Aug 112014
 

“Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.”   ―  Thoreau

So why not just laugh now? – G

“If we do not feel grateful for what we already have, what makes us think we’d be happy with more?” — Unknown

Recently I posted a picture of myself in my kitchen, and I immediately started receiving generous messages from people wanting to help me “update” it. Along with their messages came pictures of how my kitchen could look, if I’d just put some effort and money into it.

I’ve always loved my kitchen, but after seeing those pictures I found myself looking at it through new, critical eyes.  Maybe it was all wrong. Maybe the 80’s counters, laminate cabinets, mismatched appliances and clutter really were mistakes I should try to fix. I stood and stared and suddenly my kitchen looked shabby and lazy to me. I wondered if that meant I was shabby and lazy, too. Because our kitchens are nothing if not reflections of us, right? I decided I’d talk to Craig and make some calls about updates.

But as I lay down to sleep, I remembered this passage from Thoreau’s Walden: “I say beware of all enterprises that require new clothes and not a new wearer of the clothes.” Walden reminds me that when I feel lacking- I don’t need new things, I need new eyes with which to see the things I already have. So when I woke up this morning, I walked into my kitchen wearing fresh perspectacles. Here’s what I saw.

You guys. I have a REFRIGERATOR.

kitchen fridge one

This thing MAGICALLY MAKES FOOD COLD. I’m pretty sure in the olden days, frontierswomen had to drink warm Diet Coke. Sweet Jesus. Thank you, precious kitchen.

kitchen refrgerator inside

Inside my refrigerator is FOOD. Healthy food that so many parents would give anything to be able to feed their children. Almost 16,000 mama’s babies die every day from malnutrition. Not mine. When this food runs out, I’ll just jump in my car to get more. It’s ludicrous, really. It’s like my family hits the lottery every freaking morning.

kichen water faucet

THIS CRAZY THING IS A WATER FAUCET. I pull this lever and CLEAN WATER POURS OUT EVERY TIME, DAY OR NIGHT. 780 million people worldwide (one in nine) lack access to clean water. Mamas everywhere spend their entire day walking miles to and from wells just for a single bucket of this- and I have it right here at my fingertips.  I’m almost embarrassed to say that we also have one of these in each of our two bathrooms, and one in the front yard with which to WASH OUR FEET.  We use clean drinking water to WASH OUR FEET. Holy bounty.

kitchen microwave

This is the magical box in which I put uncooked stuff, push some buttons, and then a minute later- pull out cooked stuff. It is like the JETSONS up in here.

kitchen medicine cabinet

This is my medicine cabinet. Since my Lyme is in remission and each of my babies is healthy- there is nothing in here but vitamins and supplements and tea. Thank you, God. This medicine cabinet is a miracle to me. Every time I open it I feel like I should kneel down and kiss the ground. I have an inbox full of letters from mothers whose medicine cabinets look very different.

kitchen floor

Speaking of ground-  this is our kitchen floor. It’s not fancy, but it’s perfect for our most important kitchen activity: DANCING. When Chase was three a librarian asked a roomful of kids, “what do we do in the kitchen?” Everyone else called out “cook” or “eat!” But Chase yelled “DANCE!”

kitchen coffee

I can’t even talk about this thing. Actually, let’s take a moment of reverent silence because this machine is the reason all my people are still alive. IT TURNS MAGICAL BEANS INTO A LIFE-SAVING NECTAR OF GODS. EVERY MORNING. ON A TIMER.

kitchen school corner

And look you guys: LOOK. This is the kitchen corner where I keep all my kids’ school stuff.  My kids go to a FREE school with brilliant teachers and a loving administration and they’re SAFE there. The school sends flyers home about PROGRAMS and CLASSES and CLUBS to make my kids’ hearts bigger and softer and their brains sharper and their bodies healthier. This corner reminds me everyday that my kids have at their fingertips what so many around the world  are giving their lives for: quality education. When I wear my perspectacles I can’t look at this corner without a heart explosion.

My perspectacled kitchen tour taught me two things this morning: I’m insanely lucky and I’m finally FREE.

