I am always amazed at how a change in attitude can change everything. When we (and when I say “we” I really mean me) stubbornly hang on to our views on the way things should be, we can really miss out on what is. Often it doesn’t ever occur to us that we could be wrong; it’s the old “my way or the highway” thinking.
Well, about that—I have griped for ten whole years (not every day, but enough to be a huge pain in the hinder) about living in our “construction zone.” We moved into the house the Crankee Yankee and his brother grew up in (circa 1953) ten years ago. Turns out it needed a LOT of work.
Now if it had just been me moving into the house, I wouldn’t have noticed (or cared) about any of it. I would have been blissfully unaware of all the things that really needed to be done. I’d have probably gotten up one morning to see that the toilet had fallen right through the floor to the cellar, or opened the cabinets to see a family of mice living in the teacups.
But I’m a writer, not a carpenter. The Crankee Yankee has been and still is an excellent carpenter, and has taken on everything that badly needed help; literally from the roof to the cellar floor.
Well—I’ve never lived in the middle of a ‘construction zone’, and I’m still not used to it. While some would pick one area, get out the necessary tools, complete the job, put away the tools and then move on to the next job, the Crankee Yankee has his own method. He’ll work on one area, then go on to the next; do some work, and move on. This way everything ends up finished around the same time.
Strangely enough, this method is exactly how I wrote technical manuals before I retired. On any day I could have anywhere from three to seven manuals to write. I’d work on one, get tired of it and put a placeholder in it, then move on to the next and the next in similar fashion. Granted, working on manuals is nothing like repairing and renovating a home, but it’s the same principle.
After at least one blowup every other month or so about the state of the house, ending with me in tears and the Crankee Yankee feeling that I didn’t appreciate all he was doing, things had to change.
The fact is that everything the Crankee Yankee works on is done right. It takes more time, but once it’s done, it’s good to go for another 50 or so years. As he says, doing it right the first time pays off in the long run. True, there will be a mess to live with for a while, but once it’s finished, nothing more needs to be done. Also we pay for materials as we go along, so we don’t have a pile of debt over our heads.
Part of my frustration was because I didn’t understand doodly about construction. While he could see the necessary steps leading up to completing a project, I couldn’t. It’s the “knee bone connected to the thigh bone” theory; first things first.
All my complaining and tears did absolutely nothing to change the Crankee Yankee’s step-by-step process. Of course he took my suggestions and ideas seriously, and patiently explained what he was doing and why he was doing it the way he was—but often I just couldn’t understand. So there we were, two people who loved each other dearly but were frustrated with each other.
Ever have one of those “ah ha!” moments when you see a situation from a new angle? It took me years to figure this out (I am a slow learner), but I finally did. Here’s what I did: first I decided not to engage my blame-game thinking. Secondly, I took a good long tour of the house. I finally saw all the progress.
Seriously, it was there all the time, but I was too busy complaining and getting angry to see it. I saw all this:
- The upstairs project (small bedroom, bathroom and sitting room) had been cleared out of nearly all the debris and boxes and bags of stuff, and most of the sheetrock was up and taped.
- The cellar was cleared out of 75% of the Crankee Yankee’s model train boxes, etc. and you could actually walk around down there without bumping into anything.
- The backyard has been cleaned up to a fare-thee-well, and actually looks pretty good.
- The back porch has been cleared out so that we can sit in our chairs and watch the fireflies at night.
- Bags and boxes of clothing, etc. has been bagged up and taken to our local donation drop-off.
All at once, I saw, really saw all that was cleaned up, fixed up and well on the way to being completed.
The frustration and anger melted away. I felt a wave of gratitude for my husband’s hard work. I began complimenting him on what he had done. I stopped overthinking and started being grateful. Yes, there are frustrating things that happen when so much needs to be done, but things are progressing, and faster than I would have believed.
I am happier, and he is happier. It truly took an attitude adjustment on my part, but quite frankly, things are working out and coming together. We are a team, and as we all know, there’s no “i” in team. Hackneyed saying, but it’s true. Once I stopped being blind to the good I could let the bad go.
“*None so blind as those who will not see.”
*According to the ‘Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings’ this proverb has been traced back to 1546 (John Heywood), and resembles the Biblical verse Jeremiah 5:21 (‘Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not’). In 1738 it was used by Jonathan Swift in his ‘Polite Conversation’ and is first attested in the United States in the 1713 ‘Works of Thomas Chalkley’. The full saying is: ‘There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know’.