Thoughts about 2016: December 3rd

28 days left in our countdown until 2016 is well and truly over. Thank goodness.  For me and many of my beloveds, it has been a bit of a tough one, so I decided to count down the last days of the year with thoughts about what has happened and what I have learned, as well as some ideas of what is possible in 2017.

You really learn and grow when you spend some time making things for yourself. DIY is the best way I know to really feel pride and ownership of the things and experiences in your life.

We moved this summer. The experience was a big deal for many reasons. First off, I loved my old neighborhood in Nakameguro. We had lived there for 11 years, which is the longest I have lived in any one place. I had all my regular dog walking routes and coffee stops. The river area is fantastic, especially during cherry blossom season. I never thought I would move to another neighborhood in Tokyo.

Cherry Blossom Season in Nakameguro -- Photo by Lauren Shannon
Cherry Blossom Season in Nakameguro — Photo by Lauren Shannon

We figured if we moved again it would be to some other country. So what happened?

We literally got an offer we could not refuse. Friends offered us the chance to rent an old 1950-60’s era house in Setagaya, Tokyo. The rent would be a sliver of what we were paying in Nakameguro. And the biggest selling point– we could DO WHATEVER WE WANTED to the house!

This is a big deal as usually in Japan you are not allowed to change anything in a rental. We had always wanted to redo an old place and customize it for our lifestyle.

Long story short, we said YES. We get to stay there for 10 years but since we can’t buy the place we have to balance our remodeling plans with the fact that we are not the owners and at the end of our lease the building will probably be torn down.

Painting my study on the 2f. So much more DIY to do! -- Photo by Lauren Shannon
Painting my study on the 2f. So much more DIY to do! — Photo by Lauren Shannon

So this means we are becoming DIY devotees. Chris has learned a ton about flooring, I am painting and sanding and staining. We are making a customized, amazing kitchen (about 50% done at this point). And we even have an oven now, a real one, large enough to cook our Thanksgiving turkey in, which we did last week.

DIY is a great remedy to feeling stressed or powerless when the world goes a bit mad. Nice to get your hands dirty and make something beautiful in your own little corner of the planet. 

All this fixing, painting, dreaming, planning, and imagining reminds me how powerful it is to really get your hands dirty and make something. I am embracing the wonderful feeling of renewal. And I am really enjoying taking on this rather daunting project with my best friend in the world, my DH, Chris. We have so much to do still but the process is so fun. And doing all of it on a shoestring budget (see

We have so much to do still but the process is so fun. And doing all of it on a shoestring budget (see post about my job loss) is an extra, educational challenge.

You can follow along on our remodel blog  (long overdue for an update) and we are hopeful that in a few more months that we can share the results with friends at a spring/summer party.

So my thought for all of you in this story telling countdown series… For 2017 we should all remember to get our hands dirty, make something beautiful in your world and

For 2017 we should all remember to get messy while we make something beautiful and experience the pride of a truly DIY project.