Lessons I Learned from Bunny

It's officially time to spring clean. Not because it's officially spring. Heck. We got another four inches of snow dumped on us last week. And temperatures still hover in the teens.

But last week's Newsletter raised the issue and prompted an onslaught of emails in response. Moms out there who are rolling up their sleeves and attacking cabinets, closets and drawers with fury. And it was the topic of discussion at our Rocket Mom Society meeting Tuesday night?and those moms are holding each one of us accountable. I even got a phone call with a request for where to send all of that cleaned-out "fluff"! (See details below).

So strategies for slaying Fluff the Magic Dragon were addressed head-on. And lively discussion followed.Three days later, I received Bunny Williams's new best-selling book "An Affair with a House" as a birthday gift.

Talk about juxtaposition! Just when I was walking through every room of my house pondering how, exactly, I could pare down, Bunny's two-hundred-plus page tome stared at me in the face, begging for a good read. This beautifully-illustrated book chronicles the thirty-year journey of Bunny and her antiques-dealer husband's conversion of a century-old house into a home. Pretty incredible. Not only is every single room in "Manor House" filled with stuff, but buildings scattered though-out the compound are literally loaded to the gills, too.

Now, I certainly can't knock Bunny. She's obviously struck a chord with readers, as her book has catapulted to the top of best-seller lists and book clubs everywhere. Who am I to argue with success? And I can't knock her vision or her passion, either. I love the whole vision meets passion meets courage meets energy thing in any person.

But I admit to almost not buying it because of its title alone. Any book named an affair with any 'thing' is a fairly good clue that the value system of the author might be different than my own. And while I admit that it's certainly better than "An Affair with a Neighbor," for example, it's obvious from the first word that this is someone who takes her "stuff" very seriously.

Bunny certainly has a beautiful life. She has built a beautiful world with beautiful taste and beautiful things. The fact that she has seemingly unlimited funds at her disposal as well as a head gardener ("head" implies team) as well as the absence of the pitter-pattering of little feet prompts a knee-jerk reaction of "As if?.".

But there are some lessons from Bunny, and because it's the "spring-cleaning season" and because some of us are still struggling with getting our acts together, and because you may very well hear about her book, here are seven points to ponder on "creating a beautiful life" that I gleaned from her book:.1) Take time to entertain friends and family..Seems like Bunny has this well under control. Easier said than done when one doesn't have small kids running underfoot.

But my hat is off to anyone who is willing to open up home and hearth as freely and generously as does she. She has been blessed with abundance, filling houses and barns to overflowing, and she shares it graciously with others.2) Take time to garden..Even if the only space you have allocated for such is a sunny spot outside your window for container gardening, allow yourself this small indulgence. We've lived on our new home for two years, and have yet to design the garden of my dreams.

Bunny has several carefully-planned gardens and she took her time with each one, first allowing the land to speak for itself before she settled into a grand plan for it. Give yourself the luxury of time, if that's what you need, as I certainly do.3) Take time to sit..Seems like Bunny does a lot of this, too.

Lemonade on the patio. Coffee on her balcony. Iced tea in the garden while listening to the birds. I admit to being a lousy sitter.

And I imagine that if you're chasing toddlers or working full-time while running a household, you may have a hard time with this, too. But I'm really going to try doing a little more of that.4) Take time to cook..

Few things are more difficult for me than getting dinner on the table. (Stay tuned for a Rocket Mom Society meeting when Chef Silvia will share her secrets on this one!) And Bunny admits to doing none of the cooking; it's an area taken over by her husband. So, OK, this is a dream world. But preparing meals on the weekend, especially during the spring and summer months when al fresco dining is possible, seems much more do-able, and she includes a few recipes for doing just that. Look through some of your favorite cookbooks and find a few menus that suit you and your family well, and stick to those. Or experiment freely if you prefer living a more spontaneous lifestyle.

5) Take time to edit..Only bring those things into your home that you really like. If it doesn't "speak to you," sell it or give it away. Chances are, it'll mean something to someone else and the world will be better for you having shared it.

6) Take time to grow some of your own food..Whether it's tomatoes or lettuce?or fresh organic eggs from your own chickens (Bunny has a chicken coop and aviary, too)?there is nothing quite like home-grown produce. A friend of mine built a chicken house for his wife; their young son tends it.

They love the idea of teaching their family the cycle of life?that eggs come from chickens rather than cardboard boxes from the grocery store. Granted, this elevates conviction to a level unclaimed by most of us, but it's an idea worth exploring. And it has certainly inspired me to at least set out some basil and tomatoes this year.

7) Take time to reflect..While Bunny's twelve-acre Connecticut compound is over-the-top by anyone's description, she has certainly done a fine job of deliberating on her lifestyle. She proceeds with confidence on everything from entertaining houseguests to decorating the barn to stocking the pantry to lining up her table linens.

She has taken time to reflect on the way in which she wants to infuse beauty into her everyday life, and I applaud her for that. Like creating happy childhoods for your children, beauty doesn't just happen by chance. You have to think about it and plan for it.

Granted, sometimes serendipity sneaks in. And thankfully so. But reflection is a good thing.The success and elevation of the likes of Bunny Williams's (and Martha Stewart's, Rachel Ray's and others' for that matter) work on the homefront certainly seals the fact that women everywhere are yearning for domestic direction. Given that none of these famous folks are dealing with young children? or obvious budgetary constraints?makes it difficult for most of us rocket moms to relate. The challenge?and quite frankly, the fun!?is figuring out how to take the best ideas and translate them into realistic ones for your home and your family.

A life-long process, to be sure.And be ever-mindful that materialism is a relative concept. Remember that you are blessed beyond measure with what you have: health, family, friends, food, clothing and shelter. And that becoming your best and making the best of what has been entrusted to you should be your focus.

.Carolina Fernandez earned an M.

B.A. and worked at IBM and as a stockbroker at Merrill Lynch before coming home to work as a wife and mother of four. She totally re-invented herself along the way. Strong convictions were born about the role of the arts in child development; ten years of homeschooling and raising four kids provide fertile soil for devising creative parenting strategies. These are played out in ROCKET MOM! 7 Strategies To Blast You Into Brilliance.

It is widely available online, in bookstores or through 888-476-2493. She writes extensively for a variety of parenting resources and teaches other moms via seminars, workshops, keynotes and monthly meetings of the ROCKET MOM SOCIETY, a sisterhood group she launched to "encourage, equip and empower moms for excellence." Please visit http://www.rocketmom.


By: Carolina Fernandez

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