summer kitchen

How I Built My Summer Kitchen

Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten  ~  Natasha Bedingfield

If I stop and look back at the past few months I find that I have been in a very bad mood.

I try very hard to be an optimist but I have to admit that lately I find myself standing with my toes on the edge of that fine line that crosses into the land of pessimism. It has become harder..near to impossible…to keep the mask of optimism in place.

Perhaps it’s the never ending angst and calamity in the world. In the interest of time I won’t list all of the hate by category, i.e. race, gender, sexual orientation….. so let’s just call it what it is:

People against people.

These stories seep into my brain to the point I want to scream out loud and I have to turn away in despair and utter exhaustion.

I know there are still many, many good people in the world. They want to make things better, make things right. What I am finding the more I look around is that this is becoming an uphill fight. Up a hill the size of Everest.

In addition to any outside influences, my inner turmoil is affecting my already finite patience. It is at this point little more than a distant memory. I have none. My desire to be nice seems to have packed a small bag and joined the exodus. I feel like an emotional volcano, waiting to erupt at any moment without warning spewing crazy, burning rain down on the world. Anybody and everybody in it. I have been taking ‘fake it ’til you make it’ to a whole new level.

I have just felt like checking out, moving out and moving on, disappearing into the proverbial woodwork.

My life is run like a machine. Constant movement. Continuous motion. No time for anything but what the job entails and yes, I have days when I think of raising my children and running my household as a job. One with lousy pay and meager benefits at best. On the rare occasion I find my self alone in my car, on yet another tedious errand for toilet paper or some other trivial shit, I turn up the music and consider never coming back.

My sanity returns just long enough to scream, “Stop!”

Yes, it is mentally draining to hear about the indifference or disdain people have for one another but why am I letting the pessimism and anger of the world affect me so drastically?

When will I wrap my head around and learn to accept the fact that with age comes change and not all of it good?

Why would I even consider for a millisecond leaving a home full of the people I love the most, who love me back and consider me their most important person?

Because sometimes it’s hard? Because I’m tired?

Fuck that.

Yes, life can have periods of time when it feels like a load of bricks with one, two, or three more being piled on daily. It can be painful and the struggle to carry it can seem impossible.

If I lift my head for one moment….raise my eyes to life level and see what is in front of me, have the good sense to shrug off the weight of martyrdom and self pity for just a moment, I will see many in front of me. Folks with wheelbarrows and work gloves paired with strong shoulders and willing hearts to help me unload that burden.

If I shrug off a brick at a time, two if I’m able, I can focus on what’s important in each minuscule and very fleeting moment in time.

I know if I just allow it more of those bricks will fall away or be lifted away by others I didn’t expect.

I imagine one of the most interesting thing I will find is that of the people standing in front of me there is a mix of not just family and friends. There are strangers, too.

I am making the effort to bring back kindness to my life.  I realize that this is the only way the bricks will fall. My life is not a job. It is a gift. Every day I wake up warm and healthy and each night I will go to sleep clean and well fed, surrounded by people who love me even if these days they are simply tolerating me, and I get to do things so many others wish they could.

I get to hold these precious people, my family, for every single second that they allow me and thankfully that is still quite often.

Most importantly, I simply get to live. Where is my gratitude for that simple grace?

So today, I will work on dropping the bricks. I will bring the kindness back.

I will be generous with compliments.

I will hold open a door.

I will smile at strangers.

I will pay something forward.

I will make time for silly.

I will love and be loved.

With each act of kindness another brick will drop.

And I will use them to build myself an amazing summer kitchen.


In my recent mindset I have had a terrific case of writer’s block. This post was quite literally written in my head while my husband and I were laying bricks for a summer kitchen on my back deck…proof positive that a writer’s inspiration can be found just about anywhere. 




17 thoughts on “How I Built My Summer Kitchen”

  1. I know that feeling, the one where you’re alone in your car, and you can easily just drive. It takes a lot of strength to turn around and go back to those people who love us the most because they also test us more than the rest, too.

    Pessimism creeps around and is ready to pounce when you least expect it. Your way of dealing with it is healthy. I think I’ll look at this post is a good friend giving me some excellent advice, which is pretty much the usual every single time I read your words.


  2. If this is what writer’s block looks like, then I want to catch your version, Sandy.

    What a fantastic post – how wonderful (or not!) to read your words that often reflect my inner thoughts. My bestie and I have had some deep conversations about this very topic: the constant edge of irritability despite having blessed lives, the urge to run away, the worry that no one would even know we are gone.
    I absolutely love the brick analogy and it reminds me of an old Buddha reference: Chop Wood, Carry Water. The motion, the exertion, the accomplishment.
    You always find a way to my heart and it’s no surprise because you are so good at sharing yours. Thank you for this very timely reminder that life is a gift. xo


  3. Good for you! I had a similar moment this weekend while on Facebook, where people deposit all sorts of crap and hateful feelings, expecting (I guess) that the rest of us will jolly them out of it and not let it get us down. I don’t mind when people are feeling bad and express that, it’s the hateful posts and memes that I most dislike. (And after it’s posted, don’t try to tell me, “But you’re not like that.”) I certainly don’t agree with all my friends on FB, but I try not to post deliberately provocative or hate-filled things about people or issues I know they favor.

    OK, there are a few extra bricks for you. 🙂 We could make a community kitchen of large size, I’m quite sure. Then we’ll have a party and enjoy ourselves.



  4. You are a warrior and a fighter. It’s so easy to get down and caught up in all the crap going on around us and in the world. You, my friend, will fight through this. And I will carry a load of bricks for you any time. ❤


  5. A testament to free writing. You took inspiration from real life (brick laying) and used it to express what you are feeling. Good on you. I hope writing about your recent overwhelm helped ease the burden even just a tiny bit. You are one of the strongest women I know.


  6. Those bricks get so heavy. I went through a season recently where I was desperate for some alone time and I felt like if one more person asked anything of me I’d go berserk. You said something that stood out to me, about there being people willing to help you unload the burden. Asking for help is the hardest thing for me to do. I went so long believing that I wasn’t supposed to need help that I forget things are different now. I forget that I’m giving someone else a gift when I open up and let them in to help me. This is a great reminder to me. And I might just have to start calling it writer’s brick instead of block. 😉


  7. I have the urge to go on and on in my comment to give examples of why I understand how you’ve been feeling and how I also feel that way more than I would like and how I’m also attempting to “look on the bright side of life.” But I’ll restrain myself and just thank you for your pertinent and relatable post!


  8. I get that feeling sometimes, too. My life is a job, not a joy. Sometimes physical work, like laying bricks or gardening, or painting or anything, gives us a chance to let go of the mental angst. And it feels so good. PS. My husband is a brick layer. I’d love an outdoor, summer kitchen. But alas, the shoemaker’s family has no shoes.


  9. This might have been the result of writer’s block, but you honestly described every emotion I have in a 24 hour (minute?) cycle. The feeling of this just sucks and I want to run away and screw all the people that depend on me to being grateful I have people who need and want me. Please know that you are never alone in feeling this way!


  10. You. You you you. I’m so glad that I read this today and that you wrote it and that you’re building a summer kitchen and that you’re real and honest and yes to wanting to keep driving and bigger yesses to driving back home. Love.


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