Well, I finally took down my Christmas Tree, and a small part of me was glad to see the house back to normal. For most people, normal means a house without a Tree is less cluttered, but for me, it means several hours of rearranging and hanging pictures, just to end up with a home that is once again filled up with stuff. I like to say that it has personality, which is kinder than having to explain why I accumulate lots of random bits and pieces.
It’s not that I don’t like minimal spaces, I do, but they just seem to work better in other people’s houses. It is lovely to help someone sift through what they have, change the way they see their home, and discover a wealth of space that they didn’t know they had. I completely understand; I will happily sort through the knick-knacks, control the growth of family portraits, and create beautiful, wide open living spaces. Just not in my own home.
No matter how much I organize what I have, I am constantly drawn to the details that make up my life; the tiny glass ladybug that a friend gave me years ago, some seaweed from a recent walk along the beach, and a piece of ribbon that someone once tied fondly around my hair. All are precious, because they remind me of people and places that I love.
I don’t know why, but I often have a need to see and touch these things, as if I worry that my mind is never quite enough. I am fascinated by words, images, and the way in which the world is composed. A jam jar of pencils will have my mind wandering into a pile of curiosity; why is each yellow so different, is it one person who thinks up the names of the colors or an entire team (and how long does it take?), should my pencils be facing up or down, what pencil should I sharpen so that I can make a cape for my Matador, am I too old to have colored pencils on my desk, and why can I never sharpen the green one to a nice point without it breaking?
At this point, you may be thinking that this is all a little crazy, but it is actually a wonderful contradiction; wanting to see and appreciate what is there, but often needing order and function in order for it to be successful. How we decide to combine life into our design is entirely up to us. The trick is in finding what works, what we need to make us happy, and unashamedly accepting that part of who we are.
Of course, I am not suggesting that filling your home with a lifetime collection of seaweed, ribbon and pencils is perhaps the best idea, but surrounding yourself with what you are truly comfortable with is always a good place to start. If seeing too many bits and pieces scattered around makes you feel untidy and claustrophobic, then please don’t do it; enjoy the calm quiet of your home, organize what you have, and have fun storing it in drawers, cupboards and boxes. (Be secretly glad that I will always envy your restraint, and that you weren’t the one who packed the stinky seaweed inside your new pair of shoes).
But, if you are like me, and need to see the colored pencils, the seaweed and the ribbon, accept the clutter, smile at the memories, and let them be your decoration; pop them in a jam jar, sit it on your windowsill, and watch it puddle into a favorite bowl….
Photograph borrowed from the talented and funny Marta Altes
For more by Wendy and the Blue Giraffe, go to: http://www.thebluegiraffe.com/