• Kate

September Recap ~ On the Subject of Joy

I can scarcely believe that September has already come and gone. All these months spent in quarantine… the days and weeks run together and it’s easy to lose track of time. Usually, it’s a month when I’d have a lot to share. Not only is it my birthday month, but my calendar is usually crammed full of concerts, operas, museum exhibitions, travels, antique shows, etc. Unfortunately, none of that is possible this year. It may seem superficial, but the arts have always been my greatest source of joy in a miserable world. No longer having access to that joy has been devastating- and it’s not just my calendar that feels empty. My heart is finally getting exhausted from trying to hold it together, but I know I’m hardly the only one who feels that way. We are all collectively holding our breath, trying our best to keep our heads above water, and waiting for this storm to pass.

Joy and Woe are woven fine

A clothing for the soul divine

Under every grief & pine

Runs a joy with silken twine.

William Blake, from Auguries of Innocence, the Pickering Manuscript, c. 1803.

In such times, one must look for joy elsewhere, wherever one can, and I’m happy to say that my business has provided that in abundance. There is so much to be grateful for this fall: This past September was my biggest month ever. My following has doubled since this time last year. September also marks the 2 year anniversary of the shop relaunch, and the 1 year anniversary of quitting my day job to run this business full time. It was the latest in a LONG string of day jobs that made me abjectly miserable. So many wonderful things have happened since I made those decisions. I wish I’d done it sooner! I kept thinking I had to take a blind leap of faith, but all I actually needed to do was believe in myself and put the work in. I feel like if I can make it during a global disaster… I can do anything I set my mind to. I know how lucky I am, especially under the circumstances, and I am truly grateful every day. I wouldn’t have any of it without your enthusiasm, encouragement, interest, kindness, and support, so from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!

My hope is that I can bring a little joy into your lives in return. That is usually what I write in my thank you cards to customers- that I hope your new treasures bring you joy. I’m very much in the Marie Kondo camp in that regard. Many people presume Marie Kondo’s advice is antithetical to the life of a collector, but they misunderstand her and the Shintoism at the heart of her methods and philosophy. She never actually tells anyone to get rid of all their stuff. What she suggests is that you confront how much stuff you have, assess each piece individually, and really ask yourself whether or not it’s bringing you joy. Is this item really serving you? Are you honoring it by giving it pride of place, or is it in the bottom of a box where you aren’t even enjoying it? William Morris was saying the same thing when he urged, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Oscar Wilde repeated it again in his own lectures on art and décor. Let’s not forget, the Aesthetic movement lifted its key ideas from Japanese design. Its emphasis on simplicity and reverence for the natural world offered an elegant and refined alternative to late Victorian maximalism and the havoc wreaked upon nature by an increasingly industrialized society.

These guidelines resonate with me deeply as an aesthete, a collector, and a curator- but also as a person who has been stuck inside for months. In the midst of this pandemic, it seems more important than ever that our homes are a place of refuge, comfort, and peace. You’d be really surprised what a huge impact a few small changes in your home can make. At the start of the year, before shit hit the fan, I finally got a new mattress, which is something very small that I had been putting off for years. I work from home in this bed all the time- in between bingewatching things and crying about the state of the world- so even though a mattress is a really boring thing, I can’t imagine how I would have gotten through this year without it. Other small changes I’ve made include a larger bedside table, silk pillowcases, and making sure there are always fresh flowers in the house. The flowers especially make me happy, even though I am still learning how to care for them. Not every nice thing you do for yourself has to be costly or glamorous, though- I also got a new trashcan to replace the old one with the janky lid that came loose every time I opened it!

Not pictured: Half eaten tub of guacamole.

The last of the summer roses.

The point is, a beautiful home is a happy home, no matter what that looks like for you. I can’t do much in this crisis, but I can help make the world a little more beautiful and bring joy to people, even if it’s in the form of something very small. I love reading your posts on Instagram about your purchases, and so happy that I get to unite people with those special little things that “spark joy.” Thanks for keeping me in the Joy Sparking business.

I've been urging myself to get back to blogging for eons and eons, and finally I've got some drafts in the queue! I'm looking forward to sharing my work on a very exciting restoration project... Stay tuned. :)


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