Several years ago, I acquired a set of two matching, handmade floor lamps.
They fell right out of the 70’s.
They are extremely heavy, and appear to be made of some kind of real wood. I brought them home because they reminded me of my childhood and my parent’s groovy living room.
I liked the feel of the lamps, but felt they needed a little something.
They came with two cream-colored, barrel lamp shades that I quickly got rid of, and adorned them with a smaller beaded version in red.
But the lamp shades didn’t save them.
And since then, something has just always annoyed me about those lamps…I just couldn’t bring myself to get rid of them.
Yet every single time I looked at those lamps, I cringed.
A few weeks ago I decided to offer them to a hippie-decor loving friend of mine.
I sent her a pic of the lamps with a text that read, “If you want these, they are yours.” I set them together by the front door since I knew she would want them.
Not an hour later my teen daughter saw the lamps sitting by the front door and said, “You’re not getting rid of those?”
And I said, “Yes, they don’t go with the decor anymore.”
She replied, “So fix them. I love those old lamps and I want them to stay.”
So I sent another text to my friend before she had even replied, and told her that I’d been admonished by my teen and that the lamps would be staying…for now.
Since that day, every time I sit in my coffee chair, I just stare at those lamps.
Why do they annoy me so much? Is it the lamp shades? The darkness of the base? The color combination?
And then Friday morning it hit me.
All of the above, yes.
Those lamps need work.
So this weekend I decided I would begin the task of sanding them down.
This is super scary on a vintage piece, because once you start sanding and reveal a hot mess, it is sometimes completely unsalvageable.
But since I was willing to get rid of them just a few weeks ago, I decided it was worth a shot.
After just a few passes with some course sand paper, I found the most beautiful sight.
Natural, gorgeous wood.
The more I sanded, the more the detail in the wood stood out.
My daughter and I sat outside for the better part of the afternoon, just sanding away.
We talked and sanded, sanded and talked.
I told her about her great-grandfather’s love for refinishing furniture. She told me that sanding is actually kind of relaxing. I thanked her for encouraging me to salvage something I originally loved so much.
And by the time we were finished, I realized the reason these lamps had always annoyed me so much.
Their true beauty had been hidden.
Those lamps sat in my living room for years with their details masked by extremely heavy stain and varnish.
Sanding through those layers revealed detail and beauty that weren’t even visible before. And what I see now looks strikingly like sandalwood. It is gorgeous to me.
I’m sure you can see by now where I am going with this.
If there is something in your life that needs saving, be willing to do what is scary and commit to the work. Regardless of what it is.
It might be something as simple as an overly stained lamp. Decluttering your home. Removing sugar from your diet. Simplifying your life. Saying no once in a while.
Or perhaps it’s bigger than that. An unhealthy relationship. Changing careers. Taking your child off of that zombie medication. Selling your home so you can escape the ghosts of your ex and have a brand new start.
You can choose to sit and stare at your lamp. Cursing it and questioning why you brought it into your life in the first place.
You can throw it out. Casting it into the abyss, never to be heard from again.
Or… you can salvage it. Work on it. Put some elbow grease, blood, sweat, and tears into it. And reveal the beauty that only comes from patience and hard work.
I am the first to admit that I spent years sanding a marriage that revealed worthless wood. (Pun so completely intended.) Years of painstaking effort yielded zero results, and in the end I ended up throwing it out. But do I regret the attempt?
Not even a little.
Conversely, I have spent double that amount of years sanding a child with autism which has revealed blindingly beautiful craftsmanship. Years of patience and love and 87 different grades of sandpaper have yielded tremendous results.
Plain and simple: Sometimes you reveal sandalwood. And sometimes you reveal wood paneling.
The trick is to stop sanding once you realize you have the latter.