Renos: starting with good bones

It’s been 10 llll-o-n-g days since I last wrote. For good reason. In my last post, I wrote about being medication-free for the first time in 20 years and how exhilarating that is.

Since then, I’ve been paying the price for that decision. Withdrawal from a long-term drug (especially Paxil) is not as much fun as it sounds!

Hot & cold sweats. Nausea & vomiting. Headache. Feeling “scratchy” on the inside of my skull. Muscle tremors. “Swimmy” head. Dizziness. Lack of concentration. Restlessness. THEN, there are the emotional effects. One minute I feel full of rage. The next, sadness. AND, I worked every day last week, except Wednesday. No wonder they recommend taking a week or two off (which I didn’t do because I’m on contract )!

I don’t have addiction issues, but it sure makes me understand and empathize with those withdrawing from cocaine or heroin. The ONLY difference I can see, is that I don’t crave Paxil all the time (which is why what I’m experiencing is technically called discontinuation syndrome and not withdrawal).

I’ve learned important lessons over those 10 days and, oddly enough, they also apply to renovating a house (which I know something about because my husband and I have been doing it for a dozen years!):

There’s a big difference between remodelling and renovating.

When you remodel your home, you make it pretty.  It usually involves paint, maybe some new kitchen cabinets, new furniture, etc. Renovating involves pulling out walls, identifying and fixing structural problems, replacing an old furnace or water heater, etc. They’re both valuable, but, I contend, if you don’t renovate, remodelling is kinda pointless.

Yes, you can paper over a crooked wall, but YOU know there’s something wrong underneath that could be fixed. MAYBE the thing that needs to be fixed is so integral to the structure, that the house could fall down around your ears! Then what point is the pretty wallpaper? If you fix the real problem, the beautiful color on your walls is a source of enjoyment–not a source of stress because you KNOW what you’ve covered up.

The same applies to renovating your life. I can remodel with weight loss, working out, meditating–whatever. It’s helpful, but unless I renovate, get to the root of why I felt the need to do a do-over in the first place, I am much more likely to backslide. Maybe I’ll gain the weight back, drop out of the running group, etc.–without even knowing why. And because I don’t know why, I’ll likely blame myself for not sticking to my plan. It’s a terribly destructive cycle.

I wanted to take Paxil out the equation because I wanted to “strip off the wallpaper” and see the structure of who I truly am underneath.

Our house was built in the 1920s and it was solidly built. It has “good bones”. Building technology was different back then, so we’ve renovated, removing all the old plaster and lath and replacing it with drywall. There is not much worse (except maybe withdrawing from Paxil!) then being covered in a gooey paste of sweat and plaster because the only time you have to renovate is mid-July. But it’s been worth it. We know renovating on top of “good bones” means that any remodeling we now do will look amazing. From the remodeling we’ve done so far, I can attest to this truth.

I’m not as old as my house (I’m a 60s structure!), but I like to think I have the same “good bones” as my house and with a little renovating, whatever I put on top of those worthwhile renovations (weight lose, meditation, etc.) will be beautiful and enduring.

Expect pain.

Remodeling, in my experience, is a lot of fun! You pick out the tiles you love, get the high end finishings, choose awesome paint color, and you’re done. There’s effort, of course, but it’s mostly fun.

Renovating is hard (see gooey paste above!). You rarely see your efforts–only YOU know they’re there. It’s also more time-consuming. Boxes and boxes and still more boxes of plaster and lath went into the dumpster.

And it’s physically painful when you torque your back lifting all those boxes and boxes… In the end, the pain was worth it because renos provide a great “bang for the buck” (both structurally and financially). The true value, however, is in the enduring beauty of your efforts to work through the pain–just like renovating your life.

Accept pain.

I can’t explain this concept, except to say this: I have found it much easier to get through renos when I accept that there WILL be pain. You can count on it! I guess when I accept that there will be pain, I am also accepting that I can get through it–after all I’m doing it, aren’t I?!!


I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted talking about all this renovating!

In the end, after going through the last 10 days, I realize that the truly exhilarating times are still to come. Right now, I’m getting stronger every day. I am renovating the heck out of myself. It’s really hard. Painful even. But I have good bones (I bet you have good bones too) and I am up to the challenge of the renovation.

I’m excited to see where I’ll be at the end of this year. Here’s to many,  many more lessons!



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