Monthly Archives: October 2019

Have I Done Any Good in the World Today?


Although, today I am to list three things for which I am grateful, the first is the only one that will get any lengthy discussion. In total, I am grateful for mentors, air conditioning, and Tempur pedic pillows & beds. The last two are pretty self-explanatory, don’t you think? I live in Houston, Texas, where summer lasts waaaaayyyyy the hell longer than it should and the humidity can be oppressive for nearly as long. We celebrate Mr. Carrier’s birthday down here (or we should)! Who is that, you ask? Check out this terrific video on “cold” to learn about this genius inventor. As for Tempur material… thank you, NASA for the research that lead to the development of this back-saving viscoelastic miracle. You rock! We had our first knock-off Tempur bed for 15 years, and just sprang for a new one. I can’t imagine sleeping on anything else long-term. Anytime we car travel, the Tempur pillows come, too. Now, about those mentors…

A hymn I have known since childhood entitled “Have I Done Any Good in the World Today,” has a first verse that reads:

Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not, I have failed indeed.
Has anyone’s burden been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?

Mentors are or should be an important part of each of our lives, as they render assistance in a myriad of areas. For the sake of brevity and focus, I’ll narrow my gratitude down to those who make my business world go ’round. Being largely self taught in my current field as a #tinycontractor, wherein I do murals, (some) faux finishes, backsplashes, fireplace updates, and increasingly, banister, cabinet, and furniture refinishing, I rely heavily on mentors. Gratefully, fortuitously, God has seen fit to place a number of such souls in my path, and I can say without reservation that each and every one of them have, at one time or another, in one way or another, helped me, cheered me, lifted my burdens, and shared their knowledge without request for compensation. For me, they have been the epitome of blessings.

When I first started painting (and watching copious amounts of HGTV) in 1999, I discovered a few paint gurus at our local Home Depot. One gentleman, Jim, a wise old codger, always had answers to my questions and advice to make jobs easier. Upon moving to Nashville from Ft. Worth in 2008, then to Houston in 2009, I rarely needed someone like him, but when I did, our local Lowe’s had a couple of employees ready to fill the gap. In 2017, my life as a stay at home and homeschooling mom drew to a close. With Brownie heading off to private school and Blondie going to university, I went back to the only thing I knew I could do to help cover their expenses without costly (and sometimes completely unnecessary) credentialing: painting.

Funny how quickly things change in a decade. Marketing, expectations, trends, materials- all different. In what felt like a blink in “mother time,” everything changed about my business. Going from Mural Mama (my first business) to 2nd Story Designs (my current business) was, and hasn’t been, smooth or easy. Yet, at every turn, people, teachers, have been there to act as guides to help me through projects of every shape and size.

Since restarting my business, I am doing things I never imagined, like wallpapering a 16′ high wall on scaffolding, tiling kitchen backsplashes, replacing the veneers on a family heirloom, and creating a board and batten wall with flex molding on an 18′ high curved staircase wall! It’s been nuts! But Alan, David and the rest of the guys at our local Rockler store are always there to answer my 875th question about something. Bill, a neighborhood woodworker extraordinaire, whom I just happened to run into one day in the early summer while spraying cabinet doors in my front yard, has become an amazing resource. Rebecca, the Faux Effects lady in Dallas who so willingly gives of her time and energy to travel and teach, and then continue to teach and reach out, well beyond the scope of her classes, is a blessing I knew I needed in order to progress my business. Steven, Daniel, Bo, Justin, Rocky, and William, my Benjamin Store and Sherwin Williams friends who guide and direct me to the best products for my projects when I’m stumped. Locally, my fellow contractors, such as Dave Cole, owner of Coastal Painting, whom I met through an on-line referral website when I desperately needed some one to paint my new (and filthy) house 3 years ago, is always willing to assist. Several months after Dave painted our house and I had restarted 2nd Story, Dave and I became fast friends and resources for each other, drawing on our individual strengths and pooling our collective know-how, depending on the job requirements. Candace Roberts of Painted Luxury, with whom I attended a color certification class, gave me direction when I started branching into cabinetry, and helped me keep from jumping off a cliff after a particularly trying client last year.

