Tuesday, February 2, 2010
We recently had our 3 month-versary and celebrated with a delicious fondue meal. We LOVE using this fondue pot we got as a wedding gift. And in the background are our wedding "unity candles", which were actually candle holders I got from Norway and Sweden at other stages of life. I love the levels of meaning they now have and how they function as a part of our daily landscape. Just looking at them brings me warm memories.
Alexandra Stoddard talks about this kind of impact of sentimental objects in day-to-day life (and a gazillion other things) in her book Feeling at Home. When I started reading this book, I didn't know if I would like it, but I am actually really enjoying it and have been challenged to think about how I want to live in our home. Don't bother with this book if you want to learn how to paint faux-marble and arrange furniture. This is a book to challenge you to think about the core ideas of how you want to live and feel in your home. She talks a lot about how your home should be a place where you feel at ease and comfortable in every room, and how the set-up of your home should reflect your core values, passions, and actual needs (ie. not everyone uses a formal dining room and nobody says you have to have one). I guess everyone knows you should feel "at home" in your home, but up until now I have just decorated and set up my apartments with "things I like" and not thought beyond that. Which turns out to have been an okay approach because I have felt pretty at home in the places I have lived, but I have come to realize that not all of my choices reflect the life I aspire to lead now and how I truly want to feel in my home.
Stoddard is all about figuring out ways to make mundane things (even "chores") as pleasurable and convenient as possible. That sounds good to me because I know for a fact that my current set-up often does not facilitate doing things with ease. I'll give two examples of SIMPLE changes I made, inspired by the ideas of this book. I enjoy writing letters but rarely do it because I have to find my cards, pens, stamps, etc, and then take it all to wherever I am writing the letter, and it was just so much of a hassle. But after reading this book, I put together a basket with some cards, stationary, and pens in a corner right beside a comfortable chair in the living room. And since it is convenient, I know I will be much more likely to write more letters. Another small change: yesterday we bought three more pair of scissors so that we will have a pair in every room. This is an idea from the book that I grabbed on to because S is often frustrated when he realizes that I (yet again) took the "kitchen scissors" to the living room to do some random craft project and left them there. So now, we always have scissors close at hand in every room for when we need them. Such small, simple things that will have a daily impact.
So my easy bedtime reading has turned into an evaluation of how I want to live at home. Though it has simple ideas like scissors in every room, the book also asks big questions about what is most important to you in life and how can you reflect that in your home. It's really wonderful to be able to think along these lines at this new stage of married life...to think more deeply about how we each want live in our home and what is important to each of us, in both the big ideals and small details. This book has helped me see that desires and dreams can be facilitated through concrete, often simple, choices. And I continue to find it surprising how this year's theatre project and my macro-level exploration of the themes of the concept of being "at home," cultural belonging, and identity in Québec have filtered down to the most micro-levels of my life.