I wake up today to a cold house. I get up and George, one of two Lhasa Apsos, is completely immersed in my down comforter and Chewy and I are intertwined under a quilt. Shoot! Did I leave a window open? Until now, I’ve been struggling with the house being too warm. I usually wake up very hot with the bedding randomly strewn to the far corners of the bed and floor. First, I check on Buster who sleeps in the master bedroom. He is curled up on the bed, but looks very cold so I grab a blanket and cover him up. He seems grateful. Next, while I’m checking the windows, I run up to the third level and check on Roli the rabbi. He is huddled under the bed and comes hopping over when I open his loud crackling bag of kibbles. He seems normal. Windows are all closed. Fortunately, it is a little warmer in this topmost room. Most of the houses I stay in, I never touch the thermostat. They are always comlex touch screen interfaces notated in Celsius. This house is different. I recognize the simple wheel with tick marks ranging from 5 to 30 with a large knob that rotates in the center. The dial is currently set to 25 which is 77 degrees Fahrenheit. I know this isn’t accurate as the house feels about 55 degrees at the moment. I grab George and we are currently in one of the living areas on the couch covered in toasty warm blankets. I think back to my childhood and the sequence I would run through when I would occasionally wake up cold in the morning. It was usually the pilot light for the furnace that had gone out during the night. I would go to the basement and lie on the cold concrete floor with my face turned towards my target under the furnace. Thinking back this was probably incredibly dangerous for a child around 12-13, but my mom had showed me how do this and I had performed the act over a dozen times. I waited the correct amount of time switching the dial from ‘OFF’ to ‘PILOT’ and used an extended lighter to reignite the ball of flame. This house I am currently in uses radiators to heat. This is how all of the houses I have been staying in heat either from within the floors and/or sides of the rooms. I’m not even going to attempt to figure out the problem with the current thermostat because fortunately, Steven, the husband of this house will be back later tonight.
I have been enjoying this home in a location called Southend-on-Sea which is about an hour east of London. We are only a quick 10 minute walk from the beach and until yesterday this has been our daily routine for the past week. Steven has chosen to remain behind as he owns and runs his own business and mostly stays in B&B’s to avoid the long arduous journey to and from London. The rest of the family is currently enjoying Disney World in Orlando. 🙂 Yesterday it rained and the temperature dropped suddenly. Everywhere I have traveled at some point the weather comes up in normal conversations. Each and every one of these places, except tropical locations, their inhabitants mention how they experience sudden, rapid changes in temperature. Most of them claiming it is unique to their location. Right now I am told, “This is just normal weather in England.” Before that it was Norway. However I am now convinced this is just the typical behavior of weather everywhere. It is not uncommon to drop 20 degrees from the previous day. Just a couple days ago I was in short sleeves enjoying the sun bouncing off the sea. Now I wouldn’t dare leave the house without my large puffy coat and hat. This is similar to what I have experienced all over the United States so I’m now forming the conclusion that alternating weather patterns are not unique at all. Change is good.
Embracing change has been something that has always come naturally to me and now proves to be my greatest asset. When I tell people in England I am from the US, they always want to know which state I am from and sometimes even the city. I always tell them I am from Boulder, Colorado and this will often lead to more conversations about the mountains, snow and marijuana. Once I had someone ask me, “Is this where you are from originally?” I had to take a pause and tell her, no, I am originally from Kansas. She laughed and remarked on how Boulder must be worlds away from Kansas. Thinking back to this conversation, I admit I felt a little ashamed and embarrassed to be from Kansas. I’m so sorry fellow to my fellow Kansans that I felt this emotion. I certainly don’t mean any offense! But also, and more importantly, this was a huge blow to myself. These are my roots, how I grew up. What was I ashamed of? Working hard on a farm? Growing up without a father? These certainly aren’t limited to only Kansas. Self-denial is such a terrible feeling. The opposite of loving oneself. Now that I’ve had a full month to ponder this, I am attempting to come at this from a different perspective. I am trying to feel grateful, a feeling of appreciation. Instead of hanging my head down, I am demanding to be proud that I am from Kansas. Look how far I have come and what an amazing journey I have had so far! I have been given this innate ability to allow change so I have instinctively been able to dive straight in and find my way in many situations. This continues to take me far in the world and also leads me further inward as well. The best part is I am able to relate to people of many different backgrounds right away. I grew up in a conservative, methodist family. I understand this mentality because this was once who I was. I don’t allow any preconceived beliefs or ideas about people impose a barrier between us. This allows me to create deep, meaningful relationships with others even after a short time because I immediately am so willing to understand them. Which is all anybody really wants – to be seen and heard. Not mocked or belittled.
This is all making today seem like more of a triumph and brings me closer to identifying my purpose. I am able to embrace a larger part of myself for the first time. Life is not about concentrating on the differences among us, but being delighting in the similarities. We are the only ones who have our own, personal experience. The worst thing we can do is feel shame in this. On the contrary, we need to share this with the world. Not only will this make others more welcoming to us, but it will allow us to accept ourselves. I believe the world becomes a more miserable place if we are only focused on contrast. I’m not just referring just to other races and nationalities. I’m talking about people within our own country, our own cities. In reality, we are all the same in our own uniqueness. We all grew up differently and now carry our own distinctive perspectives throughout the world around us. None of us is more right or superior. Unlike the weather, we are ALL unique and that is what is so perfect! Unfortunately, societies have been pushing people away from one another other. When we focus only on disparaging comments, beliefs and views of the future, we become more pulled apart. Then after a while it is all we see, all we talk about. Like everything with deliberate creations, we just create more of it over and over. After a while no one is happy. We may feel a small amount of dopamine increase when we think we are better or smarter than someone else, but this isn’t real. This isn’t long-lasting. This doesn’t even come close to the satisfaction that is felt when we let our guard down and truly connect with another person. I don’t mean connecting on the short-lived, gossipy, negative things. I mean, the shared magic that happens when you hear and see someone for who they were and who they are today. The journey they have taken. The fusing of experiences that show us more of the world and who we are within it. There is nothing better than this. Sadly, this is precisely what I was missing when I was in Colorado. I didn’t need to travel the world to experience this. I just needed to let my guard down and let people in. See them for who they truly were, not from what felt slightly good to believe. I’m beginning to learn that the world can be a magical utopia or a barren wasteland. It all hinders on how we treat one another. Even the people that threaten our ability to feel good about ourselves.