Bless the Yes

Before we get to the point of this post, I have to first tell you that I was doing an excellent job in slowing down and enjoying life. That lasted for about 4 weeks and I definitely plan to get back to it as soon as I can.

This isn’t really the point either, but it will only make sense if you know that I’ve got a lot on my plate right now.

  • Tear down our house in 2-3 weeks. 
    • Remove curtain rods and ceiling fans and light fixtures and anything else we plan to put in the new house
    • Empty the attic
    • Disconnect electric and gas – work with the City on making that happen before this century ends
    • Remove all mosquito system nozzles and cut the lines
    • Save the alarm system transmitter and sensors.  Cancel account.
    • Sell the a/c units and other appliances
    • Order cover for the pool and install temporary pump
  • Pack and move to a rental house – We are excited to move into a bigger space, with a yard and extra rooms. This is happening now instead of March because I thought that having the winter break to unpack and get settled would be good. I forgot we were going to be away some of that time. I didn’t consider when the house was being torn down.  Once I realized all this, we had already signed the lease.
    • Forward mail, change/transfer utilities, arrange for movers
    • Deliver storage unit – We are going to get our things back from storage, which is exciting.
    • Find boxes and get them all up to our 3rd floor
    • Order rugs and some furniture we need to replace. Coordinate delivery.
    • Clean the apartment/maintenance requests
  • Finalize contract with the builder and make selections for the new home while processing the paperwork for the construction loan.  This is sort of self-explanatory, but I’m getting confused between planning for the rental house and for our future house.
  • Pack for a poorly timed cruise.  We move the day after we get back, so there’s some planning involved. And our house may be torn down while we’re gone.
    • Purchase needed items – for example, somehow we moved to the apartment with only 1 swimsuit for SG. Snacks, etc.
    • All preparatory paperwork/documents/flights
  • Regular life
    • SG school tests/special presentation/thank you notes
    • Sold a few art pieces at a gift market
    • Take the Girl Scout cookie manager training
    • Purchase and wrap birthday, Chanukah and teacher gifts
    • Plan a school book fair that happens a few weeks after the holidays/demo/vacation/move

OK on to the point


Tuesday I had a little encounter with the apartment gate. Let’s just leave it at that.

Later that day, I pulled into the gas station before school pickup and the word of the day on the pump screen was “frenetic.” 

Wednesday, the kitten knocked my iPhone into a sink filled with water.

I am beginning to wonder what the universe is trying to tell me.


I’ve been frazzled trying to do it all. Remember to tell the builder this.  Ask the tax accountant that.  Call the a/c guy.  I have lists of my lists.  I can’t seem to fit everything into my schedule and get it all done.

A friend told me the other day about her theory called “Bless the Yes,” which involves naming your main priorities. Once you identify what those are, it’s easier to say no to everything else.

When I think of “letting go,” first I imagine what its opposite means.  It means getting stuck on an ideal and not being able to get past it, holding on to expectations and “shoulds.”

Productivity: Since I can’t do everything I’d like to, I had to let some things fall off the to-do list.  Selling the house appliances will have to wait. Cleaning the apartment will happen after the move.  Some things will not be as organized as I’d like them to be.

For the book fair, I’ve been able to create all our fliers ahead of time and have asked others to copy them.  I even sent them home with another volunteer, ready for January, so I don’t lose them.  I created the teacher and the volunteer online signups. I’ve also been asking for help where I can. We’ve simplified this as much as we can and that’s really nice.  There is only compiling 29 teacher wish lists by next Thursday, but that’s doable. I will hopefully be able to focus on house things in January and not worry about book fair prep.


Simplicity: There is SO MUCH stuff in our apartment to pack. I don’t like having this many possessions.  We lost so many items because of the storm and we sent much to storage, but there’s still a lot in our apartment.  It makes it feel cramped and makes packing difficult.  I feel weighed down with it all.  So I am literally letting go of all the clothes I don’t ever wear, holiday decorations I don’t use, all these extra cups and glasses. I will do the same with whatever we have in our storage unit.  My goal is to have a place for things and not to keep things we don’t use.  

