A Life Remodel

One day, I’m going to get an internship at the Behr Paint Factory.  I’ll show up for work in jeans and sit in one of those spinning desk chairs that tip back.  I’ll prop my feet on the desk and throw Nerf basketballs in the net above the coffee machine.  I’ll spend the whole day brainstorming with my jean-clad co-workers about paint names.

I’ll yell out, “Champagne Moon, you know, for that iridescent yellowish quality that a full moon has.”

The gal at the corner desk will say, “Crushed Grass, you know…  when you step on grass and it gets that lighter shade of Kelly Green.”

There will be that guy in the office who hits on every female, and he’ll say, “How about Wet Sheets, for….”

And the girl at the corner desk will roll her eyes and cut him off.


In the meantime, I’m glad the three of us were able to agree on the colors for our bathroom remodel.

It’s the small victories that make a life.

As we were rolling Tender Twilight over the walls, I was thinking of how we’ve been in this home for five years.  Not sure why it took so long to get around to painting the bathroom.

The kids are enjoying the process.  Stick a roller in their hands and suddenly they’re full of confidence.

It’s only paint.

If we screw up, we can paint over it.

How else do they learn unless they’re given a chance to try?

When their dad heard we were undergoing a bathroom remodel, he chimed in with tips.  Will nodded his head, smiled through clenched teeth and said, “Thank you.”

Kids were too young to paint when we lived at Mark’s house.  I was allowed to try my hand at painting, but when he re-painted my attempts, I lost my confidence.

It takes awhile to silence those critical voices.

It’s only paint.

We aren’t painting the Sistine Chapel here.

When we are done with our project, Mark will ask to see the results.  When he tells us what we should have done differently – and he will – the three of us will smile through clenched teeth, and quietly nod our heads.


As Tender Twilight dried to the color of Caribbean waters under an overcast sky, it occurred to me that when we were done, we’d have a white pedestal sink and beige toilet and shower.


Jenny said, “But mom, it’s okay.  It brings out our funky.”

She’s right.

But what if we sell the house?  Don’t we have to worry that this house will appeal to a new buyer?

And in the middle of my third coat of Snow Fall on the baseboards and trim, I realized that I don’t want to live with a bathroom that I hope someone else will like some day.

I don’t want to go on believing that I can’t do something as simple as paint a bathroom, just because someone once told me that nine years ago.

I am going to Google and learn and try and re-do.

I am going to ask for help if I need it.

I may mess up.  I will re-paint if I have to.

I am going to allow my kids the fun of experimenting with texturing walls and painting.

I’m going to show them how to scrub the drops of dried paint off the back of the toilet.

I don’t want to walk into a hardware store believing that I can’t change a light fixture and that I better get a man to help me.  I will buy a fixture, read the directions, and try to install it myself.  (I did it!!)

I am going to show Will and Jen that it is possible to complete a project with patience and a modicum of swear words.

I am going to teach them that it’s all about the prep, and that the job will turn out as good as the prep work you do in the beginning.

If they don’t see that the lessons they learn in painting a bathroom also apply to life, then I’ll point that out to them, too.

If it ever comes down to selling this house, there will be someone out there who loves the combination of Tender Twilight and Snow Fall in a funky bathroom.

They will hate upper kitchen cabinets as much as I do.

Next project?  Ripping out kitchen cabinets.

I’m thinking of going with Chili Red.

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  1. Yes you can! And I think red is fabulous in a kitchen…. :)

    I have really struggled with similar issues this year. My friend left a voice in my head that says “No, you can’t. You’re pathetic. You’re a doormat. You give too much time to your kids.” I’m really learning to talk back to that voice. “Yes, I can. No, I’m not, I’m pretty cool actually. Being kind & polite does not equate doormat syndrome. No, I don’t someday they will be gone & I won’t be wishing I’d spent more time away from them, I’ll be wishing I spent more time with them.”

    It is just paint, after all….

    hugs, Noelle

  2. NM,

    When I hear the things your “friend” said to you, my immediate thought is, “Wow…. she’s really in pain. All the things she says must apply to her own issues.”

    And then I remember that it’s not easy to be compassionate when those words are directed at me.

    Your strength is admirable. Your kids are blessed by your example.

