I’ve been staring at this screen trying to think of a GOOD topic to write on. A month ago I realized it had been four months since I had posted, and I promised to get back on track “soon.” And now another month has slipped away, and I have not made myself sit in this chair and write something. I feel a little angst…and at the same time, a little anticipation at the wide open options.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t done anything lately. It’s spring time in Virginia,and so the flowers have needed admiring and the scraggly yard has needed attention. The federal government has required I file a tax return. One of my dogs has had an eye infection and needed extra attention.
Plus, I went camping for the first time this season to make sure no leaks and that things I will need for an OCTOBER trip (yeah, I know…talk about a distraction) are on board. Plus, I have been generally “taking possession” of my home and camper in new ways.
This Taking Possession is an important piece of work. Have you done it? Last year, I had one foot in the door and one foot out…so to speak. I had visited Santa Fe and stayed gone for 7 weeks. I had decided to relocate back to Santa Fe, met with a realtor, saw houses, talked to friends and family, made lists of what I need to do, what I had to get rid of, etc. It was overwhelming. Then I got back here to do the packing. I met with my realtor here, met with a mortgage banker, and rearranged some furniture. I was disappointed to realize that this would not be a smart financial move right now given my equity situation. I made a new decision, to wait. I don’t know for how long. I guess until it feels right.
Waiting is hard. It was no fun as a kid waiting for school to start or school to get out or for my birthday or for Christmas. It was no fun as a young adult waiting for “those” 9 months to be over, or for the last day at a not-great job, or for a child to come home at night. It is still no fun as a mature adult to wait in line at the security checkpoint at the airport, or for the buds to open into flowers, or for the deposit to appear in my bank statement. Waiting for it to be The. Right. Time. for anything is never fun.
I’m trying to get better at waiting: voilal! Meditation. Be present, be in the moment, be patient. My history with sitting still and quieting my mind, though, is a mountain to climb. To make it easier, I repurposed my Diva Den, the sitting room next to my master bedroom. When Kevin was here, he watched television downstairs in the Man Cave, so I claimed this little room for me. I did crafting, sat in my massage chair, watched my tv shows, read. Now I can watch movies downstairs, and I seem to prefer crafting at the dining room table. Thus, an unused room. Perfect setting, right?
I went to a class on meditating, and I was inspired by the environment. The next thing I knew, I had bought some framed mirrors at the Habitat ReStore, de-framed them, and hung them on the wall. Then I took a wooden bar from the garage for hanging coats, and I made a ballet barre to use for balance. I laid some foam tiles over the carpet on the floor. I brought up some plants from downstairs. I even found a few cute beaded floor cushions at a local consignment store. I took a picture to send to my friend, and because I happened to show up in the mirror of the pic, she called it my Selfie Studio. And that’s what I call it now, since this room is all about me…myself…and I. It’s the place I let all my stuff not exist for a few minutes.
Most mornings (except for about the last two weeks when I have been lazy) I go in there, do floor exercises and some yoga for about 20-30 minutes, and then I sit quietly and try to meditate. Some days I can do a half hour. Some days I do a half minute. Most days I make it somewhere in the middle. And on the days I do it at all, I always feel better. I am proud of myself for having made myself a priority at last.
Now, you might think that a widow of over four years, who has no outside employment, would be fabulous at making herself a priority pretty much all day, every day. The truth is, it is easy to be lazy or to make excuses, but it is not easy to do self-care. I have 40+ years of experience and culture/tradition of expectation to take care of others, including my dogs now, or my neighbor who needs a ride or a friend who needs support or an organization who needs me to follow through on my membership commitment.
I asked my sisters to join me in a wellness challenge for one month, doing just one thing a day that could be called Self Care. It could be reading, as one of them did. It could be exercise, as the other two tried to do. I tried meditation (and taking my daily vitamin daily). And I did it at least 5/7 days every week for that month. The following month, we couldn’t agree on a challenge theme, and my motivation weakened until it fell apart. Plus it got warmer outside, and I was itching to get my camper out.
The camper actually took a few weeks, since I decided to revamp her, again. I had bought–I mean, the DOGS bought me a fabulous antique quilt at Christmas time, and that became my inspiration for redecorating. I found a plastic beaded chandelier at a thrift store that set the tone for a glamped up style, I made new curtains and pillow shams, I replaced stained kitchen curtains with new flouncy things, a rug her and a set of dishes there, plus a few safety features like a grab bar on the screen door and another railing to get up and down the outside steps, and I was done. I had called her Summer, since her model is Summerland, but now I rechristened her Saffianna. The quilt came from the Santa Fe Antique store, and one of my sisters calls me Pattianna, so I got Sa-Fe-An, which morphed into Saffianna. She’s a real cutie.
