The key to abundance is meeting limited circumstances with unlimited thoughts. Marianne Williamson [if !supportLineBreakNewLine]We did not build our home. We purchased it at approximately thirty years into its life. Although we did "gut “the interior and exterior of this inherited space as we fully intended to customize our house into a home, we did not alter its footprint. No walls came down, no walls went up, save for a minor adjustment to the walls and doors that housed the kitchen. When you are working with what you have before you, it sometimes forces a creative adaptation of a less-than-ideal situation. We had a dark, dated kitchen that led to a crumbling wall of windows, previously enjoyed as a sunroom. This expansive wall of windows then spilled onto a wooden, vine-covered deck, which was truly a beautiful little haven of serenity.
The kitchen was large but felt cramped in its previous identity which required it to hold both a large centre island and a kitchen table while simultaneously possessing three separate entry ways. When we reworked the kitchen layout, the new island was placed in a perpendicular position to the old one, giving it centre stage to the space and inviting you in to the adjacent dining-room. This reconfiguration of the kitchen design left a blank open space at the southwest corner of our kitchen. Neither my husband nor I fancy a table in the kitchen, so we were somewhat stumped by this new-found and awkward openness in our same-size kitchen. We did not panic, but rather, we put this "problem" onto the back-burner as we continued to work with the remainder of the space that lay before us.
We knew the sunroom would be costly to update and even if we thought we wanted to include that expense into our overall budget, we realized that it may not be the most authentic, gratifying use of this corner of the house. We contemplated tearing the sunroom down to enjoy a larger backyard space, but discovered the room was "disastrously" anchored to the house and it would create a structural nightmare and unnecessary financial burden to simply tear it down. With a little patience, a little insight, a bit of creative exploration and a little tweaking of our expectations, we eventually envisioned the sunroom as a pergola, a fabulous outdoor space. We excitedly instructed our contractor and our designer to remove all the windows; pour a new floor and reassign the tired sunroom a new purpose. Once the pergola came to life, it made aesthetic, functional and soul-gratifying sense to let the spacious, unassigned southwest corner o our kitchen be reincarnated into a glorious little sunny "Starbucks Corner" with two comfy upholstered chairs and a little corner table---a mini sunroom for enjoying morning coffee and a sun-filled good read in the afternoon.
The pergola and the Starbucks corner are my two favourite spaces to linger within, whether I am reading, writing, sipping my coffee or visiting with family and friends. In the "rough", these were unexpected, uninvited, inherited little spaces that we did not desire nor originally appreciate as offering any value to our "ideal home" concept. Had someone given us the option to affordably remove the sunroom and modify the exterior walls to contain our spacious kitchen, we would have absolutely jumped at the opportunity. As the knight in shining armour (AKA affordable contractor) never showed up to offer this rescue, we were left to use our imaginations and to re-invent these existing spaces into something that would reflect our true identities and better serve our purpose. I now consider the pergola and the Starbucks corner as the most glorious, satisfying creations that emerged as we diligently went about the business of working with what lay before us and striving to bring this space to new life as our own masterpiece, as our home.
How is our internal life any different than this house which intentionally and creatively evolved into our satisfying home? We cannot always choose our circumstances and we certainly cannot choose our genes or our cultural ancestry, but we can absolutely choose how to create ourselves, how to respond to all of life's unpredictable circumstances and crumbling, ego-shattering events. Interior design---it's not about what has come your way, but rather, how you have responded to what lays before you in a manner that has ultimately led to the most glorious, authentic, soul-satisfying expression of who you are and where and who you want to be.
Developing an Authentic Interior Design
1) Sit quietly often. It is hard to know yourself amidst the noise and clutter of the outside world. Take the time to listen to your inner wisdom speaking to you. Get to know yourself well during this quiet time. It takes a surprising amount of practice to hear your own heart's desires and to trust what you are hearing. Ask yourself many questions. Listen to the responses with an open mind and an open heart. Repeat the questions regularly to tease out consistencies in your responses and to awaken your awareness to your deepest values.
2) Once you have come to know what your true values are,, stay connected to them, whether you are nurturing a relationship, creating a professional situation for yourself, renovating a home, developing a budget, or dealing with unforeseen circumstances of any kind. Do not let the particulars of any situation lead you astray, no matter how challenging it may be to remain true to these values.
3) Reflect on the things you have control over and accept those things that you cannot change. Accept all parts of your life, the strengths and the weaknesses, the shiny and the tarnished parts, without the trappings of limitation or judgement. Remember that you are not seeking perfection within your life but rather connection and integration.
4) Follow your passions, the things that excite you. Remember what excited you as a child. It is easy to forget what excites us when we are busy being pragmatic and "sensible" dealing with the minutiae of the day.
5) Let yourself daydream. It is almost always time well-spent. Even if ideas and solutions do not arise immediately, this time spent suspended in free flowing thoughts is revitalizing and will often bring an "aha moment" when you least expect it.
6) Doodle, draw, write, play, dance, read, cook.....let your creative expression lead the way. Practicing creativity on a regular basis, without the stress and anxiety of problem solving, stimulates positive neurochemical activity in the brain and trains the brain to be more effective to creative solution finding.
7) When challenges arise, when things aren't going the way you imagined or intended, look for the hidden opportunities within the unwelcome circumstances. Every situation offers an opportunity for exploration. It is sometimes easier to find these opportunities if you imagine you are trying to convince someone else that the situation, as it presents, has desirable possibilities.
8) Bring forth a daily gratitude list, written or gently meditated upon. Listen to the honest simplicity of what you are truly grateful for in the present moment. Gratitude is a doorway towards authentic expression.