January Cure has been quite an experience at my home. Like many of you, I signed up because I thought the process might be just the kick in the pants my fiancé and I needed to finally get a few things done around the house. It would be an opportunity to turn our mental project list into a physical project list and to tackle things in manageable steps, with the support of a community of others trying to accomplish the same goal. And it was all of that. And more… As I mentioned in week one, this was a lean month for us financially. Therefore, we would only be able to address those areas that didn't require spending money. What I didn't mention is that we are also planning on moving in a few months, and therefore, needed to be practical about any physical changes we might want to make. Our process was further impeded by me being sick for half of the month, and not having the wherewithal to move forward at the rate at which I would have liked. However, it turns out there was one last impediment, one that falls squarely under the category of "working together," and one that only became apparent this morning, as I was preparing to write this post. (More on that later.) For now here's a brief recap of last week's assignments -
Day 19: Catch up & take a photo. The areas where we most needed to catch up were in decluttering the baskets in the bathroom, cleaning the patio and organizing the basement (our big project for the month). The baskets? Done! The patio? Done! The basement? Not so much. That said, we continue to make progress. This week, I spent a good portion of my time going through my school work, determining what to keep, what to toss, and how to organize what remained. (There's a reason it's taken me a while to tackle this project, as doing so was a little emotional for me.)
Working Together: Shawn thought it might be easier for me to evaluate things if I had not just the mental space to do so, but the physical space, as well. To that end, he brought all of the clutter culprits upstairs to the living room for me to review. This "stuff," was the result of three and a half years' worth of hard work. And it felt like in parting with it, I would be erasing a little bit of my past. In my ideal world (the one where I have a studio/office space), I would want to keep pieces of it around me as I work. (Surely, I'm not the only creative person who feels this way?) Unfortunately though, I don't have a studio space. And as Shawn so rationally pointed out, I have digital files of everything, and in five to ten years when I finally do have a space, I can always reproduce them then, if I feel like it. (Sigh. He's right, of course.) Therefore, I decided to only keep those things that I wouldn't be able to reproduce - important hand drawings, models, and the like. (Thankfully, Jack and Milo were there to cheer me on.) Day 20: Hang Your Artwork. I've mentioned previously that buying a frame wasn't in the budget for us this month. However, I have selected the frame and know exactly where I'm going to hang my typewriter print when the time comes. Day 21: Speedy Spruce Up & Surface Clean. As I was going to be out of town for the weekend, our get together was pushed to the following weekend. Therefore, our spruce up will happen later this week. Day 22: Shop for Get Together Goodies. Shawn bought most of the food goodies for our get together over the weekend. Thursday, I'll pick up a few last minute items, wine and flowers and we'll be ready to go. Day 23: Weekend Chores - Pat Yourself on the Back, Relax & Celebrate! All things considered, I think we did pretty well. We managed to get most of the things on our master project list done, and those items that remain feel pretty manageable.
Working Together: Throughout the Cure, Shawn and I have tried to work together in attacking our projects and to negotiate any issues that arose as a result. And for the most part, I feel we've done a pretty good job of it. Until this morning, when it became clear that there was an issue that we haven't talked about, and one that was getting in the way of us tackling projects in a more proactive manner on a regular basis. I was in Boston this last weekend visiting a friend, and while I was gone, Shawn was very productive around the house. He cleaned the entire apartment, in detail, front to back. He cleaned the patio, and tackled a couple of issues that had been plaguing us for a quite a while (namely, my handbag situation, the organization of the coat closet, and the flower bed on the patio that that cats have dug up). Fantastic, right? Who wouldn't want to come home from a weekend away to all of that? He showed me everything he had done, and although the things he had done weren't handled the way we had discussed doing them, I was fine with them. So, why did I wake up this morning at three am… angry? I knew I was probably being irrational, but the more I thought about it, the more I seethed. All of his solutions were very practical, and while they weren't awful, in my mind they weren't the most aesthetically pleasing, either. They were also not the solutions we had talked about, and I felt as if I had been completely removed from the process. I was hurt and I was angry. When I got up in the morning, I knew I would need to talk to Shawn about how I felt. I'm lucky in that Shawn responds pretty well to the, "I need to talk to you about something," scenario. So, this morning when we sat down and I told him how I felt, he listened. He said he understood where I was coming from, and then told me why he did what he did. It turns out, he feels that my desire for an aesthetically pleasing solution often gets in the way of any solution at all, and that frustrates him. I thought about it, and realized he was right. I also realized that I need to be able to voice those concerns and have it be understood that acceptance of a less than ideal solution doesn't mean that I wholeheartedly endorse it and want to stop searching for a better one. He said he understood. So, we agreed; I would be mindful of a tendency to stall projects while searching for the perfect solution and he would respect that some solutions might be temporary. Working together can be a challenge, but I think we made progress this month — in our home, and in our communication. Thank you all so much for commenting and following along. How did you do with the Cure? Did you learn anything about yourself in the process? MORE OF BETHANY'S JANUARY CURE: • Week One • Week Two • Week Three • Week Four (Images: Bethany Seawright)