What I learned about ordinary desire from Ikea

I have a renewed “room of my own” that I want to share with you.

It includes a new adjustable desk base from ModTable with a top from Ikea and new art table from Ikea, too.

office art table

I turned my old desk into a wide open space to write at, with Buddha looking out for me.

buddha

My couch that doubles as a bed for  friends when they come for a visit is now under the windows.

luna

Here is my little altar I made at the top of the stairs. It’s such a good reminder when coming into the space.

altar

Here is where I meditate and where the dogs often nap.

meditation

I’m showing you my space not because it’s all tousled house porn and Dwell magazine cool — ha! — but because I finally feel deeply at home in my space for the first time.

See, I’ve been a restless gal much of my life. My itchiness has taken different forms — mostly related to creativity, identity, and nesting — and yet no matter the outward form, each instance threads back to my central life lessons: learning to accept reality, embrace the ordinary, engage creatively with the present, and give up fantasy.

So every spring when I invariably get chuffed about changing my house or my work, my ears perk up and I become watchful, curious, a bit wary of myself. What am I looking for that I think can arrive from out there?

And yet…

Another life lesson I’m always learning is to allow myself to want what I want and to take action on my own behalf. To not collapse by always putting others first or by being afraid to speak up. By not giving up on the help and support my creations deserve. To not think it’s impossible, forbidden, too much.

So when it comes to my room of my own, I wanted to claim my desire for beauty and step away from fantasy. Both and.

Which is what I did.

I’ve been working through body pain and injuries for a few years now and one idea my various body gurus have suggested is to switch position often. Which means less sitting. So I played with working at a stand-up desk for a few weeks, and realized I desired an adjustable desk where my computer would live and a wide-open sit-down desk for wide-open dreaming. I wanted both.

And that I also wanted a better art play space.  And to frame some art and generally make things mine.

Here is what would have happened in the past — I would feel a shaming story of “too much,  you want too much” gush up around all those desires, and then I would either buy something that I didn’t really want, thus discharging the uncomfortable energy of owning my desires, or get all sleepy and confused about what I wanted, make it complicated, and then do nothing.

Instead, this time I held on to my desire and the knowing it need not be perfect. Both and.

I searched on line for about a week before I found and ordered my base. Then I decided on a butcher block Ikea top instead of the one the desk came with. Now going to Ikea is not my idea of fun so I prepared for my trip by going alone (it can be hard for me to stay in touch with my desires when someone else is with me), gave myself plenty of time, had all my desk measurements in hand, and a bottle of water with Vitamin C (Ikea makes my allergies crazy).

Most of all, I prepared by reminding myself, I could have what I really wanted and what I was capable of getting.

That last point is as important. Another way I snarl up my desires is thinking I should be someone different than I am and thus be able to fulfill my desires in a different way. For example, I hate hate hate to shop. Yes, that much. For me to search for the perfect funky art table or desktop would be torture. I’ve tried. Big stressful fail. Ikea is good enough.

So dear Bob constructed everything for me this past weekend and I am swooning with love for my space. It feels incredible to have what I want, served up with the ordinary Jen way. Forget house porn, I got ordinary desire!  Come over and let’s make an art mess together!

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Jan Shannon - May 1, 2013

Jenn, you are singing my song. Sometimes I think you are in my head (but not like a nasty housemate who leaves dirty dishes around; more like a kinder, gentler, more compassionate version of me). Thanks for sharing this way of thinking and acting, and your lovely new space.

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Lisa Van Meter Perry - May 1, 2013

Your post hit home and, apparently, there is a lot of you in all of us. I love your pretty, functional space! I get so tired of seeing showplaces that don’t look real, manageable or affordable. So many of us have the same issues. I have a very small (7’x8′) Creating Space (former closet) aka my Art Studio that the whole family uses from time to time. I recently semi-straightened and reorganized it. I haven’t barred my family from using my space, but I have made some rules that will be enforced hence forth. Have also had desk issues. I am studying forex trading (my passion!) and spend 8+ hours daily at the desk. Tired, sore back! Researched ergonomic chairs and settled on a rubber balance ball. But, whoops, despite ordering right size for my height, it absolutely needs a frame or it’s too short. Fwiw, I am not a shopping fan either. It’s way overrated.

Maybe it’s turning 50? I’m absolutely done with ‘making do,’ unless it’s 100% necessary and I’m done with ‘settling’ and doing a job that I can no longer tolerate to make ends meet. I don’t need the limelight, but I’m also done with being invisible (though I still enjoy my privacy). My supportive husband and best friend, Scott, is behind me all the way. We are pursuing our dreams together effective 7/1–the day after our job contract expires. Leap and the net will appear. From our lips to the Universe.

