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The Hygge Life

Hygge – (pronounced Hoo-gaa)

A Danish word that cannot be translated to one single English word, but encompasses the feeling of coziness, contentment and well-being through enjoying the simple things in life.

As the spring days lengthen into summer, and the sun and warm weather finally make an appearance, the average person does not have hygge on their mind. Hygge is usually associated with the long, cold winter months, but it is an important concept to consider, no matter the time of year. Hygge can help to bring peace of mind and contentment to both your personal and work life.

So, how do you create hygge in your home and workplace? The key is to surround yourself with the things (and people) you love!

For almost 28 years now I have been at the same job, and recently realized the impersonal cubicle I was spending 40 hours a week in lacked hygge, so I decided to do something about it!

I started by having John build me a custom monitor stand which I painted a pretty bluey-green colour….a huge improvement over the stacks of paper that I used to use…and I added an inspirational quote I would see every day. A pretty crystal dish to hold my paperclips and an old painted sewing machine drawer for “office supplies” were the next additions. Even these little changes made such a difference to my day….they made me smile – and if just those little changes made such a positive change, added hygge to my little cubicle, I wanted more!

Every week I changed things just a little. I figured out how to hang things on the walls of my cubicle using hooks made out of paperclips, and added a pretty photograph taken by John that I have always loved. A small plant (real), a glass vase filled with pretty seasonal flowers (fake, so I don’t have to worry about constantly replacing them), a small lamp with a warm white bulb, and an inbox painted the same colour as my monitor stand add to the feeling of hygge. There have been lots of other additions, and when I go to work now, my cubicle makes me smile.

Hygge can be different things for different people, but it is all about how your environment makes you feel. So this spring, as you visit the nursery for flowers for your garden, or go shopping for new shelves for the kitchen, ask yourself if what you are choosing to surround yourself with creates hygge…are you surrounding yourself with all the things you love? If the answer is no, why not?

Hygge really can bring peace of mind and contentment to your life. Stress is much easier to deal with when you walk in the door and everything around you makes you feel like you are “home”. Hygge creates a sanctuary to retreat to, and can even make going to work every day just a little bit easier!

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The Art of Slow Motion Multi-Tasking

If you were to ask my mom, my sisters, or even one of our children, they might tell you that they suspect that John and I are hoarders. Eww, right? But don’t worry, we aren’t the people you see on those Netflix specials that make you gag just a little every time you see inside their homes!

Before you believe anything my family may say about our hoarding tendencies, just let me explain! John and I aren’t really hoarders – we are just slow motion multi-taskers.

The idea of slow motion multi-tasking was introduced by Ted Hartford in his TED Talk, A powerful way to unleash your natural creativity. Hartford explains that creativity is actually increased in people who move from creative project to creative project as their mood or situation changes. It is, in effect, the cross-training of your brain. Both Darwin and Einstein were slow motion multi-taskers, with Darwin taking 44 years (!) to write one of his last great works – “Formation of Vegetable Mould Through The Action of Worms” (although I’m guessing it wasn’t on the best sellers list!)

Although we are clearly not in the same league as Darwin or Einstein, and it is much less than 44 years between the completion of any of our projects, both John and I have always had the tendency to jump from project to project and back again.  Myself, even more so, going from painting to learning to needle felt, to wreath making, then sign making, to baking and decorating cakes and then back to painting again. Little did I know until watching Hartford’s TED talk that all that jumping around was actually beneficial to the whole process.

So, from now on we would like you to please refrain from judging John and I as hoarders and refer to any messes you may happen to see in our basement or garage as “brain cross-training stations”. That old door is meant to be a coat rack. The pile of live edge wood is just waiting to be made into tables. The dresser drawers stacked against the wall? Dog beds in the making!


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The Inevitability of Change

All of my adult life I have had a fear of change.  That nauseating, drop in the pit of my stomach whenever anybody suggests a new career, moving to a different house, or any other event that would change my everyday life. Even the purchase of a new vehicle has always made me feel ill and anxious, although ultimately I end up excited and love getting behind the wheel for the very first time.

The fact that I have worked at the same job now for almost 30 years (yes, you read that right!) and we have lived in the same home for almost 20 years is a testament to my need to keep my life predictable and the same.

Yet, every day, change happens all around me. I know it’s inevitable and something I can’t control.  And I’m trying to learn how to embrace rather than fear it through understanding why I feel this way and how I can get past it.

The last few years have brought some significant changes in our lives with both of our children moving away from home and going to college, and now one of them living much too far away for my liking!  Having an empty nest was difficult for me at first (yes, there were a significant number of tears), but I have learned to appreciate the quiet and solitude of just the two of us again.

So, with our house empty of children, and more time for us to focus on the things we love to create, after many months of discussions and I must admit, finding never ending excuses on my part (there is that fear again), we decided to launch our website and create Cardinal 21 Designs.

Our goal is to provide you with unique, custom made and repurposed furniture and home decor as well as share our love of creating by offering workshops and sharing our ongoing projects.

Our website, business and products will constantly be evolving in response to your feedback to us, so please let us know what you like and what you would like to see more of.  Because change is good.