Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Before + After // Laundry Room

The first time I viewed pictures of our eventual-home, there was one image that confused me and Weston. Between the dim lighting and the blurriness of the photo, we couldn't figure out what room we were even looking at. While touring the place a few days later with our realtors, we realized we had been looking at a picture of the laundry room and although the picture had been hard to see, it did give a pretty accurate representation of what the room looked like.

It was the most plain looking space in the house. White walls, white tile, very dim lighting… There was a convenient, long, folding counter and some lower cabinet storage on the wall opposite where the washer and dryer would eventually go which was exciting from the start. (You know you're an adult when…)

We were so thankful to have a laundry room and since it was so dark, and unwelcoming, it went towards the top of my decorating to-do list. I started browsing Home Depot for some fun shades of teal pretty much as soon as the guest bathroom's navy paint had dried. I am a woman obsessed.

Once the walls were filled with color and our shelves were hung, this became one of my favorite rooms in the house and let me tell you, a little extra laundry motivation never hurts, friends.

We tried to think of little details that would maximize the room's functionality : Weston hung a rod above the counter for all my hang-dry items, I made a laundry cheat sheet poster for decoration (and obviously to help us because no matter how many times I Google some of those icons, I'm still lost), that little wire basket on the shelf is to toss dryer-lint between loads, and our shoe shelf was made custom by (who else?) my dad! He also made a little drawer on the bottom to store Oliver's leashes and outdoor toys. It was exactly what we had envisioned and hoped for. My sister-in-law, Taryn, made that cute little home frame…  I am surrounded by talented people!

Since our laundry room leads into our garage, it's the first room we see when we come home and the last room we see when we leave. I hung the mail organizer on the wall and wrote a (slightly-modified) line from one of my favorite songs on the chalkboard. Weston and I had that song on repeat all throughout our first few years of dating and I always felt so excited to imagine coming home to "our little place" one day. It's a nice reminder to be thankful for the simple privilege of sharing a home with my best friend after years of patiently waiting for the right timing.

Another room down!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Before + After // Navy Walls

Decorating our house has helped me discover a very impulsive part of myself that I didn't know existed. 

One second I'm thinking, "It might be fun to paint our guest bathroom room Navy Blue..." and then I blink and suddenly I'm standing on a ladder, roller in hand and half of the room is finished before I can even think twice about it.

To be honest, it's probably a positive thing because I tend to talk myself out of just about anything if I have more than a couple minutes to amuse the thought… and had I talked myself out of this one, I'd be missing out on one of my favorite color schemes in our house.

Navy + Gold forever.

This picture frame was the final piece that made this room complete and that shower curtain was the first piece that inspired the gold accents and spontaneous afternoon paint job.

Our puppy, Oliver, gets his baths in this tub and once in a while we will hear the shower curtain being pulled back and we'll catch him trying to climb in by himself! He loves water which is still so unexpected and amusing to me after years with Toby, who would go full Cujo if you even suggested water might touch him. However, Oliver's mischievous side comes out whenever he remembers how fun toilet paper is to play with... Occasionally he will grab hold of the end of the toilet paper and run down the hallway with it in his mouth, leaving a literal paper trail behind him. They say puppies his age are in their "teenage years" so I guess we shouldn't be too surprised that he chooses to spend his free time toilet-papering unsuspecting houses.

This is his "Please, mom? Can I have a bath?" face.
(Spoiler alert : it worked.) 

So happy with how this room came together.
Pays to be a little bold sometimes.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Being Honest.

For the past year I've had mixed feelings about Yellow Paper Dress.
I'd sit down and open a blank document just to fill it with things that didn't really matter that much to me. I was typing just to fill space and inserting snapshots that I didn't really like just because it had been a while and I felt obligated to share something.

I started to flip-flop and throw ideas around.

Should I push through what must be a creative slump and continue writing even if I didn't have much to say? Make one final entry, then be done? Change up the content for some renewed inspiration? Create a posting schedule to encourage dedicated writing time? Try videos?

