Friday, May 19, 2006

Inspiration Training

Back in the old days when Tom and I had cable tv, I used to watch Kitty Bartholomew's decorating show and always at the end, she would tell us to keep our eyes open. I'd imagine spending time with Kitty--probably it would be like walking down a sidewalk with a small child, one who points-out and squeals about sights and objects an adult would otherwise miss.

In other words, some people see inspiration everywhere. But other people totally miss being inspired because they stare, instead, at their problems. Or at their children's problems. Or they walk forward while staring behind them at their past.

I don't want to be a problem-starer. Been there, done that. No, I want, like Kitty quipped, to keep my eyes open.

Always, there's inspiration to do better and be better anywhere you look--inspiration which works like a boost to lift us from hopelessness into a whole other realm of possibility. If my marriage needs help, I can look at other couples who are still crazy about each other and learn from them. If my family is in a rut, I can get ideas from fun families. And of course there are helpful books, seminars and tv programs. It's out there--inspiration is everywhere you look--you just have to look in the right places.

But this week since I've been sharing my home and yard, I thought I'd share some secret places where I discover inspiration to create a whole other world upon this tiny piece of land we kinda-sorta-own (mortgages being what they are).

When I keep my eyes open, I get ideas from other peoples' yards while taking my daily walk. One flower bed inspired mine. One family's blue front door inspired me to paint my back door blue. A few porches with wicker furniture made me realize that I much preferred wicker to our then-current wrought iron set.

In bookstores and supermarkets I sit with coffee and page through decorating and gardening magazines. I borrow magazines from libraries and buy them cheaply from yard sales or splurge on the occasional filled-to-the-brim-with-stuff-I-love ones. I tear out favorite pages of my magazines and slip them into clear plastic sleeves and place them into notebooks. I sit with these custom-made magazines of mine and note which colors appear most often in the rooms I love--they have taught me my favorite colors.

In restaurants, stores and coffee shops , I note favorite shades of colors used on walls and make mental notes as to how these colors make me feel. Which ones would I like in my own house? I come home, walk around my rooms, and try to envision the walls in the new colors which caught my eye.

In furniture stores I note the way furniture and accessories are arranged and which fabrics are most pleasing to me. I come home and rearrange my own furniture. In friends' homes I note what I find most beautiful and when bloggers share their home photos, I can glean ideas from those. By watching old movies from the 30's and 40's, I've realized the rooms from that era make my heart sing. I pay attention to all the little details, architectural and otherwise, in the homes of those black-and-white films. I also collect decorating books and magazines from the 1920's - 1940's for do-able ideas in my own 1935 home.

In antique shops, I make mental lists of trinkets, gadgets and objects I love and the era they are from. I try to imagine where I would place these items in my home. When I see paintings, I pay attention to color and scale and subject matter--what makes me catch my breath? What enchants me and makes me think creative, dreamy thoughts?

Inspiration to create the best home possible -- it's, as I said, everywhere you look.

But we have to be looking. We have to learn what we like--and give ourselves permission to like it, even if we like it alone. We have to stay awake to all that is good and right... and well, it's out there for those who search with eyes open wide.

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