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What Home Improvement Projects Taught Me About Life

Home improvement projects… Enjoy them? Loathe them? Somewhere in between? Read about my personal journey and the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Is it just me or does summer seem to whipping by? It’s the time of year I truly try to stop and smell the flowers (quite literally), but with so much going on, it’s often easier said then done. Know the feeling?

Bright Pink Peonies in Hobnail Milk Glass Vase

You see, I was someone who always focused on a project until it was completed, then moved on to the next one without even blinking. It was a way of being for most of my life.

It satisfied the part of me who loves crossing things off a list.

But being that focused meant I missed out on a lot of other experiences and opportunities too.

Take last summer, for instance. I found myself buried in our main floor renovation incapable of enjoying much of anything. I became so fixated on getting the job done that, before I knew it, my son had returned to college in September with very little quality time spent together. (Oh, right, there was that one day we went golfing as a family when near-hurricane winds decided to show up when I already had an ear ache. Oh joy!)

That summer, most of the conversations with my husband were about what tile to pick up on the way home from work and how we had to move the washer and dryer (once again) before the flooring guys came the next day. And “can you take Friday off so we can scrape the popcorn ceiling before the painter comes?” Do this, do that, do it over again…

Exhausted, night after night, we plopped down on the couch to watch an hour of mind-numbing TV. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very meaningful at all.

Wake up. Repeat.

When the dust finally settled and we had our house back, I made a vow to myself to approach challenges like that with a different mindset.

That process, as well as several others along the way changed me.

I was ready for a change…

I still consider myself to be a driven person who fulfills goals and reaches milestones. More importantly, I’ve learned (or I’m further along the spectrum of learning) that life is a journey, not a race.

We cannot control the obstacles that show up along the way. We can only control how we react to them.

Putting It Into Practice

Recently, we had a severe hail storm rip through our yard ruining our newly stained deck and most of the plants. It was disheartening to say the least, especially since a photoshoot of our finished backyard was planned for later that week.

Instead of wallowing in the after-math, I took some time off and headed to the mountains for a soul-nourishing day with my husband. I’m not even sure we talked about the yard that entire day.

It helped me develop a better perspective and gave me the energy to clean up the big mess.

We still have some work to do on the deck, but it seems like small potatoes compared to what we’ve had to deal with in the past.

For the better part of this year, I needed a break from home projects. I needed time to think about what direction I want my life to go in. I needed time to reconnect with loved ones. I needed time to just breathe.

The old me would’ve thought, “Time’s a wasting, girl!” Guilt from the lack of projects crossed off the list would’ve nearly done me in. I’m sure my self worth would’ve been squashed.

Thankfully, I’ve evolved.

Life isn’t about a TO DO LIST.

Enjoy the Little Things in Life Quote Kurt Vonnegut

I close my eyes at the end of the day and am grateful for everything I “got to” and everything I didn’t because I had something “more important” to do (like having coffee with a friend or taking a mid-afternoon nature walk). I will finish painting that dresser tomorrow.

I’ve come to realize there will always be another project to work on. Nothing is really ever finished, is it?

That’s the beauty. Agree?

It means more opportunities to be creative. It means being able to work with others. It means being able to inspire. It also means having more purpose in life.

It shouldn’t mean more stress. It’s about balance.

What Can You Do?

If you find you’re living your life too project-fixated and haven’t given yourself time to just BE, I suggest taking a break from it all.

Maybe you only have an hour or two to spare. Take it from me, every little bit counts. I promise it will make all the difference in the world. It’s about baby steps growing into leaps and bounds, eventually creating an authentic existence.

Just something to think about.

Much love,

Shauna at Satori Design for Living Blog - Home Decor, DIY, Vintage Finds, Recipes


  1. A wonderful reminder Shauna! I am trying to better balance the to-do list with more enjoyable pursuits like settling down with a good book.

    1. Sometimes it’s difficult if you’re a doer, but I’ve come to learn over time that a good balance between work and play (or relaxing) is a healthier way to live. Hope you take some reading breaks this summer!

  2. That sounds like me now. So easy to be ambitious, so easy to get frazzled … what good is a home if you can’t relax! Maybe it’s time for me to express some gratitude for the roof over my head, rather than fret about the shingle color …

  3. This used to be me too until I saw the light…. The words to that country song hit home…”I ‘m in a hurry to get things done, I rush and rush until life’s no fun, all I really got to do is live and die, I am in a hurry and don’t know why”

  4. Can you tell me what grout you used for your kitchen backsplash? Would really be helpful. Thanks!!

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