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Episode 11

Crazy life update

Street art truck

As if you were wondering where I went and why I haven’t recorded new episodes in awhile…

I’m back, with a new coached walk and a sort of funny story about what’s been happening in my life. 

I price myself on being consistent and sticking with things, but in this podcast episode you’ll find out why I had to stop, take a moment, and get back on my (mental health) feet. 

I’m also sharing:

  • where I’ve been the last few months
  • mold!!
  • the grumpy contractor 
  • the cat almost collapsed the kitchen counter
  • why I gained 10 pounds

This episode is a coached walk with background WALKING MUSIC to help you stay on track. If you prefer no music, listen to episode 11B.

There’s a BELL at the halfway point so you can turn around if you want to head back.

Photo: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Podcast Transcript

We have made it to season two. I'm going to tell you what's been going on. I ended up wrapping season one earlier than I wanted it. I moved into a rental condo in Northern San Diego County with my two kids. I thought, okay, no problem. Pack, unpack, whatever.

The day I moved in, I went out on an errand and my daughter was here with a friend of hers who was going to spend the night. It's always good to have company when you're in a new place. You don't want to face those monsters alone. She texted me, "Mom, there's a bug in the sink and I think it's a cockroach."

I'm like, "No, of course it's not a cockroach. This is an incredibly expensive condo. Cannot possibly be a cockroach." Well, I came back from the errand and sure enough, there was my friend, the cockroach. That was a great start to our stay. We got the cockroach outside and went to bed. The next morning, I woke up, I was walking down the hall to the kitchen. And I smelled my old friend mold.

Hello, mold my old friend! Yeah, I have a nose for old. I can find mold. I can smell mold. Sure enough, I looked under the kitchen sink and the cabinets in there, and there was mold. Not only mold, but it was also damp. Some of the areas were pretty wet. So of course, I called the property manager right away. They send someone out to fix the leak. Turns out that the smell was just getting worse and worse. 

I did a little more investigation. All of the shelves underneath were wet and damp. That was the start of our adventure. I don't even remember anymore everything that happened, but they sent someone else out who was going to fix. They found another leak and there was a leak in the wall. They sent this really grumpy contractor.

He scared me. I didn't want to talk to him. He found where the second leak was, but he didn't want to do anything. He was so grumpy; I was afraid to say anything. It went on for quite a while back and forth, and they sent someone else. I smelled mold in other places in the kitchen. Like in the pantry area-- when someone came in to pull up the shelves and see what was there. I told him about the pantry and he ignored me. So pretty much all of the cabinets in this kitchen smelled like mold, which you would think is not possible. 

After going back and forth for a few weeks, they decided to send someone out to actually break up some of the shelves and the cabinets to look for the mold. I found out that he was doing that without containment, after he was already here, breaking up the shelves. That way the mold could become airborne. Why not, right? So while he was breaking up the shelves and looking behind everything, I finally convinced this different contractor to look in the pantry. Sure enough, he ripped up the board and called me over. He showed me that they had put a dry board on top of the wet moldy board because the pantry backed up to the laundry area.

And apparently there had been a leak there too at some point. So after being unhappy about the potential mold spores spreading through the condo, eventually I got the property manager to get the owner to agree on doing more of a proper abatement as far as they were going to, budget wise. And finally, they set up a containment in the kitchen. What made this even more fun though, was that when they came to set up the containment, we had repacked everything and put it into the dining area, which is also my office area. My son and I did all that after unpacking the entire kitchen. 

We had a toaster oven/air fryer. We also had an instant pot, but we mostly just use a toaster oven, air fryer, and the microwave. We had to buy a new microwave. The microwave that was in here was actually missing all of the interior insulation. We put that out in the shed and we bought a new microwave so that we wouldn't explode when we were making food. It took quite a while for them to finish abating the kitchen. They kept the fridge in a roundabout way. I had to go into the containment to get into the fridge, but at that point I didn't care because I had already been exposed to the mold.

We lived like that for quite a while. I had to do dishes in the bathtub, which was also very interesting. We had to wash the dishes, dry them and pour the water out on the patio. It was pretty hard because after they did all that containment, they had to set up the drying machines, the air cleaner and do all of that. The owners wanted the countertop to remain, but they ripped out all the cabinets, even though the countertop was kind of old. They ripped out the bottom cabinets. And so, they were just held up by these little two by fours. I don't know if they were two by fours, but a piece of wood. Then the kitty would decide to sneak in if I was going in there. She would jump on the counter. I would then be terrified that she would knock the whole countertop down. It was interesting, different and strange.