Being surrounded by boxes and unorganized belongings everywhere makes me feel unsettled.  So today (after I got the side mirror fixed and got a new phone) I put all the empty boxes in one spot and stacked up all the packed ones so they are mostly not intrusive.  Then I put all the little odds and ends that are scattered all over the place in one spot to sort through.  I feel better! I hope to keep this up as we open Chanukah gifts.


The important things:

  • Show up when and where I’m supposed to
  • Feed family and take care of basic needs
  • Pay bills, be responsible, don’t run into any more gates
  • Pack slowly and without stress. Put on music.
  • Enjoy the process and think of things from a larger perspective

If a bed doesn’t arrive on time or a gift is given late, that’s ok too.  That is not “failure.” To “Bless the Yes,” I’ve got to have faith that meaningful things rarely happen quickly.  I have to trust that what is meant to happen will come to be without me worrying about it.  And it’s all not so important really.  I mean, who am I to fret over such awesome things such as moving to a bigger space and building a new house, let alone going on vacation? Those are the high-level “yeses” and everything else is just detail.  

Posted in Home, Mindfulness, Motherhood, Self-compassion | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Nov books… some strange overlap

After I finished How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk (see last month’s review), I started reading The Trainable Cat: A Practical Guide to Making Life Happier for You and Your Cat by John Bradshaw and Sarah Ellis. Both books discuss discipline and how to elicit the behavior you’re seeking. In children, punishment can lead to defiance, unworthiness, and revenge issues. We deprive the child of the inner process of facing his misbehavior and possibly the natural consequences of his actions.  There are many ways to encourage kids to act responsibly.

In cats, we similarly aren’t really teaching anything through punishment.  I had been tapping our new kitten, CoCo, on the nose when she pounces on our other cat, Mo, or spraying her with a tiny bit of water.  Not only did this not stop the behavior, but I learned in the book that she can’t mentally connect the two.  I was actually teaching her to dislike me.  For both children and cats most of the time, the less attention we give the problem behavior, the better. What I need to do is notice positive behavior, tie it to a signal or word, and reward it immediately with a treat. (Just like when SG got a 100 on a spelling test and we celebrated with ice cream. Now she’s asking me for help practicing her words for the next test!)

Both books talk about brain development.  Children are actually physically incapable of some reasoning skills and they may truly not hear you sometimes when you talk to them.  Cats brains are largely the same as their pre-domesticated wildcat brains were.

In both cases, understanding motivations and priorities helps a great deal.  When they want to do what we are asking is when we’ll have the most success.  And, cats and children live mostly in the present.  Cats don’t have the capability to reflect on the past or plan for the future.  They both don’t think much about what we (the adults) are thinking.

Anyway, I learned a ton from this book and I’m still not finished reading it. As we are moving into a rental house, I’ll need to read more about smooth transitions for both cats.

* * * * *

As if that weren’t coincidence enough, I read 2 “living and renovating in Paris” books:

Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France by Craig Carlson (recommended by Cheryl last month) and L’appart by David Lebovitz.

Carlson’s goal was to find investors, move to Paris, and transform an old French café into a vintage American diner called “Breakfast In America.” Along the way, he sources his “exotic” ingredients, has staff challenges and huge cultural differences in labor laws, figures out the French banking system, makes love connections for his employees and for himself, and forms a true community and extended family in his restaurants.

Notre Dame is so much lovelier from behind. And seeing it now, its grandeur stirs my soul more than ever. I wonder if this feeling is the closest one can get to understanding the unfathomable. It makes me think of all those who passed over this bridge before me…of how short life is…how it moves on, like the Seine below, with or without us. And I think of how important it is to seize the day, to be grateful for every precious moment while we’re alive.

I loved Carlson’s sense of humor and irony, as well as his sharing of his thought processes and vulnerabilities.  We learn what really matters to him. Recommend.

In Lebovitz’s L’Appart, the chef from San Francisco decides to move to Paris and having been there for a few years in a rented apartment, figures that he should buy an apartment since he will be living there long-term.  It is very surprising how difficult it is to do any kind of construction work in Paris!

