Where’s my favourite place? It’s here, at home

This month I’m doing better than ever keeping up with Fat Mum Slim’s Photo A Day challenge.  Do you play? If you don’t know about Chantelle’s amazing blog and this photo challenge, have a look here for all the info.

I’ve just checked on Instagram and 4,551,500 photos using the #fmsphotoaday tag have been shared there. That’s a LOT of people snapping and sharing, and I’m part of it! (My #sundaybakingsunday tag has 296 photos, which is AWESOME! Only 4,551,200 to reach Chantelle’s lofty heights!)

Maybe I’m doing better because I’ve downloaded Chantelle’s very first app, which is called Little Moments. You can buy from iTunes. You should totally download it right, now – it’s okay, I’ll wait…. oh, at the moment, it is only available for iPhone users, but I think its popularity will mean the Android fans won’t have to wait long. Got it? Super cool isn’t it?

Anyhoo, this actually isn’t an advertorial for Chantelle – she’s doing quite well without my dedicated, attractive, smart but numerically intimate readership’s help. But please download her app, and join in, it’s awesome fun!

Today’s photo prompt has me pondering something larger than just snapping a photo and sharing – and as a blogger, when you ponder, you hit the keyboard.

The prompt for today is HOME. Such a simple word. One we use everyday, many times a day, a place we retreat to, dread cleaning, want to run away from, share with people, feel alone in; home is the keeper of our memories, the place where we first experience family life and so much more than merely bricks and mortar, windows and weatherboard, or paint colours.

According to my trusty Dictionary app, one of the definitions of home is ‘a place where something flourishes, is most typically found, or from which it originates’.

That just about perfectly sums up my home. It is truly the place where I’m flourishing. Not in styling, though I do love an eclectic smattering of cushions or a neat stack of magazines. For me, home is where my soul flourishes. It is the space where I am 100% myself.

When I’m away, even just for a few days, this is the place I long for. I think it is why I don’t have a passport. I love to be at home.

I love that my home is my place – this is where I cook, watch TV, think about my life, entertain, pull up the drawbridge, and create. Home is where I can be still, or have a good cry, it’s where I bust out dance moves in the kitchen, it’s the place where my #favouritehuman comes to visit and hang on the couch with me. It’s the home with the dishes piled up in the sink, and my rag-tag collection of spices is overflowing on the counter.

Judged physically, my home is no beauty queen – the walls shake and shudder on a windy day and the floors creak, there’s cracked plaster, breezy spots in every room, a carport with a leaky roof and occasionally a small plant grows up through the brickwork in my bedroom. It isn’t insulated, or painted a beautiful colour, in fact it’s kind of dowdy and ‘retro’ – but it is my home, and I love it.

My home reminds me of that great definition of how can you tell if you’ve been loved in The Velveteen Rabbit – the fur is a bit scruffy, there’s only one eye left… you get the picture.

With the rise of social media and the cultural phenomenon of sharing so much of our lives online, there are millions and millions of pixels floating around between our devices, depicting perfectly plumped cushions on taut linen sofas or oozy velvet chaises with cable knit throws, styled to look utterly effortless. We all know they’re primped and photoshopped, bulldog clipped or taped into place, ‘vignetted’ almost to the point of being completey soulless (especially if the images come from stylists or magazines) – yet we seem not to be able to release ourselves from some very limited notion of what a home should look like – at least if anyone but our eyes are going to see it. I think that’s both understandable, culturally, and kind of sad. Our homes should be as diverse as we are, not as stock standard as cartons of milk. Homes are alive and dynamic, houses are static. I want to live in a home, not a photo-shoot ready set!

Anyone remember learning this song at school –

Little boxes on the hillside

Little boxes made of ticky-tacky

Llittle boxes on the hillside, little boxes all the same…

My house might be boxy, but there’s nothing ticky-tacky here, except for the dirty kitchen floors!

The photos I’ve taken today are not painstakingly styled or edited – I turned a cushion around, and moved the sugar jar slightly to the left from where it was, but that’s about it. (I think I’ll share some more of my snaps on Instagram this afternoon and tag them #verbsathome.)

This is my home. This is my life. I’m typing this post wearing trackies and a windcheater (people from the 1980s will know what that means). I’m wearing slippers and my washing machine is beeping that it has long ago finished the load of laundry I put on earlier.

This is my life. It’s not an exercise in glamour or styling, and my home certainly isn’t about trying to impress anyone. There are plenty of glossy, shiny places where you can find that kind of ‘inspo’, if that’s your bag.

I love Real Living magazine as much as the next girl, but this is Real Life.





What is it about home that is so potent?

A term I picked up from Dr Phil many years ago (yes, I like Dr Phil – deal with it!) is the idea of everyone needing a ‘soft place to fall’. Granted, he’s usually talking about people – how children need their parents to act as their soft place to fall, or how that operates in a marriage, but for me, I see my home as my soft place. I know we like to idealise family as an all-encompassing hugfest, but it isn’t like that for everyone – so we create soft places in our friendship groups, or in who we choose as a life partner, and I think we can translate that to our homes.

I know my home can’t literally hug me – but I do feel a real sense of comfort here – it’s my place, my things are as I want them to be, I can see memories, things that tie me to my grandparents and reminders of special occasions. There are cards from blogging girlfriends I’ve ‘met’ but never seen on my bookcase. I have photos of family and a notice board I’m filling with bits and bobs above my desk. I have a space to paint and draw, which I love. My pillow has the shape of my head smooshed into it. I know which drawer is for socks, where the forks are, and could probably pull tinned tomatoes from the pantry blindfolded.

The more important stuff of home is etched in my mind’s eye too – the time I flopped on my bed after a terrible day at work and sobbed and sobbed, the happiness of sharing meals with friends here, hurriedly tidying up before my dad calls in for a cuppa and a computer lesson, the peace that I feel when I just sit on the couch, thinking about my life and who I am, and how when someone compliments my home’s ‘style’, it truly feels like they’ve seen inside my heart and they like what they’ve glimpsed.

And the best thing about home is that, even after this building has been razed to the ground, I’ll still be at home, anywhere I am, because home isn’t where the heart is, for me, home comes from what’s in my heart.

Are you flourishing at home? I’d love to hear about it. What brings you joy there? Got a photo to share? Pop it up on Instagram if you like, tag it #verbsathome and add a tag that describes your soft place to fall.

I better hang that washing out now, it’s almost photo-shoot time!

From my home to yours,

Annette xx