Monday, February 22, 2021

Home

I grew up in the beautiful town of Andover, Massachusetts. I lived on Central Street, which is a main thoroughfare and one of the loveliest you'll ever find. In fact, a few years back, a magazine named it one of the 10 prettiest streets in New England. 

The top section of Central Street is lined with large, traditional New England homes, and a few mansions, like this one. 




Once you crest the hill and head down toward the Horn Bridge, the homes become smaller, and shall we say, more normal. Ours was a  Cape Cod-style house. It sits on a curve, at the foot of one hill and the top of the another. Everyone of my generation from town knows our house, because you see it the moment you crest the hill coming up from the bridge, and because sometime in the 1960's, my mother got the idea to paint it red. 

Now, red Capes were traditional in New England in Colonial times, just not in the 1960's. At that time, the only red houses in town were the brick ones. 

My mother didn't usually color outside the lines, but in this case, she knew what she wanted - red with white trim and black shutters, and she went for it.

People freaked out at first because the primer that had to go under the red was pink, and for a while the neighbors were worried we were painting the house pink. That was kind of fun, because sometimes some of the neighbors could be snobbish. I remember Mom having a bit of a giggle over yanking their chains.




My parents bought that house, new, in the early 1950's for $14,000. All three of us Goodwin kids grew up there and Mom and Dad lived in it for 54 years. Mom eventually had Alzheimer's and then Dad had a stroke, so we had to sell around 2006. Since then, it's been bought and sold a few times, and painted a rather pretty shade of gray-green. 

Everyone who knew the house when it when it was red is upset that it isn't red anymore. 

The house is for sale again. The price is $569,000. It's only about 1600 square feet and has no garage. But that's what you can get now for a house on one of the 10 prettiest streets in New England. 

Here's the photo from the listing. 


So, this "H" post turned out to be basically about this house. Even though I really wanted to live in one of the big houses up the street, this house was very much a home. We were a nice little, generally happy family. My parents were, like all humans, imperfect. But they were kind, they loved us, never mistreated us, and  kept us safe. 

I remember the feeling I always had when I'd come over the top of the hill after walking past all the big houses and imaging what they were like inside, and then glimpse our little one below. My heart would swell with love and joy and almost burst with the word, Home. Home. Home

I remember being shocked when I got older and discovered that not everyone grew up in peaceful and safe homes, including some who grew up in those big fancy houses up the street. I always joked about what an uneventful childhood I had, but I see that now for the gift that it is. I hadn't realized how lucky we were, in our cozy little Cape, where the cabinet doors never stayed shut, the windows stuck open, and nothing ever seemed to work properly.

If I had money to burn, I'd buy the house and get Chip and Joanna Gaines to do a fixer-upper on it. Then I'd have them paint it red again. Because even though this new color is pretty, it's very ordinary.  The house was a home, and it was ours, and that made it special, and when Mom painted it red, it was like saying that out loud. She knew what she was doing.

****After I put the post up, a friend was able to provide me with a photo of our house in 2005, about the time we were selling it. It was still red then, and you can see the bay windows in front were still there, and Mom's little greenhouse window on the side. I remember when she had that window put in.





Monday, February 15, 2021

Going

I picked going for my G post, because I have a little secret to share: 

I really like not going anywhere.

Shhh...don't tell anyone.

When we were first together, Dick was our trip planner. Back in the day, he used a travel agent - remember travel agents?  Our top destinations then were Caribbean islands and Quebec. In particular, we fell in love with Aruba and with Old Quebec City, which we call "Our Paris." Pretty much all our free time (and some work-hours time) day-dreaming  dwelt on our next visit to these places. We simply couldn't wait to go.

Here are a few pictures from the last time we were in Quebec:

  

  




In recent years, we were lucky to be able to revisit places we love in the southwest and northeast. On our trip to Santa Fe, NM in September of 2019, Dick realized that his Parkinson's makes it too difficult for him to travel - it's very disruptive to his nervous system. So we knew it would be the last trip we would take anywhere far, or by air. 

These are from that Santa Fe trip:

  

  


It felt a little sad, but we also knew we'd been fortunate to go to so many wonderful places over the years. So it was kind of like, "Well, we had a good run!" And part of me was relieved, because the traveling had become stressful as the result of its effects on Dick. 

Then 2020 hit us with a pandemic, and suddenly everyone was in the same boat. No one could go anywhere.  Whatever sting might have lingered over our inability to travel was mitigated by the fact that, had we planned a trip, we wouldn't have been able to go anyway!

