Transformation. A word I've always found to be heavily weighted with so much depth and meaning. For some, it's a scary word synonymous with fear and pain. For others, it's a word synonymous with hope and positive outcomes.
For me, transformation is both. I work with people daily to help them overcome the fears holding them back and work through the pain of change to accomplish their goals and improve their lives.
I've recently undergone some transformation of my own, which why this post is all about transforming. I took some major steps in my business - moving to a new office, hiring a new employee to work with me as I grow, leaving the safety and comfort of my previous work community...all of which were scary on many fronts.
But I know in order to grow and bloom (a.k.a. transform), it requires breaking through barriers, facing fears and taking a leap of faith.
I also took part in another transformation this past month - refinishing a desk for my office. It was painstaking and time consuming work, but a great reminder of the difficulty of personal transformation.
When I decided to take on this project, I knew it would be hard work, but severely underestimated the extent of time and effort I'd need to put into it.
I found the desk at Goodwill for $35. They say one person's trash is another person's treasure; and this discarded desk riddled with scratches, dents and stains was my big find. Sure, it was a little worse for wear, but all I could see was potential; and I was determined to remove the scars and layers of damage to release its inner beauty.
I got the desk home and started to work. It took me three applications of stripper and days of scraping to break through the thick layers of lacquer and stain to reveal the natural wood beneath.
But I wasn't done yet. After days of scraping and scrubbing, I still hadn't removed all the stain, cuts, scrapes or dents. That would require more work, so I got out my power sander. I wore through multiple layers of sandpaper and scrubbing pads, then eventually switched to hand sanding (to get those hard to reach places and the ones that just needed a little extra elbow grease).
At this point in time I was 3 or 4 days into the process and starting to question why I was doing this. I was working around the clock. My back was starting to hurt. My hands were tired. I was exhausted. And guess what, there were stillhints of previous scars and stain embedded deep into the wood.
I decided I was okay with that. That those little nuances were part of this desk's history, and that they would always be with it. They were part of it's character, part of what make it what it is - perfectly imperfect.
I found the exposed wood absolutely beautiful and vulnerable. It was a blank canvas primed for change and transformation, ready to show the world (or at least my office visitors) it's true potential!
I decided to stain the wood with one coat of transparent stain to bring out and enhance it's natural beauty. I didn't want to use an opaque stain or color that would cover it up or hide any of its flaws. This little desk had already been through so much and deserved to show off it's true self.
As I applied the stain I couldn't help but find the irony in how hard it was to remove the old stain and scars, yet how easy it was to re-stain.
Because a darker, opaque stain once coated the desk, I wanted to go further than just letting it show it's true colors; I wanted give it a lively and colorful new existence. I did this by adding a little pop of color - blue!!! - on accent points and the legs.
Once again, as I added the blue paint and finishing touches, it struck me just how easy it was to cover up what was underneath.
I'm sure you've figured out the metaphor by now...
The process of transforming this desk is very similar to the process of self transformation.
We spend years collecting scars and stains, and building barriers to hide and protect ourselves. Insults, injury and pain (physical and mental) are regular occurrences. Walls are easy to put up. And before we know it, we are just like that little discarded desk...feeling discontented with ourselves and unhappy. Maybe even unwanted.
We want to be happier. We want to be healthier. Our inner self is dying to get out and show the world the incredible potential that lies within. Yet we continue to carry on as is, continue to build up thicker and higher walls, continue to collect scars.
Because adding layers is much easier than removing them.
Transformation isn't easy. It requires change, hard work and pain. What transformation is, however, is so much more than what it isn't...
Transformation is transformative. It's life changing. It's more rewarding than you could ever imagine.
Transformation doesn't mean you should forget your past or lose those things that make you inherently who you are. Transformation is about removing the layers of fear and protection keeping you from being your true self, living life to the fullest and accomplishing your dreams.
If you've ever gone through a transformation, you know what I'm talking about. You know that every bit of the hard work is worth it. It's not something to fear, it's something to embrace with open arms.
If you have something you want to change or improve in your life, ask yourself this, "What is holding me back? What am I fearful of? How can I overcome that fear to accomplish my dreams?" And then take that first step, start removing layers, and watch as your life changes before your eyes!
Oh, and I'm sure you're curious about how my happy little desk turned out. Perfectly imperfect. And I love it!