There is a little old shed in my back garden. A sagging, sad looking lime green structure, that was either plopped down on an angle, or has simply become lopsided with age.
My friends have often commented on its appearance – likening it to something from ‘The Far Away Trees’ Topsy Turvy Land.
It has been part of my yard for years and it’s been neither useful nor endearing.
But this weekend I, long rested and refreshed after some sweet summer holidays, felt her latent beauty call to me.
So with a tub of old paint, a brush to match, and an inner rise of inspired action, I met this old shed and her deep need to be freed from her rickety former self.
She was never going to be a show piece or made to stand out. Somehow, we inwardly agreed she would simply be helped to blend in, harmonise, be made to feel natural and perhaps finally, at home.
As in many areas of life, a seemingly simple task often becomes more complex once we begin. And before I could begin to paint, she needed weeding, sweeping and scraping back.
But it was a joy.
And as I worked, I sang. Loud.
And I skipped about on the grass, barefoot.
And I danced.
And the day turned to dusk and I kept going.
Because I could.
Because this little old shed wanted to change.
It was her time. And mine.
She was calling to me, singing with me, shaking me from the inside.
And as I worked I realised…
That she was me.
All the old bits. Her faded, funky frame that doesn’t seem to sit straight, is the me that doesn’t always fit in.
Her lopsided, left out and ignored bits were all needing attention, looking forlorn, waiting for me to recognise her beauty, her value and her quiet inner potential.
Her ragged exterior reflected some outdated amour I no longer needed, and her weed-riddled foundations became an invitation for me to wrangle out some old, dry tendrils from around my own heart.
As I tended her needs, (and my own), I thought about many of the people I have worked with over the years – the homeless, the divorced, the migrants, the ‘high school drop outs’.
The marginalised, the stereotyped, the disenfranchised and ignored.
They, me, us, who may not have fit the mould.
They, me, us, who because of hardship, heartbreak or heritage, have struggled at times to find their space or value or beauty when placed alongside their peers.
I reflected on all the times when I had been labelled or categorised into similar groups and how it had affected my sense of belonging, contribution and community. I felt into times when my apparent ‘differences’ seemed to decide my sense of worth. When outside appearances were judged as evidence that no further enquiry was necessary.
Tugging at the weeds, I thought about my teachers who had been tough on me, training me to discern what it was that I really needed and how to choose what would best serve my path.
As I scraped away the peeling paint, I remembered my managers, bosses, supervisors and ‘friends’ who had criticised me, put me down, wasted my time or made me feel small.
I felt the sting slip away from those memories, knowing that despite the hurt, they too served me, for they have made me strong.
And applying those new coats of paint, I felt the fullness of life and beauty restored and breathed once again onto her walls and also into the walls of my heart.
The freshness was palpable.
Her beauty, radiating.
That little shed, was feeling loved, and she was loving me back.
And I realised, standing there – barefoot and grubby, be-speckled with green – that the main ingredient in any task I do, is love.
That whomever I teach, coach, mentor or guide, whether I am a leader as a parent in my home or as a facilitator in the workplace, regardless of my role or my responsibilities, that my main task, my truest truth, is to offer the other, my deepest and most pure love.
For this is what inspires their safety and sovereignty.
This is what helps them to shine.
It is easy to feel able to give love when I am rested and inspired, less so, when I feel depleted and tired.
But working with my sad old shed, reminded me how sometimes loving another can be an act of deep self care. How sometimes, even the most forlorn of things, when given time, care and attention, can become radiant, splendid and beauty-full.
As twilight passed and night crept in, I strung some fairy lights, atop her freshly painted facade. They sparkled in the darkness and became her delicate crown.
And deep inside, I felt another layer of my old, restless and wandering heart slip away, and I realised, that my home can be every where and that every where can be my home.
As I stepped back to admire her, I saw the silver whisker of a new moon nestled just above her roof. The gentle slither of celestial magic completed fully her earthly transformation.
And with this new moon came a knowing for this new year.
That we all have the ability to love and to shine.
That we all have the opportunity to reinvent and refresh ourselves, to transform ourselves and others through our inspired actions.
And that we each can choose to witness and to realise, the wonder of the mundane, made magnificent, with a little extra care, sweat and magic.