I felt like I was opening a present as I sliced through the clear packing tape with an old plastic kitchen knife, unfolded the cardboard flaps and pulled a clump of 20-year old photos from the top of the box. On top of the clump was a picture of my fluffy black and white Siberian Husky with one floppy ear, Stoli, who passed away just over five years ago. I tried to softly peel the photo off of my brother’s family photo, but water must have leaked into the box and sealed the photos in to one solid mass. Most of the photos were from the pre-digital era, and replacing them would mean sifting through shoeboxes and holding negatives up to the light to try to make out the tiny picture held captive on the film.
I was in the process of unpacking my new home and was looking for photos hang on the walls of my writing nook. I used to think designing spaces was for people with extra time and money on their hands (of which I have neither), but I started paying attention to how spaces around me made me feel and found that I felt different in different spaces. How could space effect how I feel, and what could I do about it?
I had never had my own writing space before, and wanted to surround myself with objects and images I found inspiring, full of love and good memories. I have found joy in deciding what items get to go in the nook, and am taking my time shopping thrift stores and yard sales for furniture the perfect old, wooden desk for the space. Unfortunately, by boys are now old enough that I can no longer convince them to crawl under furniture at the local DI to read the brands, so I have to figure that out on my own. If I could get my space just right, maybe everything else would be easier.
I wish designing space automatically encouraged me to be disciplined in writing, and exercising and choosing to eat foods that make my body feel good. But, just because a vignette looks appealing, does not mean everything happening around it is full of greatness. Space does not generate happiness or positive thoughts, that is up to each of us, and is attainable regardless of our surroundings, but space can offer a refuge, serenity and remind us of the person we strive to be.
Most of all, creating space with intention fills me with gratitude. My father’s stained glass window piece, my son’s artwork or note, a trinket from travels, a photo of a favorite writer from the past, my rock collection or stacks of books, everything in my home is here because it is something that makes me feel good. I look forward hunkering down during the icy and hopefully snowy winter months ahead and finish unpacking.
I resign to the loss of the photos now clumped together as I slide it into the garbage pail, blow the dust off a post card from a friend rescued from the bottom of the box and stick it to the wall next to my computer with removable adhesive tabs. I think I will leave a few shelves and drawers empty, just so I have a place to put new things that come my way in the New Year.