As a mental health provider, I am keenly aware that the mind needs to keep busy during times of global “crazy”. Let’s face it – collectively we all have been wading through nearly three years of a pandemic that has wreaked havoc on our lives. Everyone has had their own way to deal with stress, especially when we were “sheltering at home”. Some wrote books. Others explored beyond their backyards. My “stress reliever” was to learn how to refinish and refurbish furniture. So, with some paints and brushes that we had at home and a few extra cans I acquired from my local ACE Hardware store (double-masked, of course) – I started to de-stress with every paint stroke.

At first, I made hubby and me a small cabinet for cans to hold the endless amounts of plastic containers we accrued from take-out. Then I moved on to “estate sale finds” that I repainted and made space for in our home. A turn of events happened when neighbors would stop by asking me if they could purchase the piece I was working on.

This last week I gifted a little table to a hard-working woman who always helps me out at the local Goodwill. Now that stores are reopened and we are “free” to move about I find myself wandering the aisles looking for a few fun pieces.

This table below is a Goodwill find and it intrigued me. Small enough to be a desk, large enough to be a dining room table. I had to have it. So, for a mere $60 I took this home and started to work. My first vision was to make it all white-washed. I started to get rid of the old finish, sanding, and scrubbing. And then applied the white wash to it. Nope. I just didn’t like the effect. I then went and bought some grey wood stain. Nope. Didn’t love that either. Back to the store I went and this time I came home with a dark espresso stain for the base. Then I opened a can of soft blue paint. I discovered that “DIY accidents” sometimes happen with the best results as I dipped my grey-stained paintbrush into the bucket with my light blue paint. FINALLY, a color combo that seemed to work. Next step… I placed some flower furniture transfers on the leaves of the table. I didn’t even notice the leaves until I got the piece home. Below are photos of the steps from “love at first sight” to the finished product.

It is all about looking unique!

I have figured out in a short amount of time that people want unique pieces of furniture. “Statement” pieces. And, during these difficult times where stores can take months to deliver, people really are finding different avenues for their decorating needs. These few pieces – again from Goodwill, ReStore by Habitat for Humanity, Beacon House in Long Beach, and your neighborhood estate and yard sales finds – all flew out of my garage. Some before I could even put the finishing touches on them.

Let’s talk “embellishments”…

I have found that people like the little “extras” when I redo a piece of furniture. The furniture rub-on/in transfers (found on Etsy, for example) are super popular.

Next is the type of handles or drawer pulls you use. The one I have on the left and right side pieces is a sea turtle in a shabby chic motif.

Color is important, too. I use almost exclusively Benjamin Moore paint. I know that a lot of people love chalk or special order paints. I buy high-quality paints that last. Popular colors seem to be shades of teal, light sage greens, dark purple, greys, and basic cream. Using more than one color can lead to a dramatic effect.

Don’t forget that kid furniture is fun, too!

I LOVE creating fun furniture for kids! Especially if I can add an “educational lesson” to it, too!

How can something so labor-intensive be relaxing and help to lower stress?

I am not a runner. I don’t even like to run. But, I do like to give myself challenges, and learning to refinish furniture and play with power tools was exactly what I needed to do to help muddle through a pandemic. And guess what, I decided to keep it up even after the pandemic settles – although from the looks of things I may have dozens more pieces of furniture ahead of me.

I also decided to expand. Why stick with just furniture. I can make smaller items that will help channel some creativity differently.

So, I started decorating boxes, picture frames, and just about anything that can be morphed into art and/or a gift. Here are some of the early designs. Oh – in case you haven’t figured it out – blues and purples are my fave colors.

You are never too old…

Perhaps the lesson to be learned here – you are never too old to try something new. It may at first seem impossible … but you will never know until you try. For me, “challenge accepted!”

You can find many of the products used on my designs via ETSY. Links below:*

Fairy Designs on the chairs, etc. can be found here

Several of the designs were using products from this Etsy store – MaikaDaughters

* I am not a brand ambassador for these stores at the time of writing this blog.

After 10 Years I am STILL a Cancer WARRIOR GODDESS!

January 5, 2011 I spent 7 plus hours under the knife at Johns Hopkins Hospital to remove Stage 3 thyroid cancer throughout my neck. My hubby can give you a play by play as how that day went through his lens. How he waited all day to hear I was done and instead received lots of medical updates- hour after hour. He also can tell you he was one of the first to arrive in the JHH waiting room and the last one to leave that day. As for me, I remember very little except being asked upon my waking to recall anything I said from the morning before they dosed me with heavy duty anesthesia. My answer: “I am STILL a cancer warrior goddess?”. The nurses and doctors laughed and looked relieved. I laughed with a very froggy throat, too. Apparently, my talking was a sign that my vocal chords were still working, albeit very raspy. “Top-Doc” wasn’t too sure that would be the case – so my declaration – was considered the evidence of medical success.

Related: Warning signs of thyroid cancer: click here

Ten years later and countless tests, trips back to Hopkins for follow-up exams, and blogs later, I remain vigilant with my health and a bit of a crusader for thyroid wellness of others. I also recognize that I have had my own challenges after ten years. My voice still gets raspy and there have been times when I simply couldn’t talk for days, weeks or months. (Once again proving that knowing sign language is a skill we all should have!) Plus, a good head cold can put me down for the count for a week or more. I don’t have the immune system of most folks and that makes Covid 19 really really sucky! And, losing the weight I have gained is my biggest challenge.

Yet, I do have an immense sense of gratitude for the medical professionals who have cared for me since my diagnosis late 2010. I also want to reiterate my “mantra” – be your best advocate. I had ZERO of the usual red flags for thyroid cancer except for weight gain. Rapid weight gain! I was told it was menopause. It wasn’t. So, if you feel something is “amiss” – then you are more than likely correct and should keep seeking answers until you feel better or more at ease.

No blogger should post without taking time out to stop and thank their audience. That includes me. I want to extend a heartfelt THANK YOU to all of YOU. For more than a decade many of you have read this blog, commented and shared. You helped to educate others and also yourselves. I appreciate you. I pray for your health and hope that all of us have better days ahead.

If you are new to my blog and wonder what the heck I am talking about?… Well … here are links to get you started to learn about my journey and perhaps find some nuggets of help for you, too. If you are a recurring reader – again thank you and enjoy the re-runs below.

2010: Hello, Now Go Away!!

January is Check the Neck Month!

Dear New Thyroid Cancer Patient


My Year of Learning How to Kick Cancer to the Door

TWO YEARS LATER… My journey with Thyroid Cancer

My annual reminder that I survived cancer

Six Years Later

Lucky 7 – Life after a thyroid cancer diagnosis

9 Years – Post Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis

ASL video on my cancer experience

Twitter Scarves

This blog is dedicated to all the wonderful healthcare professionals who have helped me during my cancer journey and have supported and cared for the the health needs of others.

Also, dedicated to my friends who have experienced “lumps” in their roads and have survived with grit and grace. You are my inspiration.