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Is There Something Lurking In Your Home?


'You get strong in the gym-you get lean in the kitchen.' After reading a popular bodybuilding magazine yesterday, this was the only gem I came away with. Part of this is that I didn't read anything new, nothing that hasn't been said before, many times, many ways. With my 40th-year-in-the-gym celebration coming up, I've learned a thing or two along the way (actually, pretty much seen it all in the gym) and until we start harnessing bionic parts or some such embellishment, the exercises don't change that much and neither does the approach. The other part is due to the fact that so much of the content was devoted to advertiser's products, with each one claiming to be able to help you get the physique of your dreams. Such grandiose claims! Those claims mean nothing if you don't exercise patience, consistency, realistic goals, and thought process/behavior modification tactics. The multi-billion dollar diet supplement industry is alive and well in the bodybuilding arena, where these products pull in major green. All part of why I rarely (once every 10 years?) read (read?! I just look at the pictures!) muscle mags and why I use the nickname Muscle And Fiction for a very popular one. Is this really the main place people turn for knowledge on how to become more fit, healthy and muscular? My greatest trainer ever was actually the house pictured below:

How did this house teach me, you ask? Let me provide some background: I bought it for what it offered - 2 1/2 acres lakefront on a ski lake with a 1,000 sq. ft. guest house (half on land, half over the water, a converted boat dock), right in town but at the end of a dead end road, so very quiet but also in very bad condition. It was to be remodeled (I completely gutted it):

Above-Interior during gutting process

Below-Exterior front during gutting process with new garage addition and raised roof at entry

I never planned on doing this project alone: I had a boyfriend that vowed to work alongside me as we were going to live in it together. He helped me ONE Saturday...

I took this on while running my business full-time and as I lived on property during the renovation, there was no escaping the scope of the project; it was always in my face! I lived in the guest house (which required a good bit of work before I could use it, including shoring up the pilings!) while I did the gut of the main house, a nine-month endeavor as it turned out. I encountered issue after issue and it wore me down - at one point, I broke. It happened when I was removing a shed and all its contents (including Black Widows and scorpions!) from the backyard and then proceeded to use a pick axe to try and break up the root system that had grown underneath it when I hit a water main and water began to shoot 10' in the air and I had no idea where the shut-off valve was!

(See the shed in the top left corner? Who knew there was a water main under it-not me!)

I started screaming profanities (my neighbors later told me they learned a lot of interesting words during the course of my renovation; fortunately, their children were all grown and gone!) and then I broke into tears. On the plus side, I was only a few blocks from a county office building and I drove there for help (they did) but the bad news is that my dog, after witnessing my backyard meltdown, also freaked out over my freakout, opened the gate (she could also open interior doors, as I later learned!) and bolted! Now I was truly desperate! The whole neighborhood helped me search for her and she was found at the county building! She went looking for me and in my distraught state, I probably passed her and never even noticed. The next day I called my realtor and asked her to list the property in as-is condition, explaining that I couldn't handle the project and just wanted out and didn't care how much money I lost. I still remember the pressure in my head after that conversation: I felt lost, foolish, weak, frustrated, angry, lied to, let down and oh so alone - I could go on but I think you get it! What choice did I have? That was the simple part: sink or swim. I chose to swim.

This is where the training started. That house made me re-evaluate the strength I thought I had. Just because I could move around a lot of weight in the gym, more than any woman I had ever trained and more than a lot of the men, my strength outside the gym was seriously lacking! And, my inner monologue was rife with negativity culminating in my own pity party. I couldn't stand that I suddenly saw myself as that whiny woman (AKA Nancy Buttercup) who can't do anything for herself and needs to rely on a man. Not acceptable! I hadn't considered that I might have to do the project alone but now that this was my new reality, I was ready to throw it all away! Was I not the bad-ass chick I thought I was? Was I ready to trade a skill saw for my mother's sensible heels? There was a part of me that didn't think this would be the worst thing in the world and she was all "No harm, no foul, no one needs to know." But - I would know and that's an obstacle I couldn't tolerate. I did the only thing that seemed left to do: I got the biggest sledge hammer I could find and started swinging!

Sure, this house tried to break me many times and it came close - like the time with the window I removed that slipped from my hands and sliced open my thigh because whoever installed it removed the bottom frame which apparently kept it from fitting into the opening (could have just purchased the correct size window...). I tied my T-shirt around it, kept working and super-glued it closed later that night. Or, like the time I was in the attic, sitting on a truss, using my legs to push the ceiling drywall down, lost my balance and went crashing down to the floor in a pile of drywall - badly bruised but not broken, and just happy (happy but still let a string of profanities roll off my tongue) that I didn't gore myself on a piece of 2 X 4 with nails sticking straight up, only inches from where my butt landed! In the months it took to gut this house, there were many hardships (just as in life, just as in dieting) but the attitude had changed. Instead of 'Oh woe is me, poor, poor me!', I found that I was developing true inner strength, one nail at a time.

I did have help with the actual remodel though I did the interior painting and also the tile on the lanai as well as the Florida room. I even got tile jobs from clients due to this and did 2 pool decks. Of course, the AFTER photos make it look like every bit of blood, sweat and tears was worth it and it definitely was! But had I given up, this never would have come to be and what do you think this would have done for my personal growth (sent it back to the Dark Ages, most likely, LOL)? I felt so empowered and strong when it was done that I had to tone it down a few notches so to show that I could just as easily don an apron (albeit to hide the huge Kahunas I had grown) and do girly stuff, I sewed the bed skirt and comforter for the new bed I got as a housewarming gift. Now my girlfriends were truly agog!

Above - Lanai during demolition

Below - Lanai 'After'

Above - Backyard After - looks better without the shed, right!

This house trained me and in the process, I made it my home. And the feedback was also inspiring, with girlfriends saying "I'd never take on a project like this!" and "I need a Stacey around my house!" while from men I heard "I wouldn't even do this myself!" Yes, this inspired me because I realized that what I had accomplished was exceptional and way outside the norm of what society deems realistic coming from a woman. While it's true-you do get lean in the kitchen-lessons can come in the most surprising ways if you keep your eyes open and your mind receptive. I re-learned that I truly can accomplish anything I set my mind to. I lost touch with this somewhere along the way and think that it's probably good to get a refresher course every so often, like the continuing education mandatory in many professions. If you are a woman that lets the words "I can't" escape from your mouth on a regular basis, understand that what you're really saying is "I don't want to". Okay, so I'm not the very model of compassion. Want a hug? Go cry to your mommy. Want the truth? Come to me! How do we ever become our best if we never test our perceived boundaries? To all the women that say "It's still a man's world" - that's a load of crap and it means that you don't believe you deserve equality.

Front of house - After

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