Last year, I did a series of posts on different spaces in your home because the way we live IN our homes has a big effect on living peacefully.
It feels like I’ve been writing a lot of “weighty” stuff lately so I thought I’d go back to “home”. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. Home should be your safe place; your respite from the world. Home should be where you can slow down, breathe and simply BE. There are different factors that influence your ability to be at peace in your home, including the people you live with, where your home is located (if you’re in a construction area, for example, it can be challenging), the folks in your neighborhood or development and the house itself. Today, let’s talk about your physical environment and changes that can help you say, “I love being at home”. Following are twelve (remember twelve from last week?) of my ways to begin the process.
- Create a space that reflects who you are NOW. This means changing the things you’re “stuck with” that have nothing to do with how you want to live. At one point in your life you might have had a big family at home, but now live alone. Conversely, you may have created a “dream home” for yourself, but now have a spouse or partner or family. If you’re like most people you’ve probably accumulated possessions over the years that made sense for who you were, or what you appreciated THEN. Perhaps, you decorated your home in a style or colors that you no longer like at all. Think about how you “feel” in your home.
- Make the “little things” (which are actually the “big things”) important. So, for example, if you get a lot of pleasure out of crafting or working out or cooking add something small that would make the activity more fun and/or easier- a rack to organize your thread, a comfortable pair of workout shoes, a new set of wooden spoons. If sleeping on a bed with great sheets makes you feel special, invest in them. Instead of spending money on one more throw pillow, use your resources to honor what makes your home special for YOU.
- Develop rituals that work for you and anyone else you live with, such as tea in the morning (one of the first things I do when I get up is “put the teapot on”), Friday movie night at home (like my daughter does with my grandkids), stacking wood in the fireplace to light as soon as you get home, or taking a long bath after dinner. In order to do this, you have to take the time to think about what makes you smile; what adds to your day. Rituals help us feel “grounded”.
- Put your “personal stamp” on a few things like a signature drink, a unique return address stamp, the Caesar salad you perfected, or fresh flowers on the kitchen counter. Like rituals, it’s nice to have a few “go to” things that reflect your unique personality. For some it will be something specific to their lives. My friend Sam, for example, often delivers bags of candy to those he loves and my friend Linda, ALWAYS makes amazing dinners for her guests. For both Sam and Linda, those are just one of the things that make them special and memorable.
- Make your space uniquely yours. As a designer I know how much “pressure” some of you feel to have a home that looks like- fill in the blank- _______ (your friends, a magazine cover, everyone else in the neighborhood, a HGTV show). I strongly believe your home should be comfortable, usable, practical and a space that speaks YOUR story. Don’t worry about the “in” paint color or the latest “must have” item. If you’re crazy about plaid or pastels or folk art, go for it! If that high-end sofa isn’t comfortable or the perfect wall covering isn’t a color you love, it doesn’t belong in your home.
- Surround yourself with items that bring you joy. That will be different for all of us, of course. If you genuinely get great pleasure out of your collection of Hummel Figurines, then by all means, display them in a place where you see them everyday. If, however, they’re sitting on a shelf because they were left to you by someone dearly departed and you feel like you “have to” keep them, let’s talk. Examine everything you live with and ask, “How does this make me feel?” For many of us, a beautiful piece of sea glass, a masterpiece created by a child or a single daisy in a simple vase brings a smile to our faces and joy into our hearts.
- Find a space where you can read, meditate, pray or simply think. Some people are afraid to be alone because in the constant din of other voices they don’t have to listen to themselves; to their inner voices. Even though I’m not always as dedicated to doing this, as I want to be, starting my day with God is best. I sit in the spot that’s perfect for me: on my white loveseat, in front of the window, in the library, with my tea. Do you have a favorite spot in your home? Have you ever said, “I just need some peace and quiet”? Have you ever thought, “I wish I could feel at peace”? Create a place where that’s possible. It doesn’t have to be large, it just has to be peaceful.
- Clean and Organize. Even if orderly and neat isn’t on your life priority list, keeping your home clean (or hiring someone to keep it clean) helps you breathe easier- literally and figuratively, and one of my favorite things is organization. I can talk about organizing for hours (and do exactly that when I’m teaching that class). For a lot of people, there are real struggles with letting go of stuff. If life is challenging and a person already feels insecure, things often take on more value and getting rid of possessions can make that person feel diminished. Other times, it’s simply not having any idea of where to begin. Not getting rid of things that you don’t need or want, however, leads to a world full of stuff. Getting organized also means purging possessions that bring you down. It’s much better to live with less than live in the past or in clutter. My mantra: “Love it or Use it”.
- Take care of things you know you’ll have to eventually deal with. Just like tax returns, which you know, are due every year on the same date, procrastinating just makes something bigger and bigger. Get through your stuff so you can move on. That means creating a way to tackle the cleaning and organizing in number eight. It means taking action like: processing bills as you receive them instead of piling them on the counter, scheduling appointments right away, having an outfit planned for work (or the kids for school), rotating what’s in your refrigerator (and using it) before it spoils or making a simple repair before it becomes major. Unless you have live-in help, a personal assistant and a crew of folks orchestrating your life, you probably have things YOU have to deal with, so do them before they become overwhelming.
- Try to move out of a “throwaway world”. We live in a time and place where so much is disposable that we don’t think twice about what we’re adding to the enormous piles in landfills. Newsrecord reported that in 2010 the USA generated more than 250 million tons of waste, including over 9 million tons of “e-waste” (electronic devices like cell phones, electronic games, computers, laptop). Last year, The Washington Post reported out that more than a fifth of our garbage is food. Wow! Make one change that can help with the “throwaway” impact. Recycle, donate what others could use and buy responsibly. (Once way I throw less and enjoy more is with cloth napkins https://peacefullhome.com/2013/12/16/cloth-napkins/).
- Create beauty in each room. No matter what the purpose of the room, include something that brings it to life; something that makes you smile. It could be a plant, a piece of art or a reminder of a wonderful trip. It could be a soft blanket or a piece of pottery. In the bathroom, for example, it could be a pretty hand towel or a decanter filled with mouthwash. In your bedroom you could add a small plant on a table next to your bed. In the kitchen a bowl of lemons or limes that would add color. In the dining room, perhaps a collection of candles (that you actually light). In your garage (if you’re fortunate enough to have one) a sign that says, “Welcome Home!”.
- Designate at least one space where you sit down to eat, and enjoy dinner (or breakfast or lunch) that’s not in front of the television, your desktop, laptop or phone. Don’t just throw something on a paper plate and consume it mindlessly. Those of us who always have plenty to eat (often right at our fingertips and with varied selections) take for granted what a luxury that would be for the majority world. Honor the fact that you have food to eat. Be mindful and appreciative and realize how blessed you are.
Most of what I’m suggesting here doesn’t cost a lot of money (or any money). What I want, for you, is a place YOU want to be in, not a place that overwhelms you or stresses you out. Poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote: “He is happiest be he king or peasant who finds peace in his home.” Finding peace in our homes is a great way to begin finding peace in our lives. It doesn’t matter if you feel like you’re a king (or queen) or if you feel like you’re a peasant. What matters is that you feel at peace in your home.
©2015 Peace Full Home/Intentional Living
p.s. from “The Checklist from Z to A”: #22. Practice saying, “thank you”; most of us have people and situations that we can express gratitude for each day. Let’s try to do a little more of that.