It was so nice to have a long weekend. Somehow we got plenty done, did some fun things, caught up with friends and family, and had some naps dabbled within all that. Saturday we napped in the late afternoon (so nice)! Saturday night I fell asleep snuggled on Chris’ nap, and then Sunday we had brunch and I curled up next to him on the couch for a snooze, only to find out my snuggling with him made him fall asleep sitting up. Ah, how nice naps are for adults.
It was an interesting weekend, on Sunday I was quite cranky, and then two random acts of kindness happened to me (and yet I was still cranky). The first happened at the Starbucks drive-thru. I was very thirsty, as all weekend it was between 97-102 degrees which almost never happens in Portland, and definitely not before July 4th. Usually we are just hoping for a slightly warm and dry 4th. This year we got dry and hot-as-hell too. Chris and I spent most of our time in our bedroom where we have air conditioning.
So back to the random acts of kindness at Starbucks. When we got up to the window to pay, the girl at the window said, “The woman in the car ahead of you paid for your drink.” Wow. I always hear of that happening, but it has never happened to me (that I can remember). It makes me want to pay it forward the next time I am at Starbucks. You would have thought that would have lightened my mood. It made me grateful and appreciative, but nonetheless I was still cranky.
Random act of kindness #2. We were at Sephora. Not my favorite place in the world. It was loud, (and remember I was cranky). The line was long and I was done with my errands and just wanted to go home. As I am next in line at the register, the girl who had just paid turns to me and says, “Would you like to use the rest of this gift card? There is only a dollar left.” I was a bit taken aback. Sure, it was only a dollar, but she did not have to pass it on. Most people would keep it until their next purchase. Of course, she might dislike the store as much as me, and hope not to go back. In any case, I think I was a bit shocked at the second act of kindness in one day. I mumbled a “thanks” and continued with my purchase. Later, though I felt like my shock meant I did not share my gratitude in the best of ways. Sure, it was a dollar, but sharing is sharing.
This was my story of the kindness that was shared with me yesterday, now it is my turn to pass on the love. Join me?
I remember her two bedroom, one bathroom apartment. Looking back I am horrified that she lived there. Old linoleum and cabinets, even older carpeting, and I will not even start on the yellow bathtub and red carpeting in the bathroom — who puts carpeting in a bathroom, let alone a rental apartment? She lived there for at least ten years if not longer. All of her furniture was given to her by family over the years, and she cherished every piece she owned. Right down to the costume jewelry she owned.
I can remember sitting at her dressing table (that was used as a desk and was never used as a dressing table). There were three drawers on each side, and a narrow, long drawer in the middle. She kept each necklace and bracelet and pair of earrings in their own separate box. You know, the kind that you purchased the jewelry in. She kept the cotton filler intact, and stored each piece in that box, which often told you where the purchase was made. I would often adventure to the table and want to try each piece on and play with alternating the fake pearls with the gaudy earrings. She did not have her ears pierced, they were all clip on earrings (and I thought they hurt horribly) but put them on anyways.
It was not that she hated my trying it all on, I think she just wanted to keep everything in its proper place and well I was a fast little one and she could not keep up. I sensed her hesitation and I also always felt like I should not even ask to try it on. It was all fake costume jewelry so what was her hesitation? Today, I am not a fan of costume jewelry. I prefer the one-of-a-kind version, where almost no one has that piece that I do. Maybe the few times I played with her costume jewelry got the desire for it out of my system.
Over the weekend, I finished reading: “What Comes Next and How to Like It: A Memoir” by Abigail Thomas. A memoir where the author is aging and she talks about her husbands, growing old, her kids, and grandkids. This portion made me think of my grandma, her apartment, costume jewelry, and how different she lived than I do today.
“Somehow it is more interesting to find something beat-up and handled than to get it new. My bureau drawers are stuffed with god knows what, and my daughters always go through them when they are here. It is a compulsion. My theory is that they are looking for the secret, the answer, the explanation for everything.” Page 72
Did those drawers hold any secrets or answers? Did I wonder if I would ever have such drawers and if I would allow my grandkids to unearth the treasures to see what they might hold in their eyes of wonder? Maybe.