    Hugs ;)

  3. So glad I’m not the only one who does painting with a modicum of swear words :) Painting is fun! It doesn’t have to be perfection. And I LOVE what Jenny said about the bathroom. Embrace your funkiness :D

  4. Allison,

    Thanks. ;)

  5. Jenn,

    Oh, we’d have fun doing a painting project together. ;)

    When I finished installing the light fixture, Jenny said, “Hey mom! Nice job! And you did that without saying a single bad word.”

  6. i know, it is sad. That’s really what kept me in the friendship for so many years. I really really felt sad for her, I cared about her, I was concerned about her. I worried about her more than I worried about my own family because I knew she was miserable, and unstable, and in pain.

    But, sooner or later it does affect your self-esteem. The same way you felt you might not be capable of painting a bathroom, I got to feeling I wasn’t capable of achieving my dreams, or being assertive when needed.

    That’s why your post spoke to me so much. It seems to be the affect of being abused by a narcissist, that you lose all confidence in your own abilities, even something simple.

    I’m sure your painting and light-fixture installation skills are fabulous! :) It always is so much more satisfying when you do it yourself. :)

    hugs, NM

  7. NM,

    If I only teach my kids one thing…

    I want them to know, without a doubt, that they are good people just the way they are, no matter what anyone says to them or about them.

  8. A very important lesson! Probably one of the MOST important.

  9. Yay! on changing the light fixture by yourself. I love that sense of accomplishment I get when I CAN actually do something new successfully.

    I read a book a few months ago by Dan Millman called: The Life You Were Born To Live. It’s based on numerology, but not a kind I’m familiar with. Anyway, after figuring out my numbers, I read up on me.

    He nailed me! I have a sense of adventure, but for me adventure can be doing something I’ve never done before.

    That’s how I found myself on our 2-story roof, installing a UV blocking film on our skylights the morning that the heatwave was about to begin. I had support from Joe in the form of ladder-holding, but I did it myself…And loved it!

    I think a new challenge accomplished just opens you up. I always feel in love with the world when I’m done.

    Also, this past summer my siblings and I were readying my parents house for sale.

    I got to paint…A LOT.

    After tons of initial frustration, I, the paint brush and the paint started getting along a lot better. I did edging and corners free hand, and I know I improved because I had to go back to the room I started in and repair it. It looked much better the second time around.

    Painting turned into kind of a zen experience for me because it forced me to slooooowww down from my usual frenetic pace.

    Interestingly, it also allowed for many awarenesses about the many years I lived there.

    I also love your understanding about living in the now, and letting yourselves enjoy your bathroom the way you want, instead of some imaginary people who are years away.

    Oh, yummers…Chili Pepper Red in the kitchen! Send photos!

    And have more fun.

  10. I painted all the walls of our last house in bold, bright colors. And I tended an exuberant garden. When we went to sell, I was counseled by many to paint the walls beige to appeal to the average buyer. Each time I said, “Who ever buys this house can paint; I’m not going to.”

    When did sell the house, I learned that it was the bright colors and rambunctious garden that made the sale. At our asking price. :)

  11. Donna,

    Meant to reply sooner… but I’ve really enjoyed being immersed in this whole remodel thing.

    I completely connected with you on the whole zen thing. You – at least I – can’t go fast when painting. I had to slow myself down and get into a rhythm. I used that opportunity to shut down my excessive thinking on everything that usually consumes my mind.

    It has been so enjoyable and so freeing. Literally can’t wait to start another project. I think I’m building a little confidence in this whole thing, right alongside the kids.

    Can’t wait to check out the Millman book. Sounds fascinating.

    Just finished reading My Year With Eleanor by Noelle Hancock. Funny, insightful and self-help – ish without the drudgery of self-help. She faces a scary challenge every day for a year. When you said that about being an adventurer, I wondered if you might also enjoy Hancock’s book.

    Happy Thanksgiving, dear. ;)

  12. Alyson,

    I really laughed at your comment.

    Love your gumption.

    This is the first house I’ve ever lived in where I didn’t have to get permission to do what I want.


    Happy Thanksgiving!

  13. Just wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving to all!!! Hope your holiday is N free. :)

  14. Z,

    You, too! Here’s to more turkey and less Ns!

  15. And more wine! (especially if there is a N or two…) xoxo

  16. Haha! I wish there was a “like” button on here so I could “like” your comment, Zaira! I hope everyone has a wonderful turkey day! ;)

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