I hate messes.
I don’t like sand in my car, I don’t like PlayDough that gets stuck in toys supposedly designed for PlayDough, I don’t buy glitter or powder or terrariums if I can help it, and I don’t like substances like Desitin or vegetable oil that are really hard to clean off of things.
I hate messes, and yet my whole house is a mess.
And when I say it’s a mess, I mean it’s in crazy complete disarray. Like, stacks of books on top of my dining room table and china resting on shelves in the sitting room and gymnastics mats in hallways and toothbrushes in the dishwasher.
In the last three weeks, a wonderful team of people has painted our walls, baseboards, casings, doors and railings. Literally everything. As they moved from room to room, we moved our things from room to room. Every night we spent preparing for the next day, shifting what we could to accommodate the next round of work.
The last few days of painting happened while I was in Dallas last week, and the biggest change in color – a room going from cranberry to a linen color – had not happened when I left town. I absolutely could not wait to get home and to see it and then to start putting things back together. It’s been so hard for OCD-me to embrace the mess. Every day I’ve longed to just put things back together and back where they belong. On Thursday night I came home very late to a completely quiet and still house – my father-in-law had long before gone to bed with the kitties – and I walked though each room marveling at what a brighter, lighter place it is. It’s completely transformed.
The house that I’ve lived in for a decade has a completely different feel now. Same doors, same walls, same wooden railing…and yet with fresh paint in lighter shades, it’s different. It’s different and yet the same. It feels like my old house I’ve always loved and it feels like a new house that I’m so excited to live in.
It’s like old me and new me. It’s all me, but I’m different than I was two years ago. I have the same core foundation of components like faith and family, but I look different and I feel different and my countenance is lighter. Just like my house, I’ve been under construction for a while. Or maybe refurbishing is the better word.
The me that has emerged from refurbishing is stronger, focused and determined. I recognize I’ve aged as a result of anger with and disappointment in people, but at the same time I’m once again filled with youthful laughter and hope because my life is filled with genuine and kind and happy people.
The me that has emerged from refurbishing that is accountable to and for only me and my girls is a freer and lighter me, even with the weight of added responsibility. This me sets better boundaries and fiercely guards what things get my time and thoughts, to ensure that freer and lighter me stays that way.
The me that has emerged from refurbishing has realized that there’s a huge difference in Beige and Crisp Linen. Something can seem like it’s neutral or light, but once you’ve experienced actual light the darkness is revealed for the shade that it is.
Now that all the painting is done my next task is to put everything back in its place. But as I’m doing that I’m realizing that I do not want some things back in the same places they’ve always been. And not only that, but I do not even want some of those old things in my house at all. So room by room I’m making more changes – some additions and some deletions and some refurbishings.
I guess that’s what we should all strive to be as we age – a mixture of all of our learnings. We should be made up of additions or the things we’ve tried and liked along the way, and of deletions or the things we’ve learned aren’t right for us and we’ve removed, and of refurbishings or the pieces that change with us and with the times. And actually maybe we are refurbishings, if we’re doing life right – going through cycles of renewal or reconstruction.
Beneath the Crisp Linen that covered a deep cranberry tone in my sitting room are the same four strong walls that have always been there. The walls look different now but they are the same walls that hold up a second floor and a roof, that sit on a foundation that has not changed. It’s already kind-of hard to remember what that room looked and felt like, which makes me so glad I have this snapshot of the transition time – the time when some of one coat of primer covered the cranberry walls so you could still see the old room and yet start to envision the new room. In a corner where two of the walls met, it looked like there was an arrow.
An arrow is hidden deep within my home, in my favorite room, reminding me that refurbishing is an opportunity for me to be brave.
An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming. ~Unknown