Monday, March 2, 2015


If it's March, it must be the start of winter project #3.

At the start of January, I laid out specific projects I wanted to complete in each of the first three months of the year.  You wouldn't think I would have that much to do having completed all the remodeling.  But I felt a couple of the rooms that weren't a big part of the remodel other than doors and baseboards needed some freshening up and new life.  And some minor repairs were also needed.  So I set the tasks and deadlines.

Last week I read two different articles about "busyness" and why we seem to want to inflict it on ourselves.  The gist of the articles was that we sometimes work more than we need to and push ourselves harder than our bosses, families, or others truly expect from us.  Why?  We seem to get some satisfaction from the martyrdom or victim mentality; i.e., I'm so tired and so busy, etc.  As if we are slaves to our lives.  We might even feel we are failing if we leave some gap of effort unused.  The problem with busyness is that can be joyless.  The articles suggested that we understand our limits and know when to stop.  And to take pleasure in the work and activities we do.

This is good advice for me.  I push myself and give myself deadlines for no reason whatsoever except that I expect to be productive.  And I sometimes set myself up for failure.

In the case of my winter projects, I nearly bombed in January.  But I came back strong in February and completed all projects for both months on time.  The projects were my bedroom in January, and the TV room and one bathroom in February.  I had things to do like mount a large and heavy mirror, spackle and paint various screw holes, etc., in the rooms, mount some new towel bars, clean walls and carpets, buy new bedding, artwork, and so on.  The lists were long and detailed, but almost everything had some sort of a glitch.  Like the painting.  I needed to match a specific color of green for one room and red for another. Unable to find just the right match among the hundreds of paint samples, I ended up buying little pots of those sample paints in several colors, and then mixed and experimented until I got a perfect match.

As things progressed, successes gave me renewed motivation.  But some days I just didn't want to work on any of it.  And if I took a day off from it, then I gave myself plenty of guilt for being lazy or unmotivated.  Wow, how silly is that?  These things made the house nicer for sure, but nobody was making me do them, and my deadlines were completely arbitrary.

I need to think a bit about why I do that to myself.  I think it was only when I finally decided to drop the deadlines and simply work at the list of tasks, that I finally began to have fun and enjoy what I was doing.

Toward the end of February I was down to finding accessories and artwork.  I decided I wasn't going to just hurry and buy something unless I really liked it -- even if I missed the deadline.  With the pressure off, I began browsing online and in local shops. And I'll be darned if I didn't soon find the perfect items.  So with a couple of days left in the month, I found myself with everything finished for January and February.  And eager to get on with March.

This month I tackle my office. It has been neglected and a catch-all since I retired.  It still has those boxes of photos and memorabilia I never addressed.  That's the biggest thing.  And I may not get it all done in a month.  But I've broken it down into a list of tasks.  I'll work at those and see what happens.  But I definitely plan to have some lazy days.  And plenty of naps when I feel tired.  And no guilt, no matter what.

After March, I won't do month-long projects anymore.  I shouldn't need to really.  But there's always plenty to do.  I've started a list of One-Day Projects.  Things like painting the patio furniture.  Or sharpening my garden tools.  The list has no dates or deadlines except that I will try to complete one project a week throughout the summer.  And that's enough because I'll be tending my grandsons for the entire summer as well, and trying to keep up with my share in looking after my parents.

So it still sounds like busyness in my life.  But I won't be a slave to it.  I will take pleasure in small successes and give myself plenty of leeway.  After all, I'm retired, and there's nobody making me do anything.  So I'm going to do just what I want!

Here's Frankie posing with a new painting I choose for his favorite lounging niche in the TV room.  See the little white dog in the bike basket?  That will be us this summer.  

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