Dear diary…

WARNING: This post is personal and includes me talking about my feelings. (Gross!) So if you only like looking at photos of pretty things (which, let’s be real, is what 99 percent of my blog browsing entails) you might want to just skip on over this one. 

This post started out innocently enough—me, prioritizing my home improvement projects. Easy peasy, right? Then I started writing and, consequently, started thinking. I hate when that happens. One minute I’m calculating just how long I have until I can buy a new couch, install a dishwasher, put in wood floors, yadda, yadda, yadda…. and the next minute I’m in the middle of an idealogical dilema: Am I a fool (or tool) for wanting to invest beaucoup of money on “things” and not on experiences? When I look at some of my friends and the people whom I admire most for their free spirits and adventurous outlooks (like Laura and Casey for starting a blue grass band in the Kentucky wilderness, or Nick and Melissa for quitting their jobs to go on an indefinite sailing trip through the Bahamas), I think they would tend to say…yes, Kelsey. Yes you are. (Though, they would never ACTUALLY say that because, you know..the whole friendship thing.) What I’m getting at is, when you’re on your deathbed, no one ever says “Oh I wish I had spent more money on trendy design elements.” They say, “I wish I had done more, seen more, loved more, etc…” Consequently, I wonder if my priorities are all out of whack.

I realize I’m not the first or last person to do the whole “what does it all mean” thing. I know EVERYONE deals with this same dilemma in one form or another at one time or another, but now that I’m more-or-less a “grownup” I suppose it’s my turn to get to have that discussion with myself.

The astonishing conclusion I have arrived at (after having spent way too much time writing, deleting and then rewriting this post) is that I’m going to do whatever makes me happy. Living life and having diverse experiences is important, without question. I want to (and will) hike throughout South America and photograph the monkeys in India, but I also want to feel sublimely happy and comfortable in that place we call home. I know “things” don’t make people happy…but building and creating something beautiful on a blank canvas (in this case, our first home) does. So if I want to go to Mexico City for my second honeymoon, I will. And if I want to spend too much money on a goofy throw pillow, I’m going to do that too.

Finding happiness in delightful design or daring destinations? Tough call.

I spend a lot of time here talking about design and do dahs and doodles (and sometimes I’m embarrassed by the seemingly trivial things I post), but I guess what I’m really doing is talking about the things that make me happy. Sometimes it’s trinkets and sometimes it’s travel, and I think that’s OK because all times it’s things that give me joy.

What say you? How do you find balance between home and adventure?


15 Comments on “Dear diary…”

  1. Maggie Ray says:

    I’ve been thinking about this one lately as well. I read something that kind of resonated with me though, and that’s that you don’t have to devalue grand adventures to be able to find pleasure in the small things. I love new lipsticks and nail polishes and side tables, and that is shallow, but it’s not the whole of me or what defines me, so it’s kind of great. It’s great to be able to say, “this small meangingless thing is beautiful, and i appreciate that, and I derive joy from beauty around me.” So I say, have your design elements and eat your internatioal trips too.

  2. kmom says:

    It’s good that you have these inner debates. So easy to be materialistic in this culture. I love the idea of adventure and experience, but also feel creating a beautiful environment is good for the soul as well.

  3. Melissa says:

    Why the apology up front in this blog? I love existential Kelsey = ) But seriously, it’s a great question on how to balance everyday life with the desire to travel and see/experience new and exotic things. I think the most important thing is being happy and content with yourself and the life you’re creating and working toward. After all, if you can’t feel that way during the mundane, everyday chores — be it hanging new curtains or walking the dogs (bad example – I know those two are the apples of your eye) — then you’ll never feel truly happy even when you’re photographing monkeys in India or backpacking South America. If anything, as one of those “free spirits” you mentioned, I’ve really grappled with the last question of your blog since the boat trip and would love to talk to you about it more. I think Carson McCullers said it best:
    ““It is a curious emotion, this certain homesickness I have in mind. With Americans, it is a national trait, as native to us as the roller-coaster or the jukebox. It is no simple longing for the home town or country of our birth. The emotion is Janus-faced: we are torn between a nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.”

