The Next Step is Sideways

Sometimes you move forward.  Sometimes you move backward.  And most of the time you just go sideways or don’t move at all!  Know what I mean?

When I worked in rehabilitation we had another phrase:  recovery is always a jagged line.  A person makes progress then might regress a step or two before making the “big gains” in strength, walking, functioning, and the like.  Many times my patients would not believe me when I said this to them.  I understood their frustration.  In our fast-paced, achievement and results-oriented American society, it is really tough not to be getting ahead in some way every day.  Well as the old Starkist tuna commercial used to say, “Sorry Charlie.”  Sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way.

Not only does every person not always get where they want to go, not every person gets selected to try for his or her dreams.  These can be a real bummer for sure.  How we handle these delays or changes in the course of our lives may likely determine our character.  Certainly how we respond reflects our maturity as adults, or for Christians, whether or not we are trusting in the Lord who promises a plan an purpose for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11).  While there are probably other reasons we could explore ad nauseum, I’m going to leave it right here.  Ultimately we must get over the failure to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves when it just isn’t going to happen.  You just never know.  Something better might be on the horizon . . .

Several times I have planned to complete a special project and was never able to start it.  (This has happened a lot over the past two years!)  In general, the main reason wasn’t even procrastination.  The reason often has had to do with the reality that something better is waiting for me in the future.  Take my decorating idea folder, for example.  About twenty years ago when our drapery panels in our living room became damaged from the sun, I really wanted to create a custom window treatment that I’d seen in a magazine.  Somehow I would need to design a tracking system where the wall met the ceiling before such systems were even available.  We didn’t have any wood shop tools at the time and I was unfamiliar with the fine art of making draperies.  However I did know how to sew and had a creative streak so that was enough for me to move forward and figure it out.  Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be.

The townhome got sold with the sun bleached draperies pinned from behind to hide the sections that were threadbare.  The problem?  My former husband doubted my ability to complete the project.  Where would we get the materials?  How would we install it?  Where would I find the time to make everything?  All of the ongoing questions discouraged me from trying to find the answers.  A creative person makes something happen along the happy journey of figuring it out.  He or she doesn’t have everything worked out at the start unless there is a pattern or kit with instructions.  This decorating project simply was too much for the two of us to come to an agreement.  It wasn’t meant to be back then.

Flash forward about ten years later and it was meant to be.  Through unfortunate circumstances I found myself single and rebuilding my life in another city; so much had changed.  To pursue a creative project would become “occupational therapy” for me and help me to make my new place a home.  I knew exactly what window treatment would adorn the sunny sliding glass door that overlooked the lush courtyard beyond my balcony.  This time the time was right.

A co-worker told me about a textile company that sold unbleached muslin by the pound.  Yeah, that’s right!  Yards and yards of fabric would be super cheap and just right the right color and style for my project.  I even found material to line the panels all through that poorly marked, rusted back door entrance to the factory.  There were huge bolts of fabric everywhere!  “Yeah God,” I said to myself.  This is good!

The next challenge would be measuring and cutting an inordinate amount of material on the laminate floor of my 3rd floor condominium.  To say my knees were hurting from crawling around cutting all that fabric, would be an understatement.  Then I wondered how was I going to sew all this yardage at my modest kitchen table?  The answer soon came when I was house-sitting in a lovely home a short time later.  The man of the house was a contractor and had a HUGE desk in his office for viewing his drafting plans.  That desk was perfect for sewing yards and yards of fabric too:  spilling all over the place in their spacious loft.  Cool beans.  I sewed and sewed to my heart’s content.  Cool beans again.

Now to make the tracking system to suspend the panels next to the ceiling.  Somehow I stumbled upon a lumber store just off the railroad tracks in an industrial area of a neighboring town.  The guys at Owl Lumber in Lombard, Illinois were great.  Not only did they help me configure the crown-molding style curtain rod, they metered the corners and pre-drilled the holes for the mounting pegs for me as well.  I installed about a dozen pegs into the crown molding, sanded, painted it white, and coated it with polyurethane.  Now all I had to do was mount it on the wall . . . without a ladder . . .

Gratefully I had an extremely sturdy coffee table that became a suitable platform for the installation.  (You simply could not kill that wooden beast so it followed me through 8 moves over the years.  Finally it got sold on Craig’s List 5 years ago!)  I got all the tools and supplies together, my friend Jeannie came over for dinner and a little window treatment project, and we gals went to work on a Friday night.  The only problem was that the building was over 30 years old and there was concrete not wood studs underneath the drywall!  My wood screws would never hold the weight of the solid wooden rod that measured about 8 feet long.  Oh well.  Back to the hardware store I would go for mega concrete bolts and a new drill bit.  Of course I had a darn good drill that would handle the job.  🙂

The next hurdle was the fact that Jeannie was not available the next weekend to jump back into the project again.  What was I do to?  How could I possibly wait when I was this close to pulling it all together?  This thing was massively heavy and I was hoping to mount it at a height that would require me to hold it at a height near the end of the reach of my arms overhead.   How could I do this alone without dropping it on my head?  By sheer will power and determination, that is!  I figured out the measurements of the holes for both the wall and crown-molding rod and pre-drilled the holes.  I figured that if I could slip in a few bolts by hand and tighten them, they would hold enough for me to get the rest of the bolts in as well.  I also used my head . . . literally!  And with only one close call, Lord willing, I gotter done!  Success!

The finishing touches to hang the panels were beautiful silky-type cording that I found at a local drapery supply store.  Wow:  so cool to live in a large city at the time where I found a place where practically half of the store was drapery trims and tassels!  I made a loop and tied it with a Josephine macramé knot, reminiscent of 20 years earlier when it was first vogue to macramé.  I was single then too and had macrame’d lotsa stuff!  Hand sewing the loops to the panels was a labor of love, quite meaningful for me.  Then I was ready for my big reveal to, er, myself.  Would it all come together?  You be the judge.  I loved it!  To open it each morning I gently draped a loops hidden on the backside of the middle of the bottom of each panel to hooks on the wall along the outer sides of the panels.  At night I released the loops and the panels closed like the massive curtains at the end of a theater stage play.  Yeah, it was cool.  Yeah, it was worth the wait.  I was stoked and thanked the Lord for restoring the years the “locusts had eaten” once again.  (Joel 2:25)

That's me in 2007
That’s me in 2007

This is an important story for me to remember years later.  I’m in a situation now where I can’t do projects like this as I recover from a serious illness.  I am grateful for the Lord’s gift of writing and the warm reception to my eBook released a couple of weeks ago (see side panel for details).  Just this morning I was wondering what would be next?  Then I realized that I really can’t do anything more right now.  The book got finished because I had some better days; those days are gone for now.  I’m hoping to catch up on some long overdue regular medical appointments like an eye exam tomorrow morning.  EEEEK!  Will ya look at the time?  Anyways, these next few weeks I won’t be moving forward.  I’ll be taking care of the stuff on the back roads, so to speak.  Perhaps there will be other types of meaningful discoveries along the way, perhaps not.  For now, the stuff of life has my time and attention.

Maybe you can relate?  Whatcha got going on this week, Gentle Reader?  Do take care, k?  JJ

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