A fresh coat of paint


Spring cleaning.

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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2 responses to “A fresh coat of paint

  1. When we bought our house in Northern Virginia the rooms hadn’t been painted in over 20 years. I went through that house room by room, stripping wall paper, washing down walls and then painting everything to include baseboards, ceilings and closets. By the time I was finished I had painted every inch. I loved watching the house transform with each room. I can relate to those sore muscles you talked about! Of course, as I was in the midst of the very last room I answered the phone one day to find Jim on the other end telling me he was getting his second Wing and we were moving. We’d only lived in the house a year and the assignment was totally out of the blue. I often wondered, had I been a little slower in getting to that last room, would we have lasted in that assignment just a little longer?!
    I really enjoyed your analogy about putting a fresh coat of paint on the areas of our lives that have begun to look or feel just a little stale. I think perhaps the things I’ve also been passionate about could use that freshening up. Thanks for the reminder Christina!

  2. I love this idea of spring cleaning one’s attitude. It seems every part of me atrophies during the winter. Time to rejuvinate.

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