Many, many years ago, ( when I was in my early 20’s) I took a battery of psychological tests, one of which was to ascertain skills and interests.
My three highest rankings came out like this:
1. officer in the military
My lowest score was nursing.
I was initially mystified by these results. What did these three seemingly unrelated professions have in common? It was explained to me that all three of these loved organizational behaviors. In the military, following organized thinking is very important when large groups of people must follow suit to accomplish a common goal. An officer though? Well, it showed I wanted to be in charge of the goal, leading rather than following.
The homemaker, having been raised in the bra burning era stunned me as well. But here it was again – organizing a well run home, replete with children, is highly organizational. Martha Stewart created an empire on this very premise. ( I love you Martha)
Now to the artist. Artists are lumped into the crazy bin of those living on the edge of madness and poverty. To the uninitiated in the arts, nothing could be further from the truth. The process of printmaking for instance, requires tremendous organizational thought both in the mind as well as the act of printing. Artists are forever trying to figure out the organizational principals of creating ideas that begin in the mind, but end up as a sculpture, a painting, a song.
So back to the happy homemaker. I have always enjoyed my living spaces. Apartment or house, boat or campsite, it was an organizational challenge to both decorate and create a refuge. It should be a happy place, and indeed, anywhere I could set up a ‘home’ environment was a happy place to me. I like to think all my mother’s efforts to teach my sister and I the skills of homemaking contributed greatly in my appreciation of this realm. But as it turns out, it was never the ‘home’ that made me happy, it was the exercise of organizing the space. And as it turns out, organizing space , color, shapes on a canvas was not any different for me than organizing furniture, plants, or rugs in a room. Organizing things settles my mind and helps me make sense of things. So while a home can make you happy, it’s sole purpose should not be ‘happiness’. What does that mean then if we become suddenly ‘unhappy’? Is our house to blame? We cannot perfect our lives by perfecting our homes.
And just as there is organization in nature, we should strive to find that lovely balance of organization within our home to sooth the mind and create that happy place to buffet us from the noisy, complicated world we have created outside our doors.
(featured photograph by Catherine Massaro)