As it gets colder and the days seem shorter because of less light (obviously they aren’t shorter, it just feels that way), we tend to “hunker down” and live inside our homes more. If you’re like me, and aren’t a big fan of cold, you’ll be spending a LOT more time inside!
In early 2014 I wrote some posts about specific areas of your house and how to create a home you WANT to be in. Since it’s been awhile, I want to jump into fall by delving into specific ways to create a Peace Full Home– physically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually and practically.
Because we’re all different, we’re going to have different experiences of “peace”. For some of us “peaceful” will be quiet and serene, while for others it will be loud and fun. We’ll also react positively to different colors, items and experiences because (of course) WE’RE different. There are some specifics that relate to almost everyone, but creating your peaceful home is as unique as you are.
I truly believe your home should be more than a building in which you spend time. That holds true whether you’re there almost constantly, you simply shower and sleep there between crazy days, or it’s your occasional layover in your hectic, on the road, life. Your home should be a sanctuary, a safe and calm place, a respite from the rest of the world.
Creating a home that’s peaceful isn’t a one-step process. It involves taking into consideration:
STEP 1. how much stuff you currently have in your home (we’ll start with this today)
STEP 2. how you “feel” in each part of your home
STEP 3. the physical space you have, what’s in it, and connecting to what’s outside it
STEP 4: how color affects you, connection to what’s outside, how “green” you live
STEP 5: your desire to make a change, rituals, how you “are” in your home
Often, in order to get to where we’re going we need a “map” of sorts. Sometimes that’s a GPS or guidebook. Sometimes it involves taking a class or being exposed to different ways of looking at things. Often that “map” is as simple as having some idea where we WANT to go.
So, before we go any further, STEP 1 is deciding what you want in your home. Think about it as if you’re marketing a product and you need to assign all the best attributes to it that you can. I’m not talking about a major expansion to what you already own or rent. What I want you to do is:
Think about, and then write down, what you’d like your home to be like.
What qualities would it possess?
What activities would it accommodate?
How do you want to spend your time there?
If you’ve never thought about your home in this way, it may take some getting used to. Look at magazines or books. Be aware when you’re visiting the homes of friends or family.
What “speaks to you” in those places?
What don’t you like?
What type of atmosphere does it have?
When clients are renovating and there’s a wall that could use a piece of art, I generally say, “with something this personal, don’t go out and just buy something. You’ll know it when you see it”. If this is the first time you’re looking at your home through this different lens, don’t get overwhelmed. You’ll know it’s “right”, when it’s right.
Today let’s start with “how much stuff you currently have in your home”, or “clutter”. First (and often foremost) you need to get rid of clutter. In fact, we’re starting with this before all the other topics in the process because too often, “you can’t see the forest for the trees”, which means that there’s often so much stuff that you can’t see the big picture. I can’t say enough about how clutter impacts the way you live.
Every single space in your home is important. I don’t care if it’s an empty basement or the place you park (or should be able to park) your car. Your real estate matters. Even if it’s a storage room filled to the ceiling, that you rarely venture into, or that closet that you gave up trying to empty and organize years ago, you know (deep down) that it’s there in all its chaos . Think about it this way: if you’ve ever had to go to work or a meeting or give a speech or be “present” for someone in need, it’s likely you had to “leave your own stuff at the door”, do what you were there to do, and be fully engaged. After it’s over- that day, that speech, that situation where you had to be responsible or “on”- whatever you pushed to the back of your mind comes back. You haven’t had the time to solve it or process it, you’ve simply put it on the back burner for a short time. The same is true in your home. “Out of sight” really isn’t “out of mind”, you’ve just put in “on hold” for a while. When you live with clutter you spend a lot of time moving things, digging through things, cleaning things, losing things, and likely buying things you already have. Deal with the stuff and move on.
When you drive into, or walk through, a space everyday, you often don’t really SEE it anymore. In talking to students or clients, I call it “the sock on the TV phenomenon”. Let me explain. One day, in all your rushing around, you’re carrying a load of laundry through your family room and you drop a sock. On your way back through that room you pick it up and lay it on top of the TV (obviously intending to put it where it belongs later). You don’t get to it that day and when you turn the TV on later to watch your favorite show you notice it, but by then just want to sit down and relax, so you leave it there. This keeps happening but each time the sock becomes less obvious, and eventually you just don’t “see” it. “The sock on the TV phenomenon” happens a lot more than you may think. We get used to seeing (or hearing or experiencing) something so often that it simply becomes “wallpaper”; a background in our life.
This happens in all of our spaces. We get “used to” and “accept” things because it’s easier than “putting the sock away”. This week, step back and analyze what’s welcoming you home. Can you barely squeeze your car in your garage if you have one? Are you welcomed home with a pile of “stuff” near the door? What’s really in each space? Is it necessary, important or valuable?
Remember this equation: too much stuff=disorganization=stress and tension=less peace
Inner peace and serenity are helped by outer order and calm.
Don’t jump into it with the idea that in one week you can transform your entire home. If you have a fair amount to declutter you’ll simply get frustrated. Work on one area at a time. These are links to the kay mclane design blog posts that talk about clutter and give guidelines for getting started: Organization Week 2 “Clutter” and Organization Week 3 “The Rules”. Stick with it. Before you know it, voila! you’ll have a clutter-free home!
Remember, too, that keeping God (or whatever Higher Power you honor) in the process makes it a bit easier. Set an intention like “I want my home to be a serene space, a calm sanctuary where I can walk with You, and through life, in peace”. I believe we accomplish the most when we are focused with a specific intent.
The home you live in; the environment that you create, reflects your life. Let’s make it a relaxing, reinvigorating, reality,
© 2015 Peace Full Home/Intentional Living
p.s. from “The Checklist from Z to A”: #30. Jot down anything nice you think about a person you know and tell him or her; something kind you share with someone could make the difference between a really tough day and one where she knows she has value.