In terms of parenting, marriage, home, clothes – I will not be a slave to the Tyranny of Trend any longer. I am almost 40 years old and no catalog is the Boss of Me anymore. I am free. I am not bound to spend my precious days on Earth trying to keep up with the Joneses- because the Joneses are really just a bunch of folks in conference rooms changing “trends” rapidly to create fake monthly emergencies for us. OH NO! NOW IT’S A SUBWAY TILE BACKSPLASH WE NEED!  No, thank you. Life offers plenty of REAL emergencies to handle, thank you very much.

I’m a grown up now. I know what looks good on me, and that doesn’t change every three months. I know how I like my house. I like it cute and cozy and a little funky and I like it to feel lived in and worn and I like the things inside of it to work.  That’s all. And for me – it’s fine that my house’s interior suggests that I might not spend every waking moment thinking about how it looks.

Sometimes it seems that our entire economy is based on distracting women from their blessings. Producers of STUFF NEED to find 10,000 ways to make women feel less than about our clothes, kitchens, selves so that we will keep buying more. So maybe freeing ourselves just a little from the Tyranny of Trend is a women’s issue – because we certainly aren’t going to get much world changing done if we spend all of our time and money on wardrobe and kitchen changing.

BUT. Listen. I’m nothing if not a tangled, colorful ball of contradictions. I like a good make-over as much as anybody else. So . . . HERE WE HAVE IT. HERE IS THE MELTON KITCHEN MAKEOVER FOR YA! READY FOR THE BIG REVEAL?

Before:

kitchen one

After:

kitchen after

Ba- BAM! Extreme home makeover! My kitchen IS beautiful because it is full of beauty. SO IS YOURS.

Today I shall keep my perspectacles super-glued to my face and feel insanely GRATEFUL instead of LACKING and I will look at my home and my people and my body and say: THANK YOU. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. THIS IS ALL MORE THAN GOOD ENOUGH, ALL OF IT. Now. Let us turn our focus onward and outward.  There is WORK TO BE DONE and JOY TO BE HAD.

Love,
G

PS For stories about people around the world with all different kinds of kitchens, or for help creating your own pair of perspectacles, visit CWS!



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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  1,862 Responses to “Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt”

  1. I love your kitchen and I love your attitude, and I love the dancing. My kitchen is also extremely untrendy but functional (well mostly- the extractor fan is currently on the blink) and used for dancing, particularly to Pete Seeger’s “All Around the Kitchen.”

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I was JUST starting to freak out about my kitchen and then this, like a deep breath, set me free. Screw expectations, I’m having a play date. I may still close and lock that door, though. Ain’t nobody gotta see how free I am.

  3. I am glad you changed your perspective because I think your kitchen is just fine the way it is. Sometimes it seems people think you should update something just because it doesn’t fit the current trend, well I think your current trend is a happy home and family and I think you should stick with it.

  4. Thank you! I just looked in my kitchen, and I love it!

  5. ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS….Thank you for writing so eloquently what needed to be said and what WE all want to say……this piece needs to be in a magazine for ALL women to read…..I feel 100% about myself after reading this! YOU GO GIRL!

  6. Beautiful Post! I love it!

  7. I just love this post! Yea! I love your perspective! Thanks for counting your blessings for all to see!

  8. Oh my! We are about to embark on a similar journey! We moved into our house 7 1/2 years ago, and I LOATHED the kitchen. It’s still the kitchen I have today. It works, but I am more of a cook than the previous owner, so it would be nice if it could work for me. Besides that, it’s terribly UGLY to look at. I spend 85 – 95% of my day in here, so I want it to reflect ME, and be comfortable TO me. Besides that, I don’t know where to begin. I am overwhelmed with choices. I want it to be functional (for me and my use), but I also want it to be practical, and somewhat timeless. (I know styles change and aren’t popular over time, and I don’t want to “have” to change the kitchen in 20 years just because the back splash isn’t “contemporary” anymore.) This is our “forever” house, God willing.

