Leave Things Better than how you found them

Jan 17, 2019

I love this mantra. I have applied it to many things in my life.

I may not have always been able to leave every hotel room I stayed at better than when I arrived. Those are actually my one place where I can finally throw my towels to the floor and not have to make my bed.

I still try and treat places with respect no matter whose home or place I’m at.

I like to apply this principle to the houses we have owned, the cars we have bought, places we have rented. When I borrow something from someone.

I can’t honestly say that I have particularly loved to apply this principle with our homes.

When David and I first got married and lived in our condo, I remember we walked in and I wanted to cry. I couldn’t believe this was going to be our home. We had rented before that and this was the first place we owned, but it had been rented for years and needs SO MUCH TLC.

We thought we were going to need to replace the windows, carpet, the cabinets, toilets, and vanities.

Then we got to work. We painted the walls. We took down the door and I repainted them one by one. I developed temporary arthritis on my thumb from painting so much.

I remember I had to use Lime Away on our windows they had so much hard water on them.

One night David sanded down all the cabinets and over the course of a few weeks I stained them a nice darker cherry color. Yeah, we didn’t know much about the current styles, but we picked cool colors. We did do purple for our bathroom at first and that looked like a photo development lab, so we changed that real fast and went for sunny yellow.

We took down the blinds and I cleaned them for hours one by one. Replaced the toilet and sinks. We went at it until every single corner of that place was scrubbed and clean and looked brand new again.

I remember the look on our friend’s face the first time they saw it. I could tell they were almost kind of sad for us we had landed in such a place.

I drew a floorplan of the condo as well, which was very awkward, and drew exactly what I was going to do with the space and which pieces of furniture I would have liked and where.

We made that place home and all for 1000 bucks and that included even new appliances in the kitchen.

I can honestly say that we took something and treated it well and left it better than we found it. In the end it actually paid off really well. I remember that we rented that place for 150$ extra a month, after moving out, compared to the rents before and the condos in that complex. For us that was quite a bit considering that we were newly weds and both students.

I often say this to my kids too. Owning our own businesses I remind them all the time when we go to other places to remember to treat things with care and act as if they were their own.

I can honestly say that this principle has helped us so much in our lives. In Italy they say: “Don’t spit on the plate where you eat.” This means not to use something and then go back and mistreat the same thing that once helped you. That’s what I think of when it comes to leaving something.

And it’s only like that with a place or an object. Sometimes we think we will never encounter a person again or have to deal with things. By leaving things in good terms and doing things well I have found that I can rest assure that I did my part and showed gratefulness for what once helped me.

Life has a way of bringing things back around other the years. And I think we will thank ourselves if we were cordial and kind in the past.

Serena Essuman


Serena Essuman

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