Thursday, November 21, 2013

Creating a Kitchen for Your Soul

Your kitchen is calling. It's inviting you to engage the magic of transformation by taking the gifts of the earth and cooking them into meals that nourish the depths of your being. To make a kitchen for your soul, you don't need an expensive remodel. You don't need new cabinets or industrial strength appliances. All you need is to open your senses to the act of preparing food and the willingness to appreciate the simple miracle being created in the act.
It only takes a moment to shift your kitchen from a storage room for snacks into a place of soulful alchemy. Instead of unconsciously stumbling into your kitchen and grabbing something from the frig, plopping it on a plate and stuffing it in your mouth, try this. Stop, look at where you are and sense the possibilities. The stove is offering fire. The sink is providing water, the refrigerator and cupboards are filled with earthy bounty from the world's garden. All that's needed is for you to feel the desire in your belly and allow it to guide you in creating a meal. As you open the doors of the frig or cabinet to select the vegetables, grains and other items, savor the colors, shapes and design of the food. Imagine the fields and orchards they came from and the natural processes of weather and soil that produced them. As you slice and combine the ingredients, notice how your participation transforms the raw materials of nature and sense your consciousness as an ingredient being blended into the mix. When you place the mixture on the stove or in the oven, feel the power of fire to release the flavors from within the food. 
When the meal is cooked, serve it and eat it with the same attention you put into the preparation. Appreciate the colors and aroma of the food. Enjoy the shapes and materials of the plates and eating utensils. Actually taste what you are tasting. Feel the nourishment of what your are swallowing. Breathe and notice how easy it was to create a kitchen for your soul.
If you do want to remodel your existing kitchen or are planning one for a new home, use the experience I described above as the basis for creating  a soulful place to cook.  See your kitchen as a place where the elements of fire, water, earth and air interact to produce meals that nourish both body and soul. Choose a range that evokes the experience of  primal fire. Select a sink and faucet that honors the fluid, transforming qualities of water. Find cabinets that celebrate the foods you will store in them. Create a kitchen that inspires you to explore creative possibilities, one that says to you, "Let's cook!"

Learn more about creating a home for your soul by clicking here.

Monday, November 18, 2013

How Home Inspires Your Life Journey

One of the most important ways you can enrich the soulfulness of your home is to make it a place that honors the process of living. I came across a beautiful example of this at an apartment building in Santa Rosa, California. Next to the entrance, a series of murals lovingly depicts the passage from newborn infant to aged death. Images such as this offer poignant reminders that moving from one stage of life another is natural. What seems like a loss at a given moment can become a gain at the next. Furthermore, these murals show us that we are not alone in our day-to-day challenges and triumphs. Everyone inhabiting this apartment building goes through them and these shared experiences make us all members of the human family.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Importance of a Home for Your Soul

Home is more than a sheltering roof and embracing walls. It goes beyond style that’s cozy or cool. Yet, each day, homes are boxed and sold as square footage, curb appeal and resale value. Certainly, these are smart and practical considerations, but what’s vitally important gets lost in the bargain. Moreover, the beautiful images on architecture websites and television shows overlook the most essential element in creating a home—your soul. If the core of your being isn’t welcomed where you rest your head, you will never feel at home. Not feeling at home, your body and possessions may have an address but the one who experiences those things, you, will be left with a subtle, nagging sense of being homeless.
Because most architecture ignores the soul, few people know how to provide for it. At best, attempts are made to address the soul by providing inspiring spaces. What is not understood is how the floors, walls, roofs, furnishings and other elements of a house can be designed to nurture and delight the elusive qualities of the soul.

To create a home for the soul, we have to experience what the soul is. There are many descriptions of soul. Here is mine. Soul is sensed in the force that animates our thoughts, words and actions. It is the wisdom that shapes this animating force into patterns of experience. In the depths of our being, soul is still and boundless. On the surface, it flows in a countless variety of emotions and thoughts. Despite its elusive nature, soul has specific qualities we can understand and sense. 

Genuineness, depth and connectedness characterize soulful experience. In Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore writes: “soulfulness is tied to the particulars of life—good food, satisfying conversation, genuine friends, and experiences that touch the heart.” Soul is nourished by variety, quirks and idiosyncrasies. It is the glue that links mind to body, body to home and home to Earth. It yokes the rooms of a home to the events that take place within them. The shared, universal qualities of soul become meaningful when they flow into the personal characteristics that define your individuality. 

Soul is not necessarily linked to religion. A person may access soul through the prayers, rituals and scriptures of her faith; but she can also encounter soul in a flavorful stew, the caress of a lover, and the textures of a pine floor. A chapel within a vast cathedral may be a shrine of spiritual peace, but a window seat in a living room can offer a haven of quiet renewal.
A home that nurtures and delights your soul cannot be described in a checklist of attributes. It is the result of consciously designing rooms and selecting furnishings to enliven the qualities of soul that are personal to you and your family. The forms, textures, colors and qualities of light and space that nourish you indicate your individual characteristics of soul. Your memories of meaningful places, images of homes that visit you in dreams and enriching travel locations point toward the images of soul to incorporate in the design. The foods you love, the films that move you and the art that delights you also hold keys to the qualities of a home that will care for your soul. Specific ways of translating your personal qualities of soul into the design of rooms and furnishings will be discussed in later blog posts.

When you incorporate these personal qualities of soul into your house or apartment the core of your being is nourished. The totality of who you are is cared for and welcomed. Life becomes more poetic and artful, more meaningful and alive. Your house finally is your home.

Learn more about creating a home for your soul by clicking here.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Why I Practice Architecture

I practice architecture to explore the ways designed places nurture and inspire human experience. I believe that good buildings go beyond efficient function and beautiful style to frame the elusive mystery of dwelling in this world. Toward this end, architecture, from its overall plan to each detail, becomes an opportunity to re-imagine the meeting points between people and their surroundings, between the human spirit and the earth. Doorways become places to foster the significance of threshold crossing. Passageways offer ways to discover the possibilities of movement through space and time. Rooms establish settings for making one’s place in the world and unfolding creative ways of living.

I practice architecture to find more ecological means of dwelling. As each design choice can foster more significant psychological meaning, it can also become a way to attune human life to nature’s processes of growth and renewal. In this way, architecture can be a vehicle for seeing through preconceptions and limited viewpoints to discover innovative solutions to pressing environmental problems.

I practice architecture to collaborate with others and explore creative possibilities that we could not invent alone. For me, design is a dialogue between all the individuals and forces shaping a given building. To gather with others and see what arises in the space between us is an enriching and inspiring process.