A Spring Break

In hindsight, it seems obvious decision fatigue would set in, given all the time we’ve been spending on remodel-related errands these past few months. But because I was so consumed with the work we had to do, it took a few weeks before I realized that decision fatigue had set in.

At the time, we were in Marin where we’d actually had one of our best remodel-errand experiences yet, lucking into second-quality Heath tiles. But the rest of our to-do list that day was tiresome. We went to an appliance showroom and then a tile shop in San Rafael. Next up was an appliance outlet in Sonoma county, but the car was pointed west and we were already in San Rafael, close to so many good hiking spots, Mr. WholeHog pointed out.

So we drove out Fairfax-Bolinas Road to Lake Lagunitas and Bon Tempe lake in the Marin Municipal Water District and started out on a trail at random. We didn’t have my usual hiking book or even a map on hand. When we got there, we realized we also didn’t have Mr. WholeHog’s hiking boots. But it didn’t really matter. Just being outside and walking helped clear my head, and looking out at the spring-green hills of West Marin rather than at the knobs on a stove or the pattern on a tile made me feel sane again.

It was a windy March day, a brief pause between two storm systems, and the wind blew the water across the lake and against the shoreline. Listening to the sound of water lapping at the shore as we walked reminded me of my annual summer days at Lake Tahoe, of completely leisurely days with no to-do list.

It made me wish that we’d scheduled all of our house errands around a hike. Although it would have added yet-another decision for us to make (deciding not only what stores to go to but also what hikes were nearby), building in some time that wasn’t focused on flooring or faucets probably would have made these seemingly endless errands more enjoyable.

And I tend to need breaks built-in, since when I’m faced with a big project, like this remodel, I tend to buckle down and try to just push through the work it requires. Even when Mr. WholeHog had suggested going on a hike, I’d hesitated: we still had work to do. We weren’t DONE yet. But although it seems logical to me to work and then play, it doesn’t account for the times when I get burnt out or overwhelmed or just tired of a project.

Being out a Bon Tempe, watching the osprey circle overhead and dive into the lake, underscored the importance of getting away from a big project — whether it’s by sitting on the side of a lake, walking in the woods, watching birds, whatever – even if it goes against my (Germanic) nature and even if (maybe especially if) I don’t think I need it.

I felt very far away from kitchens and bathrooms, from the appliance and tile shops we’d been in just a few hours before. As we looped back to the parking lot and prepared to drive home, I felt a little less overwhelmed by all that we still had ahead of us.


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