If you looked up the word, ‘patience’ in the dictionary, never in a million years would my photo be next to it. If something requires waiting, for any reason, I generally get agitated. I don’t like to waste time and when things, people or situations slow me down, I get grumpy. Once I am grumpy, all it takes is one thing to go wrong and a number of others tend to follow.
You know how you have your favourite clothes – the ones where you feel comfortable, yet presentable? I was wearing mine last Monday when I went into work to get a number of last minute things done, before opening for the new year. That was a mistake number one.
Near the end of a very long day, I realized that I was going to have to do some touch-up painting. Since I didn’t have painting clothes with me, I decided to turn my tank top, shirt and pants inside out, just in case. I proceeded to set up for the job where the next in a series of unfortunate events took place.
I could only find one, wide brush, that already had one of the paint colours on it. It was useless for cutting edges and wouldn’t help me with the other two paint colours I needed to work with. Then, I could only find one tray, with one tray liner. All of the stores were closed on the holiday and this had to get done. It’s okay though, because it turned out I had a number of black garbage bags and industrial paper towels, which would suffice.
I laid out the three paint cans and materials in front of me. I proceeded to shake the first can with vigour and energy, since it had been sitting for several months. It turns out, though, that the lid, wasn’t attached properly and all of my shaking caused paint to splatter on the wall, the pine baseboard, the floor, my hands and my favourite clothes.
Taking a very deep breath, I hoped no one noticed the disaster I had just made. I left the room to wash my hands and get cleaning wipes. Getting paint on door knobs and keys along the way was just par for the course, as I patiently worked to clean up my mess.
After the cleanup, I took off the lid, mixed the paint with a stick and was ready to start on the first wall. Using a garbage bag over the paint tray and liner, I was careful to ensure I could switch up the tray when I was done. The first roll onto the wall; however, was a bit of a shock. It was the wrong colour.
I checked the lid again and was assured that this was the proper colour. After my blood pressure began surging, an investigation into the issue, searching the paint cupboard for the proper colour and large amount of cursing, it turns out that someone put the wrong lid on the can, months before. I had just ‘touched up’ drywall patches with a completely different shade. No big deal though, I had to be back to work in less than seven hours so I could just skip going home, if I had to.
I wiped as much paint off as I could and switched up my garbage bag tray to the next colour. Since I didn’t have a brush, I dipped an industrial paper towel into the next can in order to cut around the edges. It looked fine, as long as you don’t get too close. I was always told, if you can’t see it from an airplane, you’re good to go.
Eventually making my way around the room, using three paint colours with only one brush, one tray and one liner, and some rollers, I felt pretty proud of myself. Even without the proper tools, I managed to get the job done. I cleaned up all of my garbage and three bags of makeshift paint trays and proceeded home, after sweeping and mopping the mess in the hall, three hours later.
Briefly assessing the damage to my favourite outfit, I was pleasantly surprised. Other than two small drops of paint , that could easily pass for crumbs from my sandwich, and some paint on my sleeve edge, all of the paint splashed onto the inside of my clothes. I can still wear them and people will barely notice! And, I even got almost four hours of sleep that night.
I must admit that, at one point during that eleven hour work day, with no end in sight, I wanted to have a little cry. I was so tired and didn’t want to be there anymore. I had no intention of painting in the first place and only agreed to do it, so that I didn’t have to cause anyone else to add it to their endless list of tasks to be completed.
My painting fiasco this week, in addition to the pint of blueberries I spilled onto the floor from the fridge, the yogurt cup that dropped and spread itself down my leg, my socks, my shoes and the floor, a bag of miscellaneous screws that fell through a hole in the bottom of the bag, all over the place and my fumbled attempt to put together a heavy, solid, maple desk system, with missing pieces, all by myself, lead me to the moral of this very long story – life can be hard; very hard.
We may not always have everything we need, things may not go as planned, we will often have to do things we didn’t expect to do, we not have the help we need, we may have to work well past our original intention, we may get tripped up, frustrated, overtired and grumpy and make a mess of ourselves along the way.
What we do next; however, will be the difference between sanity or our ultimate demise. When we are faced with difficulties, obstacles, problems, hurdles, stressors or hiccups, we need to stop, take a deep breath, access the damage, put things in perspective, laugh at ourselves, make a rational decision about how we will move forward and be grateful for the little things.
We are humans and can only take so much; however, we can often discover just how strong we can be, when we have to. We can accomplish anything we set our mind to, if necessary. Then, a few days later, we can hopefully catch up on our sleep.
As you continue to step into the beginning of this new year ahead, may you be blessed with patience, strength, clarity, tools, resources and support for whatever mess you may need to clean up, for whatever goal you may be working towards or whatever battle you are dealing with.
Each and every one of us has something on our plate. Will you allow it to defeat you or will you press on? When we look around, many have it much worse than we do. There is no sense in crying over spilled paint, or blueberries, or screws or desk pieces….
‘I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.’~ Louisa May Alcott
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