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  • Christine Shuck

The Road Less Traveled




I have been dreaming of doing a stain creation that I could look at, write at, and work out at, for a while now. I wanted a sit/stand desk. One that was wide enough to accommodate my under the desk treadmill and armchair side by side. I wanted to be able to work out, then lower the desk and sit down in my chair without having to push and shove the treadmill over.



I also wanted the desk to be something special, something that incorporated my hopes and dreams and joys - a touch of inspiration every time I stepped up to my desk, whether it was to walk a few miles or write a story.



The remainders from the same piece of wood that we had used to add a countertop/breakfast station on the "butcher block" in the kitchen turned out to be almost the perfect size for my new desk.



It was under the 24-inch width that the sit/stand base required, but I made it work.


My husband cut a 22"x60" piece, softened the edges and sanded the top. I got started on Saturday afternoon and I was rather quickly obsessed with it. I probably worked for six hours, possibly longer, until disaster struck.



At 10 p.m., I jostled the can of stain and a huge dollop of it slopped out and left a large mess on the unfinished wood.


I felt like crying. The thought of having to start all over again on the reverse side was rather intimidating. I tossed up my hands and went to bed.



On Sunday, Father's Day, I took a look at the mess and figured I would deal with it later in the week. After all, I had told my husband he didn't have to do anything all day.


I was so happy when he headed for the wood desk with his sander in hand! And after about ten minutes of sanding, I was relieved to see that most of the mess had vanished into a pile of sawdust. I was back in business!



This project is full of symbolism. The tree of life represents the growth that each human undergoes in their life, blossoming from a tiny sapling to a strong tree with deep roots. As you can see, I reversed the stain underground, choosing to emphasize the earth instead of the roots. I wanted an element of yin/yang in the image, for there is dark and light in all of us.



As you can see, the tree is in spring or summer, a time of growth, of life, which is how I view my writing career. Also, I incorporated a swing, because of the carefree spirit it calls to, to remain like a child in wonder of the world and of life.


The design around is whimsical and free-flowing. It symbolizes the ideas in my head at any particular moment.


My husband is my biggest supporter. Without his love, patience, and commitment, I doubt I would have accomplished half of the things I have done, so it shouldn't come as any surprise that I added our initials to the tree branch. The "Keep Going" plaque in one of my favorite colors, is pretty much a reminder to me - to keep plugging at this until I see success. Lastly, the quote from Robert Frost, which has spoken to me over and over these past 15 years (hell, long before it).



The road less traveled is the creative one, and it is also one of uncertainty. It is not the one we are taught as children to follow. Embracing the uncertainty, recognizing that I have within me the power to change my attitude, my approach, and my life - along with my journey along the road less traveled these past fifteen years has made all of the difference. I am better for it, and far more sane and grounded than I would have been if I had continued working in an office or providing customer service.


This desk is a visual reminder of where my mind needs to be every day - full of hope, wisdom, a touch of childish joy, and plenty of dreams. I know that great books will come from sitting (or standing/walking) here. Just you wait and see!


Below are all of the photos I took of the project - from the beginning sketch to the finished end. Enjoy!






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