Gratitude can turn common days into Thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joys, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.
-William Arthur Ward
The term "dream kitchen" gets thrown around a lot in today's society. It's used frequently by friends, family and on pretty much every HGTV show known to man. I think having a dream or a goal is important and helps put meaning into our lives. But, when my so called "dream" gets in the way of my values, then we have a serious problem.
My house is almost 30 years-old and it's the house I grew up in as a kid. I treasure everything about it, the old, the ugly, and even the weird. I feel extremely grateful that I have a house I feel comfortable and at ease living in.
Before starting my simple living/minimalism journey a year ago I would constantly talk about how I can't wait until I can make this kitchen my "dream kitchen." I would often describe my "dream kitchen" to others. I'm sure you've heard this whole song and dance before.
"I want to tear down this wall and make the kitchen larger, include more storage space, get new white cabinets, a large farmhouse sink, some butcher block counter tops, etc."
My "dream kitchen" sounds stunning, doesn't it?
Well unfortunately something this stunning would cost A LOT of money and A LOT of my free time too. In order to obtain this "dream kitchen" I would ultimately have to charge it on a credit card and be in debt for who knows how many years. I would also have to cut back on traveling (which I love to do) or going out on date nights because I would need to save that money to pay for my "dream kitchen", not to mention the accumulating interest as well.
Was redoing my kitchen worth that kind of debt?
What were my main reasons for wanting my "dream kitchen"?
What I came to realize were that my reasons for wanting my "dream kitchen" had nothing to do with necessity or function. I wanted my "dream kitchen" because I wanted my kitchen to look like the other beautiful kitchens I saw on social media and television. Also because it would be fun to show off my kitchen to friends and family.
So basically I wanted to go into debt for 8-10 years because I wanted to compete with other kitchens I saw in the media and to try to impress my friends and family.
Wow, that sounds RIDICULOUS!
I had to shift this type of thinking immediately. And what else is kinda scary is that I'm pretty sure these were the same reasons why I had spent so much of my time and money shopping for new decorations, clothes, and other material things. I wanted to keep up with the new fashion trends (that change every freakin' month) and impress others. This type of living was exhausting, stressful, and not to mention financially draining.
I value my freedom of time, my family, my friends and experiences.
I however DO NOT value going into debt and competing with others just for show.
It was not easy to put these kitchen dreams aside, because we all know that feeling you get when you purchase something new. New things gave me instant gratification or a type of "high" if you will.
In order to create better habits for the life I wanted I had to find strategies that worked for me.
So, I created my own gratitude mantra and a visual reminder (see below) to display in my kitchen. These strategies help remind me that I HAVE ENOUGH. Every time I revert back to the "I gotta have the next new thing" thinking (which still happens frequently) my mantra and visual reminder help direct me toward my values again.
MY KITCHEN MANTRA
My kitchen is enough.
My kitchen functions.
My kitchen has working appliances.
My kitchen has storage.
My kitchen has cabinets.
My kitchen has space.
My kitchen is filled with love.
I created a piece of art using some extra baseboards we had lying in the garage. This piece of art is displayed in my kitchen (above my oven) to remind me everyday just how grateful I am. See photo above
"William St. Kitchen" is what I wrote on this visual. It is the street name my grandparents lived on in South Baltimore. They lived in a narrow three-story row home for most of their lives, which included a tiny and narrow kitchen as well. The kitchen had very little counter space, not a ton of storage or cabinets, and always had functional (not fancy) appliances. There was barely room for a kitchen table but it somehow managed to fit if it was put right up against the wall. On special occasions we used small tables to sit on while we ate because there wouldn't be enough chairs for everyone. Did I mention there was also a small TV squeezed in this space as well? Anyways I think you get the picture that their kitchen was tiny and the furniture and people in it fit snug as a bug on a rug.
I had so many great experiences in their kitchen. That's the place where I learned how to bake a pie for the first time, the place where the whole family would gather to eat (in shifts) for holidays, and the place where we would play Yahtzee or Phase 10 with my grandparents for hours. Their kitchen was loved because of the people and experiences that happened in it, not because of the fancy bells and whistles.
I look at that "William St. Kitchen" sign to remind myself of the amazing times we had in a kitchen that was 1/4 the size of my own. My grandparents didn't need to compete with anyone else or try to impress others. They just filled the space they had with an abundance of love and good times.
Now I'm not saying I don't invest in my home or make large purchases. I am extremely intentional about the investments made in our home. If something is broken, not functional, and/or aligns with my values then I invest.
I choose to only invest in the things that make me happy and healthy. And I am far from perfection. I need reminders everyday to stay on this track. It is most definitely worth it!
Always craving health and happiness,
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