my father years ago. It's one of my favorite pieces of furniture!

The large print of a wave rolling in was taken by me (the fabulous Lola Rain) and is for sale in my Etsy shop. The photo was taken at Stinson Beach in Northern California. The smaller print of a collection of beat up wooden oars was also taken by me, and is also for sale in my Etsy shop. This was the first photo I ever took as a photographer, at the age of 14. I made the spool of film this was captured on and developed it myself in a rustic old dark room in the woods of Maine.

Also on the table: a glass vase filled with sea shells, beach stones and starfish collected all over the world by my late adoptive mother, and myself. I love the history, sentiment and beauty this vessel holds....a pocket of memory.

Then there is the small purple corked vase next to it that reminds me of something you'd stuff a message into and toss into the sea. Front and center is a wooden treasure chest with beautiful detailing carved into its top. People always rave about this piece believing it's from someplace amazing (knowing me), but it's actually from Target! Can't beat it.

Last on the table, and last in this edition of "my home, my style," is a silver box with a blue ceramic top painted with a Phoenix (the mythical bird that never dies) given to me by a family friend many years ago. Being a rather dramatic and intense girl at the time (and still:) I proclaimed this box would hold the insides of my soul given the Phoenix represents a great capacity for vision and collecting sensory information, and a great source of beauty and inspiration....all things I identify with.

What was later put into the box is quite interesting, but unintentional in reference to a "collection of my insides." Here is the list of its contents:

*A piece of folded up paper decorated with clouds. I wrote these words on it when I was 21: I realize that I can find comfort in my own company. My thoughts run out of my mind and dance across the page in a way that makes me feel like I can create beauty, no matter how ugly the emotion or painful the thought. It is my way of taking all the hurts me and making it something beautiful. I guess that's how I see myself. My strength comes from my weakness, my ugliness becomes my beauty.

*A stone pendant that I used to wear around my neck when I was 12 yrs old. It was a gift brought back from a Native American reservation in Arizona by my father and late mother. It was supposed to be a symbol that represented me, and was said to bring me good luck. I used to rub it and make wishes....all day long.

*A blank onyx stone with a spiral etched into it. This was given to me by my father who wasn't aware of my lifelong obsession with spirals. I've been wearing a spiral around my neck for years and have been drawing intricate patterns of them in my sketch books for as long as I can remember. They are supposed to represent the journey of a soul (among many other things).

*Various coins from foreign lands. Many from the summer I lived in Spain.

*A perfect, tiny seashell from a beach in the Headlands, San Francisco (where I lived for 4 years).

*A bottle of homemade perfume oil called "Magic" that I bought from an amazing Spanish hippie at a flea market on the island of Ibiza, Spain. It is the most tantalizing smell can still smell the remnants of it in the bottle. I hope the scent never goes away.

So, there you have it: my style, my soul. It's amazing how much one's belongings says about who they are and where they've been. What jumps out most to me is the intense emotion and meaning behind the things I surround myself with. I am an extremely emotional, sentimental, romantic, deep soul....and I think that shows up in my "style."

This may have been the most fun I've had writing a (very loooong) blog entry so I think I may continue with the theme in the future. Stay tuned....

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