  4. Your home is your sanctuary, your palace! So of course you have to make it as amazing as possible. But yes, balance, balance, balance. I too try to envision me on my death bed, and I hope that I will be happy with the experiences I had, the people I love, AND the beauty that I created in the world. P.S. You help create a lot of that precious beauty!

  5. Libby Keane says:

    Welcome to the grownup world. I think you’re going to do just fine. You might be surprised to learn that not all adults have this kind of conversation with themselves. Some never do. And they are the ones who look back and wish things had been different. Chase your dreams, wherever they lead you. You won’t be disappointed.

  6. Elouise says:

    Balance is the key word. There will always be things you will look back on and wish you had done differently. Some of my happiest times in life have been when I had the least financially. Family, & friends to share the good times are what I have found is important to me.

  7. Karen Hauser says:

    could not agree more. Nothing brings me such happy satisfaction as making some beautiful out of something ugly for my home or creating a meal that knocks our socks off. I just retired after 53 yrs of work and when people ask what I do now, I answer ” whatever I want”. and I love your blog and your ideas..

  8. I love traveling, exploring and adventuring and coming home to my home, especially my bed and pillow – ha!

  9. Jen says:

    I just started following your blog, and I am very glad I caught this post. I think it is very healthy to ask yourself these questions. An unhealthy self-discussion would be “Hey! I just broke the bank on my imminent trip across the Earth, so I’m planning on auctioning off my first born in order to buy a whole new living room set! Hurray!”
    Consumption in many ways is inevitable. Consumerism really becomes a problem when means are not available to support the item consumed. The means or resources can be financial or environmental. Using too much too fast is the real problem. As long as we all continue to have little self-conversations (or bloggersations in this case) we are able to reevaluate and keep ourselves in check.
    I’ve been battling over consumption a lot lately too. I am planning my fiance and I’s wedding and would love if we could treat our friends and family to a spectacularly decorated palace with flowing champagne and diamond dusted cupcakes, but that is not feasible. And when I really think about it, it’s not so important to spend that hard earned money on those things. I will instead plan frugally and decorate well with less expensive (and more eco-friendly products.) I am also forcing myself to ask why I really want certain things. Because they look nice? Great! Then after one day, where will they go? Hopefully after I’m done planning our big day, we’ll have enough money left over for a big honeymoon someplace exotic!

  10. […] our special day. I was really planning to post about our wedding after it happened, but a blog from The Doodle House really resonated with me and reinforced that my labor of love (literally) is worth it. Our wedding […]

  11. Winn says:

    I am a fan of experiences … as you can see here http://wentdiddone.wordpress.com. However, I don’t want to live in a box so having MEANINGFUL things are important to me: things that I or my kids make, pictures, those pressed pennies from our various trips. I find that having too many things not only clutters my house, but also clutters my mind. 🙂

  12. amymacmahon says:

    This was a great post, and a dilemma that many people face – you’ve captured it really well.

    I’m living away from my home country at the moment, and even having this adventure, I often crave being able to have a home and fill it with beautiful and meaningful objects. I’ve realised that having a home and garden and building an environment are important to me and my well-being. I think that’s why I ready your blog – I guess I’m living through you rather vicariously??

    I think it might be helpful to remember that in creating a home, you are having an ‘experience’! This is a journey in itself, and one that you are documenting with much affection. It’s clear that you aren’t just accumulating things – you’re putting though and consideration and reflection into every decision.

    Keep up the good work,and keep up the reflection too, x

  13. […] week I posted about my mini internal struggle with balancing my desire to nest and create a sense of home with my desire to explore and travel […]

  14. […] week I posted about my mini internal struggle with balancing my desire to nest and create a sense of home with my desire to explore and travel […]

  15. […] Dear Diary A contemplative post about finding balance between nesting at home and having experiences abroad. […]


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