Recently I was talking with my aunt on the phone and she said she would love to see some pictures of my little house...this post is for you, Auntie...
Ten months ago I bought a tiny brick mid-century ranch (848 sf) in which I planned to camp out and find self-renewal. I say "camp out" because it's not quite the type of house I would've purchased in the past to live in. I guess you could say I've lowered my standards in the space I need, the decor I accept, and the amenities I feel I need. Years ago I would have required that something be super-deep-cleaned, painted from head to toe, fairly modern and updated, and a bit coiffed in a certain way for her majesty to move in. But in recent years, as I've grown older and realized what I really need is a quiet space that nurtures my soul, I have also realized that some things I used to regard as a necessity are no longer a necessity. So I bought what I could afford, but I did have a few requirements to check off my list: 1) Did I say affordable? 2) Safety and location (go together), 3) Move-in ready (i.e., working plumbing, working HVAC, decent roof with no leaks), 4) Something with potential in case I later want to do some upgrades, which is (if you know me well) what I do. So I gathered up the necessities I need for daily living, hired some movers, and moved right on in. I spent the first night in peaceful bliss as I made up a twin mattress on the floor, praying there was not a resident mouse family nearby who would like to get better acquainted.
In the last ten months, this little house has been a haven of rest for me. It's provided me with shelter, quietness, solitude, and solace. In many ways, it's been sacred to me...a sacred place set apart for renewal, healing, finding direction, and a place where I could feel God's presence again in my life. I cannot put a price tag on the progress that has been made in my physical and mental health as I've lived here, single-handedly taking on the world for really the first time in my life. I can't deny that there were some scary moments, some uncertain days, and at least a million tears that flowed out of my broken heart. But as I've healed and nurtured myself, I've reached far into my soul to look for the person I am meant to be and with whom I had lost touch in the last two decades of my life. It's been good to get to know me again...what inspires me, what brings me health and wellbeing, what produces joy and hope and contentment in my heart, and to recognize those things that are unhealthy for me, and be able to say "not anymore" to those. Because, unlike my opinion of myself in recent years, I now know that I am a person worthy of love and joy and respect, and I do have the ability to make my own happiness. I don't blame anyone for the sad state that I had become other than myself, because it's been way too long that I've allowed myself to forget what I really want in life. I will be forever grateful for this time I've had to heal and move forward in so many positive ways.
So back to this little house.
I started in right away making it mine, as I edited furniture and belongings...some of which I'd carted around for years as I moved from house to house to house, never really feeling that I had a place where I belonged or where I lived long enough to really make it my own. I had had stuff in storage for so long, I'd forgotten what I had and re-bought some of it. Such a sad waste of money :(. But let me tell you, if you've never really edited your "stuff," keeping only those things which provide usefulness or that you find really beautiful and life-giving, it is freeing! I have never felt so free as I do in this little house with just what I need, but no longer surrounded with stuff that I'm hanging onto for all the wrong reasons.
I didn't get to paint before moving in (and still haven't), so what did I do? I scrubbed and cleaned and hung pictures over unsightly places on the walls. I covered the bad spots on the wooden floors with adorable rugs. I prepared food in the dated kitchen on a stove that has seen better days and bathed in the shower that has also seen better days. But I'm clean, fed, cooled and heated, and as content as a little baby swaddled in her blanket. I have found true peace in this little place. I'll never forget my precious mother-in-law and her philosophy she held many years ago. She would not hang a picture on the wall until the walls were properly painted; she would not paint until the floors were re-done. She had an order in which she thought things should be done and she wouldn't budge. But do you know what I think? I think life is too short to be so rigid. Sometimes we have to accept "good enough," break out of our "I can only do it this way" mold, and just live life! My sweet mother-in-law passed away before she hung one picture on her walls in the last house where she lived, and that is something I was just not willing to do. Pictures of family make me happy! Favorite artwork gives me joy and inspiration! I want to enjoy them now before I die, don't you?
I am solid proof that you can take what you can afford, make it your own, and overcome less-than-favorite wallpaper, imperfect walls and floors, a slightly crumbling driveway...and feel like it's heaven on earth... You just take what you have, put with it what you can afford and makes you happy, a little hard work and, voila, before you know it you're living the good life. Here are a few pictures to show you what I've done with this heaven-sent place...
But mostly they're for Aunt Martha.
"Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some."
- Charles Dickens
Posted by CC
I love to write; you love to read...let's share!