Home Improvement Therapy

Lately I have been wanting all the home improvements projects done…yesterday. My mind wanders to my to-do list when I should be listening to how Tom’s day was or paying attention in traffic. I have become obsessed, or organized, I am not sure which. I  document my list in my phone’s reminder app. That way I have it handy at all times.

I have been taking pictures of outdoor lighting at Lowe’s, ceiling fans at Home Depot, ordering new exterior shutters — did you know that the size stated on the shutter is not the actual size of the shutter? The Lowe’s man calmly explained it is similar to a 2×4…they are not really 2″ by 4″ either. Who knew? And how is one to get the right size?

I have also been picking paint colors for different projects. I have even purchased my all-time favorite, a can of black spray paint. It is amazing what a little black spray paint can to to refresh worn stuff. I was tempted to give Tom a little squirt today, but thought better of it.

I am familiar with this pattern in myself. I become a DIY maniac when I don’t want to feel something going on in my life.

Landon’s wedding is 2 weeks away and instead of slowing down to feel the full impact of what that means to me, I am spray painting anything that is spray paintable.

The good news is stuff is getting done. The bad news is my back hurts and I don’t have shoes I can wear for longer than 10 minutes for the wedding. I need to be shoe shopping,  instead I am home improving.

I am fully aware I am sublimating, but I don’t really care. As the serenity prayer says, God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I can’t change that I am old enough to have a son marrying. I also can not change that my son is old enough to be marrying. And I certainly can’t change that my mommying days are done. But I can sure as hell can change the color of the fireplace and update our mailbox!!

Here are my before and after pictures. If you like them I do work for hire…

the fireplace before

the fireplace before

 

and after I got through with it...

and after I got through with it…

 

Before a little black spray paint.

Before a little black spray paint.

and after!!

and after!!

I nested before Landon was born. Everything had to be in order and perfect for his arrival. Perhaps this is similar, but this time I am preparing my new nest for me.

Happy home improving to you,

 

waxseal2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mom’s Who Do To Much

The other day a coworker asked what I was doing for Thanksgiving.

nice gloves

 

“Cooking.”

 

She asked if I usually cook Thanksgiving. It struck me as an odd question. Who else would cook?…I am the mom…after all.

 

“Yes, I have cooked, give or take a year, for the past 27 years.”

 

Her eyes got big, “Wow, I never cook Thanksgiving.” Now I was intrigued. She is a mom too. How did she pulled that off?

 

She explained that the first time she cooked a turkey it wasn’t fully cooked when she served it, so her family didn’t want her to be responsible for the next years, or any year after thats’ holiday meal.

 

Brilliant. Why had’t I thought of that? I had, after all, accidentally burned the first shirt my then husband asked me to iron resulting in his never asking again. I had the paradigm. I saw how it worked. I didn’t take the hint.

 

Later that same day, when rescheduling a client, I offered a session the week of Thanksgiving. She declined explaining she will be too busy preparing for Thanksgiving. She was cooking.

 

I thought of the many Thanksgiving weeks that I worked in Pittsburgh while living in Chalk Hill. An hour and a half commute that I returned home from on Wednesday night around 6 or 7. I had made the stuffing, nut bread, and cranberry bread and shopped the weekend before so all that needed to be done to get dinner on the table in the next 20 hours was par boil, peel and make the white sauce for the creamed onions; peel, boil and mash the potatoes; prepare and boil the green beans to toss into the sautéed garlic and chopped shallots; whip the heavy cream into perfect decadence; put the leaf in the table and set it for 8-10 friends and family; panic because every year I seemed to forget the cornucopia themed paper napkins leaving me with Scott Every Days to design the Martha Stewart wannabe table; oh yeah, stuff and cook the turkey.

Apple and pumpkin pie was deliciously prepared by my then Husband. I never learned how to make pies, so he did. (Hint, hint.) Kathleen brought the sweet potato casserole. Heidi another dessert and/or vegetable.

 

This is what I expected of myself. And soon it became what my family expected also. I  trained them well. It never occurred to me that it was too much to do or that I could do less. Especially when working a full week. Out of town no less.

 

It is Thanksgiving again with Christmas right around the corner. And you know I am no easier on myself at Christmas. I usually begin asking myself, sometime the morning of December 26th, why I do this to myself year after year, concluding with my traditional New Years Resolution promising not do so much in the new year.

 

I do it for other reasons too. I do it for the sake of tradition, so my kids have endearing holiday memories, because my mom cooked Mama B’s cornbread stuffing and creamed onions, although she did not work outside of the home and the tension at the well set table of china and sterling usually made dinner a fast and furious event, because when all the preparations are complete and the people I love most in the world are sitting around the table, I feel sweetly and fully blessed.

 

Yesterday I was offering to teach Jena how to make her great grandmothers Alabama corn bread stuffing. (Perhaps unconsciously passing the torch…PLEASE.) Jena said she was planning on being one of those people that never learned to cook. (She does seem to date guys that love to cook.) I heard myself judgmentally ask,”How do you think that will be for your kids?” My question shamed her into retracting her statement saying she was only kidding.

 

As I retold this exchange to Tom I owned how sexist it was of me to assume holiday traditions will be her responsibility.

 

So how does a mom do it? Create tradition, if that is important to her, and not exhaust herself in the process? Ask for more help? Do less? Care less? It is a labor of love that can end in tired resentment.

 

I would love to hear your ideas. How do you do it?

 

And Happy Happy Thanksgiving!

Notice, Notice, Notice

Since I did so well with the 21 day meditation challenge, I signed up for an 8 week mindfulness meditation class at the Center for Integrative Medicine at UPMC based on the work of Jon Kabot-Zinn. It is all about noticing. Not changing, just noticing.

