I hadn’t done it intentionally or even consciously, but there it was: “atrium white” walls with “sage gray” trim and a rough marble floor bought as cheap leftovers from the tile store.
Something about my new closet looked so familiar that even as I painted the trim, noticing how it complemented the rough wood beams, I was pushing against the sense of repetition, the energy of having been here before.
It came back to me: when I had bought my first house sixteen years ago, I had enough money, if I added in sweat equity, to fix up one room immediately. I chose the bathroom. I helped the carpenter lay the rough marble floor, painted the walls atrium white and the trim a sage gray, and added a refinished antique soaking tub. I spent countless hours in the clawfoot tub, the room lit only by candles.
I stood in my new walk-in closet, atrium white and sage gray, feeling completely disoriented and somehow back in the energy of that other house, that other time. I remembered feeling poor all the time and the disorganization of living in a space under perpetual construction. I recall the look of horror on my mother’s face when she visited for the first time (and how my father walked her onto the porch to compose herself).
It’s kind of amazing how little actually changes in sixteen years. Sage gray and atrium white, rough wood and soft marble… my bathroom in my Beacon house was a showplace. At parties everyone would troop upstairs to ooo and ahhh over it. Recently a neighbor walked into my newly created laundry and closet here in Asheville and said “Whoa! There’s a Tuscan farmhouse attached to your bedroom! This is gorgeous!”
But I wasn’t hearing gorgeous, I was hearing a tolling bell deep in my soul that told me I had somehow created a time loop into my own past. So I did the logical thing: ran out to Ace Hardware and bought a different trim paint. I splashed it over the baseboard. It looked like baby vomit.
I hadn’t realized how much this was preying on my mind until I got on my weekly business mastermind call. We talk shop for about 50 minutes, then make time for what we call OSMs (oh shit moments!). I didn’t think I had anything to bring up, but in the silence that fell as we wrapped up business, I found myself pouring out the story of the recurring paint colors and my bone-deep dread of repeating old patterns.
And here’s the funny thing: as my fears spilled out of my mouth, all the good from that particular past was suddenly unlocked. I remembered the friendships (many), the gorgeous gardens and fire pit I’d built, the sense of being competent that came from working with my hands as I learned basic carpentry and tile working. When I lived in that house, I was industrious, and dreamy, and convivial, and a damn good cook.
And that bathroom, soothingly painted atrium white and sage gray, was where I retreated and reflected, where I immersed myself in water so I could find my rhythm and be in life’s flow.
So when one of the women in my group said:
Sounds like completion of a cycle, not like repetition of old patterns—
I could hear it.
I was so focused on all the negative parallels—and, trust me, there are plenty—that I’d forgotten the blessings of my Beacon house (our brains are wired to do this, to focus on the negative. That’s why consciously focusing on the positive is so important): the camaraderie, the sense of new beginnings and being able to create what I wanted for myself, the space to not only be myself but to explore deeper and further into the core of my truths. It was in that house, and probably in that bathtub, that I stepped beyond basic herbalism and into Earth Medicine and shamanistic living.
What’s more, that house was my first really good investment, the first business deal I did that allowed all of what’s come after. My year in Ireland and the first Herbiary store were funded from the money I made selling that house.
In-between times, especially for houses, aren’t always glamorous. This is an in-between time not only for our new home but for me as I try to language ideas that having been chasing through my brain for the past few years. But the atrium white and sage gray have reminded me of the creativity and power of the in-between, of the time when everything is not yet fixed into place.
I am remembering a vision I had during a meditation a few months back: I was in a house that looked like a large gazebo. Each stone-arched doorway opened onto a different vista—olive groves and forests, seascapes and deserts all bloomed around me. It was easy to be happy there. But then, in the meditation, we were told to pack up the few things we needed, that we would be leaving.
I packed nothing, just stepped through one of the archways, thinking I was stepping toward the farmed hillside beyond. But the hills shimmered like a mirror in sunlight, and the landscape wavered, becoming simply starry sky. For a half of a nanosecond, I knew that all I had seen before was an illusion.
Then my feet left the ground as I stepped into this vastness, this what-is-next, this unfixed in-between.
Big hugs to you—
So… it’s storytelling time. Share your comments and tales of the in-between below!