When i first started
thinking about blogging I was all over the place and couldn’t nail down a niche. I realized I had too many niches and couldn’t decide on just one or for that matter three. So my blog progress kind of fizzled out and I went back to over thinking it. My background is Interior Design with a focus on lighting products and design. I know way too much about lighting products and manufacturers and still not sure how to create an entire blog on this topic. This could get very boring for readers after a while. I am a pretty “artsy” person and my interests span from drawing to candle making to knitting to photography. Again, I am all over the place! I grew up on the beach and love being outdoors. I love to travel although I would not call myself adventurous. You won’t see me scaling a mountain side or jumping out of plane. I have a lot of layers of interests and I just can’t seem to pull them all together and create a blog. I have been working on this blog in my head for years. When I peel back all the layers of myself and open up the inside there is my family. The core of my being. And when I start writing or start to think about what I want to write it all goes back to family. I can’t think of one thing to put on paper when it comes to lighting or design but the thoughts are pouring out when I think of my family and I can’t type fast enough.
I guess this is where I will begin, with my family. Certainly not your typical blog about how to invest your savings or be a super mom or lifestyler extraordinaire. Probably won’t get rich from this blog especially since I am not offering you, the reader, any advice or experience, not unless you call self therapy advice. Because I am pretty certain this blog is more for me than you but I hope you find it interesting enough to keep reading. I have some pretty good stories to tell about my southern family. I broke down my website into blog categories. This is not really a lifestyle blog but there will be the rare occasion I want to share a recipe or knitting pattern or house project or maybe even some lighting advice. When you get sick of my family stories click on another tab and hopefully you will find something more interesting. Like I mentioned earlier, I am all over the place. I follow other bloggers and read up on how to monetize your blog and how to write about topics your readers want to know about but none of this excites me or motivates me like writing about my family. I guess you could say I am breaking all the blog rules and writing about the one thing you are not supposed to write about, yourself. Perhaps this is more of a journal than a blog. So here we go…
I would say about 95% of southern women are diagnosed with Perfection. Perfection is a disease if you will, that tends to make one want everything around them perfect, especially the things they can control. Control is the key word here. I have no scientific data to back this up. This is my personal observation over a span of 50 years. The percentage is calculated from all the southern women I was exposed to over the 50 year span, which is a lot by the way. I’ll start with my blood line, since this is how I contracted Perfectionism, from my mom. The thing is you are not necessarily born with Perfectionism. You might have the so called “perfect gene” but unless it is cultivated you won’t have Perfectionism. I have the gene and it was cultivated at a very young age. I have two sisters and some how their gene did not get cultivated like mine. I think my older sister has become more of a Perfectionist later in her life. My younger sister, well, I don’t think she ever had the gene in the first place. In her defense, she is the younger sister and usually rules don’t apply to the youngest. Although I don’t have any memories from my infant years I am pretty certain I was organizing my crib and color grouping my stuffed animals and blankets. Some of my earliest memories of my mom’s Perfectionism is the way she curled our hair every morning for school. We took turns sitting on the bench at the end of her bed to get our hair done. She curled our hair every night with pink sponge curlers and Dippity-do, which was this sticky gel that holds your hair in place. We would take the curlers out right before our turn on the bench and mom would do her magic. She had this comb with a long pointed end on it. She wrapped each curl around your fingers then used her comb tool to situate the curls perfectly so they would cascade down evenly. Then she glued it all together with Aquanet and topped with a perfect bow that matched our outfit she had selected for us to wear to school. We went off to school wrapped up like the perfect present.
This is where ironing
enters the picture. One of many attributes of Perfectionism. As I got older, say elementary school years, it was time to learn to iron. Mom ironed everything! And I mean everything! No telling how many Rowenta irons she has been through over the years. Too bad she didn’t keep them all, she could have an Iron Museum. I have this one memory from when I was about three years old about Margaret, our help. In the mornings she would do the wash and take the napkins, underwear, dresses, sheets, pillowcases, everything out of the wash and roll up like a sausage and put in the fridge. In the afternoons she would set up the ironing board in front of the TV with her basket full of rolled up clothes and start ironing. She had a glass Coke bottle full of water with a perforated metal stopper on the top. She would sprinkle each garnet before ironing. This made the clothes easy to iron and the wrinkles came right out. I would sit under the ironing board during this process and catch the sprinkles of water that came down. One of my fondest memories is sitting under that ironing board with the back door open, a warm breeze coming through the screen, Guiding Light on the TV and every now and then I got cooled off with a sprinkle of water on my face. Who knew the iron would become such a big part of my life. Anyway, the day came when it was time to learn to iron. It was Ironing 101. Billie Jean’s (my mom’s name) School of Ironing for Girls was in session. Picture it, the three of us sitting on the sofa with perfect posture, legs crossed at the ankles, hands in lap, bows in hair and feeling like a cat’s tail in a room of rocking chairs. If we don’t get this right and pass there will be hell to pay. That might be a little exaggerated but just feels right to say at this point in the story. First lesson, one of my dad’s button down collard dress shirts. Assignment, the three of us will take turns ironing one of my dad’s shirts every night before bed. Now I know what you are thinking, my dad’s shirt probably doesn’t look like it just came from a professional cleaners ironed by an 8 year old. It would be hell or high water before Billie Jean let Joe walk out the door in a less than perfect ironed shirt. I am sure she ironed those shirts again after we went to bed. As we got older our chores included washing and ironing our sheets every Saturday morning. Yes, I said ironing sheets. While ALL of our friends were watching cartoons, riding bikes, roller skating, playing on the beach, not the Keen girls, we were washing and ironing sheets and underwear and napkins and things you are not supposed to iron we were ironing.
