Finding the Gift in Every Experience

One of the things I’ve taught for years in my workshops is that there is a gift in every experience. Sometimes those gifts are difficult to find, so I always suggest that people go on a “treasure hunt” when they are going through a challenging time to specifically find the gift.

Victor and I are definitely going through a challenging time at the moment. It all started a few weeks ago when our dishwasher quit working. We have appliance repair/replacement insurance, so Victor called the company and they sent out a guy who said that the dishwasher was dead and that the insurance would pay to have it replaced. However, he found that the dishwasher had been leaking underneath our flooring for probably quite some time, maybe years (we never saw evidence of leaking because we have 3 layers of flooring in the kitchen — the sub-floor, the original linoleum and our laminate flooring that was installed a few years ago on top of the linoleum).

He said that we would have to have the linoleum tested for asbestos since it was installed prior to 1983. So, they sent out a guy from another company who took a sample and sent it to a lab and sure enough, it was made of asbestos (which is not dangerous while it is in place on the floor — it only becomes dangerous when it is ripped up and particles become airborne).

So, the insurance company had to send out a remediation company to seal off the kitchen and rip up the linoleum. That happened two days ago. During the process an inspector from the “Bay Area Air Quality Control Board” showed up unannounced to check to make sure the workmen had everything sealed properly and were properly bagging and disposing of the material they were removing. (They passed with flying colors I’m happy to report!)

Now that the linoleum is gone we can peek through a plastic “window” installed in the sealed containment area and see the extent of the water damage to the sub-flooring (about half the kitchen). Today they sent out a guy from a different company to rip out all the lower kitchen cabinets, countertop, sink, stove top, dishwasher and damaged sub-flooring (and also to check for mold). Of course they did find mold, so now they have installed a dehumidifier in the sealed area of the kitchen to dry out the sub-flooring and another unit in our hallway that is supposed to extract all the airborne mold spores. Both units make a medium-loud humming noise and need to run continuously until next Tuesday.
kitchen remediation pictures
To prepare for all of the above work, we had to clean out all our lower cupboards and move all the food into boxes that are now stacked in our living room along along with our kitchen table, chairs and refrigerator. In order to make room for the refrigerator, we had to move our full-sized piano keyboard upstairs to our guest bedroom. We do not have a large living room, so you can image what it looks like (somewhat like a maze). In the meanwhile, our kitchen remains sealed so nothing that we may have forgotten to take out of the kitchen is accessible to us (i.e., our vitamins that we forgot to take out of one of our kitchen drawers, our dishes stored in the upper cabinets, etc.). We went out yesterday and bought deli salads and other refrigerated food that doesn’t need to be cooked (since we don’t have use of an oven or stovetop). We also bought paper plates and plastic utensils since we don’t have access to our dishes or the kitchen sink. They probably won’t be done with all the work until after the new year, which means we won’t have use of a kitchen for that period of time.

So what could possibly be the gift in all of this? There are several that we have found so far on our personal “treasure hunt.”

1. The most obvious gift is that the wet flooring is being taken care of before any more damage is done.

2. Our homeowners insurance is covering all the repairs — we just have to pay a $500 deductible. So for $500 we are getting a kitchen remodel complete with new flooring, cabinets and countertop.

3. Our appliance insurance is paying for a new dishwasher that I’m sure will be much more energy efficient than our old one (that came with the house when I bought it in 1985!)

4. We actually are happy that we were forced to clean out all our cupboards — lot’s of stuff in there that needed to be thrown away!

5. Even though this is happening during the Christmas holidays, we are actually grateful for the timing as we had no specific plans that needed to be changed.

6. Our offices are in our home and we are grateful that we have access to our office space and can continue to work without being disturbed.

7. We found out that we actually love having our piano in the upstairs guest room instead of our living room because the guest room is next to Victor’s office and he now can easily take “mini” breaks from work to practice the piano. (Engaging that right-brain is so important when you are doing left-brain work like programming.)

8. Yesterday dear friends gave us an amazon gift certificate as an early Christmas present and today we used it to buy a Cuisinart Toaster Oven Broiler that will be arriving tomorrow. That means that at least we can cook some meals at home.

I’m sure that there are more gifts in this experience that we have yet to discover, so I’ll keep adding them to this post as they make themselves visible. In the meantime, it has really helped Victor and me to get through this ordeal in a calm and peaceful manner by focusing on the gifts instead of on the inconvenience.

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6 Responses to Finding the Gift in Every Experience

  1. Megan David says:

    Hi Carol and Victor,
    Wow, what an ordeal. Your photos look like something out of the Twilight Zone. What a blessing to be able to count your blessings through it all. Sending much love and light your way.
    MERRY CHRISTMAS from Richard and I.

  2. Suzette says:

    Hi Carol! Oh leave it to you to make a nightmare into a fairy tale! I am so glad the outcome of the crazy kitchen will be a good one. You and Victor have a wonderful Christmas and a Very Happy New Year. You are like the “princess of joy” and who could ask for anything else. Wishing you and your famly all the best. Love, Suzette

  3. Michal B says:

    Hi Carol and Victor! Oh my gosh. This is a big adventure for you. (I don’t know ir this is private or public message) If you are getting a whole new kitchen, I have a quadrillion questions about product specifications you are being offered/ restricted. Green, ergonomic, healthy??? Maybe I can gift you with some thoughts.
    Kind of just jumping in to stuff, but kind of can’t help it. I saw that you were starting to blog and I told R. that I was thinking about that first long phone conversation you and I had when we were between houses in a rental in San Ramon a million years ago.
    If you like, please give me a call in the morning on my cell. Love and peace, Michal & RCB.