Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Room of Belonging

My New Year’s reading trifecta is Sarah Breathnach’s Simple Abundance and Moving On as well as Your Money or Your Life by Dominguez and Robin. They all speak to building what Oprah has been peddling as “Your Best Life Ever.” I did not know Oprah was doing this until I’d already made my reading selections, but I applaud her thought even if I believe that she sometimes slips into the Morrie Povich School of Talk Shows. I digress.

In Simple Abundance Breathnach says, “For years I have suspected that in happy and fulfilled lives domesticity and spirituality are invisibly but inexorably connected—one golden thread, one silver filament—which, when woven together, create a tapestry of contentment.” In other words, an environment in which chaos have been overcome.

I am not so ambitious as to be attempting to do all I do as a mother, grandmother, wife, daughter, and employee and completely revamp my house. I’m starting small in the creation of what Breathnach refers to in Moving On as the “House of Belonging.” I’m starting with a “Bedroom of Belonging.” I’m hoping once that is organized I can recharge and sneak out the door to the rest of the house. For that I will need the cooperation of a family of five others.

For 18 years our bedroom has been part college, part garage sale, part your life-my life. We are thrifty by nature and necessity and good at making do. In this economic time I do not propose to dash off to the furniture store nor call in a contractor, but what I’m doing is ceasing to make me and the place I spend quality time last on my list of things to do.

Because we have always had one foot out the door of this house with the intention of retiring to Ilwaco, we tend to not think as much about the place we spend the most time as we do about our old Victorian at the coast. Because of the economy and our commitment to family we will probably be right here in Pierce County for at least another three years. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s lots of days to settle into what I consider the best part of it, snuggling into our bedroom. My husband has his den where he putters with his computer and stereo, but the bedroom is mine where I write, read and recharge.

I am blessed with the dearest of friends whom I ought to hate because she is everything I am not and the wind beneath my wings. She’s smart, organized, and possesses a sense of style that is remarkable. I’ve oft told her that was she to be forced to live in a tent; she’d soon have it looking as glorious as anything Rudy Valle had in the Sheik.

When we were little her Barbie’s house was always emasculate whereas my Barbie was lucky to have clothes on! Not only was everything in Gail’s room in apple pie order, the inside of her drawers were organized with things lined up like soldiers on parade. It was impressive, but it took fifty years for the bug to begin to bite me.

Our family is artistic by nature and consequently focused on the creation not the environment, but I have noticed that eliminating chaos becomes more and more important to me the older I get. Maybe that is because I am so likely to forget what I’ve done with things!

Going to visit Gail and staying in her home always refreshes my spirit as well as my body. Certainly it has a lot to do with our ability to finish each other’s sentences and a shared history of more than fifty years, but it also has to do with the fact that she has created, has always created, a “House of Belonging” that is beautiful to the eye and soothing to the spirit with chaos nowhere in sight and done it all with finds from Goodwill and thrift stores. Admittedly it is easier for her to maintain that calm as she hasn’t an artist son, a Special Needs daughter, a sweet but disorganized daughter-in-law, and a four-year-old grandson who fancies himself an artist, too, to contend with. I’ve left out my Virgo husband whom we are lucky tolerates the rest of us. But I believe that I can tame the wild beast of our bedroom without breaking the bank.

No, I’m not rushing out and hiring an interior decorator for my bedroom, but we’ve splurged on a new bookcase (books are the drug of choice for both my husband and me) and taken away the plywood thing cobbled together by a husband who thinks function is much more important than form.

Creating a house or a room of “Belonging” is work, but it is joyous work.

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