Fast forward several years to high school and I had become a semi professional ironer. Every night before bed my sisters and I would put together our outfits for school the next day. This became a law in our house due to too many fights over clothes and lots of tears and missing the school bus. My mom made a law we had to put together and iron our outfit the night before so there was no misunderstandings about who is wearing what. I know this sounds weird but when there are 4 girls in the house all close to the same size, there’s lots of clothes and a lot of clothes fights! We had our own clothes but we also had a community closet and those clothes were a free for all, otherwise we had to ask to borrow from each other. For example we would go shopping and mom would buy a dress for Melissa. Then she would buy a sweater but didn’t assign it to anyone. That sweater went in the community closet and we could all wear it and not have to ask to borrow from each other. The trick was putting together your outfit the night before so no one could say they were going to wear it the next day. It was very political but kept the peace. So we ironed our outfits every night before bed. There was really no way around this process. If we put on something that wasn’t ironed mom would make us take it off and iron it. It was law.
Fast forward a few more years and I am off to college with my blue quilted bed in a bag, plastic pink crates, posters, desk lamp, a few framed pictures of my besties, surfboard, favorite blanket and of course an ironing board and iron. Now at this point in my life I wasn’t sure how I could exist without an iron. I’ve had an iron in my hand since early elementary years. It was a part of me, part of my routine, part of my lifestyle, a relationship, a bond, a sort of prosthesis, almost like a super power of sorts. Let me change into my Iron Woman suit and battle the wrinkles on that cotton gauze wrap dress! So here I am in college ironing my outfits, t-shirts, pjs, sometimes my sheets and perfecting my Perfectionism. This type of behavior continued through the years. I eventually stopped ironing my sheets unless the top sheet was really wrinkled and didn’t lay flat. There is something to be said about ironed sheets. When I go home to stay with my parents there is nothing like sliding into crisp ironed sheets. My mom uses two sheets and the blanket goes in between. It really is heaven. Not sure why I stopped ironing my sheets, maybe a time factor or maybe a little thing called “wrinkle-free” sheets. No matter I still iron everything else and just about every day. My iron is set up in the walk-in closet. The board hangs on the wall and the iron is on the shelf. It’s very convenient to pop up and iron. I’ll iron my cotton pjs when the collar gets crumpled up from the dryer. It is hard for me to put on a wrinkled t-shirt. Even when I travel I iron. Honestly the iron can make or break an outfit. Doesn’t matter how much you spend on your clothes if they are a wrinkled mess well then you probably look like a wrinkled mess. I have friends who only buy wrinkle-free clothes. I love clothes way too much to restrict myself to wrinkle-free fabrics, I’d rather iron and it’s a part of my morning ritual anyway. Four years ago I moved to a city in a state where I don’t think ironing exist. I’m pretty sure I am the only person in my community who irons. Could it be the iron has shaped the person I am today? Maybe. I can’t really say for certain. The real question is would I be the ironer I am today if my mom was not an ironer? Maybe not. I don’t consider my younger sister an ironer and yet she grew up ironing. She only irons her kids clothes for special occasions or when my mom might see them and she will rock a wrinkled t-shirt all day long. Although I spoke to her the other day and she had ironed a sweater to wear around the house and mentioned her husband teased her for ironing it. My older sister is an ironer. She won’t wear a wrinkled t-shirt, she still irons sheets every now and then and will iron her teenage boys clothes for special occasions. Her boys on the other hand do not iron and my sister seeks out wrinkle-free clothing for them. Ironing is instant gratification, kind of like vacuuming or washing your car, you see the results immediately. It is a dying skill set like polishing silver, tying shoelaces or writing a thank you note in cursive. Maybe it’s a generation thing. I get it. No one has time to iron anymore and why should they when clothes are made from synthetic fabrics. Spandex will melt if you iron it and who uses cloth napkins any more? Ironing is just one of many Perfectionism traits my mom has passed on to me. Obviously I am passionate about ironing. I am writing a blog post about it!