Saturday, March 24, 2012

Dedicated Space

Natural light. Uncluttered surfaces. Clean lines. Neutral gray. Blank walls. A dedicated space. Minimal distractions. This is the workspace I dream about.

I'm in need of a place to work and create that doesn't affect other people. Where their needs don't affect what I'm attempting to distill onto the computer screen or on paper. There are times when Marc hesitates to come downstairs if he thinks I'm in the middle of something at my spot at the kitchen table. He doesn't want to interrupt. I've asked people to turn down the TV or watch it in their room. They trip over my computer cord. I move my 'stuff' from the kitchen table then back again depending on mealtime. I've been known to write in the downstairs bathroom in order to have a little quiet, think clearly and complete a thought. 

Not fair to them. Not fair to me.

So I'm setting out to transform the tiny office upstairs. When the room was built for the former owners of this house, it apparently worked well for them and their home business, but it doesn't work at all well for me.

For one thing it's PINK. I've occasionally been described as a 'girly' girl and for a very long time my favorite color was pink. The other day, in fact, I returned home with a bright pink rain jacket to wear when I walk and was so very OK about that. Wearing it makes me feel happy and I have nothing at all against PINK. But surround me with muted PINK cabinets and walls, PINK wall to wall counter top and a PINK toned vinyl floor and I become nothing but sleepy and distracted. Colors on my computer screen are skewed by light bouncing off the surfaces. Writing seems nearly impossible because......well......I'm surrounded by this set up. Ever since I discovered how well the natural light and backyard view from the kitchen table work for me, I've been planted there in the main center of our home, thinking that was just fine....until I realized it wasn't. 

First I've got to sift through what has found it's way into this office space. Placing things in there began with all good intentions. Important papers were kept in labeled file folders. Photo albums, baby books, journals, computer discs, owners manuals and supplies lived neatly inside cupboards. And then slowly I guess, because I don't remember ever consciously DECIDING to use the room for became a place to put things that I either didn't want to deal with at the moment, or didn't have time to deal with at the moment. At some point I began to avoid opening the door......unless of course I needed to stash something I planned to get to later. Once I found my perch with the nature-view-downstairs-in-the-light, the little upstairs office became stuck in kind of a time warp. And there is the slightest chance that in the last few months, so have I. Until I saw possibility. Then I began to dig in.  

At this point there are piles in the upstairs hallway on either side of the office door. Meaningful piles. Small manageable piles that make this clean out easier to deal with. Whatever happens to be saved from the shredder, the recycling bin or the donation truck is put away for real someplace else in the house. And rather than allowing myself to become overwhelmed by this (very large and involved) task,  I can see how each pile represents an opportunity I've taken during the past few years to hang out with one of my kids, invest in some fun or to take time for some other important responsibility.

Just a few minutes of sifting through paper, photographs and books each day, that's all I'm asking of myself. It should take another week or two, and after that I'm going to give someone a call to find out what it would take to remove the cabinets, counter top and floor. If I can afford it I'll make the window larger in order to have the backyard view I love so much. I'm planning to replace the lighting, find a neutral shade of paint and put a functional desk in there. One of my sons showed me how I could add a few extra feet of workspace by eliminating the linen closet on the other side of the wall. He also helped me visualize a whole new work flow.

Really......this isn't going to be as difficult as I thought.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

Warmly, Margaret

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