Home Depot

This is it.

I was doing my best to stay back from the people in front of me as my face covering kept slipping. My efforts to create the six-feet distance seemed silly as others swarmed around me in the busy store. Like a salmon unsure of how to swim upstream, I tentatively wrapped my little fins around me wondering if this big ol’ river was safe. As I followed my husband through the aisles, I looked ahead and watched a man pause.

As he stood still, I did too, waiting to move forward as I kept my space.

This man removed his mask, sneezed, and then put the face covering back on.

I was furious.

“You wear the mask to stop the sneeze!” I thought to myself “Ohhhhh my Gosh!”

I wanted to pull my hair, to yell at him, to shriek what the heck he was missing! I felt my muscles tense and my annoyance rise. I’ve never hated being around people more. 

I stood still longer, silently praying thanks for my own face mask and wondering how long it takes for germs to disperse before I walked through his invisible, fearful cloud of possible germs. 

I continued forward and was uncomfortable for the next twenty minutes we spent in Home Depot. Get in, get our supplies, get out.

I know I can’t be the only one worried in public places and at the same time, by the looks of things, there are thousands of people not worrying as much as me.

Our neighbors are gathering and stores are busy and friends are posting pictures of time spent on the lake. I’m still sitting, writing from my couch, wondering what dials will have to turn for me to feel safe again out in the world. I miss my mom and want a hug and wonder when my brother will be able to go back to work. This isn’t fun.

We drove back home and washed our hands and wiped down the cans of paint we purchased with off-brand, lemon-scented cleaner because Clorox wipes are still nowhere to be found.

Later in the evening, I turned on an old favorite movie, About Time. The main character Tim has the gift of being able to travel back in time and can re-live any day he chooses. There are consequences of the re-dos but mostly, his gift gives him the ability to live less anxiously, be more present, and delight in the extraordinary ordinary things around him. The things we worry about are easier to face if we know the outcomes don’t cause us pain.

I kept thinking while watching the movie, if I went back to today two weeks from now and stood in that same concrete, box store would I be kinder to the man who sneezed if I knew I wasn’t infected. I would have gone down a different aisle. I would have pulled Dylan closer and slowed my breathing. Or would I have chosen to avoid that store all together?

What would I do differently if I knew now what I’ll know in two weeks? The exercise is exhausting, isn’t it?

Here’s what I know now.

This is it.

We don’t get a do over. I don’t get to go back.

I may have to spend much of my thirty second year in my house, wondering, waiting, worrying.

When they say it is safe again, I’ll wander out and get emotional about sitting in a public park and plan vacations and toast champagne at weddings and still, new anxieties will present themselves. The world will give me something else to be scared of.

Moving through things doesn’t erase fears – the process of arriving on the other side means I’ll place my anxious claws into something else. Worrying and wondering just wastes my time today.

This is it.

How can I live differently here in these pandemic days while I wait?

I asked my friend to pray for me – may I have compassion for the people who aren’t taking this as seriously as I am. Compassion for myself and my family. May I be at peace. May I use my creative energy to invest in the things I love to do, even while home. May I honor the outbursts and fits and tears coming from the stress of this global melt down.

Our world is changed and my little world, here on the big blue couch with the sun streaming in, still offers a chance for peace. I may be missing out, but this won’t be forever.

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The sun is up. The garden is being watered. The coffee is hot. Books begging to be read beckon. I’m breathing.

This is my life, here and now.

As Tim says, “We’re all traveling through time together every day of our lives. All we can do is do our best to relish this remarkable ride.”

What a beautiful thing.

Home and Routine and Clean

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We just took a walk around the block. The sun is setting earlier these days, and I did not want to miss the last few rays of the weekend. As we rounded the corner, and stepped back onto our street, I inhaled deeply. Weekend walks smell like laundry detergent. I find it comforting to know that people are managing their chores – not for the sense of accomplishment – but rather the commonality that we all have dirty things to tend to. Laundry detergent smells deliciously comforting, like home and routine and clean.

Home and routine and clean. These are three factors that have been essential to survival this year. When the outside world doesn’t make sense, and my own heart has been learning to heal, my home, a gently forced schedule, and chores seem to be what have grounded me.

