As some of you know, I have mixed feelings about taking advice. In fact, I hate advice. If you participate in the new digital community, as I do, you get a ton of advice that is good and an equal amount that is patronizing and annoying. I get annoyed when people tell me that there is a Salvation Army and you can recycle things. Or that donkeys can wear fly masks in the summer (Lulu and Fanny have eaten about a dozen of them), or that foxes will eat chickens if they get the chance. Or that dogs should be trained. I get annoyed when I get advice I don't seek, or when I get advice that presumes I am stupid. After eight years on Bedlam Farm, I could give plenty of advice about farming and animals, but I think it's obnoxious to give unsought advice. After all, fools won't take advice and smart people don't need it. This is an old issue because when I was a kid just about everyone in my life told me I was stupid. My grandmother was the first person to suggest otherwise.
Yesterday, I came to a new understanding about advice. I posted a photo of our new living room and I said I was thinking about painting over the old wallpaper. I was a day or so from getting some paint and going at it. Some people asked if I wanted advice and I said yes, I did, and I got a flood of great advice. Really useful advice. Not patronizing at all, useful and very helpful. I was warned about paint, heat, old wallpaper and plaster, about curling and blistering, seams and caulking. I read the advice and was not annoyed. I was quickly convinced to get the wallpaper taken off and have a pro do it (Maria, one of the world's great obsessives, is obsessed about the kitchen right now and has momentarily ceded the living room to me.) I realize I need advice about this room and I welcome it, and I decided I am going to regularly post photos and updates about the beautiful old living room (I am sanding the ugly old windowsills next, then polishing them and staining them.) And get some feedback.
I want to learn to take constructive advice in a more constructive way. But thoughtfully. Carefully, and with boundaries. I believe in the Thoreau idea of self-determination. I want to make my own decisions, my own mistakes. I don't want the entire world pouring advice on me that I do not want or need. I want to learn.
I owe it to Florence and this great room to do it right. And I do need help. This is the upside of the virtual community, the Internet at its best, a chance to share an experience I can learn from. Maybe others too.
What makes it okay?
I am growing up.
I set boundaries.
I know I am not stupid, just crazy.
I asked for the advice.
I am listening.
Restoring an old farmhouse living room is not something I know about, but I want to know about it.
So I'm happy to do it together with any of you who wish to join in. One woman (and two men) suggested we take the curtains down and leave them down.
They are gone. Stay tuned.