Feels like home

The feeling that I get in my belly when I pull into my driveway is something a lot like love.  I get that tingle in my spine as I head down the lane in those seconds that I begin to see my silver roof, and a sensation that I can’t describe when I begin to see, peeking through the cedars, my green stained plywood siding, and almost every time I have the same thought, thinking about how heavy those 4×10 boards were to move, as I pre-stained EVERY SINGLE ONE of them, 84 to be precise, in February of 2009, just four months after I got my building permit.  The anger I felt the other day when I discovered that SOMEbody dropped SOMEthing on my floor in the kitchen and put a big ding and gouge in my walnut boards, which I installed myself,  2 1/4 inch piece by piece, literally choosing which length of walnut I wanted to go where, row by row by row, in the late summer of 2009 and the coat after coat after coat of tung oil I applied that September, was an anger that a person should not “normally” feel over a damaged walnut board…it was more like the anager one would feel if one was punched in the face, but I was so mad!!!  It is, after all, just a floor…

My love of these walls and the things contained in these walls is perhaps not normal, but it’s me.  Every time I walk upstairs and see my Eames chair in the loft, I laugh to myself, how I so dearly wanted it, and saved for years to buy it, and yet I hardly ever sit in it.  Every time I come into my office to write bills for customers or to write for my pleasure, I laugh at what a disaster and mess this office space is, which needs to be repainted and reorganized and purged and cleaned, yet I just don’t make the time, and chuckle at how messy my upstairs life is compared to my downstairs one!  It is just thoughts about my space and my place on this earth, but I feel so much love for this place, that to say I’ve become teary eyed daily over these last few weeks of storms is not an exaggeration.  Listening to so much suffering on NPR interviews, and seeing so much loss and devastation on the news and the weather channel on television, with people saying how they are so grateful to be alive, although they are sad they have lost everything, is making my heart break a little bit every day for these people after these back to back to back hurricanes…

The father of my grandchildren has much, most of his family, in Puerto Rico and those residents of that island, OUR island, are suffering terribly this very hour.  I  know and love a woman who moved here from Bay St Louis Mississippi after she lost her home,  and nearly every possession she had, during Katrina, and I know people who lost most of what they owned and had to rebuild their homes after Sandy, and my mother stayed on her island during 1962 and knew many who lost much, and her mother knew many who lost most in the 44 storm before that…we live where the views take your breath away, and we know that to be so close to the ocean and the bay comes with the risks of damage and loss from the ocean and the bay.  Knowing the risks does not diminish the sadness when it happens though…

Almost every morning, I marvel at the way the sun kisses the tippy top of the cedar trees, as I walk back up the driveway from the bus stop.  Almost every night I watch the evergreens that surround the field out my west windows go through a trippy rainbow of color as the sun sets behind them.  I am in love with the house and everything around it, and I can’t stop thinking about these people who now have no house, no trees…everything became nothing in 24 hours…I have been thinking about my love of my home and wondering if I would have the courage to be so bold and brave, to say those words, “oh I have lost everything I worked so hard for, but I have my life”  I mean, I literally heard those exact words on the news the other day from a woman in Puerto Rico, and I thought, Wow!  so brave…I think I would just want to curl up and die.

Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism all teach the importance and practice of detachment.  Asserting that if we are not attached to things or people or ways of being, we won’t suffer so in this life…that the clinging to the things, or clinging to the way we want things to be, is what causes suffering.  This got me thinking this week about how much I AM attached and to WHAT!!!  I look no further than 36 feet behind me, across the office to the stairs and across to the south side of the loft to that chair and see that my attachments are strong and too many!  My metal roof above my head!  My handmade wood ’tiles’ under my feet, that my dad cut into rectangles for me from each 4×8 sheet and I routered, EVERY SINGLE ONE, and then predrilled holes in a formation that I had drawn  with a Sharpie on a piece of paper, and then made a plastic template for, and then painted purple, and then screwed in stainless Star head screws!!!  Oh good grief!!!  Talk about attachments and clinging…

I am practically in tears thinking about how much happiness building this house brought me and how proud I was of all I did, “what on earth is wrong with you??!” you might think exasperatedly…I am clearly too attached to this house.   THEN I think about what and who is in this house, and then what and who is next door to this house…LOVE is all around me!  oh my…it is just this never-ending loop of love and attachment! AND so all these feelings of sadness for so many suffering right now, on this planet, through the strong force of mother nature, has my heart so heavy and my mind so scrambled…will life be easier for me as I grow older, to care less and less about ANY of this??  I don’t have an answer today to my question.  I just know that I feel so deeply for all these suffering people in a world that is so full of suffering every day anyway…




Whole thirty or Whole thoroughly?

