Summer has arrived in San Francisco, which means it’s grey, dark, cold, and windy.
My daughter is getting married in October. I volunteered my home and garden for the small family gathering. It’ll be lovely I know. Like my daughter (the opposite of Bride-zilla) I was thinking low key. I was thinking easy-peasy.
Until I decided that my unruly and truly neglected back and front yards needed some serious attention. And that I should make the back patio a little bigger, for safety as well as comfort issues.
Then, there was the 104 year old back bedroom window with dry rot. And the 40 year old dining room windows with the ugly aluminum that I’d been wanting to change for ever.
So…. I got new windows last week; and… yeah, there were few problems with the new dining room windows. The window maker was not responsive. $4,000 later, I’d yelp him a bad review, except I hate to do that to anyone. But if you ask me personally who I’d recommend to replace your windows, I’ll be sure to tell you not him.
The new wooden windows of course needed some paint on them… and the paint on the front of the house has been cracking and starting to peel… so… my normally careful and efficient painter arrived this week too. Maybe he was tired and rushed. I don’t know. The other day I spent an hour pulling splattered white paint out of my mostly red Persian carpet in the living room. Another couple of hours scraping up dried paint drips from the hardwood floor. I like this guy so I felt bad telling him about my evening on the floor with the splattered paint. I told him in my nicest way possible, but still he didn’t seem happy to hear it. I’m pretty sure he was mad at me!
I’m trying to stay calm. Complaining doesn’t really help and neither does freaking out. I know everything is impermanent and eventually needs maintenance, moreso when delayed. I’m the envisioner, the contractor, the buck-stops-here person, the decider, the re-decider, the worrier/warrior, the check writer.
My good friend (sister-wife*) Lisa’s kidneys are at the end of their maintenance road. They need either replacement or dialysis. Lisa started dialysis this week. That’s a whole other story, but whew. Wow. She’s a trooper.
Like Lisa and everyone else, I’m also coping (not so well) these days with Trump, Democratic Party tensions (Bernie and Hillary camps), Brexit, Orlando, and the many variations of racism, sexism, and xenophobia dancing crazily around the world — the ongoing-ness of some of these and the not-so-surprising staccato (yes, like an assault weapon) appearance of others.
I try to read enough to know what’s going on locally and globally, but not too much to flatten myself out.
I try to do self-care without doing self-indulgence.
I try not to feel lonely and worried and annoyed when I feel all three.
I try to eat healthy and not too much when I could pretty much eat non-stop all day.
I try to keep perspective and equanimity when I’m feeling overly reactive and dangerously off-balance.
I try to remember that the worst things I say to myself are really just Mara (the evil tempter demon), and that even the Buddha had to contend with Mara up til the very last moment before Enlightenment. Like the Buddha, I say, I see you Mara, which is a step in the right direction. But still Mara is extremely convincing when he is on a negative rant about me.
I wonder why I am not filling my back bedroom with a Syrian family. (please take 5 minutes here — or even one or two — to help me contemplate this).
Ok, I admit it. I was stressed out.
The other day at Creativity Explored there were some volunteer teachers there from an organization in New York City called “loop of the loom”. They were teaching everyone (one at a time) on two different looms this very simple weaving technique called Saori. The results were exquisite. One of the student artists there, after his turn, showed me how to do it.
I chatted with an instructor Yukako Satone, who started the group in New York. She said it’s a form of mindfulness practice. When I told her I’d taught Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, she said, Oh, Jon Kabat-Zinn? Yes! I said.
Poet and artist Keenan was joyful creating a gorgeous piece of weaving.
My little bit of weaving — the red part with the colors. This will be one long weaving with multiple artists participating. I felt so happy my little bit was in there!
Instructors Yukako ( back left) and Ria and Creativity Explored artist Melody
Yukako said if you do this weaving practice for an hour, it will change you. Others were waiting their turn so I only did it for 15 minutes. It was fun, relaxing, and oh so beautiful. It was joyful. Fifteen minutes worth changed me. My mood went from San Francisco summer grey to a real summer day, just like that. I have to find a way to do it again. She said there is a place in Berkeley. I will check it out. Lisa? Go with me?
*sister-wife I’ll explain more in next post.