Learning: Contentment in the unexpected corners of my home

Note: This post has been sitting in draft form since May. Time to publish. :-)

Over the past month two small things have occurred in our home with monumental effect to my soul.
  • I rearranged our master bedroom.
Two small, seemingly inconsequential things have created a domino crash within my spirit.

Our Bedroom
Since moving into our home nearly 8 years ago, I've never been satisfied with our room. At first it was the paint color, then the furniture, the lighting, the windows, the narrowness/dimensions, the impossibly small closet, blah, blah, blah. Even after choosing minimalism, I never felt at peace with that space. This is probably most evident by that fact that we haven't had curtains in that room for over 6 years!

David was away the end of April, and I decided to rearrange. Or at least try. Past experience told me that I'd probably be disappointed, but I figured it was worth a shot. Allow me to insert this one aside, I am the queen of self-challenges. Over the past several months, we've been working hard to downsize our combined wardrobes to fit in our little closet and one dresser. The goal further included the storing of all our clothes meaning that nothing would need to be stored seasonally. Before David left we had downsized and nearly eliminated a dresser! While he was gone, I completed the task and managed to only store some bulky sweaters. Score!

With just one dresser, a potential room configuration that made the room look wider versus narrow became apparent. I was thrilled. Delighted. As I sat in my "new" room I suddenly realized how much I loved it. As in, over-the-moon-why-did-I-wait-so-long love. All the frustration was gone and a horizon of new possibilities lay before me.

The Nesting Place
I purchased The Nesting Place shortly after rearranging the master bedroom. It was an early Mother's Day gift to myself. I pretty much devoured it. Myquillyn writes about decorating not for perfection but from a place of imperfection and peace creating. She shares her personal story of housing dissatisfaction and coming to terms with building her nest out of what she had at hand. I'm not entirely sure what enticed me to buy the book. Yes, I have perfectionistic tendencies, but I'm learning to find balance between being a naturally tidy person and not becoming anxious when the bathtub has a scum ring.

Still, as I read her book, I felt my core relaxing. I started noticing things in our home that I could change. So giddy with the joy of our new room, I had taken to sitting in our room to read, which is where, with The Nesting Place in hand, I started to dream anew. I've wanted to repaint the walls for a couple years, but I saw the time investment, the taping, and the fear of what if I picked the wrong color (because frankly I was currently living with the wrong color)!?! With Myquillyn's words lingering in my h
ead, "It's just paint." I decided to go for it. And not only did I paint, I started shopping my home for things we already had to decorate. I completely let go of perfectionism when I had David hang our antique mirror on it's side-- even though there is a clear top and bottom. I still need to source curtains, a lamp and some bedside tables, but you know what? I LOVE IT!

I love the early sunlight streaming in next to my pillow, the birdsongs late at night, the breeze ruffling our sheets, the calmness and cleanness of our space. Our room finally has a sense of welcoming peace.

Pulling it Together
I've never considered myself a discontented person, but these last few weeks have taught me a great deal. For starters, I love our home. I love the natural light, the crispness, and the "smallness" of it. I adore the worn and weathered mezuzah on our doorposts. I love having neighbors who we can help when an emergency french braid is needed or mid-afternoon walk is required to burn energy. Yes, there are lots of things I'd like to change, but I finally don't feel as though these "imperfections" are defects to our home.

All this shiny-new-release-of-contentment has led to a rather big decision. We've decided to stop looking for a new house. Yes, all these years we've kept our eyes open. Walked through 100s of homes. Dreamed about new layouts, better configurations, etc. We've held off on projects because we don't want to overprice our house. We've watched market values rise and fall and level out all while holding our breath. Now, in seemingly a blink, we're done.

Will we one day move? Perhaps. But at this point, that's a long way off. Our little home affords us such luxury. Luxury not in square footage or even ideal layout, but in finding beauty in the imperfectness of it all. Joy in the natural wonders our home allows us to experience, like brunches with co-workers, mini college reunions, memorable family gatherings and a chance for life to grow and bloom amongst the cracks.
"People always think that happiness is a faraway thing," thought Francie, "something complicated and hard to get. Yet, what little things can make it up; a place of shelter when it rains - a cup of strong hot coffee when you're blue; for a man, a cigarette for contentment; a book to read when you're alone - just to be with someone you love. Those things make happiness."   
from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

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