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    jenlouden - May 6, 2013

    Lisa love reading this! May us over 50 gals unite in getting what we want!

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jordan - May 1, 2013

Lovely. I love to see creative spaces. I have a new creative space that I will be moving into… and some of the same challenges, including lots of books. You give me hope.

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Michele Grace - May 1, 2013

The interior designer in me loves house porn. So glad you gave yourself permission to create a wonderful space. And I so needed to read and take in “I could have what I really wanted and what I was capable of getting.” Thank you.

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Jane LaFazio - May 1, 2013

lovely, clean and clear….I like the idea of your little altar at the top of the stairs as a reminder of what’s important. thanks for sharing your space….

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Ellen - May 1, 2013

“Note: It is vulnerable to share this with you. I am afraid you will think I’m showing off or that I am whining about a first world problem.” Hits SO close to home… Just had our kitchen redone after 21 years of “butt ugly” and now it is beautiful and functional. The space has touched my soul. I even heard my hubby tell someone that it had changed the character of the house. I feel as though I have to dampen my happiness around others as it is just a kitchen and not what really matters in life and I don’t want to appear attached or materialistic. Yep, first world problems and I was pointing that out when I did not have a kitchen for two months. ENJOY your special space!

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Jamie Wallace - May 1, 2013

So happy for you, Jen. This space is “you” all over – warm, inviting, thoughtful, and yet full of gentle energy and a quietly smoldering creativity. You deserve all of it and will bring more of what you do into the world because of it. Think of it as a gift that gives both ways. 😉 xo

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Linda Williams - May 1, 2013

Jen, I can soooo identify with everything you said. I hate to shop! But really want what I want. After 4 years in my space, I am finally getting my bookcases… and we went for custom made so they will be just right, not make-do! coming next week. I’m so excited. Once i get the pile of books and notebooks (with training projects) on the book cases and off the floors, tables, desk, etc. I plan to re-arrange and the whole thing. Your are my inspiration once more!!! Thank you.
Linda

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Katie McClain - May 1, 2013

Gosh, your words resonated so much with me Jen. Especially this: “I would feel a shaming story of “too much, you want too much” gush up around all those desires, and then I wouldeither buy something that I didn’t really want, thus discharging the uncomfortable energy of owning my desires, or get all sleepy and confused about what I wanted, make it complicated, and then do nothing.” Wow. Thank you for sharing your space and your thoughts and your process. As I read, I was creating 2 spaces in my mind that right now make me so down that I don’t want to go in there. My office and my bedroom! Time to get busy making them home. xo

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Deirdre - May 1, 2013

Thank you so much for articulating what I experience but don’t yet have words for, for giving me a picture of what the “both and” could look like, for being in total gratitude for the blessings we have in the first world and allowing in what is also having desires and for your willingness to be completely honest, open, transparent and share this. You inspire me on a regular basis, thank you!

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Trista Hill - May 1, 2013

CONGRATULATIONS and… well-deserved. Your space is both gorgeous and inspiring. I love that you were honest with yourself about what you wanted, knowing that it will just lead to more great work, and then for sharing that with us. Beautiful.

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Lora Jansson - May 1, 2013

Your space is very beautiful and honors the soul of your work. I can feel it. That you have different altars honoring ancestors — your unique ancestors — is why I can feel the room right through the computer! Creating a container for your work is, to my mind, reverent and reciprocal, a way of bowing to process and the fluid interchange of love as action and life as unfolding. I know the place of discomfort about “small” — I am not x, y or z. But am finding the more I say — YES! I am this — the more I am in the flow of my real life and not in just “a” life. And so I don’t think your space is a small thing at all. Your made your whole room an altar, and what could be more reverent than that? I’d LOVE to come make an art mess with you! Sounds like heaps of fun to me 🙂

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ProfJLB - May 1, 2013

Oh Jen, today’s offering could not have come at a better time for me! In my home there is a “spare” bedroom which sat ready to house guests – who rarely came – for the first few years we lived here. While I sat at the dining room table
to write and create art, I continually thought about that unused space and
pictured it with a table instead of a bed, practical & fun storage spaces, a cork board with my art attempts pinned crazily all over it … I sighed and longed and sighed and longed … then I FINALLY mentioned it to my husband, who, wonderful human that he is, said “Let’s do it!” Really????? You think I’m worth it????? At least another year went by (and not a houseguest in sight) before a weak “Yes, I’m worth it …?” truly rose to the surface. An art studio was born!!!! And then … my father moved in with us and SUDDENLY my art studio became a storeroom. You can barely navigate through the boxes and miscellaneous stuff. My lovely Pottery Barn project table is in pieces under our bed. I’m not sure which box hides my art books. The few pretties I had decorated with have been disbursed to other niches in the house. So sad …… and I’m doing my art at the dining room table once again. THEN I read your post just now and TADA! I AM RECLAIMING MY ART STUDIO! Thank you Jennifer so VERY much for sharing your story. xoxoxoxoxo

