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SisterSchmooze: A New Look

Marcia Stark Meth / Emmy Leah Stark Zitter / Miriam Stark Zakon

Come take a new look with us as we revisit past experiences. A simple kitchen remodeling. An unthinking remark made by a student. A life-altering moment

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

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D id you ever pass a store window, see a reflection, think it’s a passerby, and then do a double take: WHAT? That overweight/emaciated/old/childlike (take your pick) person is ME?!!! Or maybe you completed a writing assignment at three in the morning, thinking, Wow! Shakespeare couldn’t have done a better job! only to reread it in the morning: Ugh! What was I thinking?! Or perhaps you reread a book after several years and realized: I never appreciated that book’s many layers and undertones.

In such cases, you’re looking at something — an experience, a book, even yourself — through a new lens. Perhaps it’s through someone else’s eyes. Perhaps it’s through the lens of time. Perhaps you’ve just taken off your own blinders….

In our worlds of publishing, academia, and government team writing, we often call the last review stage of any document the “final fresh eye.” That fresh eye will often disclose new issues, new insights, elements that — for better or for worse — were not apparent the first time around.

Come take a new look with us as we revisit past experiences. A simple kitchen remodeling. An unthinking remark made by a student. A life-altering moment. From each, we gain a new perspective about ourselves and change the way we view the world around us.

Marcia takes a new look at…

 

Kitchen Wisdom

“I have kitchen envy.”

What?! My good friend Minkah — one of the least materialistic people I know — uttered these words, deadpan, as we stood admiring the new kitchen of another friend. Apparently, she’d caught the bug infecting homeowners throughout our built-in-the-’50s neighborhood: Kitchen Remodeling Fever.

I went home. Suddenly, looking at my aging kitchen through newly critical eyes, I knew: I’d caught the fever, too.

Let’s face it, I told myself. You’ve lived in this house for 25 years and have done nothing. It’s time.

So I did it. Checked out various friends’ new kitchens, got lots of advice, developed a budget, and got an estimate from the neighborhood contractor du jour. Juan directed me to all the right places: the cabinet warehouse, the granite yard, the tile store, the appliance center. And, of course, numerous late-night trips to Home Depot for assorted knobs, handles, switch plates, faucets, and other odds and ends.

 

After all the research and shopping, three amazing things happened. The actual remodeling was completed in two weeks! I stayed within my budget! And — to help justify the experience — I learned five valuable life lessons:

1. Develop from the inside out. Construction sometimes first requires destruction. Or — in Contractor Speak — demolition. The morning they started, when I left for work, my old kitchen was still intact. When I returned that evening, it was gone! Gingerly stepping across beams (all that remained of my floor!), I viewed the devastation by the light of a single bulb swaying from a rafter. Rusty pipes. Frayed wires. Shredded insulation.

I suddenly realized… This isn’t just cosmetic surgery. It’s total body replacement — what I could use myself. I was born about the same time this house was built. I probably can use new pipes, wiring, and insulation!

Well, I wasn’t going down Botox Road. But what about some spiritual rewiring? Now there was something to think about….

2. Walls can come down. Think outside the room. My budget didn’t allow for structural expansion. I had to maximize the space I had. The biggest challenge? My refrigerator. It occupied a huge chunk of space. Juan’s solution? Shove it into the wall! Remove a coat closet in the adjoining hallway, move the pantry from one side of the kitchen to the other, and move my daughter Leah’s closet (in the room behind the wall). The lesson? Don’t let clunky refrigerators impede your dreams…

3. Doors can be moved. Another challenge: how to increase counter and cabinet space in a room with openings on three sides. Leah proposed a simple solution: Move a door! By moving an opening from one wall’s far side to its middle, the kitchen suddenly gained separate milchig and fleishig sides. Then my other daughter, Miri, chimed in: with a totally milchig side, why not add another dishwasher! Brilliant! Another lesson learned: Listen to your kids — they can be pretty smart. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 566)

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