03 Oct Gutted
In 9 months time, I remodeled my kitchen, remodeled my store, and had abdominal surgery. In each case, a central wall was removed making for more room and better flow. In both my kitchen and my store, there is more light and the space makes so much more sense. As for my body, I can only guess that it—mirrored by the physical realities of the other remodels—too has had an extraordinary inner expansion. I can tell you for sure, it feels better.
My kitchen was a project a long time coming. My husband had designed and built our house over twenty years ago and before I was ever the occasional sleep over guest much less a cohabitant. For the most part, he did an incredible job, but the kitchen was the one place that didn’t make sense. A five-foot high wall ran through the middle of the space, preventing much of the room from being fully functional. The room was linear and divided and there was very little light. The wall created an exciting alley way for toddler trikes, but wasn’t very good for gathering or visiting.
The kitchen is often considered the heart of the home and in our house it physically is the center of the “H” that is the footprint of our house. Recognizing that there was an unnecessary wall dividing the center of the heart of our home seems relevant, as though there was a block there both physically and figuratively preventing a harmony that we didn’t really realize we were missing.
Remodeling Spirit, my store, was a rather spontaneous endeavor. I had had the inclination for only a couple of weeks before I decided to ask the landlord if it would be possible. He assessed the plans and approved construction and even offered to help. We closed and began and completed the job in less than a month. Like my kitchen, we removed a central wall. My intimate book and gift shop opened up, light flowed. The space made sense. Customers entered noticing something different but only commenting “It feels so good in here.”
My tummy was a different story. I had been enduring an acute pain for two and half years. Its presence and cause was a mystery to the many, many doctors and holistic practitioners I visited. I meditated on the pain. I listened to the pain. I tried to surrender to the pain. I tried to become one with the pain. The pain was a sharp knife-like searing pain in my lower right abdomen that would come and go, often coinciding with my monthly cycle. Again and again doctors would direct me to my OBGYN, suspecting problems with my ovary. Multiple ultrasounds showed all was normal in my female parts; the pain persisted. Finally, after a colonoscopy, two CTscans, and my constant suggestion, the idea that my appendix could be the problem was considered.
I set my intentions for a truly supported and guided surgery. The procedure was to be laparoscopic and last approximately 45 minutes. I woke up in the hospital after three hours under the knife with a seven-inch slice from my belly button down and twenty-plus staples holding my guts together. Turns out my infected appendix was so twisted in my colon, they had to cut six inches of my colon out to remove it. I spent five nights in the hospital in the care of amazing nurses. Two male nurses stood out profoundly: the first a tall and round white bearded man who looked like Santa Claus, the other a young man who resembled my first love. To this day, I am unsure if these night nurses were real or if it was the roller coaster of pain killers and wee-morning check-ins that conjured these characters into my experience.
I like to believe these two men were physical manifestations of the many angels watching over me… making sure I was okay. In fact, as gruesome as the whole experience seems even now as I write it, I trust that it was meant to happen. There had been a tremendous block inside my body, a knot of infection and torsion, which had to be taken out in order for my body to come into balance and harmony.
It seems that it was an absolute trifecta. All three pieces, my body, mind and spirit went through complete internal reconstruction. While the external frame of each structure: my kitchen, my store, my body; stayed in its original form, tremendous space was created. Space that flows. The space feels balanced, not tilted to one side, not obscured, but open in every way. Yes, that’s how I feel as I make breakfast in my new kitchen passing the pancakes across the counter to my daughters smiling at me where once a wall stood. Yes, that’s how I feel as I sit in the back at the center of my store and watch customers peruse the shelves. And yes, that’s how I feel in my body: free from a twisting pain that was limiting me from being all of me.