Allow me to pull back the veil, friends. Behold, my slice of right here.
My office is what no one would call a bastion of “a place for everything with everything in its place.” I write at a computer in a nook adjacent to our play room/family room. In spite of best efforts, it is a landing place, an overflow spot with glitter glue and hair clips covering work surfaces.
I prop up my feet on a cracked nursing stool, circa 2002.
To my left are a stack of bills to be paid and filed, a journal, books. Next to them, financial planning documents we haven’t followed up on since we received them a year ago.
Panning to the right, various books, directories and files, business cards and paper scraps, a synonym/antonym dictionary I didn’t realize was here until this minute. A camera charger, cords, cough drops, copies of paintings by my grandfather, stationery, a label maker, the printer.
From where I sit in the rolling chair, I see the magical photo of a leaning tulip taken by my mama, a tall, skinny lamp with a square shade, notes and hand drawn pictures made by my girls, vintage flashcards and photos strung up with clothespins, laundry style.
Below that, on the ledge, a once beautiful terrarium indicates it needs loving (you know it’s bad when the air plant begs water, as they exist on you know, air). Then there are the framed family photos, a stack of CDs, various piggy banks and charity collection jars, bulletin boards and all manner of what my dad calls flotsam and jetsam.
Right next to the computer screen is my peace vignette: a chunky bergamot candle that burns alongside a bubbly green glass bottle labeled Patron. The bottle holds a single sprig of flowering coleus and several lengths of lavender cut for me with pride and the big kitchen scissors by my youngest daughter.
As I write, my eyes seek out the beauty glimmers because they help me stay grounded, sane. The candle, the special photos and artwork, the flowers bring my focus to the good, to my own breathing, lest the stacks of junk overtake me.
Because if stacks and junk always took precedence around here, I would never do so many other things that matter. Like write, and for now, this is my commitment. This is what 31 days looks like.
Lest you imagine I go with the flow, all laid back and writerly, I will tell you that it’s far easier for me to pass judgment on all this than I’d like.
(Right now, my inner voice sounds something like this: How dare you indulge yourself in right here? Look at this mess!)
I find it more natural to condemn myself for all this, for all the imperfect spaces of this house, and by extension, this life. It is far less natural to receive the gift of right here.
Yes, too many of us live by the tallying of moments.
Orderly ones: good. Messy ones: bad. Clean ones: success, a balanced life. Dirty ones: failure, failure, failure.
Sometimes right here can be an exercise in futility for me because the more I see, the more I judge.
But today. Today, in this little nook of the world, as I feel the judgment come in, particularly as I reveal it to all of you, I choose to thank.
Thank you for life, for love, for fullness, for freedom, for the piles that indicate people are doing life work in this living breathing place. Thank you that we live in a home and not a museum.
Thank you, God, that right here I can choose gratitude over shame.
So I’m writing line after line even as I see all the mess. (Yes, I see you, mess.)
There will be a day to clean, purge and make order (and that will be good and lovely in its time), but for now, I’m embracing what is as the candle burns and casts glowing light upon all of it.
This is Day 12 of Right Here. Throughout October, I’m joining with a community of other bloggers (over 1,500 strong! with The Nester), writing for 31 days about the same topic. To find all posts in 31 Days of Right Here, click here, or see the listing below.
To continue receiving these daily words, subscribe to this blog on the sidebar at left, click here to Like Draw Near on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @AshleyMLarkin. I’m immensely grateful to share the journey with you.
POSTS IN THE SERIES
An introduction: Welcome to 31 Days of Right Here
Day 1: For You, Too
Day 2: Fear’s Invitation
Day 3: My Portion
Day 4: Five Minute Friday – Write
Day 5: Rise and Shine
Day 6: My Joys Mount As Do the Birds
Day 7: A Mother’s Fierce Love
Day 8: When Life’s A Mad Rush – How To Slow Time
Day 9: The Fight For Right Here Told Through Two Tales of Epic Whining (Part I)
Day 10: The Fight For Right Here Told Through Two Tales of Epic Whining (Part II)
Day 11: Five Minute Friday: Ordinary
Day 12: When Right Here’s A Mess
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My goodness, I love coming here every morning of these 31 days that you gift us with your sight! What would happen I wonder, inside our troubled hearts, if we performed this little experiment? What if we sat down in our own flotsam and jetsam place and wrote of what we saw there? What if we lit a candle and placed a flower, and wrote? My guess is that what would be revealed is that Life is circling here, sometimes wild, comic, carefree, creative, other times too full, busy, frantic…but Life. And what would we truly (honestly) rather have than That? Beautiful, Ashley! Thank you so much for another one of your sweet gifts. You keep me ever-thankful!