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Debby Carrico - May 1, 2013

Can you come and do my craft room? Just kidding, but a person has to be able to levitate to get into it let alone use it and I’m not kidding. Your blog is inspiring and maybe I can begin to work on this too. Debby C.

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    jenlouden - May 6, 2013

    one box filled and thrown away. I should have been more clear that doing this project has taken the better part of a year but since I didn’t set out to do it, rather just to make small changes, the final “product” snunk up on me. May that happen for you, too!

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      Debby Carrico - May 7, 2013

      I’m hoping and praying. I’m 62 going on 63 this week and my body is not nearly as friendly as it used to be. I will try to do a ‘box’ at a time. Any would be better than none, I’m thinking. My ‘boys’ are not going to love dealing with this mess when I’ve ‘passed’

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Tangerine Meg - May 2, 2013

I am still working on my art/office space – you’ve inspired me to keep going – but have managed to make the transition to “…what i really wanted and was capable of getting…” with: my dear little new (to me) blue car. I love it maybe a little too much… so beautiful, and makes the task pleasant and easy!
I want that same feeling with my office! Little steps 🙂 Thanks for the great modelling and sharing.
Love Meg x o
PS I’ve been loving your emails/posts lately – super relatable and useful. Thank you!

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    jenlouden - May 6, 2013

    Thanks Tangerine Meg – i love hearing that and knowing you are so happy with your little blue car!

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Aubrey R - May 2, 2013

I struggle with this is so many ways. Thank you for sharing!!

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    jenlouden - May 6, 2013

    you bet!

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Becca Campbell - May 2, 2013

Thanks for sharing this. As a writer and an artist, I’m always paralyzed about how to create a space that’s beautiful, functional and reflective of me. Seeing your real space (rather than the photoshoot pretty magazine rooms), makes me feel like I can pursue a grounded, yet sacred space of my own.

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    jenlouden - May 6, 2013

    and it is so not perfect but it works and that is what matters! may you find your real space that works “good enough” soon!

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Jeweliette B Marguerite - May 4, 2013

Dear lovely Jen, first world problem? Well yes, BUT that doesn’t mean it isn’t a real one…personally I think that too much choice – or what seems like too much choice but is really rows and rows of things that look pretty much the same – is actually a big stressor for a lot of people. I completely identify with the whole ‘buying something I didn’t really want’ syndrome. I totally support you in holding out for exactly what you want – in my life I frame this as a ‘quality’ decision, something you’ll love for a long time rather than a ‘this will do’ or impulse buy. Keep going lovely lady 🙂

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    jenlouden - May 6, 2013

    Thanks Jeweliette. I appreciate your wise, kind reflection.

    Reply
Coaching ConfidenceRecapping the Facebook Monday Invite (from 29th April 2013) - May 4, 2013

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Tamara Kist - May 5, 2013

I appreciate so much your willingness to put it all out there and share even when you are feeling vulnerable. S much of what you blog resonates with me deeply. I keep many of your emails in a folder titled inspiration. I love the story of your going to IKEA, armed with vitamin water (this is a trick I am going to try!). And thank you for being so aware of your emotions, and writing about them. This woman is inspired by you regularly, and I just wanted you to know.

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    jenlouden - May 6, 2013

    Tamara thank you so much for reaching out to me and telling me such kind feedback. It made my weekend! LOVE!

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Victoria Musgrave - May 9, 2013

Thank you so much for the reminder that it is okay to have ordinary desires, to want what we want. Writing and creating art is obviously very important to you so why shouldn’t you have a workspace and furniture that supports and nourishes you? I too have agonized over spending money on something that supports my work or a hobby and finally had to reason with myself – since this activity is so important to me, why shouldn’t I have a desk chair or other object that creates ease and supports me?

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Sara Macias - June 1, 2013

Jen, thanks for this post. “Ikea is good enough” Mmm…very hopeful as my space usually goes blank and uninspired because I’m searching for perfection? Wanting to embrace my beautifully ordinary Sara way. Thank you Thank you Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. Ha!!!

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Coaching ConfidenceCoaching Confidence-2013 blog review - May - December 22, 2013

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