Category Archives: Home

Reverb 14: Day 24

garden

Our wild front yard garden/jungle this summer.

Project Reverb prompt: “Tell us about what home meant to you this year. Are you a homebody? Did you do a renovation? Move? Redecorate?”

Home just so happens to have been my word for 2014. That means I already sort of answered this prompt when Project Reverb asked “What one word would describe your 2014?” And yet, I can still answer the four specific questions this prompt adds. Yes, emphatically, I am a homebody. I’m an introvert, so nothing feels better to me than being at home all day. It’s probably a good thing I have dogs who need walked and a job and yoga classes and friends, because otherwise I might never leave. I’m completely comfortable and happy. Everything I need and want is right here.

We’ve been planning some renovations for a few years, but most have been stuck in the planning phase. We want to get our hardwood floors refinished, our bathroom redone, a new deck on the back and maybe a porch on the front, and need a new roof. We did continue converting our front yard from a lawn to a a garden and flowerbeds. My only real excuse for the other things not getting finished is that there’s simply been other stuff that has been more important, like raising a puppy and becoming certified to teach yoga.

We don’t plan on moving. Since it’s just the four of us, our little house is plenty big enough, and the neighborhood can’t be beat — within walking distance to Lee Martinez and City Park, only 1.5 miles from Old Town, and only a three minute drive to CSU. I didn’t do any redecorating this year, not unless simplifying and getting rid of stuff counts, or only if puppy-proofing would be considered redecorating.

Home: a Mid-Year Review

succulent garden on the back step

succulent garden on the back step

In 2013, I traveled a lot, took many ecourses, went to retreats and workshops, funded multiple Kickstarter projects, gave money to various individuals and charities, gave gifts and wrote many thank yous. I was homesick for myself, needed to redirect, spend a little bit of time not giving so much away, to sink into myself, the moment, the place.

My word for 2014: Home. This is the way I explained my choice at the beginning of the year,

This next year, I long for a return home, to feel at home — in my body, my house, my work, my job, my relationships, my life. I long for the sense of comfort, safety, authority, belonging and ease that comes with “home.” I want to nest right where I am, to clear out room, make space, settle in. The process of clearing is related to what Rumi says, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” And it’s not just about me, solitary and alone, but as Ram Dass says, “we are all just walking each other home.”

2014 is now at the midpoint, half way done. Choosing “home” to guide me, as a reminder of how I want to experience my life, has been of great benefit to me. It has also surprised me. I knew it meant literally being home, a return to a simpler way of being, bringing all my resources to focus on this place, it’s physical form and the space inside of me, shelter and shape. What I forgot was that it would also mean confronting the monsters under my bed, the skeletons in my closet, the dirty dishes in the sink.

In 2014. I vowed to:

Inhabit, embody, live IN 2014, be present for my life, be in my body, awake in every moment I can be.

In 2014, I am going to do a lot, even though I always say I’m going to slow down, pace myself. And yet, my intention is to focus more on my experience, how I want to feel rather than what I accomplish, so maybe I could also say that in 2014, I am going to do less.

In 2014, I am going to feel free, more at ease, grounded and centered, loved, joyful and grateful, rested and energized, satisfied.

In 2014, I am not going to diet or weigh myself. I am not going to “should all over myself” or smash myself to bits. I won’t abandon myself, won’t apologize for myself, won’t give too much of myself away.

If I haven’t accomplished all these things, I’ve tried, lived in the intention. Some things that surprised me about choosing “home” as my guiding word:

  • Raising a puppy without help while Eric and I both worked full-time, and starting yoga teacher training, was so much harder than I expected.
  • Committing to no ecourses or workshops or Kickstarter projects, etc., was so much harder than I thought. I wanted to be there, to go and to help.
  • I didn’t realize how much “home” would need me, specifically Eric and Sam and Ringo, my tiny little family. Eric and I have been through some really hard things in the past five years (some that I don’t even talk about here), and our confidence has been shaken. We’ve faced directly that we aren’t in control, can’t fix everything, that really bad things happen all the time to us and the beings we love. We are trying to figure out how to be comfortable in that chaos, how to find joy and ease, a sense of peace when there is so much suffering. And then Sam was mysteriously sick for so long and Ringo has been so much more challenging than we expected. I had to give up a lot, stop doing things, spend way more time here, give more attention to this.
  • Being at home, comfortable in my body has been tough. After years of hating and pushing it, wishing it away, it’s hard to shift to acceptance and love. I’m rounder, softer, take up more space, and I feel judgement burning me as if the house next door were on fire. Old habits, ways of being are sticky and deep, difficult to shift.

