Designing woman

I’ve been ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’–ing it. Without conscious plotting, shortly after my world crumbled around me, I began to transform my space. It started innocently enough: I left my job where I was miserable, under some pretty sketchy, awful circumstances, and I finally ordered the area rug I’d been coveting for literal years, a new coffee table and a new bed frame – you know, as a symbol of my severance from the life I’d known for so long.  

When I returned after a couple of weeks at home for my dad’s…death, I won’t lie – I was disoriented, I felt unmoored. I hadn’t had a chance to even begin to process the fact that I was, for the first time since I was a ten-year-old, without a job. Never mind the weight of all the reasons that led to my resignation, I was now faced with processing the bigger life milestone of losing a parent.

It’s a lot, guys.  

Before I knew it, I was sorting, taking inventory, reorganizing, purging, cleaning, and redecorating every square inch of my apartment. After the celebratory rug, table, and bed frame arrived and assembled, I became obsessed with getting a bar cart for my dining room to display all my cool, retro glassware. I mean, what is the point of having it if people (and me) can’t enjoy it?

It arrived, and after about three hours of screwing, occasional forceful wedging, and deciphering cryptic instructions later, I had assembled the coolest, most perfect-for-me bar cart. And then I was off.

I must tell you that at this point, I sought the help of a friend. Organizing and purging are not my forte. I mean, I think I have a good sense of style, but the actual details of what it takes to implement said style escape me. And I tend to hang on to things. Not like hoarder level hanging-onto-things, but let’s just say I tend to surround myself with…stuff. So, I called in a friend for whom this (organizing/purging/etc.) is a passion (and impressive skill!), and together, over the course of three solid days of work, we transformed my home into something I think I’d always fantasized it could be.

It was intense. Thank Beyonce my friend was firm but kind with me – I had to honestly face some hard truths about the things I had surrounded myself with for years, and in some cases, decades. She lovingly pushed me to really think about my everyday day-to-day existence and the objects and implements required to make that life a reality. Most importantly, she challenged me to consider that which truly brings me joy and peace.

The kitchen was the most difficult. I haven’t quite figured out why, to be honest, but it was a huge challenge for me. Granted, I had way too much stuff. In fact, I would venture to say much of it was crap. I had to confront myself as to why I was holding on to certain objects, and then evaluate, in a very pragmatic way, what purpose it may serve in my life.

For instance, I had in my possession, at least 13 wine openers. Why does a person need more than one or two wine openers, let alone a baker’s dozen? I had shelves spilling over with odds and ends, rubber bands all over the place (for some reason), old flyers, pens, paperclips, random notes and passwords I’d jotted on post-its. I had recipes scribbled on loose paper, just lodged in between various mail, some of which was important, and there were broken pots and ratty tea towels.

It wasn’t filthy, rather just kind of chaotic once I was able to open my eyes to see what was really there. You know the phrase “nose blind”? When your surroundings smell a certain way, but you’ve lived with it for so long that you don’t notice it anymore? Well, that’s what my kitchen felt like. Except instead of nose blindness, it was actual blindness. The excess of useless, space-sucking stuff was simply not visible to me up to that point. Not until I began this process, and certainly not until my friend pointed it out to me, could I start to see the stuff (literal and metaphorical) that I’d been dragging around with me for years. That’s what it takes sometimes – someone to shake you awake and force you to open your eyes to what’s right in front of you.

So, without planning it, I stumbled into a full-on overhaul of my home in the aftermath of some pretty significant life events. And it has turned out to be the catharsis I really needed. I feel like I’ve said this before, but I can actually feel my life moving. Something is happening. I believe this is the beginning of something great for me. Hell, I think I’ve started a whole new book.

To me, the parallel is obvious: I am disrupting, dissecting, and dismantling my living space to redesign it for the new me. And just as I am redesigning aspects of my life and my future, it is of course reflected in my physical surroundings.

So, the moral of my story is: redesign something in your life, and something good will follow! It could be the bathroom shelves, your closet or your entire home, but trust me, the catharsis it brings will help navigate you through whatever needs to be redesigned in your life, be it a coat of paint or a complete gut job.

Just go with it. You will find the answers. And maybe that pair of glasses you lost months ago.

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