The Not So Big House

“Oh my gosh, WHY DID YOU MOVE – you had such a big, beautiful house!” asked an acquaintance in the parking lot of the grocery store last week.  Good question, I thought. It was not such a good week – I was coming to terms with a new move in date, I was overwhelmed with details in several parts of my life and my stamina was waning.

To boot, I had driven by our old house on Monday, and say what I will about it, it had great curb appeal. Our new house will, too. It’s just that we are in full swing, re-model mode and it is hard to see the garden through the weeds.

In spite of my mood, I know we have done the right thing. Years ago, I read the Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live by Sarah Susanka.  TNSBH changes the way people think about the American home…and gives homeowners the language to ask for what they want: a house that values quality over quantity and that emphasizes comfort, beauty and a high level of detail. It really impacted my perspective on how we were living in our house and how I was living in my life (She also wrote The Not So Big Life).

Sarah describes how people have huge houses and barely use their space. We had 3,200 sq ft and two major rooms sat empty – the back study and the front dining room. The front dining room was the only room that got direct sun light (which I crave) as did my study – where I spent the majority of my time. During our 10 years there, we used the rooms in different ways, but in the last few years, things changed and we couldn’t quite get it up to comfort, despite my constant efforts.

Sarah writes of using one’s “formal” living room for entertaining “guests”. When you are first getting to know people, you sit there. If you like them, where does everyone go? The family room or the kitchen. If you don’t, you stay in the “formal” living room. So, in essence, you have now spent a lot of money on a room for people you don’t even like! What if you reframed that all guests were welcomed (that is why they are there in the first place) and you had one room that everyone gathered in – a warm room that was just the right size, used often and was near the kitchen. One friend put a ping pong table in her “formal living room” and turned it into a game room – we sit in the family room, attached to her kitchen or on the patio, amidst an amazing urban oasis.

I liked that idea. There are only 3 of us. And I wanted rooms with sunlight, cozy but big enough to sit with friends and a small back yard that enveloped us with trees and birds. I’m not a yard work person. And while our old house looked great from the front, the back of the house required a lot of work and over looked a parking lot. I hated it. Lucky for me, my husband concurred.

According to David Sanders, my Kabbalah teacher (, a house isn’t really just a house. It’s a metaphor. It can look good outside, but not be good inside. Or it can put on a good front (curb appeal) but not have any substance inside. Perhaps the basement is cluttered, dark and messy, stuffed full of old boxes and things that could be cleaned out and let go of. Maybe it is perfect and everything is in its’ place and if someone sits on the couch, you freak…

Who are you?  How do you feel? How does your home reflect the state of your life?

As the week progressed, I felt better and by Friday, I made peace and realized that everything happens for a reason. I could see that everyone inside the house was working really hard toward completion and that they were in good spirits doing high quality work. That moving slowly vs rushing to get it all done in a short amount of time was also a metaphor for how I wanted to be. Someone who slowed down and stop over-doing. A person of quality and ease.

On Friday, Chris, our GC, offered to power wash the back patio for us, revealing beautiful stone pavers with pieces of pottery and colored glass embedded in the grout. It sparkled in the sun. Chris is good at revealing/creating homes and making them sparkle. If you live in Denver, and have been thinking of making some home changes, jot down the number for Vintage Homes on the sign in the house picture of last week’s posting (or email me and I’ll give it to you) and give Chris a call. Read Sarah’s book and perhaps you, too, will find ways to make your house, and your life, Not So Big.

Then, think of all the time you’ll have to visit with family and friends. After all, as my dear and wise friend Ellen says, “ Its’ the experiences and moments that make our lives rich. Not the stuff.”

How do you MindFULLY create a not so big home and life? Let us know!

4 Simple Steps

They finally finished painting the outside of the house! What a difference some paint makes. There is still touch up to be done (front porch and door), but it finally feels happier, in spite of the gray day we took the picture on. Coming soon, flower boxes and chairs!

I was going to write about progress on the inside of the house today, but given it’s under wraps this week as they prep for paint, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some words of wisdom that came across my desk last week, instead.

I needed them. It was a rough week. Everything we ordered, months ago, came in with some issue attached to it. I felt frustrated and worn down. Things I had crossed off my list had to be re-attended to. They moved our finish date back a week.