Indeed, John Donne is proven correct, yet again, in that no man or woman is an island. We have little choice but to learn from others, but we must be open to giving and receiving assistance with an understanding of how much a seemingly simply act of generosity can mean to another. ‘Thank you’ to all who have so willingly imparted of their time and knowledge to help a crazy little (former) red head further along the road of business success. You’re the best!


More Gratitude Give Me


Continuing the theme…

Day #4- Name 2 things for which you are grateful for today

Patient clients and Freedom (both personal & within America)

This is all simple stuff. As a small #tinycontractor with kids still at home, I need patient clients.

Things come up; kids need things; I’m having an off day; I hurry when I should take more time; walls are out of plumb, requiring some problem solving; the air is heavy with moisture, slowing product drying time, clients’ schedules go crazy, and on and on. I just need clients who give grace, who understand that no one, no matter how hard we try are perfect- no matter how good it looks on HGTV, life happens! Gratefully, most of my clients are wonderful and understanding.

Last year, after a particularly trying job, I started penning pleas, if you will, to my clientele. I’ve no idea if the blog posts were read in that light, but in my heart were tears, begging to be heard, one human being to another. One of the first was this: Patience with the Process. Perhaps, next time you hire someone to work in your home, it will make a difference in how you see that contractor.

As for the Freedom part of this day’s brief list, Freedom/ Independence is one of my top 7 core values. Among my Big 3, Freedom battles mightily with Faith/ Spirituality and Wisdom every single day for that important number one spot. Because of that, which I believe has much to do with childhood issues and my struggles with depression over the years, being part of a family can be hard. There are days I long to run away, days on the road when I could simply keep driving, and it has very little to do with my husband or kids, because I value them greatly. No, it has everything to do with my restless soul, which I, not infrequently, have to tell, “Hush. Be still.”

At its worst, the every-day-ness of life can feel suffocating. However, a successful family requires sacrifice and a certain giving over of one’s autonomy; there’s just no other way for things to work well… and that can be terribly difficult when you are a person who needs a fair bit of space and quiet. Despite my artsy, wanderlust side, I am a traditionalist. I don’t believe you simply walk away from good things searching for a “better” that may not exist, a “better” that rarely is. I’ve seen first hand the destruction such thinking can do to children, to spouses, to quality people who deserved to be treated with more love and consideration from those to whom they had made commitments; and I cannot swing such a wrecking ball. That’s a selfishness I cannot…will not… indulge.

So, I bloom where I am planted and am grateful my husband understands this facet of my personality to a large degree, and has been rather generous on this point over the years. I rarely ask for approval, and never for permission, but I try to be conscious of when I’m too withdrawn or overindulging in solitude. It’s the least I can do to demonstrate my appreciation and self-awareness that I’m not in this life alone. John Donne was correct when he penned those famous lines I learned in high school:


Catching Up on Gratitude: Day 3


Sometimes Facebook gets these posts before I have time to replicate and expand here. It has been a nutty week, during which I was bitten by a nasty little dog and walked out on a job. Since it has been so long between my last post and my new slew, last I was writing I was a homeschooling chauffeur to my two girls. Well, the oldest went off to university and the youngest ended up in private school. Oh, yeah, I

From my July 14, 2019 Facebook post; made as I was starting my roadtrip to pick up Blondie at college:
Yes, I’m going to bed early, but I brought my oil diffuser & yoga mat for a reason. Seriously, this crap is why I need alone time at least once a year. I get so…self conscious & I just can’t work out or fully relax at home. But stick me in a quiet box 200 miles away, & I’m set.
I have not done child’s pose or whatever this one is (blanking) without major discomfort in 5+ years due to the nerve dead zone & still torn meniscus in my right knee from a car wreck. The nerve area still makes me twitch when too much pressure is placed on it, but maybe it’s the yoga mat on a somewhat cushioned hotel floor vs a hard wood gym surface that made it feel ok this time. Seriously shocked.
Yoga session over. Now for corpse pose. I shouldn’t last long…

noted that in my first post back… What I didn’t mention is that I had to restart my old faux & mural business in order to pay for Brownie’s private school. More about that later though.

