Down The Rabbit Hole

Day 2 of Operation Home Improvement effortlessly slipped into gear at chez Black yesterday. I continued my painting duties while Fionnuala skilfully concentrated on the wallpapering, a skill set way beyond my limited abilities. I am the manual labourer to her skilled artisan. She learnt to wallpaper by watching her grandmother and mother and, by the end of the day, was continuing the tradition by overseeing a very eager Rebecca at the pasting table. If you are reading this thinking that Irish men are useless then, yes, you are most probably right in that assumption.

I normally break out into a cold sweat when the phrases ‘DIY’ or ‘Home Improvement’ are mentioned. Ask me to pen a thesis or give a presentation to 200 people? No problem. Ask me to put up a shelf or tile a wall, however, and I would invariably crumple in a flood of tears. If I am in Belfast and my comfort zone ends in London then these tasks are roughly somewhere between Ulan Bator and Beijing. You do the maths….I mean geography. The same goes for anything too technological. I will goes to pieces. Literally.

So it was with some trepidation that I faced the weekend that was. But you know what? I actually enjoyed it. Yesterday evening as we surveyed the (almost) finished kitchen I felt great pride at our achievement. Fionnuala had carried out all the difficult tasks but I had contributed, worked hard and didn’t feel the useless, spare wheel that I usually do. I felt part of the process and gone were the feelings of guilt and shame that I usually experience as I skulk on the sidelines of such projects. I even surprised myself with the enthusiasm and energy I possessed as I threw myself into the project.

My writing and running are largely solitary pursuits. Yesterday and the day before I felt part of a team. This was all the more important as the team were my own family. It is ‘mundane’ tasks like this which create the precious memories that you carry in your heart forever. I wrote yesterday about bonding with Adam as we painted the ceiling together. It was much the same yesterday with Fionnuala. As we toiled together we listened to music which reminded us of our early years together in the late 1990’s. Oasis, Catatonia, Blur, Smashing Pumpkins, The Divine Comedy and so on.

We realised that we hadn’t listened to music together in forever. For a couple who always say they have nothing in common this was something that we always had in common from Day One. So it’s important that we cling to, and nurture, such mutual interests. Fionnuala will never run a marathon and I will never master the myriad of skills that she has accumulated down the years. We rarely like the same movies and differ in so many other areas. We are chalk and cheese yet somehow it works. Like yesterday for instance. Even if involved a mortified Hannah watching her father play air guitar with a broom to ‘Champagne Supernova’.

During a recent Q&A session the most frequently asked question was how I find the time to write so often. I do a lot of it when I commute to and from work or if I wake up in the dead of night and can’t get back to sleep. But I had to take a good, long hard look at myself and realise that my blogging has been eating into time when I should have been focused on other urgent tasks. Whereas Nero fiddled as Rome burned, Stephen blogged as the house fell down around him. I write a lot because I truly believe God has given me a talent and placed a lot on my heart that I need to share with people. God also, however, wants me to participate in the real world.

We write about our life experiences but we need to stop writing sometimes in order to experience life. I have learnt that in recent days. I’ll still keep writing so worry not. You will still have to endure my ramblings on a regular basis. We are bloggers and we need to write. It purges, cleanses and revitalises us. It is our lifeblood, it helps make us who we are. But so do the loved ones around us. Never stray to far down the rabbit hole of self absorption that you forget there are still people back up on the surface. Waiting for us. Needing us. They are what matters. The words that follow are just the icing on the cake.

What’s been your biggest home improvement/DIY achievement?

How do you balance your writing with your other responsibilities?

32 thoughts on “Down The Rabbit Hole

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  1. Yes!
    This reminds me of last year where I was dreading doing some works at my apartement, involving painting, scratching, and doing a lot of dust… as you say, it made me sweat cold 😀 … but after finished (well, ok, it’s really not the most perfect thing ever if you look closely…:-p ..) I was so happy I did it!
    And I didn’t have a “team” as you do 😉 .. you all are lucky to have each other, and yes, spending time together, letting go of things that are not priorities is fundamental…

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  2. I can easily relate to your feelings about DIY projects! I watched my Dad do these things, but did not learn (more likely did apply myself). When I ventured out on my own so many years ago, I was helpless. Trial and plenty of errors have helped me to learn some things, but mostly in has given me the confidence to at least try before admitting defeat. This past November I faced my biggest fear, electricity, as I installed 5 wall outlets as part of a make-over of our bedroom. There were no sparks, shocks or blue language, just a completed task!
    I appreciated your thoughts on living life, especially with those close to us, as we continue to write about these things. As a preacher, I often find myself experiencing the world around me through a filter that looks for application of the Scriptures I am teaching from. Currently I am only preaching about once a month, so many of my musings on WordPress are snipets of messages that are in progress. I find the process of writing them out often helps to my clarify thoughts. I guess you would have to ask those who here me if that is actually true!
    Blessings to you as you continue to live and write,
    Chuck

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  3. Is that image the mural she hung? I cannot sympathise coz I eat sleep and breathe diy projects. Nothing gets me going like a hammer and nail

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  4. I’m usually with you when it comes to DIY, but lately I have taken a greater interest. With this cancer battle I have come to appreciate more what I can and can’t accomplish, and my wife and I embarked on a big project last year. We tore an old deck off the back of our house (with a lot of help), and used the wood, plus some extra, to build a deck on the front of the house.

    We had some help getting the groundwork done on the new deck, but the two of us did most of the work, and we were thrilled to work on it and get it done. We are proud of that deck (not in a bad way), and it brought us closer together as we worked on it. If you saw the Headline photo on my blog during the Christmas season, you have seen the deck – I wish I could paste a picture here, but it won’t work.

    As far as writing goes, I am off work right now because of my maintenance chemo schedule. I have a lot of time to write. When I go back to work, I will really have to think about delegating my writing time, because work will take mush of my time once again. That bridge will be crossed when I get to it.

    Nice post – thanks for asking

    Be blessed

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  5. I HATE DIY (or fixing anything)! When we owned an old truck I’d stand by until my wife asked me for a tool from beneath the truck. The biggest DIY project we’ve completed was installing a shower. A leak ruined the floor beneath and the contractor wasn’t reliable, so we finished it ourselves. I hated every minute but it is rewarding seeing how good of a job we did.

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  6. So true–family before blogging. I try to limit writing time to late evenings and schedule ahead when possible. I keep a running list of ideas so I can write quickly and efficiently.

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  7. I work on having everything written for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday on both blogs by Friday. So I have two days completely open on the weekend for me and my husband. I also spend some time with him when he gets home from college if he isn’t doing homework. Way to go on DIY accomplishments!

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  8. Interestingly enough, we are in the midst of home repairs, too – along with a new hole which used to be a pantry and a table-full of goods in another room. Not to mention several other situations which involve living, breathing people and my presence and a book which is tottering along… and yet, today I sneak a quick peek at other blogs – a luxury I have not had much time for lately!

    Enjoy it all – the good, the bad, and even the ugly.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Most of the time I do diy for the sake of saving money like fixing a broken toilet or changing the oil in my car. I usually keep a list of priorities to do and it doesn’t have to be done as long as they’re done step by step, you’ll get there.

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  10. This American woman is also a bit inept at DIY projects. Love watching the shows but when it comes time to do anything my mind is a blank. I admire the creative talent of your wife. That said -put a typewriter or sewing machine in front of me and I am one happy and content woman. I am still working out the balance of writing, working, ministry, and home life. But with Gods direction I am finding my way.

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