Even after extended absences (which can be really necessary) I've never felt ready to completely walk away from this space. Yellow Paper Dress has been my corner of the internet for almost five years and you lovely people who have read it and contributed to it's existence through e-mails and comments have been there for me through the many important and not-so-important moments I've shared here. This blog has been my favorite creative outlet since it began back in September of 2011 - - even before that in Tumblr form! I never could have imagined the kind of curve balls life would throw at me between then and now and the direction my writing would take.

This blog's voice has inevitably changed over the years, as I think it should. When I look back at early posts sometimes I'm laughing/cringing my way through them and other times I feel like I'm reading something written by an entirely different person! I feel like my style and interests changed significantly within the last year and rather than trying to fight that to continue putting out the same type of content I always have, I've decided to embrace a little change and write about the things that currently make up the framework of my life. The blog is going to grow up a little bit, I think. And I hope you'll be excited to watch it develop into it's updated and honest self.

As you might have noticed, Yellow Paper Dress received it's most recent facelift a few weeks ago. I'll probably continue to tweak it here and there as I go but what you're seeing is a reflection of what I hope to publish - true life, simplified and authentic.

I want to put out the kind of things that I currently love to learn about. Things I'm passionate about. Things that have helped me in my life and might help you. Things I love. Things I'm proud of.

Thank you for checking on me when I'm not updating and for sharing kind words about what you've read here. It means more to me than you know. Thank you for being patient. Thank you for being part of this. I'm so grateful and so excited to breathe some new life here.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Endometriosis : 6 Months Later.

It's been about six months since I last wrote about endometriosis.

I haven't been purposely avoiding the subject of endo - not entirely, anyway. But as we begin another Endometriosis Awareness Month I find myself holding a yellow ribbon between my fingers, sitting in front of my computer, really marveling at what a different year this is than last and feeling like I need to write about it. Even if it's a little bit hard to.

To be completely honest, the main reason I haven't written about endo in a while is because it is a much, MUCH smaller part of my life than it used to be. I went from living a life revolving around my illness and it's restrictions to getting into my bed one night and realizing that I hadn't taken any medication that day. I hadn't needed to. I felt well. Now, there are many days that I don't think about endometriosis. This is something that actually makes me feel really guilty to admit because when I was in the deepest parts of my battle, I swore that I wouldn't ever let a second go by where I didn't think about that pain and suffering. But I can't put into words how much weight is lifted off my shoulders when I can go a day without a thought of what I went through. It's like getting a mental vacation after 12 years in an emotional, physical, and psychological war… but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Recovery from surgery was a very long process, as I was told it would be. They said I would make gradual progress for about four to six months and then I'd really notice a difference. It could take up to one year for my body to fully heal. Sitting here now, I can tell you I must be a textbook case because right around the six month mark I started seeing huge, positive changes in my body after months of worrying that I wasn't any better off post-surgery.

For those months, I wasn't talking about my endo because my situation felt like a very anticlimactic ending to what was supposed to be this great success story. Months after coming home, I was still having daily aches, exhaustion, and pain. Even when I knew most of the surgical stuff was still healing, this felt like a horrible betrayal from my body. 

I had publicly shared my experiences with being constantly ill, in and out of the hospital, getting accepted by an amazing organization to have surgery performed by one of the nation's best doctors, traveling across the country, waking up from surgery without pain….. but then going right back to the way things were before? I felt embarrassed. I didn't want to share that I was still struggling and have anyone thinking, "Ugh, here we go again. Thought we were finally done hearing about all that!" or even worse, having girls who were encouraged or inspired by my story hearing that I was still hurting and feeling like they would be defeated by endo too. I shared a little bit about this on my @end_oh instagram account and the women there were incredibly supportive and kind. Many of them offered encouragement saying the same thing happened to them and to stay strong. At a time when I had been avoiding the endo community it reminded me of how crucial that connection with other girls is during challenging times. Just love my endosisters!

Pain-free days started peeking through around November. In between the tough ones I'd get these awesome days where nothing hurt and I'd think "Okay, this is it!" But somehow they never lasted very long. Towards the end of November right around our wedding, God blessed me with some pain free weeks. Our wedding, honeymoon, and reception were perfect and I was so relieved not to have endometriosis tainting those moments for me.

