Sunset comes in like a whisper, hushing the robin’s monologue, stretching and bending the shadows until, at last, nothing speaks save the skies. They breathe deep navy words — slowly, confidently, and silence settles down. The lamp glows warmly, inside, and I pull my legs up over the pine bench and settle down into the posture of writing as the last remnants of Jasmine rice and watermelon dissipate into the air.
We’re moving, friends, in a whirlwind.
Josiah was laid off last fall, and now, suddenly, he’s got a new job in Nashville.
The cloud is moving. 
Seven years ago this month, I held a one-way ticket to Orlando, stepped on a plane with a (very!) infant Aveline, and touched down in this subtropical land where palm trees sway and hurricane winds rage.
This summer, we whisked ourselves away to the rugged northern wilds of California, Minnesota, and Michigan. On the West Coast, we ducked into a secret redwood garden awash with Rivendell lights.
Several months ago, I had the exciting opportunity to style a practical workspace for Babiekins Magazine; one that would function both for working from home and homeschooling. (Previously, I had styled a global-themed kids bedroom, too.) Since we live in an apartment, I didn’t have a dedicated room to serve as a home office and school room, so I cleared one wall of our living room instead. And I really didn’t want it to be a primary color menagerie of school posters.
There are a few things I really like about this space. Of course the huge wall map is right up at the top of the list! And I love the big white rug to cover the rental carpet. But I also really love how the wardrobe from IKEA hides away the printer and all the messy office/school supplies — leaving room for “pretty things, my dear”. (Oliver Twist, anyone?) And the pine bench, another IKEA find, is amazingly comfortable, and is the perfect arrangement for my daughter and to work side-by-side.
You might notice there aren’t many books in these photos — our bookcases are actually stashed in various places throughout our apartment, so they didn’t all fit in these photos. But boy, do we have a lot of books. A LOT. (My husband is legitimately concerned about this. Don’t tell him each Sonlight core adds 50 or more, give or take a dozen.)
It’s no secret I’m in love with words. I love to try to untangle the words in my mind, and coax them into sentences no one has ever read before. I love to read the expertly-woven words of not just classic authors, but contemporary voices, too. The middle ages print from the late 1400s — showing the arduous process of writing a book in the 1100s — reminds me that it hasn’t always been easy for one’s voice to be heard. This reminder, along with the “Let Your Light Shine In the Darkness” poster, spurs me on to keep speaking out.
I’m so pleased with the way our homeschool room / home office turned out — it’s such a happy, inspiring, wonderful space. (All styling by me, Gina Munsey; and thanks to Priscilla Barbosa Photography for the images!)
You can catch this room in the special “#SCHOOLKINS: Books, Bugs & Discovery” interior design section of the 7th print issue of Babiekins Magazine, available here. And if you have questions about any of the items shown, just leave a comment! :)
DESK :: Malm, c/o IKEA Orlando
WALL MAP :: National Geographic, via The Map Center
MAP RAILS :: c/o Posterhanger
PINE WARDROBE :: Nornäs used as bookshelf, c/o IKEA Orlando
PINE BENCH :: Nornäs, c/o IKEA Orlando
MOROCCAN SHAG RUG :: c/o Rugs USA
GLASS JAR :: Korken, via IKEA Orlando
CERAMIC VASE :: Stylist’s Own, from Mexico City
BAMBOO SPEAKERS :: c/o Otis & Eleanor
METAL LAMP and EDISON BULB :: c/o Lamps Plus
LET LIGHT SHINE PRINT :: Naptime Diaries
DESKTOP CACTUS & TROPICAL PLANT :: Lowe’s
SPACEPACK BACKPACKS :: c/o lukids.ru
PRINT RAILS :: c/o Posterhanger
MIDDLE AGES PRINT :: Matthaeus Platearius Writing “The Book of Simple Medicines” via AllPosters.com
NICHOLAS NICKLEBY PRINT :: Book Cover Print via AllPosters.com
ROW OF 3 PRINTS :: Emily McDowell Studio and Jessica Sprague Printables
LAMP and SHADE :: Target
COWHIDE :: Koldby, c/o IKEA Orlando
BOOKCASE :: Billy, via IKEA Orlando
PERCH CHAIR :: c/o Room & Board
STUDENT DESK :: Flash Furniture Desk with Metal Book Box, via Amazon
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When I started blogging publicly — over at Xanga, fourteen years ago! — I was in college, and blogged too many song lyrics and homework details. Then over the years, I moved back and forth across the country, working at sheet metal factory, a juvenile detention center, and an IT department, and wrote about all the ups and downs. When I became a mother, I even went through a phase where I predictably blogged about cloth diapers (I am so sorry). I’ve written about death, beauty, brokenness, joy — and interior design. And you’ve likely noticed that in the last few months, I’ve written a few longer pieces about homeschooling.
