Several years ago, a neighbor kid kicked a football and shattered a small basement window. We were a family of six living on a teacher's salary at the time, so I boarded it up, thinking I'd get to it someday. The frame was rusted shut. I couldn't fix it.

Over the years, I'd sometimes get estimates from window companies. Of course, the plan was to upgrade to energy-efficient windows for the whole house. $15,000. It was simply out of reach. In the meantime, the boarded window let in bugs but not light.

One contractor explained that the location of the window, with the frame embedded in the foundation, meant that whoever replaced it would need to chisel it out by hand, a labor-intensive and expensive process. And there were six of those windows in the house.

Honestly, the thought of that window ate at me for years. Every time I went down there, every time I went to the hardware store, it nagged at me. I knew I needed to address it, but I had built up the process (and the price) so much in my mind that I was paralyzed.

Then my wife had a job change, and we needed to move. I knew that a potential buyer couldn't get an FHA loan on the property if there was a broken window. So I pulled off the boards and cardboard to face this thing head-on. It had been at least 5 years.

I thought, "What the heck. i'm gonna have to pay for it anyway." I grabbed some WD-40, sprayed all around the rusted frame, and gave it a tug. To my astonishment, it moved for the first time in decades. I pulled the window out and took it downtown. It was a $12 fix.

I could have fixed the problem for $12 the same day it happened. But I let it haunt me for years, shutting out light and letting in bugs. And I finally fixed it for somebody else when the house was empty. It didn't need to be the most efficient. It just needed to be a window.

OK, this isn't really about my window.
I mean, the story is true. But it's also a decent parable. Many of us, especially those with ADHD, anxiety, or depression, tend to live with broken windows of one type or another for years.

Everybody's broken windows are different. They are things that seriously affect our quality of life, and we know they need work, but the actions to address them seem too daunting. I've still got plenty of them myself. If you recognize yours, a few things to know:

- An imperfect solution now is better than a perfect solution that will never happen.
- Doing the thing is often less painful than thinking about doing the thing.
- Acknowledging how the problem is affecting you can reduce its power over you.

- Don't blame yourself for dwelling on your broken windows. Just enjoy the light when you fix one.
- There are some windows you can't fix by yourself. Find the right help for the right window.
- You don't have to fix it all now. Just start by starting.


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More from @natehowe

2 Sep
We're moving into pumpkin-flavored Spooky Season™, but we're also moving toward colder weather and big holidays. It's likely that your local food banks and homeless shelters will need more support this year than ever before. What's the best way to help?
I volunteer weekly at our food bank. I understand the warm fuzzy feelings around food and clothing drives. But your local nonprofits can make your resources stretch much further. And they can order what their clients actually need, not what you think they should need.
Because of relationships with wholesale suppliers, a food item that costs you a dollar at the store will cost them about a quarter. Even a small monetary donation can feed a lot of people. And that food will be safe and fresh, which isn't always the case with donated items.
Read 4 tweets
12 Jul 20
Church service occurred today for the first time since March. They divided our congregation into two sessions in order to keep numbers under 50. I was in both sessions because they needed an organist. Some observations:
In the first service, every single person in the congregation wore a mask. There was a feeling of peace and solidarity. In the second session, about 1/5 of those in attendance refused to wear masks. The entire service felt tense and I couldn't wait to get out.
One particular guy refused loudly when offered masks for him and his family. He walked around the chapel talking to people before the meeting. This is the dude who always raises his hand and makes every Sunday School lesson a tirade about his political or social beliefs.
Read 8 tweets

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