I try very hard, when I’m stressed over something, to figure out whether it’s something I can change. When it’s something I can’t change, I try to avoid allowing it to bother me. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve had a lot of practise lately!
One evening last week, I came downstairs from putting S to bed thinking “right, now to get to work” – only to find that the trip switch for my downstairs plug sockets had blown. This has happened a couple of times before; we’ve never been able to figure out what caused it. I took a deep breath, and set about unplugging everything downstairs. The trip switch still wouldn’t go back up. Last time this happened, I ended up unplugging everything upstairs too, so I tried that. Still no luck. In desperation, I squeezed my way into the cupboard behind S’s wardrobe to switch off the water heater and timer. Still nothing.
My landlord was away with work, so wasn’t able to be much help when I eventually called him. He called an electrician to come the next day. Meanwhile, I was posting photos of my fuse box on Facebook in the hope that someone would be able to help me. After a couple of hours of panicking over the contents of my fridge freezer (it came from a skip three years ago and is living on borrowed time as it is), I decided there was no point in stressing over the lack of electricity downstairs. I found the longest extension lead I could find and ran it from S’s bedroom, across the landing, down the stairs and along the living room wall to the fridge. Once the fridge was plugged in, I accepted defeat and had a much-needed early night. (The next day, an electrician turned up and flipped the switch I had flipped 500 times the previous night – and it worked. Brilliant.)
For the last week or so, both my internet connection and this website have been dropping out at random points through the day. Nobody seemed to be able to offer a reason for either, but it meant that quite often, even if I could get online, I couldn’t get to my blog to update it. It was infuriating, especially since I have no TV aerial here, and anything we want to watch on TV comes through the internet. The drop-out rate seems to be much worse in the evenings, which is not ideal since I often work or blog through the evening. So, no TV and no internet. And often, even when I could get online, this site was down – so I couldn’t blog.
I work off a Chromebook, which means that everything is cloud-based. All of my spreadsheets and word documents are stored online, and if I can’t get online, I can’t get to them. So no working on the book or the blog. In addition to this, I had just launched a month-long Sugar Free September challenge, for which I was planning to send a daily email. Not being able to get online was really rather irritating.
But when you’re sitting there at 8pm with no internet, there’s not a lot to be done about it. I couldn’t call my provider’s helpline, because by this point my issue was being dealt with further up the foodchain. I knew she wouldn’t be at her desk, and since I couldn’t email her, there was nothing I could do. I resolved to read a page of the book I was reading, each time the Internet went down. I told myself I wasn’t to look at the blinking light on the router until I’d finished a chapter. Each time Netflix came up with an error message or my browser came up with a 403 message, I took a deep breath and picked up my book. Do you know what? I read a lot last week. A lot more than I normally would. And I got a lot of early nights.
I tried my hardest to remain positive, and to make the most of a bad situation. I finished reading a book that might otherwise have taken me over a month to read, since I’m also reading another for review at the moment. It was a book on personal development which left me feeling quite inspired and positive about things.
On Wednesday, S’s day off nursery, we went to my mum’s and S played with her cousin (and was spoilt with Nana attention) while I made use of the wifi for an hour or so. It was nice for S to get to spend time with both her cousin and my mum, as we don’t see either of them very often.
During the days, I’ve taken to decamping to a cafe/restaurant a block away from the house. It’s not ideal – what with trying to record, edit and publish a weekly podcast – but they have gorgeous coffee, friendly staff and all-day breakfasts. It was actually quite relaxing to sit and get my head down with some work without the distraction of being at home for a while. It’s probably where I am, as you read this.
And so, last week was an exercise in learning not to stress over the things you can’t change. I read a book, I went to bed early, I found ways around the inconveniences, all the while learning a valuable lesson in Zen and the art of taking really deep breaths.