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How I Revolutionized My Life by Revolutionizing My Living Space
by Arynetta Floyzelle
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July 20, 2019

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14 Minute Read

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How I Revolutionized My Life by Revolutionizing My Living Space

What does tidying up have to do with dating yourself? In this installment of “How to Date Yourself“, BlackLove.com’s Senior Editor Arynetta Floyzelle finds out.

Credit: @originalhomebr

Whether it’s done in the spring, summer, winter, or fall, deep cleaning one’s living space is about more than making sure your socks match or your floor shines.  It’s about providing an environment that nurtures your soul and encourages your best life.  

Sounds fabulous, I know.  But as a self-diagnosed messy-ass-chick, achieving this utopia has been a fast-moving target.  But, though the pursuit of cleanliness has been a tiresome and arduous journey, I have learned, achievement is all that they promised, and more.   

Let me back up and tell you a bit about my current living situation.

To be clear, it wasn’t the first unit I saw. 

To be clear, it wasn’t the first unit I saw. I was in the neighborhood looking at another apartment that I was underwhelmed by when I caught sight of the gorgeous fuchsia flowering of an in-full-bloom Bougainvillea tree tumbling over the side of a charming patio.  Upon closer inspection, my eyes were pulled to a FOR RENT sign. Kismet! I thought as I dialed the number and was shown a lovely renovation with all the bells and whistles I like — granite countertops, hardwood floors, brand new refrigerator included (which is not always the case in L.A.), gas stove, balcony.  

It was a bit higher than I wanted to spend, so the manager showed me another unit, a bit smaller, also renovated with all the bells and whistles, snuggly in my price range — which was important, as I hadn’t started booking regularly as an actress in my new city.  Actually, who was I kidding, I hadn’t started auditioning regularly, and my writing career hadn’t quite reached the “career” stage yet.  

Best thing about this apartment, it was coming up for rent within a month. Yes, please.

I was ready to move, as I had been living on a girlfriend’s couch after my first apartment fell through. But looking at all the signs — originally looking at another apartment before the Bouganvillia called my name, the manager being available, even though he was not always at the property, the timing of the unit becoming available just shy of my own desperation rearing its ugly head — as signs of The Universe’s amazing use of synchronicity.    

The fact that I adored the neighborhood — West Hollywood — and that the building, one street south of 3rd Street (one of my favorite streets in L.A.), was a stone’s throw from Erewhon, The Grove, pilates, Credo, and all the infatuation-approved restaurants my heart could desire — was just icing on The Universe’s dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, but still wildly delicious, cake. 

I told all my friends about my new apartment. I drove by daily. I fantasized strolling 3rd Street popping into the charming cafes and breezy boutiques.

Then, I didn’t get it.

I told all my friends about my new apartment.  I drove by daily. I fantasized strolling 3rd street popping into the charming cafes and breezy boutiques. Then, I didn’t get it.

Not one to take no for an answer, for months I contacted the manager. And, for months, I continued to lose out.

To whom? To the tenant that was already living in the building, in a unit that I will call Tiny Tina. People were moving into Tiny Tina, and when the newly renovated apartments became available, they got first dibs.  

But then it happened. Tiny Tina became available.  

Tiny Tina was the smallest, cheapest apartment in the building, and she was not renovated. Not even close. She looked like she hadn’t been touched since the building was built in 1969. She was petite, with a ¾ bath (meaning: shower, no bathtub, though a girlfriend who came by insisted that the little awkward square that I had to step into to shower was, indeed, a bathtub), a kitchenette (burners, no stove, dorm size fridge, though the building manager added another small, but technically full-size fridge, which took up a tenth of the entire apartment — much needed real estate in the less than 300 square foot space), and no dishwasher.

I hadn’t even lived in a Tiny Tina directly after college.  

But, hey, I could do it! How long could it possibly take for one of those new and improved units to pop-up? It seemed like one was coming available every month.  

Yes, Tiny Tina was small, but I’d done small! I’d lived in London. And you don’t know small until you’ve seen London small.  I’d done a dorm-sized fridge as a legitimate 30-something adult. As a matter of fact, those were standard across the pond.  Actually, I quite enjoyed my thrice weekly walks to the grocer.  

It’s not like I had to find a place to fit my furniture. I had no furniture! I gave it all away when I left England. Oh yes! I could do this. I would do this. I would rock this so hard that my amazing, cozy, cool-as-hell petite princessa of an apartment would be featured as one of the much-admired “small spaces” of ApartmentTherapy.com.  

