Everywhere I go, I always notice bathroom decor, or the lack thereof. In all honesty, how someone has decorated and organized their guest bathroom when I visit a home for the first time, leaves more of a lasting first impression on me than any other room in the house. I mean, it’s a room we all have to use. And we are all staring at something while we sit.
During my last visit to my parents’ home, I took a moment to reflect on my memories of all the family bathrooms during my years. Seems kinda crazy me writing that out, but I’m still compelled to continue, because I found great meaning and lessons in these particularly placed pieces of wall art. So, here we go.
The Love of Words
See, what got me started on this introspective journey of bathroom art of my past was my mother’s decoration style. She loves words. In fact, I come from many generations of word-lovers. And during my last visit I realized that her guest bathroom that she graciously let my entire family take over, was wall to wall in word art.
As I took a moment each morning to try to contain all the spillover of four humans sharing a guest bathroom, I would also take a moment to read each piece of wall art. Some of the messages I remember impacting me greatly during the years.
“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going,” for example was a mighty anchor during my journey back to health after years of neglect and abuse. I held onto these words every time it got tough and I so desperately wanted an easy way out. I would remind myself that I was worthy of taking care of myself. That fueling my body, mind and spirit was most certainly a worthwhile endeavor regardless of how long or difficult the path might be.
“What lies behind us & what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us,” was also a saying I carried in my mind during difficult times. It was a strong reminder that the past cannot be changed and the future is unknown, but the qualities, values and integrity that I carry within who I am at the core is what is great. It is the core of me that has an impact on today and what may come. Not that the past or future are insignificant, but that they are small considerations compared to who I am now.
This reflection of the impact my mother’s bathroom decor had on my life lessons got me reminiscing on other lessons I’ve taken from crapper canvases.
Growing up I have so many fond memories of my grandparents’ farmhouse in Southern Oklahoma. My Papa had built it in the red dirt with his own hands. It was very personalized to them and had many oddities of a self-made cabin.
The main bathroom, and for most of my childhood the only, was no different. It was small, with just a shower, toilet and sink. Once again, it was the chosen decoration that has stood the test of time in my memory.
The Safe Shell
I recall an old wooden plank painted with a sequence of a duck hatching out of his egg. First is the egg with a crack, then the crack widens and a foot steps out, then a head pokes out, then the duckling looks around and lastly the duckling tucks himself back into the egg and pulls the parts back together.
I think we’ve all had those moments when we wished we could just retreat back to our eggs — whatever that place is that feels safe and familiar. What was it that that poor duckling saw? Of course it is instinctual to retreat when we are afraid of something new, but I also think of how it is instinctual for a duck to swim. The egg may be safe, but the pond is inviting too and full of abundance. Sometimes we have to fight the instinct triggered by fear and connect with the birthright to just swim.
Don’t Just Sit There
The art that I remember most, however, was with no images and just words. Another wooden plank painted yellow with black lettering stating, “don’t just sit there, worry.” And, boy, did I!
I remember having lots of worries growing up. Was I pretty enough? Smart enough? Did I have the right friends? Who in our family would get sick and die next? Would the next fight end in my parents getting a divorce? Worry that the late freeze kill all the flowers. Unease that my pet rabbits become rabbit sausage next winter. Was I wearing popular clothes? Would barn cat ever show back up? The worries of a child are deep and trivial, real and thankfully outgrown.
However, as an adult I’ve learned that to dwell on life’s difficulties only gives them more power. I call worry borrowing tomorrow’s trouble and have decided that I much rather embrace today’s joy. I think if I were to recreate the remembered piece today, I would paint it with the words, “don’t just sit there, be grateful.” Side note: I did find it interesting that there is a medication tracking journal out there by the title, “Don’t Just Sit There Worry!”
When I returned home from my last visit to my parents’ I was inspired to reflect on my own bathroom decor. Interestingly I found very few words and mostly art and photography from past travels. But, in our kiddos’ bathroom there is one, big turtle hanging on the wall that says, “no hurries no worries.”
I got this turtle decor after my husband and I returned home from our wedding. We eloped to St. Thomas and our reception was on a catamaran that took us out to swim with sea turtles. I got it because it reminded me of that surreal experience, but also to remind me not to rush through this life. That when we take our time and recognize all the small moments, we can create a life that knows no worry.
Now I may regret the influence these words may have in the bathroom when my girls are teenagers and I’m trying to rush to them off to school. But, for now it makes me happy whenever I join them in the bathroom to brush their hair or help them brush their teeth. It makes me stop and smile.