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How the Art of DIY Changed My Life

How the Art of DIY Changed My Life

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Over the past few months, I have been riding that beloved “high” of creative inspiration. Full of manic energy and determined vision, every spare moment of my life – even my sacred, lazy Sundays- has involved some sort of DIY home improvement project. No time for rest or play… I have been on a mission not only to get sh*t done around my 1980’s fixer upper, but to pump out loads of inspirational content for this little blog of mine: taking my home and my blog to the next level, by golly.

Then this weekend, like so many times before, I found myself lying in bed completely deflated of that ever-fleeting, creative high. I’m not sure if it was due to sheer exhaustion or pre-menstrual hormones, but my mind was engaged in a existential crisis of sorts. What am I truly contributing to society with this silly blog of mine? Why am I so obsessed with the way my home looks? Gah…my life’s “work” is so superficial.

 Being the self-help junkie that I am, I immediately began to search for some sort of spiritual upliftment. Under normal circumstances,  I would seek this “upliftment”  through prayer, mediation, my Kundalini Yoga practice, a nature walk or weight-lifting session, but on this particular day, I was completely depleted of energy.

Unable to even muster up the strength to leave my bed, I grabbed my remote and desperately hoped for some inspirational television programming to subliminally find its way to me. Well…. thanks to the help of Oprah Winfrey, it totally did…. in the form of a SuperSoul Sunday marathon.

Of all the incredibly profound interviews and enlightening conversations I witnessed during my SuperSoul binge fest, there was a specific moment that particularly resonated with me as an interior design/DIY blogger. As Oprah was recalling her rise to success with one of her guests, she shared one of those “I have finally made it in life” moments.

Recollecting that moment, Oprah explains that an overwhelming sense of gratitude came to her one day as she found herself working in her beautiful home office, sunlight radiating in, and her bare feet propped up on her desk. At that seemingly ordinary albeit revelatory moment, she recalled a journal entry from her past (before Oprah became Oprah) which read,  “One day, I really hope I have enough money to have a home with beautiful things,  in a beautiful surrounding,  that matches my beautiful spirit”.

Aha!!! I thought to myself. That is why I do what I freakin’  do!!!

Realistically and financially speaking,  most of us will never achieve “Oprah” status, but that doesn’t have to stop us from dwelling in a beautiful surrounding that matches our beautiful spirit. It just takes a little elbow grease and can-do spirit!

Before DIY

Before starting this blog three years ago, I was so completely lost and confused.  My life definitely had not manifested according to plan.

You see…I was “supposed” to be a rich, skinny and wildly successful PR professional living in a gorgeous lakefront mansion- jet setting to exotic destinations every other weekend . Success, wealth and beauty were “supposed” to be my reality because that is, afterall,  what we are all inundated with on social media and “reality” tv.

Much to my disillusionment, however,  my true reality after 27 years of life on this planet,  was one of complete and utter “never good enough-ness”.

No matter how much I applied myself at work, I never felt valued or successful enough. No matter how hard I busted my a$$ in the gym, I could never achieve that inspirational,  “fitspo”  physique. No matter how many makeup tutorials I practiced, I would never have those supermodel cheekbones.  No matter how much money I earned, I could never afford to live life like they do on Instagram or Real Housewives.  It seemed that no matter how much I applied myself, my life was out of my control and I was ultimately helpless to change it.

As any mentally stable person might infer, I was beginning to spiral into a victim-type existence. I began to settle for a horribly disempowering,  “that’s just the way things are” existence so much so, that the only thing I knew to do was numb myself: I numbed myself with television, I numbed myself with food, I numbed myself with wine- hell, I even numbed myself with excessive physical exercise.

I was born into this mediocre, subpar life experience and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. Until…..

DIY: An Antidote to Victim Mentality

Not long after giving birth to my first son, I discovered a life-changing app called Pinterest.  On maternity leave with a little more time on my hands than usual, I found myself spending hours “Pinning” inspirational imagery – outfits, recipes, parties and dream homes.

While some of this inspirational imagery could definitely leave me feeling “less than” (particularly the “thinspo” fashion and million dollar homes), some of the content I found on this app actually had me feeling hopeful, eager and empowered. These particular types of “Pins” were from “normal” women , with “normal” albeit beautifully decorated homes  who shared helpful ideas and hacks for the financially challenged dreamer. These “normal” yet incredibly helpful women were known as ” DIY bloggers”.

Through their DIY tutorials and money-saving hacks, these inspiring individuals showed me that an average girl like me could have a beautiful home- a lakefront mansion with a nanny and maid? No…. not exactly. But with a little ingenuity and elbow grease, I could create a beautiful nest for my family to grow in and flourish.

