Seven years ago, my sister-in-law was trashing a dingy, old telephone table. I found it much too adorable for the dump, so I rescued it with grand ideas of refurbishing it. And, that’s how it remained—as an idea, for seven years. Dusty, but not forgotten, it made two moves with us and sat in the corner of our garage awaiting a makeover.
My little rehab endeavor was constantly teasing me. It winked as I hurried past in and out of the house. It whispered from under the piles of cups, books, bags and random articles of clothing (how do my kids’ clothes end up in the garage?) stacked upon it awaiting transport into the house. It was right there in front of me, just waiting to be gussied up. But, I resisted.
Until one day, I didn’t. It was time. I made time—finally. I bought the materials and got to work. I thought, and I do this about everything, that it would be a snap, a one-day project. I’m kind of zero to 100 in that way; I can wait seven years to start a project, but then expect to superhero my way through it in no time. Reality quickly set in.
This project involved a lot of waiting. First, it waiting on me, and then—call it karma—me, waiting for it to dry through each phase of its reincarnation. That meant having to carve out more hands-on time between chauffeuring, cooking, cleaning, minding, and life. The funny thing is, once I started to rework the table, I wanted to spend more time on it. Resistance was replaced by enthusiasm. Over three weeks, I finally conquered the idea of a stunning update, and sanded, painted, re-sanded, repainted, and varnished it. A recovered seat was the cherry on top.
It is nowhere near perfect. There are flaws where the two paint colors meet, smudges, cracks in the wood, and definitely at least one dog hair trapped in the paint. No, it’s not “like new” but it is valuable. It is useful. It is amazing—to me, anyway. I swept off the muck and struck its potential. I got the job done. I just had to start working at it; kind of like working at accepting myself and living in the now.
For so many years I completely ignored my needs, my essence. I buried myself in the busywork of pleasing everyone else and fitting into the mommy circles I buzzed amid. All along, I felt the tug to change, to dust off the facades and allow the real me to shine. But I resisted. Until I finally surrendered to the call to rehab me, accepting that what I think, feel, and want out of this life matters.
Like refinishing the table, it took me a long time to start this constant, endless, delightful work. Now, I want it to be routine. I’m sanding away the years of conformity, constantly reminding myself to be me, even if me is different. I’m okay with some of the other moms not liking me. I’m giving myself pep talks to avoid slipping back into old routines. I’m stopping to enjoy small moments and realizing that’s what living really is. I’m not expecting perfection, or an easy fix, but I am enthusiastic about the possibilities. And, I can only hope that by brushing off my layers of neglect, I’ll find purpose and joy, not to mention a good role model for my kids.
I’d love to hear what motivates and keeps you on track, too.
A look at the before and after of the telephone table: