Saturday, February 8, 2014

How To Fall In Love Again (With Your House)

This Friday is a very special holiday, Valentine's Day, created for the purpose of celebrating romantic love and wherever an individual may be on their journey with their significant other.

With this in mind, and because it's a topic of special interest to me right now, I wanted to do a post on rekindling  love in a different relationship: between you and your home.

As I was outlining this post, I found myself quite amused at how much of the language I was using was the same as if I were writing a post about how to rekindle one's feelings in a romantic relationship.  Really, many of the rules are the same or similar enough to be used in both situations.

So what are some of the reasons why a person might find themselves falling out of love with their house, or at least stuck in a stagnant spot in their relationship?

I can think of a few...

1. We're going through a rough patch.  Sometimes every home will surprise you, and it's not always in a good way.  Hidden leaks, surprise expenses, rodent or insect damage, broken systems or appliances...the list could go on and on, it ain't pretty, and often times when it rains it pours.   

2.  The "Pinterest Effect."  I'm sure anyone who has spent any time on Pinterest is familiar with this one.  And I find it's an especially dangerous possibility to those of us who prefer Domythic decorating.  Many of us mythically minded folks are not only swayed by a meticulously decorated room in antiques or farmyard accoutrements, but even more so the elaborate and one-of-a-kind items, like a sculpted tree bannister, a hand-forged gothic mirror, a chandelier that casts shadows on the wall that look like a forest (yes, I think all of us have seen and want that one!!)  When we spend too much time on Pinterest looking at all of these incredible items, sometimes we can break away to look at our house and see our attempts at magical decor with a soured opinion.

3. The Five Year Itch.  I've heard it said before that marriages and relationships are at their happiest in the first five years, and then after that it's common to have a period of distraction or unhappiness.  Whether or not you've found this to be true, (side note: I sure haven't) perhaps it can also happen with our homes, where familiarity can breed discontent for no real reason besides just feeling restless.  


So what are the solutions to these predicaments of falling out of love and into discontent with your home?  Well, once again like the language used when describing romantic relationships, each will be a different journey.  But here are a few ideas I've thought of to try that might help.

1. Find old posts/messages about your home.  In this digital age, likelihood is when you decided to move into your home you left a message trail.  Go back in time and try to find some information from when you first discovered your home.  For me this was a post I did to my LiveJournal account in 2010, talking about how smitten I was with this new home on the market we'd already named Catty-Corner Cottage.  You might not have a whole blog to look back at, but I'm betting you probably sent an email or a message to someone talking about how excited you were for this new home.  Even if not, just close your eyes and try to put yourself back into that moment.  Remember when it was all new and exciting, full of possibilities?

2. Think of all the ways your home has been there for you.  Yes, perhaps you're going through a rough patch at the moment, but think of all the times your home has been there for you...the nights you've curled up under a blanket with the smell of a candle burning as you read your books, a gentle spring rain that fell on your garden just when you needed that extra burst of growth, the stove that helped you bake that perfect cherry pie for your husband's birthday.  Truly there's so much for which to be thankful.

3. Reminisce about your home in other seasons.  This one is somewhat related.  If, like me, one of the sources of your discontent is just that you're going a little stir-crazy being shut up in your home for winter, it can help to remember what your home is like in other seasons too.  Remember how good that cold wood floor felt under your feet in summer time, how exciting it was last spring to see the small buds and shoots of your garden peek up through the ground.  Remember raking up all of those crunchy autumn leaves, sipping hot cider.

4. Get away for a little while.  It can take as little as a few hours or a single night away from your home to see it with new eyes when you return.  I'll find corners I forgot to clean, and funky smells I didn't notice, but I'll also get a reminder of how pretty certain rooms look.

5. Remember...Pinterest shows every option.  Remember when you were a little girl or boy and you decided every week you wanted to be something different when you grew up?  You were going to be a rock star astronaut veterinarian fashion designer, and no one would tell you different.  But as you got older, you understood that although it's good to have dreams, it's also important to remember that you're only one person, and you can't put too much pressure on yourself to do and accomplish absolutely everything that comes into your mind.

Pinterest triggers that little child tendency again.  We create gorgeous boards called "Someday" and "My dream home" that couldn't possibly exist in the real world.  You can't simultaneously live in a caravan, mansion, cottage and Hobbit hole.  And any one house that included every piece of stained glass, tree sculpture, gothic carvings, etc. etc that you may pin would be...well it would be amazing, wouldn't it?  But it would also be overkill, and often an eclectic mess.  Your senses would be constantly overloaded. 

The process of decorating one's home is by its very nature the antithesis of Pinterest.  Instead of choosing five lamps for that corner, one to represent each side of your personality, you are forced to choose one.  And frankly I think that makes each of our homes, and the narrowing down of what items we choose to display and decorate it with, even more special than any Pinterest board could ever be.

Remember...eating every flavor of ice cream eventually makes you sick.  Choose your favorite and eat it mindfully.  And then walk around your house and see each favorite you chose.  Remember the stories behind each item...the strange iron doorstop you found at a flea market, the candle you were so excited to see on clearance at Target, the portrait a friend from Australia drew and sent to you as a total surprise.  Remember how exciting it was when those items were new.  And feel that excitement all over again.  See what a wonderful story your home tells about you.  And don't scoff at that story or reject it for a bunch of disjointed narratives, just because they're pretty.

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