I was going through the IKEA catalog tonight having decided I needed to do some updating to my tired looking house. Maybe some new dining room chairs. I’m going to paint the table black but I hate the chairs no matter what color I would paint them. I’ve already taken the doors off the matching hutch, painted it black and love it. (See post “depression and my dining room hutch”.) But looking through the catalog got me to thinking. Why is it we women are always “redoing” something or another? And most of us are. There are thousands of decorating blogs that attest to this. (I do know a couple of women, though, who never think about redecorating. There’s something wrong with them, I just know it.)
I put this post aside for a couple of days and had an experience that I think helped me answer my own question. One of my best friends has been battling a serious virus for a couple of weeks. As she was feeling much better we decided to get together. It’s been a crazy summer for both of us, lots of family events, etc. During the height of her illness, her sister (who lives in another country) and had only recently been diagnosed with cancer, died. My friend’s husband died less than two years ago. Talk about a double whammy. She pretty much feels like her life has spun out of control.
Anyway, we were sitting in her living room and she mentioned how she wanted to redecorate the room. She was tired of it. We talked about colors, new pictures. Well, I got busy and because I’m a frustrated decorator I started moving things around and suggesting some other changes. I suggested a small project she could easily complete the next day without taxing her strength. She was doing much better by the time I left.
On the way home, I got to thinking about this whole “redoing” thing and why most of us women seem obsessed with it. I know the usual answer is the often quoted “nesting instinct.” And yes, I think that’s part of the answer but I don’t think that’s the entire answer.
I wonder if some of it has to do with the fact that we feel some control when we change things around. Most women I know feel much of their lives revolve around the needs of other people, children, husband, parents, and careers. It’s not that we don’t willingly embrace it all but let’s face it, we don’t particularly feel in control. When we move a few things around, add a new pillow, paint the candleholders a different color, etc. it gives us a sense of having some control in a part of our lives. Not to mention it feeds our creative urge. I know my friend felt empowered by what we did and the possibilities of what we are going to do. She couldn’t prevent getting sick. She couldn’t stop her husband or sister from dying. But she could change a few things in her living room.
With the economic crisis and the upcoming election, I think most of need to feel a little control and if re-arranging a few things, brightening up a few things accomplishes that, why not?
When I was depressed, I felt very much like I had no control. But I found the simple act of re-arranging some things helped, no matter how small. How about you? Does “re-doing” a few things around your house empower you? Have you ever considered the connection between re-decorating and the feeling of having some control? I would love to hear your comments.