One of the issues that was also difficult is because a) I am a night person, and b) I was having insomnia because of the stress. In the mornings, the contractors or people would come early. So I would go to sleep at 3:00, 4:00 or 5:00 AM. 8-8:30 in the morning, they were supposed to show up. I would set my alarm and they wouldn't show up until 9:30 or 10:00. That caused a lot of issues because of lack of sleep. Because you know how important sleep is. I was not getting enough. I did not have enough time to work, no focus and let alone work on the podcast. 

And again, they left one little cabinet in the corner for some reason. Of course, I didn't like the way that cabinet smelled, but they didn't want to pay any more money to rip it out. Because it was $250 a cabinet apparently to rip them out. I could have ripped it off free. I was angry enough to rip out those damn fucking cabinets. So, they went ahead and started putting the cabinets back. Unfortunately, I was going to try to be there when they put the cabinets. But they did it too fast. I was in the other room. I wanted to see what was underneath that one corner cabinet that still didn't smell good to me. But they did say that they found out mold in the other cabinets or underneath an area there. Because I guess there had been a leak behind the refrigerator. So it'd been like a thousand leaks in this condo. And of course, they rented to the wrong person because I have a nose for mold.

None of us were actually feeling really good. I felt really bad for the kids, because they've also lived with mold before. There are breathing issues, the itchiness and the itchy eyes. Some people don't have much effects, but we have been exposed before. It adds up each time you are exposed, as we are. So we did have to deal with that and memory issues, which I don't know was caused by the mold or not, but it was convenient timing. Wasn't it? 

Eventually they did come in, as I said. They replaced the cabinets on the bottom, which of course don't match the top. Who cares? It was a little difficult. Because one of the cabinets wasn't putting on right. It's lower than the other ones. And the cabinet guy doesn't do knobs. Who knew? I didn't know that. I hired my handyman, when he had time, to eventually come back and install knobs. So now, we've been able to unpack the kitchen again, and this time use the entire kitchen.

So, that has been a positive and a good thing. It was just really hard to deal with the whole mold situation. It took a long time. It took over two months, probably closer to three months to get everything resolved. It was really challenging. Eating out way too much, not exercising enough because I'm not sleeping enough. I've actually put on about 10 pounds in the last five months that I've lived here because it was so stressful. There was no rhyme or reason to my day. I felt like I didn't have time for anything, and then trying to squeeze in a little bit of work. It was rough. They should've put us up in a hotel instead of having us try to do dishes in a bucket in the bathtub. But I didn't want to cause any more issues and moving all our computers and everything. 

So, that is how season one ended early. And it has taken me five months to make another episode because everything was just crazy. And sometimes you have to let things go. You can't keep all the balls in the air. You've got a lot going on. You're trying to keep your head above water, people coming in and out of your house all the time. People are really busy; they can't get to you and they can't get to the project. And so, it gets very stressful. But you know what? It's okay. 10 pounds. Who cares? It doesn't really matter in the long run. So whatever you're going through in life, it's okay. You gained 5 pounds, you gained 10 pounds. Just work on getting back on track when you can. And don't beat yourself up. 

I think that's the key. To not beat yourself up. Because every part of our life is like a phase and it's a season. So what if it's four or five months when you don't do what you should do? Or two months or a month? As long as you can get back on track for your health, it really doesn't matter in the long run.

You think like one year from now, I'd like to take those 10 pounds off. But one year from now, those 10 pounds won't really matter. It doesn't really matter. The important thing is when things happen and your life feels out of control, don't beat yourself up and try just to get back when you can, as soon as you can. Just do the best you can. Because that is all we can do in life. We can only do the best that we can. 

And if possible during those times, find pockets of things that bring you joy. I did not. I just spent too much time being negative because I was in a negative place. And that's really not like me. So when I didn't do anything that brought me joy, I couldn't go anywhere. I couldn't really do much of anything. I think that it's important that when you are going through stressful times, you try to find something little that you can do for you, that brings you joy to help offset all the negativity that may be going on at the moment. It won't last forever. You'll be okay. You just have to keep your eye on the ball and knowing you'll be okay.


Helen is an author, entrepreneur, certified personal trainer, and lifestyle coach. She lost over 80 pounds and kept it off for 16 years. She loves travel, chocolate, and cats.