Servant of the calendar, slave to the clock

Our contractor started work on rebuilding the decks at our home this week. And as these things usually go for us, what was projected to be a week or 8 days is now realistically more like 2 to 3 weeks worth of work. Longer if he paints the entire house after finishing the decks. We had been planning to have the exterior repainted in the fall, but it is now looking more like during and after the deck rebuild. Once the first deck top was removed, there was some damage underneath to the siding, which of course we had him repair, and while he was at it may as well do another spot along the back of the house. Today is demolition of the smaller deck off the master bedroom, so if there is something else that needs repair with the siding he can just do it all at once. The new pieces will need to be painted, so we may as well do the entire back of the house, since we will also need to paint the new visual barrier that is being installed along with the deck. Since we are doing the back of the house, may as well start planning to do the rest of the house as well.

These home improvement projects seem to simply take on life of their own and consume chunks of mine in the process.

The financial impacts of this are going to be more than M wanted to spend all in one hit, but I am philosophical about it. In the 4 years we have owned this home there has not been a single project that went according to the original estimate. Either there is something else wrong, we choose to add change orders to what we want, or both. And it’s nearly always both. Discoveries of other issues lead us to make different decisions about the timing of planned improvements or change our minds about what we wanted in the first place. Thankfully I always add at least 20% contingency onto the estimates and I have funds tucked away for future projects that can be utilized to absorb the cost present project work. My kitchen remodel may just have to wait another year, but that gives me more time to convince M that his ideas for a ginormous kitchen island are impractical.

Having our contractor here and M switching up his run schedule to coincide with my gym time is making me rethink my practice time as well, maybe get up even earlier and get to the gym earlier to ensure I have what my brain deems adequate time to complete an entire practice. Our guy does run on what I refer to as “contractor time,” meaning if they say they will be here at 7 they are almost always here by 7:30 unless they call to say they will be late for another reason. The day I am home late from the gym is the day he has arrived on time and is waiting for me to get home to unlock the gate. Because we have an in-ground pool, I am reluctant to leave our front gates unlocked for an extended period of time when no one is at home, even at 5 a.m. Which means I have to make sure I am home from the gym by the proposed start time each morning since M rarely gets back before 8:30.

So my week feels a little constrained by having him working at the house. I am beyond delighted at getting the decks done – it has been a year since the concrete was poured and a year without stairs from the decks to the pool deck. Going in and out of the backyard through the garage was tedious after the first month, but it took awhile to convince M that he alone could not rebuild the deck and then awhile longer waiting for room on our contractor’s calendar. We likely could have had someone do the work much sooner, but we really like and trust our guy and were mostly fine with waiting.

As I march onward to older age, I feel more and more regimented about my time and schedule and things I do throughout the day. Out of the ordinary for more than a day or 2 has a weird domino effect. The pressure I put upon myself to be home by contractor’s arrival time tends to make me feel anxious at the gym and impacts my focus during practice. Being impacted during practice makes me wonder if I am working hard enough, which in turns leaves me vulnerable to the negative voices in my head getting louder until I feel somewhat deflated and worried about losing my resolve. While intellectually I recognize I am stronger and capable of overcoming that, the soft underbelly of my emotions has not quite caught up to my less crazy brain.

It is part of why I was a little distressed by the idea of less supervision and not seeing RD for several weeks. The accountability of knowing we would had an appointment and would have to have a discussion tended to keep me honest. But it is actually more and less than that. I enjoy working with him, like the education and knowledge he shares with me, and can truly appreciate his patience and efforts in steering me in directions to make myself take better care and be more mindful of what I am eating and why.

