One lesson that has taken me a very long time to learn is the concept that problems don’t go away if you just ignore them. This is true of many realms, including relationships and personal finance, but especially relevant to homeowners. Things break suddenly, or gradually degrade to the point of being unusable. It’s not fun to pay to get the furnace serviced once a year, but it’s even less fun to have the furnace conk out in the middle of January when the outside temperature is -30°C and all the HVAC companies are too busy to rush right over and fix it.
Bit by bit I’ve been training myself to be proactive. My furnace and air conditioner service is up to date. I set up an automatic transfer to my TFSA (tax-free savings account) every payday, so I have a stash of cash for big-ticket emergencies and won’t have to depend on a credit card or a loan to get something repaired or replaced. The garden is getting weeded on a regular basis, with increasing thoroughness (getting the roots rather than just the tops of repeat intruders). I re-insulated a room in my house, doing the work in the summer and fall rather than waiting for winter and cursing myself for not doing anything about it.
And, in the spirit of the positively marvellous “UfYH Guide to Spring Cleaning for Actual People” (language warning), I keep doing my [redacted] dishes. When I want to cook, everything is already clean and ready to use. Funny how that works.
I’m still struggling with doing me-maintenance, practising comparable diligence in the upkeep of my physical body. In many ways it comes down to a difficult-to-express fear: In one past relationship my exercise and diet was largely dictated by a partner who had very specific ideas about what I should look like, including how long I should grow my hair. To a large degree, the weight gain I experienced after escaping that relationship was a middle finger raised against the ex. (I was about to say “my” ex, but it’s time to unclutter that kind of thinking once and for all.)
Even in this emotionally-overloaded area, I make occasional progress. Sometimes I go to the gym; sometimes I go for a long walk; sometimes I put that energy into doing something around the house. I’m pretty sure that digging up the garden, or demolishing 300 square feet of ancient plaster walls, counts as a workout. Or two. Maybe even three.
My eating habits are better than they used to be, partially because I’m doing more cooking and less eating out. I’m right on top of my dental visits, see my doctor twice a year (largely just to touch base and get a prescription for something useful, like compression stockings or medications to fend off seasonal allergies), and generally try to avoid inflicting unnecessary suffering upon myself by letting something get out of hand.
There is, however, one area that is still very much a wild, lawless frontier: My sleep habits are atrocious. I know at an intellectual level that one should not be drinking coffee in the evening (hands cup and plate to nice coffee shop employee tidying up the tables). I also know that staying up till 2 a.m. on a work night is not a good idea, but sometimes the Internet is just so much fun.
I read occasional articles on the virtues of being an early riser, and in many ways I’m envious of that mindset. I did it in my senior year of high school, getting up at 5:30 a.m. and writing poetry at the kitchen table before going to catch the school bus at 7:30. Maybe I’m looking askance at the early birds because a lot of them also promote things like cold showers. And maybe I have to find another way, something that works for me, rather than resorting to a Scolding Ex mentality. I know all too well how much unhappiness that caused me, and I’m not going down that road again.