Alas, in my heart I know it will all get done and most days I flow with it. However, with so much on my plate right now, some days I find myself over thinking a lot of things and reacting to situations that I would normally blow off. I think it’s a hormonal cocktail of life, change and rain. I feel shaken, not stirred.

As such, when Yehuda Berg’s daily email ( appeared, I laughed. Ah, a cool drink of water…a Happy Hour for the spirit.

More often than not, our first reaction is to over-complicate things.  But the spirit is not complicated, the spirit is simple.  

If you find yourself over-thinking a situation, detangle yourself with these 4, simple steps.

1.    Acknowledge it’s from a power beyond you, sent for your benefit

2.    Identify your reaction

3.    Resist letting the response take over, listen for the quiet voice of unity & positive  resolution  

4.    Act & speak with dignity


How often do you MindFULLY need to learn or remember something and you stumble across just the right message? Let us know!

Exceeding Expectations

A few weeks ago, I was on a business trip to Boston. It was one of those trips where I had gotten in the night before, started working the next morning at 7:30am (5:30 Denver time) and finished in time to catch the last flight home that night. Only this time,  I missed the 8pm flight. It had left at 8am.

Yes, I had booked my ticket and hit a.m. instead of p.m. What a knucklehead. Or was I? Perhaps I was meant to wait 5 hours for the next flight…

It was a Thursday night and tons of flights were canceled or delayed due to the severe weather. So, giving in to my mistake, I headed for the concourse brew pub. As luck would have it, I got the last bar stool; the place was packed with weary travelers trying to make the best of a tiring situation.

As I laid my head on the counter and whispered, “IPA”, the guy next to me said, “long day?” “Oy Vey”, I thought, “please don’t talk to me. I have just spent 10 hours intensely listening to people talk…I’m going to cry…” But instead, I looked at him and laughed. “Is it that obvious?” He just smiled. Turned out, he was going to Vegas with the other 5 guys at the bar. His day was just beginning.

“So, what do you do?” he asked. “Market Research” I softly responded, hoping he’d think I had no personality and would leave me alone. “Oh, cool! I looove to hear what people think – I work for Apple!” and at that point, whatever personality I was trying to sit on bubbled up and I said, “Really? I happen to have a not-so-happy feeling about Apple at the moment” and proceeded to pull out my iPad and give him my story.

Long story short, I didn’t like that Apple launched the  iPad 2 right after the holidays, when all one could buy was the iPad1. Why not launch 2 before Christmas, not after. In 2 weeks, my new toy became an old toy. Not a satisfying feeling.

“Not too worry. Here is my card. I’ll be in the office on Monday. Call me and let me see what I can do for you.” Poor guy had no idea who he was sitting next to. The following week, I called and left a message. Within a day, he called me back, chatted about my situation and then sent the following email:

Hey Robin, It’s ___ from Apple Business! Great talking with you today and thank you for following up with me after our impromptu/amazing meeting at the Boston Beerworks in terminal C. After you told me about the way you felt about Apple after our unintentional wrongdoing that impacted you, I felt as if I had no other choice but to win you back as an Apple customer once more. 

 At Apple, the satisfaction of the people that own our technology is by far the most important element of our industry leading customer service model. Being a provider of technology, it is inherent within our business that technology will change quickly and often times right when we don’t want it to. It is not the job of our users keep track of this, because people like yourself have far more important things do. 

The story that you shared with me speaks volumes to the topic above. Again, I would be happy to take back the product that you have, in exchange for the newer model of iPad 2. (Example: 16GB AT&T iPad 1 for a 16GB AT&T iPad 2)That being said these are the things I need from you…

WOW! I was stunned. And delighted. You see, in a nutshell, my job is to get consumers to talk about how they feel about a product or service. Then, the Client that hires me takes what they hear and uses it to deliver a better product or service. That’s’ exactly what this guy did. In a nano-second, he turned me from sour grapes to wine.