And how long would I be there? Three months? Four months, tops? I could live anywhere for four months, tops!

… Turns out — no, I cannot.  

Eight months later, I wanted to cry whenever I entered my home. Basically, I felt like I lived in a messy, cluttered, storage unit that people routinely cooked in.  

Eight months later I wanted to cry whenever I entered my home.  Basically, I felt like I lived in a messy, cluttered, storage unit that people routinely cooked in.  

Credit: @puri_mimoto

Turns out, my organizational skills were lacking. Turns out, there is not quite room for a couch and queen-sized, or full-sized bed in an oddly shaped 300 (which I am really starting to believe is closer to 200) square foot room.  

But, refusing to buy a twin bed, because I should be moving any day!, I settled for a twin mattress atop an air mattress. And, actually, I made it look cute. But rarely would anybody know, because not only was my bed rarely made, it was piled with mountains of stuff. As was the rest of my apartment.  

Clothes, laundry, books, and shoes fought with papers upon papers, upon scripts, upon headshots, upon dishes (hand washing dishes is tedious, to say the least) against self-taping lighting equipment.  

And my bathroom was the worst. I would “hold it” to not have to enter.

It seemed to me like The Universe had some ‘splaining to do.

RELATED: Dating Yourself and Solo Long-Term Projects

As opposed to being a place of serenity and renewal, and a reflection of my passions and fabulous personal flair, this space drained and saddened me, and, whatever it said about my passions and personal flair, embarrassed me.

Being there made me feel physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.  

Then, one day, I decided, I must be better than this.  Something needed to change. I could do something about this.  I would do something about this. I would Tidy Up.

Then, one day, I decided, I must be better than this. Something needed to change. I could do something about this. I could Tidy Up.

Credit: @arielleestoria

Once I made the decision, I was no holds barred gangsta with it. Following the KonMari method, I took out almost every item in my home and decided if it “sparked joy” in me, as KonMari says.  If it did not, I threw it away or donated it.  

I went through every nook, cranny, closet, drawer, and box asking myself if the item sparked joy. What I thought would take a long weekend, stretched into one week, then two. As I worked, my place getting, at first, waaaaay messier, and then, slowly, much cleaner, something in me began to shift.  With every discarded item I felt lighter. I felt revitalized.  

RELATED: How to Date Yourself

My cleaning became obsessive, I didn’t want anything in my space that didn’t either inspire me or serve a purpose. I realized that I could honor this space, even as I looked at it as a temporary solution.  

I could honor that my apartment brings me shelter, privacy, and has given me the ability to live in a neighborhood that I have always loved. I can honor the act of providence that brought it into my life. I can stop waiting for a situation to be perfect to show it some love.

See, as I have mentioned before, dating one’s self is all about self love.  And waiting until your living situation is perfect to take care of it is like waiting until you are perfect to take care of yourself. I know this drill well — I’ll dress nicer when I lose ten pounds, or when I have someone to look nice for. I’ll show up for my life when I have that perfect job, or social circle or Instagram followership that makes my life worth showing up for.  

But life is actually happening while we wait.

And waiting until your living situation is perfect to take care of it is like waiting until you are perfect to take care of yourself… But life is actually happening while we wait.

And as much of a non-issue as it may seem to not take care of an apartment that I don’t particularly love — actually, most of the time that I don’t even particularly like — it was just another way in which I was putting my life on hold and not honoring, respecting, and being present with what was. And to be present with what is, whatever that is, is to be present with life.

So, I honored today, I honored my life, and I tidied up.  

Courtesy of Pexels

Am I desperately in love with my living situation now? No. I still desire more space, a full kitchen, a gas stove. And I have realized that the building, even with its gorgeous Bougainvillea leaves me wanting. But now, when it is cleaned and organized, I do feel nurtured in my own space. It actually does feel like a place of serenity and renewal, and a reflection of my fabulous personal flair, or, at least, it feels like it is truly getting there.

And that works, because I am truly getting there, too.  

RELATED: Gratitude is the Attitude

Taking care of my environment is taking care of myself.  It is providing a space where I can thrive, and it is reminding myself that I am worth it.  It’s not waiting for the perfect utopia to live my life, it is creating my own version of utopia every step of the way.

Perhaps that lesson was The Universe’s intent all along.  I’ll take it.

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