Last year we bought a wonderful house. It’s in the middle of nowhere, meaning in the growing northern area of Bucharest, a zone which is still considered premium by every real estate agent. We bought it on inspiration, didn’t plan in advance to move to a new house. Just saw it, liked it, and in three weeks we were moved in.
It’s a rather big house. More than 200 square meters of built area and more than 100 square meters of yard. A little bit more for a family of three, they said. Little we listened to them, of course. We just liked the house, not to mention that it was the very first of house for me and for Diana. The fact that I moved into a real house after more than 35 years spent on apartments was like an epiphany to me.
The first two-three months were a continuous fairy tale. We bought furniture, installed appliances and enjoyed a beautiful fall in the back yard. Everything was fantastic. And still is, but…
This “but” started as a little annoyance and evolved in something I never thought to be so powerful. In fact, I never had this problem before, or to be more specific, it never was so clear.
To keep a long story short: we couldn’t cope with cleaning up the house. Yes, I know, seems lame, but that’s the truth. Coming from a 75 square meters apartment to a 200 + 100 square meters property was a huge change. The public status change of owning a house was great, of course, and so was the comfort boost, but it come with some hidden costs: the maintenance costs.
We started to realize that the moment we saw the first spiders web in places we didn’t frequent as much. Ooops, we have spiders! And then we saw the little dust piles in the corners. And then we realized we need two big garbage cans instead of one because we produced a lot more garbage. Subtly, everything started to gravitate around the dirt in our lives. We just had too much.
In the beginning, we cleaned the house every time we added some new furniture or some new appliance. But when the furniture was complete and all appliances installed, we just had to live that new life. And the house was literally too big for us. We were overwhelmed.
External Housekeeping To The Rescue
So we did what every decent capitalist will do when out of solutions: buy some help. We hired a house-keeper. Once a week she came and cleaned up the house.
But this was even worse. She didn’t know what to clean and how. And we realized it will take days to explain to her everything she needed to know. Like what furniture is cleaned every two weeks, or what windows need to be cleaned and how. Not to mention we were not satisfied with the quality of the work overall.
Anyway, hiring a house-keeper soon proved to be even worse that trying to keep clean ourselves. It was our house, and we were the only ones who knew what has to be done.
Let It Be
So we fired her – after being thankful of course, she did the best she could under the circumstances. And things become worse and worse. Bianca added a somehow creative dimension to the chaos, by spreading the toys all over the house in an unpredictable manner.
It was a challenge to cross the house from the East to the West wing. You had to carefully plan your route, in order to avoid the garbage bags on the kitchen hemisphere and still not to crash on the toy mountain in the middle of the living.
We were completely disconnected from the house. We just let it be and turned to other activities. We started to get out often in a pathetic escapism attitude. From the outside, the status change was still visible, we owned a beautiful house, but once inside, the chaos was all over.
It was only after several months after we moved in that we started to get serious about it. Not having clean dishes to eat from was also one of the reasons. It was a quick, yet silent process.
We started to keep the vacuum cleaner closer and wash the dishes twice a day, sometimes. Established serious rules with Bianca about the number of toys allowed per session. We established some rules between us and split responsibilities.
And we started to clean up the house. No more whining or complaining, no more excuses or useless going out, just clean the house and keep it clean.
At some point, after we reached a certain level of autonomy, and the house was livable again, we even started to invite people over. We did this in order to enforce the status. After each visit, which was most of the time a disguised kid party, the house was chaotic again. But that was just a reminder of the past, a trigger to start applying those functional rules, and start making the house shining again.
In the end, we learned how to live to the new status.
Your Next Level
The astute reader of my blog realized by now why I picked up this personal story. This is a personal development blog, and I write about personal development.
I told you this story because every level of your human growth, every milestone in your personal story, is a new house. Every new standard you reached, every promotion you get at your job, every jump in your personal life is a new house. Every new relationship, every major achievement, every next level is a new house.
Most of the time it is a much bigger house. Or at least much more complicated than the previous level of your life. And, as much as you enjoy the new benefits, you’ll have to learn how to keep it clean and crisp.
The New You
Every time you’ll move into a new you, you’ll have to deal with that.
You’ll have the enthusiasm moments and you’ll clean up by yourslef in the beginning. You will enjoy every new room, every new view and every piece of comfort you acquired. You’ll put yourself in contrast with the last status you had, and enjoy the new benefits.The initial enthusiasm will be huge and it will keep you motivated some time.
But you’ll soon find yourself overwhelmed and you’ll hire somebody else. That means you’ll accumulate trash in your life by letting things out of control. You’ll start to feel uncomfortable with the new status and let the dirt grow. When you can’t stand the smell, you’ll hire somebody else to do the cleaning for you. And that’s the mechanism of blame. You start to throw responsibility to somebody else.
Of course, soon enough you’ll realize that that somebody else is doing a pitiful job. Of course he does, because you have to do that job and nobody else is doing it better than you. Here comes disappointment and disconnection. You’ll feel lost: can’t clean up the house by yourself, and can’t hire somebody else to do the trick either.
The dirt will accumulate and this is the moment when most people are getting back to the initial status quo. They can’t stand the responsibility of the new level, and run back. They silently move back into that tiny, comfortable and moderately responsible apartment they had before.
And that’s the moment where you should take a decision: should I enjoy the benefits of my new me, or move back? It’s easier to move back. But is also boring.
Maintaining the new status requires responsibility and lucidity. It requires a lot of physical work also, it will not adjust by itself. You will have to work it out.. You will have to actually throw those garbage bags form your house and clean the living. You will have to establish new rules and follow them.
It’s only when you reached a certain level of autonomy and your new you is livable again that you will start to genuinely interact with other people. Honestly, openly and directly. Because now you know your inside is clean, and you’re ready for the next level.
Running For My Life - from zero to ultramarathoner
The spooky thing about depression is that it sneaks in. There aren’t really trumpets and loud voices announcing: “Hail, hail, this is depression entering the room, all rise!” Nope. It’s slow, silent, creepy. It doesn’t even look like depression. It starts with small isolation thoughts like: “Maybe I shouldn’t get out today, I just don’t feel like going out”. And then it does the same next day. And then the day after that and so on. And then it starts to whisper louder and louder in your ears: “Why would you go outside, you loser? Didn’t have enough yet? Want more people to make fun of how much of a big, fat loser you are?”
And then you start to breath in guilt and shame, instead of air. Every breathe you take is putting more dark thoughts into your body.
Until you get stuck. You can’t move anymore. At all.
If you want to know how I got out of this space, eventually, check out my latest book on Amazon and Kindle.