“I consider each day’s effort as but one blow of my blade against a mighty oak… each blow, of itself, may be trifling, and seem of no consequence. Yet from childish swipes the oak will eventually tumble. So it is with my efforts today. ” – Og Mandingo
“Please mum can you find another curtain for my room?” That was the request from my daughter. It’s been one of those missions on my TO DO list for, hmmm, let’s say more then a year? One fine day, I was out on a shopping mission and I discovered a cache of lovely curtain panels. I couldn’t decide which ones to get. So, I brought home all four different curtains … some in sets, some just as single panels. I showed them to my teenage daughter and the response was … huh, yeah curtains, how nice. Ok, no problem. So, I folded them up and put them in the linen cupboard until inspiration tapped on my shoulder.
Turn the clock even further back … to six years ago. I was preparing to say farewell to Kenya and 26 years of living there. I was packing up my life there, my marriage was in tatters – we’d been separated for two years, my mother, who lived in the states, her health was very questionable to say the least and I had made the huge choice of braving the transition to living in the states entirely on my own. My children, who were born and raised in Kenya, were to remain for their school year in Kenya and holidays with me. They’d live in Kenya with their father and Emma their aiya, that’s the Swahili word for nanny. Their aiya’s name was Emma. I’m sure I couldn’t have made the choice to go to America without knowing they’d be safe with the love of Emma. She was much more then their aiya, she was much more like a kind and attentive and loving aunt. One simple whispered word or smile from her and the children would instantly calm down and focus on the task at hand, such as homework or they’d pitch in to help out with cleaning up, etc.
Emma certainly helped send me off with the same amount of care, love and attention. She helped me to pack and to find things, precious things to remind me of my life and adventures in Kenya. One such item was a duvet cover. It’s 100% cotton and beautifully crafted. I reckoned having it grace my bed in America would be a cosy reminder of the wonderful times I’ve had in Kenya and around the rest of Africa.
Sadly, when I arrived in Washington state none of the down duvets I owned actually fit the ‘out of Africa duvet cover’. So I carefully folded it up and put it a storage box, awaiting the day it might see the light of day.
Shift this tale to present day, I am on my eleventh Week of the MKE course, I wrote on my service card that I would make my daughter’s bed up with fresh linens before Dec 11. The serendipity of her asking if she could put a set of sheets that I had bought to use at work (I am a massage practitioner) left me in a state of wonder. She said she loved them, please could she have these ones on her bed? Of course I said, you are very welcomed to have those sheets. (I was thinking to myself, how amazing that I had written this very service on my index card!)
When I woke on the morning of the 8th Dec, I awoke inspired to accomplish the service I’d promised to do before Dec 11. The sheets my daughter had chosen were 100% cotton in brown and white pinstripes. As I held them in my hands, I was reminded of my dear ‘out of Africa duvet cover.’ I began to root around in the cupboard and storage boxes … yes there it was … a bit wrinkled but still as lovely as ever. I refreshed it in the dryer while I rummaged through the linen closet for pillow cases. OMG! There were some hand bobbined pillow slips I’d also brought with me from Kenya! Now I was on a roll! The weather forecast was for snow so I reckoned I’d better layer a few more blankets on her bed. There was my Aunt Carmen’s warm red blanket and the wonderful soft and warm cashmere buttery yellow throw and of course the terra-cotta fleecy warm and fuzzy blankie. Perfect for snowy weather! My daughter will be all toasty and warm under all of these. Now where were those curtains? Out of the linen cupboard came the ‘waiting for inspiration’ curtains. I opened and fluffed all of them and yes that single panel would do nicely in her little window. Oh and that other panel will do nicely on my bedroom window to layer up from the snow. Then I pulled out the iron and gave everything a press and got the duvet cover out of the dryer.
Once the duvet was settled with the duvet cover on the outside, I realized it needed a pressing as well, that and all of its buttons needed sewing back on. (Note to self, sewing project to do on a snowy day) I don’t know if you’ve ever wrestled a duvet into a duvet cover … it is a mighty task. Even though my great friend Diana, a Dutch woman with a huge heart, taught me the trick of turning the duvet cover inside out and holding the corners of the duvet through the rustled up duvet cover and then with a flurish like a magician and a flick of the wrist…. Presto! Duvet neatly inside its cover!
Well, this time it wasn’t so ‘presto’ more like struggle with tons of fabric. There was no way I was going to remove the cover to iron the darn thing. Thankfully, I recalled another friend of mine by the name of Dodo Cunningham Reid. She owned a beautiful lodge at Lake Naivasha and she adored freshly pressed linens on beds. So she had her staff actually press the guests’ sheets when they were on the bed itself! Dodo was known to say “No point in ironing a full sheet then folding it up. It merely leaves creases in all the wrong places.” Bingo! No fuss, no struggle I would take a page from Dodo’s book and press the duvet cover in-situ on my daughter’s bed. It was so much fun! Next thing came the task of putting back all the linens and blankets back into the cupboard. Guess what? I found three sets of sheets which had belonged to my mum, which would be perfect as sheets for my massage clients! BAM! Give more get more in vivid technicolor!
The entire time I was in service, I felt this growing sense of joy. Then I stood back to admire my handiwork. To my astonishment the panel and the duvet were an exact match! As if they were bought in the same store as a set! That totally blew me away! One bought in Kenya and the other bought in Seattle, the purchases were ten years apart as well! Was this the universe sending me a heart warming message of acceptance or what?!
Tears of excitement and happiness and joy sprung straight from my heart. The other incredible thing was, this service from start to finish was completed in an hour and a half! Another wow! It all was swimmingly effortless to boot! I’d entirely lost track of time and completely absorbed in only ‘this moment now.’ To add to this give more get more theme, the delight and appreciation my daughter has in her new comfy bed is music to my ears and a balm to my heart. She came out of her room with shining eyes and said” Mom, thank you for my new linens, they brighten my room and everything is so cosy and comfy. I love my new bed!”
I’d like to thank everyone and everything that melded together to create this moment here and now. From the grower of the cotton, to the mill where the cotton was spun and woven, to the creator of the design and of course the sewer thereof … made in China no less, also to the merchants who made it available, to the friends who gladly shared their nuggets of wisdom, to the seed of inspiration … which blossomed this very day, to the happiness and gratitude of my daughter and all to those people, places, plants and animals that touched this moment in anyway shape or form; I here and now send you with all my heart and soul … my gratitude, my thanks and my appreciation for giving this moment such a deep impression and impact on my being.
Thank you, Universe! Thank you, God!