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I publish two newsletters: This one, which is FREE and comes out about every other week, and another one, called One Good Thing, which I send out every week, and which is offered as a paid subscription at various levels. You can see how to subscribe by clicking the button below. (It’s almost too easy…)
With One Good Thing, I share positive stories, mostly pulled from my own life. Think of it as an analgesic to balance out the news, as well as a regular reminder to look for good things in your own life.
Below is an example of one of my favorite One Good Things, offered to you now so you can see a sample of what it is all about.
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This is a very small and triumphant transformation story.
Stay with me, because although the transformation was long — too long — I’ll try to keep the telling short.
It starts with my mother’s old house, which I inherited after her death.
My mother had inherited the very old house herself, and when she did, she installed indoor plumbing, a fireplace, and a very wonky kitchen. She painted all the old floors and trim, and wallpapered every inch of wall-space, covering over ancient wallpaper installed earlier in the 20th Century.
The space she created was beautiful and cozy.
When I inherited the house, my husband Bruno did some basic renovation — insulating the old plaster walls, making a lovely little kitchen, and punching up one very low ceiling so that a normal adult could stand upright. This, he felt, was important, because he is a normal sized person. (I come from a Hobbit-sized family; we’d never felt this particular low ceiling to be oppressive.)
I then decorated the house in my own way: White walls, brown floors, white furniture, brown furniture. Black and white photos and etchings.
Blah blah CALM, I call it.
The two rooms upstairs were kept exactly as my mother had left them — cozy and wallpapered.
The issue I had was with the staircase. It is an interior space — narrow, steep, dark, and with an almost ladder-like feel (it likely started life as a ladder…). The walls are wallpapered and the ancient steps were painted a glossy almond-white.
(That’s Molly, trapped at the top. The stairs are too narrow and steep for her little legs to climb.)
I don’t “do” color, mainly because I don’t know how to.
Surely a fresh coat of glossy almond white paint would brighten up the staircase.
Those of you who know me know that I love sunrises and sunsets. I’m a very early riser and every day I greet the dawn, in all seasons. And the dawn delights me, every single day.
Here’s my proof: One minute of dawns, dawns, dawns.
What if I could somehow create that feeling — and those colors — within this dark and lonely space?
I went to Lowes and snapped up a bunch of sample sizes of Valspar paints. I chose Valspar because — it was the first brand of paint I saw and they sold sample sizes in a satin finish, which I like.
Hmmmm. YELLOW, I thought.
Yellow, it turned out, was too limiting. There are 13 steps in the staircase and I simply couldn’t find 13 shades of yellow that created the feeling I wanted.
So I started branching out. By this time the paint-guys at Lowes were tiring of me, but I pressed on. I ended up purchasing about 25 sample jars of paint, at $3.98 a jar.
Dawn was not dawning in my staircase, and so I moved into reds and pinks.
I numbered each riser and wrote the corresponding number on each sample jar.
Mistakes were made. Many many mistakes.
At night while the paint was drying I would look at pictures of my project and try to figure out where I was going wrong. During the day I would repaint my mistakes with a base coat and then — try again.
Eventually, I got there. Trial, error, more errors, more trials.
Working on this project, I thought so often of my mother, who would slap a coat of paint on anything that stood still long enough to tolerate it. “It’s just paint!” she’d say. And she was right.
I call my staircase “Sunrise-Sunset,” because that’s how it feels to me. Dawn going up the stairs, and dusk descending.
I can’t quite finish my project, yet (one last step needs to be painted, and the whole deal needs at least one more coat), because this week when I went to Lowes, I was told that they have run out of paint! Supply chain issues, I was told.
Maybe they’re just sick of me.
I am a sloppy painter. I learned on the job.
Did I spill an entire jar of paint onto an old wool hooked rug?
Yes, I did.
Did I have 7 paintbrushes in constant rotation?
Yes, I did.
Is ONE GOOD THING.
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It's stunning. Such beautiful colors and so clever.
Love this staircase and the dramatic reveal!