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What do we do when we find an old piece of furniture in need of a paint job? Many of us will walk right by it. Some of us will stop, pick it up and evaluate it to see if it has potential. And some of us will take the time to sand it down, paint it and bring it back to life.
Are we not the same?
How many of us walk past ourselves, thinking we need to change and condemn who we are without taking the time to see beyond the surface?
I speak a great deal about authenticity in my work and I try to live according to my personal values and truths. Sometimes, it isn’t as easy to do as we would like it to be and sometimes the reality of a personal or self transformation that did not occur can later stare us down as a harsh reality and a call to personal transformation.
I had an experience recently where all of this just made more sense. I stepped out of who I knew myself traditionally to be and embarked on a new experience in Florida, taking a furniture refurbishing course. It created a lot of opportunity for self reflection as I challenged my personal beliefs in my ability to learn something so opposite to what I do on a daily basis. As I was sanding, priming and painting these ancient pieces of furniture, I realized the power in doing the work to see what lies beneath its surface, taking stock and preparing it for a renewal. It was a mindset shift in accepting other versions of these otherwise run-down cabinets and tables, and it prompted me to appreciate and embrace the metaphor for my own refurbishment.
But before we begin this process, I learned that we need to take stock of all that we are before we try to change ourselves. When we look at ourselves in the mirror, we are often convinced that there isn’t any hope for change, and we reject what we see as our representation of the lives we have created. Sometimes it’s as though there are glimmers of the past looking at us with a knowing of where we have been and a questioning of who we have yet to become.
Much like those antiques that are being refurbished, we have an opportunity to embrace our past as part of what makes us unique, part of what defines every edge of our being. It is not a brokenness, but rather a representation of depth and character. It’s all in how we look at it.
It is much more liberating and gratifying when we allow ourselves to evolve and express who we are becoming rather than living in an image of our past.
During this season of self-reflection, I have spent my days watching old pieces of antique furniture transform into beautiful depictions of art. As I now sand down my own pieces of furniture on my porch and reflect on the past, I ask myself often how it is that we view the markings of an antique as a threshold to a cherished era, or its flawed surfaces as aged beauty? Often when we scrutinize our own past or the weathered lines of our aging visage, it is met instead with criticism and condemnation.