All of this, the obstacles and unexpected difficulty, force me to be honest — about who I am, what I want, what I’m doing, what I value. It means saying “no” more often. It means lowering the bar. Letting go, surrender. Staying with the discomfort rather than freaking out and running away, staying awake rather than numbing out. Keeping my heart open.

#augustbreak2013 Day 13

Home

This concept is always a bit tricky for me, as there are two places I consider home: Colorado and Oregon.

homeI love our little house, our little life in Fort Collins, with the gardens in front and back, the lilacs along the fence and by the mailbox, the trees we’ve planted and the ones now gone that we still remember, the Rocky Mountain Bee Plants that surprised us one year and return each spring to feed the riot of bees, the hardwood floors and the patterned plaster ceilings, the elementary school around the corner and our favorite park so close. The layout of the house is almost exactly like the one I grew up in, and I love that, loved that house, that home too. One reason it will be difficult to let this one go now, if we ever do, is that two of my dogs died here, and as weird as it might sound, that is a precious thing.

oceanviewAnd yet, half my heart still lives in Oregon, splitting its time between the Willamette Valley and the Central Oregon Coast.

samonthecouchBut the truest home I have is this: home is where my dog is (dogs are), and wherever that is, he’s (they’re) probably with Eric, so even better.

Something Good (Part One)

1. Todd McLellan’s ‘Things Come Apart’ Showcases Beautiful Photos Of Disassembled Technology on Huffington Post. So cool.

2. Worst Client Comments Turned Into Posters on Bored Panda.

3. Rest in Peace, Clifford, a beautiful meditation on death and the loss of furry ones by Elizabeth Gilbert.

I had to say goodbye this weekend to my dear cat Clifford — the king of all cats, heart of my heart, coolest of the cool, best of the best, friend to the whole world — who had finally, after a life that was both deeply noble and entirely absurd, reached his end.

We haz sad.

Clifford came to us nearly six years ago from the animal shelter, by way of a supermarket parking lot, where he had been found wandering hungry. He has certainly never been hungry since, as you can see by his comfortable girth in this photo. We never had the first idea how old he was, or anything about his backstory. I only know that chose him above all others at the shelter because of his giant Falstaffian belly, because of his slightly drunken-looking face (not a day has passed that I don’t laugh whenever I lay eyes on him), because of his purr (the loudest I have ever heard), but mostly because the way he fitted himself deeply into my arms the moment I picked him up. Saturday night, I held him in my arms again while he floated off peacefully.

While it was clearly Clifford’s time to go (as I joked in tears to a friend, “What kind of unfair God would pluck a geriatric, diabetic, toothless animal with arthritic legs and increasing incontinence right from the prime of his life?”) it is still heartbreaking. We love our furry-headed friends in a way that is different, more inexplicable, and more tender than other kinds of love, and when they go, it makes us ache to our core.

But here is what I keep thinking. I met a monk once in India who told me that one of the karmic roles of our beloved pets (“part of their service,” he said) is to come into our lives as teachers. They are sent here not only to teach us how to love, but also to teach us how to die — because they do it so well, and so uncomplainingly. We need these lessons, you see, because we are so famously bad at death, we humans. We are so afraid of it, so angry at it, so resistant to it. But our furry-heads, they see death differently. And as they slip away from us, they try to show us, “Watch me do this: It’s really not that difficult. You just have to let go…”

Thank you, Clifford. You did great. I watched carefully. I tried to learn. I will always love you. There will never be another like you.

3. Sara Bareilles’s new video for her latest song, Brave.

4. Food is Gross, and this blog is funny.

5. What I Ate Wednesday: Intuition on Back to Her Roots.

6. Two photo apps that I really want, but will only work on my ipod: A Beautiful Mess and Over.

7. Anne Lamott on writing,

I get to start a new section of something I’m working on, which means, all the bad voices will be sitting on my bed when I wake up; and they will have already had coffee. But I will drown them out by getting to work. They will talk more loudly: “You’re beating a dead horse. The well has run dry. It’s all over for England.” But I’ll push back my sleeves and plunge in. Things will go badly, and I’ll make lots of mistakes, but I’ll also make some progress on getting a shitty first draft down on paper–and at that point, I will be halfway home.