My blogging “methodology”, if you can call it that, hardly follows all the blogging advice. It’s always just followed the seasons of my life. But that’s the beautiful thing about life, too — it’s not stagnant. It moves like a current. It flows, it goes through seasons, through changeable states of being. Way down at the bottom of this blog, in the footer, Anaïs Nin reminds me, “Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.”
I kind of feel like things are coming full circle for me, and it all has to do with books. As a girl, I devoured books, and read everything I could get my hands on. Now, it’s only April, and Aveline’s already read 130 books since the beginning of the year. So, you’ll probably be seeing a lot more posts about literature and children’s books, and more posts about homeschooling. (Although, this is no surprise if you follow me on Instagram @oaxacaborn). I have so many good books to share with you all, but I’ve been holding back, thinking for some reason that this isn’t the right place for it, and worried about losing followers. Well, that’s kind of ridiculous. Because when it comes right down to, perhaps, like Margaret Atwood said, “Perhaps, I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow.”
I’m just thankful some of you keep following along as I scrawl in the snow.
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I wake up with a list in my head, sometimes, not seeing the light, not seeing the shadows shifting through the water-spotted windowpanes, because I’m seeing all the unchecked boxes. I wake up already feeling behind, sometimes, and tumble headlong into it all, very unlike a poet.
Sometimes, I get up and frantically do, forgetting to be, ignorant to the beauty all around, because the day isn’t going the way I planned.
Because I’m clawing at efficiency.
“We are attempting, all the time,” says Billy Collins, “to create a logical, rational path through the day. To the left and right, there are an amazing set of distractions that we usually can’t afford to follow. But the poet is willing to stop anywhere.”
My four-year-old stops anywhere. She’s nonstop, she’s scientific, her brain is a perpetual motion machine, and yet she’s a tiny little poet. Why? Because, even in her intensity, she knows how to pause.
She’s intent on the details.
She’s still captivated by all the tiny little pieces that together make up this “one wild and precious life” , as Mary Oliver says. At four, she hasn’t yet learned to ignore the shapes the sunrise scatters across the wall at dawn. She hasn’t learned to forget how fleeting they are, and hasn’t been trained to shrug over the fact the light fades in seconds. And so she giggles, chasing the shadows, running across the room to catch them, head thrown back, laughing loudly into the golden air.
And when the light shifts from yellow to white, she stops and pulls her knees up to her chest and lets the light illuminate the pages. It’s as though she’s already read Wendell Berry’s “How to be a Poet (to remind myself).”
“Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.”
[Okay, so she doesn’t know a thing about quietness, really.]
“You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill — more of each
than you have — inspiration
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensional life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.
Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.”
I knew we can’t all be silent (although sometimes, after answering 279,817 questions before ten, that sounds like the loveliest retreat.) We can’t all pine away at a desk, acting as writers and poets for a living (although that sounds marvelous too.)
We can’t all be children. It’s not only impractical, it’s impossible. We can’t abandon our responsibilities. We have schedules, work to do, and tasks we simply must complete. We can’t all recline like men and women of leisure, as though life were some still, calm, ancient painting.
But we can train our hearts to see the joy and the beauty, right? Even in the hectic chaos, can we see snippets of what the poets see? Can we choose to have hearts like children? (Jesus had a little something to say about grown people becoming as children, I think. )
My friend Marie reminds us that “life isn’t always clean and easy. Sometimes it’s messy and fuzzy.” But, she goes on, “There is still beauty and peace if you look hard enough. Find your beauty and share it. This world needs it.”
So can we do that? Can we leave room in our days for wonder? Can we leave margin for awe? And then when we switch off the alarm in the morning, we can say, like the poet,
“Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields…
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety –
…good morning, good morning, good morning.
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness. ”
About Memoky // Founded in New York City in 2015, Memoky offers an intentional collection of furniture, decor and lighting for the home. Shop online at memoky.com, or follow @MemokyHome on Instagram or on Facebook.
Disclosure of Material Relationship: I received a lamp from Memokey in exchange for publishing this post. All the photographs, opinions, and experiences shared here are in my own words and are my own honest evaluation. Please be assured, I only accept sponsorship opportunities for brands I personally use and/or would recommend to close friends and family, and I will always disclose any such relationships.
“Something I constantly notice is that unembarrassed joy has become rarer. Joy today is increasingly saddled with moral and ideological burdens, so to speak. When someone rejoices, he is afraid of offending against solidarity with the many people who suffer. I don’t have any right to rejoice, people think, in a world where there is so much misery, so much injustice.
I can understand that…But this attitude is nonetheless wrong. The loss of joy does not make the world better — and, conversely, refusing joy for the sake of suffering does not help those who suffer. The contrary is true. The world needs people who discover the good, who rejoice in it and thereby derive the impetus and courage to do good. Joy, then, does not break with solidarity. …This results, then, in the courage to rejoice.” -Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger