Friday, May 13, 2011


What about daily living trips you up most?

You know when you round the corner and anticipate pulling in the driveway (and home is like a warm beacon of shelter from the cold cold world)? I was about to turn in today after all the stops and starts I thought I needed to negotiate when I remembered I forgot the dry cleaning … again.

Dry cleaning hits the top of the list of things I don’t (want to) give a hoot about.

Yet there it is.

It hits the top five on the list of “life’s minutiae I’d like to kick to the curb.”

Knowing this, I try to buy only clothes with the strongest chance of survival through the home laundry evolution. It’s like Darwinian Garment Theory (DGT). This is tricky. Once in a while an item slips through and, the dreaded dead-end cycle of dry cleaning begins. (I’ve never bought really nice lingerie for the same reason. We’re just not delicate people…)

It all starts with the duly assigned dry cleaning receptacle. I have a hamper for those items that require special care and shipping. This solution came after many an occasion when said items found their way into the general pile and were never the same again (thus becoming extinct).

So once the hamper gets full, and this may take a while for the previously mentioned reasoning (we don’t do daily dry cleaning), I put it into a tote.

The tote may sit a while, before it finds it’s way into the trunk … where it might sit a while … you get the idea.

Only when I go to grab a pair of trousers that I cannot find do I suddenly remember the blasted dry cleaning tote, which has been residing in the trunk for weeks. On those days, I remind myself to stop at the dry cleaners and with not a small, “hrrumpphhh,” I choose something else to wear.

Paying for clothes for which I’ve already paid also gives me pause. I know it’s technically the care of the clothes, but something about exchanging money over the counter gets to me. Again — it’s the little things that trip me up the most.

Then there’s the question, “What really happens to said clothing after it leaves the counter and before it takes a merry-go-round ride all nicely bagged and ready to be picked up on that whirly gig?”

I’ve always been curious (and maybe a little bit suspicious). Maybe it was the years working at Angie’s List, which really tipped my lid — so many below B rated dry cleaners given by so many dry cleaning users.

Eventually, I submit to my ridiculousness and the inevitability that I need to a) find a dry cleaner, and b) take my long-awaiting pile of clothes.

I get really excited at my nicely packaged goods upon pick-up. So much so, that when I hang them in my closet all nice and like-new again, I find I avoid them for as long as possible, because then they won’t be ironed and clean anymore, and

…there it goes … the whole cycle over again.

I admire those homes I pass with their dry cleaning hanging on the front door, softly swinging in the

breeze. I wonder what special people must reside there to have their very own dry cleaning fairy. This I don’t imagine as a possible solution for my own laundry woes.

Dry cleaning is just one more service provider replacement conundrum every time we move. I know there are good ones out there providing quality service. I just need to find them … over and over again.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


In times of transition, I find it difficult to settle down and write. It seems my thoughts flow only when I feel calm; and grounded. At those times, the dam opens, and out pours months of marinated mindfulness.

At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself, because right now, I can barely put my panties on straight, let alone string words together in any kind of cohesive, colorful, thought-provoking pattern.

Lately, my energies and focus have been keeping our daily life consistent, even as we’re working every day toward our move overseas. The paperwork alone ...

My mom sent me a card the other day to help lift the spirits she noticed were swimming somewhere in the deep end. And in it, she reminded me basically to "keep it together," as I am the center of my family’s universe.

For a moment, that sentiment calmed me and rejuvenated my sense of purpose and my resolve to "keep it together" during our time of transition.

Then I thought …

If that’s true — If I am the core — then our universe is swirling.

Or is it?

Deliberate change, I’ve come to learn, isn’t my strong point. I’m better at consistency and cultivating gardens with patterns that grow only with time and constant care.

Maybe though, my place isn't a structure with lots of trees, a wrap-round porch and a garden filled with loads of vegetables and flowers to cut.

Maybe, I’m beginning to realize, if I pay closer attention to life’s connections through people, vs through structures that come and go, I can realize my desire to nurture things that grow.

I have to step back and remind myself that even if I had consistency in life; a solid house in a solid place with a solid school for my children and the kind of innate sense of direction that comes only with time —a knowledge of where to go and how to get there without using my GPS — life would still offer up its daily hurdles.

It took me some time — a flood; a dead car battery; lots of lawn mowing, and a few other signals, like my children's thoughts in their Mother's Day wishes, before the message began to knit together for me.

And then came the clincher.

One of the best things about our time spent in DC has been our involvement with our church. My faith has taken some different paths over the years; sometimes on, sometimes off my confirmed religion.

When confronted with a new place and a new space, I know whether or not going to church consistently is going to work for me by two things: the first time I walk into a religious space — the feel of the building/architecture; and by hearing the pastor speak — their ability to reach me through presence and words.(Okay. Maybe three — good music rates high with me.)

I found that here — a connection with the pastor. And I've been lamenting leaving. And then last week I learned my favorite Godly man is taking a leave of absence from his priesthood. Wow. (I wish him well, and I think I like and respect him even more now).

It took all this to remind me life is never consistent. On the good days, when I'm able to simply be present, I mostly just feel lucky for the amazing people I’ve met and spent time with along my journey. Each one has helped build an interior structure, which packs up nicely and travels wherever and whenever I do.

This is a place where I can enter and find comfort no matter where I am. It cannot be bought, sold, or rented. It travels with me. Maintenance is my responsibility. I try to keep it open with light and air, even during periods of renovation, so those around me can gain comfort from my center.