Several years ago, after reading one of my blogs, a woman I knew said to me,  “I think you like writing about ‘getting healthy’ more than actually doing it.”   That the words came from this person who literally could not gain weight, and was six feet tall and stick thin and smoked a pack of cigarettes a day made the statement even sharper, and the remark more cutting, regardless of its truth.  Earlier this summer when my first friend from 1st grade asked me to start Whole30 with her, I said “yes” before I actually knew what it was, what it wasn’t, what it involved or didn’t, and what I was going to have to give up…to be honest, when I opened the email she sent me  with the “what you can’t have” list, and the first thing I read was that dairy was out, I did not think I was going to be able to participate!  Really.  I really believed that my love of light cream or half&half in my coffee would prevent me from doing this program with her.  Well, ‘wait,’ said my silly brain, of course I would, and could do anything, and obviously ANYbody can pretty much do ANYthing for 30 days, but I thought it would be much harder than it turned out to be.

This past July I was 31 pounds heavier than I was when she had made this statement to me, and more than 50 pounds had grown around me since 2003 when I had happily, excitedly, joyfully, slipped back into my high school sized 501 Levi’s, which I had not been able to wear since I’d found myself pregnant 18 years earlier…It’s embarassing to admit, but it’s true.  No, I was not a yo-yo dieter, and no, I was not stupid, I KNEW what I needed to stop doing to lose that baby weight when my baby was born, and I knew what choices I had to make, the first choice being, “get back into your pants”  but I didn’t.  My life at that time was terrible.  Let’s leave it at that.  I found comfort in cans of Tab and packages of Oreos.  Those behaviors, of comforting yourself with food, stick with you even when your life turns around and you are happy, loved, and fulfilled.

That baby became a toddler, then a pre-schooler, and before I knew it, that baby weight I was still carrying around me was sitting beside a teenager as we drove to the mall!!!  …your brain still associates those ‘bad’ foods with “feeling good” even though it turns out those foods don’t make you feel good at all.  I write “your” brain meaning brains in general, as I am very well aware that many people, MOST probably, have a much healthier relationship with food and with eating than I did, but anyway…

The long story short is this; for 35 days I did not have any half&half in my coffee and learned that black has a totally different flavor and coffee for me is an experience I enjoy thoroughly, no matter what.  I did not buy one Wawa soft Philly pretzel and call it lunch, I did not buy any candy while waiting in line at any grocery store, I did not drink alcohol.  I followed the rules and before the 30 days was up, I felt better…SO much better than I imagined I would, because you see, I did not realize how crappy I guess I was feeling most of the time!!!  I did not feel thinner, but I felt more “right” than I think I have felt in a long time.  My sore leg, what I always called my “bad” leg, which has hurt since an injury when I was just 14, was no longer swollen and no longer ached day in and day out.  I felt more in control of everything, even though all that had changed was that I was making mindful decisions about what to eat or drink.  My work schedule was still what it was, my relationships were exactly what they had been, my finances or worries or stresses were unchanged, all that changed was my choices to eat food that was healthy for me instead of food that was not.

After the 30 days was up I found I had lost 15.2 pounds and gained a lot of self-care feelings.  Since those 30 days I have had many of the things I missed; goat cheese, wine, pizza,  a few shots of vodka, crusty bread with butter one night in NYC, but I am changed.  I want to write that I am forever changed, but I know that is exaggeration.   I read a medical journal article many years ago that asserted that the brain reacts to sugar, and sweets in general, in the exact same way it does on hard drugs…the more we have it, the more we crave it, and then we need even more to get the same feelings…so I have the knowledge, I always have, I just, I don’t know…maybe now I suddenly care more than when I was younger?

