Before we get to planning for home, we’ll recap. We’ve agreed to overcome our heritage and live in the light and loveliness and magnificent splendour of the pursuit of excellence. We’re calling it Project Worthwhile Life, and starting with a 12-month programme to develop some virtues. In this instance, the virtue of beauty: the pursuit of excellence in aesthetics, and we’ll be working on the areas shown below:
I take care of my physical well-being and surroundings.I live the authentic me.
|body||Taking care of my body: diet, exercise, taking my medicines|
|presence||Developing a “look” or style that indicates who I am, e.g. tiger stripes telling people to tread carefully!|
|home||Creating a comfortable, happy, cheerful, welcoming and calm home that reflects who we are right now|
|garden||Constructing a lush garden for summer shade, winter storm protection, food production and mystical defence|
We’ve set some goals for the body, and presence, and today we’ll be looking at the home.
In our household discussion, I said I wanted a happy home that was small and comfortable. I went so far as to say it would NOT be full of relics from bygone times, and might even be Spartan. And I have just this moment noticed that I have the same photo on display in the same room in two different frames…
Similar to my post-transplant wardrobe situation, I found that my house was full of stuff from previous lives. I would find myself looking at paintings and knickknacks wondering where they came from and what on earth possessed me to purchase them. I found that many of the objects I owned just didn’t fit who I thought I was anymore. But on further reflection, that makes perfect sense – I have been at least three entirely different people in my life:
- the pre-dialysis well one that didn’t now they were sick
- the sick one with limited options on dialysis
- the post-transplant really well one
And it makes perfect sense to me that each of those people had different thoughts and opinions about what levels of household comforts they need:
- footloose, travelling and having fun
- surviving, wanting a soft, comfortable bolthole
- wanting to live deeply in a home that is vibrant and alive
I have already mentioned the idea that we hide our authentic selves, but I also think they leak out when we are not looking. One of the ways they do that is in our homes. This is easily seen in the paintings featured above:
- emu man dances happily because he’s found a pool of water: it’s an Aboriginal painting that appealed to me because it is about finding a sense of place
- I don’t know the name of this painting, but it appealed to me for the soft colours and the mountain vista. It makes the cows insignificant; the world is a much bigger place than them (me). It reminded me not to get too wrapped up in myself and the decline of my health, and to focus on other things outside of me
- I don’t know the name of this one either, but it has two brightly dressed central characters travelling full steam ahead. Seemingly smooth sailing with no real obstacles – I wish!
Are you wondering where I am going with this?
So often we present ourselves as capable and organised individuals who get things done, but when we get back to our messy, cluttered homes, we feel the truth even when we just can’t see it anymore. You know that feeling when you open the door to your guests and realise that you are still living in a pigsty despite having spent the day cleaning? (Or is that just me again?) Our homes do not support us; they merely reflect our internal chaos back to us.
This was made plain when I started trying to bring some order to my photograph collection (my hope is to create annual volumes of photos and other significant items). So many wonderful, happy, spontaneous moments captured on film, only now I can see the tables full of empty glasses and full ashtrays, or piles of washing and other clutter in the background. That’s not how I want future generations to see me.
And just as I started work on my presence, I have started work on my home. Partly inspired by Joshua Becker  wondering why he staged his home for selling but not living, and partly by noticing things that just don’t work for me anymore I have:
- compiled a list of “unfinished business” and started work on finishing it e.g. overdue maintenance, abandoned projects and postponed purchases
- started finding homes for things and actually putting them away
- started reviewing (to keep or discard) my photos, books, CD and DVD collections
- continued discarding objects that don’t make sense anymore (decluttering)
- resolved to really clean my house (not just the surface) regularly
- decided to remodel my bathroom as a luxurious spa! (I’d like to do my kitchen too but one thing at a time eh?)
It’s very slow going, and I don’t think this will be finished quickly. While it does get easier to discard things, I can only manage the memories and feelings that come up for so long… So, the home goal is to pare my belongings down to the most beautiful and practical (and easy to maintain) essentials, and because I don’t live in a home renovation reality show, redecorate our home bit by bit to reflect our authentic selves. The highest priority for the next 12 months – the bathroom! Or maybe new couches – I’ve been watching a leather suite for a couple of years.
What are your thoughts on that? How many versions of you do you share your space with? Do you find it easy to let go of things? Or do they hang around long after their usefulness has ended?
Next time, we’ll look at beauty in the garden.
 Becker, J. (2013) How to Stage Your Home for Living