I once lived in a town where it rained for 46 days straight. The grey skies crossed way over the line from cozy to dreary, and seemed to leave most people feeling bleak and decaying. The first day the clouds parted and I saw blue sky again, I was driving home from work and I couldn't help but roll down the windows and sing so loudly my throat hurt later.
A little color can make a all the difference in the world. Or, some cases, a whole lotta color.
After living for years in a home with not only the world’s ugliest siding, but also the world’s ugliest prison grey paint job to go with it, at some point, I just could no longer take that the fact that I called such an eyesore my home.
Years prior, I had been under the impression we would be building a house someday soonish, so I decided on a whim to paint a mural with my children all over the back of the house. It was colorful, little kid style art, which was much more fun than the plain grey, but it was now 4 years old and faded. My little kids had become teens and at this point, it was apparent that the new house was not coming anytime soonish.
I really no longer have the desire to take on the effort of building a house here on this land anyway. I would rather uproot to some sunny beach town with bike trails and cafes, farmers markets and bookstores I could walk to.
For now though, I haven’t figured out the resources or social support systems to pull that off. For today, this old house is where I’m planted.
Looking around, I could see that I was planted in a place with a lot of neglected maintenance and the kind of clutter that accumulates in ridiculous proportions when you have acreage. It was a bit overwhelming.
Someone else had told me repeatedly in the past that fixing an old house was like polishing a piece of poop. You could polish it all you want, but you'd still just have polished poop. Aside from being offended by the implied connection, I disagreed with the logic. If I did, after all, live in poop, should it not at the very least be shiny? Yes, I decided~ sparkly poop would be much preferred over dull poop, but better yet~ how about cleaning up the poop and seeing what was underneath?
I had no idea what to expect when I started my journey into home improvement. I had never been handy around the house in my life up to that point, but...
this was my home whether I liked it or not, so I might as well try to try to make it at least look like I liked it.
A trusted neighbor came over to advise me on where to start on repairs. After making a list of all the things that would need fixing, and listening to me lament all the things I hated about the home, he says to me “Why don’t you paint this place? It would only be a couple hundred bucks if you do it yourself.”
Seriously? A couple hundred bucks?!? That's it?????
I had lived with a color that I despised passionately for a decade, not realizing that all along I had the ability to fix it myself.
I had been somehow under the impression that it would be thousands of dollars and a huge ordeal to make the house look any better. The idea of doing it myself had never occurred to me, but really, the house was old and ugly as it was~ it’s not like I was going to ruin anything.
So, a whole lotta trips to the hardware store getting samples, and I picked out my color~ “Luscious Mango” It was bright~ really bright~ the kind of thing you could never do in a neighborhood with regulations. But I don’t live in a neighborhood with regulations and I can paint my house any color I want. And I wanted Luscious Mango. So I went for it.
I started painting. My kids helped (with some coercion) Our hair was streaked, our clothing was stained, I fell off the ladder, but progress was happening.
As with so many things in life, once I got the ball rolling and started taking action, suddenly all sorts of things started coming together. A friend who was building a new deck had leftover wood which she gave to me to repair mine. Another friends husband and his group of retired veterans offered to come help with the heavy projects. Even my garden took off and looked better than it had in years.
More importantly, my kids and I love our home these days. When I drive up the street now, seeing my house makes me smile, and that wasn't the case for a very long time.
In the end, I didn't just paint my house. I painted my mood, my life. I know that sounds dramatic, but so is the difference.
We’ve gone on to paint the garage, get rid of enormous amounts of stuff we didn’t need or want, repair the roof and start many smaller projects on the inside. I even painted my bedroom door purple, and it's wonderful.
The work has been hard and humbling at times. I’ve gotten bruises, blisters and a sore back in the process. But it's been worth it. The results of some color and some action have been amazing in increasing my mood and happiness levels.
I've learned what a difference adding a little color can make, seen how taking action can lead to small miracles, and felt how wonderful people and the universe can be once the door is opened to let them in. While the sunny beach life still calls to me, for now, I am blooming right here where I’m planted.