“Like it or not, the personalities of our homes are accurate barometers that reflect, through our surroundings, where we have been, what’s going on in our lives, and who we are–today, this moment–though not necessarily where we are heading.
Sarah Ban Breathnach
In my kitchen, hanging on a twine, is a chalkboard. It faces the entrance so that anyone who enters can read it if they choose. It also hangs next to my coffeepot, so that the words written on it are the first words that I see every morning when I stumble into the kitchen to make my morning pot of inspiration. Written on the chalkboard are the words:
Our Home is a Haven of Peace, Joy, Love,
Friendship, Family and Fun for All who Enter
Over the years, these words have become known as the Haven House Mission Statement. Truthfully, its just a piece of my personal mission statement that has been evolving over the last several years.
It wasn’t created overnight. Inspired by reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephan Covey, I sat one night in the late-nineties to make the first attempt at my personal mission statement. One of the categories I created was for our home. I had made business mission statements before, yet for no reason that I can justify, had never taken the time to do one for my personal life at home.
I jotted down one simple sentence. Our home is a haven for all who enter.
Then I took an honest look around. Our home was anything BUT a haven. It was a loud, messy, worn-down, cluttered, tension-filled shell of a place that I didn’t even want to be in, let alone have anyone else come into. The children were fighting, the honey-do list was longer than a month-long grocery list, and the laundry was a never-ending battle that could not be won. I hated my house. I hated my life. I was depressed.
I followed Covey’s advice and wrote my new affirmation on paper where I could see it every day. For a while, the disconnect between the life I wanted and the life I was living, did nothing more then add fuel to the frustration. Still, I looked at the sentence every day. I began to think about it at odd times in the day, the sentence just popping into my mind. I started to add to it, as I began to see the goal more clearly. I wanted a happy home, filled with joy. A place where family and friends felt comfortable stopping by or coming for dinner.
I began to see visions of what I wanted in my mind. Daydreams and little mind-movies would play out in my head of happy family scenes. I realized that in real life we weren’t having any fun. We just went through the day-to-day motions of life, getting through each day’s checklist, hurried and hassled, falling into bed exhausted and worn out.
What was the purpose? Any vision or dreams I may have once had were gone. I was overweight and tired, living in chaos and confusion.
Outwardly, away from home, my life during those years was a huge success. Yet nothing, no award, no dollar value could make me feel like a superstar when I walked through my front door. I felt like a failure living in Hazard House.
I resolved that things had to change. At the time, I had no idea what it was, but I knew that things could not remain the same any longer.
I started asking myself the difficult questions.
Why had I been willing to live like this if I was so unhappy?
When had I lost track of my life’s goals and purpose?
Why didn’t my family and friends feel comfortable in my home? Why had I shut them out? Had I? Had I let business come before family? Was I choosing not to be with them? If so why?
If there wasn’t any fun, peace and joy in my life, then why not? Where had it gone?
What did I need to do to get it back?
I had to dig deep to find the answers to these questions and others. I wrote the answers in my journals as they came to me, surprising myself with some of the answers.
The answers didn’t come overnight. Some of them took years. They were tough, very personal and painful. When the answers finally came, change started to happen. Slowly at first, small changes, then big ones. I changed personal relationships. I started focusing on friendships with people who were positive, joyful, loving. The type of people I would want to invite over. I found support systems to help me organize the challenge of a messy home. Flylady.com helped to create a system to end the clutter and disorganization. I changed my job. Twice. I was no longer willing to settle for something that didn’t fit in to our vision of what our life needed to be. I lost weight. I learned to cook healthy, good food that people might actually want to come over and enjoy.
Now that the vision was clear of what I wanted in life, I was blessed to find a partner who shared that vision. I married my husband who shares in the same vision and goals for Haven House and our family.
I am not saying that the journey is complete. The Haven House Mission Statement hangs there every day as a constant reminder that the work is never done. I can say we have more haven then hazard these days and there are plenty of family and friends laughing and filling our home with joy.
I think most of us have mind-movies playing in our heads about what the perfect family life could be like. That life would be different for each of us. Media and the busyness of modern day may have us convinced that those dreams can’t come true for us. Sports schedules and calendar management make family dinner time dangerously close to extinction in some families.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can take back our families. We just have to decide what we want. Visualize it. Write it down. Look at it.
What would your home mission statement be?