Rachel Taylor

The joys of R & R (Repair and Restore)

18th June 2018

Loved listening to Wayne Amiel give Paddy O’Connell some gardening techniques yesterday (Radio 4 Broadcasting House, 17 June 2018).  A keen, amateur gardener, Amiel has named his own garden “Clapham meets Jamaica” and he’s a guru on bringing dead and abandoned plants back to life,  his “best find” being a stick he found in a skip which he lovingly nurtured and is now a stunning purple iris.

His recipe for restoration is simple and straightforward: 1. Check the roots (Are there any? If so, all good). 2. Plant it (No fussing with Monty Don fancy additions to the soil) and 3. Water it.

I’ve also always enjoyed repairing things too, whether it be a broken mug or a holey jumper. There’s something smugly rewarding about doing something practical and hands on which has a nice, visible result without it costing any money. I got the R&R bug from my Dad who was a great restorer, particularly of shabby and broken chairs. In his cramped, but well organised, little workshop, he’d spend hours sanding down the chairs, gluing them back together and then having them reupholstered. These smart, variously styled chairs, are now scattered around my house.

In his retirement Dad cared for the church chairs of which there were hundreds and were regularly being damaged by “heavy handed” (his words) parishioners. Dad not only loved these inanimate objects but also felt they needed him. A friend told me that  after the service one Sunday morning (just a few weeks before he unexpectedly died) he was concernedly looking at the chairs and wondered to himself aloud: “Who is going to look after them when I am gone?”.

The joy and satisfaction of lovingly making old things beautiful can be seen as a metaphor for our inner life which often needs a bit of simple R&R too. This sometimes surprises my coaching clients who expect the focus will be on big changes and revelations.  But coaching usually turns out to be about identifying, owning and nurturing seeds of potential that have always been there but have just been a little neglected.

Rarely does something totally new come up – along the lines of “I’ve never thought of it before but I have just realised I want to become a Swedish national!”.  More likely it is just recognising that something small and good about us could be something bigger and more fulfilling e.g. “I love running and I’m going to train for a marathon next year”.

Rummaging through your inner skip and finding your “thing” takes a bit of effort, which is why conscious reflection is so important. There’s lots of ways we can do this – working with a coach, talking with a friend or by writing, going on walks and connecting with nature or meditating.

And once we get hold of that nearly-dead stick within ourselves and give it a bit of attention and love, it can become something truly magnificent.

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