8. Thoughts on Creative Joy and a Lightbulb Moment by Tracey Clark.

9. Shy Dog Studio. I saw this painting at the emergency vets last week when we were there for Dexter’s physical therapy appointment. I love it. It reminds me of Sam, but I loved it even more when I found out that Nicole, one of our favorite staff members, is the painter.

shydogstudio

10. Sacred Love: 12 Things at the Bottom of Everything from Rachel Maddox.

11. Are you Tired of Life? Encouragement for the Overworked, Stressed and Exhausted from The Freedom Experiment.

12. soundtrack to your life | anna guest-jelley from Sas Petherick. I adore Anna Guest-Jelley (and Sas, of course) and especially love this part of the interview, “How do you take care of your body? By listening to what it actually wants, rather than telling it what it should have/do/be.” Amen.

13. I Have An Eating Disorder And No One In My Life Knows by Kristen Forbes on Role/Reboot.

14. Girl Talk: I Don’t Know What I Weigh — The Case for Stepping Off the Scale by Claire Mysko on The Frisky, in which she says,

The choices you make about what you eat, how much you exercise, how proactive you are about attending to your physical and emotional well-being — those are the choices that impact your health. The number on the scale might change as you make healthier or less healthy choices. But you know what? It might not. A woman who binge eats will be healthier if she starts seeing a good therapist who can help her curb the disordered eating behavior and address the underlying issues that fuel it. Whether or not that results in weight loss isn’t the point. If I suddenly start eating more crap takeout food and start taking cabs everywhere, I will definitely have less cash. I will probably have less energy. It might affect my blood pressure and my cholesterol. Will I gain weight? Maybe. Again, not the point. I gained and lost weight through years of disordered eating (and believe me, I tracked the number by the minute in those days). I was in a “healthy” weight range when I was a raging bulimic. Bingeing and purging? It ain’t healthy. The reality is that weight is not a reliable or holistic indicator of a person’s health.

15. Zach Sobiech died today. I knew it’s how his story would end (how all our stories will end) but that doesn’t mean my heart didn’t break a little anyway. While he was here, he lived.

16. Why I Don’t Diet – An Ode to My Father.

17. 59 Reasons We’re Going To Miss “The Office” on Buzzfeed.

18. On being uprooted. Or, finding home. from Sherry at Simply Celebrate.

19. Serving Sizes.

20. Milla Jovovich on The Conversation.

Uh-oh! I got so excited that I pushed publish before I was done making my list. Part two is on its way.

August Break: Day Seven

I love Fort Collins, as much as I love Waldport. Lately, on our morning walks, we have been heading out our front door with no real destination in mind. Sometimes we walk, sometimes we run, sometimes we go to the park, sometimes the other park, sometimes to Old Town, and sometimes we walk the neighborhoods closest to us. This morning, I brought my camera with me and took pictures of some of my favorite houses.

little white haired lady ripped out the whole front to make the most amazing and inspiring garden

love the awning the new owners added to the front, we want one like that, a bit bigger and covered in vines

this is exactly what I mean by a bigger, vine covered arbor

always one of my favorites, with a tree house and detached garage in the backyard

house of god, holy family church with mass in spanish, one of my favorites

it’s hard to see in this picture, but there are so many angles and magic spaces in this recently remodeled house by the park

what you don’t know from this picture is how homely this poor house was before someone loved it enough to fix it up–love the porch they added, want one

my favorite “i will never be able to afford it” house, the porch wraps all the way around the side

oh how I love the side gate and the riot of yellow flowers

there are a few of these in town, shaped like barns, and i love them

another one

the sweetest front porch

can’t you just see me sitting there in a rocking chair with a book?

P.S. I suppose it’s pretty clear to you by now that I love older houses with character, wild gardens, and big covered porches. I love my little house, and it is older and wild. Someday it will have the lush gardens and front porch too.

Leaving Home, Going Home

They say that home is where the heart is. I would agree with this, but the problem for me is half my heart lives in Oregon and the other in Colorado, with my body shuttling between the two. And yet, I don’t ever feel like I am living with half a heart, or carrying the ghost of another half, more like I have two full hearts residing in two different locations, but somehow still connected, like twins who can feel each others pain, sense what the other is experiencing.

This morning I discovered that other than the first day of July, when I correctly wrote “7-1-12” in my journal, I’ve been dating every entry with a “6” and thus giving myself a whole extra month of June. With the weather here at the coast never getting much warmer than mid-60s, you could almost believe in two Junes.

