endings, beginnings and making light

The front of our house Saturday, September 23rd.  At this point, most of the trash (including all our furniture) had already been picked up by FEMA; still, much remained.

The front of our house Saturday, September 23rd.  At this point, most of the trash (including all our furniture) had already been picked up by FEMA; still, much remained.

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.

~ Seneca


If you've been coming to Chookooloonks for a while, then you know that I'm a big fan of gratitude practices.  Besides the fact that I think having a solid gratitude practice just makes each day feel better, I've always believed that when it all hits the fan, it's a gratitude practice that helps you get through it.  Having a gratitude practice helps make looking for good second nature -- a handy skill for when good becomes hard to find.

It's for this reason that even though life has thrown us a bit of a curve ball, and this month has been a pretty challenging one, we've been weathering it surprisingly well.  This is mostly because we can't help but notice the little mini-miracles that we've all been noticing throughout this process:  things like the fact that when our house was flooding, our daughter happened to be texting her best friend, who happened to have a dad who happened to have a kayak to get us out of our house.  Or the bass boatsmen who miraculously showed up when we were trying to wade through chest-deep water to get to our daughter.  Or the friend who offered us her empty 2-bedroom garage apartment to stay in while we figured out what we were going to do with our house.  It's these little mini-miracles that are keeping us grateful.  And as I keep telling folks, although our days are far more complicated than they used to be, there's no way that I can complain.  Not when there is light everywhere.

Still, the last few weeks of mucking out our house, ripping out drywall and flooring, and cleaning what could be salvaged has made it clear that we're in for a long haul:  our house is pretty much toast (removing the sheetrock revealed some unanticipated structural damage), and at this point we're hoping to rebuild a new home on the land (though who knows, things may change), a process that promises to last many months.

For context, here's what our home looked like this past weekend:

Our living/dining room, with drywall and flooring removed, and fans going to help dry everything else out, to mitigate mold growth.  (This is what these rooms looked like 5 months ago.)

Our living/dining room, with drywall and flooring removed, and fans going to help dry everything else out, to mitigate mold growth.  (This is what these rooms looked like 5 months ago.)

What we managed to salvage.  This represents the entirety of our worldly belongings (except for the art that Marcus heroically saved while the house was still flooded).  All our furniture except for a couple of pieces were destroyed in the flood.  Marcus says we should think about it like "we just graduated from college, and we're just starting out."  I sort of love that romantic outlook.

What we managed to salvage.  This represents the entirety of our worldly belongings (except for the art that Marcus heroically saved while the house was still flooded).  All our furniture except for a couple of pieces were destroyed in the flood.  Marcus says we should think about it like "we just graduated from college, and we're just starting out."  I sort of love that romantic outlook.

My office, aka Chookooloonks HQ.  Before we'd removed the flooring, the hardwoods had buckled almost two feet off the subfloor.  Floodwater ain't no joke.

My office, aka Chookooloonks HQ.  Before we'd removed the flooring, the hardwoods had buckled almost two feet off the subfloor.  Floodwater ain't no joke.

Alex's bedroom.

Alex's bedroom.

The master bedroom.  We managed to save that coffee table (because it's metal - it's here in the bedroom so we could clean it up before putting it into storage).  There was one coffee table that we couldn't save though -- Marcus tells me that one day when he waded to the house before the waters receded, there were fish swimming in our back yard, and when he entered, the coffee table we couldn't save was floating upside down in the family room, with a little frog sitting on top of it, taking a little ride.  I mean, if you're a coffee table who has to die, if you can give an amphibian a bit of a joy ride before you expire, that's the way to do it.

The master bedroom.  We managed to save that coffee table (because it's metal - it's here in the bedroom so we could clean it up before putting it into storage).  There was one coffee table that we couldn't save though -- Marcus tells me that one day when he waded to the house before the waters receded, there were fish swimming in our back yard, and when he entered, the coffee table we couldn't save was floating upside down in the family room, with a little frog sitting on top of it, taking a little ride.  I mean, if you're a coffee table who has to die, if you can give an amphibian a bit of a joy ride before you expire, that's the way to do it.

It's going to be a challenge, but I can't help but remember one of the big lessons that I learned when writing my upcoming book.  As I was interviewing folks while writing Make Light, one of the things that emerged from their stories is that thriving (or, as I've come to call it, "making light,") is not about having a perfect life with a perfect body, and a perfect spiritual practice with perfect work-life balance.  Thriving is about navigating life with mindfulness and self-compassion.  It's about keeping an eye on your mental health, as well as your physical and spiritual health, and caring for them, even as you deal with everything that life is throwing at you.  For me, a gratitude practice is certainly a huge part of making light.  But it's also about noticing when your mental, physical and/or spiritual health might be taking a hit, and doing what you need to correct it (as I did after I had my little meltdown last week). It's about taking care of yourself as you take care of life.

It occurs to me that while losing our home has been hard, it's also a new beginning -- and an opportunity to chronicle how we make light as we rebuild our lives going forward.  So with this post, I'm back to more regular posting on Chookooloonks, and in addition to my usual content, I'll also be sharing our Chookooloonks rebuild story, however that ends up looking.  I hope you'll join me.

This past weekend, three volunteer crews from all over Texas miraculously showed up at our house, taking all that waste you see in the photo at the top of this page, and heaving it into the giant dumpster you see behind us in this photo.  They also helped move all of our salvaged goods into a storage pod.  What would've taken us weeks was accomplished in a matter of hours, because of these fine folks.  Just another one of those mini-miracles that keep popping up.

This past weekend, three volunteer crews from all over Texas miraculously showed up at our house, taking all that waste you see in the photo at the top of this page, and heaving it into the giant dumpster you see behind us in this photo.  They also helped move all of our salvaged goods into a storage pod.  What would've taken us weeks was accomplished in a matter of hours, because of these fine folks.  Just another one of those mini-miracles that keep popping up.

Have an amazing week, friends.

 

Soundtrack:  The greatest, by Sia, featuring Kendrick Lamar.  This song remains my anthem.