In December, I stopped taking daily medication. No more painkillers, no more ibuprofen, no more hormones - nothing but vitamins. The good days continued to become more and more frequent and the bad days slowly faded out of the picture. 

In January I had my first really bad flare up since the surgery. But after just three days in bed taking painkillers, I was able to go back to work and within a week it was over and the pain vanished completely. I couldn't believe it. I had always had flare ups that lasted at least a week and then continued to ache for weeks afterward. I had been so frustrated to be in such pain when it started but by the end I was excited and encouraged to see how quickly it had passed.

Life went on as usual until this past Sunday night when another flare up seemingly started. Weston and I prepared for it to get really bad… but after only a few wake-ups throughout the night, it was still relatively under control when I woke up. So I went to work. I came home a little early feeling sore and crampy, took an epsom salt bath and rested. Today, I woke up crampy and achy… but I made it through another short work day! In the years before my surgery, my pain would hit a 10 on the pain scale where as this flare seems to be peaking at a 6 or a 7. It may not sound like much, but this progress is enough to bring tears to my eyes. I'm in pain but I'm walking around, driving, continuing with my responsibilities and then resting as much as I can. I'm functional.

Weston and I keep high-fiving and saying how each time has got to just get better and better. He is so excited for me and I'M so excited that he's not having to be up throughout the night with me, fetching medicine and all that. It hurts, but it's under control. That's the best way I can describe it.

Now that I'm on the other side of things and not consumed by ongoing pain, a big part of me wants to forget all about endometriosis. 

I want to completely block out every horrible memory. The times I hid and cried in public because the pain got so severe. The times I had to be sent home from work because I couldn't even stand up straight. The times I swore at the top of my lungs while my mom or Weston raced me to the ER. The nurses who patronized me. The doctors who misdiagnosed me. The years I spent seeing multiple specialists, trying every treatment possible, reading every book. The pill bottles that covered my dresser. My mom giving me injections at home. Avoiding gluten, soy, corn, dairy, potatoes, - seemingly every delicious thing. The times I wished I could just die so I wouldn't hurt anymore.

Those are awful memories. Those are times I really want to block out and erase. 
But if I erase them, I will never be as grateful for my life as it is now.

Driving my car. Getting through a day of work. A sun salutation in the yoga studio. Going out to dinner with friends. Riding my bike and not having to think about hurting the next day. Painting a room of our house. Making cookies. Dancing with my students…

Those would just be normal things if it weren't for the horrible experiences that came before them.
Instead, they're exceptional. And I wouldn't trade that perspective for anything.

So I'll keep the bad memories. They'll continue to push me to appreciate my life and my body and any bit of progress. They will also continue to light a fire under me to help other girls who are currently living in that awful situation and do whatever I can do help them out of it so that they'll be lucky enough to call those times "memories" like me.

If that's you, please tell me how I can help you : kelleoconnell@gmail.com

I'm so excited to keep healing and sharing what I know with others while I do.
Happy Endometriosis Awareness Month, my beautiful friends.
Let's keep talking about it.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Taryn's Bohemian Bridal Shower.

Back in November (yep, throwing it wayyy back) I got to celebrate one of my favorite people - my sister in law, Taryn! Now that I'm married and she's married and life is back to normal, I'm excited to finally share some pictures of her insanely beautiful bohemian bridal shower.

You may recognize this backyard from many previous events (my bridal brunch, our engagement fiesta, my parents vow renewal, our halloween party) and know that this lovely garden belongs to Weston's parents. It sure makes for a perfect backdrop, doesn't it? Guests arrived through the side gate and were directed to choose a flower crown to wear for the remainder of the party.

The entire patio felt like Morocco, with bright colors and big pillows. We ate popcorn and pizza, drank sangria, and played games until the sun went down.

ALMOST all the bridesmaids, together for a pic. :) 

Over the years, Taryn has thrown so many events for other people. She puts so much effort into each one and making every one of her friends and family feel so special. It was really amazing to be able to be part of a perfect evening that was all about her!

And her wedding was just as lovely as you'd imagine, too.
Here's to you, Mrs. Thompson!