Gift of Walls
If these walls could talk…
Most of us have heard this tiny snippet many times. These five little words have been used as the title of books, movies, and television shows. But what do the words really mean? When I looked up the meaning behind the short quote, the explanation I liked best was simply: If these walls could talk, they would tell you the story.
What stories would your walls tell if they could talk? If our walls were capable of speech, they could reveal the good, the bad, and the ugly of our daily lives. In reality, our walls can’t actually “speak”, but can’t they still tell our stories?
Today is March 31, 2020, as I write this. We all find ourselves thrust into uncertain times. Due to the pandemic, our family has been staying close to home since Friday, March 13th (this will very likely be the most bizarre Friday the 13th we will see in our lifetimes). For us, we are nineteen straight days into what is yet an unknown stretch of time that we are spending inside our house, broken up with the occasional walk and tasks in the yard. Our days are suddenly like nothing we’ve ever experienced before: a mixture of work, play, anxiety, relaxation, fear, and a search for answers where there are not yet many, all within the confines of the walls of our home.
Yesterday, as sunshine streamed through newly washed windows, I sat quietly with a cup of coffee and peered at the walls around me. No, the walls were not closing in around me, at least not yet. I was simply allowing myself time to pause and think.
When was the last time you really looked at the pictures and decorations that grace the walls of your home? When we live with something for a long time, we often stop noticing it. We start to take our surroundings for granted. But as my eyes traveled around our living room, it dawned on me how so many of the items hanging on our walls tell our stories. The stories of our family. The stories of my dreams (not because I’m the only dreamer here, but because I’m the sole decorator!)
I thought it would be fun to take a few minutes to wander from room to room and pay attention to the types of things that have found their way onto our walls. It’s an eclectic mix to be sure, and one that makes this house a home.
A picture is worth a thousand words. What better way to decorate our walls than with things that speak to us so succinctly?
Since becoming parents twenty-six years ago, our kids’ smiling faces peek out at us from many nooks and crannies, along with reminders that parenting is our most important job:
The quote in the middle picture has guided me through my years of trying to be the best parent I can be, and they’ve never felt more accurate than they do today. This wisdom extends beyond the role of mother or father to that of a teacher, caregiver, healthcare provider, and so many more: “One hundred years from now…it will not matter what your bank account was, the sort of house you lived in, or the kind of car you drove…but the world may be different because you were important in the life of a child.”
I’m a firm believer that our dwellings transform into homes when we surround ourselves with unique items that speak to our hearts and our memories. It doesn’t matter if others grasp their meanings. They shouldn’t be hung to impress the occasional visitor, but rather to remind us of happy times and our interconnectedness as a family.
There is an artistic gene that weaves its way through our family, and I’d much rather grace my walls with beautiful things created by those closest to me than by people I’ve never met.
Beyond the walls of our homes is a world full of opportunity, challenges, heartache, and the unknown. Inside, our walls can serve to fill our minds with reminders of the good things in life, the things we need to focus on to live our best possible lives.
When I decided to start down a completely new path of weaving stories and encouragement into books, intuitive family members helped me to surround myself with wisdom to draw upon. The old printer drawer on the left includes such snippets as:
Now, these printer drawers offer me a repository for trinkets I’m gathering along my writer’s journey, reminding me there are many more tiny boxes to fill.
Life can be challenging, scary even, but we all have a story to tell. Right now, most of us are spending more time than ever at home. I encourage you to pour a beverage of your choice and quietly sit with your surroundings. Look around. Do the things hanging on your walls speak to you? Do they make you smile? Do they remind you of wonderful times, or people, or dreams you hold dear?
If not, now is the time to dig into your storage areas, closets, and drawers. Look at things you’ve stored with a different eye. You kept those things for a reason. I promise not all of it is junk. Maybe now is the perfect time to take down that random picture you bought from a big box store because the color matched your décor and instead hang up that picture you or a loved one painted years ago. The one that makes you smile. After all, the beauty of art is in the eye of the beholder.
