Room to Live

Some of the living-rooms we see have really no right to the name; they are so unattractive they outght, instead, to be called existing rooms. I like to think of the word 'living-rooms' being short for joy-of-living rooms. That is what they ought to be - full of life and happiness and beauty.

    Lucy Abbot Throop

Last week I went over to a friend's house for lunch and when I walked into her foyer and glanced at her living room, I was taken aback with surprise and delight. It had been about six months since I'd last visited, and the entire room had been transformed. Everything looked so pulled together. I immediately told her how fabulous the room looked and felt. After a closer look, I realized that she hadn't redecorated; she had just added decorative details that made the room come alive: moving some paintings around, changing the mantel, and dressing up her couches with striking new tapestry pillows that highlighted the subtil colors of her upholstry. What's more, she revealed that she'd found the pillows on sale and that the entire freshening up was accomplished for under $50.

The end result was that her living room - which had always been elegant, beautiful, and quiet - now possessed pizzazz. The room was cozy without being cluttered; it was visually charming and comfortable. It was so inviting I didn't want to leave. Every corner beckoned my attention: her cherished family photos, her stack of well-loved books, her simply stunning arrangement of white hydrangeas picked that morning from her garden, and her artful collection of porcelain eggs displayed on tiny mirror-topped side table.

But there was something more at work here. I was intgrigued, so I gently kept probing. "Well, the room is certainly lived in," she confessed with a laugh, admitting that she now spent more time here than before. Her creative energyu was palpable, her authentic flair was visible, and her new enthusiasms, including her second book which she was just beginning to write, were evident. Her living room perfectly expressed her joy of living. It always inspires me to see Simple Abundance at work.

For a lot of us the thought of decorating, like almost everything else in our lives, seems overwhelming. In our minds we don't just tackle one corner of a room until it pleases us, but try to revamp an entire house in a day. The prospect is so exhausting we don't even start. Instead of thinking of decorating as one more burde to deal with, we need to lighten up - to view it as a countinuing source of personal expression and contentment. Ther are no prizes being awarded here, just finding what brings you pleasure.

When searching for ways to make your living room come alive, first consider its many functions in yoru family's daily round. Now, if your home is large enough for a family space that's separate from your living room, I think at this moment you should stop and give thanks. Many women would call you blessed. the biggest stumbling block for me when I began to bring more order into the daily fabric of our lives - and I began in the living room - was acceptance, even though I knew this was the crucial first step. I'm embarassed to admit how much time, energy, and emotion (precious natural resources) I squandered hating the fact that our house wasn't more spacious. But hating my house only bound me psychologically and blinded me creatively to its many positive qualities. An ancient metaphysical law says that we can never leave any situation that causes us discomfort until we learn to love it or at least to see love at work in it. I had many lessons to learn about order. Now I know in my heart that my small house is the perfect teacher. What good would a larger house do me if I couldn't keep a small one tidy?

"A beautiful home is an education in itself, but it is not made in a day; it must slowly grow," Lucy Abbot Throop, who wrote on decorating in the early decades of [the 20th] century, reassured her readers in 1910. Today, look for the lessons your home is waiting to teach you through love. Begin with your living room. Make it as cozy, charming, and comfortable as you can withy the resources you now have, and it will become a joy to live in.

Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance - A Daybook of Comfort and Joy ©1995

If one could only learn to appreciate the little things...
A song that takes you away, for there are those who cannot hear.
The beauty of a sunset, for there are those who cannot see.
The warmth and safety of your home, for there are those who are homeless.
Time spent with good friends for there are those who are lonely.
A walk along the beach for there are those who cannot walk.
The little things are what life is all about.
Search your soul and learn to appreciate.

    Shadi Souferian

Daily life can range from ecstatic to something less than traumatic. It covers all territories in between. Every man, woman, or child will encounter problems, and annoyances, disappointments and pain. No one is given the privilege of not feeling - this in itself would be a major upset. Not to feel is in essence - not to be alive.

