An alternative title for this post is “The Aftermath of a Year-Long Renovation and a Week-Long Move.”
The most frequently asked question these days – at least to me, anyway – is, “How close are you to finishing the house?”
My response is typically the same: I smile, shrug my shoulders and attempt to change the subject.
Truth be told, I don’t know the answer – not because I’m not aware of the extensive list of projects that have yet to get finished or even begun or the growing list of mess-ups that need to get fixed.
No, the reason I don’t know the answer is because after more than a year of renovating and nearly a week of moving from our rental to the (unfinished) house, my brain has officially reached its full capacity.
I am physically, emotionally and mentally empty.
Even stringing together these words brings me physical pain.
Have you ever felt this way?
Anyone who has gone through a major transition in life can relate. As much as we like to claim otherwise, humans, in general, are not very flexible creatures. We like and crave stability in one form or another, and we don’t always handle life’s major transitions in the best way possible.
Sure, in retrospect we can all agree that major life changes, while incredibly frustrating and emotionally stressful, always lead to something new and better. But when you’re in the midst of the chaos, it’s borderline impossible to stay focused and not allow the layers of frustrations and emotions to cloud all other spheres of your life.
With that in mind, I’d like to share a few lessons that life is teaching me these days – as a way of reminding myself and hopefully encouraging someone else to approach periods of transition with a little more gusto and a whole lot more grace.
Speaking of grace, the first lesson is to not be so hard on yourself – much easier said than done, I know. I’m quite possibly the world’s biggest perfectionist, and I say that not with pride but rather with frustration because perfectionists tend to hold themselves up to completely unrealistic standards. For example, I am currently balancing a full-time corporate job, a house renovation, a move, a list of miscellaneous design projects, a blog, a marriage, friendships – and I say this not to fish for compliments, like, “Wow, you’re a super woman!” but rather to show you just how unrealistic my expectations are to commit a full 100 percent to each previously listed sphere of my life. The lesson here is to hold yourself up to a standard of grace rather than perfection.
Next, it’s okay to be emotional – even to cry a little, sometimes for no apparent reason. On days when it feels like you’re being pulled in a million directions and are forced to make a million decisions, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed.
In the past 13 months that it took us to bring our bungalow to a livable state, I’ve had more random crying fests than I care to admit, and that’s okay! All that built-up emotion has to come out somehow, and crying is a much better option than, say, yelling or doing something even more insane.
With any sort of transition, plan for things to take much longer than you had hoped or intended or planned. For example, our renovation was supposed to last all of six months – but here we are, 13 months later, moving in NOT because the house is finally finished, but because we’ve just come to a point where enough is enough, so to speak.
Every major life event is unique, and there’s really no standard approach, which makes it virtually impossible to accurately plan the necessary allotment of time, energy, money, resources, etc. that will be required. Besides, if your big change involves other people, that only complicates the process, because with each personality comes more uncertainties. This fact, of course, can cause us to feel like our lives are spiraling out of control, so by preparing ourselves beforehand to expect the unexpected, we can hopefully alleviate some of the frustration when things don’t go according to our plan.
In the midst of these chaos, I tend to enter a sort of auto-pilot mode, where my sole focus is to GET. THINGS. DONE. This sort of mindset can quickly take a toll on emotions, because you’ve programmed your mind to analyze what’s lacking, figure out the problem, and fix it. To help ease the frenzy, I have two pieces of advice: force yourself to every now and then take a breather and don’t hesitate to ask others for help.
I’m still struggling with both, but as the saying goes, you live and you learn, right?