When a change occurs in your thinking or your style more often than not it is a gradual realisation that one day hits you in the face and brings about a rather surprising 'aha' experience.
Such was the case recently (read about it here) when I discovered the shift in my decorating 'eye' from pure shabby chic to a bohemian/gypsy/vintage/shabby look.
Just the way this drift of personal style had crept up on me over a number of months (perhaps a year?) the time it will take for me to plan and reflect that change in my home and surrounds will also require time; it's not something I can hurry.
It can't be done on impulse.
I need to first consider the space in which I live and whether or not it's being used in a way that benefits myself and my husband. After all you can't change cushions, paint furniture, or replace 'stuff' without first being content with the layout of the rooms and assessing their suitability for your family purposes.
During our weekend away I pondered this quite a lot, so when we arrived home from Cairns on Monday afternoon I already had one small plan I could tackle to kick start the makeover of our rental house.
Before I was a designer I was a very contented homeschool mum, taking full educational responsibility for our two youngest children from Grade 1 through to Grades 10 and 12. Books were our lifeblood, and reading was a huge part of every day - not just for learning, but for sheer delight.
Our walls were covered in bookcases holding stories and ideas in the form of 1,000+ books. We read original novels from the 1600's through to modern literature, and just about anything interesting and inspiring in between. Every afternoon I'd prepare a pot of tea, something delicious such as scones or cinnamon scrolls, and we three would settle into comfy chairs to eat and drink while I read to them for two hours. This was a ritual my children never tired of, even at age 17 and 18 they would still ask me to read to them.
The kids grew up, got jobs, left home...I designed. Most of the books were sold or donated as we were still moving house each year and Mr E wasn't getting any younger so didn't need the physical stress of carrying 50 heavy book boxes to and from a moving van.
And you know, that wonderful daily habit of reading vanished, like a balloon taken high and carried out of sight on a windy day it simply wasn't visible in my life anymore. I still read my Bible each day, did regular Bible studies, and browsed many non-fiction books and magazines over a cup of coffee - but I was lucky to be relaxed and engrossed in only one or two a jolly good fictional or autobiographical reads per year.
Why did I stop reading?
This was one of the things I reflected on during my birthday weekend, sitting on a balcony watching the vivid blue ripples of the Pacific Ocean as the tide rolled in. I'd brought books with me on our mini holiday and actually spent time reading them, happily reading, restfully reading, so why couldn't I do this at home each day despite my best intentions to do so??
Busyness and business top the list as time takers, but that's a choice I made for myself so they can also be things I adjust to offer a quieter and less intense day.
A comfortable place to read was close runner up in the obstacles list.
The routine/ritual of afternoon tea times and reading had been broken when the children started working outside the home and I forgot that I could still read to me.
I thought purchasing books on Kindle would help because they don't take up shelf space and I could 'carry' them with me wherever I went, but too many are the titles of which I've read the first few chapters and promptly forgot about because I found reading on Kindle a less than enjoyable experience.
The first step to change is to take that step.
If you've seen photos of my house on the blog you know that right beside the galley kitchen is our smallish dining table which sits beneath the large un-curtained front window. (look here)
I decided it was time to move the table into the living area and create for myself a book nook, a place to sit and read in a comfy chair with good natural light.
This idea is still evolving as I need to shift my pattern folders and some of the craft books over to another book case so I can fill this one with 'reading books'...
...but the fact is that I've made a change for the better and as weeks pass the vision I have in my mind and heart for this book nook will come to light.
After re-stocking the reading choices in the bookcase I intend painting the chest of drawers, making a cushion and cover for my chair and finding a suitable footstool I can recover to suit. There's also room between the drawers and bookcase for a lovely indoor plant so a trip to the Sunday markets is also in order.
I don't mind my view into the kitchen from the book nook because I love being in the kitchen, baking and preparing meals for my husband...
Taking small steps to create what's in your heart doesn't have to be difficult. Not everything needs to be done on a large scale, and it's not necessary to adhere to an 'all or nothing' mindset.
This has been a refreshing revelation for me, and it wasn't overwhelming at all.
From this one change done in a single afternoon I have put in motion two wonderful things that mean a lot - a return to reading for pleasure, and the bones of a nook I can decorate in the style I've recently discovered reflects who I am.
And the bonus for my dear husband is that having the dining table in the living room means he can bring his laptop/work out of the office each evening and sit near me while I stitch and watch my favourite British mysteries. You wouldn't think moving the dining table eight feet to the right would make such a difference but it does.
Is there a step you'd like to take so your own life can be a bit sweeter?
I'd love to hear about it. Leave a comment so we can all inspire each other...