Friday, February 15, 2019

A Place of Dust

This is becoming "real" now. The Great Renovation of 2019 has invaded my personal sanctum. Today ... my bedroom became part of the construction zone.

No construction. Just stringing cable and wiring through the suspended ceiling in my room. The time to enter my zone of contentment arrived. To mark the occasion, a layer of ceiling dust and debris was sprinkled generously around my room.

Not that my room couldn't use a little dusting. But ...

I have now vacuumed the surface of my room, my bed, moved it back into its spot and it is my hope that I don't wake up covered with a layer of renovation dust.

Not that I haven't been wearing a little dust to bed all week. But ...

I'm just tired. 

I must rest my head upon my dusty pillow and rest up for the weekend ahead. 

It was still a very good day. Perhaps a small taste of what is to come. But a good day all in all.

P.S. Our kitchen cupboard paint color is called "A Place of Dust". Honestly, there could not be a more apt name for our home at the moment. I often wondered what I may call a Bed & Breakfast establishment if ever I owned one. "A Place of Dust" may have just hit the Top Five.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Bathroom Renovation

The season of spending on a little project I like to call Renos 2019 is starting to wind down to a close. There are a few final expenses to add to the total but I have a running estimate to give me an idea of the grand scheme of spending. 

Money goes pretty fast in this Land of Renovations. Even though I have done my best to reign in my wish list and keep it manageable, my savings account is taking a beating. 

We left the bathroom out of the Renovation Equation, thinking we would just see what expendable cash was left over after all was said and done.

My reno guy is very sensitive to my need to watch the spending doesn't get out of hand. Thus, when I told him the story about how we need a pair of pliers to turn on the shower because the knob kept falling off ...

Out with the old!

... we came home one night to find this practical and affordable solution:

In with the new!
He drilled a small hole in the shower puller outer thing and placed a small ring in it so we can ditch our pliers and just pull on this handy dandy little shower puller.

And that is about all we can afford to spend on our bathroom right about now. A practical solution to a decades long problem. This is something Dad would have done.

My reno guy watches his (my) spending at every turn and has made this renovation thus far as affordable as a full on main floor renovation could be.

Add my Second Son to the equation and he is finishing off where my reno guy will leave off. My son's ideas, attention to detail and awareness of the budget is another glimpse of Dad which has been brought into our home.

This renovation would have, could have and probably should have brought my stress levels to an all time high. But it hasn't.

Our home is in good and watchful hands. I feel the essence of Mom and Dad waft through this process. Mom would have enjoyed this. She always preferred "refurbishing an existing home" versus "buying something brand new". Dad would have given his nod of approval to the shower fix and I'm certain my son has already incorporated many of the ways Dad would have added his touch to our home's maintenance, now and all the ways he has done so in the past.

A week from now, things are going to be looking pretty good around here. I have enjoyed this process. Good things come to those who wait. Our home has waited a very long time for this. I can almost feel it smiling ... 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

One Step Ahead, With an Eye on the Future

We are almost halfway through February. We are past the midpoint of winter. We have endured the shortest day and the added number of sunlight hours is starting to become noticeable.

This is the part of winter I normally find the hardest to endure. I'm tired of it all, ready to sit in a sunbeam and start thinking about spring.

This year however? Our winter is passing and I'm going with the flow of life with relative ease.

I have had a few other winters such as this. Once I was knee deep into a correspondence course; another time I took on collecting memories from Mom's family. This year, is the Winter of Home Renovations.

My thoughts are consumed with the transformation within our walls. I come home from work eager to check on the progress that happened in our absence. As I dust off the surfaces we will need to use the next morning, I marvel at all that is new and improved within these four walls.

I didn't jump into this renovation. I have thought, rethought and talked myself out of doing anything around here for years. I knew once the process was in motion, it would grow into something that would become larger than my weary mind (and budget) could process.

I was right. Our entire main floor (minus the bathroom, for the moment) is involved in this home makeover. I'm spending money like I haven't spent money before. My resources are being taxed to the max. I knew it would become "this". I'm so glad I waited. I wasn't ready before now.

I often think of Mom, as she always seemed to have ideas for her home. Whether it was a sun room, a counter top, flooring, a book shelf or simply painting the bathroom with a little leftover paint she already had on hand ... she seemed to have unlimited ideas of what she would like to update next.