I’d never left my home country before, except for an occasional vacation, and hadn’t considered all that was involved in making a definitive move overseas.  To say that I was unprepared would not be an exaggeration. The learning curve was so steep that I often fell off with a thud.

I thought it was interesting, though after reading the previous book about the restaurant, I was a bit tired of reading about all these problems.  Definitely recommend though.

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The silver lining

As part of a class I’m taking, I have been trying to bring to mind any life experiences that I perceived as negative at the time they occurred but that ultimately brought about blessings, or at least good things that would not have otherwise happened.

When we live our life moving forward from one decision to another as time naturally unfolds, we do not have the perspective to know if we are making wise choices. We do our best with the information and circumstances at hand and usually don’t spend much time in reflection until much later in life, if at all. However, when circumstances give us an opportunity to call a “time out” and to take a look around at our life thus far and where our choices have taken us, it can be a priceless gift.

* * * * *

Our immediate response to the recent damage to our home was to reassess. We began small, but our thoughts and ideas quickly grew to larger perspectives and eventually we were questioning much more than just a house. We started thinking, “If we were unattached to this physical location, where would we like to be?” We both felt that we weren’t particularly attached to Houston so we considered what it would be like to live in a few of our favorite cities. Mr. B probably doesn’t know that for 5 minutes, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to live abroad for a year. Ultimately we focused solely on moving to Austin. We spent a couple of weeks looking at neighborhoods, talking with friends there, and seeing what houses were on the market.

I noticed that in my thinking about moving there, I felt free from the limitations I have felt in Houston. I was excited to imagine filling my time there with art, meaningful study, and healthy living. Mr. B was excited about the physical terrain, being near close friends, the large Hill Country homes on beautiful properties, as well as its music scene.

We got somewhat far down that thought experiment path when I remembered that the sole reason that we chose to move to Houston 11 years ago was that my family is nearby. Now, once again, I came to the exact same decision. No amount of music or natural springs could ever replace the value of being able to have an impromptu Sunday visit with my parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews. Especially since Sweet Girl is an only child, we want her to have those close relationships with her cousins. I’m also amazingly blessed to still have my grandparents right down the road and I enjoy meeting them for lunch or facilitating their relationship with their great-granddaughter.  Family is just one of those aspects of life that is irreplaceable. Nothing else matters nearly as much.

Once we decided to remain in Houston, we thought about living in other areas of town, considering what daily life, the schools, and the houses available there would be like. Each time, I noticed that I’d get really excited to envision making new friends, having more free time, being outside on the walking trails every day with my camera.

I’ll spare you all the other considerations because we ultimately chose our very same city, our same plot of land, the same school and friends and environment. However, in choosing again what we naturally ended up with as a result of many tiny life steps, it reaffirmed for me that we are happy and secure in our physical placement and that we are pretty good at making decisions that lead to contentment and peace of mind. All those choices were the right ones for us, and that knowledge makes me feel pretty darn good about our judgment and content in trusting ourselves to continue making the right decisions.

At one point, we thought that if it were “just the two of us,” we would leave Houston in a heartbeat. We thought that we were choosing to stay so that SG would be close to our family. But we weren’t thinking of the amazing friendships we have made here (ones upon which I have relied heavily these past few months). We didn’t consider what a close-knit school community we are part of, and we forgot that our neighborhood itself is fairly unique.  And it was only after this storm experience and it’s aftermath that I realized what a richness of humanity we have in our very own City of Houston. We would have been searching for something that very much resembles what we already have. 

Thinking of what would be best for SG also led to a large shift in my parenting perspective. Until 3 months ago, I had been far too reluctant to set clear boundaries and expectations with her. Finally at a breaking point, I sought professional help and heard the words I have been hoping were true for 9 years now: “It’s not supposed to be this hard.”

With this too, I can begin again, but in a different way. I am finding my path with what kind of parent I need to be for my curious, creative, smart young girl. It probably seems like no change at all to her, but I feel a drastic shift.  In fact, had I been ready to make this shift years before, we might have 3 kids by now! I am appreciating her for exactly who she is, rather than comparing her behavior to some imaginary expectation I have. By doing what this child and this momma need, life is smoother and much simpler. That is going to be true no matter where we live.

