Day The Ceiling Fell In
This was nowhere on the scale of Hurricane Katrina, and my heart
goes out to everyone who was in her path. But in my little world,
the fall of the ceiling made a significant statement.
Fortunately, no one was electrocuted. I say this because we first
noticed the water as it was accumulating in the kitchen ceiling
light fixture. By the time the plumber had located the leak, the
ceiling was torn open end to end and the floor was ankle-deep
This event occurred as my children were preparing to leave for
college, my son for the first time. We were also approaching the
closing date for the sale of my parents condo. I dont
have my mom or dad to turn to anymore and it all began to feel
But then I recalled one of the biggest life lessons Ive
learned: Use everything that happens to you. Ive discovered
that its not enough to just accept the reality of a situation;
you have to work with it as well.
What are the possibilities? The lessons? How is your attitude
working for you or against you? What inner strengths can you bring
Its hard to be real positive when everyone and the dog
are walking around blinking and coughing from concrete dust and
particles. But with the kids leaving in two days, I didnt
have the luxury of feeling sorry for myself. Like the old game
of Chutes and Ladders, I had to zip up to the next level in order
to deal with everything.
We decided to use what had happened as an opportunity to move
forward, and fix up the kitchen with an eye to what would be needed
to sell the house in a few years. In that regard, the timing was
fortunate, as there would be fewer people in the house needing
to access that room. As for my parents condo sale, I had
to accept that a certain amount of mourning was inevitable. I
allowed myself some private space to give in to the deluge of
nostalgic images and tears.
And then I made the decision to move on. We drove down to Carolina
and participated in that strange empty-nester ritual of saying
goodbye to life as we had known it a mixture of sadness,
and relief that we had made it this far in life. It definitely
is an adjustment to say goodbye to your own childhood, and that
of your children, at the same time but as my dad would have said,
It is what it is.
So were back, and arranging for the repair and update of
the kitchen. I also now have the opportunity to focus on my next
book, and Im grateful for that. And I definitely sense that
my parents are with me -- there have been a lot of heartwarming
signs. But the time has come to get current with where
I find myself today.
The good news is that Im doing this much faster than I
used to. In the old days, it would take eons between my realization
that something had happened and the recognition that I needed
to adjust my approach. I resisted change with all of my being,
and seemed to require persistent Universal nudges and eventually
whacks from the proverbial 2x4.
I dont have to experience that level of pain anymore. Ive
chosen to grow without it. Now I can see almost immediately when
Im drifting towards denial and take action to correct it.
This frees up energy to work towards solutions rather than tying
up that same energy in trying to avoid dealing with the situation.
Some things will always be more difficult for me, I know. Its
hard to stop those stubborn knee-jerk reactions. But my consciousness
of pushed buttons has been raised sufficiently for
me to handle them more quickly and effectively.
Were all obviously works-in-progress, doing better on some
days than others. However, Im encouraged by my handling
of the day the ceiling fell in. Relatively speaking, it was but
a blip on the radar, but I used it to grow and become stronger.
I wish the same for you, and for all those who are facing much
more monumental challenges.
Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new
center of gravity. Don't fight them. Just find a different way
-- Oprah Winfrey