Maybe I am worried, was worried, that I needed to get myself back to where I feel best before I turn 50 or I’ll be a lost cause??!!  I have no answers right now I just have a plan.  I felt so good following this program so religiously, that I think I must simply stay on it, or should I say, not stray too far for too long from it?  I am pretty sure that at some point I will have a piece of lemon merengue pie again, and I know I will have some PEEPS at Halloween time, but I guess what I know mostly is that some sort of occasional sugar overload should be for my immediate gratification, and then be over, not a way of life to fall back to…I have since lost two more pounds and feel that, while I am excited to perhaps finally shed for good these pounds that have lived with me, on and off, for almost 32 years, I just simply feel so much more “right” if that makes any sense…maybe instead of calling it Whole30 I will call it Right50!  I am going to be 50 in 46 days.  I’m probably not going to follow my plan very well while I am celebrating on vacation  in Mexico at an all-inclusive resort with my significant other, but I know this, when I get back from that birthday vacation, I’m probably going to need a whole 30 days to recover from the six!  AND now I know that is okay, and it will all be okay, and it is all up to me how I handle my choices.

As summer turns to autumn perhaps I turn into the me I always wanted to be…full disclosure: I probably always will prefer writing about changing more than actually changing, and that is okay too.  Much changed during this 30 day experiment, and most of it was me.

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”      –*Maya Angelou*

Quest /kwest/ noun: a long search for something

I have been trying to find myself for as long as I can remember…while this might sound to your ear, self-absorbed and esoteric, it is the truth.  I suspect that when one is a daughter, then a wife, then a mother, then a divorcee, all before her 20th birthday, it can make a girl/woman a bit “confused” about who, she herself, is…right around the time most young women start to become who they are going to be, I became the carer for another human being and everything I wished to be, or experience, or create, became secondary to my obligation and responsibilities to this somebody else, namely the big fat healthy perfect baby who is now a thin gorgeous woman who is my next door neighbor. 

When my fellow twenty-somethings were jumping in the shower at 8:00 to get ready for a night out, I was reading Where The Wild Things Are for the umpteenth time (full disclosure; I now know it like a beloved poem and can recite, word for word, the whole book, without looking at the pages) and getting ready to shower and go to bed. When they were planning vacations and researching travel details with girlfriends to get the most fun or adventure for the least money, I was researching what day-care or babysitter offered the most hours for the least dollars, and planning my college schedule and work schedule with my family so that somebody was always available to care for this little girl.  When they were having exciting experiences that shaped them into the women they were becoming, I was focused on shaping the mind of a little girl,   when, it turns out, I was not much more than a girl myself. 

It is the truth, my truth, that NOW, eight or so weeks before my 50th birthday, I am not really needed by anybody anymore for anything.  It appears that all those years I thought I was missing out on so much, I was just living a different reality than girls, women, my age, and we all still became who we were to be.  Some of those women are now having to plan for after school programs and summer day camps, or trying to work ballet classes and traveling soccer camp into their household budgets,  or sorting the details of what SAT class is most affordable, and how to find the best college scholarships, but I am done.  My job of mothering is over and  I am no longer “needed,” and my long search for travel and adventure and my quest to find the meaning of my life, can begin…It seems that I might have simply been a late bloomer.

It’s a little bit funny, I don’t even know what I am looking for, or if  I’m “looking” for anything anymore!!!  A long search for what?  my brain asks itself…I have love, I have my house, I have my job, I have my family, I have friends…Whew!  I have so much more than I ever thought I could deserve, and that  baby grew into a woman I am glad to call both my neighbor and my friend…frankly, as I near this birthday of the  “big 5-0” I actually feel more complete and fulfilled than I have ever felt in my entire life.  My adventures are just coming with some gray hairs and hot flashes, instead of highlights and hook-ups.   Maybe I’ll even make mischief of one kind, and another…and the walls will become the world all around…All those years I felt like I was missing out, I come to discover that it just wasn’t my time then, yet, for adventure…“let the wild rumpus start!”

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
“I don’t much care where –”
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
* Alice in Wonderland* by Lewis Carroll