I'm Nikki, a creative old soul who loves tea time, tip-toeing through gardens, mounds of books, swaying to records, watercolors, sunset walks with our three yorkies, and star-gazing with Paul. This blog carries snippets of my life with just us two (five with Rusty, Lucy, & Ethel) - I hope it brings you happiness as you snuggle in with something warm and delicious and begin reading. Enjoy, friends!

the blog!

If I had to choose:

Finding the Light

Hello, friends. How are you? Wherever you are, I hope you’re getting a bit of sunshine to bask in. The sun has been flitting in and out of the clouds, through the big Winnie-the-Pooh tree, and making its lovely designs on the walls.

As I write to you, I’m watching House Hunters International. I love seeing the different styles of homes, especially in Ireland, England, and the tropical areas. It gives me some inspiration when I look around at our own home. We’ve been going back and forth on moving. I’ve had a rough year or so in this house and the long, gray winter had me aching to get out and escape to something new — a new view, a new home, new walls, anything. But now that spring has officially declared it’s here (and with housing prices and interest rates being what they are), we’re being picky and staying here until we find the one that is “just right.” My darling cousin, Andy, has been helping us, taking us to showings all over the Twin Cities. Each morning and throughout the day I get a handful of newly listed homes in my email. If I see any I think I might fall in love with, I let him know and he, his wife, Paul, and I head out to see what’s out there. At one point I called him after seeing a house, ready to tell him what I wanted to offer on it, and then backed out last minute. I just wasn’t ready and it wasn’t “the one.”

So, until we find that special place, we’re looking around at our house to see what we can continue doing to make it ours. Some ideas are big and expensive, some are little tweaks here and there. I’m currently painting the dining room a light yellow, a big difference from the deep, royal blue we’ve had for the last five or so years. In the winter especially, we don’t get very much light in our house. Our neighbor’s house is incredibly tall and we’re pretty close together and the sun doesn’t get above their roof until mid-March. So, we’re looking at ways to bring in more light and originally had started painting it white but it just didn’t fit. Yellow has always been my favorite color (despite the abundance of blue everywhere in my life — blue is my second favorite color) and with just half a wall done, it has made a huge difference.

To add more light to the house, we also decided to have the white blinds completely pulled up. It gets rid of privacy but when I sit by one of the living room windows it now feels like there’s a skylight (our windows are very tall) and I love it. I’ve also started painting the front porch trim black. It’s been maroon since we moved in, along with the shutters and front screen door, and I’ve always hated it. We decided to get new windows last summer and while doing so, they replaced the maroon window trim with white, then we needed a new roof due to hail damage, so they replaced the reddish black roof with a plain black roof. All that’s left is the front porch, shutters, and front door. I’m in the middle of the porch trim, then will paint the shutters black, and then will paint the screen door a light yellow. More cheerful colors coming this way. :)

One of the projects we’ve been talking about that excites me the most is building a cottage/shed/art studio in the backyard for me to have as my very own. As I said earlier, the past year or so has been really hard for me. I’ve been dealing with major depression due to many factors. (Now that I know what it is, I also went through a depression period in 2019 and then again in November 2022 through the rest of my teaching year, and then continued having bouts on and off again until this past December when it became too extreme to function on a daily basis.)

Since the beginning of January, I’ve been seeing a therapist weekly (now every two weeks), taking medication daily (if it helps anybody else, I started with 10mg of Prozac for two weeks, then 20mg for eight weeks, now 40mg for about four weeks, and started birth control to help regulate hormone levels; it all has been a life-saver), and leaning on my incredible support system of Paul, my mom and dad, sister (I keep telling them I could not have done this without them — they’ve been my rocks), grandparents, in-laws, extended family, friends, neighbors, and doctors. I update my parents every morning to let them know if I’m okay or having a rough day, I meet with my doctor and therapist often, Paul and I check-in with how I’m feeling multiple times a day, my girlfriends and extended family continue to check-in; we’re all thrilled with the progress I’ve made. I’ve got a lot of people looking out for me, Paul is the best person to go through this with, and I’m getting stronger everyday. I’ll probably write another post about my full experience with it; I’m still recovering and taking it a day at a time. I have shared quite a bit of this on Instagram and Facebook and I cannot tell you how amazing people have been. I’ve heard so many similar stories to mine, people have cheered me on and let me know I can reach out whenever I need to — the world really is still a wonderful place. I’m so thankful for everyone who has been so kind to me (and to Paul) during this.

