House Rules

“Honoring daily life” is one of the eight guiding principles that Deborah Burke, the newly appointed dean of the Yale School of Architecture, uses when creating homes where people feel their hearts can dwell with ease. I recently went to hear her speak about her new job and her new book, House Rules. As a health care provider, I know the importance of honoring our daily lives by choosing how we “arrange” our days.

How? Let’s consider three things that take up most of our daily lives: work, relationships, and, hopefully, versatility.

Work: For the last nine months, I have had to put the work I love on hold: to move; to address a personal family issue; and at the same time, to make yet another revision to the book I have been working on for a few years. I made a conscious and vital effort to make the most of this time. I got used to my new home; cultivated old and made new friendships; and welcomed a few other endeavors, including volunteering. That said, I am so grateful to be back practicing the skills that took years to learn and many more to put into effect with my patients. It gives me great satisfaction to see others benefit from them.

In essence, “Honoring daily life” is always changing, no matter who we are or what our circumstances. Make the most of transitional times and change, to fortify who you are and strengthen your place in the community.

Relationships: We honor our daily lives in our relationships by first “knowing ourselves.” Are you an introvert, an extrovert, or – like most people – a unique combination of both? For all of us, even the solid extroverts, it is healthy to make space for time alone and for some silence to collect our thoughts and still the mind from the day’s activities. Do you design your days to share one meal with family, friends, or colleagues? Do you take the time to get together with people outside of work, for recreation, for a day of rest?

Every day should not be the same. Routine is good, but some people seem to need an ironclad schedule as a protective shell. If something comes up that disrupts it, they can feel lost. Ironically, people often seek acupuncture treatment after vacations because they were too stressful. Our daily lives need routine, but be sure to “shake it up” a little with a walk in the park, lunch with a friend, a movie, a lecture, or something “out of the ordinary”. If you are challenged by an extended time away from your routine, try to plan some of that open time in advance.

The other 7 “House Rules” in this unique and beautiful book on architecture are:

Circulation does more than connect.
Rooms can be inside, outside, or both.
Any material can seduce.
Repetition elevates the ordinary.
Account for all things. Display a few.
Property lines do not define a site.
Reckon with tradition.

I walked away from Burke’s talk realizing that a home should be arranged to accommodate the heart. So should our lives.

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