In the unending assault on our regular-people lives, I’ve noticed that we are now expected to find the time, money, energy, creativity, and ideal lighting to lead not just a happy and full life, or even an organized life, but a curated life.
The goal of a curated life is beautiful simplicity – the reward of having been carefully intentional about who, and what we’ve allowed into the space we occupy. Everything is just so in the curated life; it’s clean and tidy, pastel and breezy, and somehow always in soft focus, with just the right amount of whimsy. Raspberry lemonade is served there.
Sure I’ve been sucked in to wanting this too. I would love to wrap myself in a cashmere blanket and drink Oprah’s new chai tea latte, and read the latest book club selection while bathed in the most flattering lighting that would make me look young, yet wise… pretty, yet approachable… smart and worldly, and the teensiest bit carefree. That moment’s the goal, man, it is. But alas, it’s just a moment. Eventually I would have to bring in the mail and clean the bathroom.
I flip through my photos, and they don’t look like the gauzy, aspirational snapshots that aim to demonstrate what a curated life looks like. My photos make my life look like it has been curated by Amelia Bedelia.
No matter what filter I put on the pictures of my life, there are extra people in the background, or stacks of books and papers and wayward shoes, and the vacuum propped up in the corner. My kids’ clothes are wrinkled, or my neighborhood is stubbornly showing its dreary fog. My hair is messy, and my billowy top combined with the unflattering lighting, and weird slouchy way I’m standing makes me look five months pregnant. We’re not just talking basic photography mistakes – these images have captured the moments of what my life is really like. The people I love, in the place that I am, surrounded by everything else.
My husband John took this photo of our family walking down the street on a regular evening. Yes, my youngest is dressed like Indiana Jones, and as we noticed later, “mob life” is written permanently in the concrete:
Here’s the photo I took of John and I at a beautifully scenic beach, before I thought to turn the camera around and include the ocean and Golden Gate Bridge:
If you have somehow managed to curate out your long and boring commute to work, the cereal boxes from the top of the fridge, the stomach flu, and the pets who shed, congrats. Maybe you’ve placated your child with a charming handmade rag doll instead of 1000 pink plastic unsightly toys. Maybe you’ve somehow stopped accumulating mail, church bulletins, school newsletters, and annoying neighbors and family members. But probably not.
We all want the perfect moments, but let’s try to remember they are perfect, in part, because they are fleeting. Those Instagrammable vignettes are strung together by gooey, messy life stuff; stuff that is simply uncurateable, whether you are rich or not, glamorous or not, parent or not, lifestyle brand guru, or not.
Some days are loud and messy and packed with people, graffiti, and circumstances and surroundings we can’t style, or control. Those are the days that give us wisdom, and experience, and fun stories for cocktail parties. (Trust me, nobody wants to hear about that time you read a book and drank tea while looking amazing.) You will be thankful for the messy days, because when you’ve put them all together, they will have accounted for almost the entirety of your life, and realize we’re all closer to achieving the mob life, than the curated life.
In case you’ve forgotten, or haven’t stumbled on this gem from the 70’s, Amelia Bedelia is the hapless maid and star of the Peggy Parish children’s books of the same name. Amelia makes sponge cake from sponges, and serves corn kernals to Mr. and Mrs. Rogers as their “chicken dinner.” She is both hilarious and frustrating, but even after 40 years, her butterscotch cake still looks delicious.
Find more of my mob life phots on Instagram, @colleenweems, and on twitter @fulcrumchron