Yeah, I agree Spree! Look around right now and what do you see? Life’s a happening all around! The plain and simple truth. Love it Ash, that Papou’s paintings are part of your’s.
We’ve got Papou’s art all over our house, and it makes me so happy, Uncle Don. A tremendous example to me of how we are never too old to see, to make beauty, to take a risk.
Writing in the right here is powerful for sure. Mess transforms into treasure before our very eyes. I agree, Mama!
Yes to what your Mama wrote! What a gift you are giving us, Ashley, and what a difference it would make if we all could light a candle and hone in on the beauty of right here, right smack dab in the middle of all the mess. But you’re so right, if we focus in on the mess, we will never be able to receive what’s right here. Thank you for showing us how you’re wrestling with your inner critic as you continue to show up each day, right here, and open a window to your heart. This is precious, beyond words.
Thank you, honey.
Choosing gratitude over shame – I love that.
Thank you, Mary. Sounds like your journey has many of the same elements as mine. Hope your 31 days is going well for you, too. It’s quite an adventure.
Thank you for being an example of “choosing gratitude over shame” & honestly letting your readers into your “right here”! I look forward to your words each morning dear friend.
Your today’s picture of your surroundings could just as easily be our home! I love how you look for the ‘beauty glimmers’ I believe these are like the ‘whatevers’ of Philippians 4:8,9…which ends with ‘and the God of peace will be with you.’ I think we often tend to believe that everyone else’s home is a lot more tidy & clean & organized than our own, perhaps they manage to tidy it quickly when they know we are on our way over! There should be no shame in what we perceive to be imperfection in the way our homes look, especially when we are already doing our best. Being a mom of small children is hard work. For that matter, being a mom of any aged children is hard work! I grew up in a home that had to be kept immaculately clean & tidy, but love was seldom evident there. With my here & now family, clean is good, and tidy is great, but time for loving relationships is priority. When I get overwhelmed with the mess here (believe me, it happens frequently) I try to remember to get my focus off the storms of life and back gazing into the face of Jesus. I aim to have a Mary heart instead of a Martha demeanor. And then, as time and energy permits, being patient with myself, take one baby step at a time, in a forward motion, towards accomplishing the next of the myriad of tasks at hand. Always keep in mind that God is far more concerned with the state of our hearts than the state of your homes!
We so easily get weighed down by all the inner thoughts sentencing us for being a failure, as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, homemaker, cook, friend..even feel like a failure in our faith..etc…But how often do we take the time to really listen to the Father’s words reminding us of our true identity? It helps me to read through some of Paul’s letters & see who God says I am, who He has made me to be because of what Jesus has done…and then begin to really own that identity! When other voices clamour for attention and tell me who I am not, I need to counteract them with the truth of who I am.
As I read your blog today, I was reminded of the following beautiful words:
‘I embrace Yes and mess And Perfection Himself Who happily dwells in the mess!’ Ann Voskamp (www.aholyexperience.com) Isn’t that really what matters most, that Jesus Himself, dwells & walks in the daily mess of our lives with us?!
May God enable you to have eyes wide open and to experience great joy in seeing beyond the messy moments to His Majesty in your midst.
Kim, such wisdom here, I hardly know what to reply to first. I love what you say about God’s view of our hearts, about focusing on the “whatevers” — whatever is pure, true, lovely, excellent… (that’s one of my favorite verses), of recalling and reminding ourselves of our true identity that counteract the lies of not enough. You have journeyed far to your current perspective on love, family and home. This is so beautiful and testimony to God’s love in your life.
Great quote from A. Voskamp, too. Thank you for your thoughtful words, Kim. You’ve encouraged me greatly.
something about clutter unbalances my equilibrium…i am so guilty of not sitting until its tidy. Except in front of the PC screen. Something about that 17 inches of glowing square causes everything to blur. A good thing and a dangerous, tantalizing thing. And yes, WHY DO WE perceive messy as failure? Is it because of deep-seeded insecurity that we are only housewives, and can’t even to that well, I wonder?
Enjoying your series. I have rehearsed your lines that you told at the beginning of this series that your friend told you of: “its is supposed to be good and enjoyable for you too” especially after a difficult week in homeschooling.
Profuse gratitude for putting words to what is in so many of our heads. As a writer, and also a mom of two very little boys, I identify with so much of what you write. Your words are so beautifully chosen. And uplifting. And truly profound. Have you read “Tiny Beautiful Things” by Cheryl Strayed? Something about your eloquence and honesty reminds me of her, although you are much more gentle. Keep up the good work. We are all listening…
Melanie, your words have blessed me many times over. Thank you for your presence here. I’ve wanted to read Cheryl Strayed, but have not yet. Thank you for the reminder.