All animals exist in a habitat of some sort: a set of environmental qualities and characteristics that allows them to thrive. I think that humans are the same.
Don’t get me wrong. We humans are adaptable to an extent, and we can live and work in a wide range of climates and situations. A cubicle in Arizona; a corner office in Duluth; a beachside shack on the island of Maui. Okay, that last one is just my dream, but I’m sure someone is living the good life, working beachside in Hawaii as I type this.
But I digress.
Your immediate surroundings can impact your mood, your productivity, and your general sense of wellbeing. And I tend to think that they offer a fairly accurate reflection of who you are. I love to look at photos of writers at work in their offices, or wherever it is that they choose to write. In fact, one of my favorite photos is of a young Hunter S. Thompson, sitting at his typewriter on a cliff in Big Sur.
In some photos, I see a sterile, monochromatic minimalist desk; in others, a chaotic space, a salvaged, worn wooden desk framed by piles of papers and mementos of past adventures.
I tend to fall somewhere in the middle of those extremes.
While I don’t work beachside, I really have no complaints being based mountainside in Boulder, Colorado. For a sentimental pack rat, I like to keep my workspace neat, clean, and tidy. The chaos generally swirls around me for decorative purposes.
My husband and I recently moved into our first home, and for the first time ever, I have my own office. Well, more accurately, it’s my office, my art studio, my music studio, and a mini-travel library. However, its primary purpose from Monday through Friday is to serve as my workspace.
My desk is a large, white-topped, table-like structure with one large wooden drawer on the front of it. I’ve always been drawn to wide-open spaces, whether it’s the Colorado skies or the place I do my work. I like to spread my wings. A large teal-colored tufted chair sits next to my desk to welcome visitors or to give me a new perspective when I tire of the standard set-up.
On top of my desk are framed photos of me and my husband, Dave, on our honeymoon, at our wedding, and traveling through Greece and Croatia. Photos of close friends and family reside on the bookshelf behind me. I’m far too sentimental for them to live on my desk full-time, but I need them near me nonetheless.
I also have a few reference books on writing and grammar, as well as some foreign language dictionaries, bookended by some carved, reddish foo dogs. In front of them sits a sign that was gift from a friend and former colleague in Washington, DC, that says “I’m from Missouri” on one side and “The buck stops here!” on the other. I was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, and some might say I have a bit of that “Give ‘em hell, Harry” fire in me.
To the left of my computer always sits a spiral-bound notebook and a cup of colored pens. In spite of all those tech tools out there designed to organize one’s life, I still insist upon paper wall calendars and handmade checklists. And there’s nothing Apple or Google could possibly invent that would change me in that regard.
But back to travel. Travel is my lifeblood, and as a photographer, I have thousands of memories in the form of glossy and matte prints. To the left of my desk is a large framed photo of my favorite beach in Greece on the island of Lefkada, taken on one of my favorite days ever. I like to think of it as a direct window to my happiness.
To the right of my desk hangs a photo of a glowing sunset framed by stone arches taken while on a sailboat in Mexico. It resides directly above my little terrarium filled with cacti in varying degrees of health. Note to self: I need to learn more about cactus care. A framed rendering of one of my favorite quotes from The Little Prince rests against the wall next to it, a gift from a dear friend from home.
Beneath my feet is a colorful rug, made to look worn and well-loved. It’s perfect for sitting barefoot, which is how I generally prefer to operate.
This is my writing habitat.