What’s Your Bag of Grout?

I walked into the the bedroom to find a fine white powder spread out on the floor and tiny white hand-prints on the door. Entering the bathroom, I thought I knew what I would find. The reality of the problem surprised and horrified me.

New Home, 1,001 Projects

We bought a new home last year. My wife and I are not afraid of DIY Home Improvement, and consider ourselves reasonably handy homeowners. We also have many friends and family who are actually handy to help. Since we moved in, there has always been a project in some phase of incomplete. Right now that project has been our master bathroom. What began as repainting grew to replacing the sink, grew to updating the the tile flooring, grew to re-doing the shower, and so on until we are now in the midst of a complete bathroom re-model. Which brings us back to the story today.

This is an active project, so there are materials and tools spread around the room. These are magnets for many children of all ages, especially my 2 year old son. Above all, he is a moth to a flame about a half-used bag of tile grout. For those who are not familiar, grout is powder that you mix with water to create a paste that goes between tiles. The bag has been there for over a month, and my son had been into it at least a half dozen times. Every time I would think “I just need to move that bag of grout” before going back to my task and not moving the bag.

The biggest mess of all

One day my son woke up from a nap and went to play with the grout instead of coming downstairs. By the time I found him, he had spread the grout over the entire floor, on most of the walls, in the bathtub, and out across our bedroom floor. Some of the powder had found water and hardened into piles of hard-to-remove, grey cement. I was speechless.

And then I was angry. Unfortunately, the only person to blame was… myself.

I knew what the problem was. I knew the solution. It would not have been hard or time-consuming to fix. And I ignored it. I ignored it even after several times where my son got into the grout and made a mess. Its not even worth comparing the amount of time I spent cleaning up this same mess over and over with the less than one minute it actually took to carry the bag down to the garage because it is astronomical.

What’s your bag of grout?

We all have our own version of the bag of grout. Persistent problems that we tell ourselves are “fine” or “OK”. They are annoying and frustrating, but don’t take that much time to clean up or fix when they come up. Until one day, seemingly out of nowhere, they become a compete disaster. But you and I both know better. This problem didn’t come out of nowhere. It built up, over days, weeks or perhaps even years. A complete, self-inflicted, totally avoidable disaster.

Take a step back and look at your life. Can you find examples of your own bags of grout? If you said “No”, I challenge you to look harder because I’m sure there is at least one; one area of your life where you have been ignoring or avoiding actually digging in and fixing the problem. This could be because tackling the problem directly would be scary, or hard, or uncomfortable. Maybe you are planning to deal with the issue, just later, after you finish what you are doing right now. Perhaps there isn’t a clear solution to the problem.

Whatever our reason (or reasons), the risk we take is the same. Before we have a chance to build up the courage, or “make the time”, or figure out the perfect solution, this problem could blow up. If we are lucky, this just means that we have to spend some extra time cleaning up the mess.  Other times the consequences of not acting sooner are permanent, and could mean the end of jobs, friendships, marriages, or, in the worst case, our life. With the stakes that high, it seems silly not to act now.

My challenge to you is this: Find your bag of grout, and figure out how you can start moving it today.

About TC Counseling

TC Counseling is a Private Therapy Practice in Traverse City, MI. Our goal is to help balance the stress of family, marriage, career and self-care. Whether you are coping with depression and anxiety or struggling with a change in your life, we are here to help. Give us a call or send us an email.

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