Several years ago I decided to start a list of things I loved doing so much I could do them every day without getting bored. I wanted the list as a reminder to integrate beloved activities and things on a daily basis.

I thought of that this morning as I was driving home from yet another visit to the DMV and heard one of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, one of the things that made my Everyday Love List.

It’s not just the music I love, however. I also love the story. Those lovely pieces were written for a competition held by the city of Brandenburg-Schwedt, Germany. It was a competition won by somebody else.

Nobody seems to remember winner’s name, nor his musical entry, but Bach’s concertos frequently top the list of public radio listener’s favorites 290 years after they first were played.

Today I was also reminded that even onerous tasks can be more pleasant if we include things we love. It doesn’t do much good, after all, if we know what we love, but don’t have regular contact with them.

A while back, Alice Barry and I had a conference call with participants who had attended our Follow Through Camp retreat. I asked everyone to complete an exercise before the call.

This fun idea comes from Keri Smith’s delightful book, Living Out Loud . It’s called Lifestyle for Sale and it goes like this:

In recent years, lifestyle stores have become the rage, selling products related to all aspects of living: eating, decorating, reading, bathing, sleeping and dressing. If you were to open your own lifestyle store, what would you sell?

Make a list of what it would contain. What items best represent you and your many layers? Are they eclectic? Chaotic? Minimal? Calming?

Come up with a name for your store—maybe it’s a character from your favorite book, or something that reflects the store’s contents.

Before the call, I  also created my own imaginary lifestyle store. Like many of the other callers, I envisioned my store in a funky old house reached by walking through a garden.

My store wasn’t just about stuff, but also about stuff happening. There was a conservatory on the back called the Idea Factory for collaborative brainstorming. Another spot was called the Follow Through Room where people who felt stuck could find inspiration and support to get moving again.

The bookshop section had four distinct sections, each housed in a separate corner. One was devoted to personal growth, another to biographies of kindred spirits, another on business building and another on supporting wanderlust.

Every room was furnished with big, comfy chairs and vintage travel posters adorned the walls. Happily, the place where I live resembles my imaginary store.

Although none of the folks who did this with Alice and me were interested in opening a shop, creating this vision got them dreaming about spending time in the kind of place they’d imagined.

It’s a great exercise and I urge you to try it yourself. More importantly, surround yourself with people, things, and ideas you love as much as you possibly can.

As the John Ruskin poster in my office never lets me forget, “We are not sent into this world to do anything which is not in our hearts.”

Of course, first we need to know what that is.

11 Responses to “Living With Love”

  1. Justin Standifird

    I love the way this piece was put together it’s very inspiring to read something so uplifting and positive thank you so much Justin

  2. Anna Barlowe

    All my favorite things are calming things, as I am rather high-strung by nature. I can’t live without fuzzy blankets, lapsang souchong tea, pendulums, my boyfriend, and my ghost. He’s a nice soothing ghost. I suppose that is mostly stuff, except for the last two. 🙂

  3. Justin Standifird

    Lol I love your sense of humor thanks for sharing with me what runs through your head I am a musician so I write as well and I to have a ghost by me at all timed it’s my brother sonny so I can totally relate 🙂

  4. Anne Lazarus

    I’ve been reading you for over a decade now and recommending your book all that time. Always finding you relevant and worth a smile. Yet today you really put an idea into context for me in a way that feels special.

    A couple of months ago I was feeling very stuck, and though I didn’t have quite the words (as you’ve said so well above), nevertheless I accidentally did your exercise above. And then to give it voice (to only myself) I did a little blog. . .

    In real life I’m a small business coach. Yet because of this one exercise I’m now packing up everything to go live on a ranch. It’s amazing the power of little steps without expectation driven wholly by one’s heart.


  5. Your Memoir Mentor

    BW, love this question!
    “If you were to open your own lifestyle store, what would you sell?”
    Curiosity, hunger for peace, time for quiet, belly-laughter, movie making & watching, naps!

  6. Jane Snell Copes

    Barbara, you speak my heart so often! I’d have a section with lots of little bottles and mixing containers and stuff to make potions! Then a spot with garden seeds in unmarked packets! How about a kitchen corner with ingredients and gadgets and recipes and a stove? We’d have growing things indoors and out. And playground equipment! And little mechanical toys to wind up and march around together. Music somehow . . . make your own instruments? Jane

  7. Rasheed Hooda

    This one calls for some action, and a post of its own. I’ll come back and post the link to the post when it’s up.

    Thank you, Barbara

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