Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Happy Home And Speaking Trees

Home. Happiness. How much can you tell about someone on seeing their home? On feeling their home? Can you tell if people living there are happy? And where does happiness come from anyway... Oooh yes. Me, I am eternally curious. And that there on the left is our home. Are we happy? What does our home feel like?

I recently saw an article somewhere online saying that the endless pursuit people have these days of this elusive concept of happiness has actually made the whole 'search' one of the major things constituting for unhappiness. Don't doubt that for a second. Just think of the endless articles in glossy magazines, of those shelves after shelves of self-help books crowding any book store telling you how to become happy. How, if you just follow 'the advice of the day' you too can become it. For an hour. Or two. Until you read in some other magazine, some other book, some other way that simply has to be tried. Frankly, I got decidedly unhappy just now only thinking about that...

 And you know what, I don't even think you can 'find' happiness. I don't think it 'comes' from anywhere. So how does one 'get' happy then? How the hell did I end up like this? And does that mean that I no longer ever get unhappy? Well, for starters, yes siree, I indeed do get unhappy. I have the most bluest bouts of the blues. Mood indigo. But you know what, they go away. Because in my core, there is happiness that stems, I think, from acceptance. Acceptance of my life, as is. And yet I find myself asking what is there for me to be happy about? How can I accept my life the way it is, when it is so far from being the picture perfect life one would be tempted to think is necessary for one to be happy? How can I feel happy when I, in the eyes of the world, probably don't have that much to be happy about? Well, just call me weird like that.

I am not rich. I do not own houses, land, properties. I'm divorced. I've chosen a vocation that in terms of income at least is certainly nothing if not unpredictable. I live in a rented, two bed-room apartment in an old, rickety building. Heading for forty, fast. And as would naturally happen, my bits and pieces are heading south even faster than that. Can't fight the gravity. I'm a single mom, of sorts. I say of sorts, since I am not exactly, either in theory or practice. We have a joint custody, and the Daughter gets to spend as much time as she wants with her Dad. As it should be. And yeah, it's also very unlikely that I will ever have more children. Phewww. Happy woman, eh?

And you know what. Bollocks to all that. Sure, money does not grow in our household. But other things do. Love. Patience. Creativity. Freedom to be who you are. Granted, the occasional dust poodle under the sofa also keep growing inexcusably fatter by the day but hey, they will make a geart science project for the Daughter one day. It's life. And this is how I live it.

Yeah, and I'm heading for forty, and I'm single, and a mother. Weeheyy. Well, the important thing first. Damn straight I'm a Mother. Like I've said many times before, that's the best thing that ever happened to me and for her I'll fight whatever this life chooses to throw my way. And it is also for her too that I've chosen the career that I have. To have more time with her. To be not so tied to nine-to-five schedules. To have more freedom to live. To teach her that it is more important to feed your soul than your bank balance. That joy in what you do far outweighs any financial gain. To show her that if you're not happy in what you do, you need to change directions. I want her to learn to look at the beauty of things, rather than to think how much they're worth. Don't loose your soul and gain the world...

Don't need the dreadlocks to 
get the wisdom
of that

And forty? Fine by me. All I can say is I wish I knew twenty years ago all the things I know now. But that's not how it goes. Life teaches you. And to learn from life you must live it. So, welcome, forty, when it's your time. And yeah, I've had my heart broken. Again, so it goes. But you know what the Japanese do when a piece of porcelain breaks, they fix it so the place where it got broken remains visible. Because it shows life. Broken hearts. Dents in your soul. Scars. They should not be hidden, to be something shameful. Without them, we wouldn't be who we are. And going through them, healing yourself, not becoming bitter, but believing still in the beauty of life, is, indeed, the beauty in growing older. 

And love. The very word. Well, I have people around me who love me. Whom I love. Lucky me. Yep, again. Lucky me. 

The other day someone asked me to describe the style of our home. I laughed. Sputtered. Coughed. And finally came out with relaxed-bohemian-gone-mental. Seriously, now. What would anyone think of our home... I love our old building. I even love the old building smell in the staircase. It's a small house, with only a few neighbors. And when my next door neighbor plays his strange music at nights I can its echo through my bedroom wall. Him and my downstairs neighbors circulate one newspaper every day. When the old chap downstairs fell on ice, it was the neighbors who helped him to the hospital, and who make sure he's ok now that he is at home again. We have a communal sauna downstairs, and sometimes I get a knock on the door with one of the neighbors saying they won't be using their time slot, so 'us girls' can go ahead. And if I forget to put the car engine heater cable on in the evening, it will invariably be put on by some good fairy I strongly suspect to be my slightly strange neighbor.  Yeah. I like my home. 

