It started with a broken bathroom vanity door. After 26 years, our bathrooms were looking a little worse for wear—at least the floor tiles and vanities were. Our dear friend is a contractor who was out of work due to the pandemic, so it seemed a good time to update “just the vanities and the tiles.” Easy peasy, right? We had earmarked money in our savings for household improvements, so we decided to refresh the sad-looking bathrooms and provide some work and income to our friend. A win-win for all.

But then came the scope creep. You know how it goes…

It is now two months later, and both bathrooms have new vanities and tiles…as well as new lights and mirrors and, of course, new paint. But then as long as the painters were here, we might as well paint the girls’ bedrooms since they had not been painted in more than 20 years.

You’d think that would be enough, but there also were cracked tiles in the downstairs powder room. Yup—let’s take advantage of having good contractors who were also available (thanks to so many people not wanting strangers in their homes due to the pandemic). After all, we didn’t want to have a hard time getting those contractors once the world opens up.

Those cracked tiles led to a new vanity and a new faucet. Fortunately, we didn’t need new lights or a mirror this time. We could simply repaint the current mirror—for the third time!

And now we’ve just crept into one more place—the tiles in the laundry room. Replacing them now is the only way to avoid a cacophony of tile styles down the road. Lucky for us, we’ve been adding to that home-improvement fund for decades!

Our home has been a crazy construction zone for the last six weeks—the renovations were like a serpent slithering through the house. And I have to admit, it feels great! Sure, the bathrooms are looking really nice…and it feels really good to help hard-working people earn a living and feed their families during this very difficult time…but there’s another aspect that also feels good.

While we are continuing to live in this permanent state of Groundhog Day, stuck at home and forced to run my business and life according to the rules of COVID-land, it feels awesome to actually make tangible changes. The days feel identical—exercise…work…walk the dog…cook our meals. Weekends are almost the same as weekdays. Maybe it’s me—perhaps I need more hobbies—but I don’t think I’m alone in the pandemic’s monotony and mental claustrophobia.

Throughout the construction projects, we’ve also had the opportunity, of course,  to clean out all that collected “stuff’ that has been piling up in the corners of bathroom cabinets, bedrooms and the laundry room. It felt great to finally sell my daughters’ little girl furniture and give it a new home with the families who bought it.

I have written before about the Facebook page in our town called the “Gift Economy,” where people can give unwanted items to neighbors. It is wonderful. I have a stack of stuff in the hall that will be posted on the page, and I look forward to seeing pictures from the mom who took our used-only-once pumpkin-carving kit.

The Chinese practice of Feng shui is based on the principles of energy flow and breaking up places of stagnation. It’s amazing to feel the improved flow that comes with small changes. Cleaning out those piles of junk…fixing the broken latch that irks you every day…replacing broken floor tiles. We all want—and need—a little control over our lives right now. It has been awesome to have a project—or projects— and to clean out some messes that have been haunting me for a while.

Taking action is so important…as is doing what we can to help the country recover during this horrible economic and health crisis.

The days are getting shorter and colder…and it seems that we will not be returning to many forms of activity and entertainment for at least a little while. It is important to avoid becoming stagnant. Earmark those piles and projects that can give you flow and change. They will provide “fresh air” even with the doors and windows closed.

By the way, for anyone who is wondering whether it was dangerous for us and the workers to be in our house—my family and I have diligently followed the advice of many health experts during this time, taking supplemental vitamin D and zinc, along with a few other immune-supportive supplements. Vitamin D and zinc deficiencies have been associated with increased risk of contracting and dying from COVID. Adequate levels of zinc, in particular, has been shown to be protective.  You can learn more about the protections provided by zinc, vitamin D and more in my podcast with Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum.

Sarah Hiner, president and CEO of Bottom Line Inc., is passionate about giving people the tools and knowledge they need to be in control of their lives in areas such as living a healthier life, the challenges of the health-care system, commonsense financial advice and creating great relationships. She appears often on national radio and hosts the Bottom Line Advocator Podcast,  where she interviews leading experts to help people be their own best advocates in all areas of life. 

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