I read recently that the difference between a stylist and an interior designer is that a stylist arranges and optimizes what is, while an interior designer creates something new (source). Guess which one I am?
I like working with what is. I like what I already know. As my 5-year-old niece puts it, "I don't like it because I haven't tried it." It's excusable as a preschooler's argument to skip her cauliflower, but it's a pretty lame approach to my life.
I realize I'm taking this concept way outside interiors, but stick with me. As more of a stylist in my life, I realize I'm mostly avoiding the discomfort of the unknown. And more specifically, the awkward tension of transition. Even after the plans are drawn and the materials are chosen, there's the construction phase, the chaos of moving beyond what was before, until what will be arrives.
Last week, a fixer-upper on my dream street landed on the market. It was way sooner than we planned, but I had to see it. I felt like she was IT; like I could bear to leave our beloved apartment to rescue this old beauty on Florida Drive. We went to see it, and well...she was sinking faster than we could pull her up, literally. We couldn't afford to save her. She wasn't IT. And honestly, it put me in a tailspin for a couple days. Just by showing up, that old house shifted things.
I love our one-bedroom apartment. It's the first home we made together, and we brought our mancub back here on the night he was born. Yet, I can't deny sharing a bedroom with a seven-month-old isn't ideal, and we get down about not having some outdoor space. So I'm caught between making this place I love work, and admitting we're outgrowing it.
Perhaps the most uncomfortable part is this in-between time. Things are shifting, but they haven't shifted yet. It's time to move on, but the transition hasn't occurred. The new home hasn't been found, yet it's time to start letting the old home go. It's terrifying not knowing what will replace what's being lost. What if it's not as good? What if I fail? What if it's not the same? I've caught things shifting all over my life—whether it's a new gig that requires letting an old one go, or Phoenix staining my favorite tee shirt which requires me to fall in love with a new one, or Mitch talking about a sister for Phoenix which requires me to face the idea of pregnancy again—and this discomfort comes with it.
Things shift. Ready or not.
And I have to remember, what I love about our life now isn't an apartment, or a gig, or a tee shirt, or one point in time. These specific circumstances aren't the exact recipe for a beautiful life. The people I do life with, we make it beautiful. We are the magic sauce. The circumstances are just optional ingredients.
So, while I love to work with what is—repurpose, reimagine, restore, and renew—I also want to love the process of letting go and making room for the awkward newness, the undefined edge, the terrifying blank slate. I want to always be ready for that inevitable shift, that old house on Florida Drive.
Here are a couple steps I'm taking to prepare my heart for change.
1. DOING CHORES
It sounds crazy to me, but it's working. I'm staying busy just taking care of what we've got. It keeps me connected to where we are now. I don't get too sentimental or attached and I don't look ahead too far either. I mean, if I love this apartment, I may as well scrub the sink, keep the cabinets organized and chase away the dust bunnies.
2. MAKING ROOM
I'm letting excess go—in the cupboards, the budget, my work load, the schedule, my brain. I don't want my answer to be, "No thanks. I'm full." I want my answer to be, "I'm content, but I've got room. What's up?"
3. TAKING NOTES
I'm taking note of what might be shifting (i.e. the shirt that's wearing out, the one-bedroom that's feeling cramped, the project that's draining too much). I'm just noticing. Then, instead of reacting immediately, I'm TRYING to let it be, and wait peacefully in the awkward unknown.