Published November 21, 2012
As it stands now, I will be spending roughly half of November not living in my home. That means not sleeping in my bed, not using my computer at the desk I love, not being in my daily routine, not in my "normal."
Part of this is about Hurricane Sandy, but part of it is also about a boiler that broke down and needed replacing -- or at least a part that wasn't readily available needed replacing -- having nothing to do with the storm. This happened roughly 10 days after being back in my place after Sandy.
I decided my best route was to move in with my parents in their retirement community until my charming old building felt like something cozier than a tomb.
To be clear from the start here, I share this not because I am looking for any kind of sympathy. So many have endured far worse. What I do have in mind is to share what a shift in perspective has done for me in this particular situation and how I want to stay mindful of it moving forward in my life.
When I first realized my home would be too cold to stay in and I begin exploring my options, all I could think was that the situation was taking me away from so much in my life -- the aforementioned routine, work rhythm, my books, my television, my gym, my food. You get the idea. And there was no shortage of petulance and resentment starting to rear up.
But after a few days, I started to see it was less about what it was taking me away from and more what opportunities it was presenting. Sure, I had work to do. And even as I write this I'm sitting in a nice cafe with wifi near "Leisure Village" doing my thing.
But in just three days here, I've helped my mother (physically challenged by a knee injury) to take down her kitchen curtains on four windows, clean them and the windows, and put the whole thing back together again. The way she was beaming, I'm quite certain no "gift" I come up with for Christmas will match that high. Even if she does completely obsess over every gather, wrinkle and dot of a stain, she's experiencing her version of happy.
I have taken her to stores, doctor's appointments, breakfast and lunch. We have had Seinfeld-esque arguments about who's paying, who's route to the store is better, and why my hair isn't shorter. We have watched High Society, You've Got Mail and Law and Order SVU. There have been chats over tea with my father. I have eaten very well, to say the least, because, well, we're Italian and nothing ever changes that.
My trip to the grocery store in the senior citizen community was such a foreign experience to my own very civilized urban shopping norm that I couldn't do anything but turn up the Zen. Arguments over turkeys, hapless turns with monstrous shopping carts, counting how many items the guy in front has in the express lane. Dog-eat-dog, baby. And I floated through, looking for my mother in the dairy aisle and basking in the idea that at age 50 I was one of the youngest people in the store. On a power walk through the community one morning, I greeted two lovely women who chatted a bit and then exclaimed, "You're so young!"
Ah, nice reminder.
I have also seen my siblings and their families, had a leisurely lunch with a dear kindred spirit and have more connecting with loved ones on tap. How I wish part of this trip could be a drive over the bridge just 15 minutes away to the beloved Jersey Shore, but Sandy's aftermath dictates otherwise.
So what does this all mean?
Simple. The boiler going to pot wasn't trying to take me away from life. What it's doing in some ways is showing me my life. If Sandy was a reminder that stuff is just stuff, then this part is a brick to the head that people aren't just to be squeezed in but to be nurtured and appreciated.
Column ideas still flow, my bills still get paid, my prescription is transferred from one pharmacy to another, my bank has lots of branches. I can shower, be warm, hang out.
I could say November is a wash. Or I could choose to see this November as a wakeup call that coming out of my routine on occasion is not an annoyance or inconvenience but a really good idea.
A broken down boiler isn't personal, it's just the way things went. What to do with that? I'm realizing there is a way of making the best of things and then there is a way of making more than the best of things. And the latter feels really good.
I've got this.
Nancy Colasurdo is a practicing life coach and freelance writer. Her Web site is www.nancola.com and you can follow her on Twitter @nancola. Please direct all questions/comments to FOXGamePlan@gmail.com.