And so, this weekend, I am thankful for the absolutely ordinary. Because coming out of loss after loss feels anything but.

I am thankful for the excitement that going on a simple date night provides. For the beauty in tacos, a new restaurant to try, the two dollar movie theater. I am thankful for the beautiful resources that allow us to spend time together, laugh at clever children’s movies, and for gift cards that allow date night to cost only $3.86.

I am thankful that after that date we came home and did chores. I cleaned the bathroom, Dylan started a new home improvement project. When gratitude sweeps its beautiful arms around us, I start to think, “Oh my goodness what a gift it is to have our very own toilet to clean.” And I mean this with sincerity, because many people don’t have such a thing.

I am thankful for creativity, and Home Depot, and the amazing miracle that it is that we can drive to a store that is filled with an aisle devoted to screws. We live in abundance, and this gift is going to help my husband recreate our banisters. I am excited to see the finished project.

I am thankful for my crockpot, and the way the smell of bacon fills up the house after you make B.L.Ts for lunch (well actually just B.A.L.s – we didn’t have tomato, so I replaced with avocado.) I’m looking forward to the soup that has been simmering on my counter all day long.

I am thankful for baking, chocolate chips, and bloggers like Amanda Rettke who devote their time and talents to sharing their treats with me. I am thankful for  an oven and the appreciation of sweet things. Sundays are for baking.

Treats are so important. Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies even more so.

These components all seem rather ordinary on the surface. For me, they are a beacon of hope that we can return to the basics of what make up our lives. Even chocolate chips make a difference.

 

Work in Progress

You know that Home Depot commercial, or maybe it’s Lowes, with the young couple flirting their way through painting a room in their half furnished house? The woman’s hair is pushed into one of those unattainable messy pony tails, the sprigs of hair perfectly framing her face, while the man’s navy shirt accentuates his nice muscles as he applies paint to a wall with a roller. As he writes a love note on the wall with a nice ocher color, she basks in his cleverness. Joyful music plays and the advertisement laughingly suggests, ‘Oh if you only buy from us, how blissful this process of home improvement can be.’

That was us this weekend! My hair perfectly poised atop my head as we worked as a team to start the process of repainting our multi-colored house. Not.

There were no love notes rolled onto the wall, no drama either, but instead the shocking realization that, dang it, the color Dylan wanted is way more, well….white, than previously anticipated. Two coats of Behr Ultra paint and $30 in and we are probably going to start over.

Fast forward to Sunday afternoon at around 3 pm. I am yelling instructions off of the online manual from inside our kitchen through the space in the sliding door as Dylan crouches under our deck, attempting to drain the hot tub we inherited in the move (long story – I’d be happy to share if you are interested). “Pull the black plug towards you and attach it to the hose,” I yell. “There is no black plug Katie,” he responds. “Find the number to the Aqua Spas place!”

Five hours, lots of gallons of water thrown on our lawn from a bucket, a headlamp, teamwork, and $70 of hot tub chemicals later the silly machine has been drained and the water replaced.  The pH strips tell us we are ready to enjoy our spa without the harrowing effects of well, too much acid to soak in. Good to go for the next six months.

This weekend our projects felt like works in progress. I am a finisher, according to all the personality tests out there, and so these open ended projects drive me nuts! I want deadlines and to wipe my hands on my dirty paint stained pants and to look at the wall and say, “All in a day’s work.” It’s going to take us longer than that. As I sit and write this, I stare lovingly at a lemon yellow wall in our den, windows without coverings, and I can peek into the half finished room of white white white. I have to remind myself that this adventure we just embarked on is a continuous journey in improvement.

Life. Is. A. Work. In. Progress.

It took the blessing of homeownership and the last eight weeks for me to realize I am, in no way, going to figure out this thing called life in a weekend. I can set goals and learn as I go, and call and ask for help but the beauty is in the progress. I am thrilled we chose to steer away from a “fixer-uper”. I would have gone crazy.

I love this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote. It’s going to be my mantra for the rest of the year.

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I can’t function any other way and their is beauty in that. Too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. Progress, not perfection.

Nails are a mess and biscotti has been non-existent for months. Progress, not perfection.