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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  2,089 Responses to “Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt”

  1. First off, I love your kitchen. It looks like a kitchen from life, not a magazine. Second, I love the fact that you aren’t afraid to tell some folks, in your own way, they need to mind their own business.
    Third, your house looks lived in, that is a good thing. It means that you and your family have the intelligence to use what you have.
    Fourth, Your son Chase had the best answer for his teacher and I imagine he was telling the truth, Dance is a great thing to do whether it is in the kitchen or anywhere.
    You go girl, you and your ideas ROCK!!
    Don’t update anything unless you and your family aren’t happy with it, or it is broke.
    It is after all your money and you and your family get to decide how and where and for what you spend your money on.
    Lastly, some folks just don’t get the old adage, ” If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.”
    A sad statement for our society.
    I love this read.
    Thank you for sharing all the thoughts on your kitchen.
    Glad you decided to leave it alone.
    Sincerely,
    Sharon Lee

  2. I can’t even imagine someone writing you with suggestions on improving your kitchen. Wow. I was so happy to see your fridge, looks like mine most of the time, but I was envious of the bottom freezer! LOL I believe in ignoring trends and find that most of my needs seem to be fleeting. Good for you; just look at that family!

  3. School is not “FREE” though — taxpayers pay for it, just sayin’… :)

    • A ‘free’ school is actually a private school, which is quite expensive. It is based on ‘child-led’ learning, where students are trusted with full educational freedom; each student decides what to do, how to do it, and when to change what they’re doing.

    • Dear friend, I’m so sorry you missed the point. :(

  4. LOVE this post!

  5. I think your kitchen makeover was the very best one I have ever seen.
    Love this post of yours. and is the first time i have been on your page.. love you and your spirit..
    Carry on. you got what it takes.
    sandy

  6. Love the post! Life is all about the people that fill our space, our attitude & perspective. Thanks for encouraging me to check & reflect on my perspective.

  7. Such a lovely post! I struggle to have people round to the house I rent, it’s such a dive! But it has a beautiful garden, and a lovely cat, and I know the kitchen is clean even though it doens’t look it, and I am grateful to have a space to bake in, and rest in, and get well in, and screw it – i’m going to invite people over to enjoy all that too!

    The area I struggle most with this in is clothing. I’m going to reassess my wardrobe combination options, and stop eyeing up new things. They will not make a difference to my life. Thanks.

    • I have found some CUTE things at resale shops like Goodwill. And I don’t care what others say, it’s new to ME and that’s all that matters! :)

  8. Theres nothing wrong with ur kitchen I would keep it the way that it is. Mine on the other hand I would love to change it my floor tiles are mostly gone or cracked my walls had flooring glued to the walls mine is a 60’s kitchen.

  9. Looks like there’s nothing wrong with your kitchen. My kitchen is small but we have everything we need.

  10. I recently posted on my blog that January is usually a time for resolutions in this world. I do not make resolutions as there are only a few things I strive for every day and try to teach my children. One of them was “contentment”. Being content makes for a very happy life :-) Great post! Tina

  11. I want to renovate my kitchen this Spring! I think that it has potential but the space is not used very good, so I hope with my renovation project I will get more space in the kitchen.

  12. Gratitude is what makes us never take things for granted!
    Thank you for sharing this. Julie

  13. I love your kitchen makeover! It looks a lot better than it did before.

  14. Well written Ian, this week I’ll be looking through a new pair of perspectacles and seeing the world (and my kitchen) with love and gratitude… how lucky we are to be Australians with an abundance of food & water and the opportunities to make our lives what ever we choose.
    Big hugs to you, K and your family

  15. GDM…. You wrote this so beautifully! And it is spot on.
    I feel the same way you do. I am blessed not to have anyone come into my home and suggest make-overs, everyone feels comfortable here and love coming back (so far ;) ).
    We use all of our appliances, cars, blankets, bed frames… and so on as the list is endless. Why not?!
    I don’t know what those people mean by upgrading…..? People who need changes, may need to change things in their lives if that are so unsettled and not grateful for what they do have.
    It sure isn’t worth it to me to have bills coming in for replacing what is still working (repaint like one person suggested)….. no spending extra money for this household!
    Thank you! HugZ

  16. Well said! No wonder you are a best-selling author! You hit the nail on the head, girl. When I update my kitchen, only the COLORS may change, but nothing that is still working and useful will be. I heard someone on one of those reality shows a few months back say something about one of their friends….”OMG, she has a white refrigerator” – I was appalled….and I can’t believe that anyone who is not very close to you would suggest that your kitchen needed updating – shameful.

