Don’t Stand in the Way

img275I’ve been spending a lot of time painting lately. Not the artistic kind, although I’m starting to think there is some artistry in a freshly painted wall. I’m no stranger to a paint brush. I’ve been doing it for most of my life.

Comes with the territory when your parents were the original DIYers.

So I’ve had a lot of time to think about and work on my technique. I used to think that anyone could paint a room well. It’s really not that hard.

You open the paint can, pour paint in the paint tray, roll the paint on the roller, and then apply it to the wall. It’s a similar process if you’re painting the trim, only you use a brush instead of a roller and need a much steadier hand.

Of course that doesn’t include all the prep work that needs to happen before you can even think about opening a paint can. But it will do for this post.

Like I said before I really thought anyone with opposable thumbs could paint a wall. Well, I was wrong. One of my former employers decided to have a painting party at work – translation cheap labor – after hours. That’s right, no overtime.

I thought it was going to be fun. After all the people I worked with, for the most part, where intelligent and hard-working. Then they grabbed their painting tools of choice.

What a nightmare! I won’t go into detail here, but I will say that one person was using a roller like a paint brush…

So I’m back to my walls in the present silently thanking my parents for taking the time to teach me how to paint. I couldn’t imagine being stuck with old, nasty, out-dated walls just because I was afraid to pick up a paint brush. It makes me shake my head just thinking about it.

That’s when I noticed how I was holding the brush. It wasn’t anything like how my mother taught me. It might have been the paint fumes, but I just stood there for a moment staring at the brush letting that realization sink in.

My first inclination was to correct how I was holding the brush. I could literally hear my mother’s voice in my head telling me I was doing it wrong. This time I shuddered. But then I looked at the wall.

The wall was painted well. There was minimal mess and everything was covered. I wasn’t even wearing much of it.

That’s when it hit me. My parents taught me their techniques for painting, both interior and exterior walls. They were good techniques, tried and true. They taught me the importance of being neat with the paint and how to avoid unnecessary spills.

All very good things to learn and most of them have stuck with me to this day. But there are others – like how to hold a paint brush – that I had to take and figure out what worked best for me. And even though my mother was screaming at me in my head I knew I had to do things my way.

Then I wondered how many times I became angry or upset when someone didn’t do something exactly how I showed them to do it. I’d like to say never, but I don’t like to lie. I know I have and I know I’ve treated people poorly because of it.

But why, when most of the time things turned out just as well if not better when they did things their way? And even if they didn’t then the person most likely learned what not to do for the next time.

How many times have I stood in the way of someone’s learning process?

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like the answer, but at least now I know that I don’t always have to make people do things my way. And hopefully there’s no one out there who hears my voice every time they pick up a paint brush. Or worse, my voice keeps them from picking up a paint brush at all…

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