Being Grateful for the Imperfect Present

“If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” ~Oprah Winfrey

I live in an old house.

It is 212 years old this year, to be exact.

We’ve added onto it over the years so it presents itself as more youthful than its age. The old bones remain, though, as well as many of the quirks. Those “quirks” give it character, right? It’s much like my emerging crow’s feet give my face character.

That’s the positive spin on crow’s feet, at least.

We have uneven floors, to the point where most of our furniture is shimmed, and shimmed-like-crazy. Without it, our mantle would tip to such a degree that it would seem that we are on the sinking Titanic.

When our kids were young, they could sit on a wee scooter, lift their legs, and coast backward through two rooms. (Insta-fun!)

We have asymmetrical moldings and strange gaps. When we first moved into our home, I was attempting to fill a gap in the wood on the stairs with caulk; it shot straight through the stair and into the basement.

I think I unloaded about half the tube before it started to fill. Probably should have just gone with a new piece of wood.

We joke that ours is the “House That Caulk Built.”

We have different varieties of wood for floors, and those floors creak to the point that, when our cat walks upstairs, it sounds like a human instead. There are gaps around the doors because nothing is level, and the rooms don’t have overhead lights in most cases (save for the kitchen, dining room. and bathrooms). Floor lamps and table lamps illuminate our indoor world.

But the kitchen. The kitchen. The heart of the home.

It is the size of most people’s walk-in closets. There is a lack of counter space, not enough outlets (I mentioned that already, didn’t I?) and it’s just too small, small, small.

The unfortunate thing is that I love to cook. I spend the majority of my days in the kitchen and go there for play (so to speak), as well. 

At holiday time, I will prop up my iPad, watch It’s a Wonderful Life, and spend hours in this tiny space, wreaking havoc with sprinkles and confectioners’ sugar, all the while churning out Italian pizzelle cookies, homemade peppermint marshmallows, espresso biscuits, and countless sugar cookies, just to name a few treats. I still have to squeeze in one of my to-do’s for this year, which was to learn how to bake a French macaron.

All this in a tiny space, which on most days I curse.

It kills me that there are so many women (and men) out there with gorgeous kitchen spaces, state-of-the-art appliances, and enough counter space to hold a cooking class for twelve—and they barely step foot in their kitchen.

Or they don’t know how to cook. Or don’t care to know. Bear with me while I scream and throw a juvenile hissy fit.

A friend of mine jokes that part of her doesn’t want to see me get a bigger kitchen. She thinks that it’s pure magic what I can make happen in my wee space.

Love my friend, but forget that.

But then there are those days when I pause. And I think of life and my old home in the bigger sense. Much bigger.

I know I am smart enough to understand and accept that in the scope of life, a kitchen is just not something to be fretting about on a regular basis. Neither are uneven floors, toilet handles that need perpetual jiggling, or non-jacuzzi tubs.

I pause and think this: Be grateful. And then be grateful some more.

-Due to Hurricane Sandy, there are so many families now who don’t have homes, never mind a spacious kitchen. I’ll take small over non-existent.

-When I step out onto my porch after dinner to put a few items in our recycling bins, I can feel the icy cold air. I then have the luxury of going back into my warm home and making myself a warm, soothing cup of green tea in my small kitchen before I hop into a cozy bed with a book. I’ll take that.

-Our family can afford any of the food that we need and even have extra to entertain family and friends when we choose. Better a small kitchen with dirty dishes and the evidence of guests than a big, bare, neglected kitchen where no one cooks healthy, happy meals for people that they love.

-And fine, it’s small and doesn’t have many bells and whistles. But you know what? It works and works just fine for now. I have the ability to feed our children and keep them healthy. That’s as good as a Michelin 5-Star rating in my book.

There are days when I curse this little room but then if I take a moment, I realize that this is a lesson for me at the moment. 

Be happy. Be happy with what you have because what you have is plenty. Good things are always around the corner and down the road, as I like to believe. But to live in the present moment is always the best thing you can do.

Like the words that you were told on your first day of college: ”Look to your left. Now, look to your right.”

Forget that. I’m just going go look in the middle and where I am standing.

In my little, happy kitchen.

Where does life find you standing right now?

Photo by Keenan Turner, NAU

About April Guilbault

April Guilbault is a graphic artist and illustrator turned freelance writer and blogger.  Her blog www.DailyFrosting.com covers all aspects of enhancing one’s life, namely focusing on the little things that make it worthwhile. Humor, recipes and observances rule the day. In addition to blogging and mothering, she freelances for various magazines and foodie websites.

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