Wednesday 7 April 2021

How to keep going when you feel like quitting

Last weekend was ridiculous. A paint project I thought I would be able to complete in an afternoon ended up taking four days, much swearing, some tears, and multiple trips to the paint store where the employees started to look at me with pity and concern. They keep a file on your paint choices if you want, and my file had not one or two, but five colours added to it over the weekend. They must have thought that I lost my mind. To top it all off, at some point there was some literal shit on those doomed walls - a story that will make sense to you in a minute, I promise.  
However, despite feeling like quitting every day, I persevered, and in the end there were two stories of success!

Okay, let's start at the beginning. I had a 5-day weekend ahead of me, and I thought I would use a (small) portion of it tackling a project on my list: to refresh our bathroom. I've been on a redecorating kick for a few weeks, recently adding a statement wall and a reading nook to my bedroom. 

For the long weekend I had something special in mind: transform our turquoise bathroom into a magical sunrise. I found the inspiration for it on - where else? - Pinterest. Here is the colour before:

That's a LOT of turquoise, I know. But when it comes to paint colour, I embrace a "go-big-or-go-home" attitude, because, why not? I love bright colours. 

Behold, the photo that started it all (it's so, so beautiful, I still can't get over it):

Incredible, right?? Whenever someone asks me what my favourite colour is I say "sunset colours", so this was a total dream come true. I'm pretty fearless when it comes to using bright colours in our home, and I was confident that I could recreate it. How hard could it be?
As it turns out: very.   

I made several mistakes, but the first one was that I didn't pick more realistic goals. I may have wielded a paint brush at least a dozen times over the years, but I have never done anything so ambitious. But then again, you never know until you try, right? A failed ombre wall doesn't diminish my other painting achievements, such as the polka dot wall I did a couple of weeks ago. 

But this one turned out bad. A total Pinterest fail. 
Judge for yourself:

It makes me laugh now, but on the day I wasn't laughing. Everything had already taken so much longer than anticipated: the dreaded prep (which I hate) always takes at least twice as long as I plan for, and despite high hopes for one, it took two coats of primer to cover the turquoise. By that time it was late on Good Friday, and I was exhausted. However, the walls were a blank canvas of white, just waiting for the ombre magic I would unleash on them the next day. Everything was ready: I had the paint, the tools, and the motivation. 

And then Penny happened. 
April 2nd was an unusually cold and windy day. The temperature was still dropping down below zero at night, and the cold wind was relentless. We had seen in the afternoon that we had a new calf, and Rich checked on it during his evening feed. 
He found out two things: she was a girl - and her body temperature had dropped into the dangerously low level of hypothermia. 
I had just finished my paint job for the day and was looking forward to a warm dinner and early night when Rich came into the house, a little calf in his arms. 
"She won't survive the night outside!" he yelled at me, followed by "we have to warm her up, gently!".

While I frantically started heating up clean towels in the dryer (only 10 minutes to make them warm, not hot), our friend came by with some colostrum. We didn't know how much/if anything she had been nursing, and a night away from mom is too long without any nourishment for a newborn baby. We loaded up a small syringe and fed her little mouthfuls several times over the next few hours.   
(I know this is inappropriate, but could you take a second to appreciate those turquoise-free white walls? Thanks!)

Because we have heated flooring in the bathroom with textured tile that is non-slip, we decided to keep her in there for the night. I changed her towels every half hour or so when they cooled down, and despite doing that for over two hours, her nose and little feet still felt too cold to me. So I decided to spend the night with her, to keep an eye on her and also keep the warm towels coming. 
I made a short video of it:

The happy news is: Penny made it! Sometime in the night she convalesced fully, which translated into her 
a) getting up, b) mooing loudly, and c) shitting against the just hours-old white walls. It was amazing, of course - but seriously, my white walls? Really, Penny?? You couldn't just have shat on the floor like most self-respecting house animals? (Not that she didn't do that as well. Rest assured, she did.)   

