Saturday, January 5, 2013

On Worrying

I wish I could declutter worrying.

If worrying was an event in the Olympics, I'm pretty sure I would medal, if not take the gold. I've always been a worrier, at least as far back as I can recall. I worry about issues under my control and those that are not. I worry about issues big and small. I remember being completely worried about the environment in high school. Or worrying that I might die in my sleep before going to bed when I was younger than 10.

Sometimes the worries are manageable, and somewhat rational and I can shake them off, or distract myself from them, or at least cope with them. Other times they are all-consuming, like the last three days when my favorite (shh! don't tell the others!) cat Alex appeared to be having an issue with his teeth and I made a vet appointment for him for this morning.

See, Alex is 15, with kidney disease and diabetes, oh, and bad teeth. Trips to the vet with him for the past four or five years have usually meant bad news and a big vet bill. Plus, being a cat, he gets pretty stressed out, which in turn stresses me out. Basically, it's not a fun time and I dread it each time we must go.

This time I was already worried about the possibility of him having a tooth issue and needing a dental (which for cats means going under general anesthesia – something that isn't great for kidney disease or older cats), and then the receptionist said he needed a rabies shot before they would see him. That completely threw me into another level of tizzy, because it was yet another thing that could put his overtaxed system over the edge.

Though I knew it was irrational, I became convinced that this vet appointment pretty much spelled doom for my cat. The worry went into overdrive. I took a million videos and photos of him. I went to the pet store and bought his favorite, and more expensive, food and a new catnip mouse on Thursday and let him indulge all by himself as much as he wanted. I cried myself to sleep that night and almost called off work on Friday to spend more time with him.

Today, v-day, when I woke up I was so nervous that I felt physically sick. I can't tell you who was more nervous on the drive to the vet's office – me or the cat. Luckily, the visit went about as well as possible. First, they didn't even mention a rabies shot, and while his teeth aren't great and have a lot of plaque, the vet didn't see any signs of an acute issue that would require a dental. She is great and doesn't want to put him under unless she absolutely has to any more than I do. We got some antibiotics and he had some blood drawn, and came home 30 minutes later.

I know these kinds of worries are irrational. I completely understand that while it's happening, but that doesn't seem to help me not do it.

Some of my worry-coping strategies are:

  1. Distraction – I try to distract myself  with movies, books, surfing the net, even work, anything that will take my mind off the issue for awhile. Tackling a video-editing project at work on Friday definitely kept my mind fully-occupied on Friday.
  2. Exercise – A nice, exhausting exercise session really helps. Although I admit, I didn't do this this week, because I wanted to spend my extra time with Alex, rather than at the gym.
  3. Writing – Writing about my worries in my journal (which is really a file on my computer because I prefer it these days to the clutter of a physical journal) really helps me express my feelings without boring others with them and surprisingly makes me feel better.

But at times when I'm at a level-ten on the worry Richter scale, these strategies don't quite cut it.

Am I the only one who gets like this? Are you a worrier, and if so what do you do to cope?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How to Fall in Love with Your Home Again

I've had some extensive time off during the holidays and one of the things I've been doing too much of is watching TV, namely HGTV. It doesn't take many episode of House Hunters and the like before I want to smack someone upside the head and show them that their current home, or the smaller home they dismissed out of hand, could be perfectly fine with just a few small adjustments.

I shouldn't be so hard on those poor House Hunters participants; falling out of love with your home happens to most of us at one time or another. Remember when you first saw your current home? When you first fell in love with, or were at least perfectly satisfied, with your home? Remember when it was new (to you at least), exciting and full of possibilities? But eventually that newness wears off and we begin to take our homes for granted. Maybe they put on a few pounds, perhaps they haven't kept themselves up like they used to, perhaps old age is taking its toll. Eventually homes can begin to seem a bit sad, cluttered and neglected and the siren song of moving up to a bigger, newer, shinier, better home might begin to appeal to you. But before you start packing, you might want to try a few easy tips to fall in love with your home again.

  1. Clean up - Sounds too simple to work? Perhaps, but a clean, tidy home is much easier to love. Whenever I'm feeling especially down on my house I give it a good scrubbing and inevitably it always looks vastly improved afterwards.

  2. Declutter - You've heard it before and you'll hear it again, because it's true. Decluttered spaces feel and look larger. So put your house on a diet and get rid of some of the crap you no longer use or love, and see what a difference it can make in your home. Visit the clutter busters category of this blog for more decluttering inspiration.

    this corner cabinet is one of my favorite areas to rearrange
  3. Rearrange - I'm not a serial rearranger, but I am always impressed with how happy rearranging things in my home can make me feel about the space. First we get used to our surroundings and then we get bored with them. By simply rearranging some of your trinkets and decor, you can make your space feel fresh and new again. You can go hard-core and rearrange the furniture (if you have the space), but even changing out pictures or changing a shelf arrangement can make a big impact.

  4. Fix it! - Most homes having something that needs fixing. Whether it's a nail hole that needs patching (ahem, like in my living room), a messy space that needs an intervention (hello, basement!), fixing something that has been bugging you not only gets a nagging item off the to-do list, it can make you feel better about your home as well.

  5. Add a little something - If you've completed the first three tips and your home still doesn't make you smile buying one or more new, strategic pieces can make a big difference. Whether it's new pillows that really pop for your couch, or a new throw for your bed, the right small touch can make a big difference. You don't have to spend a lot of money to achieve a new look either, shop a sale, use a coupon, buy used (via thrift stores, garage sales, Craigslist, etc.) or make something.

  6. Paint - I am continually amazed at what a big difference a new coat of paint can make (example 1, ex. 2, ex.3, ex. 4, ex. 5). Compared to most remodeling jobs, painting a piece of furniture, room, trim, etc. can make a big difference in how you feel about your home. Paint can also help you live with something that is less than ideal while you save up for what you really want (I'm looking a you, fake tile walls).
What tips and tricks help make you fall back in love with your home?


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