Sunday, May 7, 2017

5/8/17—Getting Back To My Old Self

I pressure washed my deck this weekend. It was almost the miracle before-and-after I hoped for. It was also a miracle (of sorts) in many other ways.

First, this wasn't something I could even remotely think of accomplishing for years when I was sick. And I would venture to say that I've accomplished more in that back yard this year than in the last 15 years, simply because I had been lazy for quite some time. I had adopted an attitude of "you can't do everything that needs to be done, so why even try?" That seems to be shifting. My asthma makes things harder, but I've come to a place where I'm not going to let it render me weak and unable. I'm past the fear and grief of it and now I'm challenging it. Lately it's been cooperating fairly well.

That said, the deck washing took everything out of me...haha. The hose has pressurized water in it. So you can't just casually hold it. It has a kick that you have to neutralize. And you also have to keep the trigger pulled. Even though neither of these things take much effort, over the course of 4 hours with the vibration of the machine reverberating through your arms, it wears you down.

Second, I've never cleaned that deck in the 17 years I've lived here. I've thought about it. But that's when the lazy part gets my ear. If you want a truly clean deck, don't wait 17 years. That's why it took so long to clean and still has stains. So many of the boards have cracks and whatnot and the stains and discoloration are seeped in. A really good job would have included me sanding the boards down to get those stains out and make everything smooth, but that's just way too much trouble for little old me. I'll let nature wear it smooth again. Just the fact I did what I did was a breakthrough. 

But it's more than that. I haven't really given a crap how dirty it looked, nor had I respected it in proportion to the service it has given me. I mean, I'm out there a LOT. My dogs take flying leaps off it multiple times a day. And it's still solid as a rock. I think the fact that I now care is a reflection of the better care I've been taking of myself. "Be kind to yourself" is the mantra I've used to replace the thought of "you're wheezing and puffing and a miserable weakling and it's all your fault for being fat and smoking two packs a day for 20-some years." Truth is, I'm grateful all I have is asthma. My brother died of lung cancer at my age. I'm glad I quit smoking when I did.

Third, how freaking awesome of a single female homeowner am I? I pressure washed and sealed my deck! All by myself! Owning a home brings many a DIY moment, but I think this is one of my highlights. And how awesome is it that I own my own pressure washer? I may have the only one on the block. I bought an electric one because they're not that expensive and I have visions of pressure washing other things. I have a stone patio that wouldn't mind some cleaning, too. You can even wash your car with one. 

Finally, there was a drive in me to finish the job on schedule. Like I became possessed with finishing. And that happens fairly often with me. But it doesn't happen when it's cold and raining intermittently and all my activity is nonetheless making me sweat because it's 90-100% humidity, making me overheated and shivering at the same time. The longest break I took was 10 minutes while the deck wash chemicals were doing their thing. I pushed farther than I should have. But I got a sense of my limit and it's farther than I thought it would be. 

The fact that I pushed myself so hard, though, reminds me again that I'm capable of more than I thought. I thought this would be a much easier job and it took twice as long as I anticipated. But it didn't occur to me to leave it for a day when it wasn't raining. (I did have to leave the sealing for Sunday, but that was more a function of the rain. The stuff sprays on easy peasy and you can put it on a damp deck, but rain would not be good.) I'm finding myself sticking to my schedules lately, all around. I'm even working ahead a lot at work. This is a drive that had been gone for quite some time and I'm glad it's back. I believe in being disciplined.

So even though my back aches and my energy was wrecked Saturday night, it was still a victory. Because I felt NORMAL. And I have been wanting to feel that way a long time. A very, very long time. It has been a year and a half since I was diagnosed with asthma. The years leading to that were so dark. I had bought into the thought that I'd always have that deep exhaustion and depressed, cloudy head. And it turned out that being diagnosed and treated was nearly the miracle I had hoped for, too. "Nearly" because it wasn't an overnight miracle. It took a long time for me to feel human start recovering the pieces of myself I abandoned to my illness. 

I stepped away from Facebook a couple of months ago. And a few weeks ago, I stopped looking at the news on a daily basis. Now I just glance a headlines and move on. And the overall effect has been a cleanse of sorts. I have some rough spots, stains and dings that will never be removed, just like my deck. Neither of us will be like new again. But both of us are getting as "back to our old selves" as is possible at our age.