One Brick at a Time

June 27, 2016


I’d planned to but almost didn’t write this post today. I’m tired, sore, and grouchy. Later, I thought. Maybe tomorrow. Then I remembered what I’d written on the About page of this blog: “On this site, I hope to explore what it is to experience this life from the perspective of inner truth and knowing. To strip away the stuff and look at what’s underneath and inside. Who we really are.”

If I’m going to strip away the stuff, I have to first be willing to look at it. And if I’m going to post honestly (which I promise you, I am), I have to be willing to show you my tired, sore, grouchy side as readily as my shiny, happy, ready-for-company one.

We spent a long weekend at a little cabin we own in the woods. It’s lovely there—trees and quiet, mostly. Two of my favorite things. We bought the place a little more than a year ago. Because we aren’t rock stars or investment bankers, it’s in need of work. Again, because of that rock stars/investment bankers thing, we’re doing the work ourselves. Usually, we enjoy it.

The past four days wouldn’t be listed under the usually heading. The plan was to remove the old flooring (ancient peel-and-stick linoleum tiles) and install some dark laminate planks. The hubs was pretty sure we’d be done in two days—one for removal and prep, one for installation. I thought it might take longer than that, but was sure we’d finish up before heading back to the city.

We were both wrong. Three and a half hours northeast of here is an itty-bitty cabin in the woods. If you were to open its front door right now, you’d see a prepped floor and a fistful of new planks that refused to play nice. Were they children, they would not be merrily singing The More We Get Together. Instead, they’d be scowling and refusing to hold hands.

For the first three of the four days, though every aspect of the project turned out to be more difficult than we’d anticipated, we kept it in perspective. We were together, well-fed, and working side-by-side on a cabin we’d dreamed of owning for years. Blessed, no less.

Then there was Day Four. At one point, while I was hunched over the last section of the old flooring (Which. Would. Not. Freaking. Budge.), my back aching and my good humor nowhere in sight, I cursed the old man who’d put that crap down decades before. I set down my tools, looked at my husband, and said, “I swear, if we ever see Irv again, I’m going to punch him clean in the face.”

Yeah. Not my finest moment. There might have been some stuff atop my inner divinity right about then. 😉

Anyway, what I had planned to write about this week was how no matter where we are on this journey, we built the lives we are currently living one brick at a time. Each thought, intention, decision—good or bad—and each step along our way have landed us where we stand. Wise. Happy. Frightened. Uncertain. All of the above. One brick at a time.

The good thing about bricks is that they can be removed, too. Usually, one at a time, like this: I’m sorry, Irv. I will certainly not be punching you in the face and I apologize for the delight I took yesterday in the thought of it. Thank you for the love you put into the cabin.

If needed—if we’ve bricked ourselves into a real mess—we can level the whole thing and start again. We’ve all watched as crews set charges and imploded giant structures. It’s awe-inspiring. Something so huge can be reduced to a pile of bricks in mere seconds.

And you know what old bricks are especially good for? Building something wonderful, fresh, and new.


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  1. Reply


    I love your honesty. Don’t punch him in the face, when he put that down I am sure it was bought at a terrific sale, I well remember my aches and pains pulling a floor up like that. You rock lady!

    1. Reply


      Thanks, Jul. Yeah, I won’t sock him. My pacifist self couldn’t actually do it.

      My sore muscles and my attitude are both better today. 🙂

  2. Reply


    Good reminders. I’ve said several times that there aren’t very many life decisions that aren’t changeable. Sure, some are wicked expensive to change, but most are reversible, much like bricks are removable.

    I’m glad you posted, even when feeling grouchy. I hope it helped you to write it as much as the rest of us benefit from reading what you write.

    1. Reply


      It actually did help. Nothing like a little venting to make a girl feel better. 😀

  3. Reply


    I’m proud of the building and remodeling I’ve done over the years. I’m especially proud that I haven’t quit when it’s been frustrating and hard. That I’m still engaged in the process of building this house called Kate.

    The floors in this house are made of reclaimed wood and they’re naturally distressed. They’re not finished yet but I love what I’ve got going. I see beauty in the grooves and nicks and color variations. There’s history there, evidence of joy and struggle and hardship, of dreams reimagined, of transformation and redemption.

    1. Reply


      My hope is that all of us keep building and remodeling, all throughout our lives. When growth stops, life stops. I’m glad you’re building yourself a beautiful life, Kate!

  4. Reply


    Good lesson on rebuilding. My wall is not very high so should be easy to knock down when needed. Seems as though maintenance and repairs always take longer than expected. Maybe that’s why I just put them off. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Reply


      Like you, my wall isn’t high. There are some stubborn spots, though. 😉

  5. Reply

    Malcolm Campbell

    I’d rather hire somebody to do this kind of stuff. Reading your post convinces me I’m right. 🙂

    1. Reply


      You are a wise, wise man, Malcolm. We talked about the floor last night and spoke to a few friends who’ve used the laminate stuff. None like it and all said it hasn’t held up as promised. We’re going to return the unopened boxes, suck it up, and put in hardwood, like we probably should have from the start. As to whether we install it ourselves or pay someone to do it, we’ll see. We’re heading back up north on Friday and will get a few estimates next week.

  6. Reply


    Hey, EG! So good to see you taking a hard swing at life, and writing. I like the bricks analogy, I’ve taken bricks down one at a time, and blown it all to pieces. Love the way you think.

    1. Reply


      Most of my rebuilding has been brick by brick, but there have been a few times when the better procedure was to light a stick of dynamite, back way up, and let it go. Oh, and I like the way you’ve been rebuilding lately.

  7. Reply


    In light of what my dear old 85yr old mother has experienced, lived through and survived this past weekend in the 1000 year flood in WV I’d say you’ve got this. Being knocked off your foundation gives you new material to rebuild with; stronger and better. But always with the possibility of finding new holes that need patched. ♡♡

    1. Reply


      She’s made of tough stuff, your mom. And I know her girls will see her through this.

      You’re right. There will always be new holes to patch and a little shoring up to do. Life is a beautiful mess. ♥

  8. Reply


    Great writ Beth, as always. Currently in the removing and leveling my bricks project. One at a time.. with patience.

    1. Reply


      Hi Vane! You live such a heart-centered life. My guess is almost all of your building has been beautiful and the little renovation projects that are needed now and then serve to make it even more so.

  9. Reply

    Ileene Pickett

    THAT was lovely to read…

  10. Reply

    Ileene Pickett

    I’d like to get notices of new blogs

    1. Reply


      Ileene, so good to see you here! If you scroll to the bottom of this page, you can subscribe. Just type in your email address and you’ll get a notice every time I post a new blog. Thank you!!!

  11. Reply

    Tammy Minnis

    Having remodeled my first home with my now ex-husband and doing all the work ourselves, I can sooo relate.

    I love your brick imagery. When I was young and poetic in thought, I knew I had built a brick fortress around myself. I decided to to start tearing it down but in the process of that, I saw that my foundation was cracked. It didn’t make for a good home. Not being taught by expert home builders on proper foundation pouring, I had to find and identify other good home builders and got some advice. No I feel I live on level ground. When the earth underneath it shifts, my foundation stays fairly sound.

    1. Reply


      Your second paragraph is all sorts of wonderful! ♥

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