I am someone who has incredibly high expectations. I am not sure when in my life it happened that my standards became so high. I was joking with a few colleagues the other day about how I was raised and how my dad used to vehemently remind us to do it right the first time. I know there are many ways of looking at the world, and that making mistakes is one where we learn the most. That, however, was not how I was raised. I distinctly remember a few specific examples. One time my sister and I were asked to clean our room (we shared a room). We cleaned it, but not to my dad’s standards. When we got home from wherever we were that afternoon, we walked into our room and found every drawer of our respective dressers empty, and every desk drawer empty, and the contents of our shared closet all sat in a massive mixed pile in the middle of the room. I remember him barking some sort of comment to us: “Maybe next time you’ll do it right the first time.”
I was horrified. I do not remember how long it took us to clean it up, or what my sister and I discussed during the process, but I will never forget what my room looked like that day. Now, I can think about a million other ways to get through to kids, and whether my dad was right or wrong, he was definitely creative about getting our attention. He also was a bit scary. I do think his “get it right the first time” mantra in some ways made me use problem solving tactics and critical thinking skills at an early age. You see, my dad could turn a million different ways and I had to be prepared for it, so I thought: “if I do this, what will be the outcome?” or “how about if I do that?” I was not always so savvy to be prepared for how he might react, but I was definitely aware of the consequences of my actions. Never mind that I probably should have just been out playing.
There was another occasion when it was my chore to scrub the bathtub, specifically the soap scum ring. On one occasion when my dad inspected the bathtub (it was a pink bathtub too), to see if it passed his inspection, he decided it was not clean enough and that I needed to start again. In order to ensure I would have to clean the entire bathtub again (and not just work on the soap scum) he poured ketchup into the tub. Again I was horrified. I just wanted him to show me where I missed a spot, and give me a chance to fix it. Starting again felt so unfair. Maybe that is why I detest cleaning the shower/bathtub (thank you Chris).
Did my dad ingrain in me the desire for higher standards? Maybe. Did he know he was doing it? I do not think so. I think I am a by-product of finding creative ways of knowing I had dotted all my i’s and crossed my t’s. I had a backup plan for my backup plan. My brain constantly looks for all the different scenarios and which ones to stay away from and which ones lead to the best possible scenario. It has helped me at home and in my professional life. There are way better ways to teach critical thinking skills and to learn consequences for different choices. I will not be passing on the ways of my father.
What does home mean to you? I was recently inspired by a blog post on Home by DesignSponge. It made me start to think about the different homes, dorm rooms, apartments, and condos I have lived in throughout my life. What made them home to me? My response: lots of things.
Growing up I do not remember specific things that made me feel at home. I guess I never had futuristic thinking or knowledge to know that after the age of twelve, I would never have a room to come home to that was my own. Once I learned that, I began to make each current “home” as comfortable to me as possible. In college that meant that my bed was the best place in my dorm room. I saved up from babysitting so I could purchase a feather bed, a feather comforter, amazing sheets, and, you might have guessed it, feather pillows. It was my home.
Gradually over the years, my bed was still very important, and I maintained the high quality sheets and of course, feathers, but as the size of my home evolved from a dorm room to an apartment, to a condo, to a house, so did my expanded of sense of home. Now, my sense of home is still very rooted in my actual house. My bed, the art, how it is organized, how clean it is, etc. all ground me and make me feel comfortable and at home.
Just like the saying goes: “Home is where the heart is.” That is true, and so in true form, Chris is my home. When we are together in someone else’s home, in a hotel, whenever or wherever we are together, I feel at home. One of my favorite things to do is to continue to make our house our home…together.
One last thing. I want to create a print and frame it that says: “You are responsible for the energy you bring into this home.” This is something that I have thought about over and over again in the past year. What energy am I bringing into other people’s homes and vice versa. What if we always thought of that before we enter any home, workplace, or commercial establishment?