Cape Foulweather

But now it’s time to go back, to temperatures in the high 90s, to a place that was on fire when we left and is now in the thick of sadness, confusion, and anger brought on by another kind of tragedy. Yesterday, all I wanted to do was watch HGTV and sleep, which is rare. I hardly ever watch that much TV anymore–when I am “sick” maybe (too depressed and tired to get dressed and leave the house, barely able to get out of bed), but I haven’t been that for a long time now. This post from Jennifer Louden helped yesterday, “Ways to Channel Fear and Sadness,” reminded me of what I already know to be true. She ends the post with this: “We are human and fragile and afraid – together.  Never alone, my friend, never alone.”

Later in the day, I even found myself smiling a little.

There are a lot of lasts today: last full day at the beach, last sleep in this house, last farmer’s market, last serving of marionberry cobbler (*sob*). Walking on the beach this morning, talking about how this last month went by so fast (the kind of talk that always reminds me of this post on A Design So Vast, where Lindsey’s daughter says to her “When you’re in them, days take a long time.  But then when you look back they went really fast”–brilliant, and exactly…), I asked Eric “how do you get your life to slow down?”

Farmer’s Market this morning in Newport, our last one

Eric answered: less internet, less tv, less feeling like you have to be “on,” checking in and connected. I know from practice that slowing down is about relaxing into the moment, remaining present, surrendering, no judgement or rejection, no plans or control or even hope. Let go. Give up your agenda. Pay attention. Breathe. It’s simple, but we make it so hard.

South Beach, south of Newport, where we walked/ran this morning while being chased by 100 mosquitoes trying to eat us

Much love to you, kind and gentle reader. I have a post for tomorrow, but won’t be doing a Something Good list this week, as we’ll be on the road to Colorado, moving from this home to that one.

Wishcasting Wednesday

from Jamie’s post

How do you wish to grow?

I’m sorry if I sound like a broken record, but it seems like every Wednesday Jamie asks a different wishcasting question, but my answer is always some version of the same thing…

I wish to grow:

Equanimity. Mental calmness, emotional stability, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation or under stress; a calm, positive emotional balance in the face of both good fortune and bad. Having an equally open attitude to all sentient beings, free of attachment, anger, and apathy. I can be judgmental, critical, and unforgiving. For example, today there was an older, stinky, potentially homeless man working out at my gym, and my animal self was getting so irritated with him, with the situation. My higher self whispered that I shouldn’t judge, knew nothing about his circumstances, and that it really wasn’t that much of a hardship for me to accept his presence, that maybe I was irritating him. I wish to respond with my higher self, to practice equanimity, forgiveness, non-judgment, to grow my heart.

Health. I wish to manifest health through rest and exercise and good food in appropriate amounts, but also through sanity, self-love and self-care. I want people to feel the energy of wellness radiating from me, to feel healthier themselves just by being near me.

Creative arts practice. This wish includes a wide range of art: music, painting, photography, lettering, acting, collaging, quilting, sewing. I wish to learn to play the ukulele, take singing lessons, be in a play, create paintings, make art using collage and lettering, start a tshirt shop, create and perform.

Spiritual practice. I wish to deepen my meditation and yoga practices, with the intention of one day training to instruct and teach, to share those important practices with others who might benefit as I have. To continue to go further with my writing, showing up honest, open and raw, and communicating the truth, using right speech. And dog, to continue to learn how to be a better companion, a more effective caretaker.

Confidence and bravery. To grow my confidence, in part in the way that Susan Piver suggests: “Confidence is the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment.” And also, knowing my own power, being certain of my basic goodness, my “enoughness,” and thus being brave and willing to face reality, just as it is, and to work with it.

Financial stability. This is solid now, but from that base, I’d like to continue to grow, to streamline and clarify my practices, spending and saving, to have a clear sense of the full situation, of my debt, insurance, retirement, to simplify but also invite abundance and joy.

Web design skills. This is another practical area I’d like to grow, my skills as a designer and coder, my ability to design graphics and construct layouts and code structures. There’s a lot this would enable me to do, it would foster an independence, a freedom that I long for.

Home making. I wish to continue to refine and rehabilitate the space and structure where I live, declutter and clean it, repair it, landscape and beautify. Last week’s wishcasting was all about this process, this growth.

Love. There can never be enough, and it is the answer to every question, so I wish to grow this until it fills the whole universe.