I am blessed. I don’t always remember this, but I am. We all are. The biggest challenge in moving through our days is remembering all the gifts that are contained in what Mary Oliver calls our “one wild and precious life.”
This transition from apartment dweller to homeowner has been challenging because, quite simply, I am not used to not knowing things. Is the connection gas or electric? What’s the rough in? You can’t do X because it’s an exterior wall. You can do Y because it’s between the joists … it’s mind-boggling.
That floor job I raved about in an earlier post? It wasn’t close to being done. How did I find out? From the parade of other workers who walked through the house and asked when the floors would be finished. I only admitted to the first person that I thought that they were done. The floor guy I raved about? He stopped returning my calls and e-mails. When I finally did get a hold of him, he said, “You thought they looked good.” Indeed, I did. But they weren’t done — and he let me think they were.
This renovation has brought up every fear I have about being taken advantage of. It is hard to rely on strangers to give good advice. (And no matter how hard I try to teach myself, there is only so much I can google). Fortunately, I have incredible people to help me navigate this terrain. When I called my dear friend and former landlord Tony in a panic about the half-done floors, he assured me he’d help. True to form, he has.
Tony has worked on upward of 50 homes, but still remembers how hard the first one was: “I remember how freaked out I was when we bought our first home and how overwhelming it was. I can still see the old basement and the bad foundation and feel the sense of dread. Now I know that houses are actually really tough — they hold together well, especially the older ones like yours … Before you know it you will be all moved in and settled, and sooner than you think … you will be delighted by the surprises that pop up and open all around you.”
I am trying to stay open to the mystery of every new experience by being grateful and compassionate. Part of this is about being kind to myself. Each morning I recommit to this (some days I am more successful at this than others). It starts with tea for one (instead of heavily sugared coffee, which masks my fatigue so I can’t tell when I am overtired) and a few quiet minutes to give thanks. I wake up in a warm bed and have a lot of love in my life, so I think there is always something to be grateful for (not that there always isn’t something to also kvetch about, but I am reframing here). These actions are intentional and help set the tone for the day.
Gifts come in many places and at many times. Right now my favorite gift is time. I am trying to respect how long things take (renovating the bathroom) and give myself time to process all these big changes. I am surprised that my biggest teacher in this regard has been my humble attempt at crocheting (emphasis on humble). I love the feel of the hook, I love the colors of yarn, and I love my amazing, made-in-Seattle cork knitting bag from Tom Bihn. Cork is harvested by peeling the bark, not cutting the tree. The bag is smartly designed to hold everything from crochet needles to cell phones and keys. It is my it bag (quite possibly in perpetuity because, yes, it’s that beautiful and functional).
I am off to try to crochet something. But before I sign off I have one more person for whom I am grateful. That’s you, dear reader. Thanks for joining me on this interesting ride. Next up, greening the actual move! Look for bits and bobs on Twitter @simransethi.
Photo by Simran Sethi