On Rearranging.

in musings  2 comments
Jun 2 2014

‘With minimum funds… she {Fricke’s mum} managed to create
a space full of hope and accomplishment…
although humble in make up,
made me proud to be who I was and supported
the very essence of how I viewed my place in the world.
Through her simple decorating gestures,
my mother taught me a powerful and enduring lesson
– true style stems from the heart and not the pocket.’

-Shannon Fricke, Sense of Style

Growing up, I would assist in my Mum’s constant rearranging of the furniture. Indeed, it seemed like a kind of neurosis back then. Sometimes, it was only a fortnight after moving one large piece of furniture from one side of the room to the other before we had to lug it back to the original position. (‘Original’ is loosely applied here.)

When she dragged out the orange and green raggy towels, I knew we were in for some ‘shifting’. Although my father lived with us, he wasn’t a part of the family for real due to some his-personal issues, so it was always just us girls (I have two sisters) and Mum. Very often, it was just Mum and me. One person would lever one end of the large bookcase or sideboard up whilst the other quickly tucked loads of towels under the other end. Repeat on opposite ends and it was a matter of slowly pushing the furniture from one location to the newly chosen spot.

I remember Mum’s explanations, “… so you can sit with me whilst I mark these books and you can sit with me doing your homework…” or “… so you will get the best lighting when you study…” or “… so you can have a little bit of privacy as you do your study…” or “… so your sister can get in homework too…”

It wasn’t until after I moved out of home that I started beginning to understand what drove Mum to constantly switch things around:

The need to create a space to nurture

When I did move out of home, it was also an overseas move to continue post graduate studies in Melbourne. Through some difficult circumstances and a paranoid, stingy tiger Asian father no fault of my own, I found myself navigating the until-then, unfamiliar intricacies of renting in Melbourne, Australia, a foreign land, with no advice or assistance from anyone. Because I was only in a 18-month postgraduate program, I didn’t want to spend what little I had to purchase furniture, so I chose a ‘partially furnished’, crummy flat within my small means. Living in a crummy areas means the flats are filled with Goodwill items…

It was then that I started to mirror my Mum’s neurosis! I became the crazy Asian lady moving a lounge from one side of the tiny flat to the next and then back again, over and over. Then I understood Mum’s need and frustration in constantly moving things around, to try to make a Home from our ‘lot’ in life. My dad was declared a bankrupt from the time I was seven, so banks repossessed everything we had, so Mum had to make do with hand-me-downs from well-meaning relatives and second-hand stores. So the pieces we had neither fitted the space or us. Just like the pieces in the little crummy flat I rented never fit me.

Slowly, as I graduated, got my first low-paying job, moved, got with a boyfriend, moved, moved again and then finally married, I was able to start buying my own furniture. Like many, our first furniture buys were humble pieces. Most were the cheapest in IKEA. I remember walking out of IKEA with the paper-product chest of drawers, thinking “One day I’ll be able to get wooden pieces”! From humble pieces, to modest ones. From modest to moderately good quality pieces. Now and then eBay would bless us with gems at great pieces.

Now, fast forward a decade of being married to that boyfriend, having two gorgeous little girls, we now own much, much better and wayyyy more furniture. But I still rearrange. I now understand and share my Mum’s need to better the Home Experience. To create better flows at home, to allow for a clearer mind and family experience.

After all, we are all trying in our own ways, to create a better living experience.

Be it in the home, work, outdoors and relationships.

Aren’t we?

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