Tag Archives: Relief

Sunday Self-Care: Overcoming intimidation

We live in a house that was built sometime during the 1920s. It has hardwood floors in the living and dining rooms — not laminate you put down over Masonite, but actual bare floorboards. They creak when you walk over them, which I’ve always regarded as a sort of safety feature: If anyone were fool enough to break in, the floorboards would telegraph his movements, making it impossible for him to sneak up on me.

Unfortunately, some of those floorboards got a little too creaky for their own good, and a couple of them developed splits that made them feel spongy underfoot. They were starting to worry me: What if somebody stepped on them wrong and went all the way through?

Predictably, the culprits were located directly over an area in the basement where somebody had nailed a big piece of sheet metal to the joists. I had no idea what was under that metal, why it was there, or what dire fate would ensue if I removed it to get to the spongy boards. And even if I could get to them, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do with them.

I ignored the problem for weeks. It got worse and worse, until I finally gave up and asked Dad to come look at it and tell me what it needed. I was afraid I’d have to hire somebody to fix it, but Dad told me the mysterious metal was just the bottom of the cold-air return for my HVAC system, and I should simply pry it off, repair the floor from the underside, and put it back on when I was finished.

I was fine with that until I realized I’d have to work around water lines, cables, and conduits full of Romex to get the metal off. I worried about that all week, but there was no choice; if I didn’t fix the floor, we were liable to crash through it, which I really didn’t need.

I looked at it again Friday, came up with a workaround Ron agreed was a good one, and spent the balance of the weekend playing with power tools.

I’m sore, scratched, bruised, and tired, but I’m also relieved, happy, and kind of proud of myself. DIY projects make me feel grown-up. I’ll try to share the details of this one tomorrow.

Emily

Sunday Self-Care: On procrastination

I will never understand why I procrastinate. Putting off a difficult task makes sense. Dreading a challenge makes sense. But altogether too often, I put off projects I really want to do, jobs that will make a big impact when they’re completed, or simple tasks that are likely to take half an hour or less.

Sometimes it’s inadvertent: I make a to-do list for my day off, prioritize it, and then get tired or run out of time and carry the lower-priority jobs over to the next week. If they don’t have deadlines, they end up at the bottom of the next week’s list, too, and the cycle starts all over.

After a few weeks of seeing the same unfinished job on my to-do list, I start to feel overwhelmed. The longer it’s on the list, the more Herculean it starts to look.

If there is an up side to this phenomenon, it’s the exquisite sense of relief I feel when I finally finish the project I’ve been delaying.

I had that feeling this weekend.

About 15 years ago, Ron commissioned a replica of one of the neon swallows that hang above the garages at the Blue Swallow Motel. When we moved here, I had to keep it in storage, because I didn’t have a good way to keep Walter from knocking it down.

Several months ago, I found a vinyl channel that would mount to the wall and keep the cord from dangling and turning my beautiful swallow into a cat toy. All I needed to do was paint it, install it, and hang up the sign.

As usual, one thing led to another, and the neon installation drifted to the bottom of the to-do list until Friday, when I finally got a hand free and forced myself to do the job.

Hello, old friend. I've missed you terribly.
Hello, old friend. I’ve missed you terribly.

It took longer to unpack the swallow than it did to install it.

This piece was the literal light of my life in Belleville, where I’d turn it on and look at its soft argon glow whenever I was depressed and needed a break but couldn’t quite manage a 14-hour road trip to Tucumcari. I denied myself access to that soothing blue light for three months longer than necessary, and I have no idea why.

Lighting the darkness.
Lighting the darkness.

If you’re feeling out of sorts, try turning your to-do list upside-down just long enough to complete that task you’ve been deferring for weeks. I suspect you’ll find the sense of relief and accomplishment that follows will lighten your mood as surely as a neon sign lights up a dark wall.

Emily