DI Why?

Do you ever get super excited about a DIY project only to realize you may have taken on too much? I’m thinking I’ve done that to myself. And I haven’t even started yet.

My (nearly 30 year old) oak dining table is in dire need of refinishing. Just four of the original six Windsor chairs are left and those are missing sections of rungs chewed off by my dog.

The set’s American country design doesn’t quite fit in with the interior of our home (sort of a cottage European farmhouse vibe) and I’ve thought fleetingly about just replacing it.  But it’s handcrafted, solid oak, and where my children completed homework, carved pumpkins, dyed eggs, celebrated birthdays, and ate family dinners with us. It’s been the heart of our home for as long as I can remember. And as change swirls around us, I want that one element to remain.

So, instead of replacing, I’m refinishing. My total experience with such projects includes four chairs, two lamp bases, and one small bookcase.

I plan to gel stain the table top (Did I mention it also has four leaves?) and chalk paint the base. I’m chucking the chairs. They’ll be replaced with ladderback chairs, painted to match the table base. I’m still deciding if I should stain the seats. I’m envisioning the completed set beautifully tying together the three main areas of our home. As long as I don’t screw it up.

I’ve been watching YouTube videos, speaking to professionals, making lists, and stressing a bit. The two reasons I’m not having someone else do all this for me: cost and time. I need to complete the whole project before June 1. My parents are coming to visit and I start a huge three-month editing project just a few days later.

Now, I wait for a few warm dry days. And I pray I have the grit and the patience to see this through.



Does any of this sound familiar? Tell me about your DIY story. Disaster or success.





My Greatest Fear

Recently, I found a dog-eared handwritten essay of mine from 7th grade that detailed “My Greatest Fear.” It wasn’t heights or success or bats, which are just a few things that still scare me. It was about being and remaining insignificant, unimportant, forgettable.

Once in a while I wonder, in the quiet of the night or a morning in front of my computer in my pajamas, what, if anything, about me will be remembered. Will my words add any value? Will they resonate? Will anything I’ve done make the world better? (Geez, I even wonder that now.)

As a kid, the word “accomplish” was tossed around a lot in our house. But it was more of a daily commitment to completing tasks: cooking, cleaning, doing your homework. It wasn’t the grand scale achievement I’d alluded to in my guileless essay.

Life then wasn’t as much about purpose or legacy as personal responsibility and survival. And I wasn’t clear in my composition about what I’d be doing exactly to avoid obscurity. It was more of a big picture ideal.

In college, I realized, after fleeting thoughts of movies and television, that I could write. I’ve been fortunate enough to use this skill to report, promote, educate, and occasionally entertain. It’s given me a modest living.

But looking back on the words of my sweet younger self I think it’s time I should aspire to more. It may not be just one project, like my novel-in-progress, but a commitment to consistently create. And not let fear stand in my way.


“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”
— Earl Nightingale