arrival journal: first fim de semana

I sit on our porch, giant blue wine glass filled with a Brazilian red, laptop comfortable on a new bistro set, watching the sun set over the mountains outside of Sampa, and I cannot believe this is our life.

With that being said, I must share with you today’s adventures that pop that romantic bubble quickly.  But first, yesterday. Some wonderful people from the school were generous enough to chauffeur us all around town to various stores and malls. They spent nearly seven hours taking care of us: from bellies to shopping carts to transportation to carrying bags. I went home humbled and grateful for the abundant gift of time we received. Not so good at home were the receipts. It is amazing how expensive stuff is here, for no rhyme or reason either. We spent so much at three different stores, and after unpacking it all, we were a bit shocked at how little we actually got for that amount of money. (Say what you will about Walmart, I was sure missing it last night.)

Sadly, unfortunately, we still needed some more stuff. (It’s ironic that we just had a giant garage sale to get rid of so much stuff.) So today, after meeting the new English head of department for brunch, Dave and I ubered off to a local store that I would liken to Ikea. We scored some pretty good deals, but man, stuff is expensive. (So to our friends and family visiting us, prepare to shop and bring us stuff!) Then we ubered home, bags in tow.

Now, the fun part. We have not done laundry yet because there are no dryers here. Well, I shouldn’t say none at all, but they are not common. (We would buy one, but there is no where to put it!) Most people hang clothes to dry on racks. When you walk through any store here, there is a giant aisle of these things. So since we did not have one until today, we could not do a load yet. But this afternoon, after making sure the washer was hooked up properly, we did our first load below the equator. It took us a while to translate all the features correctly. (The two of us gringos standing there, reading our washer with Google translate, ha!) The cycle was slow, and we kept checking on it like it was a sleeping baby newly home from the hospital. But, it worked. And then, the circus freak show of us trying to hang all this stuff up. We don’t know where (air circulation, sunlight), so it’s just hanging out in our living room. We realized quickly we probably can max out on any given day at one load a day, seeing as drying space is the challenge. Needless to say, I’m still short on clothes.

While that was happening, we did a massive load of dishes. We had finally bought a wash basin since our sink is freakishly small. All the new dishes, along with the dirty dishes from the last few days, needed washing. So I set up this crazy assembly line situation. The hilarious part here is hot water. We get it through gas. This means, 1, it has to run for a while to get hot; 2, it gets CRAZY hot; 3, it’s inconsistent–sometimes hot for a long time, sometimes for a brief second; 4, the pressure is incredibly disproportionate to the space, so turning on water in any of the sinks is like… trying to drink from Niagara Falls with a shot glass. By the end of the whole fiasco, I had taken a shower and mopped the floor with the sprayback! It was all in good humor tonight, but I wonder when (or if?) I’ll miss the convenience of our old life.

Who am I kidding, I already miss the dishwasher!

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what our staircase teaches me about mindfulness

When we were searching for apartments in Brazil, we were drawn to those with two floors. When I stumbled upon (pun intended, you’ll see why) the one we are currently living in, we fell in love and just had to make it ours. When people saw the pictures, they all exclaimed the same thing:

That staircase!

We always wrote it off and said it would be fine, and it is, as long as we’re fully present in the moment when going up or down. It has already taught me quite a bit about being mindful:

  • Slow down. The first couple of times I went up and down the steps, I zoomed. Just as I do all things in my life. Big mistake. Because the stairs are not linear nor the same size, a quick climb could result in a VERY quick descent. So it goes in life. I so often get into business mode (in fact, I’m struggling with that very thing today) and want to go, go, go which can result (as it is today) with disruption to my state of peace. But as with the stairs, if I take my time instead of rushing, I’ll be able to do things once instead of twice, with more intention and quality, without scrapes and bruises.
  • Be here now. There have been times on the stairs where my mind was somewhere very different than focused on my feet. And sure enough, I have slipped. The only thing I have to do or can control when climbing the stairs is climbing the stairs. There is no such thing as multi-tasking. There is here and now. So it goes in life. The only thing I have to do or can control in this very moment is this very moment.
  • Be careful where you plant your steps. I have learned, through some staircase-induced-pain, to watch my feet closely as I put them on the step. This is of utmost importance toward the top and bottom where the steps are not even the length of my foot. If I do not pay attention to the placement of my feet, I will slip right on off. And I have. So it goes in life. There are many grounds in which to plant roots and many forests with trees of which to call my neighbors and many skies under which to warm my face. A lot rides on which of those I choose and which of those I actively and/or passively avoid.

Currently I’m scheming about where to put my meditation place in our new home. Since there is a cubby/den/area of unused space right under the stairs, I’m pretty sure that would be apropos.

And the cushions sure would make for some comfy landing gear.

For a (very amateur) video of the stairs, click here.


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