A home renovation can bring you to tears (Q19)

stairsMy blog has gone silent for a couple of weeks as I was in overdrive trying to finish up renovations on my house in time for Thanksgiving. I have made a habit of biting off more than I can chew and set what some may see as unrealistic goals. I instead see that as the only way to keep myself focused.

At any given moment I have dozens of thoughts running through my head… “How is this tile going to fit here? What should my next blog post be? I have a great concept for a song! What deadlines do I have coming up at work? Here is a new idea for a business! I hate this tile! Why can’t I think of my next blog post? I’m kind of hungry.”  I realized that the harder I tried to find something for my next post the harder it was becoming to find anything at all… so I stopped looking and opened my eyes.

When we purchased our house almost 4 years ago I walked in and saw a lot of potential and an 8 month renovation project.  As we started the work I uncovered one problem after another. So what did I do? I decided this was going to turn into a complete gut renovation… oh and I was not going to have the luxury of hiring anyone to do the work. With all of the problems we found the renovations dragged… 8…9…12…24 months and still working. I was determined to have it in a presentable state in time for my wedding so that my wife could get ready and leave from there. Up to the week of the wedding the house was in shambles, I refused to throw in the towel (hard-headed Sicilians). A lot of blood, sweat, tears, and coffee went into getting the job done so that it would be presentable… especially for the wedding photos. I was relieved when we succeeded and I was able to lie down on the clean hardwood floors and just stare at the ceiling.

We moved in late last year with some lingering renovation projects that I was sure I would have finished by now… but I was burnt out.  As Thanksgiving was approaching I made a crazy suggestion…”Let’s have everyone over our house.” I had a huge list of projects that I needed to have finished before Thanksgiving and a calendar that refused to slow down. As the day crept closer my list of projects seemed to grow longer; my muscles, more sore; and my body, more tired… and yet I pushed forward to finish what I had set out to accomplish.

My deadline had arrived and I was done. The last thing I did was put up my pot rack in the kitchen. I took a step back and stared at what I had accomplished. As I admired my work I became overcome with emotion. I could feel my eyes swelling with tears and my chin tremble. No, I was not emotional because I was looking at what I had done… it was the first time I really thought about everything that went into getting the house through all the renovations so far.

At that moment I knew exactly what I was thankful for. I could never have fixed the house by myself and could never have afforded to pay someone to fix it for me (especially as we were trying to pay off a wedding at the same time). I thought of all the help that I had along the way and felt blessed. Of all the helping hands the biggest were those of my godfather, my buddy Eddie and my father…my father most of all (I am pretty sure he is a super hero… Spiderman maybe). They didn’t just help me along the way they taught me. I am unbelievably grateful for all that they did and all that I learned from them. Any time I asked if something could be done my father’s response was always, “Yea, we can do anything.”  And so the house turned into a blank canvas and transformed into a home.

In year two of the renovations i remember my father turning to me and asking if I had any regrets about buying the house knowing how much work it had turned out to be. My response then was, “Nah.”…but I can’t lie I was discouraged that I had misjudged the time it would take to finish… Yet,as I stood in my kitchen staring at the pot rack that had gotten me all worked up I realized that I had no regrets about buying the house.  Given the opportunity to go back, I would choose the same path again. Had I not taken on this monster project I would never have had the opportunity to learn all that I did from my father.  I may have never had the opportunity to have him pass down his skill set to me.  It was the best crash course I have ever taken. Now he and I look back and laugh while we put on the finishing touches.

  • Over 500 bags of debris
  • Few thousand screws and nails
  • 30 sheets of plywood
  • Dozens of 2x4s, 2x3s, 2x6s
  • Nearly 1 Ton of concrete
  • Over 100 sheets of drywall
  • A few hundred feet of copper pipe
  • 25 gallons of paint and primer
  • Half a dozen cans of stain
  • Hundreds of feet of moldings and wood flooring
  • Dust! Lots and lots of dust
  • Cuts, bruises, sore muscles, Advil and icy hot

It is easy to let frustration cloud the positive side of a decision. Be thankful for the experiences gained from the decisions you make because they were yours to make. I don’t need Thanksgiving to be thankful, but it certainly helped open my eyes.


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