Things have been quiet on here for the past couple of months. On top of the normal crazy that is my life, hubby and I decided to add additional trailer loads of crazy to our lives over the summer ‘break.’ In November we became home owners to a lovely home in need of some major renovations. We had big dreams, a small budget and a plan to gut the entire house and just go for it. We invaded my amazing (patient, gracious, generous and also crazy) parents home and lived with them while we undertook 'the project,' with the deadline set to be finished enough to be able to move in by Christmas!!!!
Yup you read that right and yup we are THAT crazy!
With the help of some AMAZING volunteers and a relentless work schedule, we crawled across the finish line and I am relieved to say we now live in our brand new and fully renovated house. I could not be prouder of my husband who worked UNBELIEVABLY hard and got very little sleep to be able to achieve the seemingly impossible task that we undertook.
Anyway I wanted to start the year (I know it’s almost March!) by writing this blog post not to share about ‘the project’ but more about what I learnt from it and my experience of it.
I learnt many MANY new skills, most of them required me to be brave enough to give it a go and back myself that I could do a good job! I discovered muscles I never knew I had (ouch) and I learnt that I can actually make quick decisions when forced to!
In seriousness though I learnt some life lessons that I want to share with you and pray they might encourage you in some way with whatever you are facing right now.
- I can actually keep going for quite a bit longer after making the statement “I can’t do this anymore!”
Let’s be honest - wanting to quit/give up/run away in the midst of the crazy or challenge are very normal feelings, but I learned that there is quite a gap between the point where you want to quit and the point where you actually need to quit. In other words we can handle a lot more than we think we can! As much as the renovation was a physical task requiring physical strength and stamina, I had to work just as hard to stay mentally and emotionally strong to be able to cope with it all. I always wanted to quit and go home to bed long before we actually did BUT I surprised myself how much I could do between the “I can’t do this anymore” and when we actually stopped for the night. So to all you amazing BraveGirls who can’t do it anymore - keep going a bit more and a bit more, you can and you will!
- A lot of the most important work is unseen, unacknowledged and most of the time slow going!
Numerous times during the hard slog of repetitive tasks like stripping wallpaper or sanding (and getting ridiculously sore arms!) I had to remind myself how important the preparation work was and how we needed to work hard and do a good job if the finish was going to be any good. It’s so easy to get caught up in fun decisions about colours and textures and seeing the colours come to life when you are finally ready for the top coat of paint, but the most important work of a renovation and definitely in painting, is the preparation - the unseen, unacknowledged, slow-going preparation! So to all you BraveGirls feeling unseen and unacknowledged - you are doing an important work so keep going, keep the standard high and the finish will be beautiful!
- It takes a village but you have to let the village in - you can’t do it all on your own.
I find it hard to ask for help. Doing this crazy renovation project with the timeline and with the budget we had required a lot of volunteer help. I am truely humbled by the outpouring of support and help we had with people showing up for anything from a couple of hours or in the case of a few dear friends and family, many many hours that are too numerous to count! We could not have achieved it without them and even though I found it a challenge to accept their help and hard work, it was an important and humbling lesson for me to learn. I am grateful for my village and so I ask you - who is your village and how can you let them in to help you?
- Plans change. Deal with it.
I like to plan and think through all possibilities before making decisions. I found this aspect of the renovation difficult as the project evolved and we came across problems that needed solutions and those solutions often had us deviating from the initial plans (and budget!).
I was constantly faced with two reaction options:
1) Cry about it, sulk about it and hault progress while you try and prove the tradie wrong by doing your own research. (hmmmm)
2) Come up with the solution, change the plan, move forward.
I’d like to say I never did number one, but I have to confess that I did……. BUT not for long…. One of my most valuable life lessons from this project was simply - plans change so deal with it! I wonder if I have other BraveGirl friends that might need this loving but firm kick up the butt today??? And I think I’ll just leave it at that!
So as I sit and reflect on the craziness of the last couple of months, the pressure was palpable, the physical energy required was beyond exhausting, overwhelm and uncertainty were our constant companions, BUT WE DID IT and it was worth all the blood, sweat and tears, not just because we have a lovely house, but for me personally, I grew and learnt a lot and was able to have a go at new things and challenge myself, and THAT is what living as a BraveGirl is all about right?!
With love, courage and a stylish tool belt!
xx Steph xx
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