Every now and then, I fall into the trap that is American consumeristic thinking. Every now and then, I panic about living on a doctoral stipend at thirty-three. I somehow forget how stupendously blessed we are. I am bothered by our disastrously painted wood floors, which we can’t afford to redo. I look at images on-line, and get inspired about the new color scheme I want to use in our bedroom – cool greys, whites, soft blues – and the chocolates and plums I want in our living room. For tiny moments, I am stricken by the notion that our home is somehow shabby. I notice where the couch is coming apart at the seams, and where the batting has been flattened. I notice the barn-like quality (this is not hyperbolic) of the wood on the floor of the kitchen. I hate these moments because they don’t feel authentic. They’re similar to the sensation I get when we’ve watched a television show with a too.thin actress: that I’m not fit enough. They remind me that I’m a marketing victim. That I can be manipulated into forgetting to be grateful.
But ninety-nine percent of the time, when I look around our home, I am utterly charmed. I love what we’ve created on such a modest income. I appreciate every little indulgence. I notice the beautiful things: the bookcase J put together last year, which is filled to capacity. The table I sought out for so long. The rugs I saved for over a year to buy. The gifts people have given us over the years. The GORGEOUS new glider my mom got us as a “Welcome, Rabbit!” gift. The framed artwork. Rabbit’s crib. Our cats. My wife’s belly.
When I’ve had these consumeristic moments in the past, I’ve gone shopping. Bought something to make myself feel better. I think this is normal. But lately, I’ve tried to consciously reframe my thinking instead, and I’ve found that this is easy to do because the gratitude.frame is more natural to me than the this.isn’t.good.enough frame. This still isn’t ideal because it leaves me focusing (mostly) on material possessions. But it’s a step in the right direction: awareness of what I have and not what I don’t have.
In the spirit of the gratitude.frame, then, here are some photos of things I love. And seriously: our little cottage is full of things I love!
1. The new glider. SUCH a delight to sit in. Seriously, the most comfortable thing ever. Also featured here is the blanket my Aunt Linda knit for Rabbit. So sweet and beautiful. And she didn’t even know when she made it that aqua would be one of the nursery’s colors!
2. The threshold between the small, upstairs hallway and Rabbit’s room. I love these colors together, and I love the clean white trim in the middle. I love the old heat grate and the light switch cover. For some reason, this is one of my favorite spots in the whole cottage.
3. The total splurge of a dresser we bought. We wanted it to last, and we’re hoping Rabbit will have someone to share it with in a couple/few years, so we thought six (low and accessible) drawers was the way to go. Note Hades & Nemesis on our floor pillows. They love a pillow stack.
4. The curtain rod (so far sans curtain), featuring three glass pieces we love. From left to right: J’s first Valentine’s gift to me (I have a weakness for spheres), a gift our friend Jana got us for our wedding, and our first Christmas ornament as a couple. Outside this window, you can see our gorgeous maple, whose leaves are mere moments from beginning to fall.
5. The artwork I found at a festival last summer with our friend MJB (I bought Rabbit the rabbit, MJB bought him the elephant and bird). I think they’re even more incredible with this matting. These pieces capture the whimsical quality we’re going for with this room (and are the inspiration for the murals our SUPER.TALENTED friend Rachel is planning! Stay tuned on that…)
6. The most dapper overalls EVER! My mom picked this out for Rabbit on a visit last Thursday, and I LOVE it. Do you see the suspenders? This boy is going to look so much like his gorgeous mom.
7. Rabbit’s first sweater! (Given to us by our incredible friend, Mick, about a year before we first started trying.)
8. The first piece of clothing we bought Rabbit: a typewriter onesie (of course) that says: “So my story begins.”
9. SHOES! (Given to us by our friends J & J when their daughter outgrew them.)
10. Bernard (who came home on the train with us after our July visit to Chicago). Wearing Rabbit’s bib-overalls (also a gift from J & J). Sitting in the crib on Emmett’s blanket.
11. The “Children Ask the World of Us” poster made by the “Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament.” J’s mom had this hanging as J grew up (I think it’s from the 70s, right Sarah?). My mom had it framed for us when we moved here. It’s one of my favorite possessions in all of the world.
12. A replica of Tiffany’s “Mermaid.” This hangs in the front window of our living room, and has even more meaning for us since E.
13. A pillow and blanket stack. (H & N aren’t the only ones in the cottage who love a pillow stack. This stack includes the blanket Mick made us for our wedding.)
14. Where I do a lot of my work. At our new (used) table. In front of our theory bookshelf. On our lovely, grey rug (my favorite of our three new rugs).
15. Our fiction shelf. (There’s spillover, but it holds A-Q.) And our new striped-brown rug.
16. Cat sibling LOVE.