I’m a DIYer at heart. I have always loved using my hands to take odds and ends of nothing and turn them into something. This started as a child when I dedicated endless hours to drawing, painting, gluing, sewing, and imagining, then turned into a 14-year career as a floral designer where I was paid to be creative.
I have logged countless hours on Pinterest collecting great project ideas, enjoy teaching my daughter some of the skills I love, and my kids have relished making fun of me for slamming on the brakes while driving by a would be discarded piece of furniture that I can refinish.
I can look around my home and see numerous examples of things created from re-imagining one thing into something else, or things nobody believed to be special until a coat of paint and a new perspective transformed it into a one-of-a-kind treasure.
The ultimate DIY upcycle project of my lifetime was my life.
When I divorced, I went from being a married wife, partner, and homeowner to a single woman who was filled with fear and uncertainty about what would happen to me next. I lacked confidence in whether or not I could handle everything thrown my way. I was lonely. I was devastated by not having my kids with me 50% of the time. To be honest, my life resembled a dilapidated piece of junk laying at the end of someone’s driveway awaiting trash day!
I’ve prided myself in the past with having a vision for what something could be, not what it was at present. An old window next to someone’s recycling bin became a quaint mirror hanging in my bathroom. A cabinet with interesting lines discovered one evening while I was out walking was reformed into a beautiful hutch in my entry way. A dresser drawer no one wanted was brought back to life as a shadowbox frame.
When I looked at my life, I initially had no vision or inspiration for it. No hot glue, paint, or decoupage could salvage my screwed up life into something beautiful. It seemed hopeless!
At some point, the thought occurred to me that unless I did something about it, my life would continue to be that ugly, broken pile of rubbish no one wanted. I had to own the fact that, rubbish or not, this life was mine, and I could either wallow in a state of uselessness, or I could work some DIY magic on it and transform it into something pleasing and beautiful!
It’s hard to have much optimism or confidence when you’re someone’s trash; but, as with any rescued relic, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!” Now, not only am I my own treasure, but it’s my ex’s loss and another wonderful man’s gain!
My attitude of exuberance didn’t come instantly or easily. It took one small victory after another to help me build confidence.
My car broke down and I single-handedly dealt with the tow truck and having it repaired.
I moved into a cute house entirely by myself. I don’t know how I did it, but I literally took load after load after load of my belongings in the back of my station wagon until everything that was mine was there. What items I didn’t have, I managed to acquire from wonderful friends.
I stood up to my ex when he bullied me or tried to alienate me from my kids.
I somehow stayed strong when my son was really struggling with the divorce and was angry with me because all of the nasty things his dad said about me around him.
I re-built a nice life for me and my kids. I worked hard to make sure I could provide for them- even though sometimes I didn’t know if I could pay the rent.
I went back to school and got my master’s so that I could be assured of more job stability and better pay (and because it was an item on my bucket list).
I made a priority of making my home a cheerful place that provided a positive atmosphere and felt like home.
I got help to overcome my depression.
I opened up my heart again to love and be loved.
With every step I made in re-finishing my old, discarded life, another layer of hurt sanded away. My life began to feel purposeful, promising, invigorated, and beautiful again. What once was a state of affairs that no one would have wanted or seen potential in became a set of circumstances I was proud to own. Mostly because I knew I created it literally from the ground up.
I have a lot of special friends to thank who lent me a hand and encouraged me to keep going; but, the up cycle of my life largely had to come from the desire and belief within myself that I could, and needed, to do it!
What would have been the point of going through a divorce to escape a miserable life only to continue living a miserable life? That would have allowed depression, my ex, and all the forces of negativity to win! I chose divorce, in large part, because a little light of hope inside of me had faith that if I could get out, I could be a happier, stronger, and better person. If I could become a happier, stronger, better woman, I could also be the mom that my children deserved to have.
Wallowing in the trash bin of my divorce would have been a failure to myself and my children. I was handed a blank slate of a new life that I could either set in some dusty corner or cast away on the street, or I could dedicate the amount of love, care, and attention to it as I had any DIY project I ever had since childhood.
If any project was worthy of investing in, taking my time on, and getting right, it was re-building and upcycling my life after divorce!
At first, you may not believe that you can do anything or that your life can be anything again. Will you let divorce and pain define who you are moving forward, or will you take advantage of the new start you’ve been offered? Take a good hard look and see the beauty and potential that’s right there under the surface. With some love and care, your life can be anything!