And I want to make
me one of these...

Half of the walls in the living room are covered by floor to ceiling bookshelves. There's an old radio my Father brought from Norway, still in perfect working order, standing on its legs next to one wall. I can listen to the world radio on it. Lots of photograps of the people I love everywhere. A huge squishy sofa that once was white but thanks to a couple of changes of home, two now gone feisty cats and one dog puppy who still had to learn not to rip the pillows to pieces, is now covered in various blankets and throws in various shades of white and cream, with a huge fluffy green wool blanket thrown on top. And lots of pillows, some with bright embroidered flowers. There's no ceiling lamp. Haven't gotten around to finding one that I like. So there are small lamps and candles dotted around the room. White cotton rug on the floor. With modelling clay and various other substances making it much more colorful every time as soon as it's come from being washed. No chance of this room ever being cold and impersonal. Or boring.

And the snaking electric
cord down there
is such a touch, eh....

And there's an armchair in the kitchen as well, with a reading lamp next to it. Someone once exclaimed on seeing this that '' This is certainly your home! You have a reading nook in your kitchen!''. So I do. The coffee machine, a tiny one, sits conveniently on the counter-top nearby, and the radiator behind the chair provides not only perfect place to keep my coffee cup but also makes my nook fantastically warm even on the coldest of days. And from here you can see to my bedroom, with its huge cast iron bed and masses of pillows. Covered in vintage pillowcases. And of course, books everywhere. The Daughter sleeps in her room right behind the wall of my bedroom. In her white iron princess bed. And of course, next to her nightstand, with a pile of books on it, and sharing a corner with her wooden dollhouse, stands another armchair. An old one. Frankly, falling-to-pieces-old. In which I sit reading when she is falling asleep...

As night-time stories go,
we've been through
astronauts and space oddities,
princesses and little einsteins,
Dumbo and Pooh.
Pretty much anything goes,
as long as I
make the characters speak...
...and do you know how a
spacecraft speaks...

No, make that I love my home. It has a lot of personality. It could not be anyone elses. It is not generic. It did not come from any furniture warehouse or design magazine. We've made it ours. Whenever I walk in the door, I can feel at home. There's nothing insignificant in there, everything has its story to tell.  Yes, even the half eaten piece of toast forgotten on the kitchen counter during morning rush. Should you demand order-at-all-times, no-clutter-ever, you'd soon be going bonkers in our happy little house of, errrm, creative chaos...

Damn straight.

And the house itself, it speaks. The doors squeak. The floors make strange sounds. The rain and sleet as they hit the windowsill outside have their very own drumming band. And the trees around the house converse with it. They share their secrets, early in the morning, late at night. Just recently I spoke to someone about the forest speaking. He did not understand. Well, you tell me, does it not? Sometimes, the song of the trees is gentle like a mother rocking her baby to sleep. Sometimes, the trees shout, they wail. And the house answers. Yes, I know. It says. I know. Hang in there. It's not our time to go yet. We have a purpose. We all do. I might be old, the house says. But I bring happiness to these people that live in me. And they to me. Wait. It says. The spring is almost here. And then these happy, funny, crazy people in me will come out and run among all you trees out there. They will sit under you. Yeah, the big blonde one, she might even hug you. The small beautiful one, she certainly will. Just hang in there. 

Frozen backyard birches.
Sun, you've got
some job to do yet...

So. Yes. I think you can tell a hell of a lot about someone just by seeing their home. And even more by feeling their home. I think our home feels happy. I think it feels warm. And more than anything, it is our home. Should you be dropping by, as a friend, just knock and come on in. There's always space in our home for you, just be prepared to move away a couple of piles of books, some unfinished sewing stuff, a few toys and maybe a dust poodle or two, but after that, just cuddle up in the pillows and blankets and well, make yourself at home.

And yeah.
I listen to country music.
Just how un-cool
can I be...
...and just how little
can I care
if I am?


  1. This was exquisitely crafted a poetry to my eyes, soul . Such thoughts have a beautiful owner.
    Thank you.

    Love to you my dear friend.

  2. I know I've said it before, but I have to reiterate: You have the loveliest writing style. Your imagery and the feeling I can see behind your words are so affecting! I love reading your posts!


  3. Your home sounds like a truly wonderful place. Books, cushions and candles are my sort of thing! I agree with you on what you said about happiness: it is in the present, in what is, rather than what we (or somebody else) would like it to be. Thank you for posting the song, it is absolutely beautiful.

  4. I got your comment about using gingham as the underlayer for your dress. Please send me pictures when you are done. I would LOVE to see it!