In the last post, I wrote about an experience I had with a toy that required some assembly. I told you how I started well but then, eventually, got ahead of myself and started thinking on my own. I discarded the instructions and put things together as I understood they would have to be put together. This worked fine until I got to a point where I couldn't continue. The parts I had wouldn't fit where they were supposed to.
After some frustration, I picked up the instructions and discovered I should never have attached this or that part to this or that post until the very end.
I had stepped out of order--and I screwed everything up.
Another example of this . . . as I was reminded yesterday . . . was a great little event my wife and I experienced shortly after we were married. See, we were in love (and still are) . . . like all newlyweds . . . and we decided that nothing would be more romantic on a Saturday afternoon in the summer than baking a pie together. Yeah. A Pie.
Well, that sounded like fun and so we headed in to the kitchen and compiled the ingredients. My wife read from the cookbook and I did all the little tasks as she reeled them off. Everything went well until she read--(and I'm screwing this up because I don't remember the exact recipe . . . so for you bakers out there . . . this is not meant to be taken as an accurate and literal recipe!)--she read, "Add 1/2 cup of sugar."
I looked at her. She looked at me and winked. I liked that . . . and so I measured out the sugar and dumped it into our mixing bowl with all the other things I'd amassed so far. I looked back at her and winked. She turned back to the book.
Clearing her throat she continued: "Add 1/2 cup sugar . . . to a separate mixture of 1/2 cup flour and 4 eggs."
I looked at her. She looked at me and winked. I looked at the bowl of other ingredients and the sugar I'd just dumped in and looked back at her. "Babe, you said to add the sugar and now you say to add it to a separate mixture of flour and eggs?"
"Well, I already dumped it in there," I said, gesturing with my powdery fingers toward the big mixing bowl.
She followed my finger and looked and then said, "Hmmmm. Why don't you try to take it out."
She looked at me and winked. I bit my tongue. Yeah. Sure. Let me just wave my magic fairy wand and I'll take out the sugar.
I looked at the bowl and was getting ready to say something rude when I remembered that we were in love and that we were newlyweds. So I pushed my frustration aside and started scooping. After about 3 or 4 minutes, I'd removed most of the sugar and had it dumped nicely and stirred thoroughly through a mixture of 1/2 cup flour and 4 eggs. Just like she said to do.
Now, we were cooking. Stirring that mixture, I felt all my frustrations fade away. I mean really, was it worth starting a big fight just because she read the instructions in such a way as to lead me into error? It was just a pie, right? We were in love, right? Right.
When I had the mixture stirred thoroughly, I looked at her and winked. She turned back to the book and skimmed over the instructions, trying to find her spot. She mumbled to herself for a few seconds, until she found where she'd left off. She smiled and read, "Add 1/2 cup sugar . . . to a separate mixture of 1/2 cup flour and 4 eggs . . . being sure to separate the yolks from the whites . . . before mixing." She trailed off at the end and stared at the cookbook for a few seconds, re-reading. When she looked up, she didn't wink.
I winked. Or, I guess you'd more accurately call it a twitch. I twitched. A whole bunch of times. And then the veins started pulsing on my forehead.
We both looked down at the mixture of everything . . . yolks and whites . . . on the counter and then we both looked back at each other. We were in love, right? Of course. But still . . . .
And so I said, in my most loving voice (but of course, sarcasm snuck in), "Babe. Let's try something new. Let's read a whole sentence. From the big Capital letter all the way to the little period at the end . . . let's read that whole thing before you tell me to do something. Would that work?"
Well, as all husbands know, that didn't work. Before I knew what had happened, she was sitting on the front porch rocking violently in the rocking chair and I was standing in the kitchen all by myself, covered with flour and sugar and looking at a pile of fresh blueberries and a bunch of other ingredients I didn't understand.
In the end, I produced a pie. I'm not sure how good it was, but I do know that it took me forever to finish it. That's not the point, though. The point I want to convey is that things work best when you follow the intended order. We were trying to bake our pie out of order. We were doing things that we should have waited to do. We were skipping steps that should have been accomplished before moving on. And in the end, it was a confusing, head-scratching mess.
Just like my experience with the Scooter from yesterday's post. Stepping out of order created mass confusion and problems. It cost me extra money. It cost me extra time. It made me bleed on my carpet.
And all of this ties directly to home decorating. See, when folks overhaul a room in their home (or, remember when people used to build new houses?). When folks overhaul a major part of their house and start over with new carpet, new wall colors, new furniture . . . new everything . . . it can be a complicated and confusing job.
I meet these people at RepcoLite all the time. They stand at the color racks and try to figure out what in the world they should pick for their colors. They look at over 3,000 options and before long, their brain starts to smoke.
They grab colors they like--blues and greens and tans and greys--and then they head off to the carpet store (or, if they're at our Lakewood RepcoLite, they just turn around and browse the samples)--and they try to find a carpet they like that matches their colors. But many times they can't--not exactly--so they decide to put that part of the decision off until later and they head to the furniture store. There they look for couches they like and try to match one to their paint colors. And again, 9 times out of 10, they can't do it.
Before long, they end up back at the paint store, looking for new colors. And this time, they're even more frustrated and confused than before.
They're starting to hate the process. They're starting to dream about colors and they're starting to call those dreams, "nightmares." They're arguing with their family, their tempers are short, and they're, in a phrase, "sick of it all"--the whole remodel, the redecorating, the repainting--all of it.
But there's good news! The reason they're so sick of it--the reason you're so sick of it if you're in that same boat--is because you're most likely working out of sequence. Is it possible you're working your way through the home decorating recipe out of order. Are you doing what I did when my wife and I baked the pie? Or what I did when I tried to build the scooter? Are you doing things first that should be saved for last, you're doing things last that should have been done earlier? Well, if you are, no doubt the whole thing is confusing, frustrating, mind-boggling.
But there's good news as I said. There's a recipe you can follow. It will help you discover order and clarity in your decorating process and it will make everything you do, every step you take, easier and less painful . . . and most likely, even fun.
Tomorrow, I promise, we'll cover those steps.