Wednesday, September 24, 2014


There are other things on my mind, which I'm sure I'll find the words to write about, soon. But today what I want to write about is this:

I don't love my house. I love coming home because of the people in it, and because of what it represents -- a space set apart just for us, for our little family -- but the house itself... Stresses me out. That fact has been bothering me for days, weeks, months, years. But it's weighing on me especially heavily this last week or two.

My Grandpa died on Friday. I know I've written about him here at great length. He was... When you do metta meditation, you start by sending good stuff, good thoughts, to yourself, and then you send good stuff to people who are easy to love (before moving on to send good stuff to neutral people, and then more challenging people, and then the whole universe). People who are always on your side.  People to whom your compassion flows without even conscious effort. When I do metta meditation, after Sarah and Joe, Grandma and Grandpa are always the first people I think of. The first ones to whom my compassion and love flow without any conscious effort on my part. I value my parents so much, and I appreciate so much of their legacy and so many of their lessons to me. And my sister and aunts and uncles and cousins and my entire extended family. So many rich traditions and loving connections. But my grandparents are in a class by themselves. Have been in a class by themselves.

I grew up around the corner from Grandma and Grandpa. They watched us before and after school every day from Kindergarten through 5th grade. Eating farina or oatmeal in the morning at their diningroom table; doing homework after school; watching The Amazing Spiderman or Grandma's shows after school; having chicken noodle soup or stuffed shells or a casserole for dinner while waiting for our parents to get home. Drawing on the scraps of blank newsprint Grandpa would bring home. When I walked Patches at night, from the time I was 15 until I left for college, any time they were out in their yard I would stop for a bit, sit on one of the folding chairs and have a glass of iced tea and listen to the radio with Grandpa, or walk further back into the yard with him so he could show me the stars, and tell me about the planets that were visible that night. When I was 19 he taught me to drive and in return I started mowing their lawn every week. A job that remained primarily mine until just a few years ago (I took a break the summer after Sarah was born, and the last few years the job has fallen to other family members and neighbors, but most summers for the last 23 years found me in their yard every other week, mowing that lawn under Grandpa's watchful eye). After Sarah was born, she and I fell into a tradition of visiting Grandma and Grandpa once a week. The years we've been involved with one school or another, our visits fell to one every month or two. But for most of the last 13 years, it was every week like clockwork.

He advised me, over and over through the years, to pray for my vocation. He talked about how lucky he was to stumble across the job he held for most of his life, as a typesetter for the New York Times. He never said it explicitly, but he made it clear through the life he lived that a good job is one that gives you the time and space and resources to make a good home. To have a place and have the time and the resources to focus your life on friends and family, music and good works and a connection to the earth and to, as he would have put it, the Good Lord. A connection to the Universe, to the Divine, to your best self and the highest good of those around you.

Turns out I wound up writing about some of those other things on my mind, after all.

I hadn't intended to write about it today, I didn't think I was ready to put it down in text, but obviously it's Grandpa's legacy, and his connection to his home and his land, and my connection to his home and his land, that have me feeling so deeply compelled to do something about the state of my own home and my own land.

I'd been thinking about it already, before hearing about Grandpa on Friday, that I'd like to spend the next year-and-a-litte-bit preparing a birthday present for myself, for the birthday after this one -- to make my home somewhere I actually enjoy spending time. Trying to do something, anything, toward that goal every day.

Today I spent half an hour tidying up (things have been hectic, this last week, and the house is showing the effects) and half an hour decluttering. I decided to start by focusing on the hallway upstairs, where we've fallen into a bad habit of stashing things that have nowhere else to go. So nice to see what a difference half an hour makes...

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I started the following post right before school started, ran out of time to finish it, and then dumped water on my laptop turning it into a very expensive paperweight. I totally forgot that of course the site would have saved what I'd written up. So consider this the perspective of the very start of September...

Last week was Staff Enrichment Week. We practiced mindfulness techniques, reflected on last year, went over and updated a variety of staff policies, gave each other workshops on different tools we learned about at various professional conferences last year, practiced our conflict resolution skills, planned the first week of school, discussed the feedback we'd gotten from students and parents last year, had a workshop on how to be more awesome mentors and how our mentor program will change this year... Oh, and got certified in first aid and CPR.

We ended the week with a quick and dirty brainstorm of everything else that needs to be done or decided before the first day of school, and I'm going to be spending the next couple days getting my part of that gargantuan list taken care of

Friday we managed to fit in a really lovely interlude with a group of our homeschool friends. A picnic at the park, sitting under the trees by the water -- moms at one table, teens at their own table, having their own conversation, sometimes wandering off to other parts of the park. Such a very different experience from when we all started hanging out, 8 or 9 or 10 years ago.

Saturday was a coming of age ceremony for a young friend of ours. It's the third one I've attended, and the first one I didn't lead or help lead. I love that every one has been so different, reflecting the personality of each individual young woman, and the traditions of each family.

I'm working almost every waking moment, right now. That should end with the first day of school, and I should be able to shift into the rhythms and daily routines I've planned out. I hope.

This work is... It's the thing I want to spend the rest of my working years doing. It's deeply satisfying and meaningful to me. But I'm really done with it taking over my waking hours.