You Learn Plenty: Life Lessons From Waxing, Sanding, + Painting

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Last weekend we watched The Karate Kid with the kid, which not only gave him an opportunity to see me weep bitterly over Mr. Miyagi and belt out "You're The Best", but also a chance to discuss how much there is to be gained from doing seemingly mundane tasks...

We brainstormed the things that Daniel might have learned from all that waxing, sanding, and painting, and came up with humbleness, calmness, patience, focus, breathing, dedication, endurance, and trust — and upper body strength, too, of course. As I've spent long days in our home-to-be washing the ceilings, rinsing the ceilings, priming the ceilings, painting the ceiling, washing the walls, rinsing the walls, priming the walls, painting the walls, and doing it all again in the next room, I like to think I'm gaining something more than mad roller-wielding skills and shoulder pain.

One of the major Life Lessons I've reluctantly come to terms with is The Job Takes As Long As It Takes. All of the trim in the office/guest room (around two windows and three doors, plus the baseboards and the doors themselves) needed a fresh coat of primer and paint, so we bought special heavy-duty trim paint. I took on the task, and quickly — and correctly — ascertained that it was going to take forever. There was no way I was going to put two or three coats of paint on all the trim — that would mean 16 or 24 hours spent painting white trim a fresher white. One coat would simply have to do. Well, doing one substantial coat rather than two or three super-thin coats led to substantial drips, which had to be scraped off. All of the drip spots had to be re-primed and repainted, meaning the final product is not as smooth and seamless as we would have liked. Lesson? If it takes two or three full weekdays just to paint the trim, that's just how long it takes. Bonus Lesson? Making things better is always a good idea, even if it seems like they'll just be slightly better. The trim and doors look so bright and shiny and new, and live up to the freshly painted walls and newly installed floor.

What lessons have you learned — the hard way or otherwise — from home improvement projects?

(Image credits: June Bhongjan)

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