10.18.2009

Being content with a size 14 house in a size 2 house world.

Do any of you bloggy buds just come to the end of your decorating rope?  As in, going into overload with all the projects and props and mess everywhere?  Or perhaps, like me this morning, you feel that if you see one more candlestick/vase/basket/dish/picture frame/chair/etc. you will go completely postal?

I love to decorate, be creative, find solutions.  But, I often come to a place where I realize I'm not really LIVING anymore.  I get obsessive about find the perfect mix of stuff for my shelves or the perfect color for a room, or a the perfect arrangement for my furniture.  I get grumpy, I get frustrated, I get depressed. So in the midst of this, my house is generally a disaster area, laundry doesn't get done, dinner becomes grilled cheese on paper plates, bathrooms begin growing interesting stuff.  We have a plethora of pencils or sissors or tape, but we have no idea where they are because stuff is such a disorganized mess most of the time.  Kids whine that I won't just SIT DOWN and watch a movie with them.  Hubby stops asking to take evening strolls with me to take in the colors of the trees.....

While I have a fairly large home (5 bedrooms, 3 baths, 3 living areas, 2 dining areas....) the rooms are small, and every single one has awkwardly placed doorways and windows.  I want my house to be a mix of beauty and function.  I spend tons of time and energy melding those two things, but for every step forward I make, it feels often that I've run four miles backward in another room.  I drool with envy at Layla's house, slam my head against my keyboard saying why.can't.i.be.beautiful.like.her.have.a.house.like.hers.  But Layla doesn't have 4 kids and a 100 pound dog running about all day, throwing toys and papers and shoes and dog hair everywhere.  Or teenage girls who don't care for your decorating style and would prefer florescent aqua and zebra accents or lime green and mahagony canopy beds in their rooms.  Or a budget of zero for new floors or beadboard ceilings or power tools.  Or a hubby who can drop everything and remove a wall.  That's just not my reality.  It never will be.

My biggest decorating challenge is being content with what I have.  While I love decorating magazines, I've found such solace in the decorating blogworld of REAL homes....homes with their slips showing, so to speak.  Hearing and seeing the realities of so many normal women also trying to find time to make their homes peace-filled sanctuaries without going broke or crazy or both.  There's always gonna be someone's house that is thinner or more popular or better dressed or younger or older......but most of us are learning to be content with what we've been given.  Most of us won't have a Lettered Cottage.  Ever.

Which brings me to the uncomfortable truth that there's just all kinds of wrong with complaining that I have 10 too many candlesticks and birds.  I'm coming to the place as I makeover rooms in this house, that too much crap is sucking my time and energy.  Years ago, I had a friend who had lived in her home for years, raised her kids there, collected tons trinkets and artwork from the gift shop she worked in, hosted guests every week for meals and/or overnights, and spent hours on her family's geneology photos and memorabilia. One night there was a gas leak, and she and her husband barely escaped with their lives before their home expoded into flames.  Every single thing was lost.  Afterwards, she went into such a deep depression that those close enough to help her feared she would commit suicide....her grief over her 'things' was overwhelming.

I remember thinking at the time that I never wanted to be so attached to my things that my life would be ruined if I lost them somehow. I would want to grieve the loss of the important things, not stuff.  I took inventory of my home, determining what really had worth, and what was so much chaff.  90% was the chaff, and I realized I'd spend too much time fussing over the frou-frous in my house.  At the time, we sold our newly built home and moved back to a cheaper town, bought a much smaller, older and cheaper home, and began to get off the treadmill of more, more, more.  That was 12 years ago, and since then, we've had ups and downs....readjusting our priorities every now and then with seasons of life.  Sometimes we've done really well with balance, other times we go off the deep end.

