This week in experiments with work-life balance: taking the time to organize photos and display them on boards at home.
Work-life balance, to me, is all about getting out of the haze of everyday life. The haze that fills your day, so that sometimes you get from breakfast to bedtime without being present in the hours in between. It’s the same haze that leads you to go months and months without organizing your photos and photo albums–especially in the digital age.
Thanks to high quality cameras in smartphones, we’re all able to take as many photographs as we want, whenever we want. This also leads to a problem: We end up having so many pictures that we often don’t even look at or enjoy any of them. The goal of a picture is to capture a special memory or moment so that we can look back on it and appreciate the richness of our lives. If we get so overwhelmed with the sheer quantity of pictures on our devices, and we don’t end up curating them, editing them, and displaying them in any physical form, we end up missing out in a very real way.
Most homes have photos scattered across it, usually in semi-permanent frames, placed in semi-permanent spots. Gretchen Rubin writes about this in her book, Happier at Home:
“…because these photos were a permanent part of our apartment landscape, we usually walked right by them without seeing them. How could I focus our attention on our photographs? I had an idea. I’d create a new holiday photo gallery.
She uses holidays like Halloween and Valentine’s Day to update all the photographs in her home so that her family can enjoy and reflect on new memories every few weeks.
“The collection made a terrific seasonal decoration,” she adds, “And because these photos weren’t always on display, we paid special attention to them.”
I’ve always loved having cork boards at home to pin inspirational reminders on, in scrapbook manner. So, inspired by Rubin’s seasonal photo displays, I though a great way to display seasonal photo galleries would be on boards. I bought two from The Container Store that I hung up near my desk a couple of years ago, with the goal of rotating photographs on them. That would solve two problems. It would both help me stay on track with all the pictures I take, and it would help us keep our best memories and moments part of our everyday life.
Now, the rotation didn’t happen nearly often enough.
I did successfully change all the photographs before the Christmas holidays as part of our decoration the last two Decembers, but my goal is to change the images on a monthly basis–not just once in a while. The advent of Spring this week inspired me to just do it. One of the common excuses, of course, is that there just isn’t enough time to wade through thousands of photographs for a new collection every month. But that breaks an important rule I’ve written about before: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
So, keeping in mind that if I didn’t take the time one evening to just do it, we’d likely go another month–well into the spring–with images of us in the snow and sweaters on the boards, I picked a few of my favorite photos from the last few weeks, along with some great photos from previous springs, and went straight to CVS to develop them. (Shutterfly.com is the best option, I think, when you’ve planned ahead).
Then, I took around twenty minutes to arrange them on the boards, and it gave me great pleasure.
In Happier at Home, Rubin explains the whole reason she decided to write that book:
“I realized that of the many elements that influenced my happiness, my home–in all its aspects–was most important.”
And she shares a quote from British literary giant Samuel Johnson, that seems to put into words an underestimated truth:
“To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labour tends.”
That’s why one section on this blog is dedicated to “Home,” and why it’s important we take the time to enjoy it and make it reflect the best parts of ourselves.
P.S. I love embracing new seasons all over the home! Here’s my small, cheerful ode to spring on the bathroom sink.