"Repurposing" Pain

"Repurposing" Pain

Posted by Crystalyn Aucoin on

There is something awe-inspiring about seeing something broken… repurposed into something beautiful.


This is what I think of when I sit in front of my fireplace. Something I’ll be doing a lot this week as I work from the couch and snuggle sweet Winston. We are in quarantine awaiting his COVID test results. The good news is he’s already starting to feel better.

Sick boy snuggles with mama

This time on the couch is allowing me to reflect a bit. So why is my fireplace significant? Well, it’s not the faux plant, the Magnolia Market magazine rack or the Mother of Pearl tile (although I’m obsessed with it!)… It’s the mantle.


Mantle with mother of pearl tile

This super simple mantle was handmade by me and my parents in 2017 when I renovated my home. When we built the mantle I was in the trenches. I had fired my general contractor and took over the completion of the project. My house was in shambles and I was more than overwhelmed. I was a single mom, recent widow and trying to figure my life out.

Mama and Winston

My husband had died just a year before and so many people warned me not to make any big decisions for at least 18 months... apparently that’s a grief rule. 🤷‍♀️

Well, if you know me then you know, when someone says “You shouldn’t” or “You can’t” it just makes me want to do it more.

This drive can be a liability at times but can also be my greatest asset!

I was beginning to think I made a huge mistake and they were right. But, instead of wallowing in that thought, I formulated a plan and I asked for help. I went to the person who had offered me help the whole time. One of the people who I wanted so badly to show how strong and capable I was. I went to my dad.

He said he was happy to help and that he wished I would have taken him up on the offer sooner.

When I was growing up my dad was a carpenter. He had built several houses, did commercial work and renovations but that’s not what he does anymore. Yet, when I found myself in a hard situation my dad, like he’s done my entire life, stepped up and put my home back together.

He would go to work all day and then come to my house on nights and weekends diligently piecing it back together. Often having 2 year old Winston tag along to “help” his Poppy.

Poppy and Winston working

My mom was a huge help as well between working her full time job she helped with Winston, cooked for us all, worked on my home… and served as my sounding board.

One day, my dad was working on the trim in the living room and I started playing with the scraps that were lying on the floor. I sat in front of the fireplace, my yoga pants covered in sheetrock dust piecing together leftover trim like a puzzle that didn’t quite fit. I started to envision what could be the perfect simple mantle.

I said, “Hey dad, what if we make the mantle from these pieces?” He couldn’t quite see my vision at first. He questioned why I would want to make a mantle out of scraps. So, like I do with all of my visions, I sat down to draw the plan. I grabbed a dirty piece of cardboard, a pencil and a tape measure and sketched out a plan for my new mantle. I wanted something with clean lines and simple just like my jewelry designs.

the plan


I showed him the sketch and he said, “Are you sure that’s what you want?” I think he was not sure if a bunch of junk on the floor could really look beautiful in the end. However, my parents always taught me not to waste and are the king and queen of repurposing so I also sensed he thought it was a cool idea!

plan for mantle

He started cutting. He fashioned each piece of scrap into exactly what I needed. My mom and I pieced them together one by one until my vision came to life. A beautifully handmade mantle that has way more meaning than what meets the eye.

mom helping me

I saw that mess as an opportunity to create something beautiful. I was proud of what it had become and the collective effort that made it so.

It wasn’t until much later that I realized how special it really was. To me it represents the messy heartache of where my life was and the individual pieces that needed to be restored to create beauty from the chaos.

It’s a beautiful reminder of where this house was back then and the hands and hearts that put it back together when I felt hopeless. I’m not sure if I fully understood this when I was still in the trenches but as I reflect back now I can see so clearly how everything I’ve been through has shaped me to be who I am today.

You see, the thing about the messy parts of our lives is that when we intentionally use them to:




build the life we want

become a better version of ourselves

somehow we give our pain a new purpose or maybe a “Repurpose.” When you repurpose your pain you get to control how it shapes you. You cannot control what happens to you but you can control how you respond to it. In time, if you choose to, you get to create beauty from the pain.

My ability to recognize what is beautiful has been magnified by the pain I’ve experienced. My faith, my relationships, my self-discovery journey, my business and my purpose has been illuminated by the pain. My fire for life was ignited by death. It’s a hard thing to admit but it’s the truth.

I know you have experienced pain in your life too… we all have. But I can tell you from experience that’s it’s those hard things that are shaping our life into the beautiful masterpiece that it’s supposed to become.

My hope for you is that you can dig deep to discover what good may have came from your hardest times. And my bigger hope is that the next time you experience pain you’ll be able to look at it with a lens that allows you to grow from it. Taking the power back into your hands.

I hope you take what’s been broken and make it into something beautiful. Repurpose your pain!

Let it Shine,


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  • We are so proud of your strength and grace in taking all the punches life has thrown at you and learned valuable lessons that make you the incredible woman you are. Love Mom and Dad
    #girlboss #livinglifeslessons

    Lisa Scott on
  • Your story is spot on… funny how we look at life now as before & after it was broken. I went through that pain 18 years ago. Always repurposing… Lovely message

    Robin A on
  • You are a beautiful, kind, smart, loving, talented, generous woman and mother. I love the blog and your repurpose message is right on. God bless xoxo

    Debbie on
  • This is a beautiful story! Your words are always such an inspiration. And the mantel is perfect! xo

    Natasha on

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