Cha Cha Cha Changes


Cherri Ellis - ChangesEvery soup needs a good stir now and then.

by Cherri Ellis

Platters are such festive and hopeful objects. That is why I collect them. My friend Kathy gave me one for my birthday that was huge and square and glossy black with abstract cherries painted across it.  When your name is Cherri, you will receive many a gift adorned with that fruit in your lifetime, but this one was modern and really unique. Shopping later, I came across a set of canisters in the exact same pattern, so I snatched them up. When I got them home and looked at my platter on my table and my canisters on the counter, I frowned. They were just as cool as before, but the rest of the kitchen suddenly looked very dated and Early American. I knew instantly that my kitchen was dead to me—DEAD.

I set in motion a project that started with new, bold wallpaper. Unfortunately, the wallpaper made the stained glass light fixture look like it should be above a booth at Wendy’s, so I switched it out for a sleek, chrome and frosted glass piece. Using my new cherry set as my design inspiration, I chose a dark granite slab and replaced the tile on the countertops and then—finally—I chose new drawer and cabinet pulls. This last project I was able to do myself with my very own cordless drill, and you would have thought I was single-handedly erecting a skyscraper in the room.  I took a lot of breaks, surveying my site with my hands on my hips and a diet Coke nearby. Thrilled with my results, I invited friends over to debut the new look. As the party pleasantly swirled around me, my friend Debbie Cox hugged me. “Oh, Honey,” she said, “You did a great job, except one thing.” Pulling me to the counter, she pointed to my black cherry canisters and whispered, “You need to get rid of these. These don’t match!”

Making changes brings new energy. Every soup needs a good stir now and then. Once, I decided to make a small home office in an upstairs room by painting an alcove Chinese Red. I had read in a magazine how you should paint your house in shades that you love to wear. I thought it would delineate the space and make a cool accent, but instead it looked like I had created a little portal to hell. When I walked by that room and glanced in, I didn’t see a pocket of New York City cool. I saw Satan sending a fax. I forced myself to like it, which was good because I discovered years later when the house went on the market that no amount of paint was going to cover it.

Another time, I bought a set of leather furniture for the den that was a rich, warm, golden color. In the showroom, it was sumptuous, making whoever sat on it look like they owned horses and acreage. I bought all three pieces. When I came downstairs and saw them in the bright sunlight, I froze. They were larger than I remembered, and they were  screaming Big Bird yellow. I sat on one, and I didn’t look wealthy…I looked jaundiced. I told myself that leather fades. I was right. In 10 short years it did.

Change begets change. Transitions in seasons and relationships and work are classic triggers for bursts of re-do, but they don’t always feng shui. They don’t need to. They just need to feng shright now. You can always change back. I had a set of linens on my bed that I loved so much that I literally wore them out. I replaced them with a set that was in the right color scheme but it never felt right. When I stumbled across my old duvet on the shelf at Tuesday Morning, I felt divine intervention. I bought the entire set again, with the added bonus of some elegant accent pillows, two of which are round and satiny beige with a covered button in the middle.

Change keeps you sharp. When I was in a four-month run of A Chorus Line, (waaaaaay off Broadway) I had a dance captain who at rehearsal would constantly say, “Change is good! Change is growth!” This comment would always elicit groans from the cast because it meant remembering new choreography for a show that we could have at that point performed in our sleep. He did this because his tweaks kept us present. There are no hidden mistakes in a kick line.

Real wisdom, though, lies in knowing when not to change. Nobody possesses this quality more than my sister Robin, who is completely normal with the exception that she does not like to shop. Her son got married a few weeks ago, and our family was all a-twitter about who was wearing what to which event. We went shopping together one time to look, and Robin tried on one dress. She did not like it. She tried on a second, took it off, had the store order it in a different size, and was done before 10 minutes had elapsed. As the weekend approached, we were burning up the phone lines when the following conversation took place:

Me:  Your dress is perfect for the wedding!  What are you wearing to the rehearsal dinner?

Her:  Jeans.

Me:  No Ma’am, you are not.  You are not wearing jeans to The Chop House for the rehearsal dinner.

Her:  (sigh)  Fine. (click)

The next day Robin called back, happily resuming the conversation as if 24 hours had not passed.

Her:  I got a dress for the rehearsal dinner.

Me:  Awesome!  What’s it look like?

Her:  Like the one I’m wearing to the wedding.  I ordered it in blue.

Me:  You’re wearing the same dress to back-to-back events?

Her:  I am.

Me: How about I bring you a silk scarf to break it up?

Her:  You don’t have to—I ordered a crocheted cardigan.

Me:  Perfect! What will you wear with the other one?

Her:  I ordered two of them.

Robin, my marvelous and selectively steadfast sister, reminds me that I come from opinionated people. What a gift. You have to have an inner sense of grounding in order for change to feel as good as it can.

One Response to “Cha Cha Cha Changes”

  1. Robin Mangino says:

    I too hate to shop. Robin “Birds of the same feather flock together.”

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