And if there is something that speaks to you, put it front and center. We all need to be surrounded by the words of wise men and women who have come before us, who have braved the storm and come out of difficult situations on the other side, maybe a little beaten down but stronger for it.
One of the best examples I have of this can be found in the words of Theodore Roosevelt in another heartfelt gift from a wise sister-in-law this past Christmas:
When we live full out, we open ourselves up to criticism. If it has been a while since you sat with these words of a former president, or if they are new to you, let me reiterate these words found in the quote above that grace the walls of my home office:
THE MAN IN THE ARENA
It is not the critic who counts. Not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles. Or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena. Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood. Who strives valiantly. Who errs. Who comes short again and again. Because there is no effort without error and shortcoming. But who does actually strive to do the deeds. Who knows great enthusiasms. The great devotions. Who spends himself in a worthy cause. Who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement. And who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Do your walls tell your best story? When you meander from room to room, take time today to notice those reminders of your past that conjure up happy memories. Enjoy glimpses into your past, and know we will be making new memories in the future. Keep the faith.
May your walls keep you safe during these uncertain times.
Stay home, stay safe, and stay healthy, my friends. And if you are one of the men or women fighting in the most critical arenas right now to help keep humanity alive and thriving, please know you have the gratitude of millions. Kim
Gift of Today
A wise man once counseled me to give it my best, every day, and to get comfortable with the belief that my best was enough. I was young and feeling overwhelmed in a new job where I would be responsible for leading a small team, some of whom had worked at the company for longer than I’d been alive. I felt extremely under qualified and, frankly, scared.
His small handful of words impacted me more than he could ever have anticipated. I like to think they became part of my DNA, and I try to draw on that guidance daily.
I bring this up today because, suddenly, we all find ourselves thrust into a scary new world. I’ve debated about even writing this post. With all of the fear, anxiety, and questions we all have over this worldwide pandemic, who am I to weigh in? But then I remembered my friend’s timeless advice.
The reality is we are all in uncharted territory here, and it’s damn scary. It doesn’t matter what differences might have separated us in the past. All we can do is be here for each other now, to offer kindness and compassion, and to take the precautionary measures being asked of us, even when those things feel hard to do.
Two weeks ago, I spent my Saturday morning in a coffee shop, doing something I love: working my way toward “The End” of my next book. When my brain was exhausted, I decided to treat myself to a shopping trip to Scheels, a fabulous retail store here in Fargo. I usually shop there for gifts for others and not for myself, but since I had an upcoming trip planned, I felt justified shopping for a new outfit, maybe even new comfortable shoes since we’d be doing lots of walking.
Our two youngest kids were off at college, and the guys were processing deer sausage at our house, so I was enjoying some time to myself, out and about town, on a day that held the promise of spring.
Oh, the things we took for granted.
I wandered around the women’s clothing section that Saturday, picking things off the racks to try, but found myself at the checkout with two cute t-shirts and nothing else. I’d had higher hopes. Maybe I just wasn’t in the shopping mood. But it was still fun to browse.
Life as we know it has changed drastically since that relaxing Saturday afternoon, two weeks ago. I’m not going to attempt to reiterate all of those changes here. Some changes are universal to us all, and some are unique to each of us. We all have a different story, and every story matters.
Why do I mention a simple shopping trip when there is so much heartache in the world right now? Only because of the messages on the two t-shirts I picked up that day, having little clue what was in store for all of us:
My hope is that we can find ways to bolster each other up during these scary, challenging times. It will take courage, compassion, and kindness. We already miss how things were in our past, and we aren’t sure what tomorrow holds, but we can try to give it our best today. “Our best” will look different for each of us.
Our house is quiet this morning. I’m alone for the first time in at least ten days, and it will only last for a few hours.
