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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Losers can always learn

Hard times are instructional. What's the point of going through hell if you're not going to get something out of it? And I don't mean an opportunity for one-upmanship, the ever popular, "You think THAT's hard? Oh yeah???"

My older daughter plays soccer and I always tell her that we learn more from losing than winning. And as a frequent loser, I know what I'm talking about.

What do you really learn about good times anyway? Nothing. You just enjoy them. And here's another point about crappy times, without them we'd find it difficult to recognize the good ones. And here's another thing, what's "good" and "bad" changes, depending on where you're sitting.

With that in mind, I thought I'd outline what I've learned from some of our tribulations, starting with the most serious, and then ending with the bugs. Bugs are always on my mind and (more frequently than I'd like) on my head.

1. Heart failure:
  • Every improvement counts, no matter how small.
  • Things aren't always as dire as they sound at first.
  • Someone should rename this condition in order to reduce the panic level among patients and their families.
  • Young, healthy people get sick every day and everywhere.
  • Waiting for the sky to fall is not living.
  • Don't wait for retirement to really live.
  • You can't live every day like your last. It's exhausting, especially if you could live another 20 years or so.
  • When to push through and when to give in. It's not true that quitters never win. Go easy on yourself.
  • When people offer to help, take it and tell them what they can do.
  • Check your life insurance as soon as you have children. We never topped up my husband's and now, no one will insure him. What you get from the workplace is better than nothing, but less than you'd need if you died while your children were young. On the upside, my husband doesn't have to hire a food taster because he knows that he's worth more to me alive than dead. (He knows I'm kidding, right? I truly adore that man.)

2. Home renovations:
  • Always get references, not just a quote. Cheaper is not necessarily better.
  • If it's a big reno, like...say...a roof, consider hiring a home inspector to check the work. This can also prevent...say...rain in your basement in the event that the roofer skipped the important step of replacing the surface that was removed.
  • Things always cost more than you think.

3. Buying and selling a home:
  • Can you renovate and be happy?
  • What you want versus what you need.
  • Get a home inspection and fix the big problems before you sell.
  • Sometimes going through lawyers is harder. Keep the lines of communication open between both parties, if possible.
  • Get a long range forecast and if a tornado will be hitting your house in the foreseeable future, move. NOW.
4. Bugs:
  • Gratitude: For having a washer and a dryer. If I was doing laundry on a rock by the river, I would have keeled over before the bugs did. On the other hand...
  • Simplicity: If I was doing laundry on a rock by the river, we'd only have 1.5 outfits each and it wouldn't have taken as long. Pare your stuff down regularly.
  • Reality check: No one dies from bed bugs (but you do go itchy-crazy).
  • Don't accept used clothing or furniture unless you can poach, boil, immerse or freeze it. On that note, winter is a good time to get used stuff. Leave it outside for a while, preferably when it's a day like today and it's -33C with the windchill.
  • If someone is getting weird rashes for no apparent reason, it could be bed bugs (I got hives, my husband didn't have any reaction and one of my daughters looked like she was thrown into an Iron Maiden).
  • Get a canine inspection. Really. They now have dogs trained to sniff out bed bugs. There's a fella in Ottawa who does this through his company. It's money well spent. My daughter was getting a weird rash on her back in the fall and I was starting to hyperventilate. We got Patrick to come over with his dog Miley and we passed the sniff test. Whew.
  • Check hotel rooms for signs of bed bugs before you flop.
What about you? What sort of trials have you been through and what sort of wisdom would you like to share?

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