Don’t be afraid to just do it yourself


Do it yourself.


That’s the question I’m asking myself at the time of the writing. We are painting the bedroom of our middle son, Luke. He has been away visiting his grandparents in Florida. Someone – and I’m not saying who, though I think she’s married to me – thought it would be a good idea to finally paint his room while he was out of the house.

Gone is the pale green of the 1970s. In its place is a deep, blood-red/maroonish color and something the store called “stone” or “mocha.” We’ve been texting with Luke and teasing him about the hot pink color we’re using. It’s not that far-fetched. Peeking from under the green trim is a very vibrant shade of pink.

Sandy, Colton (our youngest son) and I have just finished the main coat and are waiting for it to dry so we can do touch-ups. I’m dripping wet from having hosed down the brushes and cleaning up the equipment. My socks, ironically, are now a hot pink. Bella, our black chaweenie dog, managed to get a big mocha spot on her side.

Most of the stuff in Luke’s room is now stashed into other rooms, including the living room. It blends nicely with the boxes of stuff we had sitting there that my dad brought to me when he came to visit last week for my birthday. Just what we needed; more stuff.

As we cleaned out Luke’s room the previous night I became painfully aware of a few things. First, a teenage boy can collect a pretty weird assortment of junk. Secondly, he can collect a lot of it. Thirdly, we now have serious doubts about him actually cleaning his room whenever he was told to do it. Fourthly, a lot of clothes, toys and school papers from elementary school can fit under his bed, dresser and bookshelf. Fifthly, an army of giant dust bunnies and dead roaches can be quite formidable.

I guess we’re going to have to monitor his room a little more closely from now on. In the meantime, this, like all the other DIY projects in this old house, is proving to be a bigger challenge than it appeared on the surface. One thing always leads to something else needing to be done. Take the plumbing for example. I’m not saying the pipes are old, but they do have the seal of an ancient Roman emperor on them.

I’ve never considered myself to be a handyman or a DIY kind of guy. I have issues with things like remembering which way to turn a wrench, being scared to death of electricity, getting things level, drawing straight lines or having even the remotest desire to do handyman kind of projects. Yet as I look back over the past eight years we’ve lived in this house, I have been hoodwinked into doing a lot of things I never thought I’d do. We’ve replaced nearly every faucet, added electrical outlets, installed ceiling fans and re-painted nearly the entire interior of the house.

Each project has left me with a mixed feeling of accomplishment and a paranoid fear of the whole works coming undone. I imagine a shower that won’t shut off or a ceiling fan slinging its blades into the wall, or windows that will no longer open because I painted them shut. Trust me, there is nothing more frustrating than to finish painting a room, getting all the brushes and equipment washed and put away and reorganizing the furniture only to find a spot that you missed. Actually, there are several.

This whole DIY thing extends beyond the house, too. I’ve done projects in the yard and work on my car that I never dreamed of doing, nor desired to do.

My poor dad is very much the DIY kind of guy and tried very hard to instill that motivation in me. I tend to be averse to the kind of pain, frustration and disappointment that goes along with DIY projects. I don’t know how many endeavors he has had to bail me out of over the years. Thank you, Dad!

Now that I think of it, one of the reasons Luke’s room is such a DIY challenge is that he is very much a DIY kind of kid. He, like his older brother Wesley, enjoys disassembling electronic gadgets like remote controlled cars, old computers and other odd items and constructing his own Frankensteinian contraptions. He kind of reminds me of Sid from “Toy Story” but without the sinister, maniacal bent toward destruction.

As a result of his creative experimentation, his bedroom became more of a laboratory than a place to sleep at night. I suppose it was a good thing we intervened when we did because I’m pretty sure the dust bunnies were learning how to drive his vehicles and it would have only been a matter of time before they began invading the rest of the house.

Now, as this project winds down and I reflect on my many DIY successes and failures, I can see and appreciate that it really does make you a better person and improves the quality of your life if you make the effort to take care of your things yourself. You don’t know your limits until you push them. You never stop learning and developing new skills as long as you’re making the effort to get better.

So, why DIY? Because you really can accomplish a great deal of things if you put your mind to it and aren’t afraid to take some risks and stretch your knowledge and abilities. The feeling of accomplishment you get from doing something you didn’t think you could do is a great confidence builder and helps you to feel good about yourself. Now if I can just get this pink color to come out of my socks…

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