Time Sanding Still (no, it’s not spelled wrong)

Okay, so I just finished my #ThursdayWriteUp post a little while ago (If you don’t know what that is look to the right and click on that section!). Then I sat back down to work on my #FridaySnippets post and – you’re not going to believe this – my mind began to wander.

I guess I wasn’t done with my write- up for today because that’s what I was thinking about. Call it “post-post jitters” or (and more likely) procrastination. Either way works and I’m not too upset about it because it’s only given me something new to write about. It’s not really the post itself I was thinking about, something that I included as one of my distractions this week.

I’ve changed my mind. I’m not so sure it can be labeled a distraction, at least not to the negative.

While I was working on building new living room furniture this week I had a few “moments”. No, I didn’t break down and cry or freak out and throw tools all over the yard. Quite the opposite. I was calm, content and, quite frankly, feeling a bit spiritual.

It was sunny, about 85 degrees and comfortably breezy. Beautiful! Assorted timbers lay about the yard along with a few pieces of partially built furniture. Hummingbirds were taking turns at the feeder and the cat was lounging in the shade on the porch. The smell of freshly sanded wood and cut grass filled the warm afternoon air while I continued to sculpt what had once been a glorious masterpiece of nature into my vision of what it should be in its next life.

Yep, I was sweating like an ice-cold beer at a summer yard party.

I could feel my arms, legs and back plotting against me. The backs of my hands were becoming darker from the sun while my palms continued to turn hot pink with the painful friction of manual labor. My mouth felt like a sandbox and sweat burned my eyes. Sawdust and pitch made the hair on my arms and legs look like old carpet after a cracker eating contest.


I haven’t flexed my woodworking skills much lately and, even though these are simple rustic pieces, it was good to be at it again. Like writing and music, it’s a lifelong passion of mine. It’s something I NEED to do, at least occasionally, to feel whole.

There I was, bent over a half built entertainment center, sanding… and sanding… and sanding. Two surfaces needed to be worked down a bit to get rid of some saw marks and even them out with another surface. Not enough for re-cutting, but plenty to take up most of my sanding time on the project and justify skipping the gym for the day.

Push pull push pull push pull… for almost three hours total. It was fairly delicate work so breaking out the power tools or switching to a coarser grit were not options for me. Time to just settle in and do the work.

At some point I just sort of mindlessly melted into the task. It was almost like I was hypnotized or even dreaming. I wasn’t thinking about my writing WIP, bills or even how long it was going to take me to finish sanding. It wasn’t anything like “runners high” either. I was “feeling the burn”, but I was nowhere near the point of wearing out or overheating. I had just reached a point of calm resolve. I had chosen to do this work today and that was that.

The part that got me was when I realized how such an insipid activity can bring such peace and focus. I felt centered.

I realized that I had been thinking of nothing and everything at the same time. Maybe a better way to put it is that I had been thinking of all kinds of things – good, bad and what lies between – yet I didn’t feel any real mood swings or contrast in emotions. No highs or lows while I was off on my mental walkabout. I felt level.

Now, for the record, I’m not saying that I’m normally a stressed out person or that I’m overly joyous (blissful?). I’m just a normal “creative type” (Uh oh. Here come the men in the funny white coats!).

It’s the difference from a “normal”, intended thought session that I’m making note of. The “normal” kind we experience every day as we work through life’s obstacles and appreciate its miracles with our feet firmly planted in the distraction zone we call civilization.

It just seems that when all the noise in the world is taking up most of our mental/emotional space, the edges of our thoughts tend to become more like splintered wood, or maybe rough cut timbers at best. (See what I did there? 😉 )

My point in all this?

Well, a few actually. But instead of rambling on with cliché’s, or my version of them, I’ll just say that it was slowing down and giving myself up to something simple for a while that brought me to that peace. Switching from “how much can I get done today” to “I’m just going to do this until I’m done” seemed to be a good part of it.

There’s also something empowering in saying “Today I’ll do what I want to do. Everything else can wait until I’m finished” and I think we often forget that we need to do that occasionally. I’m one of those people who loves to do things for others and expect nothing in return, but I also love my “me” time. The hard part is remembering to take it.

A day later and I still feel pretty peaceful. I’m still pondering the whole thing (and still working on the other pieces of furniture!) but I think putting “simple” together with “focus” and adding some passion to the mix was what made it such a therapeutic afternoon for me.

What do you think it was? I’m no “wise man on the hill” or world altering philosopher (yet! :p ) but these things fascinate me. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Thanks for spending time with me today!

Photo Credits:They’re all mine! (scary, eh?)

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