And…what are the chances that I was working on a technology company project at the time  and that I had just spent the  week interviewing folks about computers and that I would miss my flight (which I have never done) and that I would end up sitting next to someone having a reverse conversation? Talk about being in flow and meeting people at the right time…

So, dear readers, if you live in New England and have any thoughts about upgrading/changing or exploring new IT solutions for your business, then let me know and I will put you in touch with this young, old soul who exceeded my expectations. Actually, no matter where you live, I am sure he can help. His philosophy can’t be beat:

“My job at Apple focuses around business to business sales. As you know, the team that I belong to is based out of Boston, MA area and we work with people all over New England. One of the best parts of my job is that there is no commission on anything that we do here. Our role in the businesses that we work with is to provide honest, accurate and solid Apple solutions that an existing business can pickup, implement and get working.

 We like to say, “More work. Less labor.” Meaning, more of what your business does best and less of the technology becoming a barrier in what you love to do on a daily basis. Whether you come into store, call on the phone, shoot an email or setup a meeting; our pledge is to gather all of the information that we need to create a unique solution that will fit the NEEDS of your business.

Apple has come a long way over the past 10 years. We have listened to our customers, and if business is what they want, we plan on doing business better than everyone else.”

I’d say he is a very good listener.

How has someone MindFULLY exceeded your expectations? Let us know!




Color Me Crazy

G-d bless my girlfriends. Not one of them shamed me as I spent the last month perseverating over what color yellow to paint the family room/kitchen. Wars rage, sickness ravages and our government stumbles. Try as I do to keep perspective and balance, I could not move off of “what color yellow?” We’d go into restaurants, I’d ask  what the color was  (champagne gold). Jill sent me her neighbor’s yellow (straw). Dad and Pam shared theirs (dorset gold). Still, nothing.

But on Friday, it all came together. Isn’t that the way life works? You change one thing or try one more time and whatever you are struggling with comes clear.

It was a big week at the house. Picking paint colors is excruciating for me. Color is visceral. I feel it. People say it doesn’t matter, you won’t notice once art is up. But that’s not how I work. I see it, I feel it. I go through color phases. This one is yellow. In our last  house we went from green, to orange and ended with blue. My friends shake their heads and color me crazy.

And I can’t hire someone to pick ’em. That I’ve learned along the way. I have some wonderful women in my life who are terrific decorators. At different points, I have tapped their expertise, but in the end, for a variety of reasons, I have to do it myself (with Ken, of course). I know what I like. I get why they make the big bucks. It is a lot of time and work. Frankly, I couldn’t afford myself.

On Thursday they started to paint the outside and the Grey was wrong (and I had “bought” that color from an ” exterior paint expert”). My stomach turned. Panic set in. I couldn’t afford, literally, to make a mistake. But, as she often does, Colette ( showed up for a walk at just the right time and pulled the paint deck from her trunk. There, in City Park, she suggested a new Grey. The next day, Matt painted a sample of her choice and the breath returned to my body. Ken and Chris agreed. We were back on track!

THAT’S what friends are for.

Taupe, check. Yellow, check. Grey check. We still have to pick a color for my daughter’s room and then all we can do is cover our eyes and hope that when Chris yells, “move that dumpster!”, we are as happy as the folks on Extreme Makeover Home Edition. Our job is not that extreme. But it is extreme enough.

How do you MindFULLY make choices about creating your home? Let us know!


I Love TED.

I know, my husband’s name is Ken. So who is TED? (And no, TED is not my contractor!)  According to their website: TED  a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences — the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh UK each summer — TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.

I love TED. On days when I feel like a vanilla wafer, I can jump on the site and give my bland, dull spirit a jolt of inspiration. It feeds my curiosity, broadens my horizons and allows me to have something to say when I’m called upon to be in the world and stand up straight.

You can watch their videos; attend their talks in your city or down load a podcast. I listened to 3 of them on the flight home Thursday night. One took courage. It was a talk by Ric Elias: 3 Things I Learned While My Plane Was Crashing. As we bumped through the storms ravaging the mid-west, what better time was there?

You can learn just about anything with TED – Technology, Entertainment, Design, Business, Global issues, etc. It’s all on You don’t have to go anywhere, do anything, take any tests. All you have to do is sit back and absorb.

There’s a whole world out there. It’s easy to forget. TED lets you  open up your world. Try it and watch how large it gets. And then,  watch your heart follow.


How do you MindFULLY learn new things? Let us know!