She would often make a comment about it being nice to have new thoughts to think. Whether it was an update within her home, having company or even stepping out to the mall, she knew she needed to stop the cycle of thoughts and would look for a diversion to intercept her thinking.

It is most likely because I remember how Mom enjoyed finding ways to update and improve her home that I feel her so strongly within my thoughts as I walk this particular walk. She would definitely have opinions and I would have been easily swayed by her thoughts. I am finding myself very compliant with others' opinions. I know what I DO want (the rounded corners were a must and there have been some other things I knew without a doubt), but the kitchen sink, baseboards, light fixtures and all the fine tuning? I am glad to have input and opinions.

There have been so many thoughts to think and so many decisions to make. And it has all been easy. So easy. No regrets. Very little over-thinking. I have been preparing myself for this for years.

My thoughts have been consumed with new thoughts. I am envisioning what our new and improved home will look and feel like as the days lengthen and the sun starts shining into these renewed rooms.

Due to the fact that we don't use our three upstairs bedrooms, I have had the doors to these rooms closed for a very long time (to keep the cats and cat hair out of them). When the doors used to be open, the blinds were closed. Presently, all doors and blinds have been removed. A few mornings ago, as the sun was starting to shine I noticed light from down the hallway. I thought I had left a light on. It was the sun starting to rise and beaming through the room I would like to become know as my "sunny room".

Mom designated her "sun room" to me, meaning I should have the contents of that room. I laughed and said I'd just take the whole room. This planted a seed within me. I would love to have a sun room but it is purely impractical at this time. We have a home that has three empty bedrooms within it. The last thing we need is to add another room. Thus, I decided I would like to turn the room formerly known as "Mom's Room" into a "Sunny Room".

Yes, my head has been full of new and improved thoughts. So much lightness, so many fleeting thoughts of Mom and Dad ... so many thoughts that we are through the worst of winter and I have barely even noticed.

Time flies when you are focused on new thoughts, brighter horizons and looking one step beyond where you are right now. Looking too far ahead is too big, too tall and too scary. One step ahead is a very good place to go.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Exhaustion Speak

We have now have our newly painted, freshly updated and completely refreshed kitchen cupboards full and back in service.

I had to make a few small revisions to where things are but for the most part all is relatively unchanged.

I was telling my son the location of a few often used items:

"The yellow thing ... you use for straining macaroni ... is on the whirly thing that spins right beside where it used to be."

His response?

"You mean the colander is on the lazy Susan?"

When exhaustion speaks, one never knows what will come from one's mouth. I'd better just sit back and listen for a while.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Writing to Myself - A Letter I Found Two Years Early

I searched my blog for a good "Pringles" story to find a quote for a previous post and I came upon this letter to my 60 year old self. I wrote this when I was 55 years old. I am 58 years old now and I'm reading it two years before my 60 year old self was to find it. Two months after this was written, I set the wheels of change in motion. It has been a process that has led me to this very day.


Letter to Self (from a Sixty Year Old Me)

Dear Fifty Five Year Old You,

I am writing this letter to you four and a half years in advance of you turning sixty years old. I am writing it to you this morning because I'm a little disgusted and disappointed in "55 Year Old You" and I think you need a good talking to. This may not be pretty. You have been warned.

I am very disappointed in you lately. If I didn't know who you were and where you have been, I would call you a "quitter". Heavens, I can't even call you a quitter because lately you have been too afraid, paralyzed &/or lazy to even start anything.

I know, I know. Once you start, you feel committed. Once you feel committed to something, you start beating yourself up. Relentlessly. You think you can't start something because you don't have a whole big chunk of time to devote to the job. So you don't start anything.

This has got to end. You know that. You know the answer is to simply take small bites out of big jobs and whittle away at them. You know this! Why aren't you acting on it? I know, I know!  You are tired. Your daycare days are long. Your weekends are short. How can you do "big things" when you have so little left over at the end of the day?

If you keep this up, by the time you hit the age of sixty you will want to abandon this ship and this home you have created because there is always "too much to do". Isn't this home everything you ever wanted? Hasn't this house enabled you to work from home and adapted to whatever you wanted it to do for you? Hasn't the ability to pay "interest only" on your mortgage allowed you to pay your bills, live a comfortable life and given you more financial freedom than renting an apartment could ever afford you?

This house is so much more than a roof over your head. It sustains you. It shelters you from the harsh elements of life in so many ways more than the weather. Respect it, take care of it, pamper it a little from time to time and it will continue to be there for you. And please, please, please try to pay it off!

