I am coming off of five days without power, heat or lights and although at first I viewed it as “an adventure,” the thrill had definitely gone. When I realized that the freak October snow storm had caused more than a minor inconvenience in the utility department — and managed to get back into the day, rather than following my thoughts into a near panic state over the long upcoming winter months ahead — I decided to make the best of this experience.
We were not, after all, in a war zone: everything we needed was around us, just not at our fingertips. So, it became a challenge to me to use our resources at hand and find that which we didn’t have.
Through those five days, my daughter and I developed a new routine: if we needed internet, we’d go to my office. We’d go workout at the Y and use their showers. And we sampled the cuisine at our favorite area restaurants and accepted the kindness of a friend for a meal as well. We came home only to sleep and had a routine there too: grabbing the strategically placed flashlight as we walked in, hustling the dogs upstairs and quickly dressing in layers and snuggling deep under layers of blankets and comforters. We went to bed when it was dark and awoke when it was light.
Although coming home last night to a well-lit, warm house was about the happiest sight I’ve had in a LONG time, this experience gifted me with new insights. Here are some:
I had too much food in my refrigerator. I threw out five large garbage bags of food last night, between two refrigerators. That’s an obscene amount of waste. And there was really no way that two or three of us were ever going to eat that anyway. Now not only do I have a clean refrigerator (something I’d been threatening to do for years), I can actually see what is in it! And probably use it!
The computer takes up so much time! When we had no power, I found time to exercise, to have a nice leisurely meal with my daughter AND get to bed at a decent hour. I got more sleep in the last five days than since the time I was on vacation. Last night when the power came back up, I was up until midnight again, doing “one more thing” on the computer.
It’s important to spend time with your teenagers. I cannot imagine going through this alone. My almost-16 year old daughter and I were buddies through it and found a lot of time to laugh and talk. I feel closer to her now than I have in a while, just by the nature of being with her so much. Neither of us were distracted by electronic devices or things that HAD to get done.
Things that HAVE to get done can wait. My to-do pile is still here and the world did not come crashing down because I did not adhere to my schedule. Living a simpler life for a few days slowed me down and calmed me down.
When you move into a new house, get your chimney cleaned. I had never used the fireplace in my house before but desperate times called for desperate measures. I said prayers the flue would work and it did — most of the time. For the first hour I had a lovely fire that I sat next to proudly, feeling like I finally was one-upping the situation. I left to get my daughter and came back to a house filled with smoke. Nothing serious, just a lingering smell on all our clothes as if we had been camping in business suits and neon tops.
It’s okay to have the dogs sleep on the bed. They are wonderful mattress warmers.
And, lastly, your attitude makes ALL the difference. With a eye for adventure, a bit of imagination, resourcefulness, flexibility, and trust that all will be well, you can get through and still have the ability to smile. And to say prayers of thanks to Thomas Edison.
Janet Neal is New Business Development Manager at Above & Beyond, Inc.and Executive Director/Founder at The Professional Women’s Center, Inc.