It occurred to me that the changes I was making to Saffianna were primarily cosmetic, and they could be changed at any time. I proved that by remaking her last year, and now doing it again. Rightr now, she screams Girl Camper! I have heard people talk about not making changes to their decor or structure because “someday” they might want to sell whatever it is (home, camper, carpet even), and then a buyer won’t like the changes. As if they’d prefer builder basics anyway! I had that thought myself as I hung a chandelier in the camper, and as I hung mirrors (5 of them) on the wall in my Selfie Studio. And I don’t care what anyone else thinks; I like it. I love it!! I live here now, and as long as I am, it’s mine, and it can (and should) reflect me. This is MY place, and I am going to stop being cautious about what the next owner might want.
Home, Sweet Home
With that in mind, I planted more bushes in the back yard, took out some others (along with some trees) in front of the house, and transplanted a clematis from my mailbox to the side of the garage. Permanent changes, more or less; at least until someone else (or me, someday) moves them again.
It feels good to claim this place as mine. I have made baby steps in the past, by repainting the walls (purple in the guest bedroom), or putting up wall stickers, or hanging decor that requires anchors and big screws.
When I was contemplating moving, I thought I would definitely need to get rid of dishes, especially fancy serving ones, but instead, I have purchased THREE SETS of new dishes recently. Two can be seen here.
One was just a pretty setting for four because I liked the butter dish – and what is a butter dish without the salt and pepper shakers, which beg for dessert plates, which must have dipping bowls to go along. Another set was a service for 8. They are white plates with a single red poppy and some greenery. It happens I was a Poppy Queen back in 1976 for the local VFW, so poppies have been a “thing” for me for a long time. They were a surprise find in a consignment store, and I got the entire set for $29. The third set is a kitschy, plastic set of 4 camping plates and bowls. Of course, I still have my Christmas dishes, and my regular everyday dishes, and the extra clear plates, and the pretty set I got for my first wedding. But you know what? I use them. All of them. I have started entertaining friends, having tea in the afternoon or sharing dinner in the evening, or hosting the neighborhood Bunco group, or using my nice trays when I take an appetizer or dessert to a potluck. Who knew it could feel so good to express myself this way?
In my family, we always called Peggy the crafty one. She is the baker, and the painter, and landscaper, and the one who sews or repurposes or creates silk purses out of sow’s ears. But now I know that this doesn’t have to mean I can’t also be crafty. I have gotten good use out of my old sewing machine, and my paint brushes, and my checkbook. Plus my writing. And organizing. And decorating. And relationship-building. Hey, World, I’m crafty!!
I feel good. Really, really good. About the life I have created now. It might not be everyone’s way, but that’s okay. I know that Life wants me to live my own way, not someone else’s. For example, I have learned that there are a lot of ways to meditate besides just sitting on the floor, humming and aching from the pretzel shape I’m in, waiting. So I listen to music when I pull weeds, I stare out the window over the sink when I wash my pretty dishes, I let all three of my dogs flop all over me on the couch. I do the Sunday stroll around the neighborhood on Tuesdays if I want. I reach out when I want company and I decline calls when I don’t feel like talking. And I nap.
Just being is harder than it looks. We are trained from babyhood to be doing. I am fortunate that I can work on this without worrying about going to a day job. I have said often that grieving gives one the gift of time because for a while at least, people just “let you be.” They drop expectations for a few days or weeks. And even a few years later, they casually excuse lapses in what they think is poor judgment because of The Loss, and she was never the same after that. Amen! If I have to be here in this world without him, if I have to fly solo, or choose to stay Solowingnow, then I’m happy for this living laboratory to try out being me in. I’m claiming my place at the fire where I can be silent or tell stories or speak up as I choose.
And now that I have almost finished this post, I feel not just relief for achieving my goal of getting it done, but I feel accomplished, like I may have contributed something to the Greater Good today, a perspective, a distraction, a connection. This is how the world is changed, by our willingness to be our selves. So buy new dishes if you must, or foster (or adopt) one more dog, or spend a few dollars on a cheap thrill at the thrift store, or create something that gives you a smile, even if it’s just pink polka-dotted curtains with fringe on the bottom or white curtains with colored floofy, loopy chenille trim or linen curtains with bouncy red dingle balls trim.
Til the next time, whenever that itch needs to be scratched again, I’m off to let the world know I’m still here!