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My Biggest Fear

New Orleans' designer Tara Shaw's home

I love the interiors of New Orleans’ designer Tara Shaw. Tara has an effortless way of blending Old World pieces and classical furnishings along with the right amount of edginess. She ties them all together with a neutral palette that’s the definition of modern chic. It’s the look I’d like for my new home, but alas, I don’t have a Tara Shaw budget to buy all new pieces.

Since my biggest fear is winding up in a cardboard box under a bridge somewhere, I will use the furnishings I already have.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no reason to complain. My things are beautiful, and I’m grateful I still have them. It’s just that my tastes have changed. My furnishings were bought before I realized my first husband wasn’t kidding when he said he wanted “to run out of money and breath at the same time.”

Imagine burying your husband and a month later, after you’ve paid off his year’s worth of cancer bills; three years of income taxes—penalty and interest you didn’t know you owed—you discover another financial commitment you knew nothing about. A balloon note on your home that’s due in six months.

By then my finances were so dire, I had to sell much of what I owned just to keep the lights on. I even traded my “things” for a year’s worth of haircuts. It was a scary and degrading place to be. Like a tightrope walker, balancing on a thin wire, I walked the walk, but the touch and go high-wire act taught me an important lesson about money and marital trust: My money is mine. Your money is yours. Our money and assets we manage together.

That brings me back to my fear of living in a cardboard box. I will gratefully use the things I have, along with a handful of new pieces like a sofa and an edgy splurge… What can I say? The devil made me do it… You’ll see… A week from today, I’m getting the rest of my things out of storage, and I’m excited to see how it all comes together.

The painters are here and the big blue wall has been covered with primer. Tomorrow the wall color goes up! Should a cardboard box materialize in my future, I have no one to blame but myself.

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22 thoughts on “My Biggest Fear”

  1. Do not worry about sleeping in a cardboard box Brenda,you will be fine as long as you have a doona and a bottle of Vodka to keep you warm.
    that’s my plan anyway.
    Just kidding.

  2. Brenda, your home is going to be stunning, I don’t doubt that for a minute. And thank you for sharing that scary financial period in your life – talk about a challenging time! (Now there’s an understatement). Women don’t talk about money enough and how important it is for us to be in charge of our own finances. And you’ll never end up in a cardboard box under a bridge, you’ve got far too many people who love you to let that happen! Including me. Essie xx

  3. I agree with Essie: you are much too loved to end up in a cardboard box under a bridge! Can’t wait to see the fruits of your labor of love! It will be beautiful and perfectly ‘home’! Love and hugs!

  4. Here’s to carrying one! And should you ever start contemplating a cardboard box, remember there’s a room for you up here in Edmonton, Alberta! 🙂

  5. That room is drop dead gorgeous! I could happily move into Tara’s house and call it home. Oh, to dream.
    Your story really touched me. What an awful time in your life. But, obviously you’re a survivor and I’m sure stronger and more determined because of your past situation.

    • Joanna, Isn’t it a fabulous room? Everything Tara Shaw does is so gorgeous. Life’s thrown a lot at me. It’s only now that I see how much I’ve come back from. Thank you. Brenda

  6. Hi Brenda, I know exactly what you’re saying. Six years ago, my husband and I left our home of 17 years, sold everything we owned that wouldn’t fit into our car and moved 400 miles away for a job and health insurance. We came here moving into an apartment I rented on the internet, sleeping on an air mattress. It was hard. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but it makes you stronger and wiser. We’ve replaced all we’ve lost with much better now and in two weeks we move into a beautiful home, but we’ll never forget that it could happen again if we’re not careful. I think that fear never goes away. though…maybe, that’s not such a bad thing.

    • How difficult and brave, Rena. I’m happy you made it through that tough time… You know how it feels. You’re right: That fear of being homeless and having nothing is always there, but it helps us make wiser decisions and be grateful for even the small things. xoxox, Brenda

    • You’re one of my favorite people so having things in common makes me happy, but not if you’ve experienced any of the things I write about. I’m excited about how my home will turn out. Have a house full of painters here, now. Thanks for your support, Barbara. xoxo, Brenda

  7. Brenda – You know I love Tara Shaw as I have featured her many times on my blog including the picture in this post. It’s gorgeous!

    Yes, our tastes do change and I am at that stage right now, making some updates to my home. It’s been 18 years and it’s time to freshen up some rooms.

    I know your house is going to turn into a warm and inviting home. I can’t wait to see what you do with it. Lastly, you have survived so much in your life, you will never have to worry about a cardboard box! Your strength is an inspiration to us all.

  8. Thank you, sweet friend… The problem with freshening up is the domino effect… Ugh! It sneaks up on you. Painters, plumbers, etc. walk through here and tell me how I need to do this and do that… All I hear is $$$, $$$$$, and I say “no.” xoxox, Brenda

  9. I wish this post was longer! Have you written about this turn of events elsewhere? Or previously? I’d be interested in reading if you have. And Tara Shaw’s a smooth operator! Love her style.

  10. Oh, Girlfriend! My first husband is a book unto itself, and I’ve already written it. My agent had a mental meltdown shortly before I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. By the time the agency discovered my half-edited manuscript, they’d changed hands and weren’t taking on any new clients… as if I were a new client. Surviving 10 breast cancer surgeries and eight rounds of chemo and my site took up all of my time, and I stopped looking for another agent, probably because writing it got it out of my system.

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