Everything life is - all of the components of daily living - join together to form a web that encompasses every living being. No one is immune and yet, this system has survived generations upon generations.

When life proves to be less than perfect many will turn to placing blame, or passing the buck to someone else. In turn, this kind of action will cause hurt or problems for a person who could have had absolutely nothing to do with our "bad" day. They were just there - kind of in the way - when we were seeking reprieve or solace from daily strife. There is a much better way to handle whatever your day will bring - try it - you will be very pleasantly surprised and energized to face whatever tomorrow will have in store for you.

This is not a magic pill or a wave of a wand - it is allowing yourself to quietly build a fortress in your heart that you can go to to renew strength and find solace. The gift of nature allows each of us a cooling breeze when problems cause arid deserts in our goals, and relentless storms in our under-takings and ventures. Turning to nature whether in reality or in our heart will guide us through those potentially devastating pitfalls we will have to endure - just because! Here's how it works:

Whenever the pressure of the day or the thunder of hope fading away enters our private world, go down a path toward a cottage in the woods. Just picture it - you're tired, defeated and your steps are very heavy. But there sits a cottage in your mind's eye that has that glow of welcome surrounding it. Your heart is the doorway and inside you are always welcome. But the trip itself to get there is what alleviates the stress and tension. The path is lined with tall, strong pines that give renewed strength to your sagging will. They are proud and stately and have learned to bend just enough with the wind so as not to break. They sway with the breeze but do not give in. Many times their needles will be broken off but new growth comes. There is a very special "flow" that nature has or "rhythm" that insures continuity and lays the ground-work for the future.

The ground is soft with the aroma of warm earth. It is very distinctive and reassuring. Earth is very basic and gives life to the majestic trees as well as the velvety flowers that grow in places that you least expect.Their colors are a palette of tints that change with the seasons and melt into each other. They are smooth and soft or brazen and rich. They are sprinkled in crevices and corners that seem remote and impenetrable. These tiny plants soak up the warmth of the sun, and welcome the gentle raindrops. If strong winds and storms arrive, their petals may drop but then they line the ground with beauty under everyone's feet. They are aromatic and every breathe allows their sweet scents to ease the mind and bring relief to stumbling steps

The radiant blue sky above serves as a canopy of light and shadow that lets imagination run free. The warming sun keeps thoughts at bay while a heavy heart finds ways to repair and renew itself. There in the fallen leaves that create a soft, warm bed is a tiny, newborn fawn. Its large gentle eyes take in the entire world, yet are unsure and take note of every movement. The ears are standing to insure that not one sound is undetected, but it filters most sounds to listen patiently for the return of its mother. Confidence is in its tiny heart, and strength is growing in its long legs. It remains silent but not sleepy. You have the privilege of seeing this new life, but you have provided a lesson in its ever-expanding search for answers. There's a clear lake to the right that reflects the color of the sky and adds a touch of white with each breeze. A family of geese glide cautiously by with their soft, fuzzy goslings. A regal white swan and her new brood swim quietly in the cool water knowing that tomorrow is just over the horizon and a little past the sunset.

Just ahead is the cottage that you have been building since your birth. It is peaceful, serene and so inviting. The door is open and you need not knock. It is furnished with dreams and it glitters with hope. Goals line the walls and spirit brightens each corner. You can rest here until you are ready. Unburden your heart - and place the bundles of hurt or disappointment in the closet. They will be tended to when the time is right but they will not become a part of the cottage

Once your strength has returned you may return to your own reality. Before leaving, drink freely of the warm broth of ideas and taste the morsels of endurance. Then reach into the closet for your bundles - but to your delight, they have become the size they should be - if indeed, they have not totally disappeared.

The trip to this magical place can take just a few moments in a busy day or a while longer at the end of a day. Whenever and for whatever time it takes to visit - you will be glad you did.


-Joyfully contributed by Arleen M. Kaptur, author of the novel Searching for Austin James and a number of ebooks, creator of several interesting stops on the internet, including Arleen's Site, Arleen's Rustic Living, and The Rustic Living Newsletter. Please contact the author for more information.



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