I was browsing Pinterest the other day and stumbled upon one of my pins from what feels like a REALLY long time ago. The renovation is this big gray blur most of the time for me, I don’t think of it very often I think because my mind is still on the working “to do” list of what still needs to be done. We had a conversation at my day job the other day about how easy it is with projects (especially DIY and house projects) to build it up and worry over it so much that you end up paralyzed and not even able to start. This has always been a problem for me. “Fear of nothing” is what I call it. Seriously, what’s the worst that could happen? Going into the house renovation I had to pump myself up to the point of almost ridiculousness for fear that I would become overwhelmed and thus: paralyzed.
(I went back to the old website that I used to chronicle us through the whole renovation and pulled these old pictures out of the blog posts there. They are not really in any real order but they were all during those 16 months starting in the spring of 2014)
Perhaps it is more of a mind set, a retraining of how we think about problems/projects and how we work on things in our minds. I knew there was only one way I would be able to renovate my grandma’s house and that is the most obvious way imaginable: one thing at a time. So simple, right? Of course, it is never simple. The only way I could really tackle it was full throttle, head down to the plow, one step at a time, one tiny accomplishment at a time.
Looking back on it now I wish I had written to do lists for all that we did and that I had kept them all but, honestly, written to do lists can be overwhelming to look at too! Most of my lists were in my head and EVERY project I tackled in the same manner: one thing at a time, don’t interrupt me, just this one thing and, of course, all those one things eventually added up to the whole house. When anyone would mention some big project on the horizon I would always tell them (and myself over and over and over again) we will cross that bridge when we come to it. I had to take small manageable bites as I went and had to literally FORCE myself to not think or worry about anything until we came to it.
I had almost forgotten about that damned piece of pex pipe that hit me in the eye. The picture doesn’t do it justice I really did have a black eye. I was down in the basement running the water lines (using flexible pex pipe) I was trying to force the pipe into a tight spot and thoroughly cursing it in every way when WAM, the sucker flipped back and just nailed me. I proceeded to run upstairs and outside (like a five year old) to my husband, eye squeezed shut, trying not to cry and asking, “How bad is it!?” The blood started dripping but it really wasn’t that bad. I held on to the belief that “it wasn’t that bad” even when we had to run to town an hour later and I had to keep dabbing it with my sleeve while in line at the checkout at the hardware store. Joe still jokes about how he wanted to tell the cashier that he was just, “Keeping me in line.” Bahahahaha…. no, but that water pipe sure did put me in line! Oh and then there was my back injury…
I really injured my back and I knew when I did it too though it took a couple of days for the full extent of it to really hit me. I was picking up a 2×6 wall I had just built on the floor and trying to get it in place in the basement. It was too heavy for me but, ya know what? I got it in place! The injury was high up on my back on the right side of my spine, it hurt to take a deep breath and it hurt to put weight on my right foot… I was literally gimping around like quasimodo however, I could still work because my lower back seemed fine. I have since learned to be a lot more careful with my little self. What ended up alleviating my back problem was two things: First, I was basically finished with framing any way so I was moving on to lighter work (electrical, plumbing etc) and Second, I learned that all I really needed to do to let it heal was to lay out flat on my back on the floor for a good hour every night before bed.
It was amazing how I just kept running into my Grandma Charlotte throughout the renovation. In the thick of it all alone one afternoon during one very long day I went and sat outside only to notice my Grandma’s Morning Glories blooming right beside me. Morning Glories do not come back every year, but hers did for me 🙂 And then there she was on all of our drain pipes! I often reminded myself of whose blood I had running through my veins, I thanked her often for her strength and stubbornness that she passed on to me. My hands look so much like her hands and it seemed like I was following her fingerprints throughout the house. I was often met with the realization that so much of what I was touching was last touched by my grandma or grandpa.
Joe did so much during the renovation and it absolutely killed him that he wasn’t there throughout the first 7 months of it. He lived a half hour drive away and, with a full day job, he just couldn’t be there after work during the week like I was in the beginning. I know he often thought of me there working alone like it was the absolutely worst thing he could do to me… as if I didn’t volunteer, as if I wouldn’t have been there doing the same thing anyway 😉 No, the renovation was absolutely my idea and the fact that Joe took it upon himself to be there too remains nothing short of a miracle to me.
I saw that picture of my dog Diesel and knew I had to include it even though I knew I would start crying no matter how hard I tried. I am so glad my old dog got to be here and enjoy all of our hard work even though it was only for a short while. I am often overwhelmed with just how much we do not deserve dogs. My mom thought I was nuts when I dove into this but even when I asked her for help, her eyes might have widened a bit, but she never once told me that it was impossible. I know there were times when she couldn’t even imagine how I was going to do something but she still believed in me and thus, I believed in me 🙂 It is true, we really can do anything we put our minds to, this 100 year old farm house taught me that.