Every so often, I get tired of my surroundings and change things up a little. Sometimes the urge is small and easily satisfied. A new pillow or two, a quick switch of lamps to put this one here and that one there, and suddenly the room feels fresh and new. Other times, I drag furniture around on those little sliding pads until nothing is where it was and everything feels different and my heart and head are satisfied that this is the arrangement that will suit us best for the next little while.
It drives The Man We Call Dad a little crazy, if truth be told. Not just because he comes home to a house he can’t navigate in the dark, but because I inevitably do these things when he’s away on a business trip or working 92 hours a week, and no, I don’t hire a moving crew to move the furniture around. I just do it myself.
(The fact that I most specifically should not be lifting anything heavy in order to protect the herniated disks in my neck is irrelevant. I don’t lift the furniture. I slide it. Sliding totally isn’t lifting. Right? Besides, I have
minions children to help me.)
But every so often, switching up the pillows and sliding furniture from one place to another just isn’t enough of a change. Every so often, I need to start with a whole new foundation.
No, not a new house.
New paint. Fresh, new colours without fingerprints or smudges and entirely lacking in chips and dents from that time when we were flying the quadcopter in the house or that time we played darts and missed or that time we taped party decorations to the wall with the wrong kind of tape and wound up taking some of the wall paint off when we took the decorations down.
Years ago when we first renovated the basement and were painting fresh drywall with its first coat of paint ever, we started what has become a well-loved family tradition. Before rolling on that first coat of paint, we each grabbed a pencil and scribbled blessings right onto the walls. The idea was that those blessings would become a permanent part of this place we’ve made our home, bringing joy and prosperity and love to all who entered.
(And sex, too, because we were young parents with a not-yet-2-year-old, a newborn, and a house in the middle of renovations, which meant putting “lots of great sex” on the walls before painting them seemed like a perfectly reasonable blessing. It was also, by sheer coincidence of the chief painter also being the chief human milk producer, one of the blessings that had not been covered over by the time the crew arrived to install the french doors the next morning. They found it highly amusing.)
Just before Christmas, I decided it was That Time again… that time when I start pouring over paint chips and dragging The Man We Call Dad shopping and we agree that I have excellent taste in paint and he is entirely lacking in the ability to envision the greatness of it all. Because he is the most awesomely amazing sort of man, he humours me and buys the paint while I enthuse over how marvelous it’s going to be.
He’s a good man, that Man We Call Dad. Not only does he spend hours discussing paint chips with me and then buy exactly what I want to buy, he also does all the pre-painting prep work for me. He washes walls. He fills nail holes. He patches dents. He moves thermostats, patches the drywall, spackles the patch, sands the patch, and then washes the entire wall a second time to get rid of all the dust from sanding.
And then I hand him a pencil and we scribble all over the walls leaving blessings for each other and all those who visit these walls we call home. We write things like “health” and “happiness” and “a house full of love” with no irony at all — these are the things we wish for.
We also write things like “You are loved more than you know” and “You are smarter than you think” and “You are stronger than your fears” to fill our hearts with good things.
As we were painting the powder room on the main floor, we both agreed we had to write “You are beautiful” on the space where the mirror went so that every time you look at the mirror, someone who loves you is reminding you how gorgeous you are.
It’s positively happy making, just writing that on the wall and knowing that no one will ever see it, but that you’ve thrown it out into the universe. And besides, anytime anyone walks into the powder room and comes face to face with the mirror (which you have to – it’s immediately opposite the door), I smile to myself knowing that I’ve just told a beautiful person that they’re beautiful… and they don’t even know it.
You can only imagine my delight when the kids caught wind of what we were doing and demanded to get in on that action.
I know the photo is hard to read… on top, it says “You are beautiful.” Underneath, B added “No matter how much you try, you are Perfect, even with no makeup.”
And on the adjacent wall, K shared his best piece of wisdom:
Don’t let life pull you down.
The powder room is now a lovely rose-ish colour and is sporting a new mirror and new lighting for good measure. It looks gorgeous and slightly glam and far more sophisticated than it did before. I love it.
But what I love most about it is knowing that hidden in the walls are some precious bits of wisdom we would be wise not to forget: You are beautiful. You are perfect, just the way you are. Don’t let life pull you down.