The Making of a Home

My mother and father were masters at making a house a home.  No green grass grew under their fast and furious feet to ensure a full, fun, free existence for my brother, sister and I.  Childhood memories flood my mind, fill my heart as I place greater attention and care on the making of our house, a home here in the wine country.  

After living in our homestead for 13 years, a makeover was clearly in order.  There was something in particular, in character that I wanted to create for our home, but I didn’t know exactly what it was at the time: warm, yes; inviting–of course, but I wanted something more.  Slow but sure, we were bringing, this well-worn, good and tired home back to life, back to its core purpose. 

The paint looked old, chipped, faint to the eye.  For a year, Dan and I have been painting each room of the house (not without the muttering of profane words under our breath) to bring rich color and newness to our walls.  For the kitchen and downstairs bathroom, we chose a sage green color.  The t.v. room displays a delicious brown bag color.  For our foyer, we went with a deep port red and brown bag accent.  For our dinning room, a whimsy beige. 

Upstairs, I converted our loft into a Santa Fe styled setting with adobe clay textured paint.  We painted our master bedroom a soft yellow to go with our cherry wood furniture.  My son’s room is a Labrador Blue and brown.  Would you believe, I painted the white gutters above our garage as they showed rust and dirt for everyone to see?  I had to get rid of that!  What would people say?  And I couldn’t look at the brown on white stains one more day.

The long project list continues: staining the deck a redwood tint; going through belongings we have grown out of, whether it be physically, mentally, or spiritually: clothes, toys, books, etc . I know these possessions would best serve another family, another household than ours now. 

I realized, after all this painting and discarding that what makes a house a home for me is the peace and understanding that dwells inside it.  I always dreamed of living in a home, like I have now–sunny and soulful, but my real dream house had to breathe peacefully inside these four walls to be called home. 

I smile, facing the good, bad and ugly of this life and know that I can find solace and serenity in this corner spot of Sonoma we created with family, friends, pets, the garden all here to bring peace and life to each day.

“He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.” –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (German Playwright, Poet and Novelist)


A Woman’s Pilgrimage

For a while now, I have been meditating on what I want to do with my life once my children leave home.  In 2002, after 25 years of working in corporate management, I left that demanding world and slipped sweetly into the full-time role of mother without trepidation or regret.  I found home in the rightness of my life, in the immediacy of now, in the juice of life’s present moments.

Years have passed and with my eldest boy entering high school and my youngest soon to complete elementary, I sense the natural fork in the road approaching, when one day my boys’ lives will go in one direction and mine will go in another.  Where the practice of letting go will become more of a necessity, than the day in and day out control and gentle guidance that comes with parenting.

I am still in the ‘thick of it all’, my boys remain (inter) dependent on me, not fully grown and gone yet, and I have no intention of rushing this season of true happiness, but change is in the air, it is a comin’.

As I look more closely at my own life, I feel compelled, pulled, called to take a spiritual and literary journey, a quest for the truth, a woman’s pilgrimage to writers’ and artists’ birthplaces and sanctuaries throughout not just the United States, but foreign lands.  To travel near or far and rediscover their timeless writings, relish in their art, uncover their eccentric and/or simple ways, relive their passions for living, and share their profound philosophies on the meaning of it all.

Right here in the wine country, the spirits of Jack London and M.F.K. Fisher inspire me to visit and write of ‘turning point’ moments in their lives, of London’s love of the wild, of Fisher’s love of pots and pans–letting their thoughts, words, passions and writings breathe into mine.  Further south, John Steinbeck and Henry Miller, to name just a few call to me to write of their one time on this precious earth.

Circling with the literary, artistic and mystic greats of the past, marinating in their brilliance, inspires me to take a pilgrimage of my own making, letting my life unfold through the love of words and wonder.

“As I make my slow pilgrimage through the world, a certain sense of beautiful mystery seems to gather and grow.” —Arthur Christopher Benson (English Writer, 1862-1925)

Zen Habits

Today, I look for inspiration.  I spent hours this morning cleaning my sons’ closets, sorting through clothes that no longer fit them. I have a number of things to do, things to catch up on, things that need my attention.  To dos, that at best feel like meaningless distractions.

With the rain, I prefer experiences over chores.  I would rather watch an old classic film, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with a hot cup of tea; I would rather take my German shepherd Jeb for a long walk through the wine country and search for multi-colored rainbows; I prefer to read a juicy book or write one.  But are these good habits, when there is so much to get done?  Then, I thought of these simple Zen habits:*

less TV, more reading
less shopping, more outdoors
less clutter, more space
less rush, more slowness
less consuming, more creating
less junk, more real food
less busy work, more impact
less driving, more walking
less focus on the future, more on the present
less work, more play
less worry, more smiles

With those Zen habits, I will return to my ‘things to do’ today.  I will get back to washing the laundry, taking out the trash and going through paperwork.  I found the inspiration to do and to be.  “Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

As Thich Nhat Hanh reminds, “Smile, breathe and go slowly.”