… Then Dreamers Would Soak.
Today was my last day in IPR (Intensive Psychiatric Rehabilitation). For the past year, I’ve been working towards the goal of living successfully in my current home and making changes that will help sustain me and my mental health. Through IPR, I dreamed, made lists, researched, planned, strategized, and started putting my Master Plan into action.
One thing about my apartment I wanted to change was the bath tub. Since I live in a government-subsidized apartment, I never for a moment thought that was possible. I considered myself lucky to have running water. But, since IPR is all about dreaming, I put it on my list. How nice it would be to have a tub I actually fit into instead of a freakishly narrow trough with sliding doors that rolled open on their own while I showered. When the poltergeist doors stayed shut, my XL body sported bruises from snagging on sharp edges.
Hot baths with scented oils or salts used to be a staple in my mental health tool box. A long soak with relaxing music, a glass of wine, a candle—the ritual calmed my brain and soothed my soul. To compensate, I learned to meditate in the hot tub at the Y after swimming. Close, but no cigar.
Emboldened by IPR, I asked the apartment manager last winter if it was possible to get a bigger tub if my family helped me pay the cost. She didn’t immediately say no. “No one’s ever asked for anything like that,” she said. “I’ll check with management.”
Within a few days, she called me to say she and the property’s maintenance man would get bids from contractors. What? I smelled lavender in my future!
Several months passed, but eventually we found a reputable plumber who gave a reasonable offer. Last week, he and his carpenter buddy took a sawzall to the old tub and replaced it with a heavenly soaking tub. The cats and I holed up in the bedroom for two days while they worked, the cats hiding under the bed while I made a shopping list for Bed, Bath and Beyond.
After the contractors left, it was my turn to go to work. With raw drywall around the new surround, I needed to prime and paint. And if I had to paint, I wanted make it count.
First I consulted my Feng Shui book, Wind and Water by Carole Hyder. I love Feng Shui. I don’t know if it works, but it’s one way to organize a home, a way to bring intention to areas of one’s life that need a boost. It helps me remember important things like the Helpful People in my life and to foster gratitude. Feng Shui feels clean and uncluttered. It pays tribute to the natural world and our place in it. I like to do what I can to align with the flow of chi in my little space.
Most of my bathroom sits in the Wisdom, Self-Knowledge and Rest section, which seems right and proper. But parts of it overlap into the Career, Health and Family areas. What I wanted most in my bathroom was harmony and peace, so it felt right to acknowledge those other areas in my color scheme.
At our local paint store, I chose Fantasy Blue for the Wisdom area, Pale Smoke to acknowledge the black element in the Career area, and Nob Hill Sage for the long wall that overlapped the Family area. Since my little pantry closet sits in the Health area, I’ll find a nice buttery yellow for that later (One project at time). Armed with chi-enhancing colors, my step-ladder and some masking tape, I set to work over the Fourth of July weekend.
For those of you who are homeowners, this stuff is old hat—drywall, paint, hand tools. I remember. I used to be one of you. But, for those of us who rent or have little control over the aesthetics of our environment, this kind of freedom is rare and sweet. With every stroke of the brush, I thought, “I chose this color.” And I couldn’t quite believe it.
As I hauled myself up and down the ladder or on and off the floor, I felt the room becoming mine. I felt it welcoming me and the cats. I felt the peace and harmony I so longed for settle into place. After three days of work, I was exhausted and hobbling, but I knew I’d done what I set out to do. We had our sanctuary.
After we revel in this success for a while, I’ll move on to the next project on my IPR list. Because if wishes were horses, I’d be riding high. For now, this dreamer plans to soak.