“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.
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.
Inside my refrigerator is FOOD. Healthy food that so many parents would give anything to be able to feed their children. Not me. 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.
THIS CRAZY THING IS A WATER FAUCET. I pull this lever and CLEAN WATER POURS OUT EVERY TIME, DAY OR NIGHT. 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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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?
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.
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Amen. Thanks for speaking the truth and putting things in perpsective- we are manipulated endlessly to spend out money foolishlyt o distract us from what really matters
I absolutely loved this reflection. I was just looking at our condo and thinking it needed a little face-lift. We have lived here for the past 18 years. I am definitely rethinking this makeover after reading this reflection. I made the tour each room and the wonderful memories of family gatherings, entertaining friends, sleepovers with our grandchildren came rushing in. The list of beautiful memories goes on forever. Such gratefulness for all that it holds. No changes necessary. Thank you.
Lovely. Gratitude is a superpower! Warrior On… J~
I am an almost empty-nester. So, I’ve been looking at my house with a critical eye lately for two reasons: 1) we are not going to live here forever and I’d rather spruce it up now so I can enjoy it and 2) because selling is in our not too distant future, I’ve been thinking of all the projects we had planned on doing when we first bought it in 2001 but never got to.
Today I had worked myself into a tizzy looking at everything from gutters, to siding, to all sorts of kitchen updates. I had mentally spent tens of thousands of dollars, of which I should be spending none.
When searching for laminate counter info on Facebook (because I was afraid I would be ostracized by everyone I knew if I installed it), I came across this post which I had posted a couple of years ago. It truly brought me to tears. It made me stop and look at my behavior. I saw that I had wasted an entire afternoon searching for ways to spend money I don’t have make my home “acceptable”. My home is actually pretty darn nice, even if it isn’t as updated as the Jones’. Thank you for reminding me of that.
I love doing makeovers in my kitchen because I love dabbling with woodwork. It’s not about trends or anything like that – it’s about me making new cabinets every now and then.
Poor people let fear stop them.” is cent percent true. Kudos to the writer for coming up with an interesting article.
Thank you this is very nice work i like it so much good job brother! nice job!
I am going to make 1 decoration suggestion…those cabinets look like the perfect place for your amazing family to contribute artwork…maybe something they are grateful for?
At the end of my yoga classes I ask my students to think of 3 things to be grateful for and repeat 3 times to themself. Just to get in that habit to pause, and know how good we’ve got it!
And another one for the thing that magically cold food!
This post is worth every one of the 2,219 comments it’s received.
Wait long enough and I’m sure the 80’s kitchen with mismatched appliances will come into fashion.
Perspectacles! Great term.
Incredible perspective shift!! In our consumer based society it is easy to always see what we lack and feel disheartened. Contentment is the true mark of happiness and by looking at your kitchen through new eyes you have taken a HUGE step towards happiness!
Congrats on the “new” kitchen!
I love this.
Wow. Do you SERIOUSLY have 2,213 (now 2,214) comments here? Way to go!
And thank you for helping me feel better about our decision to ignore the foolish neverending trends as well. Although I am glad we got our subway tile backsplash installed before I read this post. 😉
Great post, this is amazing! We don’t need to live instagram worthy/picture perfect lives every day, and I love the honesty. I am in the midst of planning a kitchen renovation, since our current kitchen is a little too small for all of our canning/food processing of our garden bounty every fall. But we’ve planned for years and saved slowly to pay cash for the renovation. I also plan to source things used as much as possible. Thanks for writing this to provide some perspective!
Great post! Nancy
I forgot to say that I LOVE the after picture of your kitchen!
Thank you, G, for expressing it all so well. Paul writes in the Bible “I have learned in whatever circumstance I am to be content.” I love the idea of “perspectacles”, too. Now to impact others.
I, too, stumbled across this from a Facebook share.
My husband and I are renting a house while trying to get our dream home built. I’ve made a conscious decision to be grateful for this shelter! It has kept us safe from storms while we wait for the next phase of our lives.
It has been in planning the new house that we saw that we really were pretty smart! We know what we need to be happy, and it’s not a huge house with all the latest that some designer has said we need! No granite counters, no subway tile backslash, no stainless appliances. Not that there’s anything wrong with those choices, they are not for us. It’s been a challenge to find simpler alternatives, but, we’ve done it!
We’re patiently waiting for our dram home to be ready.
GREAT!!! Love the attitude. It suits me perfectly. Thank you for such well written prose.
LOVE THIS! Although I must admit that I am in the throws of 50 year old bathroom renovation. Love the last part about clothes. Thank you for this fun yet make it real essay.
This is exactly how I’ve always lived my life. How wonderful it was to see my philosophy written so beautifully. Joy is joyous. 🙂
What a lovely, important post! We are our own worst enemy sometimes. We should just focus on our families and what makes us happy, and it’s not things. 🙂 Thank you!
LOVE this!! And I love your mantra: Carpe Kairos!
I like your kitchen. It’s cute! Great article!