 

I had wanted to take this class for a long time. Despite that I still felt uncertain if I should follow through after attending the introductory class. I told myself the class was going to be too big. I was going to be too tired. I reminded myself that I probably wouldn’t practice anyway, that it would be another thing I tried and then forgot.

 

I couldn’t make my mind up and I didn’t know how to decide. As I looked over the materials given in the intro class, it said a symptom of stress was not being able to make up your mind…hmmmm.

 

I decided to take the class. Continue reading

The Queen of England

Today I got a massage and facial. As I relaxed; steam opening my pores, Audra’s fairy fingers making gentle circles around my eyes; I began to count my blessings. When I left the house this morning our housekeeper was pulling into the driveway. Last night I ordered a great pair of shoes from the Travel Smith catalogue. Tomorrow I have an acupuncture appointment. Next week I have a manicure and pedicure scheduled. I am the luckiest woman alive!

 

Then it hit. My gratitude turned to shame, “Who do I think I am? Really? Who? The Queen of England? I don’t dare tell anyone about all this.” I felt terrible, indulgent, spoiled, after all, there are children starving in Africa. Continue reading

It’s Just Not Right…

I grew up with my mom telling me to, “Watch your mouth!”  She hated when I said I hated something, when I sang at the dinner table, or told her I couldn’t see my mouth so I couldn’t possibly watch it. She even washed my mouth out with soap once. I don’t remember what I said, but the next day I got tonsillitis and my grandmother blamed my mother for giving it to me. I was vindicated.

 

I did, for the most part, try to please my mom. I watched what I said and did. I became so good at it that I developed TMJ before it was called TMJ. My parents thought it was normal that I had to hit the side of my face to get my jaw to open in the morning to eat my Special K cereal.

 

I don’t imagine this was so unusual for those of us raised in the late 50’s-60’s. We were managed to be polite extensions of our parents. It was our job to make them look better than they felt about themselves. Especially us girls.

 

It’s a hard habit to break, this watching your mouth. “What if I offend somebody?” I would worry. My mom told me the reason a boy I liked didn’t call me again is because I told him a story using the word “poop.” She said, “No boy would want to date a girl with a mouth like that.” Fuck.

 

It seems the older I get the less I watch my mouth and the more I speak my mind. I am a lot less tolerant of what I see and experience. I am “mouthier” these days because some things need to be said. I started a list… Continue reading

Did You Know?

…That an adult elephant does not know it can easily pull the stake it is chained to out of the ground because as a baby elephant it tried and couldn’t?

 

…That fish put in a bathtub, while their small bowl is being cleaned, will swim in the same size area as their bowl?

 

…That a baseball player for the Oakland A’s, well known for not being able to make it to second base, overran, then scrambled back to first base on his knees not realizing he had hit a home run?

 

My point you ask? Continue reading

BUTT

I have been mad at my body lately. Maybe most of my life. I was too tall as a girl in the 60’s-so I slouched. My mom would instruct me to, “Stand up straight” then she’d exclaim, “You’re soooo tall.” Relatives would ask her what she fed me.

 

My mom was 5’2. I was 5’10” in middle school. After 20 years of marriage at age 42 I put on a pair of high heels. My husband said, “Oh, now I know why you don’t wear heels, you are really tall.” I didn’t put another pair on until we separated several years later.

 

I was also called “fatty Patti” by my brother and neighborhood kids. My mom countered with, “NO YOU ARE NOT!”, then refused my request for a piece of her freshly baked chocolate cake she. (My friends now call me Patricia, it doesn’t rhythm with fatty.) Continue reading

Fat Free Relationships

I don’t like fat free food. I don’t like low fat food either. I don’t eat it anymore. I used to, believing it was good for me, but I was always hungry. Hunger and I do not get along. I avoid it at all costs. I always know where my next meal is coming from. I decided being hungry and miserable was a greater health risk than eating fat. I threw out the I can’t believe it’s not butter-I could- and returned to It is butter, really.

 

I can tell, on first sip, when my latte is mistakenly made with low fat milk. I use half and half in my coffee at home. There is nothing “light” in my frig.  I would rather not eat ice cream than eat it with all the natural fat sucked out.

 

To justify my rich taste, I read the Fat Fallacy by Will Cower. I remembered my two week trip to France. The French eat whole everything!  They are not overweight and do not have as high an incidence of heart disease as we do. I ate more bread with butter, cheese, cream, ham, pastry and wine while there than I do in two months in Pittsburgh. Surprisingly, I lost weight. I could argue I walked a lot. That being true and significant, the Fat Fallacy suggests we need fat to maintain a good weight. I choose to be a discipline of this belief-we all pick what beliefs we live by.

 

I have the same preference when it comes to my relationships. Continue reading

New View Point

I just returned from seeing my chiropractor. I love her. I have only seen her 5 times, but she had me at the first phone call when she called me…. darlin’. Ususally I recoil when other women call me honey, darlin’, or sweetheart, but her warmth and seeming “comfort within her own skin” transformed my automatic response to one of feeling “taken in” by her.

I like when I allow my self to have a different reaction. And I am sometimes in awe of that shift. How can exactly the same event produce different reactions in me?

The difference is in me.  If I see things the way I always see them… life  will always look the same. In my office I face a wall with a relatively plain decor, except for a painted cloud and flying fairy. My clients face a dramatic view, a large piece of driftwood, red steel girders , and a woven tapestry rug. We are both in the same room, but viewing it from different angles.

Sometimes I lie on the floor to change my vantage point, (try it- the room looks very different.) Or, I contort myself to look at the world upside down. I am always amazed at how much I notice when I change my position (literally and figuratively) and how different life looks.

I like my life better when my emotional responses can be varied.  I stay more interested….