I learned a new skill this week! And I’m so delighted with the finished result! Let me explain!
We’re decorating our kitchen just now which has been a long time coming. It’s an ongoing project and for several months we’ve been making decisions about what we want. You see, we are not replacing the actual kitchen, but repairing and smartening up the existing one. To some people, this might seem like a daunting, boring, or even pointless task. We live in a consumer world after all and are often told to just replace what is old, broken, or dirty. How many adverts do you see each day for the new fancy models of countless gadgets, home tech, cars, clothes? The list is endless! We’re basically being told that what we have is not good enough. Once again the media does its level best to lure us in with falsehoods, to make us spend what we don’t have, to compare ourselves to others, and covet what we don’t have.
This can’t continue!
And yet, we know very well that our world is in crisis! Our consumerism is crippling our environment. Our excessive use of disposable items is choking our seas and killing our wildlife. So we must stop and ask ourselves what changes we can make in our own lives to turn the tide. And one of these is learning to repurpose the old and turn it into something new and wonderful. So, instead of replacing a perfectly serviceable kitchen, we’re repairing, cleaning, and painting it to give it a new lease of life. And it will be fabulous! The doors that were damaged at the corners have been patched up and look brilliant with their new coat of paint. The walls that were dull, stained, and tired are now refreshed with a new colour. All perfectly simple skills that require little learning.
My new delight!
This week, however, in the process of sprucing up our very tired and dated kitchen, I had to tackle a task that I honestly believed was beyond me. I’d been thinking about how we would problem solve our way through it without the need to call in an expensive tradesman. Moreover, it was important that the finished result looked as good as possible. So if I was to tackle it myself, I didn’t want to botch the job! Was I brave enough? Well, it turns out, yes! The job you may ask? Installing coving. Not the most glamourous or complex structure within a house, I agree, but nonetheless, it requires a level of skill to achieve. The question was, did I have it?!
The issue we faced was not simply putting up coving where there was none. We were installing coving alongside pre-existing stuff. This required us to cut into the plaster at the correct angle so that our new coving could merge seamlessly with it. The issue was the corners. It could all go terribly wrong! And yet, I did my research and figured out what was required. And then I bravely went in with hammer and chisel, Stanley knife, and homemade template, and made my first incisions. Suffice to say, that with the help of some coving putty and Polyfilla, and with the help of my lovely husband, we got the coving up. And it looks great! In spite of my doubts and reservations, I carefully proceeded, with a little pre-existing DIY skill, and succeeded!
A lost art
How often do you learn a new skill? It doesn’t have to be quite like the one I’ve just described. It could be a new language, cooking, organisational skills, a sport, gardening… There are so many new and exciting things to learn in our world if we would only have a little more self-belief and discipline. How much fuller and richer would our lives be if we sought after a new skill the same way we look forward to a new T.V programme? I don’t say this standing upon any high pedestal. I’m equally guilty of not developing new skills where I ought. There are certainly many opportunities for me to further myself beyond coving! However, this weekend has shown me the delight of learning a new skill that I would never have dreamed of tackling before.
I think today’s culture has a lot to do with it. If we think back 50, 60, 70 years, we would see people using their hands more. People repaired what they had, be it mechanical items, clothes, furniture, etc because they recognised the value in what they had spent their hard-earned cash on. We didn’t have cheap ways of making things that could be so easily replaced so we had to look after what we did have. In doing so, we developed new skills that could have multiple applications and we were far more self-sufficient. Today, this is not so. We’ve lost the art of mending, of the do-it-yourself mentality, of making things last as long as possible before admitting defeat. We just fill our land-fill sites and throw away what is no longer of value to us.
There is hope!
And yet, there is hope! Obviously, there are still people who find value in being self-sufficient. People who like to be hands-on and learn a new skill that will better themselves. There are people who are concerned for our environment and who want to do their little part to stop the vicious cycle of consumerism. There are people who want to make their lives better by bettering themselves through knowledge, understanding, or learning a new craft. Charity shops are full of unwanted items that will find new homes and raise money for those in need. Antique dealers give old-world items a new chance at bringing joy to another. Old can become new. Ignorant can become wise. Passive can become active. The thing we have to do is be ready to take on what comes across our path.
There’s always something to learn
When we moved into our new home just over a year ago, we hadn’t quite prepared ourselves for the tasks that lay ahead of us. We were homeowners for the first time and now had the freedom to make the place we lived our own. It would be very easy to get stuck in plans, fears, questions, and unknowns. There was a lot to do before us. But, room by room, we have tackled new conundrums, learning a new skill in each that I wouldn’t have considered myself capable of and acquired knowledge all the way. I’ve tiled in our downstairs loo, repaired lots of little things that get broken through regular use and long service, picked up some gardening skills, learned to plaster, and made plans for many more new skills besides.
But most wonderfully of all, I’ve discovered many hidden talents in my husband that hadn’t the chance of showing themselves until now. Sometimes it’s a new environment that reveals a hidden skill or gives us the opportunity to develop one. So go out there, seek new adventures and learn a new skill today that will bring you untold delight! Just like my coving did for me!
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