There’s a story/post I’ve been wanting to write for a while now and just never made the room in my post schedule to share it! It’s the story of why I do what I do to our house even though we move so much. About why I think it’s worth it to hang curtains on the windows and pictures on the wall, even when we’re only “here for a year.” I’m clearly passionate about making a home no matter where we are or for how long, but I’ve never really told you why! When my friends over at Porch.com asked me to participate in their #loveyourhome series, I knew it was the perfect opportunity to share it!
Ten years ago this fall, I married my Marine husband and then one week later, boarded a plane for Okinawa, Japan. On-base housing was full when we arrived, so we moved into a teeny, tiny apartment out in town to wait for housing to become available. After only living on the island for about 6 weeks, my husband then deployed for a few months. I was a sad, overwhelmed, and lonely 24-year-old newlywed living in a sterile, empty apartment all by myself on a foreign island in the Pacific Ocean. On the phone one day with my Mom, she sensed my sadness and offered: “If I sent you a sewing machine, would you use it?” I said yes, and it arrived a few weeks later. For days, I sat at my kitchen table all alone and taught myself to sew. Using the included manual (no blog tutorials or YouTube videos then!), I figured out how to thread and use my machine. I hunted around the island for fabric and then dove in to making curtains and slipcovers, placemats and pillows and more. With pretty things on my walls and windows, the island life outside my door didn’t feel so overwhelming anymore because I had a happy place of my own to figure it all out and fee safe.
A few weeks later, I was excitedly talking with one of my newly-made friends about all the fun things I was making and doing to our little apartment. I was bursting with pride, and the ideas were literally bubbling out of me as I gushed over my newfound passion. Almost immediately, she said something to me that I have carried in my heart ever since:
“Why are you spending so much time, money and effort on a place you’ll only live in for such a short period of time? It seems like such a waste!”
While I remember her comment clear as day, I actually don’t remember my response. (She obviously didn’t deter me, because I’ve been decorating all of our homes ever since!) But now, all these years later, I know what I should have said and what I’d say now. I look back and realize that with my simple sewing projects at my kitchen table in Okinawa, not only did I turn that little apartment into our first home, I also learned a very big lesson: It’s important and valuable to make a home you love.
As military families, we find ourselves in all sorts of living situations. Some are once-in-a-lifetime-opportunities (hello, Japan!), some are not (ahem, Camp Lejeune, NC). Some places top our wish lists, while others are places we don’t ever want to go or go back to. But because we support our service members and took on this lifestyle too…we go. More often than not, we end up living far away from our families, the places we grew up, our friends, our roots, our favorite jobs, and our former lives. Sometimes the world outside the door is wonderful, but it can also be scary, frightening, and overwhelming. There are seasons of life when we’re up for the adventure, and others when we’re not. There are friends to make wherever we go, but loneliness is also a constant companion. Our spouses are often gone, and the hardships of life ebb and flow as they do for everyone.
Having a home…not just a shell of a house…but a real home…allows us a safe, real, personal, comfortable, happy space where we can weather it all. While some see our nomadic lifestyle as a deterrent to creating a home, I see it the other way around. When you’re far away from family, when you’re completely out of your element, when you don’t know your way around or can’t read the street signs, coming home to a space that is familiar, just the way you want it, and is your own personal brand of lovely makes dealing with all the hard and uncomfortable stuff so much easier. I pour my heart into creating a real home with each move because it is my sanctuary when this lifestyle is just too much.
And that’s why it’s important. Because when the life out there is rainy and traffic-y and whiney, the life in here is pretty and striped and happy. I have filled this shell-of-a-house with items that are totally me/us, that make me smile, that bring back great memories, and that just make me feel good. And when I feel good…I am good. I’m a good mom, a good spouse, a good friend, a good daughter/sister, a good Megan.
Even though we’ve been here just over a month, it’s honestly a home I already love thanks to a few projects and efforts put in. (I can’t even tell you how much those blue stripes perk me up day after day!) Not every room is done…gosh, not nearly…but I’ve worked hard to quickly setup/create a few pretty spaces. Spots I can rest my eyes on…spaces that cheer me up and help me stop worrying about the mess/clutter/un-done projects that remain just out of view. These are those spots I already love and that already feel like our home.
I realize I take “making a home” to the extremes a bit and take on projects and ideas most wouldn’t simply because I enjoy decorating and crafting and sewing and organizing. But even if you don’t want a Pinterest-project-filled home, I encourage you to do things to your space that will help you love it more. Whether it’s decluttering a closet, buying a new piece of furniture, painting a wall a fun accent color, finally hanging curtains on the living room windows…whatever. For me and my family, creating a home we love helps us make memories, weather the storms of life, and truly feel at home no matter where the Marine Corps sends us!
I encourage you to check out the other #loveyourhome stories featured over on Porch.com and share photos and ideas of why and how you love your home using the #loveyourhome hashtag! While there, be sure to check out all the amazing resources, posts, and ideas the site has to offer. Not only does Porch.com offer all sorts of ideas and advice for all things home, but it is also a great resource network for home improvement professionals in your area!
I’d love to hear what you’ve done to help you #loveyourhome. Would you decorate if you moved every couple of years? What are the things/people you need around you to #loveyourhome?
On Monday, I have quite the eye-popping project reveal, so be sure to check back then! Happy weekend, friends!