Years ago, when I was a decorative painter, a client called me for help with a unique challenge. She and her husband had built an extension on their home to accommodate their growing family, which meant creating a solid wall in their oldest child’s bedroom where her only window used to be. Wanting to make it up to the 7 year-old who loved gazing out at the backyard trees and garden, they wondered if something could be done to make her space feel less confining. We talked about faux finishes, new furniture, and even new bedding and window treatments. But none of that addressed the real issue, which was how to bring the outside inside for the little girl who lived there. That’s when it hit me… Why not paint a window and landscape where the real one used to be? After considering the young girl’s favorite story characters, places and creatures that’s exactly what we did. Soon, a fantasy landscape came to life on the previously empty wall, giving the room depth but, more importantly, replacing her feelings of loss with a work of art that she could treasure.
It occurred to me, recently, how much the above scenario resembles life. So often, we come up against unexpected obstacles, curves in the road or walls that appear out of nowhere, threatening to derail us or contain us altogether. I think how we choose to handle these obstacles is key because, while these hindrances can be discouraging, they can also be opportunities – to reconsider, to redirect, to redefine ourselves and our personal landscapes. We all know people who always manage to land on their feet. This isn’t because they have luck on their side, it’s because they’re skilled at taking everything life has presented to them, the good and the bad, and thoughtfully, patiently shaping it to their liking.
It’s not always obvious what you have to do when an obstacle presents itself. But by taking the time to consider alternatives and stepping away from habitual thought, brand new possibilities can and usually do present themselves. You just need to be a creative problem solver. When life presents a curve in the road you have two choices; either damage yourself by repeatedly ramming into the roadblock that’s straight ahead, or follow the windy road to see where it leads and what the scenery has to offer. An obstacle? Try thoughtfully carving something out of it until you’ve either created room enough to get around it or you’ve sculpted it into something pleasing that you can live with. And if you wake up one day to find that a massive wall has replaced your window view – I strongly suggest painting a new one. You may even end up liking it more than the original.