The danger in unused rooms

As I type these words, I am sitting in a room in my house I have not sat in for months. Yet, it is the one room in this house that sold me on my future abode when the realtor showed it to us. I sat on the sofa, looking out the window, taking in the Cape Cod charm. And I knew, this was a house with a heart that matched mine.

Far from a mansion, my house is worn, with plenty of nooks and crannies. The walls could tell stories that would fascinate, I am sure. The issue is, I have not had time to listen.

It hit me, as I sat here–readying to read a book on my last day of all-too-short holiday break—unused rooms are trying to tell us something.

This room, for instance, is supposed to be my living room. What does it mean that I’ve been months without sitting in it? Not enough living going on, I guess. The office? Seems I am always there. The master bathtub gets plenty of use as an antidote to the office. And the kitchen—well, with two boys, the kitchen and laundry room always seem to be in use.

But the one room in the house that is built for peace, for quiet—for a good book punctuated only by the sound of the grandfather clock—sits neglected.

After a brief hiatus from emails, blogging, social media and days designed around conference calls not of my scheduling, I feel a peace and sanity coming on. Rarely do I allow myself the pleasure of sitting with a good book. My mind generally jumps to the thousand things I should be doing—ordering those holiday address labels, cancelling an upcoming test for my son, shopping for tomorrow’s dinner, checking on work emails I am sure have piled up.

But, just for this afternoon, I say no to all of that. I wonder which powers that be decided we should work as much as we do. Because no afternoon of work is half as restorative as the lunch and chocolate fondue I shared with my son today. His lithe mind tumbled from one thing to the next—literary paradoxes were the conundrum of the day for him.

And now, sitting in this room with my tea and my book, I feel I am giving myself a gift beyond measure. I think of a friend who, after battling cancer, created a room for herself to write. I remember her choosing things to place in that room with great care.

Virginia Woolf comes to mind: “A woman must have money and a room of her own . . . “ Oh, Virginia, you were right about the order of things in that statement. Now, if only I did not have to work as many hours for the money, which keeps me from enjoying this room. Yet, if I did not work so many hours, this room—this house–would no longer be mine.

I guess my son’s talk of paradoxes was apropos today. I think the Universe is whispering in my ear. I just wish it would speak more plainly.

Wishing you a holiday season of living in all the rooms in your house—especially the ones that bring you the most joy. Light a fire in the fireplace, put the kettle to boil and grab a book (you know the one–it’s been sitting on your bedside table for months, begging to be read).

I’ll be joining you as often as I can.



29 Comments Add yours

  1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up truly changed my life this month. She tells you to keep only those things that spark your joy. I think the book (a fast read) would speak to you, esp in light of this post. Wishing you fortitude and light for the journey into 2017, C.


    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks for the suggestion! I have several friends who swear by that book. And I’ve been paring down what I keep for about a year now. It feels good:). Light!

  2. Aunt Beulah says:

    What a wonderful way to end this cozy, warm exploration of what we women need and how often our need to work pushes it to the background. Retirement changes that, Kay; and though it may seem forever away and impossible, it will come and time will slow and you’ll spend more time in your room.

    1. candidkay says:

      Amen to that! With a good book and the dog at my feet:).

  3. I love this post Kristine, love the way the room is a metaphor for what you need more of in your life as well as a real room that needs to be used! Wishing you many hours of happy reading in there 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! Am hoping for the same:).

  4. George says:

    Virginia Woolf…A Room Of One’s Own. It had one of my favorite lines in there which I’m planning to blog about…”is it better to be locked in, or locked out.” Great line in context.

  5. George says:

    I’m glad you had/took the time to enjoy the moment. We get too consumed with life sometimes that we don’t enjoy life.
    Your quote is from a favorite book of mine. I hope you have a stack of books you have the time to read in the coming weeks..:)

    1. candidkay says:

      Do tell–which book?

  6. Roy McCarthy says:

    Yes, even when there were my parents + four boys we all used to cram into the ‘living room’ for most purposes. The ‘front room’, though not forbidden, was rarely used. A bit more perhaps as we grew up and needed a bit of peace and quiet occasionally.

    It’s still the same now with just Mum left 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, Roy, I’m so sorry about your mother. No matter what age we are, losing a parent makes us feel orphaned, I think. Isn’t it odd that we reserve our “best” room for company, rather than ourselves? Wishing you some peace and quiet this holiday season–no matter the room.

  7. I so completely agree with you! Now that we have moved and are more settled in our home I have tried to do this more often. I curl up in the living room and take in a book. It’s a true discipline but I am trying to read a “non-work” book for at least 20 minutes a day. I keep telling myself that I easily scroll more than 20 minutes on social media and can easily get more out of a book than mindless scrolling. The only problem is I have to get up and find my book where as my phone is within arms reach so it’s still a challenge… but I’m with you… I need to do more living! Thanks for the encouragement!

    1. candidkay says:

      I think, with all the screens that we all pay attention to, ADHD-at least a touch of it-is becoming an issue for most of us :-). Reading a book so call Mang and tends to focus my mind, if I can just blanked out the laundry list of things that normally come to mind the minute I said still :-). Wishing you success in the effort!

  8. Kristine, Loved this and made me realize how we’re using fewer and fewer rooms in my house. Especially since my son Patrick moved out, there’s too much empty space. This winter I’ll use that fireplace and curl up with a good book. I can’t think of a better use for that under-used refuge.

    1. candidkay says:

      Make you (almost) understand those “small spaces” people who downsize to unbelievably small homes:). Although, I would miss a room of my own then–wouldn’t you?

  9. I adore Virginia Woolf!! Yes! A room!

    1. candidkay says:

      I hope you have one:).

  10. srbottch says:

    You sure hit the nail on the head, Kris. I havent rerad for months (or had a couple of wines which goes hand in hand). I have a comfortable chair which would accomadate both. You’ve given me an idea. Thanks, nice writing.

    1. candidkay says:

      Wishing you a spicy red with a spicy read:).

  11. We all need a room and time for us! Enjoy every moment you have Kristine. 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! I hope you find time for relaxing this holiday season.

  12. How did you know I had a book/several books, beside my bed waiting to be read? 🙂 I don’t have my own room yet, but I do have contractors working on the plans right now. So exciting!

    1. candidkay says:

      I’m so excited for you! A room of your own is phenom:). And now, of course, I have to ask–what books are on that bedside table?

  13. I like. I know. I know. I thank you for this gentle reminder.

    1. candidkay says:

      I hope the kettle is already on! 🙂

  14. You were shown a gift Kristine…that ability to say no, and more importantly…do you! The very thing we deny ourselves over and over in this life 🙂
    I bet you even had a ‘guilty’ feeling because you said no, and just did you. It is built on expectations….yours and others. Remove the fears in our lives…and the expectations and guilt go too 😀

    But besides that, I hope you have had a lovely Thanksgiving…and a good book read 😀

    1. candidkay says:

      You guessed correctly :-). Although, each time I choose to gift myself with something simple like time and relaxation, the guilt lessens a bit. Undoing years of programming :-).

      1. Yes, it does take a little bit of re-training Kristine. It has taken a few years to get there, so you are now gifting yourself the wisdom of knowing it has been seen, and a new journey has begun 😀

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