I am taking a moment to step away from the monumental task that is painting the walls of my studio, the workspace part of my feminest. Molding, 9 foot ceilings, cracks and imperfections everywhere, windows that haven’t been tended to in several years. It is laughable to think back at my estimate of 1 week of time, alongside my other work obligations, which leave me with 3-4 hour work periods. Well today is 2 weeks. I still have plenty left to do, but I’ve moved the furniture back and am ready for the work bench (!). 
 
It has been a marathon effort. Highs and lows of euphoria with joy for how beautiful you can make something with elbow grease to exhausted tears and feeling hugely overwhelmed by the big picture.
 
The big surprise has been how much I have learned by doing. By stepping away from my Google search engine and the business of absorbing all my knowledge through my computer and books, I learned an enormous amount. I learned the obvious things about how to paint, what type of paint to get, how to apply caulk etc. and then about some other, larger questions.
 
I learned that I am capable of doing a lot of things beyond researching topics and putting together a well-worded paragraph or a spreadsheet. It is scary to start in on something new, to learn how to do something different, especially when you haven’t done this sort of thing for a long time, but it gets easier and feels important. It feels important in this day and age to keep learning how to do stuff. With your hands (beyond typing). 
 
I learned that I will always be in the process of improving things. There is no endpoint. You can always improve things so you can go ahead and let go of the idea that at some point soon you won’t have to do any more work.
 
I spent a lot of time marveling at the fact that I had gone so many years without “doing” anything. So many of us spend so much time working on computers, studying, going to school. So many young people have become mobile, renting, moving around, career driven. Where would we find the time, indeed the motivation to invest the time and effort in learning by doing? Learning by doing takes a long time, goes against the grain of our impatient, fast-paced culture.
 
It is only when I decided to jump into the task of improving my space with time being my biggest resource, did I realize that I have grossly neglected my skills, indeed the mindset it takes to learn to use your body to transform your environment and to learn by doing. For 10 years I have moved from place to place, office job to other office job, college, graduate school. Even in the Peace Corps my tendency was to rely on my mind instead of my body to improve things.
 
In the past 2 weeks I have spent more time doing manual labor than I’ve spent in front of my computer or at a desk (this may be the first time since horse camp when I was 12). I am exhausted. But I now see the importance of learning by doing. I have picked up a mindset that will serve me well in my business and beyond, the attitude that I’ve always admired in my boyfriend: Need to do something new that you’ve never done before? I’ll figure it out. A little less fear, a little less anxiety each time plunging into something new.

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