  17. This morning was a dark day in July in the middle of January. I laughed and cried as I read your article. So wise for someone so young. Perspectales and yes gratitude is missing. it was the above quote from unknown that made me read your article, you have such a happy spirit. So once again I wait for plumber guy to arrive, bathroom #2 is out of commission. Fingers crossed bathroom #1still works, two cars out of commission, but heh two legs and a heartbeat. Take away all the negatives and there is so much positive. I needed a fresh outlook.

  18. Love your perspectacles! You GET real life ….

  19. love it x we could all do with new perspectacles once in a while x thank you x

  20. I seriously need to follow you girl! you are courageous, Brilliantly normal, a leader, and a truthful inspiration. I don’t know you but I adore you and your words of wisdom.
    Thank you for sharing, Thank you for being just Beautiful You.

  21. Thank you for this. I took a cute picture of my granddaughters on my bed with the dog tonight. I wasnt going to post it on FB do to people would see laptop papers on my dresser in the picture. Who cares going to post it right know.Thank you a sweet memory to share would of been missed.

  22. I like your kitchen but I would be concerned about your countertops. Need to get them tested to see if that tile contains lead. I just recently read that ALOT of those types of countertops are full of lead. The older appliances last longer by the way. I have a beige fridge from the 80’s that I am not replacing. I did spray paint my beige dishwasher(it is stainless inside-cost a fortune to replace) black. Looks great. I take the panel off and spray it once every two years. Black appliances never go out of style and show less prints than the stainless.

  23. Hear, Hear!!!!!

    G

  24. Wow… and many more wows’ !!! Great reading….enjoyed every word. I am a senior, who by the way is very fussy about her kitchen…..it must be tidy.!! However, I am presently spending 4 months in Honduras, while we attempt to get another school built here in a small village for children that have nothing……I do mean nothing. !!! This article of ” wit ” represents a whole new way of thinking……let’s stop and take account if what we have that is so commonplace with us that we don’t even give it another thought. Others that do not have a kitchen, let alone fresh beautiful running water, a refrigerator, food to put in a fridge , a cupboard of vitamins….and on and on, may also never have these things, but they manage with what they have. Our lives are so easy, so instant hands on…..we have need for nothing…..especially not a kitchen make over. !!! We are all so spoiled….we need to get off our ” high horse ” and try to help others have a better life, a kitchen…whatever it may be, some clean clothes, some food, books to read and learn and yes even schools for the children to feel safe and loved. Thank you to this wise woman who wrote the article…” Give me gratitude or give me debt” !!!!

  25. Love it!!!! :D

    And I spy a Rainbow Loom….

  26. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I woke up this morning feeling a little dissatisfied with my lot in life and your very perfect line popped into my head. It is my new mantra. And I don’t even have a messy kitchen. In fact, my husband and I are at a fortunate stage in life where doing a bit of a renovation wouldn’t break the bank. So when I say “give me gratitude or give me debt” I’m mostly emphasizing the gratitude part. And reminding myself that I do not want to contribute to the debt our young people and future generations will have to pay for my over-consuming of the earth’s resources.

  27. This is one of the BEST things I have read in a long time. I try to remind myself all the time how lucky I am and how much I have, way more then I even need! thank you for this post, you really made my Sunday even better.

  28. Thank you for the reminder…

  29. I love your perspective and it reminds me how much we take for granted. 1 Timothy 6:6-8 reminds us all that we can’t take anything with us, so we should be content with what we have. And I love your word, perspectales! We all need to put them on.

  30. Thank you for this! We all need this perspective in life! This really spoke to me. I hope there are years of dancing in your kitchen!

  31. I across your blog through a fellow blogger on another site and I’m glad I did! Gratitude makes life go a lot smoother!

  32. Your kitchen is way more “updated” than mine (I live in a 130 year old house) and I’ve always been so very thankful for my wonderful kitchen! It’s hideous and old and even partly abhorrent to some people (“Oh Kris, we could do SO MUCH in here!”) but it works for our family and we are simply so thankful.
    I, too, reflect on a daily basis how WEALTHY we are compared to most of the world. Water! Cold food storage! (aka refrigerator) A ROOF! Windows! Heat! A washable floor! LIGHT! An oven! Plates and cups and silverware and lots of pots and pans … oh, how very blessed!

  33. Absolutely beautiful, thank you.

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