With this newly discovered DIY mentality, I no longer had to simply accept my desires as unattainable or too expensive. With my own two hands, I could create a beautiful environment and transform my surroundings.  I didn’t have to accept my circumstances as the end all be all.

With each DIY project that I successfully completed, I felt my confidence and sense of hope grow. I felt like I could do anything I set my mind to.  In fact, I gained so much confidence, I decided to put my new construction home on the market and purchase my first-ever fixer upper home: a poorly neglected, 1980’s rancher.

Over three years later, with a completely transformed “fixer upper” and hundreds of DIY projects under my belt,  I feel incredibly blessed to say that I  have finally blossomed into my “good enough-ness”. After being lost and unsure of my purpose for so long, I have finally found my calling as one of those helpful, “normal women”… with a  “normal” home…living a beautiful life . I am a professional DIY-er.

Sure…..I fully accept that my calling as a professional DIY-er is not as impactful as that of a teacher, nurse, doctor, philanthropist or social worker, but I do hope to touch the lives of at least a few who crave some form of transformation, empowerment or well-being, because I fully believe that maintaining a beautiful surrounding is an extension of self-love and self-care. To me, it is one component of a holistic approach to living happily ever after.

No….my DIY path hasn’t turned me into some Mother Teresa or spiritual guru.   I still have plenty of sh*t to work through and some bad habits to conquer (who doesn’t?!), but when I think back to that lost shell of a woman-  the twenty-seven-year-old version of me who had pretty much given into her circumstances- I am truly amazed at how far she has come. Thanks to DIY, that lost soul has found her sense of empowerment and purpose.

To any of you feeling a little disillusioned with your current reality: you don’t have to settle for the “what currently is-ness” of life. In fact, your current reality is old news – a manifestation of your past intentions and actions. With a little vision and some elbow grease, you can transform anything. I am telling you… you got this, sis! Life is short, so get out there and do the damn thing.

Erica Van Slyke of designing vibes





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Wednesday 4th of July 2018

Hello! I just found you on IG this morning and had to pop over here and read this post. You are so real and that is very much needed in this land of social media! I see those that are constantly buying more and more & living in excess. At least that's my thought. ? You are beautiful and your home is gorgeous! Why don't you come to Texas and help me?? Lol Seriously, I think sharing from your heart like this is so encouraging to others. Perhaps that's another reason you're doing what you're led to do now. Pat

Designing Vibes

Thursday 5th of July 2018

Oh my goodness, Pat. You don't even know how much your words mean to me. I think we are definitely on the same wavelength as it relates to the empty world of social media. While it is definitely more demanding of me, my mission is to add some "real-ness" back into cyber land. Thank you so much for reaching out- you truly made my day, friend!

Mary-The Boondocks Blog

Wednesday 27th of June 2018

Erica there are so many of us who get inspiration from your beautiful spirit. And don't think for one second that what you do is superficial and silly. If you were to buy everything or hire a designer to do it for you then I could sort of say yes it is superficial. But what you are doing is showing us how to do it ourselves, you are giving us the why and the how which is so empowering to so many people. And ultimately so satisfying for the soul to know that it was hand crafted or hand made. Keep on inspiring us beautiful soul!!

Designing Vibes

Thursday 28th of June 2018

Those were exactly the words I needed to hear, Mary. Thanks for always being such an awesome force of support. xoxo

Tonya Rose Johnson

Wednesday 27th of June 2018

I’m so thrilled that you discovered your passion and talent! Not everyone is lucky enough to get both all rolled into one! Love you and your blog.

Designing Vibes

Wednesday 27th of June 2018

Thank you so much! I love you!

ashley allen

Wednesday 27th of June 2018

I swear sometimes its like you're speaking from my soul!! These feelings are all to familiar and are fully capable of rendering anyone helpless if succumbed to. DIY is so empowering and knowing that you are capable of creating something so beautiful for your family without spending insane amounts of money is one of the very best feelings in the world and we are enough! Our lives are enough!! I love your sweet heart friend and I'm glad you had this revelation, not just for you but for the both of us :)

Designing Vibes

Wednesday 27th of June 2018

I love it how we are always on the same freakin' wavelength, girl. I want you to know just how much your support always brightens my day and helps me feel connected to someone who actually "gets it". Sending you my love, beautiful friend!

Angie Lombardi

Wednesday 27th of June 2018

You hit the nail on the head! I really needed this this morning! Thank you!!

Designing Vibes

Wednesday 27th of June 2018

I am so thrilled to hear that my message spoke to you, Angie. Thanks for the sweet words. xoxo

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