I’m a nester. I am constantly updating what’s around me to make it feel more like a home. Now, before you make that joke about how I have been pregnant for most of my life… so of course, I nest a lot…hear me out. Nesting is something I love to do, but also something I feel compelled to do. If I don’t do it, I feel off somehow. My space feels uncomfortable. Turns out, the Danish have a word not only for the action of nesting, but also the feeling, in a moment of mindfulness, that nesting gives you… Hygge. Yup, its a word… How do you pronounce it? Good question. I was completely wrong. Take a guess… You’re gonna be wrong too… so I will just tell you…It’s Hoo-gah.
What on Earth is hygge you ask yourself?! Well, it is the feeling that one gets from being surrounded by people and things that bring a warm cozy feeling to your heart. I love that the Danish have a word for all of that. There are countless articles on how to increase the hygge in your home. Apparently, hygge is the new feng shui of the house world.
Being alone makes you want to nest. It makes you want to feel, well, not so alone. Rooms that once felt crowded now feel tired, cold and… very lifeless. I find myself wandering through rooms that feel indescribably empty that are filled with special memories that are gone or changed in my mind now. My home doesn’t feel like home anymore. Of course, I’m not really “alone” in these rooms. Gosh, with five kids between the ages of 11 and 3, I AM NEVER ALONE!! I go to the bathroom sometimes, locking the door and pretending I’m “busy”, but instead reading a magazine while sitting on the floor… I digress… Back on track now… Being alone makes you want to surround yourself with beautiful wonderful things that bring warmth to a heart that doesn’t always feel warm and loved. I want my house to feel like my home. I NEED SOME HYGGE!!
People ask how I am doing on a pretty regular basis now. I’m hanging in there is my best answer. It’s factually true. I function during the day, but the big secret is that I dread the nights. There are times where I can’t fall asleep because my mind is so busy working through scenarios for my future or things that have happened in the past. It is as though movies play through my head and I can’t push the pause button. I am forced to watch them over and over. I get frustrated because I can’t sleep, which makes my mind race. It’s an ugly spiral. There are other nights where sleep overtakes me and I collapse into bed, physically and emotionally exhausted. I am ready on those nights to feel restored, only to wake four, five, six times for no apparent reason. My heart is racing and I cannot find sleep again, no matter how hard I try. When any of this happens and I find myself staring at the walls or the ceiling, the room feels so cold and empty. That is when I want to feel a little hygge, enough so that I can wrap that hygge around me and fall into a tranquil sleep again. I think you probably get what I am talking about even if I have used the word hygge too many times and probably at least half of those were incorrect in usage. I need extra throw blankets and plush down pillows to feel like that warm hug that can sooth even the most broken heart. I want my space to feel like a winter evening on a couch in Vermont, snow falling outside, large fire in the hand built field stone fireplace as I wear long johns and a Nordic sweater from LLBean, sipping hot cocoa while my old trusty dog sleeps by my feet… OK, that’s a little over the top, but you get the drift. I want a soothing, calming, warm and inviting place to be.
I have always been a nester. As a kid, my mother would patiently let me put out the boxes and boxes of Christmas decor. I can’t say that I would ever let my kids do this… I think my mother was a saint… I loved doing it and living with all of the Christmas clutter but when it all came down after Christmas, I would cry because the house felt so empty. What I didn’t know then (because I didn’t know this amazing little word) is that I no longer got that cozy, comfy feeling that my body and soul needed, in short… the hygge was gone.
I would continue to nest all through college and the first years of marriage but pregnancy, well, I became a full blown disaster. Sonia Cleven, I’m sure, remembers me being in full blown labor, ready to push and planting coral bells in my yard. No joke shovel in hand and dirt smeared all over me. It was followed by lots of cursing and a mad dash to Boston for delivery. I ended up delivering Taylor five minutes before I was “technically” admitted to the hospital… all because I HAD TO NEST. I learned a valuable lesson as they cut my pants off that day… if you take too long to nest and don’t get to the hospital on time, they won’t give you an epidural…
Nesting has turned into a full blown obsession, in part, thanks to my neighbor, Amber Blanchard, who has seduced me into the creation of styling seasons… If you didn’t know, decor has five seasons, Spring, Summer, Fall, Christmas and Winter. Who knew?! You also need to jazz things up for smaller holidays (Valentine’s Day, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, birthdays of all sorts…). I am not joking. Sounds silly, right, but man, it’s got me hook line and sinker. Once I did one season, all the others felt just depressing and dull. I had to continue! Each season has a concept and theme that fits with the weather. Thank you so much to Pinterest and Homegoods for helping to make this a full blown addiction. My wet basement is loaded with throw pillows in every shape and color for every season, hanging in trash bags to keep them safe from the wet floors. If you didn’t know, you would think that I have body bags hanging from my ceiling!