I was also aware that in making the decision of whether to move to Austin or not, my primary focus was on making my husband happy.  He has made it a natural thing to think of me before he thinks of himself and I usually feel that I have a ways to go to catch up to him in that regard.  However, in this instance, and in a few since then, I’ve noticed how strongly I wanted him to be somewhere where he felt content, happy, and far less stressed.  I wanted that for him so much more than I wanted anything for myself.  Ultimately, I think he realized that he could be all those things regardless of where we live and he has been taking steps to get himself there.

* * * * *

When you have big choices that weigh on you and you can’t talk or think about much else, it’s exhausting. It was such a relief to come to some decisions and then take action knowing that we are on solid ground again. (There’s a pun in there somewhere.) Through it all, I was trying to tap into what we were “meant to do” and nothing was coming to mind. It felt like my intuition was on vacation.

I’ve come to believe that there is no huge “right decision.” There is only taking the next small step. Just like driving a car and being lost with no idea where you are, it’s only in making some movement in any direction that the GPS will show you a path. It may be slightly outside of your original intention, but you will end up in the same place.

Throwing open the doors of possibility and giving myself the chance to determine what I want for myself and what we want for our family has been one of those good things that come out of a negative circumstance. It’s not like I watched the rising water 13 weeks ago and thought to myself, “Oh good. I’m going to really assess where I am in life and the choices I’ve made.”

But what an opportunity! Why not go out more often to hear live music because it makes us so happy? Let’s spend more time appreciating and cultivating our relationships with the people who mean so much to us and with each other. Let’s give our time to projects and people and experiences that directly fill us up.

When I truly thought about my life and what I want from it, everything was crystal clear. I don’t think I would have otherwise examined it this way. I’m not grateful for the storm and such devastation, but I can take something invaluable from the experience.

I am not being Pollyanna-ish about this, I don’t think. I have been before in that utterly hopeless place where nothing makes sense, everything feels personal, and darkness hovers, inescapable. Actually, having endured that thrice before, a damaged house is no big deal. Fixable.

I don’t have a lot of free time these days with all the logistics that go into shuffling our possessions all over the city and now us moving to a rental home, let alone the long process of designing and building a new house, but what time I do have is spent deliberately.  I am focused on the blessings and not the inconveniences.

* * * * *

I believe that we always have a choice in how we respond to a situation.  Think Nelson Mandela not letting the walls be an enclosure. How do we approach daily life? What is our mindset toward the people we interact with every day? How do we think of our body? Do we see the good or the not-so-good in every minor situation?

If you really think about it, it is our mindset that affects most of our daily life. My dad gave me a little gold metal card when I was about 16 that starts with “Life is 90% attitude.” It’s a reminder that our mental framework has the power to shape our reality. Maybe there’s some chance or luck tossed in, but primarily we get to decide how we view the external world.

A travel delay could be just the time you need to catch up on something or with someone. A broken ankle could cause you to slow down and start making different choices. I don’t have any answers for why awful things happen in the world, but for this particular event, though it’s an enormous headache and hassle, it’s also helpful (for me) to think of it as having a silver lining.

It’s exciting to be able to shape your own future, to take the reins and decide what you want your life to look like. There are so many possibilities. It’s a real life “choose-your-own-adventure” book.  Sure, it needn’t take a natural disaster to bring about such a profound shift, but it often does take something big to shake us up enough that we get some perspective and reevaluate.  I wish for each of you that you too will find the silver linings in your life.

Posted in Creativity, Home, Mindfulness, Motherhood, Photography, Writing | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

First-world problems

I’m going to a 4-day Mussar conference. As soon as I come back, I have 14 pieces for sale at a school holiday market fundraiser, a kickoff Book Fair planning meeting (agendas and calendars ready), and 2 intimate birthday parties for SG: one Saturday (favors – check) and one Sunday (kitty decor and supplies ordered), plus cupcake toppers for the cupcakes we “have” to take to school, immediately followed by Chanukah.