Now we are closing in on a year of no-go, and I have moved into a rhythm of my days that I really cherish. Some might call it dull, but I call it simple, abundant, and peaceful. The less I have to go anywhere, the less I want to go anywhere.

Some people are chomping at the bit to get out there and GO! I don't blame them, and it will be nice for the world to move forward again. But just living each day without always making plans has been nice, and I'm not wishing the time away. I'm happy just hanging out here with Dick and the ducks.




Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Fog

This week, I have to draw my inspiration from the letter F. Well, I don't have to, but that's the challenge I've given myself. Nothing was coming to me, though occasionally the word fog did come to mind. 

I thought of a number of other F words (hey - I'm from Massachusetts and F words are about 90% of our vocabulary), but none of them felt like anything I really wanted to delve into. Polite F words like forgiveness , family, friendship or fortitude seemed too big. Ugh - who wants to delve into all that bigness? 

There was a layer of fog hanging over the pond when I got up this morning. Ahhhh, I thought, a message from the universe. Fog must be the word. 

I took a picture, just so you wouldn't think I made it up about about the fog.




Despite the universe's nudge, I didn't feel inspired to write about fog. My brain felt too tired. That's when another F word came to mind: funk. I think I'm in a little February funk. Last week, I was all bouncy and full of inspiration. I worked on a poem, sent off an article query and taught a workshop. But this week, I got nuthin'. Maybe it's the weather, which suddenly turned warm and humid. I liked our cold spells better. 

Maybe I used all my inspiration last week and need to let the well fill back up. Geez, even that metaphor was dull....

The fog was gone by 9 a.m. I went for a walk, trimmed the Aricas and vacuumed the lanai. All that made me feel less funky, a lot hungry and wanting a nap.

So, there it is., a not very fabulous F post. In an effort to insert a smidge of insight, I'll go with this: It's okay to be in a fog or a funk and not very inspired sometimes. It'll pass.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Expectation

A few days ago, I flipped back through my journal to the entries I made this time last year. It was interesting to revisit what I was thinking about at the start of 2020, and particularly, the expectations  that lay beneath.


My sweet, innocent little journal

I had hopes and a few plans for how I would steer my life and what I would accomplish. Underlying those aspirations was one key expectation: that the foundations of daily life would, more or less, continue as they had been.

By the beginning of March, all of our expectations were out the window. But I think we all hoped, and innocently thought, that the disruption of our daily lives by the pandemic wouldn't last long. A few months and we'd be back to "normal."

Closing in on a year later, we - I - couldn't have been more wrong. Normal is gone. Daily life is completely different. So much has changed. And we're still in it.




As a yoga teacher and long-time practitioner, I practice with and teach the concept of impermanence on a regular basis. It's at the heart of yoga, this idea of coming to accept that, in time, everything changes, everything ends, and something new begins. The practice of not clinging to - or rejecting - what is. The practice of acceptance. But it's an intellectual exercise until something comes along that forces us to really put it into practice - like a pandemic! 

I think back to the many expectations I had for my life - hopes, dreams, plans. I worked hard to make many dreams come true. I implemented many plans quite well. But nothing, not one single thing I had imagined, was as I had expected it would be.

I expected that when I realized my material dreams, I would be happy. I wasn't! 

I expected that my parents would live to a ripe old age, safe and happy in the home they raised us in, and die peacefully in their sleep. I never saw my mother's Alzheimer's or my dad's stroke coming.

When we worried about Dick's health, it was about his heart. His dad died of a heart attack in his early 60's, and Dick had a small one at the age of 49. He's had no heart issues since, but what we never expected was Parkinson's.

2020 may have brought you many changes that have been and remain extremely difficult. Or, it may have caused you to look at how you were living and make changes for the better. Either way, I guarantee your life over the past year was not a bit like what you expected. Mine either.

Once we emerge from the pandemic - which we will, because this too shall pass - I don't think anyone could blame us for wanting to feel "safe" again, even if safe is an illusion. We never know what will happen. So we have to find a way to incorporate our newly heightened awareness of impermanence into how we go about our daily lives, without it being limiting or debilitating.

2020 gave us a lesson in non-attachment and acceptance that we won't soon forget, and I don't think that's a bad thing. I know that I feel a much greater sense of what Pema Chodron calls, "the comings and goings of things." And I am deeply reminded not to take anything for granted.

When thinking about my "E" post, I kept thinking about elephants. In yoga, Ganesha, the elephant god, is the remover of obstacles and the bringer of abundance. So, here's a picture of cute baby elephants and one of Ganesha.