    • If you’re going to do the kitchen, spend some time doing your homework and asking around for referrals. We ended up with a fabulous cabinetmaker who wouldn’t come look at the kitchen until we’d gone to the shop for a two-hour tutorial on how kitchens are done, and the differences in wood, hardware, and design. My kitchen is lovely and functional, and it was money well spent. We spent far less that way, too. His price was just over half of what the Home Depot kitchen would’ve cost, and it’s WAY nicer.

  9. Great after picture. :)

  10. Yesterday I visited a friend’s house for the first time. It was beautiful. Full of expensive furniture & gorgeous furnishings. Spotlessly clean & tidy. I went home & looked at our dusty chaos and wondered which was best. But the pile of fabric dumped on be settee is a new garment, designed from scratch & being created. The electronics on the dining room table are from my old computer while my son repairs & upgrades it. The boxes in the lounge are piling up as my daughter prepares to leave for university. In our house, we have talents and we use them. The dust? That shows that I have more interesting things to do that dust too often and everyone else is too busy enjoying life to notice. Thanks for your blog. You are so right.

  11. Love this!! When we moved into our 1978 home seven years ago, I hated the kitchen with every fiber of my being and dreamt of the day when we could remodel. 7 years later, it looks the same as it did when we moved in and I love it. It is dated and ugly, but so functional and more than I could ever need or deserve. I love feeding my family and friends in my kitchen and have no desire to remodel it.

  12. Hi, I clicked on your post from another blog site; toot sweet 4 two. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your message here. I am now adding your site to my “favorites”
    THANKS

  13. You just reminded me to be thankful for all I have now–there have been times when I had none of it, or when I was even more unsure of how long I would have these things. My husband and I have a nice home in a nice neighborhood, food on my table, clothes on my back, though nothing of the first quality even though it’s good. I worry about the same things as everyone else, bills, health, children (grown and gone, some married and some with children, but healthy), but we have the right to say and do what we want. Life is good, and thank you for reminding me of that!

  14. I love this SO much. Thank you so much!!! (That Thoreau. Pretty smart guy. :-) ) This is wonderful.

  15. Amen Sister! I am always mindful to be thankful for the laundry. The stinky-smelly-never-ending laundry because it means that my family has clothes to wear AND it means that I have a family to care for. All blessings.

  16. I really enjoyed your article. We all need more reminders of these things. I am blessed to have a wonderful family and a roof over my head!

  17. I don’t see anything wrong with your kitchen I think its fine the way it is. It suites you and your families needs and it’s perfect.

  18. What a great post! You certainly have your priorities straight! Thank you for reminding me to appreciate my blessings and always share G-R-A-T-I-T-U-D-E!

  19. People who feel the need to tell other people that their stuff needs updating need a reality check. Your home is clean, healthy, and full of love. If you have tiles or granite or whatever the Joneses have, it won’t change that bottom line… Your home is clean, healthy, and full of love! Love your perspective. Keep on keepin’ it real! Thank you!

  20. I think I love you.

  21. Please read “The Patience of Ordinary Things” by Pat Schneider, it is wonderful and I was reminded of it when I read this article of yours. (here is part of it)

    The Patience of Ordinary Things

    It is a kind of love, is it not?
    How the cup holds the tea,
    How the chair stands sturdy and foursquare,
    How the floor holds the bottoms of shoes
    or toes. How the soles of feet know
    Where they are supposed to be….

    search for it, you’ll love it! Wanda

    • Oh my goodness…I read this blogpost 3 times this week and shared it and it was shared multiple times on facebook…What a great word for our crazy-out-of-our-heads image driven people up in here! I just read it out loud to my husband and we laughed and cried. I looked up this poem and we read it as well..Yes…this is a lovely poem to and you have my gratitude for posting this as well. In a society where all cups need to match, can we just embrace the beauty of the lovely little tea cup that serves so thanklessly. Can we learn something from this? Can we be little vessels of love that just silently hold those we love and nurture them with just presence? Yeee-haw for some brilliant paradigm shifting blogging. Bring it!

