November 29, 2009

In Search of Before

Call me a perfectionist. Call me a poser. Call it what you may….

I’m an “after” kind of girl. And it’s only when I reach the after that I’m ready to talk about the before.

See, it’s not so much that “before” scares me. It’s that it scares everyone else.

And they give me the look.

You know the one. The look that’s equal parts fear, panic, and “what the heck have you gotten yourself into?”

Yea, I know this look all too well. And you probably do too. Because it’s the same look we got when we told everyone we were going to start this business.

We got the eye brows. The gaping mouths. The wha-wha-whatddyameans.

I’m sure you’ve seen this look in your own lives too, in its many different varieties.

And because of that, I’m sure you can agree with me… that after is better.

After is the prettier younger sister of Before. She’s charming and beautiful. Polished and gracious. She’s the homecoming queen, the head cheerleader and the valedictorian all rolled in to one. She’s the kind of girl who wakes up looking like a Neutrogena ad and has never had a zit in her life. You know….metaphorically speaking.

Before, on the other hand, is another story entirely. Before is the girl that we all were (well those of us who are girls!) at age fourteen or fifteen. The girl with the retainer or the acne or the bad perm job from her mother’s salon. The girl with the hand me down clothes and the prom dress from circa 1980 when it’s 1998. The girl that’s too heavy or too nerdy or too much like a boy. She’s Sandra Bullock in the first half of every movie that she’s ever made. But you know if you could just take down her pony tail and brush her hair, you’d see how beautiful she truly is.

Yea…that’s Before. Something like that.

So that brings me back to my point…,of why After is better. Easier. Because we all want our business, our homes, our lives….heck even ourselves, to be the pretty girl. The prom queen. Jennifer Love Hewitt moving in super slow motion. Nobody wants to pull back the curtain on a dream yet unrealized and reveal Gracie Hart on crack standing there. Snort laughs and all.

Why? Because it has rough edges. Ends that need finessing. Work that has to be done. It’s not quite there yet, and you’d have to have the vision to truly understand it.

So we’re afraid to reveal the Before that we have in all of us because… what if they’re right?

What if the vision is wrong? What if all the raised eyebrows, pained looks, and concerned questions are justified? What if this Before never has an After?

See one thing is for sure. After is easy. It’s pretty. It’s I told you so to the nth power. Multiplied. It’s look at where I started and just you see how far I’ve come. Now aren’t you proud of me?

And it’s tempting to always wait it out for After.

But here’s the deal: one thing After is not… brave. To put it out there and say what you dream for yourself while you’re still a million miles away from reaching it, After would never do that. No, After leaves the bravery to her big sister Before. Because it takes courage to say: this right here, this is where I’m starting. This is all I’ve got. What I hold in my own two hand. But I know where I’m going. And I know what I’ll be. And there aren’t enough sideways glances or questioning looks in the whole world to keep me from that.

Because I am my Before. And guess what… I’m gonna blow your mind with the After.

See I’ve always been an After kind of girl. A wait til it’s pretty girl. A let me show you the end result so there is no way you can question the dream kind of girl. But in doing so, I dishonor the journey. And I miss out on sharing it with all of you. So from here on out, consider me a retainer and 80’s sweater kind of girl. I’m going to share the good, bad and ugly with you. Because Before is brave. She’s vulnerable. Beautiful on the inside.

Quite simply, she’s the kind of girl I want to be.

So in honor of Before, I’m going to muster every bit of bravery I have and show you a never before blogged picture of the inside of our house. Gut job and all. Here we go…don’t get scared now.

And of course, in light of such a bold move….you’ll forgive me if old habits are hard to break and I show you just a few of the steps toward After we made today. :) We took advantage of some of the crazy good leftover Black Friday sales and got this LG washer/dryer combo in stainless steel.

As well as this GE barn door refrigerator. I’ve been waiting to buy this bad boy for over a year now!!