Let’s add to that that our house plans are done so it is time to pick materials and meet with the builder to finalize the contract and also the bank construction loan, as well as shutting off electric, gas and water to our home so we can demo it before the end of the year. I’m arranging to take down light fixtures we want to keep, as well as sell our air conditioners, oven, and wine fridge. That is enough, however there’s more: we are looking for a house to rent for a January move in. In the last three days we have seen a lot of homes!

So picture me trying to schedule rental house showings having lost my voice (Mr. B says I sound like Demi Moore), driving all over town from one house to another, to the grocery store, to Target, trying to get everything arranged for Mr. B before my trip, hunting down special items at craft stores, and doing it all with glue and paint on my hands.

All that being said, I’m pretty organized and so it’s all mostly taken care of.  The birthday and Chanukah gifts are wrapped and numbered and hidden in my closet.  The art is almost done.  The house rental application is completed.  Lots of hoarse phone calls have been made. I do have a list of other things to accomplish, but it’ll all get done in time.  I’m ready to enjoy my time away and possibly get some rest.

Oh wait… I’m not packed…

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Goodbye to our house

Dear Our House,

Are you still considered an “unresolved loss?” I know that we are saying goodbye to you, but maybe I haven’t fully accepted it because strong emotion sneaks up on me when I least expect it.  In fact, I’m starting to wonder if maybe we were closer than I realized.

I’m making the best of living in an apartment because in my mind, I realize having a place to live is a privilege some do not have.  I kind of still feel like I’m on a long trip and that we will return to you, though I know logically that’s not true.  Our three rooms are not nearly as spacious as your rooms are, and none of the design choices are ones I’ve carefully selected or invested time and money into.

Three months isn’t very much time to be apart when we consider that we’ve been together for 6 ½ years… longer if you consider the months we spent renovating you before we moved in.  While you may have overheard me say that there were aspects of you that we didn’t exactly love, overall we were comfortable and happy living in you.  It’s lovely to feel such contentment and I know all 3 of us and our animals felt settled and enjoyed creating memories together there.

Many of our neighbors are making repairs and plan to move back home in a few months.  We are so happy that they are coming back because we love our neighborhood very much.  Actually, this situation caused us to re-evaluate all of our plans, thinking about where we live and why, only to choose again the same life we had been living, in the same place.  We love our neighborhood: its location, its people, and its sense of community.

I remember that we were returning home from a vacation the day before the Memorial Day flood 2.5 years ago.  Already then, we were driving through rising waters and some streets were impassable.  Waking up the next morning and seeing water covering our lawn and front garden, all the way up to the front step, was a shock. I had to do a triple-take! How does that happen??? Someone was kayaking down our street!  One more inch and we would have had water in our house then too.  Then a year later for the Tax Day flood, we got very close yet again.

In case you’re looking for us or wondering when your repairs will begin, here’s the situation.  Please don’t feel hurt about this because it’s nothing you did. Are you ready to hear this? We aren’t coming back to you.  Yes, you heard me right. We are not returning.

You see, we would always be wondering when some extreme weather event would happen again, leaving us vulnerable to continually feeling unsettled.  And, to us, that is just not what home is supposed to feel like.  I can’t tell you exactly when, but you are going to be destroyed fairly soon and I probably won’t be there to watch. We both know you were built to last. You have a very solid foundation and substantive bones.  That makes it feel worse to me to cause such harm to you, but I don’t feel I have much of a choice.

When water started coming over your threshold, we escaped to our upstairs room above the garage, but I came back a few hours later to unplug the TV and to get a few other boxes.  I may never forget the rush of water flowing into the house as soon as I opened a door.  It came in so fast, there were waves.  It took quite a lot of force to push back against it and close the door again.  Sloshing around in my rain boots, I saw a completely surreal scene. Since you were obviously there to experience it first-hand, I’ll spare you further description.  Over the past couple of weeks, that image of rushing water at my feet has come to mind a few times and every single time, I still can’t believe it happened.  I truly didn’t think we needed to prepare for that kind of thing.

