For the past two weeks I’ve been sanding and oiling my countertops; it is a painfully slow process! I have beautiful plank style teak countertops. They are finished with hand rubbed tung oil. I add a coat about every 18 months. A couple of years ago, I did some sanding on portions that had been scratched. Unfortunately, when I oiled the sanded portion, I didn’t check the tung oil before applying it. The oil had turned dark so the repairs took on the darker color. Trying to remedy the color variation, I sanded off the dark oil and used a different kind of tung oil that created a good seal, but yet another discoloration. At that point I lost patience and ignored the color issue.
Now, two years later, I’m fighting two battles: 1)Sanding out some new scratches and blending the sanded part with the rest of the top, and 2)Fixing the problem I previously created. The process requires patience and finesse and is tedious to say the least. The tung oil has to dry for 24 hours before I can assess the appropriate next step. In retrospect, it may have been better to take a belt sander and go back to raw wood and start over.
This process is like many situations in life. We take a stab at something. We proceed methodically with patience and persistence and things improve, but they aren’t perfect. Then we feel frustrated. I know I feel frustrated with this project!
When we feel frustrated, it can be tempting to look around and feel annoyed by those who we believe have an easier time of things than we do. We think that if we could just go back and get the same raw materials they got, things would turn out much better for us. While this is a tempting emotional path, it is never productive or uplifting. Like fixing my countertops, undoing such thinking can be a tedious process. Rather than going down that path, it can be helpful to recognize the following:
No matter who you are, how wonderful you are, how smart you are, how beautiful you are, where you live, what family you’re born to, how much wealth you amass, or what country you live in…
…Life will throw you some curve balls along the way.
It may be in the form of a flood, fire, tornado, disease, job loss, disability, violence or abuse, neglect, success too soon, overwhelming loss, discrimination, injury, injustice, cruelty, identity theft, errant children, disloyal associates, cheating spouses, broken contracts, false accusations, embezzling employees, or thousands of other possibilities. No matter who you choose to envy, they have had, or will have, trials and difficulty during their lifetime. No one escapes this reality.
…Most often, it is not the fact that bad things have happened to you that create an ongoing problem. The problem it is what you come to believe about yourself because of those events.
It is a common response to feel a sense of responsibility and shame when you are a victim of maltreatment. If you internalize the shame, you come to feel that you are wrong, or defective, or unloveable, or incapable, or undeserving of great things. Trying to move past this shame leaves you feeling exposed. It can feel safer to blame the abuse or an abuser than to open yourself to forgiveness and possibility. With courage you can heal and change those beliefs.
…Those who have learned to take life’s curve balls in stride are making a choice.
Not everyone who handles difficulty with grace has always done so. Many of us recognize slowly over time that we feel better when we accept our circumstances, weigh our options, and make an active choice regarding how we will view the difficulty. Sometimes these choices require great courage. To the outside observer, our choices may make us appear to live a blessed life.
…A life in which we own our choices is a blessed life.
There is nothing more empowering than making a choice and owning it. Through this process, you direct your life rather than it directing you. That does not mean all the choices are easy, fun, painless, obvious, or without emotional cost.
…Fear is inevitable.
If you believe other people have more opportunities than you do because they seem to have less to fear, it may be helpful to know that everyone feels fear sometimes. Fear can lead to empowerment or paralysis. Knowing this gives you the opportunity to choose the one that is most appealing to you.
…There is someone better off than you.
You may have the most money in the world at a given moment, but not have as much love or as many children as you desire. You may have the perfect house, the perfect mate, the perfect job, and the perfect children, but your next door neighbor has all of that and weighs 10 pounds less.
…There is someone less fortunate than you.
You may be homeless and healthy with family who loves you while another person is homeless and ill and alone. You may not have eaten today, but there is a mother somewhere who has gone without food for days in order to feed her children.
…You can prepare for the worst and the worst will turn out to be something you never anticipated.
None of us can absolutely or accurately predict the future. Sometimes we will be prepared and sometimes we will be facing a perceived danger on our left and get hit from the right. The person who you envy may look blessed to have correctly predicted so far, then tomorrow have a child killed by a random bullet or maimed by a bomb at a marathon.
…Expressing gratitude for your difficulties will pave the road for healing.
If you can find a way to express gratitude for the even the smallest of things, through practice you will find a way to remain vulnerable enough to receive joy.
….Healing your body will help heal your mind and your spirit.
Studies that indicate a direct correlation between emotional conditions and gut bacteria or gastrointestinal health are growing. We also know that exercise and mood are related.• If you tend to feel depressed, deprived, down, envious, or angry, regulating your eating, sleeping, and exercise habits can make a huge difference toward a more positive outlook.
Repairing countertops and healing wounded thinking can both go slowly. No matter how frustrating that may seem right now, it all becomes worth it when you can see and feel the results!