Thursday, 20 March 2014
I am a home-making enthusiast at the best of times- well, aside from heavy duty (that should truthfully say 'any kind of'') cleaning and the relentless tidying up of the never-ending messes familiar to every weary parent. I love pottering around when I have a spare few minutes, rearranging and creating little displays. Nothing fancy, usually just using objects collected on a beach walk grouped with a vase filled with some dried lavender or a random assortment of fresh flowers from the garden (even herbs or whatever seems to living and green) and a well-loved old edition of a favourite book unearthed from the op-shop.
Creating a sense of 'home' in the old-fashioned sense is hugely important to me. I am drawn to objects like handmade quilts and other family heirlooms and hand-me-downs, treasures collected from travels and items with provenance and meaning. I also gravitate towards being surrounded by lots of calming natural elements and textures like wood, wool, cotton, wicker, plants and any kind of greenery. Living in a flawless or fully kitted out showroom-esque home will never be an option, clearly because I'm just not tidy enough. But aside from that I suppose I'm not really motivated by the same hot new interiors trend or replica designer chair as a few million other people. There's no denying that I enjoy the odd trip to Ikea and we have a few great functional items purchased there over the years but the whole ready-to-purchase 'look' is not the holy grail of home as I see it.
I recently came across the concept of wabi-sabi, the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection, and it really struck a chord. Wabi-sabi is a way of being that champions the simple, slow and uncluttered and reveres authenticity above all else. In the home, wabi-sabi inspires a kind of warm minimalism that celebrates the human rather than the machine, things that resonate with the maker's touch, things with soul. It's not so much a decorating 'look' as a mind set. Over the past couple of weeks my nesting instinct has gone into overdrive though I am yet to get to the dusting of long-forgotten corners or any cleaning of the windows and I'm honestly not too concerned if this doesn't happen. This urge to nest has probably has a lot to do with being 33 weeks pregnant and it has nicely coincided with the changing of the seasons. Though we've been lucky enough to still be enjoying some beautiful late summer days, autumn has slowly started creeping in and I am ready for it now.
The sofa (I know I should say couch now we live in Australia but I'm still stubbornly holding onto sofa, trousers and felt-tip pens among other English expressions), has been draped in a cosy wool throw, toes are soon to be clad in soft thick knitted socks when lounging at home and I'm looking forward to cooking up warm soups and hearty casseroles and lighting some candles of an evening. I am tired; more exhausted than I remember being in my previous pregnancies and ready to slow down, settle in for the colder nights and prepare for the new little member of our family that we will be welcoming in not so many weeks now. A name too, we also need a name for her. It seems that by the time you reach the third child of the same gender, pinning down a name you both agree on is more challenging than ever before with all the firm, mutually-agreed favourites already being used up with the other two. Hopefully we can reach a decision soon and that my powers of persuasion will prevail!
Thursday, 6 March 2014
I've been thinking about this online space of mine. What it is, what it has been and where it might be going. I first decided to start a blog when I was pregnant with Lila; my first baby, almost six years ago. Back then I don't think blogging was a particularly well known concept and certainly anyone that did have one never could've predicted how the phenomenon would have blown up in recent years. For my part, I simply wanted a creative outlet and a place to write; a journal of sorts. Also somewhere to record and share memories and thoughts on this new adventure of motherhood I was about to embark on. I wanted to create something that my children could read back through when they were grown. In the years since then I've also blogged about my various creative endeavours, spaces, people and things that have inspired me. When we moved overseas it became a great way of recording what we were up to on the other side of the world to share with family and friends back home. I've not really done much at all to promote it and have never had aspirations of garnering a huge readership or making money from it with advertising or sponsored posts. At times I've updated it frequently but there have also been months of silence when life has got busy or all my energy and attention has been taken up elsewhere.
I like the fact I'm not pressured to write daily or even weekly, resorting to just churning out meaningless posts. Instead I wait until inspiration strikes and get something down that is actually real and important to me. I'm also not sure I would feel comfortable with encouraging people to buy products we couldn't afford and aspire to a type of lifestyle we don't really live and could never maintain. It's always been a more personal endeavour than that. However I do realise that the things we choose to share online don't always paint the most realistic picture. I think most of us are aware that everyone is generally trying to put forward the best possible version of their own lives (not just in terms of blogging, in every kind of social media). While I've always done my best to keep this a positive place as I am generally a pretty optimistic, glass-half-full person, I would never want anyone to be under the impression we live anything even vaguely resembling a picture-perfect existence.
We don't have a lot of money, drive a big or fancy car and certainly don't have a polished house full of super expensive possessions. I do hope we live in a home which may be a little shabby but feels comfortable, welcoming and full of love. My kids wear hand-me-downs and we don't buy new things very often. If we have made a choice to have something or go somewhere significant it will have been saved for or at the sacrifice of something else. We don't eat out or go on holidays or expensive day trips much at all but we try to make the most of where we live and what it has to offer throughout the year and we feel happy and grateful for what we have. I think often about our priorities and family values and what really matters in life. One thing that springs to mind is that when you live in a relatively small space with three other people (two of them small and like all children, prone to creating a whirlwind of chaos) I'd say it's fairly crucial that your happiness doesn't hinge on being able to maintain a clean and tidy house resembling a spread in an interiors magazine all of the time.
Some of the very well known family and lifestyle blogs have become hugely effective money generators for their creators but I know for many people they have sadly lost any sense of honesty or authenticity they may have once had, simply pushing products and an illusion of a perfectly curated life. I love finding online spaces that inspire me and feel real but I'm not a fan of the pressure others create to buy this, that and everything, to have and do it all. These seem to breed envy and insecurity, leaving a lot of readers feeling lacking in their own lives and themselves as people. Here's to writing from the heart and knowing that we are most likely not the only people out there with a pitifully empty fridge that could definitely do with a clean and no idea what to cook for dinner tonight (or maybe that's just me!)