Sep 21 2012

The more things change; some things remain the same.

The mid-life renovation continues; the great renovation of me and my house, all at the same time.  It feels like three steps forward and two steps back;  three steps forward, one step back; two steps  forward, one step back; spin around, slide to the side, change direction and start all over again.  I’m doing a mid-life dance.

I used to be good at dancing.  I used to know all of the moves and could do them blindfolded.  Now I have to pause before each move, consider how it will affect my balance and remind myself to stay loose, don’t brace; I’ve got to remind myself to go with the flow.

But it’s sooo hard sometimes.

I seem to be spending a fair amount of time kicking up the dust and then waiting for it to settle.  There is so much shifting involved.  I need daily naps.

The dry-wallers ( if that’s even a word) are coming today to sand everything smooth.  To get there, I know it’s going to cause a lot more of the dust than I am already dealing with.  There will be plumes of it, funnels of it.

I know what’s ahead of me; weeks of clean up.  I trust that the end result will make it all worth it.

I wonder if I’ll need a respirator.

I have to run out and pick up all the paint today; the primer, ceiling and trim paint and the wall colour.

Wall colour! Hmmm! What colour should I paint these fresh walls?

I went through over 30 samples, some bold, some neutral. I taped them all to the wall and observed them at various intervals throughout the day.

I let go of all of my old definitions, about what I liked, about what I thought my style and my tastes were, about what would be most suitable and please everyone.  After all I am renovating the family room.  I still have the desire to make sure that everyone else is ok with the change and that they are comfortable in this new space as well.   There are parts of me that are feeling so different now, new parts of me finally having their say and speaking up.  I wanted this renovation to really reflect the woman I have become, the woman who has always been there but that was just too darn tired to express herself with any amount of coherency.

I asked my husband what he envisioned the room to be.

He doesn’t care as long as his favourite chair has good sight lines to the television and there is a table beside him to hold his diet pop and his remote control, he’ll be happy. “Make it however you want it.  It’s your turn now.  Make sure you are happy with it and if you’re happy, then I’ll be happy.”

I knew I married a smart man.

So I thought out of the box. I lay myself open to the possibility that maybe I was better suited to bold and bright colours.  I tossed all of my old samples and went to the store to pick up the newest palettes.

Sometimes you have to throw out everything that you thought about yourself in order to really find out what is real about yourself. 


Imagine you’re walking this great pilgrimage. You tow behind you a wagon that is filled with all kinds of things that you have collected along the way.  You are also carrying a back pack on your back. It’s stuffed to the brim as well.  The landscape is changing, making it harder to pull your baggage to your destination. It’s so close, this place you are going to.  You will not reach it unless you lighten your load.  You stop in your tracks wondering how you are going to move forward. You have to admit that you are getting awful tired carrying this weight. You look behind you from where you have come and see that there are deep gouges in the gravel road from the heaviness of your wagon.

You’ve come too far to stop now.  You’ve travelled too long; your back is aching, your legs are trembling. You have no choice but to lighten your load and just take the bare necessities with you.

So you dump everything out on the side of the road, making yourself comfortable as you lean against a large cool rock.  You begin to go through each item to assess what you want to keep and what you are willing to let go of.  It’s all out in the open, under the glare of the sun.

You’ve got pictures of your husband and children. You’ve got clothing that you haven’t put on since you started the journey. You’ve got a business suit, the one you were wearing the day the boss came in and told you that your services were no longer required.  You see some marbles from your childhood. Some of them still hold their lustre, others are broken. You’ve got a journal that contains a list of all your hopes and dreams. You brought another journal that has in-depth stories all of your frustrations and anger and failures through the years.  The pile is a lot higher than you remember packing.

You wonder why you felt the need to bring some of this along. Clearly it’s not useful for your last leg of the pilgrimage.  You’ve got to choose wisely.

 What will you take with you and what are you willing to let go of and leave behind?

The temperature is rising, you’re dehydrating. There’s a spring about a quarter of a mile away. You know that if you can make it there, you’ll be ok. You’ve got enough strength to continue but not enough if you keep carrying this burden.  Time is of the essence. Your life depends on it.

You pick up a handful of items.  You wonder why in the world you packed them in the first place. They serve no purpose but to add weight. You toss them aside.

You pick up the old journal, the one with the list of frustrations and failures. This will not make for a good night-time read around the campfire.  Besides, what happened yesterday doesn’t seem as important now. Your mouth is getting parched.  You are enticed by the babbling brook of your future. You toss your self deprecating diary.  Then you whip the broken marbles over your shoulder.

Somehow things get drastically clearer. Your mind is focused and sharp. You pick up your backpack and expertly put the most important articles into it. It feels so much lighter and easier to balance.

But what do you do with the refuse at the side of the road? You’d hate to be a litterbug.

Just then, you see a large truck moving toward you. It’s there to pick up your garbage; it’s a special perk of the pilgrimage. You can continue your journey guilt free that what you left will not block someone else’s path. The garbage man calls out to you “Work on yourself, make peace and let go of the past, keep going, we’ll take care of the rest.”

That’s what this mid life feels like to me.


After a day of letting the colour sink in, I discovered that I am not a bold type at all. I’m not wild, I’m not intense.  I toss the samples.

The neutral shades, although I love the warmth they brought to my kitchen and casual living room do not feel quite right for the space.  It’s just too neutral.

I pull out a colour that keeps attracting me. A colour I have loved all of my life.  I tape it to the wall. It’s almost identical to the last colour I painted the room before we demolished it; a warm and calm shade of sage. It looks healthy and inspires healing. It is restful. It reminds me of the pale of the leaf of some of my early spring garden perennials; the softness of the lambs ear that grows on either side of the house in summer just under the mounds of daisy’s. It reminds me of the frosted grass in autumn and the snow dusted leaves of a winter pine.  It contains the feeling of each season, the part when they change and glide gently into the next.

I was onto something before this great renovation started.  Now I know.

The more things change; there are some things that remain the same.  I can accept that.

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