I know we left in a mad rush.  All of a sudden, there were 10 people inside ripping out sheetrock and carpets and counters, exposing all your outer walls. We emptied all your closets, all the way back to the very back where we finally found that box of candles we’ve been looking for for years.  We filled more than 200 contractor trash bags with our ruined belongings.  Your ample storage closets were packed into boxes and labeled and taped shut so quickly that we didn’t make the smartest of decisions in many cases.  My point is that nobody prepared for this event and it continues to feel “unprocessed.”

Let’s not forget that you were home to someone else for 40 years before we got there.  I’d like to honor you for what you were for us while we lived with you.  I want to express my gratitude for your shelter, your particular sounds, and for how safe I felt living with you.  You are strong and solid and built to last.  I thank you for all of that.

* * * * *

We usually entered our house via the door off the driveway and into the kitchen.  Sometimes we were laden with grocery bags or a backpack and library books and we’d set everything down just inside the door.  Sweet Girl and I often sat at the kitchen table to do her homework, she having an after-school snack and me trying to keep her on task. It was a great area because it was close to the living room and dining room.  Many a meal was prepared on your large island and I spent hours at the desk, looking out the front window while paying bills or writing a blog post or organizing one of my volunteer events.  Your kitchen was bright and very much the hub of our home.

The living room was where we gathered as a family to play games or watch a movie together.  There were a couple of times that we moved the furniture to the sides of the room to set up folding tables to host an extended family gathering.  This is where SG would hide behind our curtains to announce herself before climbing atop our ottoman and pretending to be a rock star giving a concert, or where she would lay when she was sick and needed lots of TLC.  This is the room we used when friends came to visit.  We even slept in here when the A/C in the back of the house broke.

Our dining room table was the perfect spot to work a puzzle or do an art project.   We opened Chanukah presents here and had our china cabinet in here too.  It was always nice to look at all our treasures inside of it and remember the story behind each one.  (There is the challah tray we got for our wedding, and the beautiful and colorful glass vases from a dear friend. My grandfather gave us an inscribed silver kiddush cup for our wedding, even though he did not live to be there himself.  We have the gorgeous crystal vase Mr. B received on a sales incentive trip for his hard work.  There is the tzedakah box SG made and decorated out of a PJ Library kit and the one we bought ourselves a few years ago that we thought represented our place in the world at that time.  There’s our main menorah and a little one we received as a gift when SG was born. These things are not lost, but they are in storage for the time being and so we can’t use or admire them, and being apart from them feels strange.)  Since the dining room is at the front of the house, we would often wait here and look out the windows if we were expecting anyone. Then SG would run through the house shouting “They’re here!” or “She’s here” if it were a favorite babysitter.  She never once closed the shutters she opened or put back the dining room chair she moved, did she? The front door never quite closed right, but we loved it nonetheless because we chose it ourselves.

Our office was where Mr. B worked every day for several years. He had piles of business cards on his desk and stacks of papers on the floor behind him.  One April Fool’s Day, SG and I tried to rig up a foghorn-type thing in his desk chair, so that when he sat down… you get the idea.  The walls were decorated with Father’s Day cards and homemade picture frames and artwork.  Then a couple years ago, I got to turn it into an art space for myself.  I found my footing in there as I experimented with many different techniques and worked through some online classes.  The huge bookshelf in there was home to all my favorites, all of which are in storage and all of which I am missing.  I never really thought about how often I would consult one for a remembered passage or to learn about something specific.  I lost all my binders that were full of valued course materials about photography, blogging, publishing, starting a business, etc.

Behind SG’s loft bed, we found a poster we’d made when we moved in. It was a step-by-step guide (with photos) of our bedtime routine.  It is not necessarily a pleasant memory that I used to stay with her as she fell asleep each night, tied to her every waking moment.  But to progress from that routine to where we are now… we were reading underneath the loft bed, cuddled together with a beanbag chair and Grammy-made quilt. And we had finally reached the point where I could say goodnight and actually… Leave. The. Room.  Holy God that was a liberation.  Her room, like any room of a young child, transformed during our time there from little dolls and princesses to chapter books and art projects.  The pink walls became lavender.  The crib became a toddler bed became a double bed became a loft bed.  Diapers became pullups became decorated day-of-the-week undies.