  22. I wish more people would think this way and not buy into HGTV telling us what we have to have in our house. I’m so sad thinking that in five years or so, we’ll have to ‘update’ our kitchen with the required latest counter and floor material, so it will sell. I’ve never understood this. If I was someone that really loved marble counters, I would want to pick them out myself and get just what I want. But rather than spend $5k (we have lots of counter space), people will spend $10k more for our house, and get what we picked out.

  23. Couldn’t have said it better! If everyone did this, more people would be smiling about life! Thank you for the wisdom!!

  24. Yes. It is really a great thought. Once you know the difference between what you NEED and what you WANT, it becomes easy to buy or not to buy something or anything.

  25. I fail to see anything wrong with your kitchen. Nothing was broken or dirty. I think it looks nice and it looks functional. People who made comments to the contrary have way too much time on their hands. Anytime I start thinking I need to upgrade or to get something new, I remember my mother and I stop and re-evaluate if this is something I really NEED or just something I WANT. I grew up in a house with no water heater (well we had one but it didn’t work) so mother boiled water in a tea kettle to wash her dishes and she boiled water in a big boiler so we could take a bath. It worked and somehow we stayed clean. I never heard her complain. She washed our clothes in a wringer washer and hung them on the line and was grateful she didn’t have to use the washboard although she kept it hanging on a hook by the washer just in case. When the well went dry, we had to wait a long time to get a new one drilled and Daddy hauled water in milk cans from a neighbor’s house. We had to use the old outhouse which was not fun due to spiders, splinters, etc. But we survived and nobody whined too much because we still OK and together and when the new well was drilled, we had water again–riches beyond belief even there was no water heater to make it hot. Cold running water was wonderful. So when I start feeling sorry for myself and wishing I had something new, I look at it through my mother’s eyes and am ashamed. I have a washer and dryer and hot water to wash my clothes. I have a vacuum to clean my house. I can take a hot bath without having to boil water. I have a dishwasher. My mother would have fallen to her knees and thanked the Lord for the miracles I take for granted. Sometimes I just need to borrower her eyes and then I am truly grateful.

    • This comment puts the icing on the cake of Glennon´s lovely article. We do have so very much to be thankful for.

      Before I read it, I was thinking of our mother who raised us, in the 60´s and 70´s in a kitchen that was probably 40 or 50 years old. When our neighbors renovated their kitchen my mother put their newer old Chamber´s stove in our kitchen. At the time, I was going through the Sears & Roebuck catalog just dreaming of a new kitchen for her (probably something with avocado green appliances!). Now I feel so proud of her for having such a joyful and loving marriage and for raising four healthy, intelligent children. If she´d been paging through the Sears catalog, she probably would have missed all that.

      But, reading your post, puts everything even more in perspective. Your dear mother! What a lot of work! Thank you so very much.

  26. Thank you. I had a friend who would thank the Lord every time he took a shower. He would say thank you for the warm water that comes out of the wall. He gave me a whole new perspective on gratitude. You just took it to a deeper level. Thank you.

  27. Beautiful, beautiful article. I wish you lived next door to me. Thank you!!

  28. I’ve never understood the concept of replacing a refrigerator because it’s out of fashion. I replace the refrigerator when it quits working and the repairman says it can’t be repaired. Ditto the stove, dishwasher, microwave, oven, coffee pot. I love that you love your kitchen. I know what’s important in my kitchen and how others think it looks is not on the list. Love this blog, love your attitude. You have a beautiful family.

  29. Yikes. I am now removing the subway tile from my Home Depot online cart. Thanks for the reminder. I. Am. Blessed.
    Well done.

  30. I’ve just returned from a week in Cuba accompanied by my daughter. We both feel extremely humbled by the kindness, resourcefulness and ingenuity of the Cuban people who give “make do and mend” a whole new meaning. I’ve returned with a determination to rid my home of unwanted, unneeded ” stuff” and henceforth to be forever grateful for all my many blessings. Thank you for your article. I love it. xx

  31. This is wonderful! Thank you so so much for writing this. It was such a pleasure to read. I love the last picture of your family, they’re beautiful! And your husband is smoking hot if I might say. ;)

  32. I want to be you when I grow up. Finally, someone who feels the same way I do!

  33. Really! 80′s counters, laminate cabinets, mismatched appliances…all sound like “First World Problems” to me! In other words…they aren’t problems at all! We are SO LUCKY and it’s amazing to me how many of us forget that. Thanks for the perspective!