I'm thinking I'm now in the deep and needing to re-evaluate the meaning of my 'stuff' once again.  I bought too much for this house.  I spend too much time worrying over what will go where, what color this-and-such will get painted, where will I find some money to buy this-and-such.  My kids are growing up in the midst of the chaos of mom redoing rooms constantly, never content.  In light of this, I'm purging.  I've decided this week I will take stock and get rid of stuff.  Lots of stuff.  Lots of stuff I really like.  Lots of stuff I have inspiration for, but not the time or energy or space to store it.  Stuff that somehow possesses me and my time and energy that belong to my family.  It's said that if you always say yes to the good, you very often miss the best.  I'm missing the best, folks.  

I'm rambling incoherently now.  I'm still going to work on my rooms, but I'm not going to fret over accessories.  I'm going to give away what I don't have a place for, and I'm going to be thankful for healthy kids and food in the fridge, a hubby with a good job and a nice rear end, 3 cars and a ridiculous amount of supportive friends.  Whether my candlesticks look 'just so' isn't going to be a priority anymore.


Let's hear it for simplicity and sanity in our decorating endeavors.  Let's not waste another minute worrying over stuff that doesn't really matter in the scheme of things, and let's embrace the imperfect that makes our homes and our lives a beautiful reality and celebration of normal.

18 comments:

Sheri said...

This post touched me Cindy because sometimes I mourn the house I would love to have but likely never will.

Because of the decision we have made to adopt Dustin it means that we will never be a two family income and let's admit it, daycare barely pays the bills, but I love it, it's what I am called to do.

My home is old and my interiors leave much to be desired by me. I covet other peoples homes so much that it depresses me sometimes. I have been working to accept and appreciate what I have. My choices are made, I live with the repercussions. Stuff is way less important to me than giving a child a home . . .

I just have to remember that.

Di said...

Cindy, bravo! I posted something like this on my blog a while ago - and I've come to the conclusion having more stuff is just more stuff to clean. Follow your heart and do what you enjoy and above all else, keep a balance.

Mimi said...

You go girl! I should be down-sizing instead of amassing more...my kids are going to have the endless task of having to sort through my "stuff" if I don't pare down to what I actually need, not want. Some of my "stuff" hasn't seen daylight in some time! Thank you for this post; I think I will take your advice and pare down NOW so the kids won't have to later...

Miss Madison's Mommy said...

I love you. Really! Your post is so true for so many of us, I can't tell you how many times I have to tell myself to be thankful for what I have and not sad about what I don't. Well said and i love your blog.

northern cottage said...

Keep your chin up, breathe & do want you need to do for you & for family. This home thing is meant to be a good thing - not an 'extra' source of anxiety. We have enough of that! Take good care of your little nest & enjoy the journey!

Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

Hi Cindy,
What an awesome post! My hubby and I do have a little cottage now that we are fixing up but..... we are empty nesters now and there is no way I could have done some of things I do now when they were growing up. Appreciate the time with your kids because in a blink of an eye their grown and then you may have more time for the decorating extras, or traveling or what ever. I still enjoy looking at some of the fabulous homes in bloggy land and elsewhere but I am happy with our little cottage and have to remember to be thankful! Cindy

blushing rose said...

Great post! Before we bought this house, the previous structure was burned once by the owners & upon near completion of rebuilding the neighbor kid burned them to the ground ... hence, our home. I think about the loss of our home often, it is terrifying ... I would be devastated at all the family old photos, antiques & memorabalia should it be lost.

Have a great week. TTFN ~Marydon

The White Farmhouse said...

I could of written this post myself a couple of months ago. It's hard to be a SAHM, you never get away from your job. You can drive yourself crazy trying to cram everything into one day. You do have to just get done what is important and the rest is just a bonus. I had to realize that it is not selfish to ignore the kids every once in a while to do something I want to do. So much of my day is controlled by what others need or want. I realized that I would never have a Lettered Cottage cause I do have kids. My house is a constant mess it seems like. I would love to set out all the pretties without worrying if the football is gonna crash into them. There is nothing more frustrating than spending a weekend painting only to have a 2 year old draw you a pic on the newly painted walls. Remember your home is your home where some are just nicely decorated houses.

Hey and you can always switch between grilled cheese and mac & cheese! I do that to give the kids some variety! Also you don't get stuck in a rut!

