Doing Vs. Being

I want to open this by saying I am writing this week's article because I need to read it back to myself... and because my officemates asked me to share their message....

It doesn't always have to be about the doing. Sometimes it should just be about the be-ing.

This is how a lot of my conversations with my friends, most of whom are also working moms,  have gone lately:

"Hi! How are you?"

The answer has almost always been one word, said with emphasis, eyebrows up, head nodding slowly

"Busy."   (head nodding now turns to head shaking...you can add a smack of the lips for dramatic effect....)

Enough said, I guess. It seems we feel defined by our busyness, and busyness is the pervasive quality that describes our work, our weekends, and, I fear, our lives in our homes as well.

We link the value of something to the accomplishment, the completion, the meeting of  the goal...however, life in our houses is never done.  There are always dishes to be washed, laundry to be done,  floors to be swept,  and papers to be sorted. Always. And when you are all done with that (ha ha) there are a few windows that are rotting, a gutter that is clogged, and a roof that needs to be replaced. With this mindset we will never be able to sit down, but will rather just fall over in exhaustion.

So, are you waiting for your check list to be done, your hamper to be empty, or your Better Homes and Gardens photo shoot to be scheduled so you can really sit and savor your home? Please don't.

If you are unsure of how to start, just follow the lead of your dog or cat, if you happen to share your home with one....

Be relaxed. Be curious....

You know, just BE.

The reason we own our homes, other than the fact we need to be warm and dry, of course, is to hopefully derive some pleasure and enjoyment out of them.

So, how do we get to the place where we can just be?  How can we be sure we are taking time aside from our busyness to be still and enjoy?  I believe it comes from the acceptance of  imperfection-- imperfection that will be there whether or not we rail against it, whether or not we acknowledge it, whether or not we work our fingers to the bone, whether or not we ever sit still. Being able to sit down, sit still,  and just be comes from a place of comfort with the idea that everything cannot be accomplished, experienced, cleaned, organized, nor mastered, and that does not diminish who I am or the beauty of where I live.

Alright, I have to close now because I have SO much to do this afternoon. (just kidding, just kidding...)

 

 

Adding On Vs. Adding More (Yes, Your House Is Probably Big Enough)

Do you lay awake at night dreaming of the large addition you want to put on the back of your house? Maybe you picture how grand and easy life will be, with sunshine streaming through new large windows, washing over the miles of new counter space in the renovated kitchen, acres of new closet space, and cavernous rooms that are large and impressive for family gatherings and holiday parties.....

However, there is the flip side to that  fantasy--there are the inherent costs such a space would, ahem, add on --since any new space starts, of course, with the building of foundation, walls, and roof...and tens of thousands of dollars. And there is the additional cost of heating, cooling, and maintaining added space  for years to come.  In my experience, there are a lot of reasons NOT to add on, the most prevalent one being that it is, in most cases, simply not needed.  If you feel that your house is lackluster and in need of more space, I challenge you to first make the most of the house you have so you can honestly say that more space is what is needed.  A lot of times we have rooms in our houses that are seldom used, and other rooms that are completely underwhelming in function & design. Without examining our feelings any further, we respond to our discomfort and dissatisfaction by thinking we need more space.  Creativity, good design, and the principles of living simply can make a "small" house live very large....SO, before  you pay a builder a hefty deposit, we should examine how you currently live in your house and make sure that each space works as hard as it can for you and makes you swoon with its abundance of charm, beauty, and functionality.

 

Read the following statements and see if they are accurate truths about you and your house currently:

  • I (or someone in my family) uses each room in our house at least once a week.
  • I feel proud of the rooms I have and feel good when I spend time in them.
  • The rooms in my house relate well to one another, and there is a sense of flow throughout.
  • I think my house is beautiful and reflects who I am and how I would like to live my life.
  • Accomplishing tasks in my house is easy, since the spaces are well organized and well designed.

 

If you feel that all of the above statements are true of your house, and you are still ready to build on, then I would say it is the right choice. However, if you can't say they apply to your situation, then I urge you to rethink things. It is easy to believe the lie that bigger is always better. Much like fine dining can be a wonderful, memorable experience compared to a button-popping, forgettable all-you-can-eat buffet, having a smaller amount of house that delights you with its attention to detail and fine materials can be so much more satisfying that a lot of house that bores you and costs you a lot of cash. Invest the money you were considering using for the addition to thoughtfully and intentionally improve your existing house, and you will have something of beauty, value and quality when you are finished.

 

Feeling cramped and uncomfortable in our current house often has little to do with the amount of space that is there, but rather how well the space is designed and appointed. Remember, you can only be in one room at a time--make the rooms you are in beautiful and satisfying to you, and your life will be the better for it.

Bloom Where You are Planted?

About eleven years ago, I was wandering through the big box home store and stumbled upon some puny, sad little trees on sale. I stood there and wondered. Hmmm.....would those look nice? Not much to look at now....but maybe..... With an infant and toddler in tow, I somehow hauled a couple of them up to the register, stuffed them into the minivan, and even managed to plant them before they died. Amazing.

Much like the house they were planted next to, they were humble things with humble beginnings, but I hoped that, despite their lack of pedigree, they would find a way to be the wonderful trees I thought they could be...someday.

This morning those crabapple trees weren't thinking "well, I had better hold back. I'm nothin' special afterall...."

Nope. Those pathetic twigs in plastic pots have become glorious trees that are proud to be in full bloom, perfuming the breeze and intoxicating each bumblebee that flies by.

So, how about you? Are you proudly blooming where you are planted? Maybe your home isn't where you always dreamed of living, maybe it isn't  the style of house or the neighborhood of your dreams....but you can bloom there anyway.

When you arrive home each day, I hope you feel a sense of deep satisfaction and pride in where you live. I hope you feel that your home is beautiful and shows the world in some way who you are.

I hope you can put your feet up there, and feel that it is a place that helps you to become more of who you want to be. Have faith that with time, creativity, and proper nurturing the simplest of dwellings can become simply beautiful-plastic pots, twigs and all.