  34. Amen! Thanks for voicing what needs to be said more often!

  35. Loved this article!!! Especially poignant was the part where you said: “Sometimes it seems that our entire economy is based on distracting women from their blessings. Producers of STUFF NEED to find 10,000 ways to make women feel less than about our clothes, kitchens, selves so that we will keep buying more. So maybe freeing ourselves just a little from the Tyranny of Trend is a women’s issue – because we certainly aren’t going to get much world changing done if we spend all of our time and money on wardrobe and kitchen changing.

  36. This is an amazing article . . . funny, and yet so true!!! I gave me just the reminder I need to view my life with a grateful heart. Thank you SO much for this well written, wise article.

  37. Love love love your article! I also love my kitchen as it is! Lemon chiffon paint (10 yrs) flooring (up there). Home is where the heart is & the kitchen is where it happens

  38. I absolutely love this!!! Thank you for sharing your story!!! I feel the same way when anyone says something about my smaller place (which makes me very happy) or my some what out of date T.V. I’m retired at 32 because I keep perspective about what matters. I just love the way you described your kitchen!! Marvelous. Thanks again for sharing!

  39. All I can say is you rock!! Loved this post.

  40. Ok, while I love all your reminders of what is truly important and while it’s not really the point of the post I’m seriously trying to figure out why people felt the need to remodel your kitchen. It looked perfectly fine to me! LOL They should watch an episode of hoarders if they want to find people in need of assistance. :)

  41. First of all, you are hilarious. Secondly, that is one of the best makeovers I HAVE EVER SEEN! And I’m nothing if not an avid watcher of all shows involving makeovers and remodeling. Thirdly, thanks for the reminder!

  42. Thank you! I love you! I have been wrestling with discontentment a LOT lately. I should know better b/c I have lived in third world countries and even visited people who LIVE INSIDE of garbage dumps!!

    And yet that profound statement, “Sometimes it seems that our entire economy is based on distracting women from their blessings.” is SO TRUE!!

    I should know better about that too because I have a Public Relations degree!(Advertising’s more subtle sister) Not only do I have STUFF I don’t use, I have education that I don’t even use!

    I will now follow your blog, but I wish you lived next door!

    ~ Tammy

    • **Love** this. Thank you for a humbling and uplifting post with so much honestly and perspective, and not a hint of self righteousness, just gratitude. LOVE it.

  43. I love this post. You are very smart to know how to look thru your perspectacles and to be thankful for what you have. Anyone trying to keep up with the Joneses will forever be unhappy. Like you, I’m quite happy with what I have. As long as it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Kudos to you!

  44. thank you it so true most off us forget the good great life we have iam thankfull i may not walk all the time but some days i do it just fine an when i cant i read

  45. I love your faucet, and thats a great nice big fridge! looks clean and well loved to me, thats important. if you love it and it works for you, thats all that counts. for some of us its not how a room looks its the love and care that goes in within those walls!

  46. I love this post probably more than any other blog post I have ever read. I am a food blogger, and as much as I love my blogging brothers and sisters, I have been corrected for not calling for organic ingredients which makes me sad. To each his own, but growing up in a middle class home, I was always keenly aware of how much things cost and why we couldn’t buy certain things. I always have been, and always will be thankful that I have food in my cupboard, period. Those that can turn their nose up at food that isn’t good enough for them are super lucky. I just hope they know that.

    • Thank you for this wise comment. I’m always upset by people who complain about “the chore” of grocery shopping. I feel so blessed 1) to live here in the US where we have such a variety of filled grocery shelves and 2) to have sufficient funds to purchase the food we need (and like). What is there to complain about?

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