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Living Small

Any news on your house?

Tiny ants came out of the woodwork in my kitchen this week. I’m an ant fan—really a fan of insects generally—but, when they’re outside and creating no disruption for my family. I will carefully coax a bumblebee out of the house, carry spiders down to the front door from the upstairs, and gentle a stick under a worm to lift it off the sidewalk if I think it’s drying out. But ants in my house are a different matter—these I aim to kill.

Ants in the Pinterest House are an even bigger burden. Everyone has indoor ants from time-to-time, but ants marching across the kitchen counter are not going to help my house sell. And I am so ready for my house to sell.

It’s gotten to the point where I feel much like I felt when I was past my due date with each of my babies. At forty-one weeks with the boy who is now Eighteen, I was enormous. There were really only two tops that fit over my protruding belly and I lumbered along, the fabric of the sleeves and shoulders fluttering in the April breezes. Well-meaning strangers asked all of the dumb questions: “Are you having twins?” “About ready to have that baby?” And with some trepidation, “When are you due?” This was my favorite because I could answer: “A week ago,” and watch their faces crumple as they found something else to do, quickly.

From friends and family, the questions were laced with genuine concern for my well-being: “No baby yet?”

“Nope. Still pregnant.”

And so it is with my house—the questions come and they’re well meaning: “Any nibbles on the house?” “Have you moved?” “Have you sold your house yet?” And all I can do is make a face and shake my head a little sadly, keep the place clean and wipe away the ants.Screen Shot 2017-06-10 at 12.08.12 AM

Even for ants in my house, there’s a battle that takes place within—I really don’t like killing anything. So for a few days, while I sprayed them with bug killer and wiped them up, I didn’t look too closely. I didn’t read about them online, nor did I look up their energetic message. I started to hear the phrase, “living small,” over and over in my head and I didn’t much like the way that felt. Again, remembering those weeks when I was beyond my due date: I had stopped working, stuck close to home, and never knew if I’d go to sleep one night and wake up in labor the next morning, my whole life changing in a much anticipated but little understood way.

And so it is with the house on the market. I never know when that nibble will come. I try to stay organized and orderly. I do my work, keeping the house clean and ferrying food in for my peeps and yoga to the studio for my community there. I mostly stick pretty close to home—alerted by an electronic ping when there’s a showing request—ready to spring into action straightening stray cushions, rounding up tufts of cat fur, turning on the lights, and getting set to flee. Recently my last moment has been to check the counter for ants.

Since I haven’t been able to figure out where they’re coming into my kitchen, I finally planted the heavy-duty ant poison right on the counter, with a clear plastic plant saucer inverted over it and taped to the counter where they were most prevalent but wandering. In minutes they started heading toward the sweet-smelling poison and I let myself watch.

The ants—ranging and disorganized until that moment, started to organize. They walked toward the poison in two lines and then marched back along the lines down which they had come. For a while, the lines got a little longer and more complex with each ant, but then they became set paths—they’d get to the end of the line, turn around and head back. The next day there were remarkably fewer, and I still couldn’t figure out where they were going. Three days in, the ants were gone.

Still feeling constrained by all of the circumstances of my house, I finally looked up ant energy in Animal Speak by Ted Andrews. There was all of the expected discussion of the industrious quality of ants, of the way the haploid workers service the nest and the queen, of the simple, uncomplicated nature of one ant versus the variety of behaviors and activities of a colony. And then there were the last few, important, true words: Ant teaches us that regardless of circumstances, if the effort is true, the rewards will follow—in the most beneficial time and manner. Ant is the promise of success through sustained effort. (Ted Andrews, Animal Speak, 2009, pp. 336-337.) And it was then I knew—even though I really, really want them to do their living outside—that in spite of the way it feels, neither the ants nor I are living small.

Wishing you all the promises of the full, honey moon, industry toward your goals and dreams, and lots of summery delights. Namaste & big love, Rxo

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