Anyway. The long and short of it is: Penny is thriving and reunited with mom. She's happy, and I am happy. 
Also, most emphatically: I don't envy moms. Sleepless nights are the worst
And, as it turns out, not conducive to creating beautiful wall art. 

Getting back to my "quick" weekend project. We were now on day 3, with nothing to show but some shat-on, albeit whit-ish walls, and a severely under-slept (is that a word? if not, it should be) me. At this point I just wanted to get the fucking thing done and have a long, restorative nap.

You all know what happened next. In case you need a reminder, here it is:

Rich bravely told me that "it wasn't that bad," and that he "could live with it". He also mentioned that it was "better than before", which was probably the second time I burst into tears that day. 
I was so exhausted. And disappointed. And fed up with painting. I wanted nothing more than to kick the paint cans to the curb and crawl into bed. 

But I knew that I would never have more time than now. Plus, the prep was done. And I really HATED those childish, badly done stripes on the wall. So I took a deep breath, ate a large bowl of Spaghetti, poured myself an even larger glass of wine - and poured all four paint cans together. How bad could it be? (I have to stop using this as my life's motto, STAT.) 
It turned into an indescribable pinkish, reddish colour - nothing I would ever have chosen, but I was beyond caring. I slapped the colour on the walls in reckless abandon.

Once that coat was done I was - not quite satisfied. So you wanna know what I did next?
I mixed some water into the orange colour, and started painting it wildly across the walls, swigging more wine and muttering to myself that it couldn't get any worse. 

Here's the result of that:

Honestly, at this point I was more than ready to call it a day. It wasn't that bad, right? Original at least. I went to bed, not even bothering to rinse out the brushes. 

But when I saw it in the bright light of the next day (day 4 of my original "afternoon"-project), I really didn't like it. It made our small bathroom look like a cave. 
But what else to do? I had lost all confidence in my colour-choosing abilities. Rich was no help.
I did another Pinterest-search, before slamming the computer shut. After all, Pinterest had gotten me into this mess in the first place. 

So I took a shower, put on some non-paint-splattered, non-calf-smelling clothes for the first time in days, and went back to the paint store. 

I stood in front of the paint swatches for ages, paralyzed. I simply couldn't make a decision. Every single one of those hundreds of colours looked wrong. A very kind employee kept coming back to check on me, offering helpful advice and any help I might need. He even offered his co-worker's rich expertise, praising her years of experience in the paint business. 

But I couldn't take him up on it. I was beyond any advice, planning-stage or talking about anything to do with colour. 

So I went back to my roots - to something I'd done before. If you can't trust anything else, trust your instincts. 

I chose a pale yellow as a base coat, to brighten up our cave-like little bathroom. 
And then I bought another small jar of the bright orange I fell in love with (it's on the failed ombre-wall), because, while the ombre may have been a fail, that orange colour wasn't.

On day 4, I did this:

Bright, original, me. I love it, and so does my husband. I've done a similar design in our previous home in Aldergrove, and it felt like home as soon as I finished the last brush stroke. 
In the end, if you trust your instincts, you won't go wrong. 

We still haven't put the bathroom together. The towel rods have to go back up, there's a new bath mat due to arrive any day, and I'm playing with the idea of adding some fake plants. 

And there's also the entirely different issue that my husband receive quotes from different horse transportation outfits while I was going through my drama, because he has decided to become a horse dealer in his old age, and we have horses coming and going like central station - it's been quite the topic of marital debate over the last few months. 
But this is a post for another day. 

This may look like it was just a bathroom renovation story gone wrong - but it was so much more. 

This past weekend was a lesson in humility and patience, and embracing uncertainty and unexpected changes. It was everything I didn't want, but needed. 

I know I can keep going, even if I feel like quitting. 
And so can you. 

We all have that strength and tenacity in us. If you need to, you will find it. Trust that. Trust yourself.  


  1. I love your new walls, Miriam! LOL. Well done.

    1. It took a while to get there, but I'm thrilled with the result!


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