Day #3- Name 1 thing for which you are grateful for today (and thus begins a week of ever increasing ‘grateful’ lists)

I made it to yoga class tonight! It has been years since I taught yoga, and honestly, in the past that has been the only way I could actually DO yoga. Teaching gave half my ADHD-riddled brain something to do so the other half could actually be calm and relaxed. Mine and Blondie’s March 2015 car wreck that took out my right knee greatly curtained (almost fully nixed) my yoga, stretching, exercising these last 5 years.

Minus a year in which I tried to enjoy cycling (blech!), but failed, and the 3 months 3 years ago I Krav Maga’d with Brownie (we moved and it got really inconvenient to go), post wreck recovery, my exercise routines went from hour to two hour racewalks and twice a week boot camps, to boring neighborhood strolls where I listened only to podcasts, never to music, because music would make my heart ache and my legs long to sprint. Stretching just to stretch became a rarity, too.

Truly, I really didn’t need the help from the airbag, as I had had surgery on the same meniscus a mere 7 months earlier, and had torn my left hamstring at the origin -for the third time (an annual event since January 2013!)- a week prior. But there you go: another of life’s blindsiding curve balls.

Fast forwarding from the injuries of 2015 to this summer, with 50 birthdays looming and my flexibility diminishing, I determined to get back to yoga, and maybe, eventually, back to teaching. To start on that path, I took my mat with me on my annual summer trip to retrieve Blondie from university and did some work each night in my hotel. Just prior to my departure a new Roll Out yoga studio opened just outside of my neighborhood. I was over joyed…though it took nearly three months for a sufficient break in my schedule to occur, allowing me to sign up for a two-week trial membership.

So far, I’ve been to three classes and, as I just signed up for an “unlimited October,” I’m looking forward to many more. My body is certainly sore, but that’s not unexpected. It feels “right” to be back on the mat, and to find that my body hasn’t lost quite as much as I’d feared. What I’m most pleased with, however, is that I’m more focused compared to the me that used to teach (more on that later)- and I think I’ve found my tribe, as it were, within yoga (not too Zen/ hyper-hippie spiritual, not too anal about their classes, chanting, practice, or music). All of this makes me a happy, still quite bendy, camper!

Gratitude Journal Challenge: Days 2 and 3


What challenges do you face in generating feelings of gratitude?

There’s a reason “Thou shalt not covet” is one of the Ten Commandments. Comparing ourselves to others is a sure fire way to stir up feelings of discontentment. For that matter, comparisons are a key component in most political campaigns. I wonder why? Could it be contention and a battle mentality, both of which foster an “us against them” mentality, create ideal conditions for politicians to inflame their most reliable voters or influence those most easily won over by pandering?

Whenever we are angry, discontent, agitated, or contentious, we are mentally football fields away from the calm, wise-mind centered place we must be in order to feel the calming presence of gratitude. It is maddeningly easy to lose perspective once a greedy, covetousness besets us. Once those feelings are planted in our hearts, gratitude must leave. It cannot find space within a heart mired in negative emotions.

To stay orientated around positive belief, I must daily remind myself how blessed I am. To live in America is something for which millions around the world would give their eye-teeth. To be in a stable marriage with a good, successful spouse with happy, healthy kids (both moving towards successful launches) is unheard of in large swaths of humanity. To have safe drinking water, multiple vehicles, electronics, heat and air on demand, indoor plumbing, electricity available all day, every day…the list goes on! My blessings are myriad.

Of course, I could play the “Yes, but…” or the “If only…” games, but why? Why should I care about whose house is nicer, bigger, decorated with more pizzazz, or who drives a new car every other year? Why? So, I can start envying? What benefit is envy to me? Does it bring my closer to God, to Christ? Does it make my relationships better? The answer is a resounding ‘no.’ So, why go there, particularly when “here” is enough?



Day 3: What ONE thing are you grateful for today?

This is simple: I made it to my second yoga class in a week!