Speaking of houses, I have no idea why I started this rant about "where you are" and "where I want you to go" with the house. I should have started with this body that is going to carry us from Point A to Point B. If I think you've let the house that shelters us go to pot, what in the world do you think I think about the way you are treating our body? How in the world is this vessel going to weather stormy weather if you don't smarten up and take better care of it?

As it is with the house, it is with our body. Start small. Rome wasn't built in a day. Fifteen minutes isn't long. Start there. Fifteen minutes of extra curricular movement. Yes, I know you think your daycare life is keeping you from turning to stone. But it isn't challenging you. You need to stretch and move and lift and get your heart pumping faster. You know this. But you aren't doing anything about it.

Start with an early morning walk. Rain or shine or sleet or hail. Walk. Just walk! Remember how awesome you felt when you took on those early morning paper routes? Walking the streets of your neighborhood while "the world" slept? You marvelled at the Northern lights, the glistening snow, the sounds of silence and nature. You thought. The words flowed in and out and through you. You came home revitalized, energized and motivated. You loved that time. Skip the paper route, take on the walks. Start there. Add and change things up as you go along. But you must BEGIN. You must. Your life depends upon it.

While I'm at it, you must nourish yourself with good food. What you feed your body fuels your brain and your brain is acting starved lately. Give it some good, solid fuel to work with and you may be amazed that your ability to think, act decisively and "do hard things". This is half the work you thought it was when you were spending your life binge watching the Gilmore Girls on the couch, with a can of Pringles at your side. Replace the Pringles with almonds. Make good meals and you may be amazed that you may fuel the appetite of others. "If you make it they will come."

I've sat back and watched you wither yourself away into a shadow of who you are capable of being. You do not have to do great things at all times but you do need to follow your passions. When you deny yourself the ability to dream big and chase a few of those dreams you become small and your world becomes smaller. You know your world is shrinking. You think you like this feeling right now. I want you to look outside of your smallness and do uncomfortable things again. Invite people into your life.

You need to look out the window and let the world inside. You are lonely and you don't even know it. You think you don't have enough of yourself to spread out any thinner than you already are. You have been here before and you will be here again. Writing is where it is at for you. If you are too tired, too fearful and too stuck in your ruts, WRITE! Send emails, letters, cards and write little notes to those who have made an impact. Write! Write! Write! This is the way out of your small world. It is a beginning.

Judging by the dreams you have been having lately, you are feeling very aware of Mom's mortality. In some ways, you feel like you are "channelling Mom" in the ways you have slowed yourself down, felt overly attached to this house and subconsciously made your world such a small one. I think you are trying to understand exactly what she is feeling by mirroring her world within your own. STOP IT! Stop it right now!! Instead, focus on "who Mom was" when she was the age you are at right now.

When Mom was this age, she was faced with her new reality after Dad's heart attack. He never came home again. I think of Mom when she was going through that time and she was strong. She simply kept taking the next forward step during a time where she must have felt completely in limbo. We marvelled at how young Mom was at age 65 and all the memories her grandchildren had of their very untypical grandma. Yes, Mom was (and still is) a force to be reckoned with. Her family and her home were (and still are) everything to her. Yes, she has slowed down. Yes, her body is starting to wear out. No, she will not live forever. That scares you, doesn't it? Ya, me too.

We don't know what life is going to hand us in between "now" and "five years from now". You simply cannot spend your time focused on that uncertainty. Take the lessons you learned from "loving André" and pay them forward.
  • SAVOR THE MOMENT. Always. 
  • Make memories, document them. Take pictures, but write. ALWAYS WRITE!
  • Let your love shine. Your actions speak louder than words. ACT LOVINGLY.
  • Let others know how you feel. SPREAD THE POSITIVE. One positive word goes a long way. 
  • You will never regret what you have done. DO ALL YOU ARE CAPABLE OF DOING.
You know where your passions lie. For you, it is writing. Write for yourself. Share what is worth sharing. Just keep writing.

You are at a crossroads right now. Your children are adults and on their way. Some are further down the road than others but never forget how you feel towards your own Mom because that feeling is one you want to nurture with  your own children. We have a good, solid foundation. Just keep building.

You have some amazing friendships and relationships within your world. Don't neglect them. Even when you think you don't have time, you can always make time to send off a note or card or email. Keep those connections alive. They nourish and sustain you.

