Sunday, July 22, 2012

Adjusting Sails

"You can't control the wind, but you can adjust the sails"

This has been my mantra for the last two weeks. We've started some home renovation projects after doing so much research for months. We had flooring samples from different vendors, did the research online and with consumer ratings. We interviewed friends and designers for their suggestions on paint colors and did sample patches. We found contractors based on personal references, and followed up with others. We were in fortunate and unusual position of having 2 good contractors and needed to make a decision based on schedule, not price or competency.

They ripped apart our carpeting and vinyl to prepare for the hard wood floors. However, once they opened the boxes of wood, they brought to our attention the quality of wood. It was really inconsistent and poor. This led to a frustrating weekend for us, and lots of split decisions as our house was upside down and we had to make sense of it all. In addition to the wood, we had some issues with bathrooms, new appliance and a leaking basement ceiling.

Anyway, I don't want to go into details-- there are plenty of DIY sites out there. I'm focusing on the DIY inside. This was very stressful for us mentally and physically, and for my husband, it became spiritually exhausting feeling the collapse of a year of hard work.

Control Issues

I needed to point out that we controlled every factor that we could - the contractor, the wood selection, special situations that needed to be addressed, coordination of simultaneous installations/delivery of other components. All of that was done impeccably. However, we could not control what happened when those boxes were packed at the factory. Was the machine out of sorts? Were these returns? Did someone not understand how this worked? Did they mix up the boxes and send the wrong ones out?

This is when we need to adjust our sails. We could easily wallow in self-pity and blamed it on "bad luck" or "mercury retrograde" or even the Evil Eye or beat ourselves up for being plain old stupid.  However, all we could do is really clear our minds and work logically through the chaos.

To adjust your sails is to take control, but a different way.

One of my gifts in life is to be the calm in the center of the storm. This is not to say I don't become the eye of the storm every now and then! However, generally, I like Rudyard Kipling's If that begins  "If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs.." That's when I usually step up to the plate - ease the energy.
Since I work in IT, this is a skill that used quiet frequently as there are stressful and uncontrollable situations constantly.

Part of being calm and rational is to be able to look at the situation and the options at hand. We had to make some decisions very quickly. You make decisions with the information you have on hand a that moment. You don't know the future so you can only predict based on what you know. At that moment, we had to make decisions based on current conditions. Now we look back and wonder what we could've done differently. But hindsight is 20/20, of course. It's easier to say "we should've done xyz" but at that moment we didn't know that at the time. 

I believe I blogged about this before, but it's not having control over situations that makes us anxious. When you're in the middle of chaos, you have to find some way to control what is in your power.

Deep Breaths
With regard to our house, we've decided to take a break for a bit and have scheduled some help on this. We've let go of the anxiety of deadlines and schedules, and opening up to whatever may be as long as the results are desirable.

I had a friend who said "Never make long term decisions on short term circumstances." Look at the big picture and you see where this fits in.

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