Thursday, July 3, 2008

too much information?

An image from the premier issue of Cottage Living, September/October 2004.

Warning: this is a different sort of posting, but heartfelt nonetheless.
Feeling down about my current life situation: jobless and suddenly 30, I sat down to write my complaints in my journal. After I vented a bit, I was reminded that contentment is a frame of mind. It does not necessarily have to be connected to the overall state of your life. I began to list all things that make me content. It turned out to be a really long list of moments, events, ideas, activities, foods. On this list were things about decorating: reading decor magazines, helping friends decorate, finding great decorating deals, repainting a tired old table, etc. I could have kept writing, but this list had lifted me out of my sorrow and into the moment.

It was a rainy, cool day today, so I embraced it and decided to pretend it was the start of a new fall season. Fall and the desire it ignites to turn inward, makes me thoroughly content. I got up from the table, started the kettle boiling, prepared the tea pot with my favorite Market Spice tea, lit two yummy fall smelling candles, and headed for the basement. I was in search of the oldest fall issues of my all time favorite magazine, Cottage Living.

Upstairs the tea was ready. I turned on the classical music radio station, and with mug of tea in hand, I settled into my favorite wing chair to devour these cozy and comforting old issues. Cottage Living has been my favorite since its premier issue in September of 2004. My mom had mailed it to me in Moscow, Idaho and bought me a subscription knowing I would fall in love. Thanks for that mom.

All those images of simple, lived-in, comfortable and cozy feeling homes reminded me why I love to decorate. Its not to impress friends or to be “different”. I don’t consider myself a trendsetter or style maven. I do it because it pleases me to the very core of my being. Surrounding myself with pieces I love, beautiful fabrics, warm colors, and comfy places to sit makes me content. It is my creative expression, my way of brainstorming, and ultimately, an act of love.

It startled me to realize that Cottage Living was the catapult that truly launched me into the world of decorating. As I read old articles, I was amused at my own writings in the margins, referring to how I would implement the ideas in my own apartment: “Use this paint!”, “Trunk as coffee table”, “Get larger table lamp, move current one to desk.”, and “Cover off-white pillows with large floral or stripe print in tone-on-tone whites.” These musings sparked even grander ideas of one day having my own home decor boutique. I now have over half a dozen spiral notebooks full of decorating ideas, lists of business names, notes and brainstorming sessions about owning a business.

I still have those grandiose visions of being my own boss. Not as the owner of a shop anymore, but as a budget savvy decorating and organizing consultant. In this failing economy, it seems a stretch that people will have any disposable income to spend on the seemingly frivolous act of decorating their homes. I have decided not to concede and instead would like to challenge that idea. Here’s why: in these leaner times, we are forced to be more resourceful, creative and accepting of our current surroundings. And home is the best place to focus our efforts. We are smart to be more mindful of our spending, and may either choose or be forced to be conservative: more clipping coupons for the grocery store, no more daily lattes, doing without a new summer wardrobe, driving less, not upgrading to a larger home, giving up the family vacation abroad. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy our lives, our friends and our families. Home is at the very center of all of it; it is the most important place in our little world. Like my experience today, our cozy homes nurture us, keep us safe, shape our personalities and provide a stable environment, enabling us to go about our every day lives. Our homes are our comfort zones.

Living on a tight budget offers the opportunity to appreciate what we’ve got, while challenging us to lighten up and freshen our surroundings for less money. That’s where I’m strong. I have always been a budget decorator. And now, being unemployed has left me with little money to put towards all of the decorating projects that even seemed difficult to accomplish on my old, humble salary. But somehow, I am managing to do them, and am coming up with new ideas and projects along the way.

As I end this confession, I feel better, a little more confident, more equipped to get through this “rough patch”. Something will come my way, something fabulous. My home will help me get there. Until then, I am going to go enjoy the unseasonable, but necessary comfort of warm pumpkin bread, fresh from my oven and read more back issues of Cottage Living. Plus, I'll always have my decorating vise... Thanks for listening.


Aimee Floto said...

It is so true that home is such an important place. It is where our soul lives and breathes! Thank you for reminding us that home is where our hearts prosper and where we need to focus our attentions rather than wasting our time on the negativity that the media brings us everyday about the economy. How about talking how great everything that we already have - tangible and intangible - is!!!!

Kerry said...

Your blog makes me want to sell our house in Portland and buy in Port Angeles, something we've been considering.

Anyway, got any advice on replacing horrible beige carpeting with wood? I don't even know where to begin...

Betsy said...

Kerry, thanks for reading! I will do a little research for your flooring issues, and post about it later this week! Thinking of Port Angeles? Its a little outside of my local comfort zone, but I have visited... you should do it!

EdgyK said...

Betsy, Thanks so much. The reason I started reading your blog is because you seemed to have a natural talent for making things beautiful, comfortable, and organized. Like "HOME." I realized enjoyed your attitude in this post. My kids are home for the summer and our home is the center of everything we do and my favorite place to be.

Betsy said...

Thanks for the support! I am so glad that you and your family are so happy in your home!