I guess I dislike change and disruption in my coaching village. This is a natural evolution of that relationship, yet it was unexpected. I suppose the fact that I try pretty diligently to follow his directions and made good progress is worthy of celebration. It’s like having to specifically request to stay with my endocrinologist to manage my diabetes even though I am now in the well-controlled category and should be able to work with my primary care doc for this condition. Uh huh; got it, but I want what I want. But unless I choose to become more focused in my efforts toward weight/fat loss and determined muscle building, I do not need a registered dietician monitoring me and my progress toward healthier eating. Or at least not monitoring me as closely in these efforts. I am a normal person just trying to improve my overall health, and in the Kaiser protocol, I am successfully managing and no longer need this particular service. Despite commenter SAK’s reminder about dreams (nightmares?) of gold lame bikinis and spray on tans, I am pretty content where I am on this journey. Maybe after I have been well-controlled diabetic without drugs for another 6 months I will revisit those thoughts and ideas. But please, no one reading that hold your breath in anticipation; you will likely turn blue and expire before my pursuit of gold lame and spray tan comes to fruition.

Thinking this over while showering this morning (and scaring myself every so slightly with thoughts of the gate unlocked and side garage door open for the contractor to access tools left in the garage), I realize I am looking at this all wrong. As usual. *smile* Being a a little rigid about my habits and feeling big bereft at the peeling away of one of my security blankets is pretty normal, especially for me. If it takes 66 days of doing something to make it a habit, I require something more like 66 weeks, and even then I may question whether or not it has really taken root and embark on another block of time just to be sure. Lather, rinse, repeat as often as necessary, possibly forever. If they are good habits, repetition is not necessarily a bad thing. Boring to everyone else, maybe, but if this is what it takes to get me to that better health plateau and stay there, so be it.

Considering my unusual and really flexible professional work life, my rigidity and need for stricter levels of order and routine in my better health quest seem sort of surprising. The divide between personal life and professional life has always been a distinctive chasm, though. I have always enjoyed a level of success professionally that I never (before now) enjoyed personally. While I have rarely held big flashy corporate jobs or titles, I am bright enough, intuitive enough, and empathetic enough to fit in and thrive where I have been employed. And when those jobs and situations became stifling, boring, or hostile to me, I began the methodical process of finding something else. Working for a living has been one of life’s genuine necessities for me, and I have always hoped for and been employed by firms where I thrived and grew rather than just existed or survived for the paycheck.

Perhaps that’s why I hold my own village of professionals in such high esteem. RD, trainer J, mental health doc TM, my medical docs – they all profess genuine interest in my forward progress and improvements and it feels like flourishing partnerships designed to propel me forward. Finally, I seem to be ready to get better, to be consistent, to try harder. And for me they have done the most amazing things with motivation and teaching and just expanding the boundaries of my little world and opening up the possibilities of what else is out there for me. I recognize there have been others along the way – my past is littered with really good doctors, other dieticians, even a trainer or 2 that might have been more effective if I had been in my present frame of mind. But that was then, this is now, and my crazy brain is becoming healthier enough to shed any lingering vestiges of regret.

Even old friends and the new ones I am picking up here and elsewhere in my life, there is a different, renewed sense of energy and direction of our conversations. Food and cooking still holds little interest for me, but perhaps like the exercise it too may become something more fun in the undiscovered country of my future. But I can appreciate my friends who love to cook, love to experiment with food, love to talk about nutrition and taste nuances. Same thing with the exercise. Being married to M and watching his running hobby again blooming into its rather addictive habit, my own exercise pursuits have provided a much clearer understanding of what drives him. I seriously doubt I would ever find the joy he and other friends find running, particularly trail running, and am unlikely to develop more discipline toward it or even being out there in the wilderness for hiking on a routine, consistent basis. Same with friends who pursue weight lifting competitively, whether they are competing with others or merely with themselves. I have a tiny patch of skin in the fitness game myself now; it’s renewed my interest and desire to know more about what they are pursuing and why.

If only we all had more time, I think; it is a reflexive, almost automatic thought that flitters through my mind when I start thinking about all I need to do and want to do each day. Then I realize we all have the same 24 hours every single day and allocate them to our individual priorities. Coordinating the amount of time we have to share with one another … well, I guess I am grateful for the blog’s dual purpose of downloading my overloaded thoughts so you can read and get back to me in whatever forum you choose to utilize whenever your time allows. I am selfish enough, honest enough to state this blogging is for me, and pretty much all about me, but I can appreciate that it benefits others in ways I never imagined when I began.

And I am so glad and so grateful.

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