The scrubbing. The decluttering. The landscaping, renovating, refurbishing. The adventure, for who knows what beauty is hidden under all the mess of life?
And an adventure it truly is. This year, motivated by the need to put the house on the market, I picked up my own paintbrush and got to work. But what I slowly uncovered was a lot more than shiny walls and nice architecture.
It’s amazing what just a thin touch-up coat of paint will do. Because I’d never set brush to wall before—I’m a complete newbie at the home renovation thing—I wasn’t sure what to expect, other than that it might be a lot of work, and a project I’d tire of quickly.
I can’t deny that painting is work, and hard work. My arms, back, and thighs got a better workout than any gym might offer. But I didn’t get tired of it, because the thing with painting? You get results.
No matter how many rooms and walls I painted, the sight of the brand-new slate, the erasure of years’ worth of the scuffs and bangs and bruises of life, just never got old. How could one small bit of color transform the way I looked at the rooms I walked through every day?
Because they were the same rooms. They were the same walls, windows, even the same color. The same weird corner I bump into constantly. The same old furniture, same toys scattered everywhere. And yet different—and so different that I had to look, and look, and look again, because I couldn’t get over how amazing and new it was and how beautiful and gosh darn it, I was falling in love all over again.
And then it hit me.
Were there things in life that I’d once loved and been enthusiastic about—only to find that time, stress, and exhaustion had gotten in the way of enjoyment? That habit had replaced hope and the way things are and the to-do list mentality had moved in where I can’t wait to do this again used to be?
I’ve always liked cooking, but lately it’s been a chore. Ditto with exercise; just one more thing to check off my list. The grime of life has even started seeping over my hobbies. The passion is still there, I think, but it’s gotten dulled over time and transformed into an obligation rather than a desire: the movie list we have to finish, or the scrapbooking I’m neglecting. I need to finish this book. I’m supposed to spend more time with my husband. I should be teaching the Maiden cursive like I promised. I have to have my relaxation time. Even self-care has become a big, bad should.
So as I wielded my little foam roller, I started to think about applying some springtime paint to my attitude. Perhaps I could do the things I wanted to do just because I wanted to do them. Not everything needs a reason in order to be legit. Or maybe I could tweak my passions a little in order to rediscover why I fell in love with them in the first place. Mix up the workout routine a little. Try a weird diet for a week or a specific cuisine like Indian in order to rekindle my interest in cooking. Say to heck with the List of Films We Need to See for a while—it’s all depressing ones left on there anyways—and rewatch one of our favorites from the list.
Paint over the stress, frustration, and negative self-talk that have obscured what used to bring so much light. Remove the dust and grime of the years. And most of all, find little ways to remind myself that my joys and interests and passions aren’t something I’m supposed to do, they’re who I am.
It’s amazing what just a thin touch-up coat of paint will do.
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