My bedroom, with the screened porch immediately outside it, was my sanctuary.  I would retreat here to the back of the house when I needed to get away from the activity or craziness of the living room.  When I’d open the door to the porch to sit in my egg chair with a book or my computer, Mo would come out to lay in the sunshine or sit near me. We could spend hours sitting watching the birds together.  There was a particular sound I’d hear when the lawn guys would come and use the weed eater against the brick on the side of the house, which was behind our bed.  We would watch the cracks on our ceiling grow over time as the house settled.  I had just hung some large metal prints of some of my photos from our trips over the years.

* * * * *

I remember tiptoeing down the hall into the kitchen in the dark middle of the night to make a cup of tea because I couldn’t sleep.  I remember the very few times I woke up before SG did and savoring a cup of coffee in the quiet living room before the day officially began.

I will miss being in all of my own design choices.  I will miss our sofa that was only 6 months old.  I’ll miss our custom-made living room shelves, the back of which I measured and ordered mirrored glass for, picking it up and driving it (carefully) home myself to place behind the wood shelves.  I will miss seeing the kitchen valances I made out of foam core, batting, and fabric and got lots of compliments on.  I will definitely miss our shutters and shades that I ordered and enjoyed so much.  I’m sad that I lost my bed and SG’s loft bed.

I know, it can all be ordered or bought anew and it’s is “just stuff.” Somehow though, since it was our stuff, it had attached meaning. Everything had experience and memories as part of it.  A kitchen countertop is only a slab of granite, but it’s also where my mother-in-law taught her granddaughter how to make homemade applesauce and where we topped SG’s birthday cakes with candles numbered 3 through 8.  A bathroom consists of the usual amenities, but in this one I remember SG potty-training with her special step stool and little Dora seat with red handles.  This tub was home to many colorful bath concoctions and creative tub drawings.  Our mailbox was just 3 pieces of metal, but the familiar clunk of its lid dropping will probably stay with me forever.  There is the corner in our bedroom where Mo slept every single day, most recently on a tiny quilt that SG and my mom made together. There is the simple Ikea chair that I bought after grad school, struggling to put it together and enjoying it ever since as one of the few items that was truly self-selected and self-built.  There is the bench I used to use as a closet seat to put on shoes or to reach the top shelf… SG secretly decorated with over 100 happy-face stickers a few years ago. I remember being really mad about that at the time, but I have loved it since. It was heartbreaking to see that in the front lawn pile.

Yes, nothing is perfect. Your ceilings were low. We never felt that you let in enough light. I would have loved it if your hallways didn’t feel cave-like. I wish you’d had a real pantry. Yet overall, I loved you. We made you our own before we moved in and then yet again about a year ago with new paint and furniture and lighting.

When you make a house a home, are you not pouring in love and care? That is tough to say goodbye to.  This must be what is catching me unawares and often bringing tears to my eyes.  It isn’t even the tangible loss of walls (though we just bought a brand new roof and that hurts a bit)… it’s memories and feelings and it’s all invisible.  We won’t have these rooms any longer, but I will always treasure the memories and call to mind our time together in fondness and gratitude for what we shared. I’m not there yet though. I’m still lingering in the disbelief and loss part of this particular puzzle. I don’t want to let you go.

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Mixed-media works in progress

These are the canvases I’m excited to get back to now that the word art project is finished.

Layers of paper and paint. This one is finished.

I had some extra paint from another canvas so I just put it on the canvas and played around with a stencil. Definitely not finished!

I love wonky houses… just playing around with this. I think it will have a quotation about family eventually.

This one is going to be for SG. She wants it to say “Home is where you hang your heart.”

Coming along. I added a funky ribbon I found. Probably needs some text and embellishments.

The top one is mostly done. It says “Be the light.”  I’ll probably add some edging.  The bottom one is going to be for SG and will say “Love is in the air.”

My assistant is into the details. And the supplies.

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