This is our happy place... creating serenity at home
“I think the ideal space must contain elements of magic, serenity, sorcery and mystery.”
Oh, you were a wise one, Luis. Your architectural talents spun spaces into environments that are exciting, intoxicating while still creating a sense of calmness and tranquility, or, as you yourself said, serenity. Your use of color, shapes, and natural elements makes me pause and take in the beauty before me.
Pause. We need to do more of this, especially with the unsettling world we are living in right now. My hope is that there will be lessons we learn from this new life we’ve been handed. Lessons like pausing, finding the quiet in life, exploring the meaning of ‘serenity’.
The team at LDD Interiors has been discovering a lot over the last few weeks. We are a very social group. If putting six feet between us wasn’t difficult enough, we’ve all moved into our homes to work. The isolation at times can be overwhelming. It is real and it is here to stay with us for at least the next 30 days. Recognizing that we are not the only ones living this way prompted a thought provoking and enlightening question for my team: ‘how are you finding serenity… what are you doing to keep your mental well-being in check?!’. I was quite proud of my team; they are smart, they are insightful, and they often shared the same practices!
So sit back, make yourself your favorite relaxing beverage, and read on as Kathleen and I share our ways to find serenity or peace at home.
There’s a softness, a silkiness to the flour. I love the graininess of the brown sugar as it slips through my fingers. The smell of the vanilla. If I close my eyes… I can hear my grandfather telling me to make sure I whip the butter well before I add the sugar and eggs. On days that I need it the most I can almost feel his soft bakers’ hands the size of baseball mitts guiding my own scraping down the side of the bowl.
Sometimes peace and serenity are found in memories. My grandfather owned a well-known bakery in Meriden, Connecticut. As a child, and well into my adult years, he filled my belly and my heart with his love and his creations. Today I carry on that same custom, and I understand now the joy he felt when that smile creeped across our faces as we bit into our favorite confections. Joy is one of those emotions that certainly can bring a sense of there being no worries in the world for a bit. Or, simply, serenity!
Kathleen believes serenity means something a little different to all of us. She is pretty confident we all share a common definition: ‘an environment that washes us with comfort, calmness, and brings us to an at-ease, untroubled state of being’. This can look different for many of us. Kathleen sees your home as a collection of memories, items, textures, and smells that make you happiest. After all, ‘Your home is your Oasis and you should never compromise”.
Kathleen has lived on the coast of Connecticut almost her entire life. This is where she has found that she’s most comfortable and relaxed, and surrounded by ‘easy-breezy light and bright things’ as she says! Whether it be the art that she has collected, or the furniture and accessories that she’s carefully procured for her environment, the overall feeling and message has always been a calm, serene backdrop for the life that unfolds within it.
At any given moment, if a friend or family member were to drop by her home, they would find either a candle or diffuser going, releasing a beautiful mix of bright citrus or sweet florals, music (soft or cranking depending on her mood), and thriving plants situated throughout each and every room. This, to Kathleen, is serenity. Life is thriving, smelling great, and being serenaded by the wonderful sound of song. Pretty accurate if you ask me.
Down a narrow winding road through hundreds of acres of Connecticut state forest I can often find my mom and dad cultivating their massive vegetable garden. My dad with baseball hat sitting snug over a thick white pile of course hair, my mom’s large floppy garden hat falls over her eyes when she raises her head to greet me. She gently flicks the rim back and yells ‘well hello there’. Those gardens filled my childhood with great lessons. I learned and watched life grow, explode, and produce beautiful gifts. At first such magic was wasted on me as a child. But then I grew into an adult, and I understood. The tradition was passed on, and the gardens at the Davenport homestead in Durham, CT flourish. These gardens have become a welcomed escape from an often overwhelming and hectic life. There’s peace in the dirt, in the smell of the blooming flowers. There is joy in sweet cherry tomatoes. There’s even a little excitement when a garden snake decides to sunbathe on top of my raspberry bushes. During this pandemic my beautiful daughter recently sent me a photo of her newly built raised vegetable beds. A wave of pride washed over me. Those years in the garden with my parents led me to build our little piece of heaven, and it brings me great joy to see my own baby girl realizes that the dirt, the plants, and the sun is most definitely where serenity is found.
Since a young girl it’s been instilled in Kathleen that we must keep moving and doing things with our bodies. Not only does it keep us limber, but healthy both inside and out. She’s practiced this differently throughout chapters of her life. Exercise and stretching has been a constant for Kathleen, and something you can do just about anywhere. Currently she has a space in her home dedicated to just that. Kathleen has a yoga mat, weights, resistant bands, and different self-massaging tools.
With our President and our Governor urging us to social distance, many of us are finding working from home is becoming our new normal. Kathleen begins or ends every day with a barre class. She does this virtually with her local barre instructor. This is something that gets her moving, sweating, and boosts endorphins. In return it brings her to a serene place of being. Maybe not during, but certainly afterwards. With a sweaty, but happy and accomplished body, she knows that she did something to better herself for the next day to come.
Meditation & Writing
Mrs. Gordan, my 7th grade English teacher, gave me a priceless gift. She taught me to journal. Each week we’d have to turn in our journals for her to review. She encouraged us to write about whatever came to our minds. Well, at eleven years old I was an odd-looking creature. I stood five foot eight inches tall, soaking wet I weighed 100 lbs., my blonde hair was as short as Ellen DeGeneres’s and was out of control. I wore big glasses, had braces, and had grown so fast I often resembled a newborn giraffe walking or tripping her way through the school halls. What a picture I just painted for you, eh? I’m certain you can imagine I had a lot to write about. Mrs. Gordan was sensitive and wise; she would allow us to staple closed any journal entries that were too private. I learned that a wonderful escape from sometimes a cruel, often uncertain world was to write. Admittedly, after Mrs. Gordan’s class ended, I stuffed that journal into a box and didn’t write for decades. Her gift was resurrected decades later, when I discovered the best way to cope with my mother in law’s diagnoses of Alzheimer’s was to write, and Life with MIL was born.
I would venture to say Kathleen’s daily exercise routine is her own little escape from the world, and mine is a little meditation and writing. Having a space in our homes dedicated to executing these self-care activities is vitally important to our well-being. Now more than ever we need to dial in on what we need. This self-care isn’t a want, it is a solid need. Many of us are craving social interaction with friends and family. Unfortunately, this is not an option right now, but it will become one soon. We just need to be patient. Until then, reflect on what and where you can find serenity in your home. While you’re at it, Keep Calm & Design On… we’re in this together.