For the past two weeks I’ve been talking about ways to CREATE a space that you can’t wait to get home to; about being intentional and “growing” a place that you step into and feel peaceful. So far we’ve covered garages (or your main entry into the home) and bedrooms. Today, let’s discuss the kitchen.
Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I was blessed to have my family together for dinner, and it made me think about the kitchen and the central role it plays.
You’ve probably heard the expression, “the kitchen is the heart of the home.” Part of the reason for that is because it’s natural for us to gather around food. There’s a common bond when we “break bread together”. The process of sharing part of ourselves, whether it’s laughing, discussing, planning, dreaming or just talking about the events of the day, often happens naturally when we’re relaxed and a meal is involved.
Like too many parts of our lives, we often “rush through” our meals. They’re often eaten while working (at a desk, with a child in our arms, or sitting in a car, truck or bus) or while watching TV or staring at the computer (or laptop, tablet or smart phone).
Years ago the estimated time spent sitting down for meals was twenty-one hours a week; I’m pretty sure that’s considerably less now. In addition, there’s also a trend in America to buy, cook and consume too much. There’s often not much thought put into what we eat, even though the meals we consume to sustain our physical selves, should feed not only our bodies but also our spirits. Eating is both psychological and physiological.
As I wrote in “Cloth Napkins” http://wp.me/p3T8x1-2K we so often plan beautifully laid out meals and place settings when we entertain, but for day-to-day life we don’t give it any thought at all. For some reason we’ve decided that we should simply ignore rituals that honor us (and often our families) the way we try to honor our guests.
Take the time to “set” a space and sit down and enjoy what you’re eating. Plan your meal so that you can relax and appreciate the bounty of your life. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate meal, just something that you pay attention to and enjoy. One of my fondest food memories is of the easy, summer meal my mother prepared with fresh corn on the cob and a big salad. It wasn’t fancy but it was colorful, fresh and delicious. Since we have to eat to live, we should make it one of life’s simple pleasures.
Although expansive, elegant kitchens are wonderful, you don’t need either expansive or elegant to create a beautiful, peaceful space.
First, let’s talk about all the “stuff” that lives in your kitchen. (I know, I know, I’m like a broken record when it comes to clutter.) Take everything out of your cabinets (one cabinet at a time if you have a LOT of possessions). Look at each item and say, “do I love it or use it?”. Remember, this is my guideline for knowing whether you should keep something or pass it along; either you love it- it makes you smile, or you use it- it has a utilitarian purpose. If it fits neither of these two simple criteria then get rid of it (sell it, donate it, pass it on to a friend, toss it if it’s not in good shape). Don’t get overwhelmed by the process, just do it step-by-step. Next take everything off your countertops and do the same thing. Do you use the item all the time (maybe a coffee pot) or is it a six times a year item (maybe a big mixer). Keep out the items you use regularly; store the rest. Once the “thinning out” process is done, put a couple of beautiful items on your countertop; a live plant is always a lovely addition; a bowl of lemons and limes that you can use as needed and enjoy seeing daily; a piece of pottery from a wonderful vacation; a beautiful pitcher filled with flowers; keep it simple.
If the kitchen truly is the “heart of the home” it should reflect who YOU are and the way you want to live. Pay attention to what you put in (and leave out of) this important space. Make it count.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle said, (as Sherlock Holmes in A Case of Identity) “it has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important”. The little things DO matter. The combination of all the little things, including the way we treat our daily habits of eating, are some of the ingredients in a peaceful home. We get to create the ways we honor the people we live with, invite into our home and, of course, ourselves.
Yesterday I finished repainting the kitchen from the construction, hung my art back on the walls and put my plants back on the counter. I made a big salad for last night’s dinner that I enjoyed with my family, on my rebuilt deck, in my Peace Full Home.
Next week we’ll talk about some other ways to make your home feel more peaceful and less stressful. Until then remember, “all the little things do matter”.