So, full disclosure, this post came out of a post that I wrote on Little Paper Projects for the class we launched TODAY called Love Where You Live. It’s truly a wonderful class with a lot to offer, and I hope that this story pushes you a little more to see that the $15 class is absolutely worth every penny (and more). Because I’m learning it too. A little more every time I pick up this project.
Living a good life is: loving where you live.
Photographers know this trick quite well: you can make almost anything look desirable with the right staging, the right lighting, and the right angles. Sure, it’s a little deceiving, but, hey, that’s what beautiful home tours, Pinterest, and marketing are all about, right?!
I share these photos of my living room for a very specific reason: it’s SO easy to get caught up in the comparison game and devalue our own lives. No matter what season of life we’re in, or where we want to be, as soon as we see photographs of someone else’s home, or lifestyle, or the beautiful memory keeping projects they create, we quickly say “that’s better” or “I could never have – or make – that”. As if that photograph represents something unattainable but necessary. As if your life isn’t as important or good or worthy if it can’t be photographed in the same way (or better).
And then we start thinking that the person’s home, or project, or lifestyle is that way, because they have it “easier” or “better” or with less struggle and strife.
When, in reality, that’s not true at all.
The stories of our spaces are just like that. But they don’t have to be. Sure, we can see a photograph and judge it with comparison and measuring of our lives against someone else’s. But we can also look at a photograph and think about the beauty of our own lives. We can think about the spaces that have meaning, that have memories, that have value.
The story of this photo can be told two ways. Truly, I could share the story of the photo on the left. I could complain about kids, and messes, and chaos. I could say “if only I had… “. I could say a lot of negative things.
Or I could tell the story on the right. I could talk about beauty, about the work my husband and I did to renovate it. I could talk about layout and design techniques, acquiring antique furniture and how to style it in a shared space with kids.
Or I could tell the real story of real life.
The story of this photo.
Every morning I wake up at 6am, when Cal (my 7 yr old nephew) arrives at my house. We migrate to our living room, turn on PBS kids, and relax before Max (my 3 yr old) wakes up.
On an average morning, the house starts the day somewhat clean and slowly degrades down to piles of Legos, cars, and random toys strewn about the room, as if a mob of children had come in with the purpose of deconstructing the entire space.
Then, there is the inevitable rush to breakfast, rush to getting ready, and rush to get to the bus stop. Usually, we JUST make it. Occasionally, we’re early. And sometimes, we totally miss the bus. Those are not my favorite days.
If I were playing the comparison game, I would think about how all of the other parents have it easier than me. That their kids listen better. That kids get ready on their own, never fuss, and have no trouble staying focused when it’s nearly bus time. And I’m sure their living rooms NEVER look like this.
But, the truth is: life, as a parent, is almost always the same. We ALL struggle from time to time. We ALL have trouble teaching kids about time management, staying on task, and quit-playing-with-the-toys-it’s-time-to-leave! That’s just life.
And, before I had kids, I had different dramas every morning. Different struggles with getting ready, traffic, roommates that spend too long in the bathroom, neighbors that block in my car, and trains that run behind schedule.
There is always something.
So this week in #LPPLoveWhereYouLive we’re talking about documenting our real lives. The stuff that makes up our current spaces, that dominates our daily lives, that is our reality. And, of course, we’re taking pretty pictures too.
I have a challenge for you, blog reader. The next time your kids, or roommates, or partners, or friends, make a total mess in your house. The next time your laundry pile gets too big. The next time you look at your dishes and think “how did that happen?!”, take a moment to document it. Get the lighting right. Choose a good angle. But document it. Write about it. Celebrate it.