The Winding Path

Counselling Services provided by Barb Zacharias

October 2020: Grateful Heart

Posted on Oct 19, 2020

October 2020: Grateful Heart

Thanksgiving weekend marked the one year anniversary of moving into my fixer-upper house. So much has happened in that time. The most notable is, of course, the global pandemic. However, the silver lining for me has been a year of “home renovation therapy.” Reduced clientele has meant more concentrated effort on improving my living conditions. This has also been exceptionally stressful.

Aside from stress management, it has been therapeutic in more ways than one. Most importantly for me, I have enjoyed working on my house. I love DIY projects and appreciate making what’s old, new again. Repurposing and upcycling otherwise discarded items—totally up my alley. Or how do they say it these days, totally my jam?

There is nothing like getting the creative juices flowing to make you feel alive. But for a recovering people pleaser, focusing on myself and my wants and wishes has also had a curative effect. I am feeling more sure of myself, and more in tune with my Self.

Dedicated “Home Renovation Therapy” also afforded quality time for quiet reflection—both intra-personally and externally (big picture thinking). As a result: personal growth. My professional life may have taken a blow; but in time that will recover too. It’s all about switching gears and making changes these days.

I could list all the projects that have been completed in the past year. Less easy would be to itemize the “therapeutic gains,” as we say in the counselling ‘biz.’ I have noticed a shift in some attitudes, beliefs, hopes and dreams. Others remain firmly entrenched no matter how self-aware I am—like body image issues.

Somehow that prompted me to ponder what my house thinks of all these changes. With all this devoted attention, does my house feel loved and cared for? Is that a sigh of relief I hear that someone is finally listening to the creaks and groans? Seeing the cracks and leaks?

In all of this musing, I realize the question is really whether I feel loved and cared for. Am I paying attention to my own creaks and groans, cracks and leaks? Oddly enough, the answer is, “Yes, I do feel loved and cared for.” Quite a surreal sensation given the years wasted to self-hatred, self-denial, and self-sacrifice. And it’s like my body, brain, and soul heave a collective sigh of relief: Finally!

In caring for an aging gem of a house, I end up caring for my Self. Only the Universe could come up with a treatment plan like that! Indulging a passion, a hobby sets me on a path of healing. It has not been smooth sailing (to mix metaphors); but that IS part of the process. Growth only happens by overcoming challenges.

To quote a line from the move, The Last Word, starring Shirley Maclaine as Harriet: “You don’t make mistakes. Mistakes make you. Mistakes make you smarter. They make you stronger, and they make you more self-reliant.” Her character’s biggest regret? Not encouraging her daughter to fail, instead of pursuing perfection.

There is no growth without struggle whether out of a seed pod, or old beliefs and attitudes, or no-longer-useful coping strategies. We cannot transform a neglected building with a magic wand. There is struggle: with time, money, equipment, tools, ladders, helpers, products, and our bodies. But the finished project, the end result fills us with joy and makes the struggle worthwhile.

It is not unlike the labour of giving birth—the reward makes the pain irrelevant. So much so, that we subject ourselves to repeated pain (whether gestation of a baby or building project). Disclaimer: This is not to minimize the suffering of those who long to conceive and give birth. It is my hope that you, too, can find solace in my words of struggle and growth.

So this Thanksgiving season, I am grateful for the past year and it’s unconventional therapy program. I am grateful for my house that keeps on giving—as shelter and haven as well as wellspring of creative projects. I am grateful for the lessons in self-love and self-care. And I am grateful that in some weird “cosmic” way, this house makes me feel loved and cared for (as I love and care for it).

I have a business name in mind for my future retreat. Barb’s Bunker: A House of Hope & Healing. But I keep thinking my house needs a personal name, like Lady Jane, Dame Agatha, or Miss Pettigrew. Something reflective of the mid-1920s when it was built and of its strong, defiant-yet-charming, character.

The right name will come to me eventually. Maybe once she has new eyes (aka windows) in the back of her head and a new “do” (aka shingles) on her head. She will be stylin’ then! 🙂 As will her owner, sporting a revamped sense of self, being all loved and cared for…

May a new discovery surprise and delight you today!


  1. Love your writing and your story is inspirational. I bet your house is happy and can’t wait to hear what you name her.

  2. Love “Barb’s Bunker: A House of Hope and Healing”…sounds inviting and a place where I could have a good cup of tea and great conversations.

    • Iso enjoy reading your blogs Although I need to tell you that I miss my favorite and best therapist… much has happened in my life! It means a lot to read about you. Loves Betty Ann

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