Take a chance. One chance at a time. You have become a shell of who you used to be. You know it. You are disappointed in yourself right now but this is not the end of your story. Even though (at the moment) you wouldn't care if it was.

Yes, you are tired. You are tired because you are not involved in creating your own story. You are sitting dormant, waiting for life to happen. When "life happens" it is like a slap on the face. You react. You feel indignant. You recoil then rebound. You always rebound. How about not waiting for a "slap in the face" this time? You have the power to live life out loud without being slapped into it.

Feed your body, mind and soul with fresh air, good food and positive input.
Walk. START by walking.
Write. Never stop writing. It is where you find your answers, your inspiration and your dreams.
Love. Open your heart up and take a chance again.

I want to read these words in four and a half years and say "YES! YES!! and YES!!!". I did it. I made changes. I pushed myself out of that rut and into a new and improved one. Most of all I want you to believe "Life does go on regardless of how you live it. Live it well!"

See you in the future my weary friend. You have everything you need inside of you. And if it isn't inside of you, it is here within your home, your heart and those who touch your world. Stay connected, my friend. Stop, look, listen with your heart. You will find your way. You aren't lost. You just haven't found the right highway yet.

You will find your Field of Dreams, my friend. "If you build it, they will come" ...

To be continued.

The Unbecoming

Glennon Doyle says this: "Recovery is an unbecoming. My healing has been a peeling away of costume after costume until here I am, still and naked before God, stripped down to my real identity."

I say this: "Renovation is an unbecoming. Our home has been peeled away of layer after layer of past flooring and paint until here we are, stripped down to the bones and naked before us, stripped down to is original identity."

Demo day was yesterday. The main floor of our home has been stripped down to this:

Our cats have lost their "cat table" by the living room window ... but they are improvising

Our hallway is barren, as is the linen closet (note the new rounded corners!! I am quite excited about these)

The room formerly known as "Mom's room" awaits its new identity

This room has been my room, my two youngest sons' room (at two different times) and a spare room. What will it become next?

This has been our TV room and my room. In its "unbecoming", I am not certain of this room's fate

Our back entrance takes quite a beating - I can't wait for its fresh new look

Our kitchen has been in the process of "becoming" a new-to-us version of its old self. I love everything about it and cannot wait for its final reveal. It awaits grouting, flooring and a new light fixture over the table
And here our home stands, naked and awaiting a fresh coat of paint, new flooring, baseboards and doors.

Ever since I walked into this house, I have felt it was destined to become our home. Everything about it felt right. The location, the layout, the yard and the "feeling" I felt when I walked into this house had me sold. Throughout the years, the feeling has only grown stronger.

This house has housed us through raising my boys, in and out and through love, loss and everything in between, sixteen years of daycaring, two dogs and seven cats. If these walls could talk, they would have a lot to say.

Throughout it all (except for a short phase when I was frustrated at home ownership because it felt like I had another dependent child, without the income tax deduction), the knowledge this house was "meant to be ours" grew stronger with each passing year.

You can imagine my surprise and delight to find a "fix" a former renovator made while transitioning the front entrance flooring into the living room. In order to accommodate for the layer of linoleum which made the entrance a fraction of an inch higher than the living room floor, they MacGyvered a solution. They stapled a few layers of cardboard to the plywood in the living room to equal the height of the entrance. Guess what cardboard they used?

 A chip box! Me and chips go a long way back. We are still an item. I just laughed when we came upon a "chip box fix" built right into the floor we walk on every day.

The only thing we could have uncovered that defined me more than a box of Old Dutch chips, is if we had unveiled an empty can of Pringles.

In our home's "unbecoming" and revealing the layers of its past, I am "becoming" more of who I want to be. This is a good thing.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Demo Day

Today may be the day I lose my sense of peace as we undertake the Renovation of the Century here within our little world,

Today the flooring, baseboards, doors and door casings come off. Today, I lose the ability to vacuum up the day and lose myself in the evening and following morning with a sense of normalcy. Today, renos cross over into my weekend space.

I am feeling there was a reason for my Time of Stillness. It was to prepare me for the day renovations became my reality.

I am tired like I have not been tired for a very long time. I'm glad I stepped into this time of renovating fully rested and ready to take on the world.

I'm certainly going to enjoy sitting back and savoring the view after all is said and done.