Towards the close of last year, I decided the house was due for a face lift. Approaching the 15 year mark and countless foster pets that have left their loving (and lasting) mark on our hearts and on our floors, it was time to retire my "eye of shame" and treat our home the Cinderella touch it rightfully deserved.
My only challenge was...time.
I'm not exactly known for a sleepy professional life. Coupled with marathon training, animal rescue, and acting as happy Holly Homemaker, one can surmise that I keep a very tight schedule and organized day. Yes, spreadsheets are involved and I don't tolerate much room for error. I could have hired an army of professionals to take care of these projects for me, sure, but I really yearned to immerse my heart and soul into this endeavor. I wanted to boast my own personal stamp of completion and have my home be a sincere reflection of respect and harmony. I had several days scheduled at the end of 2017 for time away from the office, where I had meticulously planned by the hour (and sometimes to the minute), how I would complete this repainting project. In 5 days, by myself. In one of my peak months of marathon training and the start of tax season.
So....how did I do? Well, it's July and I'm just now finishing the trim work in the last two rooms. I did, however, also decide to replace the flooring. And refinish a built-in bookcase. And paint a chalkboard wall in my kitchen. And hang vintage wallpaper. And devise a streamlined storage system for all of the cupboards. And all of the closets, too, while I was at it. Paint a 5 foot abstract for my stairwell and, oh, replace some furniture. What was I thinking? Well, I've had seven very productive months to really analyze this behavior, because this has been a problem of mine since the beginning of my existence. Honestly, I don't respect time. Driven by ego and hubris, I have developed this destructive habit of forcing unrealistic expectations on myself and a chronic addiction to overachieve. Destructive in the sense that unrealistic expectations create a toxic environment where progress and patience suffocate. Addiction, in the sense that it is nearly impossible for me to resist jaw dropping challenges. Can compulsive goal setting be unhealthy? My ego says never ever, but my soul has come to realize...sometimes, yes.
My journal/training schedule/calendar is a history of spit and vinegar that holds nary an empty space. So often, though, I face the aggravation of creating this picture-perfect-fresh schedule for the week, only to realize that by its close, maybe 50% of it was actually accomplished and the rest rearranged, rescheduled, or scratched altogether. What's worse, is that I attempt the same insanity again and again and again. Subconsciously, this promotes a really negative mindset. Fraudulent feelings of failure and incompetence shroud an otherwise completely productive week. Frustration, inadequacy, and even depression take the place of where pride and accomplishment should reside. Once I realized that 5 days off was barely enough time to complete one bathroom, let alone an entire house....I became really crabby.
Never mind the obstacles that presented themselves along the way, that I allocated zero tolerance for: Choosing the wrong shade of "mustard gold" not once, but THREE times for the master bedroom, a nagging wrist issue that has now escalated to surgery next month, the passing of my father. This experience, however, has summoned one of life's, "hit reset" moments that forced me to finally address this character flaw head on, at 43 years of age. It was time to STOP.
Not only was I responsible for my own frustrations and feelings of inadequacy, which was humiliating enough to admit, but the mania that this mindset manifests was destroying an otherwise beautiful, rewarding and memorable experience. I'm remodeling my own home, really? That's huge! I thought about how many times in the past was I guilty of this same thing, dampening an otherwise amazing milestone or achievement with nonsense criticism and disappointment. There was a far more positive way to come at this.
The first step was to kick out the ridiculous demands and deadlines. Instead, I revised my calendar to simply schedule the hours that I would be working on the house on specified days, rather than staring at an unrealistic set of tasks that I expected to accomplish that week. Whatever was accomplished in that time frame was what was going to be. It totally shifted my mindset from negative to positive, obsessing over what I didn't complete to instead, acknowledging the progress I had made. The second, was to actually list those accomplishments and really let them sink in. Maybe it didn't seem like much on a certain day, but perhaps instead I solved a problem, or bested a glitch, or took the extra time to perfect my trim work, rather than just rushing and forcing completion. And the third, was to recognize something far more important. Acknowledging my perseverance. Failures, setbacks, mistakes redos, and resets, and I am still going. Creating. Savoring. Taking all the time in the world to show respect to my vision, to my focus and to time itself. And allowing joy to permeate this moment.
Revised completion date? No idea, and it no longer matters. I am surprised and grateful to have learned so much about myself from this grandiose project. I know the true test will come once my brain conjures up the next, "Big Thing", that it wants to accomplish at record pace. It's just a matter of time, so good thing I made amends with it.