I'm stressed. and there's no other way to say it.
Also, I seem to have lost all tolerance for stress, all strength to handle it.
I have never been a believer in "stress management" but rather in stress removal.
In my classes and during my Retreats, I teach that having a big pile of cow poop in the middle of the living room is not something to manage, get used to, and learn to live with. Instead, I suggest parting with the stinky mess and teaching the cows to use a pasture going forward.
I have a whole bunch of really effective tools to do that.
So here I am, unable to sit with this rather small pile of cow dung and needing to move it out of the house before I lose more sleep or get another small cold.
There are only two main piles of poop I am aware of, and on top of their smell, I carry guilt about the fact that I even get stressed about them. Talk about first-world problems - while living in a third-world country. Talk about the privilege of even having these problems. Don't I read the news? Don't I know people who would love to have these "problems?" None of this help.
Let's get closer. Don't worry, as I said, they are small.
For now, let's just address Pile #1.
The budget and Klaus' voice
We have used more than two-thirds of the budget and it looks to me that we have a lot more work to go before I can call the project complete. I have kept meticulous books and met with Jorge weekly to sync them with his. This is a process I learned while leading Retreats and it just works. Two sets of books, regular check-ins, not much can get out of line or at least not for longer than it would take to catch it and fix it. On my end, I have a paper book (bright orange and looking well used, especially now that Lila decided to gnaw its side) as well as a computer spreadsheet. Jorge's notebook has a big mandala on the front. We're set.
For the last two weeks, in addition to the "materials" and "labor" columns, I have added the "balance" column so that we both are aware of the diminishing number.
Plus 25,000 pesos which I have not mentioned before.
One week into the job, Jorge's work car had died and he had approached me and asked me if I would be willing to lend him 25,000 pesos which he could use as a down payment for a truck he could use to haul materials and make things run better for the job. This money would be added to the house budget, I would simply be paying it in advance.
I think that was my first test and not an easy one.
For personal reasons that I may be ready to share in ten years or never, this triggered the heck out of me. Way more than I could explain to him. It also brought up nicely what Landmark Education™ calls "one of my Strong Suits."
In a short explanation, a "Strong Suit" is a way of being that we identify early in our life as being something we get rewarded for. Often with attention, love, and eventually very possibly with money. Useful stuff. At some point, we get confused between who we truly are and the Strong Suit, and we start to use the darn thing all over the place possibly at the cost of our well-being, authenticity, and even sanity. We get eaten up by something that we were supposed to nibble on.
Note: If you have recently attended Landmark™ or are very familiar with this concept, you may bust me on my summary recalling of what I have found to be a powerful concept.
One of my Strong Suits is Being Helpful/Resourceful and so when I graduated from practicing in the school playgrounds and making it a side offering to all my other businesses (you should have seen me use it on brides ordering a wedding cake when I had a bakery) I eventually built a career out of this baby - as many people do. It comes naturally to me, it's easy, I'm good at it AND I have learned that unless I apply a thick layer of boundaries to it, it will devour me and leave me broke, exhausted, and feeling abandoned. By me, which is the worse of abandonment.
So, the truck. The money for the truck.
I knew I was being presented with a pop quiz. I knew it was important that I pass. I knew I needed to step carefully over the danger zone of my Strong Suit and I also knew that I needed to trust again, that it was part of the healing process.
Gerald Jampolsky says that there are only two basic emotions in our lives: Love and Fear. And that one will further our life and the other shrink it.
."I get this, I love this, I have read and given away many copies of his book and yet I was stumped: Which path was the love path? Helping someone or loving myself by protecting myself?
I said yes.
Which is why all of the bookkeeping includes in the margin a little asteric with the number 25,000 next to it.
Back to the budget. We have used more than two-third of it, including the truck loan.
And this scares the hell out of me.
If you have ever spent time in Mexico, you have surely seen many unfinished buildings. Someone ran out of money, momentum, or worse.
I don't want that. And I think that all along the way, I have had a big fear of this happening. In my colonia, there are many unfinished houses. Most of them, actually. I don't want that. I really, really don't want that.
So when I look at what's left to be done, and I look at the amount of money left to do it and I look at my crew's creative hours, I smell a pile of cow poop in the living room and it wakes me up at 3 am.
I have talked with Jorge about it recently and he has always reassured me: "we're good, he says. We're going to make it." This man's calm is something that should be bottled and sold. I take regular whiffs of it and yesterday I needed a bigger dose.
"Are you sure?" I ask him. I look around the site and I want to list all-that-still-needs-to-be-done. And I hear Klaus' voice ("the early phase is quick, it's the latter phase that takes a long time")
"I'm sure." he tells me.
But I kinda want to scream a little bit (see?) and say: But your cost of labor is so high, we are going to run out of money! What are we going to do??
Because truly, his cost of labor IS high. That little number that lives between the cost of materials and what I have handed him out every Friday so far? It is high. High even for a full crew of four people working full time - which does not happen the majority of the time.
Feeling like a brat, I ask: "How do you know?" To which he answers: "Because we have to."
But then there is still the fact that he is having a dentist day on Monday and then the fact that next week is Semana Santa, a holiday possibly bigger than Christmas, over here. And god knows how that will translate for the project. So I ask about that. What is the schedule for next week?
On the spot, he calls a crew meeting about next week. Which he begins by announcing that they only have two weeks to finish the project. To which no one even blinks. Except me. Because really, we have a little bit more than four.
Hmmm ... Jorge? He turns to me and shushes me with a smile. He then asks the guys what they want to do about next week. Do they want Monday off (this, I don't get at all, other than maybe making official the unofficial Monday schedule) or Saturday off? They choose Monday and since Saturday is usually a half-day, it's not a great trade-off, but I am aware that they could have wanted the whole holiday week off, too.
Somehow I am almost certain that what I am watching is theatrics. Something designed to appease me and which may have very little to do with next week's reality. I think I can feel it in my bones. And it makes me a little nauseated.
Then Jorge calls me to the other side of the house "to show me something" and explains to me that he said two weeks to give them pressure. He could almost have winked. Ugh.
I don't know. I don't know what to trust, I don't know what happens if the house is not finished by the time the budget is spent.
I don't know why I can't just relax and trust. I have never built a house. They have. Also, I have no reason not to trust. At least no reason that is personal to this situation.
Meanwhile, last night, three of us walked around the quiet house at dusk and marveled at the ceiling, the now roofed shower area, the plumbing lines (which run under the floor "and what happens if something goes wrong? Do we crack the floor open?" Oh dear...) and how sweet it all feels. We brainstormed ideas, decided to add a skylight above the future bathtub, and soaked in the evening vibes in the country.
Finally: stressing about the budget and the schedule not going to help. I have said what I could say, I have had the talk about it, and I have been told that it would be fine. I want to let this be enough.
Especially since I need my clear mind to focus on Pile #2.