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Hidden Talents

Can home improvement lead to self improvement?

This fall, instead of daydreaming about home-improvement projects, I’m actually tackling them. There’s probably some self improvement involved but I haven’t quite figured it out yet.

I started project number one on Labor Day: cleaning out my closet. Actually, that would be closets plural, a dresser, a cedar chest, several suitcases and a capacious antique Chinese armoire. See why I’m still working on this particular project? But I’ve made progress. I’ve dropped off two big bags of clothes at the thrift shop around the corner, and a third bag is rapidly filling up.

Besides, I’m having fun with the recession trend of shopping in my own closet. There have been some real finds. Like the flouncy top I wore yesterday—more girly than my usual work wear but I put it with my army-green motocross jacket and jeans, and bingo, a look I loved. One person after another said, “Cute top! Is it new?” My answer: “Thanks. Nope, it got shoved behind so many other things in my closet that I forgot I had it.”

I said that enough that it got me thinking way beyond wardrobe. One major finding in positive psychology is that people tend to be happier when they use their strengths at work and at play. What else had I forgotten about that would make me happy to use? What else had I set aside because my day-to-day life doesn’t demand it? Not possessions, but talents or passions. My love for decorating, definitely. I used to rearrange my furniture regularly and play around with the photos and art and quirky vintage items I’d collected but the past couple years I’ve let my collections devolve into clutter. No wonder I’ve gotten back into home improvement. My spirit needed it even more than my apartment did. (I guess I just figured out the self-improvement part.)

So often we think we need something new when really we already have what it takes to make us happy. What about you, what’s your hidden talent?

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