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Many years ago, my house celebrated its one-year-old “touch-up,” a common service the builders of new houses give. On that day, a crew of painters invaded every corner of the house and spent eight straight hours patching, caulking, sanding, and re-painting every single scratch, hole, and mark in every wall and ceiling. In just one day, workers erased a whole year of smudges.

Several scratches had been made in the rooms where I hosted friends and family members who were staying in town. Colorful marks of racing hot wheels cars were courtesy of my youngest son. A couple of deep marks in both walls beside the stairs were made by my daughter, who thought it was a great idea to fly her armchair from her room down to the living room. Dirty hands left stains after soccer players in the yard needed a drink. Various scrapes were the result of moving furniture around when we couldn’t decide on a room setup. Extra nail holes showed the result of second thoughts in artwork arrangements. Luggage marks reflected our ins and outs and up and downs away from home.

It took a lot of work, many hands, and much effort to leave our home spotless. The house became a blank canvas for new memories to grow and also a chance to make things even better.

The experience made me think.

What if every now and then we could also have a touch-up for the heart of those people who live under this roof?

What if we could touch up those days when we were not patient or tolerant and we ended up snapping at those we love?

What if we could patch over the scratched hearts?

How about if we patiently filled in those holes of self-belief that needed healing?

What if we used mindful presence to caulk in and smooth over those days when we ended up on autopilot?

Could we rub hard and sand out those badly ingrained habits?

Like the painters that fixed my home, we need time, tools, and intention to touch up our buildings. Here are ways to do so:

1. Set time aside.
Pause to think about what area in your life might use a healing touch-up.
The same way you look around a room that needs a painting job, have a little tour of yourself and your relationships and assess what needs help and what type of help it needs.

2. Define your intention.
Talk, listen, understand, and empathize.
What do you feel has lost its “color”?
Where do you see cracks? Is it your marriage, your mother-child relationship, or your kids’ constant fighting?

3. Decide which tools you’ll use.
Do you need to forgive or to be forgiven?
Do you need to reset priorities?
Do you need time as a couple to catch up?
Do you need to set up an activity that will help you and your child spend time together?
How can you show each of your kids that they are special in their own ways?
Which movies, books, videos, or experiences can you use to open up the conversation?

4. Get started!
Add color, patch up, sand out, do whatever is needed, and heal.

Life is messy and a work in progress, but there is always a way to clean up the mess and start a new chapter with a little touch-up here and there.

Written by Monica Kerik