And while we haven’t gotten these yet, these definitely make up the After I have in my head!! I especially love the cappuccino & latte ones! From Pottery Barn

  1. Gwendolyn Tundermann

    Matt and I fell in love with your house! Seriously we couldn’t shut up about it. Can’t wait to see the after of your new HOME!!!! I’m sure you love that sound! : )

  2. Jennelle

    Mary, you have to show the before so we can fully appreciate the after. And, BTW, show us some more. I’m dying to see the who shebang!

  3. alice

    "Hi my name is Alice, and I’m an after girl." Oh my gosh Mary, you so inspire me with your insight, soul and bravery. You’re house is going to be awesome… and so cool that Black Friday was there to help! xoxo

  4. Eileen Broderick

    Wow!! I look at that Before and see so much pretty light and big windows, white trim–and that is a dream! Tons of potential and not nearly as bad as you had me thinking it’d be! I have no doubt at all that it will be an amazing After. Love the appliances. We have almost that exact fridge and it is awesome. (I’ve wanted a washer/dryer combo like that for years. Yeah, Black Friday!)

  5. Michelle Sidles

    Good for you Brave Before!! I love the Before shots!!! I’m a huge fan of B&A’s so this is a thrilling post! Can’t wait to see progress!

  6. Ashley Smith

    I can’t wait to see it after!! It’s going to be amazing. Ok, I admit it. I’m jealous and I haven’t even seen it yet.

  7. Tira J

    I cannot wait to see the After!!!! I have so many friends that bough appliances this past weekend! Here’s to being a domesticated goddess!

  8. Ray

    Wow, Mary. You are a hellavue a writer. Truly. I admire your bravery. And I can’t wait until we see the house all finished. ;o)

    Also: big YAY on the washer/dryer and fridge you got, on the day after Black Friday sales. So cool.

  9. Kathleen Trenske

    It’s going to be amazing! Can’t wait to see all the photos of the after (and the process – hope you share those as well!) I’m sure everyone would love to share in the continuation of your HGTV adventure!

  10. Emily

    Oh I think this will turn into a fabulous After! Also, LOVE the washer and dryer. Cannot wait to purchase some of my own!!

  11. Jil

    it’s going to be perfect! and appears to have a nice open floor plan and great lighting… nicely done :o)

  12. Julia

    The before is teeming with possibilities… beautiful, beautiful possibilities!! It’s going to be FABULOUS!!

  13. MM

    @Julia: ah, you’re just saying that so you don’t have to paint!! :)

  14. Jen

    you make me smile – from one before girl to a definitly after girl…I admire you – your writing and your inspiration. and besides if there never was a before, where would the color be? you’d be a overprocessed barbie girl in a barbie house…nope, your house is going to be so much more awesome and unique! thanks for inspiring me!

    from a total stranger – I know, creepy :)

  15. aurora Onorato

    Great Blog Post Mary!! love your venture into the brave new world of BEFORE!! you are going to rock it =)

  16. gina amin

    blown away with your writing skillz. Awesome. :)

  17. tiffany zajas

    Amazing post. I too struggle with being an "after girl."

  18. Catie Ronquillo

    Loved this post. I know what you mean about being an "After" girl. I’m so glad you shared a photo of the "Before" in your house. I see AMAZING potential!!! We got similar washer/dryer same style, but Samsung. LOVE. THEM.

  19. Haley

    I was just talking about this before/after concept just yesterday. I think it is awesome you posted this. It puts your heart out there…

  20. carla ten eyck

    i can see where this is headed and I can’t wait to get there!! Congrats guys XXOo

  21. sabrena

    It’s true that the before is the harder part to share, but I think the lack of sharing about before is what makes it harder for us going through it to discuss it. If a few more people were willing to share about their befores I bet we’d all be a little more adept at handling them.

    We just bought our first home (a crazy storm after only 4 months of marriage) and I put lots of befores, durings, and after. I’ve gotten so many comments about people who have said they enjoyed sharing the process with us! So share on, we’ll eat it up!

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