September 27, 2011

Being Thankful for the Now...

Posted by Kristin

Even though we usually focus on planting, eating, and creating here at PEC, I wanted to share some thoughts I’ve been having lately that are very much related to the three passions we love to pursue.

I was on a phone call the other day with my mom who is in the midst of redoing the guest bedroom in my parents' house. 

My mom is using a grey-blue and black color scheme
similar to this for the guest bedroom.  Muy bonito!
(image from

My mom said, exasperated, “It seems like the more I do, the more I see around me that needs doing.” And at that point, my heart skipped a beat because she had hit my proverbial nail on its head.

Since we moved into our new apartment about 5 weeks ago my mantra has been “Just get it done and move onto the next thing.” This has applied to my work, to unpacking, to looking for a new car (our Subaru decided to blow its head gasket the weekend we moved), and to a lot of other things in my life. For anyone that knows me well, they know that I crave organization, order, and routine with a healthy dose of creativity and fun thrown into the mix. Unfortunately, moving has a way of pulling the rug out of any semblance of order in one’s life. No matter how hard you try to prepare, there are always unexpected inconveniences, expenses and times of frustration.  My way of trying to work through that has been to try to get our house in order as quickly as possible. This has only led to me going every minute of every day, finally collapsing at the end of the day, only left thinking about what’s left on my to do list.

I finally hit my breaking point about a week or so ago. We had a very busy week due to purchasing a new used car (yay Honda Civics!) that required a lot of legwork to get it registered, inspected, outfitted with a new O2 sensor, 4 new tires, and who knows what else. Along with that, PEC also filmed its first Mass Appeal segment. Both those things mixed in with hosting a birthday dinner for my dad, working normal hours, starting a new freelance design and dealing with a sick husband left me at the end of my rope.

Now back to that comment my mom made. Well, that’s all she had to say for me to hear myself saying “Kristin, you’ve got to stop running on this “let’s make the new apartment perfect” treadmill because it’s never going to end!”  Plus I’m learning that with living in an older apartment, there’s always going to be something to fix, touch up, sweep up, or re-do. So what have I tried to do to cope with this the feeling of designer’s defeat?

Instead of seeing an unmade bed, I see a bed so comfy that it demanded its
 inhabitants to stay in it until the very last second.

I’ve stopped. I’ve sat. And read. And journaled. And looked around my apartment and tried to see what I have accomplished. But even beyond that, I’ve tried to see the blessings that I already have in my new home. Vintage, hardwood floors. Airy 10’ ceilings. Great light. Ample space. Lots of fun little nooks and crannies. A yard. Friendly neighbors. Close friends only a short walk away. Being able to bike to church.

Instead of being just one more pile of stuff to deal with, I see it as a
 beautiful set of handmade wood shelves I get to hang up somewhere.

I’ve also tried to focus on a few small tasks at a time. Instead of seeing the whole list of things to do, I’ve broken it up and worked on rooms when I’ve felt inspired to. This has also kept my budget in check. When I have time on my side (which I do- the only pressure I have is myself), I often am able to come up with more cost effective solutions either using materials I have or finding inexpensive solutions. But that takes time. Time for ideas to formulate and new options to emerge.

Instead of seeing a slipcover that needs adjusting, I see a
comfy spot that invited someone to play a few tunes.

I’ve also tried to have a new perspective on patience. I read this blog post recently from Ann VosKamp’s blog A Holy Experience. Here are some of her words I especially latched onto:

My impatience is a result of my unthankfulness – I’m impatient for the children to be someone different, for the cashier to hurry up, for this to get done right now.
The more dissatisfied I am in this moment, the more discontented I am with who they are, with what is happening —  the harder it becomes to be patient, to be loving.

Patient people dare to gratefully accept people where they are. Grateful for who they are now, appreciative of works of art not yet finished, but still deeply loved.

Patient people dare to receive the present always as a present – grace.

Patient people dare to live only in the present. Because they know that is where God is.
Lack gratitude — then lack patience — then, ultimately, lack love. To be love-full, I’ll first need to be grateful.
It is true: I can love only when I am thankful for the now.

Henri Nouwen suggests that  “[t]he word patience means willingness to stay where we are and live out the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.”

Instead of seeing a book I should read, I see an amazing series of stories I get to read.

So I share these ramblings for anyone that ever gets too hung up on accomplishing their ever growing list of planting, eating, or creating projects. Observe, enjoy, and be thankful for the now. 

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