Alter Post: Small Successes Add Up

It’s fall in the United States.  Except for the South and desert areas, this means cold weather, lots of wind, and having to winterize living spaces.

Last year we all moved into a new apartment with big bay windows and skylights (third floor under the roof) that provided amazing views with lots of sun.  The bad news was that it also made the apartment super cold and drafty.  For the first time, we put up plastic window covers all by ourselves.  It was so scary, that we messed up pretty bad and had to redo them a couple times.  Two windows, by the way, were 5′ wide by 4,.5′ long (5.5 including space for the sill).  The third window was about 3.5′ wide and just as long.  They are also placed about 3 feet above the floor so we had to use a ladder and a travel blow drier to do this.

But I did it.  So did everyone else who participated.  And we learned what not to do for next year.  The skylights are more problematic because they are set in.  Our solution – diy blackout or thermal curtains.  It works so far for lower ones in the bedroom.  If the living room gets too cold, and our heating bill goes up again, a team of us will cut/sew/attach the sheer thermal curtains to those too.  Not that anyone is looking forward to it – putting those up requires our body to be standing close to the top of a 6′ ladder the whole time – because some are afraid of heights.  And sewing is a major trigger for the child/adolescent parts.

But we got the first part of winterizing finished today.  The first window we did was the bedroom one.  Thought it worked well.  But a week later, part of it fell off.  Had to stick it back on, find the hole, and repair a hole side and corner.  But it’s working now.  Yesterday, we tried a different process and ended up shrinking a side too much; it left a 6 inch gap that had to be fixed with extra tape and plastic.  Took so long, we had to stop and get a snack even though the instructions say not to.  And it was frustrating and tiring; 3 hours holding a travel blow drier and shrinking wrapping plastic around a window is not fun.  So after we finished, we fell asleep.  Instead of waking up unhappy and upset, we woke up feeling good and hungry.

No one planned to work on the third window today.  We had other things to do like cooking, laundry and preparing for work.  But as the day passed, we realized that the window had to get finished today if we wanted to keep the electricity bill down.  The last two successes had our confidence up.  And we remembered to eat big before starting.  And kept a drink nearby too.  We started in a different direction and knew what to look for to prevent problems before they appeared.  That meant, everything except one area went as planned.  Yay!  And even that section did not cause triggers or anxiety or frustration this time.

Lessons we learned:

  1. Do one window a day or a week
  2. Eat first.  And keep a drink handy
  3. Start and finish in daylight if possible
  4. Take our time and check for gaps as we shrink the plastic
  5. Keep extra plastic and tape around to plug the holes
  6. Take a break if you need it
  7. Then go back and fix the rest of the loose parts
  8. Nothing is perfect.  Expect to make repairs

Conclusion: small successes build on each other.  Each success adds to the feelings of competence and confidence.

Doing this last window felt so good, other alters were able to fix the blackout curtains in the bedroom to keep more heat in and get the room to stay darker too.  And so the first part of apartment winterizing is finished.