I’ve got the buying and decorating thing down. I can create cozy, fashionable spaces. Truthfully, it does help with some of the feelings of loneliness. I have added some cushy stuff to most of my spaces, but somehow things still do not feel hygge enough for me. See, I am only nesting. Every room still feels very empty of feeling but stuffed with stuff. I need more. See, hygge isn’t just about putting throw blankets and pillows in every space… if it was, I would have more hygge than I would know what to do with…
One of the biggest tenants of hygge is that your spaces need to contain things that you love, and only things that you love. Anything that isn’t useful or carrying warm sentiment should be removed from your space. Everyone has that crap in their spaces, that was maybe given to them but they really don’t like. You don’t want to throw it out because A)Your great aunt Dorothy would be so sad it wasn’t on the shelf when she visits every five years or B)It’s good stuff and you can’t part with it… It is time to purge, people! I have been purging lot’s lately. The VVA could open an entire store with the amount of stuff they have picked up. I don’t need it. Someone else does. All that clutter was taking up too much space in my crazy life. The reward has been two fold! Someone who needs my stuff is getting it and this makes my heart feel full from giving it away. But the biggest benefit, there are now spaces to put the things that really do matter to me. I can dig deep in the basement water logged boxes and pull out the mementos that I have saved and never put out because I never had the space. The ever growing collection of sea glass and shells. The birth announcements for each of my children. There are places for candles to create soft glow and spaces for house plants. Basically, the hygge model says that if it doesn’t invoke joy, it has to go!
It seems completely absurd, but when I am at my darkest, I hide. I hibernate. I isolate. It’s probably one of the worst things that I can do for myself and my state of mind, but there it is. I have to block it all out and spend some days in my pajamas and pray for the sun to come up. If you don’t get a return call or only a one or two word text… I’m in isolate mode. (Check on me in a couple of days, just to make sure I’m alive and most likely, I am up and about again.) Here is where hygge can help me again. Hygge isn’t just about surrounding ourselves with comfortable sentimental things, its also about adding some special people to your life that can create memories with you. I need to invite in those people that want to share a cup of tea and a plate of cookies with me. I want to talk about the weather and the mundane. I want to listen and be heard. I want to get rid of the technology (except for Pinterest because I might lose my mind) and play board games and bake with my kids. I want to draw silly pictures and tape them to the walls. I want to have friends over for some soup and homemade bread. I want to make memories, warm ones that I can go back to in my mind when things feel bleak.
So now I am on a quest. I am going to bring this hygge thing into my life in as many ways as possible. To me, it sounds like a pretty good roadmap towards living a life full of mindfulness. Maybe there was a reason that I couldn’t sleep a week ago and had to get up and give in to browsing on Pinterest at 3 in the morning. God has a reason for everything, right?! Stumbling upon this silly word, this amazing word that I couldn’t pronounce without looking it up, this amazing idea for a feeling that I want to enjoy every moment of my day, is quite possibly the greatest gift that I can do for myself. Not only does it mean being mindful in all of the special moments, but also taking an active part in providing a setting for those moments. I want to set the stage for those memories to come and fill me with joy. I need a little joy in my life.
My life has been about surviving up until now. It has been nothing but tough work. But as I put back the pieces back together, I want it to be about more than the work. I want it to be about exploring, searching and studying what is around me and what it means to be me. To put these pieces all back together, I need a space that will embrace me at the end of the day and that will provide me with a theater for all the new and wonderful things to come, whatever they might be. I need that space to be shared with friends and family so that I can create some new and fantastic memories to fill up these empty rooms.
So I’m gonna hygge… sounds like some crazy dance, doesn’t it!? But seriously, I want to share with you some of the changes that I am making to my home and life over the next couple of weeks and months and well, as long as it takes for me to become a whole person again. I’m gonna hygge ’til it hurts. LOL. I love this word.