Friday, April 6, 2012

Being a Fixer Upper

"I'm beginning to realize that home improvement can be just as tricky as self-improvement: how do you keep working, little by little, on making your surroundings (or your spirit) cleaner, warmer, lovelier, more functional...while still accepting that what you have - right now, this very minute - really is good enough - no, better than good enough; something to be celebrated." (The Happiest Mom: A Fixer Upper by Meagan Francis)

I began following Meagan Francis' blog after reading her book, The Happiest Mom, and this quote from one of her posts resonated with me. My husband is an architectural preservationist and I have watched many of his projects go from decrepit old buildings to elegant masterpieces. The transformation often takes years and financial resources determine the pace of the work, but when the restoration project is complete the building is nothing less than breathtaking.

The apt analogy between home improvement and self-improvement compelled me to reflect on my life improvement project from a different angle. In the beginning, everything looks bad and  internal conditions are probably even worse. The first step, pulling everything apart in pieces, doesn't add much to the aesthetic value of the project. Next, all the rotting, weak, rusted, outdated elements are removed and replaced. Many of these elements (wiring, plumbing, HVAC systems) must be brought up to date to meet current code and many times new elements (cable, WiFi, automated systems) are added to increase the efficiency and usability of the building.

Just like one of my husband's projects, my life looked bad at the beginning of my project. The first step, pulling my life apart piece by piece and removing all the elements in my life that no longer worked for me, left me feeling spiritually gutted and empty. The fun work began when I started replacing my old non-functioning way of life with more fulfilling activities (reading, yoga, time with my family, blogging, exercise, eating healthily, building quality friendships).

Through this process I am learning what is truly important to me and what lifestyle I truly want to lead. New desires (financial peace of mind, travel, flexibility) replace former ones (large home, new cars) and gradually, the pieces begin coming back together to define the new me. Eventually my life will be a masterpiece, but in the meantime I am learning to enjoy the small accomplishments that bring me closer to becoming the person I want to be.

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