June 23, 2012

Balancing Your Art To Make Room For Your Purpose

Posted by Kristin

Not too long ago, I discovered a sweet little blog called Flower Patch Farmgirl.  Over there, Shannan writes about family life, shabby chic decor and transitioning from a farmhouse and rural lifestyle to a life of less in a more urban neighborhood. I was particularly captivated by her recent post debating the difference between spending and decorating in excess versus pursuing it as a talent and gift that we've been blessed with. Shannan and her husband recently decided to build a house, despite wanting to simplify their life and budget.  Somehow that desire landed them in the midst of house construction and picking out drapery fabric.

Shannon's new house under construction. via.

I'll let Shannan do the talking for a minute:

"I remember back when everything in the world went cockeyed and we knew we needed to sell our house. We knew it was time to live more simply so that our resources could be freed up to do more important things than pay a mortgage and plant an orchard that wouldn't survive one season. Things got so confusing there for a while. I'm a girl who loves to decorate, and I found myself on shaky terrain. I fretted over that invisible line in the sand - what's too much? What constitutes excess? What's just plain greedy? So we buy an old house for cheap in a sketchy neighborhood - do I dare make it look pretty? Wouldn't that be frivolous? Shouldn't I live in a dive and send the cash to Southeast Asia? How could I ever justify a vintage schoolhouse map for $25 dollars while children are dying from malaria?

People talk about "balance", but isn't that usually just a cop-out?

I wanted to do whatever was right, but down in my soul, I was scared. I couldn't shake the feeling that this is part of who I am. This stuff is one of the things that makes me come alive. I'm good at it. I enjoy it. Is that wrong? And if it is, now what?" 

The great debate, voiced by Shannon. Via.

Every so often, typically on my long drive home from work, I debate the same subject. Many of us truly feel we've been given a gift or talent in a particular area and mine so happens to be interior design and DIY oriented projects. But where is the line of pursuing too much and putting too many resources (time, money, thoughts) into this hobby versus doing just enough to nourish it and use it to bless my family and friends?

These are some of the same thoughts I debated last September, back in this post. And after lots of thinking and praying last fall, I feel like Shannon finally put into words what my mind and heart were working out.

"I see things differently now. Yeah, this art (her passion for decorating) fulfills me, but helping others building wells and rescue children from slavery fulfills me infinitely more. So I balance my art to make more room for my purpose.

The passion is still here and the canvas could not possibly be more stark, making me alternately giddy and overwhelmed. I'm having more fun than ever, because I'm forcing myself to be think outside the box. A zippy rug would be fun, but we happen to already own a boring brown one. Make it work. (I adore you, Tim Gunn.) Pottery Barn is still his same, Don Juan self, but Flea Market is rough and edgy and plays hard to get. I like it.

Flip the whole story on its ear and there remains the fact that we are choosing to upgrade our flooring and our cabinets. We are willingly handing over money to pay extra for things that will be rust & dust, one day.

You see my dilemma.

I have big plans to remain staunchly conflicted through the completion of this task, and beyond. I'll question and second-guess. I'll stew over the clearance-rack curtains so long that someone else will snatch them up while I waffle. And then I shall swiftly kick myself.

I'll keep right on fighting my stubborn, selfish will. I'll pray for a heart that stays right where it should be, fearing all the while that it'll move.

I'll do all of this while I make my art."

That small collection of words said it all to me: "I balance my art to make more room for my purpose". I conquer and now feel like I have words for the journey I've been on for the last nine months. How about you? What's your art and what's your purpose?

Read more of Shannan's thoughts on this subject here.

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