Facebook reminded me about this post today and for once, I’m relieved I checked facebook! I’m usually happy with our functional-but-not-gorgeous home, but occasionally those renovation thoughts sneak in….and then I need my perspectacles.
I also am rereading after a share 3 years ago, but now I am sitting in my home that is fairly gutted. Last winter the snow load was so bad here (Bend, OR) that it broke the trusses. Ceilings being torn out, insulation dust on everything, etc.
Since the insurance is paying for a lot of renovation/repair, we are also redoing a lot, including the kitchen. Who knew there could be so much give and take between two people over 15ft of counter space on the back wall?
Reading this again last night reminded me of all the good things. On top of that, I am 55 and I was reading it to…..
I am grateful.
Hi! I came across this post in my FB feed today, as a “memory” of having shared it on there 3 years ago. I love it even more now than then! The hubs and I currently live in a rented studio apartment; we don’t have much, but it´s plenty—and lots more than maaaaany, if not most, people in the world. We flip a switch, a light magically comes on; it´s hot and muggy outside (we live in South Florida), but we sleep cool and dry inside; I carry the laundry basket down the hall, push a few buttons, and a machine does all the work without my hands even having to get wet. We are greatly blessed! I just wanted to let you know that your excellent post is a gift that keeps on giving. Thank you!
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Me Too me too! love it!! And really needed to hear it!! Thank you thank you thank you!
Wow!!!! Such truth!!!
I know this post was two years ago, but I just wanted to tell you I love this so very much! Thanks for posting it!
The ironic thing is that she actually had her kitchen completely renovated, and I don’t mean just getting a divorce. Go look at her instragram pictures. Beautiful new cabinets, backsplash and appliances. I guess she decided her kitchen wasn’t fully of beauty anymore.
So true, but the cult followers won’t care.
I love this article! My kids don’t really care if their house is designer or not. They just want happy parents 🙂
Brilliant post. Our kitchen is a disaster zone, the ceiling has a hole in it ( isn’t small either) the cabinets which are left standing are all different and older than me, the Big range cooker has only one oven that works and our floor is an uneven patchwork of concrete and some sort of weird ancient plastic tile that you can’t separate from the concrete. These are just some of its issues, but I can still cook for my family of six and dance while I do so, so what’s really wrong with it. We’re very privleged to even have a kitchen.
I’m over 40 and have never really learned to apply makeup, I wear it, but not well. Every day I go through the ritual of putting it on and I end up hating how it looks and get so pissed off that my face looks bad and my hair is thinning and my body isn’t right. The problem is that I know I should be grateful for what I have and it only causes more guilt when I am not grateful for it. When I read things you’ve written I feel so empowered but minutes later my pettiness resumes.
You need Jesus and the word of God to change your life. John 5:24; II Corinthians 5:17
Contact me if you have further interest in living for Christ.
Love this!! We are do-it-yourselfers and it gets overwheleming seeing all the changes we ought to be making. Thanks for putting it in perspective.
Love love your kitchen makeover! I needed this article just now. Thank you for putting things in perspective again.
I found a link to this post on FB and had to see what it was about. LOVE it! You know where the real priorities are. Great post now “joy on!”
I love it! I completely agree! Your kitchen is light years ahead of what I have had but I have cooked and baked more love in my kitchens than people with fancy stuff. I would get the same comments. Great post!
That was the most beautiful rant I’ve read in a long time—and I read all the way to the end because: exactly. You nailed it.
Never thought much about the lust for more “things”, until my husband if 17 yrs. left for good. It was then that I realized that it wasn’t the things that I had that brought me happiness, but the relationships. If you have no one to share things with, things become pointless and unimportant.
I LOVE this post. Thank you very much for this perspective on our homes, our lives and the way we focus on what we have – and how a shift of focus will bring up the really important aspects of life.
I’ve learned these types of lessons many times, however, it is easy to fall back in to an ‘old’ way of thinking, worrying and forgetting what is ACTUALLY important. So thank you for this wonderful reminder.
I have to say it put a smile on my face and in my heart to hear your child’s immeadite response to the main kitchen activity 😀 Dancing is wonderful – and it is a blessing to be in a family where there is dancing going on!
Best makeover in the world !! Keep on dancing ! 😀
This is perfect. Truly a wonderful perspective. Being content with our “things” which are truly a gift from God. People spend too much time and money. Trying to keep up with trends when what they have is fine. It also causes major stress if you decide to spend money you don’t have, time looking for tredy items that you do’t even like and worry about about getting it all done. Love your viewpoint.
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Perfect. I get caught up in the “wants”. Bring involved with a mission in very remote Africa keeps my “perspectacles” on.
Thanks for this, and all of your posts. A friend introduced me to your site when she shared your Shopping at Target post. We say “Me so hungry” a lot!!
Thankfulness to my father who shared with me about
this weblog, this blog is really remarkable.
Thank you for this! I stumbled upon this through FB and needed this today. I agree with what you say and try to live it, but it’s so easy for discontent to creep in about our stuff which almost immediately leads to discontent about ourselves. Trying to impart this to my daughter-to “be content in all circumstances.”