Brenda@ **Dragonflys and Stars** said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brenda@ **Dragonflys and Stars** said...

Yep, It is supposed to be fun. If it isn't fun, it is time to stop and regroup. My home will never be magazine photo-spread worthy. But I love that people describe my home as warm and say that it reflects me. I love the little moments and spaces here and there that do feel just right. And I leave my home and go ride my horses who help me remember that life is about the experience of living, of the pleasure of striving for perfection rather than having perfection. Hug your kids, kiss your husband, and let yourself relax and enjoy.

Denise said...

I usually skim posts, but your title grabbed me and I read every single word. This will be one of those well written pieces that I will bookmark and re-read because there are so many truths that I and probably lots of others in blogland can so relate to. I know that when we take the time to write something so intimate, it becomes part of the emotional journey to find the balance and peace with our choices. Thank you for sharing and being honest. I know it took you a lot of time to search your heart and pen your thoughts, and I appreciated the post very much.

Jamie said...

Wow, Your post is so true to me. Don't we all need to step back and realize what is meaningful in our lives day to day. That our children's memories of how we spent our time and energy will last much longer than the stuff we have accumulated. Thank you for putting that into perspective for me, I will think twice when my children ask me to sit down and watch a movie with them. Love your blog!!

Heidi said...

HI!
I just read this and want you to know you're not alone in those feelings. My husband's start-up company closed it's doors the day before his 50th b-day. He was out of work for 4 months, and had a bad accident during that time, which he's just finally recouped from. During that time (no income, living off our savings and daughter's college fund, nursing my hubby back to health) I really learned to re-evaluate, prioritize and scale down my expectations! But I've been finding myself falling back into the old gotta-have-it-all trap!! So,, time to step back and take a deep breath.
The things that take up room in our homes are only things,it's our experiences in life that make our memories, and our children's also. So,I believe you are doing the right thing! Good for you for recognizing what you needed to do to feel happy and content again.
Keep going, it will only get better! You have a lot of support from your blogging friends!
XO
Heidi - Heart and Home

Janelle Openshaw said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE, this post. It is just what I needed today. Like everyone else, I dream of having a beautifuly furnished brand new home. But I know that true happiness is loving what you have right in front of you and I have alot to be happy about! I love blog-land and I am inspired by everyone out there. I love to see other women like me making the most with what they have and using their creativity to make a home and life they can love. I may not have the big fancy house with all the pretties but I have a beautiful life with a family I love, and a home I can afford. Getting rid off all the extra "stuff" is liberating, It has been my goal to un-clutter and simplify my home this year while I beautify it on a budget. Your post has kept me focused and reminded me of how happy I am with what I have.
-Janelle @ www.janellescookbook.blogspot.com

Katie@Yoga Gal said...

Thank you for this post. It really spoke to me that someone else feels like this, because I feel the same from time to time. Hugs, Katie

Audra said...

I posted a similar post on my blog about being surrounded stuff and nothing being cohesive. Takes with fun out of being a home owner. I have been going through stuff to weed out and thin down. I have had to put my self on restriction when it comes to decorating magazines and only have on subscription. I am learning to fall in love with my house all over again.

Love your blog.

Skruger said...

What a great post. I'm reading it while I'm surrounded by "treasures" picked up at Goodwill & other local thrift stores. I'm in the process of purging all this extra baggage and have decided that unless I know exactly where something will go it does not come home with me. It's helping some and forcing me to focus on one area at a time. Thanks for writing what a lot of (I imagine) feel from time to time.

nell ann said...

I just found this post, and Braaaaavo. I often have to remind myself of these very things! Especially with a highly investigative toddler. My house is not going to look like a magazine, my spouse isn't going to turn into someone else to keep up with my interests, and my family is going to grow up and change and not be babies anymore. Sometimes it's hard to remember that in the midst of pretty accessories or table settings, but in the end, it's ultimately my desire to live in my house with my family, whether either is perfect or not. And you're completely right -- good is often the enemy of the best. Thanks for sharing!!!

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