Monday, March 23, 2020

Everything That's Been Hard Lately

An ominous title for a post, I know. I do, in general, want to keep this space a spot of calmness and simplicity in a chaotic world. But before I can really do that and explain why and how I live slow and simple, I need to go back and explain all the things that were hard. This post is the only one that's a bit negative, it'll be getting more positive from here. So, here are the things that happened in 2019 (and last week) that were mentally and emotionally taxing:
 

My dad's health. My dad is 80 years old and has had a pacemaker for most of my 35 years of existence. His father and two brothers all died in their 40s and 50s due to heart issues. As a doctor, he's always been on top of getting things checked out and I'm fairly used to him having procedures and spending a few overnights in the hospital. It's the norm, so it's not something that usually weighs on me. Until he had chest pains the pacemaker couldn't control. He ended up having surgery to fix an extra artery he randomly has in his heart that was narrowing and causing all the issues. The surgeon confirmed he's in congestive heart failure and the surgery improved his quality of life but not necessarily the length of it. Which is never easy news to hear. There's really no telling how long - could be 10 months, could be another 10 years. We just take it day by day, but he honestly seems to be doing great. He and my mom have been down in Florida since the end of January, enjoying the weather.

My mom's health. This one hit hard because my mom is 14 years younger than my dad and undeniably 'the healthy one' in the family. And then on December 31, 2019, with no warning signs, my mom had a mild stroke. At age 66. I am happy to report that she's almost totally back to normal now, but at the time it was incredibly scary and difficult. My dad just isn't capable of doing all the things around the house that my mom normally does (going up and down 15 stairs to the basement to do laundry is a big one) so I had to be there a lot to help. I've done it before when she had her hip surgery earlier in 2019 so I had the routine down but man, I am very thankful that we live so close to them and very thankful she's going to be just fine. It was simply narrowing of an artery due to aging, there's nothing she could have done and as long as she eats and exercises like she's always been doing, this shouldn't happen again. She does have high blood pressure so she has to closely watch that and her medication for it, but it's not a major issue.

Funerals. Inevitable, huh? I drove with my mom (twice) up to Wisconsin for her aunt's funeral and then burial ceremony in the fall of 2019. They are more like celebrations when someone lived so long but it's still hard. She was like a mother to my mom, really was the one who raised her. (If you're new here, my grandmother is a truly horrible human being and we don't have anything to do with her.) I was really thankful that I had already started the process of simplifying my life and living slowly, so I had the time to be with my mom and drive her 3 hours one way for these things.

We also had a funeral for my friend's dad who passed away on Thanksgiving morning from a sudden heart attack. That one was tough. He was a groomsman in my parents wedding and also had an only child daughter, a year younger than me, so she's like a sister to me. It's their condo my parents are staying in in Florida right now. He was also a doctor and had the wake at the same place my dad has picked out, so it was like a glimpse into the future and I did not enjoy that one bit.

Our house and home owning in general. Compared to other things on the list, this is so petty. But it's still something that's been hard for me - I am not cut out to be a homeowner. (Or I should say, I was not, but I am now and will continue to work on it!) Everyone tells me that it's normal and expected for things to break and otherwise go wrong in a house and logically I understand that, but emotionally it felt like getting hit with one thing after another. The roof in the back room always leaked so we decided to put a deck there with doors to make the room more usable, fixing the wall, roof, and gutter issues in one fell swoop. We love it, but it was expensive because of course they found other issues. Shortly after that was completed, we got a ton of water in the basement, soaking the carpet. Turned out to be cracks in the foundation. A fixable issue, but we still had to rip out all the drywall, all the carpet, and then repair everything and install new flooring. Then also in the basement there was a leak somewhere in my bathroom, so we had to take out the sink/vanity and open up that wall too, repair the pipe, and then re-insulate and seal everything up again. Ugh. Those were just the major things but there were also a lot little issues to be fixed - things that just weren't done correctly when they flipped the house. Incredibly frustrating.

After all that, I went through a long 'I hate this house' phase, which was mentally exhausting because I'm such a homebody and the hearth is so important to me. 'Home' rather than 'house' is so much about attitude and my attitude sucked. I really had to turn this around. I'm still working on it, which is why I have a lot to say in upcoming blog posts about homemaking.

Lack of sleep. I need 8 hours a night, it's non-negotiable. But I spent a few months not sleeping well at all. Stress, certainly, but also pain in the ass neighbors who let the dog out at 2 or 3 a.m. and let it bark for an hour trying to get back inside. We talked to them patiently a couple of times but it didn't work long term. So finally John had to threaten them and getting threatened by a 6'4" 260 lb bulky fireman is apparently what works because it's been quiet since. I was also doing a lot of other things that weren't conducive to sleep, though - looking at screens to late, consuming content that would fire me up before bed, not getting enough exercise, eating sugar at night, etc etc. Sleep is so important, so I really needed to adjust all my habits around bedtime and slow living in general.

Hawkeye's surgery. She'll be okay, she just had surgery this morning on her leg because of her bad knees. She snapped some ligaments and just couldn't put weight on the back left leg anymore so it had to be done. Surgery went well and now we just let her rest and recover. But I hate seeing dogs in pain.

Canceled vacation. We're obviously not leaving for Florida in a couple weeks like we planned to go to Disney World and Universal. No one is, it's not like we're alone in this. But, it still makes the list. We haven't been on vacation since... 2015? Maybe? Because we canceled Vegas two years ago due to health issues with John's grandpa and my dad. I hope we get to actual go on a vacation one day.

And as a final update to things that have been hard lately - getting laid off on Friday. That's the state of the world currently, so it wasn't totally surprising but it still sucks. I like working and I liked my job. But we represent the lender in loaning money to buy commercial properties and with the market volatility, there's just no closing of loans for at least 3 to 4 months. So no money coming in until things stabilize. There's a possibility to go back to the job when we do have steady work and money coming in again but obviously there's just no telling when that's going to be. In no instance will it be earlier than 6 months from now.

On the plus side, I'm really not concerned financially which is a great spot to be in. I've talked ad nauseam on this blog about the importance of being debt free, not relying on credit cards, having at least 3 to 6 months of expenses saved and living well below your means and this is exactly why. The fact is, I don't have to go back to work if I don't want to. We've always structured our life in such a way that we can live off one income. The other was just a bonus, and one that was going almost entirely to retirement savings. But I wanted to work another 7 years or so just to pay off our mortgage and get further ahead with savings. This throws a giant wrench into that plan and this virus throws so much out of whack. I have no idea what I'm going to do when it comes to work. Thankfully I have time to figure it out, and given the state of the world, I don't see a decision being made on this front for a couple of months. Now I really am a full time homemaker with no kids except the furry four-legged kind.

With all that said, I think my shift in blog content might make a little more sense to you. Slow living and simple homemaking.

Here's a side question for you going forward - how much time is on your hands? Since we're all home and I'm not working, I can write a lot more posts than I had planned on. I was thinking once a week but hey, if you're around to read them more often, I'm around to write them. Let me know what you're up to with your days in the comments.
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