painting

Work in Progress

You know that Home Depot commercial, or maybe it’s Lowes, with the young couple flirting their way through painting a room in their half furnished house? The woman’s hair is pushed into one of those unattainable messy pony tails, the sprigs of hair perfectly framing her face, while the man’s navy shirt accentuates his nice muscles as he applies paint to a wall with a roller. As he writes a love note on the wall with a nice ocher color, she basks in his cleverness. Joyful music plays and the advertisement laughingly suggests, ‘Oh if you only buy from us, how blissful this process of home improvement can be.’

That was us this weekend! My hair perfectly poised atop my head as we worked as a team to start the process of repainting our multi-colored house. Not.

There were no love notes rolled onto the wall, no drama either, but instead the shocking realization that, dang it, the color Dylan wanted is way more, well….white, than previously anticipated. Two coats of Behr Ultra paint and $30 in and we are probably going to start over.

Fast forward to Sunday afternoon at around 3 pm. I am yelling instructions off of the online manual from inside our kitchen through the space in the sliding door as Dylan crouches under our deck, attempting to drain the hot tub we inherited in the move (long story – I’d be happy to share if you are interested). “Pull the black plug towards you and attach it to the hose,” I yell. “There is no black plug Katie,” he responds. “Find the number to the Aqua Spas place!”

Five hours, lots of gallons of water thrown on our lawn from a bucket, a headlamp, teamwork, and $70 of hot tub chemicals later the silly machine has been drained and the water replaced.  The pH strips tell us we are ready to enjoy our spa without the harrowing effects of well, too much acid to soak in. Good to go for the next six months.

This weekend our projects felt like works in progress. I am a finisher, according to all the personality tests out there, and so these open ended projects drive me nuts! I want deadlines and to wipe my hands on my dirty paint stained pants and to look at the wall and say, “All in a day’s work.” It’s going to take us longer than that. As I sit and write this, I stare lovingly at a lemon yellow wall in our den, windows without coverings, and I can peek into the half finished room of white white white. I have to remind myself that this adventure we just embarked on is a continuous journey in improvement.

Life. Is. A. Work. In. Progress.

It took the blessing of homeownership and the last eight weeks for me to realize I am, in no way, going to figure out this thing called life in a weekend. I can set goals and learn as I go, and call and ask for help but the beauty is in the progress. I am thrilled we chose to steer away from a “fixer-uper”. I would have gone crazy.

I love this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote. It’s going to be my mantra for the rest of the year.

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I can’t function any other way and their is beauty in that. Too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. Progress, not perfection.

Nails are a mess and biscotti has been non-existent for months. Progress, not perfection.

Little Luxuries

I’m having a bit of a fearful day today. But, progress has been made, because my little bit of fear seems to be floating on the surface of a lot of good things that are happening. I’m thinking about that paper marbling technique I used to do with my mom when I was little – you put the drops of paint that float on water, watch it swirl around, and dip paper into the pretty patterns to capture something more unique; the pattern is different every time.

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When I googled the term “marble painting” most of the hits came back with tips and techniques for pre-schoolers. Channel my inner child. Ok. I’ll take the term and turn it into an extended metaphor. My favorite exercise. In my life right now there seems to be quite a bit swirling around. If I’m creating a marble painting of myself I think these are the things that I would be dropping onto that watery surface.

Drop one – Wedding planning is a beast – no wonder people elope. There are so many decisions to be made, and I’m being taught again and again that my tendency to want to cross things off my list, and do it NOW, is maybe more of a character flaw than an asset.  This is a process, not something to check off my list.  Drop two – my job is pleasant, but days are always full, and I continue to balance a multitude of tasks and responsibilities. I am happy here, though, because I’d rather to have too much to do then sit at a desk twiddling my thumbs. We are preparing for the biggest fundraiser of the year and are pushing relationships and promoting ourselves in good ways. Drop three – I am continuing to trust in God’s promise of provision. This is a huge area of struggle for me – maybe this drop of color would be darker, black or grey, or something not so glamorous because trusting God is hard work. I don’t like spending money, and I don’t like asking for help, and I don’t like admitting imperfection or mess – but here I am doing all of those things as I walk towards this next chapter of my life. So, I imagine that all of those swirling things are in the process of creating some beauty – a unique pattern that reflects this time in my life.

In the meantime, as I reflected back about this week, nothing stood out to me as extremely beautiful. However, there were a few ordinary moments that I am thankful for. Here are my little luxuries of the week:

1) Gumballs

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I have a mason jar filled with gum balls on my desk. These little sugary bursts of color bring a lot to the interactions I have during my day. First of all, I love the way they look in that small little mason jar. Their presence is comforting aesthetically; the way those colors interact with each other bring some fun to my workspace. Too, when people come to my desk I offer one up to share – it’s a conversation starter, a reason to smile, and a little breather for those who I work with. Because let’s be honest. Who doesn’t love gum balls?

2) The Mountains

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Again, I am a Colorado girl, so forgive the gushing mountain comments – but can you please appreciate that view?? It is really an amazing privilege that I can drive two hours and sit on a little chair and be at the top of a mountain with two pieces of wood strapped to my feet. It was a windy day, but I was in awe by the view at the top of A-Basin where you can see all three ski resorts in the area, and really felt “On Top of The World” – even if it was just for a minute.

3) Comforting Quotes

I surround myself with phrases and quotes and inspirational sayings. These were a few I came across this week that made me feel more grounded, and reminded myself that I am my own biggest critic.

  • “Always remember YOU are NOT what you DO, you are YOU….”
  • “The option to leap into the unknown is always present. We are never at a lack of options. It is courage we sometimes lack…. It is a battle cry before I ride into the siege of possibility, the storm of uncertainty and the dark night of transformation. I write knowing that on the other side, beyond the struggle and the stomach churning fear is everything that every one of us has been waiting for–miraculous Truth, peace, contentment, freedom. Who wants to ride with me?”  – Katrina Nilsson – Gorman
  • Matthew 6:34 – my daily mantra because I’m a pretty good worrier.
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What would the drops be that contribute to your swirling beautiful marble painting this week? What little luxuries crossed your path?