When my own mother reached an age and stage at which she could no longer safely live alone in her home of many years, we knew we had a challenging process ahead of us. Control and decision-making were shifting from one generation to the next and that brought a lot of feelings and issues to the surface. It was a difficult time in some ways, and a wonderful time in other ways.
One of the anchors in my relationship with my mother was a feeling of mutual respect. In keeping with this I worked hard to respect her choices (whether they were mine or not) and to provide her with every opportunity to express herself and live as independently as possible, even in an “assisted living” situation. Keeping this value at the forefront helped us navigate our way through the steps of letting go of the old and accepting the new. The key was listening well and helping to fulfill as many of her wishes and choices as possible, at a time when so many of her options were limited.
My own passion for interior design and the personalization of space no doubt came from my mother. She always loved decorating and the process of shopping and selecting furnishings and accessories to make a space feel special. One of her long-held unfulfilled dreams from her own girlhood, was to have a four-poster bed. Her personal style was very feminine and her favorite interior spaces reflected that style.
Living through this process with my mother formed some of my early ideas about creating “Design for Change” While I had long held the belief that one’s personal space strongly affects one’s state of well being, I saw how powerful it was for my mother to be actively involved in creating something that was deeply personal and reflective of her inner self. The actual process of thinking about the things she loved and the ability to exercise choice about her environment was an empowering experience.