But, back to my project! The cottage/shed/art studio has been something brewing in my mind for weeks. It’s the thing I dream about when I have low days, it’s what I read about when I’m anxious, and it’s where my creative thoughts go when I get excited. To have my own space tucked away in the garden would be a dream. Did you ever read the book, Mandy? It’s written by Julie Andrews and it ignited a deep desire to have my own little cottage when I was just a little girl. The girl in the story, Mandy, finds this cottage that hasn’t been lived in for a long time. She cleans it out, decorates it, and uses it as an escape from her world. I always loved that idea, and now it could potentially be my own dream come true. To have hope and excitement for the future is something I’ve been missing for the longest time; I’m happy to have it back in the form of a little cottage in my garden. I envision having windows all around it, including on the roof, to invite as much natural light in as possible. I’ll have a stone path leading to the door, flowers and bushes surrounding it, a bird feeder outside a window…maybe even electricity so I can be out there in the hot and cold and have lights on when it gets dark out. I’ve narrowed down the one I’d love, now to clean out the area and get permits…I have lots of projects happening so I’ll keep you posted. :)

I mentioned a group of girlfriends in my second to last post, the college friends I had that could turn any mundane activity into something incredibly fun and unforgettable. I’m thrilled to say that we are all back together after 16 years! I reached out to them during one of my lowest days during my depression after I wrote that blog post. Without hesitation, they came to my side and we’ve been able to meet once a month. They cheer me on in texts throughout the week, they’ve let me cry at brunch and reminded me they’re here for me every step of the way, we talk about everything together, just like we did all those years ago. Spending time with them goes by quick and what feels like just 10 minutes is actually a 3-hour brunch. It was such an incredible feeling seeing them all together for the first time – we are all unique and different from one another, and yet we complement each other so well. We met again just two weeks ago for my 35th birthday (that’s us in the above photo); I couldn’t believe I got to celebrate it with them; the last birthday we celebrated was my 19th, before I had even met Paul! I’ve already told them this, but if going through this depression meant that I would get my girlfriends back in my life, that is the light in the darkness and it makes this worth it. It’s so good to be back with them.

Therapy has been incredibly rewarding and the time I’ve spent healing has been eye-opening. In therapy, we don’t just focus on my depression, rather it feels as if we’re pulling back layers that have accumulated over the years to see who I truly am and what I truly want for my life. I’m getting back to my old self, or rather I’m collecting snippets of my favorite selves from the past 35 years and moulding them into me today. Right this moment I’m truly happy. Paul and I like to rate how happy we are on a scale of 1 to 10. We ask each other this almost daily, and right now I’d say I’m at a 9.75. I would be a 10 but I just finished a Caribou cooler and now I feel too sugared out. :) I’m not always this high on the happy scale, but I’m learning

to take each day as it comes

to not get mad at myself if I’m not feeling 100%

to look at the little things in life that bring happiness (something as simple as hearing my favorite bird, the robin, singing just outside my window)

to remember how far I’ve come (two months ago just being awake was scary and painful)

to understand my purpose and value don’t depend on an income or a career

to not worry about disappointing others by not living up to their expectations or their idea of me

to change the way I think about my purpose and a happy life.

I just had a session today and I told her I’m actually thankful for this experience, even with all the terrifying days. I’ve learned so much about myself, I’ve gained new relationships and strengthened existing relationships, I’ve learned who I can lean on in times of fear and desperation, I’ve learned to like myself again, even Paul and I together have learned so much about each other and our marriage during this. I would never want to relive the last year, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I hope you’re all doing well, friends! I feel like this post kind of went all over the place so if you’ve made it to the end, well done! :)

Spring is here, tulips are coming up, the dogs are finally getting haircuts in the next couple of weeks, bags of mulch are in the garden ready to be spread, the windows are open…life is good. Hugs to you all, and thank you for the support, from the bottom of my heart.

Kindred Spirits Club | Nikki Jean Tran Blog | www.nikkitranphotography.com



newer post

previous post


back to latest posts