This season in my life has “learning experience” written all over it, so I’ll have to ask for your patience as I try to process all that. My goal is to learn things the first time so I don’t have to be beat about the head and shoulders to learn things any more than is absolutely necessary.
- The things I see coming are probably not the big challenges, mostly by virtue of the fact that I see them coming. Cases in point— the electrical problems we were aware of were not the electrical problems we had. The plumbing problems we were aware of were not the ones we had to cope with first. The challenges with mom were not the… you get the idea. Mom and I spent 7 hours in the emergency room after she fell Saturday morning. Didn’t see that coming (she’s okay.)
- Thank God for good neighbors. It’s a really good thing I got over my phobia of nosy neighbors before we left the old place. Our next-door neighbors have already saved our bacon a couple of times and we hardly know them. In fact, the way I got mom to make some decisions about the house is that I said I could probably get the neighbors to help me more, but that we’d need to get the house in the kind of condition that we’d let them see it. (She’s got all the blinds down because she doesn’t want people to witness our chaos. I get it, but long-term, the solution is to deal with the chaos, not hide behind drawn blinds.)
- Sometimes, you need to use the right tool to get the job done. Thursday, I tried to tighten the fittings on the washing machine to deal with the leak. I couldn’t make them budge, so I told mom we were going to have to call a handyman. Friday, something else came up. I couldn’t get the job done by hand so I got some pliers and the leverage helped. On a whim, I tried the pliers on the washer. Problem solved. Handyman cancelled.
- Do the thing you know how to do. This is a lesson from the move that I keep learning. I keep looking at jobs and thinking “I’ll do that one later— it’s less important and I know just how to handle it— I’ll focus on this other thing.” Except I don’t know how to handle the other thing. And at this stage, every fewer box we have gets us closer. So unpack the box where you know where everything in it goes. Save the head-scratchers. There’s plenty of time for that. Right now, this game is about volume.
- Don’t borrow conflict. I had that conversation with my mom about frying pans. Was it a big deal? No. “Sure— let’s keep what you’ll use. I’ve got ’em all together because they came as a set, but we can break them up, no problem.” I thought we were going to have a battle royale over the living room, because there’s too much furniture and we weren’t going to agree about what to keep in there and what to do with the rest. Instead, we’ve done great. There’s still too much furniture in the living room, but we’re working toward something more interesting than the simple solutions we first talked through, and something I think is more mutually agreeable.
- This matters most to you, and significantly less to everyone else. Don’t get me wrong— people in my life were generous with their time and help, and I’m grateful. But, for example, I’ve asked the previous homeowner for the pool key twice now. Ideally, he’d have provided it at closing. He said he’d need to find it. Then I called him Tuesday about something else, and mentioned the pool key again. “Oh, right! I found that last night. I’ll get it in the mail to you!” If he’d done it right away, I’d have gotten in Thursday. I didn’t have it by Saturday’s mail. I suspect I’m going to need to call him again, or just arrange to get it through the HOA, even if it means I have to buy a key that I should have been provided in the first place.
- Just like the challenges aren’t all where you thought they’d be, the blessings aren’t all what you’d thought they’d be. Somehow, I missed 90 percent of the great herb garden in the backyard. I never imagined how friendly and flat-out helpful the neighbors would be. I love the walks with the dog in the evening. Looking at my stuff in a new place is helping me see it differently, and that’s a gift— I like and get a boost from new systems and I’ve got a chance to build a ton of them.
I’m sure there’s more, but it’s a start.