Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Transformation Part 2

The transformation continues. A few weeks ago I wrote about painting my kitchen and hallway and stairwell. This past week the bedroom had its turn. This one took quite a bit longer. First, I had to do the work of taking down an outdated wallpaper border at the top of the walls. They say it’s easy with the right tools – score the border, squirt on some Dif, wait 20 minutes and it falls off. Not. There’s wetting and scraping and washing and scrubbing – all while sweating at the top of the trusty a-frame step-ladder.

Then there’s the actual painting. First there’s the ceiling – working, of course, around the ceiling fan. Then come the walls. One color on one wall, two shades up on the color chip for the remaining walls. All this is done while shifting the furniture in the room first to one side, then to the other in a counter-clockwise motion. Sort of like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle, taking it apart, putting it together, taking it apart. You get the idea. Two coats required, of course. It’s probably good I started with the kitchen. Had I started with this, I might have decided this was enough! My back aches, my neck aches, my shoulders ache and on and on.

But the work is done; the bedroom is freshly painted, floors freshly scrubbed, furniture freshly dusted and the space has taken on a new life, a new energy. I have, as my friends put it, ‘reclaimed my space.’

When one part of our life ends, and a new chapter begins, it is easy to take along unwanted and unnecessary things from the past. We’ve all done it. Carried old mistrust, old defenses, old coping mechanisms, old thought and behavior patterns into new segments of our lives. We call it baggage. I have a friend who used to joke that her baggage had baggage. We laughed, but the laughter was uneasy – the kind of laughter that is tinged with the knowledge that there’s truth behind the joke and the truth isn’t a pretty one.

Sometimes the hard work is really the emotional work. We need to come to terms with painful memories or past decisions that we regret, change unproductive habits or patterns, re-claim our emotional sense of stability and the knowledge of who we are at the core, regardless of our circumstances. Moving forward, we get to decide what we want, what we need and figure out what we get to do to make that happen. The painting can be part of the process of doing our work, or the declaration and affirmation of the work we’ve already done.

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