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The Skinny By Elaine Langlois

Home Epiphanies

Your home. Is it so inviting that you're constantly stumbling on guests you thought had left weeks ago, relaxing in the Jacuzzi or helping themselves to your Wheaties? Or does it make you want to run screaming each morning to the comparative order and cleanliness of your cubicle?

As every devotee of HGTV knows, a home is more than just a showcase for your material success and a sinkhole for your hard-earned cash. It's more than just a place to store your fantastic shoe collection or where you hurl yourself each weekend into another exhausting round of cleaning and repairs. Your home is in fact your spiritual sanctuary, the place where you go in your life to find joy, meaning, and peace.

Home epiphanies. We've all had them. Maybe it was that rainy spring morning when the storm sewer backed up and you were bailing and bailing and suddenly you stopped, because the water was coming in faster than you could bail it out (though you did admire how buff your arms looked after all those weeks at the gym). And you saw there was no point to all this struggling and strife. Nature would have its way.

As you stood there in the quiet, watching your possessions float gently around the basement, you felt washing over your shins a wave of cool, earthy water, and over your heart, a wave of joyful acceptance. A home epiphany that left you with an abiding sense of peace.

You don't have to wait for those unexpected moments when the hot-water heater conks out or the cheesecake won't set, or when you wake in the dead of night to the sounds of raccoons tearing the shingles off your roof. With just a few simple steps, you can make home epiphanies a part of your daily life.

Indoor speed bumps. Cover car ramps in a cheery floral print. Scatter around your home to remind yourself to "slow down" and enjoy the pleasures of each and every day.

Candles. Nothing says warmth and covers the smell of cat urine like candles. On a favorite table, arrange scented tea lights in salvaged Fancy Feast cans. That waxy-rosy-tuna smell satisfies on nearly every level!

Simple gifts. Take a walk through your house, reminding yourself of everything you have to be grateful for. Like your big-screen plasma TV and your color-coordinated countertop appliances.

Moments of glory. Invite a friend over. Have her go through all your closets and drawers so she can see how organized you are. Don't hesitate to point out your best fashion finds along the way!

Nurture yourself. Spend a day doing just what makes you feel good. Paint your nails, write on the walls with crayons, make a festive bowl from discarded cabbage leaves, or cut out cookies in shapes you love, like maple leaves or Sputnik.

Space cleansing. Who knows what sort of otherworldly riffraff is hanging around your house, causing your pansies to wilt and giving you migraine headaches? Like those microscopic dust mites in home-cleaning ads, spectral pests, invisible to the naked eye, can be lurking behind your woodwork, turning your relationships sour and forcing you to make bad hair decisions.

What you need is a good, thorough space cleansing. You can buy a space-cleansing mitt and rubaway bar from Williams-Sonoma, but it's just as easy to do it on your own.

1. Take a bath with your favorite foaming gel. Put on something comfortable, yet stylish-aggressiveness in fashion intimidates even the dead.

2. Drink a lot of wine so you won't feel silly.

3. Burn some chocolate chip cookies in the oven. Do the same with a pan of fudge sauce on the stove. Use a ping-pong paddle to waft the odor to every room.

4. As the smoke detectors blare, stomp on bubble wrap, slap two blackboard erasers together, or wham the paddle against the walls, yelling whatever you feel comfortable with. Like, "Get out of my house, you miserable spirits, or start kicking in on the mortgage and utilities!"

5. Wrench the batteries out of the smoke detectors and go drink some more wine. You can also eat the leftover cookies and fudge sauce.

Share the joy. Do you have a friend whom you suspect has never had a home epiphany? Just jimmy a first-floor window and get her started. You could set fire to her tacky homemade pillows, flush a pile of rags down a toilet, or simply leave the upstairs bathtub overflowing. There's just no limit to your love!

© 2004 Elaine Langlois