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Professional work Wed, Jan 21, 2015
When I initially bought a house, I was cheap and relatively poor, so I figured I would do most home improvement work myself.  Plus, I watched my parents gut and refinish my childhood home, so I figured they were onto something.  For some projects, this makes a ton of sense.  It's probably not worth it to pay someone to paint your walls or replace a door, so I (we) did that.  I've even had the (mis)fortune of doing quite a bit of minor plumbing work and the occasional electric switch repair. 

But recently I've been paying people to fix my house for two simple reasons:  (1) Having money saved up for things like this, and (2) repeatedly failing to complete projects or do them well.  The last few plumbing projects I attempted involved replacing leaky pipes and valves.  It usually happened in the winter, so I would have to kneel on the cold cement floor of my crawlspace, cut pipes open and have them spray cold water all over me, and try for hours to solder a piece of cold metal onto a wet pipe (complete with at least two trips to the hardware store) before finally admitting failure and calling a plumber. 

The idea came to me to simply skip the do-it-yourself phase and call a professional, and that's what I've done the past few times.  I've yet to be disappointed by professional work.  The people I've dealt with are nice, they're quick, and they really don't change a lot of money.  Plus, the mental health savings are huge.  I'd rather pay someone to do something well than to do it poorly myself. #lifestyle

Be yourself Wed, Jan 21, 2015
When I was a Christian, one of the things I spent a lot of time and energy on was acting like a Christian, or at least my interpretation of what a Christian should act like.  This involved being more outgoing, setting a good moral example, and voicing my views when topics came up in conversation that had anything remotely to do with religion.  Looking back, I still don't think I was wrong with many of the things I did, assuming my interpretation of the Bible was correct.  And while that's debatable, certain things in Christianity aren't really up for debate, such as attempting to live a morally upright life and spreading the message of salvation in the process. 

The thing is, a lot of the things I felt compelled to do as a Christian really didn't come naturally.  I'm a shy, reserved person; I'm relatively private and don't express myself too much.  So being asked to "always be ready to give an answer for the reason for the hope that you have" (Bible verse) often felt uncomfortable and unnatural.  I'll be the first to admit that Christianity also created opportunities for me that I probably wouldn't have had otherwise, largely by encouraging me to deal with discomfort.  But this brought up an unpleasant catch-22:  Either I could (a) practice a watered-down Christianity and feel guilty about it, or (b) pretend to be someone else until that someone else eventually took over.  In other words, Christianity told me I was flawed and that I needed to change.  Not that I was acting or thinking wrong, but that I was being wrong. 

The band Audioslave sings a song called Be Yourself with the following simple and precise chorus:  "To be yourself is all that you can do".  It's true.  The alternatives are to not be yourself or to be someone else, both of which are ridiculous.  That's what I always felt like Christianity was doing to me.  It was changing me by telling me to be someone else.  That worked fine for a while because I wanted to change anyway.  It wasn't until those changes started to go against my own desires that I finally paused to consider who I actually wanted to be. 

I'm not the same person I was when I was 5 or 15 or 25, but there are a handful of underlying qualities and interests I possess that feel completely normal and natural to me.  Trying to deny that I'm introverted or rational is the first step to discomfort and unhappiness.  All I can do is to be myself. #religion