Home is where the heart is. And your clothes and books and all the other stuff that represents your life. It’s the place you display your memories and photos of loved ones. It has artwork and projects and pictures of your children at every age. It’s also where your spouse might live and where your children might have grown and flown the nest. Home can be a house, or an apartment or any place you feel safe to lay your head. Home is the people in it and not the structure itself. It is the nest that you feather, your peaceful oasis in the busyness of the world. Dorothy, at the end of her adventures in The Wizard of Oz, reminded us that there is no place like it. Yes, a home is definitely one’s castle.
However, the thing about a home is that you have to keep it up or it will fall around you without a moment’s notice. The past 6 months our aging home has protested some of its aging elements. The oil tank decided it had had enough and leaked oil as it brought in water. The water tank also decided enough was enough and just leaked. The old furnace we had replaced two years ago had left years of residue along the walls of the house and a fine layer of black dust over everything. The chimney leak finally was resolved so we were able to look to the other things in need. So a home, like a heart, demands care and attention.
After much planning (and after upgrading the aforementioned tanks) our summer staycation took the form of the interior house finally getting painted. We chose a bright, clean white color to offset all of those picture frames, masks and other mementos we have collected over the years that have sat on our walls and collected that same fine dark dust. Over two days we slowly removed all of those items, each one a memory we mused over and had a toast to and there were some things we couldn’t ever remember acquiring. With everything off the walls and furniture moved out of the way, our small abode looked quite a bit larger. It was time for the painter to do his magic.
There is no doubt that painting an entire house is a job best left to the professionals. Although our cat protested to being locked in a bedroom with food and litter, he was no doubt relieved not to be in the way of a man with a ladder, paint brushes and a definite mission. The project took more than a week during which time we marveled daily how incredible the house looked as each wall emerged from its formerly dingy and dark demeanor. Finally the last of the plastic coverings and paint cans were removed and it was our turn to put the house back together again.
The one thing about doing any upgrade in your house is the unexpected things that get uncovered along the way. The dust and dirt under the rugs that had been rolled up and put out of the way had harbored the equivalent of an entire child’s sandbox. They had to be put out to sit in the sun and shaken until the accumulated dirt fell away. Wood floor cleaning was the next order of business as was hand cleaning all of the glass on the picture frames which had their own layers of black soot. It was the perfect opportunity to store some of those items that had sat on every available surface away and minimize the number of things hung on the wall so that we could enjoy our beautifully fresh new walls.
But as often happens, one change usually leads to another. My husband took the bathroom cabinet doors out to paint and the bathroom looks fresher now. Closets and shoes were picked through and things discarded. The garage got a clean out. Even the windfall under the apple tree was cleared away. And now almost 3 weeks later we are significantly lighter and cleaner. The house feels as though it has taken a huge cleansing breath and let it go but of course it was really us.
Change and letting go are not easy things to encounter. As humans we feel more comfort in familiar things and it’s easier to stay the same then to make the change. But once we do make that shift we can feel it in our bodies and minds. This upgrade has definitely lifted our spirits and cleansed our souls. Coming into the house feels like a different space now although just a month ago it was the beloved albeit dingy home we gratefully ended our day in. But showing love to our environment means showing ourselves the love. It’s taken me a long time to accept that change is good but I have to be the one to initiate it. Our home most certainly agrees with me there.