Monday, November 9, 2015

Out with the Old

In preparation for my new floors, I've had to go through every nook and cranny of my basement.  I need to either move items elsewhere in my house, or get rid of them altogether.  Never before have I had such a good incentive to purge: I'm going to have to move every object anyway, and there's no sense in keeping what doesn't suit me.

It has been strangely liberating.

The sweater that didn't quite fit?  Gone.  The cute Japanese rice bowls that I never really used?  Gone.  The supplies purchased years ago for craft projects that never took place?  Gone.  (I am never, ever, ever going to sew pillows or use those pillow inserts.  It's time to own that, no matter how cute my vision of the finished project is.)  The big crate of canning jars that has been sitting in my attic for three years without being touched?  Gone.  And with each of these things, the freedom to stop feeling like I'm behind for not using them.  It's okay that I don't have Japanese themed dinner parties.  It's okay that I haven't gotten around to making jam in a long time.  It's okay that I don't want to sew anything.  What freedom!

That framed print, street art from a European vacation years ago?  I've never liked it; it was never quite right.  And yet, it has lived on my wall for fifteen years.  Fifteen years of "I don't really like this"?!  I lifted it right off the wall, impulsively, and stuck it in the pile.  The blank space it leaves behind doesn't look empty, it looks clean and free.

I had no idea that I was weighed down by these objects - mostly tucked away out of sight, neatly organized in their appropriate zones of the house - but clearly I was, because it feels so good to let them go.  Each time I said goodbye to something, I think I was saying that I was enough without that item.  I was saying that it didn't matter if that item was perfectly useful if it wasn't useful to me.

Sometimes, it feels really good to let go of things.

I'm trying to cleanse my life of everything that doesn't fit.  I am shedding my baggage, literally and metaphorically, as I move forward.  I think it's interesting how the literal shedding of what doesn't fit my life feels so good, but perhaps that's because I see the links to the metaphors.  I'm working at only inviting what I love into my life, and letting go of what doesn't work makes room for that.

I wish I'd done this years ago.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Growing Up

Have you heard the Macklemore song that he wrote for his new baby when his wife was pregnant?

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The lyric that stays with me is:
Times are changing, I know, but who am I if
I'm the person you become
If I'm still growing up?

I am 46 years old.  I have a nearly thirteen year old daughter.  I have a mortgage, a car payment, and a real job.  I hold a masters degree.  I have been married, and divorced.  I've run a half marathon, and I've had double mastectomies.  I do volunteer work in the community.  I cook dinner nearly every night.  I walk the dog, I pay the bills. I own a crock pot, a table saw, a lawn mower, and a life insurance policy.

But I don't feel like a grownup yet.

When do people usually feel like grownups?  Am I the only one who often feels like it's all a bit of an amusing joke that I've been granted all of these responsibilities, because I'm just starting out?

According to Macklemore, probably not.  He's an international star who, I assume, is much more together than I am.  I guess if it's okay for him to feel like he hasn't arrived, it's okay for me.  And for you.

I'm in a between-time right now: I'm winding down my current job, struggling financially because I haven't received a full child support payment in months and because my current job just barely covers the bills.  I start my new job in three weeks, and not only will my professional life change substantially, my financial life will, as well.  It is certainly a period of growth.

In order to get ready for my new job, I have to first wind down the old one of course, but I also have to make space in my life for the new one.  Because I will be working from home, I need to create a home office, and I'm spending a lot of time doing so.

A note about my house: my house is really two houses on top of each other, or so it feels.  The upstairs is a cute bungalow/cottage style, with hardwood floors, picture rail, original trim and doors (solid and attractive).  The downstairs is a daylight basement that was clearly a 1970's afterthought, with almost no trim work, horrible carpet, acoustic tile ceiling, and bad design at just about every corner.  When I had a flood I had to tear out part of the carpet, leaving bare concrete exposed in the center of the basement (and not smooth, polished, sexy concrete: this is 1923 crumbling concrete).  The downstairs is where the TV is, and where kids go to bounce off the walls, but mostly I ignore the downstairs.  It's barely usable.

And I'm changing that.

I am attempting to create a grown up's house.  I am ripping out the horrible carpet, and ripping out a poorly designed wall, and ripping out a bunch of cabinets (set up as a mother-in-law kitchen but not used that way for probably 25 years).  I'm evening out the concrete, and adding beautiful light, clean bamboo floors.  Gone will be the 1970s linoleum in the bathroom.  Gone will be the boards nailed between posts to make "bookshelves" (they weren't fooling anyone).  I'm even getting rid of the pressboard bookcases that I purchased in college and have housed my books since then.

Not only am I creating an office space for myself, I am redoing the TV room and guest room at the same time.  And I'm not borrowing favors from friends to patch something together, I'm paying Real Live Professionals to come in and do it right.

This makes me feel a teensy bit more like a grownup.  But it also makes me feel like I'm a total fraud as a grownup, because I feel so out of my comfort zone in doing this.  I feel like maybe I should cut more corners - if I put in new flooring in my office, I don't need to do the whole basement, right?  I don't really need an ergonomic chair that will help my back, do I?  It's okay to leave that weird little wall that sticks out into the middle of the room, right?  Because I don't really need anything, I can make do.  I'm fine, I won't cause any trouble, I don't need to take care of myself...

I have to fight through these feelings just about every minute of the day.

But I am fighting them, and winning!

In my new job, I need to be a full grown up.  If I do my job, I can quadruple this little organization and serve so many more women.  I need to allow every ounce of leadership within me to shine, to inspire the board and volunteers and donors to make it happen.

And in my new life, I'm trying not to put off my hopes and dreams for the future, I'm trying to make them happen.  I'm trying to remind myself that I really am a grownup, and I can make grownup decisions.  I suppose it doesn't really matter if my basement is finished or not, but it matters to ME.

In Feng Shui, basements represent the subconscious, and one's foundation.  Well, if that is the case, my subconscious has been dark, partially finished, out of date, dusty, uncared for, and ugly.  That's not the kind of foundation anyone should build upon.  I'm doing a clean sweep of the basement - that ugly old carpet probably contains enough nastiness to make anyone sick, and it needs to go - but I'm also doing a clean sweep of myself.

I want my foundation to be built upon light.  I want it to feel clean, and open, while still being inviting and comfortable.  I want to feel solid.  I want to feel complete, not unfinished.  I want to feel proud, not apologetic.  I want to feel welcoming, not closed off.  I want to feel beautiful.

I'm not even sure if I'm talking about my basement or myself as I do this project, but for whatever reason it has become highly symbolic to me.

I might be growing up.