Spring Break for our college freshman started a week ago Friday. A month ago, she’d been irritated by the fact some of her friends had travel plans, and she was destined to a dull week at home with her parents, tempered with planned time out with friends. If only her assumptions had played out that way!
I have the house to myself now because she signed up for a three-hour time slot during which she and one other person (a shout out to her dad!) could access her dorm room to empty it. She’ll complete the rest of her first year of college online. The university is staging the move out times to minimize contact with others. Good call. There will be no good-bye hugs with friends or roommates, and my heart hurts for all of them. But it is necessary.
As I sit in this quiet house, I try not to think about the cross-country trip I canceled to visit our daughter in graduate school out west. Today should have been a day trip to the ocean, maybe a winery or two, and most importantly, time together. All of that will have to wait. FaceTime talks will suffice for now, and though my heart aches to have her so far away during this scary time, I know we all must practice patience.
Life is suddenly shifting in ways none of us have ever experienced, and the lessons our children are learning extend beyond the safety of structured classrooms and delivery by trained, dedicated teachers. We all have to find ways to help guide our kids as best we can during these turbulent times. We will learn together.
Our world is changing quickly, and not only for the young. For everyone, work suddenly looks different. Blessed are the brave who work in health care. Those in the medical field will help see us through, but they need help. Others will do their best to keep necessary supply chains flowing and the streets safe. Some of us can work from home. Some jobs will evaporate, at least for now. Find the positive where you can. So many businesses are taking extraordinary measures and doing their best for both customers and employees. Not all companies will be able to weather this storm.
Have faith that we will come through this together. If we forget that life is a series of cycles, Mother Nature reminds us. We still have plenty of snow in our yards where I live, but the hardy tulips on the south side of our house have already made their annual spring appearance. I smile when I remember I transplanted some of those bulbs from my grandparent’s home.
Let’s find encouragement in the sense of comradery that is starting to shine again. My hope is we can all continue to foster these efforts to support each other, to let go of old expectations and previous definitions of “success” that now feel rather meaningless.
Can I do anything to help support you? Please, reach out to me to share your thoughts, your feelings, your stories. None of us are experts at any of this, but we can be here for each other.
Today we can give it our best. Stay home if your work doesn’t require you to leave your house. Use the hours as best you can. Take care of your health and the health of those closest to you. And that means both physical and mental health.
Prepare meals you haven’t had time to cook recently, making use of what you have on hand. Get some exercise. Did you know it’s possible to still get over 10,000 steps in a day, pacing around inside your house if necessary? We don’t have a treadmill, and we’ve had some frigid, windy days here in North Dakota, but I refuse to break my streak of daily walking, and it helps me feel better. Keep moving in whatever way you can!
Find the right balance of staying up-to-date on what you need to know to help stay safe and keep others safe, but DO NOT inundate yourself with too much negativity. Stay connected with those that give you light and hope. Call friends and family. Tune out those that are reacting in fear or anger. Those people are scared, too. Be the light. Don’t contribute to the darkness.
There are blessings hidden within these scary times. I challenge you to make it your mission today to find those blessings. Remember when you wished you had more time?
Some of us now find ourselves with unstructured days. It can feel disconcerting to flip from having every hour filled to having time on our hands. Allow yourself the grace to acknowledge that feeling of discomfort, and then perhaps try something new. Or something you used to enjoy. Draw a picture. Bake some cookies using an old family-favorite recipe. Read a book. Watch a movie that makes you laugh out loud. Find a way to enjoy this pause.
This afternoon I’ll take a walk outside with our son. Having them living within walking distance is one of our blessings.
Offer a kind word of support to those working incredibly hard, under scary conditions, to help us all. Know that we are all in this together. Enjoy today. Offer thanks and support. The world needs your bright light right now. We can get through this together and build a better world in the process.
Today is a gift. You are all a gift.
Always in your corner, Kim
Kimberly Diede Author
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!