The takedown of the Christmas decorations brings about a serious sadness in our house.
Where there once was light and bright, there is now dust and drab. However, instead of getting stuck in a state of depression this year, I decided to invite the girls to help re-do our bookshelves. I hoped it might bring a bit of excitement, change, and a possible trip to Homesense or Hobby Lobby if I played my cards right. While Mattie was the only taker, truth be told- letting go of the control and watching her artistically place things here and there with a smile, brought some much-needed joy my heart was yearning.
I have been asked many times over the years about staging and styling a home, and while observing Mattie at work, I pondered the possibility that styling a bookshelf might be somehow connected to working on our hearts. I started making a list ( I love lists…) and before I knew it- my t-chart revealed something: they ARE related! And with a little of this and a little of that, all stitched together, one might achieve the ultimate goal- Balance in BOTH!
So, here we go. My attempt to prove that bookshelves and hearts might just be able to use the same “fixer uppers.”
1) Surround yourself with those you love.
In your home: Have those funny, sweet, cherished memories in frames and right on the shelf for you to see and remember. Baby pictures, trips, gatherings, heartfelt notes and sketches- all that you hold dear. They are the pages of your story, and what has made your life worth living!
In your heart: We have many circles of people in our lives. My dear friend, Jonelle, referred to those closest to us as “kitchen friends.” Those are the folks you can invite to your inner most part of your home and heart where the mess is very much ever-present. It’s so important to have such people in your life. Your spouse, your family, a neighbor, even friends from high school or church. Keep them close and try to put in the time. These relationships are going to need more effort, but they are in your life as a gift, so truly treasure them.
2) Reflect the light.
In your home: Since Christmas lights are all put away, (sniff, sniff) try adding a few extra candles, lanterns and mirrors on your shelves. The flickering lights can warm us and give off a sense of coziness we crave. Pair with a gorgeous little mirror and you’ll send that beautiful light dancing across the room, all year ’round!
In your heart: “In the darkest days of the year, the light of a candle is a striking and powerful symbol of hope and good things to come. Light and darkness cannot exist in the same place at the same time, making the moment that light pierces the darkness both stirring and breathtaking. Every light in a dark place can dispel despair, illuminate hope and provide needed perspective of things as they really are.” – excerpt from https://www.deseret.com/opinion/2019/12/22/21029929/opinion-the-lights-of-christmas-bring-hope-to-a-darkened-world-george-bush
In a world full of heads down, be the reason someone looks up. Throw kindness like it’s confetti! Hold a door, smile more, surprise a stranger with a compliment, look someone you know straight in the eyes-and tell them that they are doing a good job. You’ll be amazed to see how it can warm a hungry, hurting soul.
3) Stay motivated and encouraged.
In your home: My husband and sister have a running joke that my house is a library- on the premise that there are things to read EVERYWHERE. This is 100% true. I even have coffee mugs that say “coffee”, just in case you forgot what you’re drinking. One night, my husband started sweetly saying things to me out of the blue about love and family- and I thought after 15 years of marriage he was finally speaking my love language. But when I focused on his glances and followed his eyes, I realized he was literally reading the signs around our living room. Well played, hubby. But really, to me- it’s more than the decor. I do love a good whitewashed farmhouse sign with the words “Blessed Mama” accented in gold foil. It’s so, so pretty! It also serves as a constant reminder of how even the yucky days-the ones when I can’t seem to get anything right- ( yesterday… last week… the whole month of December…) are still a gift from above. Bible verses, books, framed art- keep yourself inspired by all you see!
In your heart: According to Google- the top resolutions for 2023 were as follows:
- Exercise more.
- Lose weight.
- Get organized.
- Learn a new skill or hobby.
- Live life to the fullest.
Raise your hand if you’ve attempted one these?
Raise your hand if you stopped one of these around Groundhog Day?
No judgement here! Let’s focus on the positive! What if, instead of expecting a head-to-toe overall, we work towards making small steps in the right direction? And a huge pat on the back when there is growth made? In lieu of the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. day,
Celebrate the little things! Be the best bed maker, diaper changer, laundry folder, or trash-taker-outer the state of Virginia has ever seen. And then grab that momentum and keep on going…
4) Think happy thoughts.
In your home: Think of your favorite place to be- a store, a restaurant, a destination. What colors are you surrounded with? What textures? If you’re a flower person- I recommend having loads of plants and faux peonies on those shelves of yours. If you love traveling- have many pieces that reflect the world: little globes, maps, trinkets from places visited. These items make you smile when you see them, so don’t keep them tucked away. Put them on display!
In your heart: If it’s Yoga, painting, ax-throwing or binge watching Hallmark movies- create time for you to be in your “happy place.” You are filling your bucket and, therefore, preparing to fill others. I cannot help but think of the scene from Legally Blonde when Reese Witherspoon’s character, Elle Woods, sweetly states that, “Exercise creates endorphins and endorphins make people happy and happy people don’t just kill their husbands. They just don’t.” Maybe not biblically sound advice, but the theology behind these words might be worth holding on to…
5) Embrace the negative space- it can be a positive thing!
In your home: I have found, after staring at my newly ordered shelves while eating my breakfast, that the occasional blank space highlights the wonderful things I already have. Not to mention, leaving room for a new piece I might just find in the future. Ahhh hemmmm, shopping trip?
In your heart: Those of you who know me well probably just spit out your coffee reading about I am suggesting that you free up your life a little. So, to clarify, I am not claiming to be good at this- I am actually in recovery. From 42 years of being a “yes gal.” But I am working on this. Daily. I’ll never forget the time I received an email asking for a last minute volunteer from one of the girls’ teachers many years ago. I read the email and immediately thought, “I can TOTALLY do this…” Meanwhile, I should totally NOT do this. After approximately 8.2 seconds of thought, I was writing the reply to the teacher and my email made the ding noise again. I minimized my note and saw it was from my husband, who was working in the basement. I opened it to see the word “NO” typed in capital letters at the top of the teacher’s forwarded email. I forgot that I had added his name to the class list serve. Another solid point for the hubby. He KNEW I would respond with a quick and typically overzealous yes, and without any idea of what the cost was. And it always comes at a cost… So my advice for the new year? Learn from my mistakes and keep those free moments free. You might need them someday soon for something spectacular and unexpected.
My last New Year ‘s home and heart nugget is probably the most important. So I’ve saved it for the end.
Remember how IKEA has the warnings on all their shelves and dressers to be secured to the wall so that they won’t fall or collapse with all the weight? The truth can be said for our hearts, too. While we can’t possible predict what each day or the upcoming year will actually bring, I encourage you to anchor yourself with a firm foundation. What would happen if we didn’t rely seven days a week on our own strength and abilities, but rather stayed tethered to the steadfast love and resurrection power available to us each morning?
Remember that having an anchor doesn’t ensure smooth and perfect waters- for a boat or our hearts. In fact, the mere presence of one guarantees there will be serious rocking while the waves and world toss you back and forth. But rest in it’s purposeful promise, His promise- you’ll never be swept away…no matter how great the storm.
Balance in life doesn’t mean YOU have it all under control… quite the contrary. It means you have a secret weapon.
And my heart could use a little of that…
I pray as you enter this New Year, you feel more confident in your decorating skills and excited about what the future holds.
In 2023, surround yourself with those you love, reflect the light, stay motivated and encouraged, think happy thoughts, embrace the negative space, and stay anchored to the source. Who would have thought our hearts have so much in common with our bookcases? Here’s to a year of beautiful, bountiful balance in both!
Happy New Year, dear friends.