I admit it; I beamed. That’s my goal, to create an inviting, yummy space, colorful, eclectic and full of stories. I love the fact that just about every piece of furniture, every rug, and every piece of art has a story behind it, experiences from the many places we’ve lived with the military.
The antique ice chest that supports our television was a purchase at our first experience at an antique auction, near Ft. Rucker, Alabama. The Belgium rug was from a visit to Greg’s Belgium boss from a joint NATO mission. Greg hauled a heavy antique woodstove for what seemed like miles from the Metz flea market to our parked car. The stove is now in pieces, ornamenting our garden steps. I have vivid memories linked to each item; it’s like living in a memory book.
There are three important things to be aware of, about my home environment, and more importantly, yours.
1. We are all different
My ideal home would not be everyone’s ideal. We are all unique. For many of my friends, my home would feel way too cluttered, too eclectic, mixing too many different colors. Not everyone loves my red and olive green bathroom for example. I admire my friends’ homes, many of them elegant, sparse, monochromatic- color- schemed, ready for a magazine layout. They aren’t the spaces I want to live in. And those friends couldn’t live in mine. That is why you have to come up with your own description of your ideal environment, get your spouse to do the same and then figure out compromises.
2. Don’t wait until you retire
My ideal environment didn’t happen overnight, but I also didn’t wait for the ideal. Once I realized how much my surroundings affect my state of mind, I made sure to create what I could with every military move. When I first wrote out my own description many moves ago, it included living on the water, with a beautiful “secret” garden, near the mountains, with green all around. My immediate environment description described wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling built-in bookshelves and a wood-burning stove with a big overstuffed chair with an ottoman and cats on my lap.
When I wrote that description we lived in the top floor of a building in downtown Richmond, Virginia, not near the water. But I did have two cats! Since then we’ve lived all over the United States and Germany.
Until now, here in Oregon, I didn’t live near the water. I didn’t even have a garden until our last move until now. But in all those places, I carried pieces of my ideal environment with me. I had big photos of the ocean and the mountains that I put in my home office. My desk held a crystal box filled with beach sand and shells to remind me of the ocean. I had cards on my desk of beautiful flowers and fresh flowers when I could (like when daffodils and tulips are cheap!) All of those things brought me joy even without having the real thing. I don’t know if it’s the memory of them, or the anticipation of them, or the beauty of them — but they brought me daily joy.
3. Start Today
Creating your own ideal environment takes a combination of knowing what you want, gathering data as you move, and yes, taking action.
I kept a dream book (this was before pinterest), full of magazine photos and actual photos of environments, furniture, house features, gardens and decor that appealed to me. Greg and I made note of what we liked and didn’t like about the layouts of the many houses we lived in. We took notes on storage and streamlining systems of our organized friends.
It’s Your Turn
This blog is part three in a series here at USMC Life, all based on action steps you can take towards your own best life as you move with the military. The first step is to create a description of your own ideal life. If you haven’t done that yet, read the why and how and download the exercise to complete so you have a description to work with.
Look at your description of your ideal environment and figure out, what’s in that description that you can add into your life right now? I guarantee you there is something you can do to move towards your ideal.
The military may not move you to places that sing to your soul, but you can control your immediate environment. If you love the beach but are presently living at Twentynine Palms, add beach pictures, beach sounds, beach items in your environment now. You will be amazed of how it positively affects your state of mind.
Greg and I are in our dream house now so many years later, better than I could have imagined. It came about because we knew what we wanted, saved, planned and took action to create that ideal.
Your environment has such an effect on your overall experience of life. Take action to create one that nurtures you…today.