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When The Going Got Tough

This past few days could quite easily have been one of the most stressful periods of my life that I can recall … ever. At times I’ve felt overwhelmed, out of control and anxious. I’ve also felt humbled, speechless and incredibly fortunate …

just a selection of the garbage we cleared from the property

No, it wasn’t a matter of life and death although I’d be lying if I said that at times, thoughts of committing an act to bring someone to an early demise hadn’t fleetingly crossed my mind – metaphorically and all in the aid of catharticism, you understand. So what was the cause of this angst?

Well, I sold my house. Not a special house, not a home – in fact, I’d never even lived there – I’d only rented it out to someone whose character in hindsight I realise I seriously misjudged on just about every level. I trusted him and chose not to turn my back on him when others had. What I got in return was a departed tenant owing me rent and a carnage of a property that made me slump down a wall and cry when I walked in to see it. I kid you not. Oh … and I had four days to fix it before the sale completion date.

Then suddenly on Saturday morning, I found myself feeling a bit like Mr Benn from the 1970′s show – you may remember the immortal words “As if by magic, the shopkeeper appeared“; only this wasn’t the shopkeeper appearing, it was my friends.

One of my oldest and dearest friends, Cat – currently in recovery after major surgery – had waved her magic wand and arrived with a schedule of people to come in and help me fix the mess over the weekend. I also had my business partner and close friend Steffi Lewis by my side the whole time, together with my trusted steed and other half, Davo. All of a sudden, things were looking up.

During the course of the weekend, 11 of us worked incredibly hard to rectify the property and I was just absolutely awestruck by the motivation which everyone had to help me get out of the mess in which I’d inadvertently found myself. In the rain and sleet, we cleared tonnes – literally – of waste from the property in the form of wood, bricks, breeze blocks, old builder’s materials, plastic piping, old tyres, shelves and rusty tools and the previous inhabitant’s discarded personal items from the house, shed, garden and garage. We cleaned; we mended; we fixed; we decorated; even the entire bathroom was plastered – big thanks to Kev for that one.

Yesterday morning, I miraculously managed to buy a few extra days and at the time of writing this blog, I have 72 hours to bring the property to an acceptable standard. And enter two more friends – both keen to help me dispose of a drive full of waste over and above that which filled two Hippo Skip bags and tomorrow I have yet more people coming into take stuff away for me and I’m going to finish the decorating. Then I’m just awaiting a clear driveway to fit on a delivery of shingle to form a safe access from the house to the garden.

The piece de resistance was deciding to go to a network lunch as planned on Monday, where a lovely lady stood up and said “I run a plumbing and building company in Milton Keynes and Bedford and I’m giving away 2 free hours of labour to the first three people to put up their hands”. Yes please! And so on Thursday, I have workmen coming in to tile the bathroom and fit the shower – something else I’d been fretting about big time. Thank you Universe – and Julie Bean and David Lambert from Pronto Plumber!

Meantime, I’ll be beavering away with the decorating and cleaning. And I hope the new owner appreciates the blood, sweat and tears that went into creating her new home as she’ll find it. Although, of course, she’ll never know.

I’m eternally indebted to my beautiful friends and no amount of thanks will convey my gratitude. I made a comment on Facebook this evening to Steffi, who’s seen me in my lower moments and also been on the receiving end of my angst and general grumpiness. I thanked her for keeping me sane(ish); she commented back “Sane? You? Nah, just keeping you focused lovely. You’re more fun when you’re happily unhinged“. And I smiled … better to be happily unhinged than unhappily hinged, eh?

So you see, no matter how bad things seem, with friends and focus, anything can be achieved! And I certainly wasn’t going to allow this situation to distract me from writing today’s blog post either!

Be outstanding …