The Veneer Stops Here, Get Real - Betty Streff
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The Veneer Stops Here, Get Real


The Veneer Stops Here, Get Real

“The gentleman is solid mahogany; the fashionable man is only veneer.”~J.G. Holland


My husband and I spent several deeply satisfying years buying, restoring and selling antiques. That guy has a genius for spotting a diamond in the rough. He Cinderella-ed many pieces rescued from junk piles, old barns and granaries. Those once beat up and homely cupboards, dressers, benches and tables became treasures after he worked his magic on them. Happily, most of the pieces we sold are used and cherished in wonderful homes today where they add a unique touch of charm.


We thrilled at finding a functional piece with a great paint story and we worked carefully to preserve the layers that told of families and homes where they were was used through the years. But by far our favorite pieces were the primitives with wood as smooth and soft as the skin of a peach and a patina that can only happen in the natural aging process. We marveled at their warmth as we stroked their surfaces, smooth as a baby’s face.


On the other hand, we were often disappointed in a “find” when we discovered a piece that looked fabulous at first glance wasn’t solid wood but covered instead by a thin layer of veneer. Once it’s damaged, it’s hard to fix and sometimes has to be removed completely. Veneer is no more than that, a thin layer applied to cover a surface to make it appear more attractive. It seems to me it works the same with people.


When the mask comes off


“The problem with wearing a facade is that sooner or later life shows up with a big pair of scissors.”~ Craig D. Lounsbrough


The question is why do we wear the masks? Why do we find it necessary to pretend we’re something we’re not? We can’t keep laying it all at the feet of social media because it existed long before Mark Zuckerberg was ever a twinkle in his daddy’s eye. Humans have hidden behind masks as long as there have been humans. Deep down it’s because it feels scary to be exposed and vulnerable. It hurts to be hurt so we conceal ourself behind a phony exterior.


Sadly, the facade we hide behind dilutes the sweetest of joys just as surely as it shields us from pain. It’s simply not worth it. That mask is a thin layer, veneer, easily damaged and as hard to fix as it is on old furniture. So much better to be a WYSIWYG person. What you see is what you get. Don’t we just love that kind of individual? They’re always a bright spot in the dreariest of days.


Becoming Real


The most charming, endearing expression of what it takes to become real is from a children’s book The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. I’ll share a few snippets here. Treat yourself to picking it up at the library and sharing it with someone you love.


“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you…..

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit. ‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”


Know Your Why, Know Your How, Know Your Wow!


“Hiding who you are only damages your true purpose and the value you can deliver to the world”~Tim Denning


I love the expression “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” That’s why authenticity is so important for a life filled with meaning, purpose and joy. We’re all created by God to fulfill a mission no one but us can do the way He has planned. He whispered those words in your ear the day you were born but it was a busy day so maybe you’ve forgotten them. Need help remembering? I’d love to share my program with you or with your group. Contact me at

  • Gaii

    Thank you Betty! Being authentic is the best gift you can give to yourself.

    April 19, 2018 at 7:51 am
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