Home Improvement Revisited: Part I

My vocation includes making our home exude comfort and simplicity.  I grow spiritually and in the virtues when I work on my home with those things in mind. It is a battle ground for me. I look at clutter that has accumulated and ask myself, yet again, what does or doesn’t belong in this space?

I look at my office because this was the room to which I first applied MY personal ideas of simplicity.  At the moment it is a bit cluttered with stuff for the baby.  Yet the bones of this space are still right. Every piece of furniture earns its floor space by being pleasing to my eye and functional.  When the baby stuff is gone again, it will be tidy in here once more.

Sadly, this is not true of the kitchen.

My kitchen counters, which if I could see them are a lovely gray stone, are buried. There is a problem here.  It is a problem that must be solved in a way that is unique to me or it won’t stay nice.  Nobody else can fix it because it won’t stay fixed unless I fix it so it works with the way my brain works.

And this came up when I was helping a friend.  She needs an open, zen-like space even if it is small.  Her tolerance for clutter of any sort is -15. In other words, clutter damages her.  Her current housemates thrive creatively in the midst of chaos.  They keep giving her things to make her zen-like empty space as stimulating as their spaces and she cannot convince them to stop. It is a clear clash of living styles.  She is going to move and is in the process of extricating her special items from the chaos. Hence our discussion about her style and which items in her environment actually belong.

Most of us live our lives playing out the expectations of our culture instead of our own personalities. We own things we don’t need and might not want if we thought it through.  Have you ever asked yourself if you own items like that?  What do they do FOR YOU?  How would you replace those functions, or would you even need to replace those functions, if you got rid them those items?

I asked that of my couch. Its only function was to provide a comfortable place for one person to stretch out and read. Recliners now serve as a places to sit, feet up or not, to read or nap, for a relatively small piece of floor.  Mine rock; I have rocked my babies in them.  They are large enough for a small child to climb up and snuggle with an adult.  Why did I ever own a couch? Only because our culture tells us we need one in our house and I discovered that was not true–for us.

Which brings me back to our kitchen which is the social hub of our home. I want to be able to feel good about friends coming over and sitting around my table, in my kitchen, which is a wonderful, bright, sunny space. I have work to do to make that space function like my office does.

Dear Lord, please help me to recognize what needs to stay and what I should give away or throw away.  Please help me to find MY style so it will stay organized. Thank you that I have such a pretty sunny space to share with family and friends. Amen.

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