Field Notes From the Middle

When I started renovating my home, I quickly realized that the restoration process was falling right in tandem with the emotional process of restoring my heart post-divorce. There were so many parallels between reclaiming the space in which I live and reclaiming my life that I started a blog about it! Every project I’ve done has felt like a new therapeutic challenge that allows me to step deeper into healing. It doesn’t just make my house look pretty, it gives me an opportunity to get to know myself better and to trust myself more.

But I want y’all to know, with this being a “therapeutic challenge” and all, therapy is hard work. “Stepping deeper into healing” isn’t a pretty process. It’s messy and there are almost always tears involved. I usually spend a good chunk of time thinking I’m a failure. I question all of my decisions – in design and in life! It’s kind of like I’m stepping into battle with my self-doubt and my inner-demons. I’m fighting the ghosts of my past that still haunt me. I’m showing up as my authentic self and I’m beating back all the lies that I don’t want to believe anymore.

It’s chaotic and it’s exhausting, but the reward is so dang sweet. The end result so intoxicating that every second of inner turmoil is worth it. And so far, the most therapeutic (read: trying and infuriating) project of 2020 has been my exterior window frames.

Halloween had just come and gone when I started painting these windows. Now we are approaching the New Year and the front of my house still isn’t finished… Please pause while I scream into my pillow.

I didn’t know! I thought that it was going to be a fun weekend project! I didn’t know what an enormous undertaking this was. I also didn’t know the emotional toll it would take on me ether. Oh my goodness, I have cried so many tears while painting these windows! It isn’t a physically hard job, but it’s tedious and it’s slow and there is a lot of waiting involved – waiting for the rain to go away, waiting for the temperatures to rise, waiting for paint and wood filler to dry, and the hardest one for me to swallow – waiting for help when the storm windows were too heavy to carry alone.

The snail’s pace of this project started to ware on me when Thanksgiving came around but I rolled up my sleeves and I kept pushing on. As the weeks continued to pass, and Christmas got closer, I really had to come face-to-face with some hard feelings that surfaced.

I have 10 windows on the front of my house. And as I was painting window number 6, I broke down. I had put in so much work and so much time and I was only half way finished… with the front of my house! I was giving these windows everything that I’ve got. I was franticly racing the daylight and feeling so beaten down – putting forth maximum effort and seeing such minimal results. It was disheartening and frustrating and I was out of steam.

I started making connections between the windows and so many other experiences in my life – max effort and minimal results. It’s hard to be clear-minded when you’re at your low point, but as I was priming that dang window I was thinking about all of the hours of couples counseling and all of the tearful pleading that went into trying to save my marriage (max effort) only to hear “I’m done” (minimal results). I thought about the months of job searching after COVID hit. The hundreds of applications and job interviews (max effort) only to repeatedly hear “we’ve gone with another candidate” or “due to budget cuts, we’re terminating the position” (minimal results).

When you push and push and push and push. When you fight tooth and nail. When you scrape and claw your way down the arduous road of life and you look back to see how far you’ve come… only to realize you’ve moved about 3 inches… It makes you want to break something. (Perhaps a window?)

After a lot of tears, a snack, and wise words from a few friends, I began to realize that it’s easy to lose sight of the forest when you’re standing among the trees. In other words, I’m still in the middle of it! I’m still in the middle of the window project and I’m still in the middle of my healing journey. Yes, the end feels really far away, but I have come so far too! Maybe I’m not finished with the front of my house yet, but before I started this process I didn’t even know how to use an electric drill! Now I’m doing things like repairing rotten window sills! I mean come on! That’s pretty awesome, right!? Maybe I haven’t landed my dream job, but I am spending my days using my creativity to make my life richer and fuller and more meaningful. And that’s ultimately the core of what I want for myself!

The middle is a hard place to be but there’s a lot of good stuff here if you’re willing to look for it.

Here is a progress shot of the house as it is today. The black modernizes the look of the exterior – a small detail, but ultimately I feel it’s worth all the hard work

2 thoughts on “Field Notes From the Middle

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