Using Your Home to Reach Your Dreams

Home is a place to sleep, to seek shelter from the storm (sending good vibes to everyone on the East Coast), to eat, to hang out with your family and your friends. It can also be the place where you get started working on those big dreams of yours.

What do you want to be when you "grow up"? Is there a place for it in your home? Virginia Woolf counseled that in order to write you need a room of one's own, but you don't really need a whole room in which to write (although that would be nice). You do need at least a pen and a piece of paper and a commitment to do it. Other dreams might need more space, true, but it's that last bit, the metaphorical "room" in your life to pursue it, that is what's really important. It means that you need to not just talk about it, but to actually commit to doing it. Aimee Bender, in an article in O, The Oprah Magazine, shares how a friend made an actual contract with her to write for an hour every day. After you've made the commitment, the next step is to find a place for it.

The year that I did this — I was doing the Apartment Therapy home cure on my living room and created space for a desk behind one of my living room couches — was the year that changed my life. I went from being a person who writes to being a writer. It had nothing to do with getting paid (meaning the world takes you seriously) and everything to do with that desk (which meant I was taking myself seriously). I had a place to sit and I sat there every day. Sometimes nothing came out, sometimes there was a whole flood.

I like to think of it as sitting at a bus stop waiting for a very capricious friend, who's promised to come visit, to show up. If you love your friend (and you have to, because, otherwise, her erratic nature will drive you crazy), you go to the bus stop and you wait for her. Rain or shine, good mood or bad, if you've had a fight with your boss (because you will keep your day job until things settle in) or even when you don't feel like it (especially when you don't feel like it), you will do your hour or half hour or two hours or whatever is an amount of time to do your stuff that you can reasonably commit to every day. (Start small. Fifteen minutes every day is just fine).

Then you need to find room for it. Actual room. Actual space. "But my house is so small," you'll say. You think you don't have any room for your lathe or a desk or a dance studio or a Pilates reformer or whatever it is you need for whatever it is you want to do. But you do.

Take a look at your space. I'm betting it's set up for when people come over. That's the way most of us decorate. We buy a dining table and a couch first. The dining table is less for eating dinner at every night than for that mythical dinner party or brunch you'll have. The sofa isn't for flopping on after a hard day to zone out on while watching a whole bunch of reruns but for that cocktail soiree that never seems to actually happen (though you've got a whole folder full of recipes). Now it's going to entertain the muse. So move your couch to make room for your easel, push your dining room table to one side and put up a mirror so you can dance every day, find a place for your sewing machine and your mannequin, set up a workbench and a peg board to hold your tools.

Because the muse will show up, if you make room for her. She'll camp out and make herself at home and spread out all over the house. And, if you're really luckily, she may help you buy a new house.

What are you waiting for? Go on, invite her in.

(Image: Marcia Prentice from Jules & Henry's "Modern Menagerie" Loft)