I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror at work today. It was the afternoon, so I’d been there nearly all day, and six hours later I stood in the ladies room washing my hands, tilted my head a bit to the right, and was nearly blinded by the big splotch of white paint covering a 3-inch patch of my hair. As if sometime the night before I’d fallen asleep with my head leaning up against the freshly painted bathroom wall.
And seriously? Anything is possible.
On any given day this discovery would have followed immediately by a closer inspection, picking, brushing, possibly soap and the hand dryer in the ladies room to put my hair back to its natural color. But after a DIY marathon week it evoked a different response entirely, which is to say I closed my eyes and said to myself, “Just turn around and walk out the door. If you didn’t see it it isn’t there.”
And I did.
Because I haven’t had more than 5 hours of consecutive sleep in the last 4 days. Because things I used to think of as necessary –showering, eating, going out in public without the imprint of a freshly painted wall on my head– have been replaced by the installation of new storm doors, the never-ending restoration of my basement steps, 750 square feet of newly painted walls, truckloads of junk and other bits-and-bobs being boxed up and hauled out of the house, the crafting of new trim for the doorways, and a multitude of other little updates that need to be made to Garrison Road before it’s ready to sell.
The point in time where putting one foot in front of the other is the only thing that gets us from one minute to the next? Yeah, I’m there.
I’ve resolved not to look at myself in the mirror for the next 48 hours, because seriously? What I look like, at this point, isn’t going to make any difference in getting the basement steps sanded down.
MysteryMan and I realize this is only the beginning. The first wave of many days that will come next Spring when our lives are consumed by lumber and nailers and roofing materials and concrete. While we’re trying to formulate a plan for how to approach the coming days of unending physical and mental exhaustion, we really just end up staring blankly at each other for extended periods of time.
Blame it on the paint fumes.
Tips on Surviving the Stress
People will tell you “make sure you’re taking care of yourself,” or “you need to get more sleep” as if you don’t already know sleep deprivation makes you look like you’ve been punched in the face.
Sometimes taking hours out of your life for the necessities isn’t an option, so here are some things you may be able to do instead.
1.) Stock up on protein bars. My favorites are the Luna Lemon Zest and Balance Chocolate Peanut Butter. I can eat one while simultaneously climbing a ladder with a paint roller in my hand, and it has at least some nutritional value.
2.) Zorro-mask gel ice packs work wonders. I slap mine on while working on the website for putting Garrison up for sale (debuting soon), or updating DIYdiva.
3.) Hydrate. Seriously. 4-5 bottles of water a day. You aren’t going to sleep as much but keeping your system on a constant flush is the next best way to avoid getting sick when you’re stressed (and stop stress headaches better than asprin).
4.) Keep the same pair of work clothes handy. Listen, they are disgustingly dirty, we know that, but sometimes it’s better to just dirty one set of clothes instead of building up a monster pile of laundry. Alternatively, hiring and/or bribing someone to do your laundry is also a good idea.
5.) Tylenol PM. Do not use this every day, but about every third day I’ll take half of one, just to make sure for the 4-5 hours I have to sleep I’m going to be out.
5.) Plan. I like to think I’m superwoman at times, but the truth is I have a limit to the amount of consecutive days I can stress my body out. Yesterday in a meeting for my Actual Real Job there was a person standing in front of a patterned wall, and I lost all sense of depth perception. I could only watch her if I kept one eye closed. When I start doing the “pirate”, this is a sign that I’m nearing my stress tolerance, and it’s time to re-prioritize what I can (and can’t) get done in the next 48 hours, and make sure I tackle the most important stuff first. Then schedule a good 12 hours to crash.
So basically what I’m saying is… I’ll see you all again when I wake up.