While I usually write about food for the human spirit with recipes and ideas on how to enchant and nurture it, this time I’d like to write about feeding the spirit of the space. Yes, the spirit of the space, which includes our homes and personal spaces.
Some time ago, I began taking special note of how sisters and brothers around me decorated their personal living spaces. My goal in making these observations was to glean more about the essence of people based on how their spaces were kept and decorated.
At the risk of sounding snob-like, I must admit that more often than not, the spaces I observed didn’t seem “alive.” Sure, there were lavish furnishings, pictures and home decorations, but mostly it seemed
that the space had been directly copied from flashy advertisements created by furniture sellers.
There’s nothing alive or unique about a “showroom” living space, right? Well, at least we agree on that. Whew!
When I think of a living space, I think of a canvass on which to paint the essence of my imagination, my moods, and gathered memories that I wish to bring forward into the present moment — reminders of my childhood, my culture, my ancestors, and my spirit. Is it possible to have another person do that for me? To me, that would be like trying to live in someone else’s skin. Don’t you think?
So, my message with this column is to encourage you to jump into your own skin by feeding the spirit of your space. Let your imagination guide you while you fill your space with items that keep the essence of who you are happy and enchanted.
These items might include fresh flowers (nothing alive about artificial flowers and plants, right?), candles, bowls of water and fruit, feathers, colorful fabrics, and pieces of art or jewelry. The main thing is that you enter into your imagination knowing that your actions alone will produce benefits. Some say, “happy wife, happy life.” I say, “happy space, happy face.”
OK, back to feeding the spirit. This morning, two brown pigeons landed on the ledge just outside of my living room window; they peered into my space, and I could tell they wanted to fly in. Yes, I felt sort of blessed and definitelyexperienced a happy-face moment; brown pigeons are relatively rare in Minnesota, and many fly here from Africa and parts of Asia.
The spirit of those birds had identified with something familiar within me, which in this case was a reminder of Africa and African ways of seeing the world. In African ways of seeing the world, animals are often thought to carry an omen or a message to human beings — sometimes animals are thought to carry the essence of one’s ancestors.
The main point is that the space we create produces an energy which either nurtures us and brings us good omens, or an energy that can drain us and keep us disconnected from the essence of who we are — from our own spirit.
As we embark on the refreshing journey into springtime, let us renew ourselves by feeding the spirit of our space. Let us give thanks to ourselves and our families by creating spaces that “speak” to our spirits, nurture our essence, and keep us connected to the beautiful cultures that gave life to us in the first place.
Don’t be afraid to turn on some music, add some color to your walls, and fill your space with the aroma of foods that tie you to your culture and homeland. Place goblets and glasses of clear water about your space with white candles to invite your ancestors to dance with you in the rhythm of life and the joy of living!
Bring in some fresh bamboo to remind yourself of the strength and resiliency of your spirit, and rocks collected from various outdoor landscapes to remind yourself to stay grounded each and every day. Most importantly, open yourself to the wondrous world of your own imagination, style, and taste — your own originality!
Thank you for spending a few moments with me. Now go feed that space of yours! In the words of the Yoruba people, I will close here by saying Achè!
Michelle Lawrence, MA, MPH, specializes in cooking African-based dishes and relationship-enhancing dining experiences for families and couples. She can be reached at 612-251-9516.