Finding your roots

super large tree towering over a pond and a house

What do you think of when you read that? Normally, I’d think of digging into your past and seeing the places that you came from. Maybe it’s a family tree, some sort of lineage (family, work, tradition), or even your ethnic background. Roots–things that ground a plant, tree, or even a person. She moved to ____, planting roots. Stability. A sense of timelessness and permanency (as much as life can be “permanent”–we’re all on borrowed time, right?). Well, I found roots this week. They were literal and were not at all grounding–at first. We’re having two bathrooms partially remodeled. One out of necessity. The irony is, the bathroom that we “knew” to have some plumbing issues isn’t the one where the roots were found. Well, I won’t get all premature with that–let’s just say we didn’t expect to have problems in the guest bathroom and that’s where we found them. In the plumbing. We have two giant trees on either side of the house–we’re talking mutant for the area–and we used to have 25 foot tall oleanders until they caught the blight that blew through the Valley about ten or so years ago. One of those culprits has been/had been using our plumbing as a straw–sent out feelers that invaded the bathroom pipes. We never had any problems with those pipes or drains. The plumbers couldn’t get their scope through the pipes because they were so choked. 😒 You’re probably wondering why I brought this up (or not). Well, the thought of our trees, which I love and have worried about for a long while, using our house as a giant sippy cup is kind of funny when you think about it–at least it’s a vivid image in my humorist’s mind. In the home owner-mind it’s horrifying. It’s like watching the electric meter in a Phoenix summer spin around with no end in sight horrifying or set your cash on fire in the front yard kind of horrifying. That bad and then some. You never want to hear a plumber or any contractor swear or say, “Uh-oh.” 😬 Not because those are necessarily bad things in and of themselves, it’s what they’re responding to that has you worried.

After a moment of my own “oh, shit” variety, I was pretty philosophical about it–I have to be or I’d cry. I also found the humor, hello sippy cup, or I’d cry. Anger is a distinct possibility, too, but in the end, what good is that? I’m glad we caught it before it became a problem. I’m glad that we checked before retiling–that could’ve been a disaster down the line. It’s a fortune when all is said and done; there’s no way around that. It’s not the way we wanted to see the project go down, either. But there you have it. Then there’s my husband. He’s a rock. He’s the go-to when a crisis occurs because he’s a not only a voice of reason but is calm in the eye of the storm. Not just with and for the family, but his colleagues, too. He’s the one who runs meetings others don’t want to run and he keeps people on track. This, however, is a whole different ball game for him. These house issues are the only time I see his cracks. I feel bad for him and have to tease him–that’s how we roll around here. Humor, remember? 😁

So why all this about the roots? If you read my post about falling down the stairs in January of 2020, then you’ll see this is the logical conclusion of that kind of year. Going back to your roots, in whatever way you can. Maybe it’s a reassessing of yourself or the how you’ve managed the year. Maybe it’s a kind of reboot. Seeing these actual roots (still determining the source, which means there might be yet another bathroom story–if you’re signed up for the newsletter you might’ve read a couple of Fridays ago that my house “mooned” me; this is the same bathroom that’s taking us back to our “roots.”), is a reminder from the Universe about grounded-ness as well starting from the bottom up. What’s more grounded than roots that had to be dug up? Home remodeling is divorce court waiting to happen–for all sorts of reasons. Chief and I always joked that there should be required “couple projects” to do before getting married. A kind of marital gauntlet, of sorts. Real life marital counseling. The kind of projects that demonstrate how well you individually and collectively handle stress. How do you handle stress when your partner isn’t fairing well and vice versa? Take for example, a flooring project we did in our first house. It was a small bedroom and we were laying pre-fab wood floors. They had a specific Jenga-like quality to them with their tongue and groove pieces. We had to cut them and glue them together. At least from what I remember. The trick was to keep things moving so that the glue didn’t dry before laying the wood as well as cutting the proper ends of the boards so they fit properly. It takes coordination and organization. Kind of like mixing and pouring cement in the hell-fire summers of Phoenix. Must work quickly. Must work cooperatively. Play nice. We laugh about those things, even if there were moments during these projects when we were harsh with each other. We had a throw-down about the boards until we remembered “GLUE!” and got back to business. These projects made us stronger. They also gave us fodder for each other and stories to tell others.

Finding the roots was not at all awesome, FYI. But in terms of how I feel about all this, it’s interesting that they’re called “feelers.” The roots are feeling things out. They’re seeking what they need, water. These projects make us “feel” things. Expressing emotions is healthy, depending on how you manage your expression. When I saw the roots, I was feeling all the things for Chief because I knew what his reaction would be, rightfully so on his part. Less money to fix the rest of the house because there were hidden things to fix–things sucking up our money. But it also gave me another opportunity to see my husband for the man whom I love and appreciate, and too frequently take for granted. I was provided another opportunity to reject complacency and the daily grind and find other things to replace it, such as compassion and connection and a big pause. So to wrap this big old analogy up, I had a free-fall down a flight of stairs at the beginning of 2020 and at the end of the year I’ve landed on the ground. That wasn’t without its own consequences, either–I had to have surgery for my knee. But I finally took care of it instead of ignoring it like I did for the whole first half of 2020. I found some humor in that, too. 😄 I’m taking care of business, reflecting, and appreciating the important things in my life. Years ago, I was excited for an adventure, leaving Seattle and moving to Phoenix. A mixed bag of things and a lot weather-related sadness later (I like the rain) made me miss “home.” This was despite the fact that I always believed and gave lip service to “home is where the heart is.” I’d been carrying around a lot of things that I can finally let go of, along with 2020. My roots really start with me, extending to my husband–my “feelers” definitely seek him out. My family of origin provided the fertilizer that started my growth, but I don’t have to nourish or poison myself with that. It’s my choice to nourish or poison as well as what fertilizer source I choose to use (note: I’m done with BS. Just sayin’). Just like I can find the humor in this or cry. The roots beneath our house and in our pipes was an opportunity for Chief and I to make good choices as a couple–to support and appreciate each other. Get a game plan together and be a team. Note the potential divorce court/marital gauntlet above. ⬆️ The roots also bring my 2020 to a close about choices, alliances, and nourishment. It returns me to the earth representing steadiness and steadfastness. It was also yet another good reminder never to take things for granted, especially a relationship that’s over 30 years in the making. A house is where your physical body lives. A home is where your heart is sheltered.

Give me a shoutout! 🤠

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