DIY diva
DIY diva

Building My Life Like a Construction Project: Less Sawdust, Still Crazy

December 28, 2011 | 5 Comments | DIY Life Philosophy, Featured
DIY diva

If I could characterize last two and a half years of my life, I think it would be appropriate to say I’ve been channeling a female powertool-wielding version of the Tasmanian devil — plowing through work, life, projects, and relationships in a tornado of sawdust, general building debris, and unintelligible noises.

Did I make progress on a lot of projects? Yes. But  in the wake of those big things I accomplished (like building a house in my spare time) I left a path of destruction through almost every other aspect of my life. You know, things like my personal relationships, physical well-being, and what could loosely be termed as “general sanity” even though we all know I was a little crazy to begin with.

The truth is that in some respects I do thrive on that single-minded chaos, but I’m really only able to fully embrace things like spending eighteen months looking like a zombie because I know it’s only for a finite period of time. I’ve always said that I can do anything for a year (two, if I really push it) but when that time is up I need to find ways to recalibrate my life. As you can imagine, the farther you lean into the chaos, the harder it is to find some balance in your life when it’s over. Which is exactly what this is about.

When things didn’t work out in my last long-term relationship and I had to leave that house I built behind, the hardest thing wasn’t the idea of being alone, or the prospect of finding (or building) a new home and all of the work that entails, it was the fact that I completely lost sight of anything resembling a finish-line. 2012 was always supposed to be the year of enjoying the hell out of life. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the hell out of building things, but at some point I’d like to take vacation days from work that don’t involve 12 hour days installing flooring and possibly find the time to regularly brush my hair or eat something with a higher nutritional content than Easy Mac. And yet here I am with another set of house plans, and the prospect of another year covered in sawdust. Exciting? Yes. Sustainable? Maybe not.

I’ve always said about houses that I’m great at big projects like building shelves to hold all of my junk, but maintenance tasks like actually putting things back on the shelf when I use them? Not my gift. (Which is why something as simple as wiping down a sink in the bathroom can turn into, uh, this.) The same thing holds true for other aspects of my life– it’s a “go big, or go take a nap” kind of mentality.

There has been a time or two when I thought finding any kind balance in my life was going to be impossible. There aren’t enough hours in the day, or I’m constantly moving and can’t stay organized, or there’s a new big project on the horizon that’s going to consume my life, or I’m just not good at it. My saving grace here is that all those reasons started to add up to something that ended up sounding suspiciously like “I can’t” and you know how I feel about that word.

Here’s how I’ve dealt with “I can’t” in construction projects….
I beat it back with a hammer. I acknowledge it, admit it, sometimes throw tools at people who try to make me believe it. I swear, a lot. I research it. I help other people overcome it. I try. Sometimes I fail. I document everything. I take classes. I take pictures. I laugh at myself, a lot. And I write about all of it.

Writing about my projects motivates me, not just to do them but to do them differently. To assess them after I’m done, instead of just moving on to the next one. To spend the time researching things, learning better ways, and thinking critically about everything I do.

And I don’t see why I can’t apply the same principles to the rest of my life. Projects are projects right? Some just have less sawdust.

The Lifestyle section of DIYdiva is about learning to rebuild the aspects of my life I’ve neglected or or outright destroyed in the last couple of years while I was busy playing with my powertools. While DIYdiva in its early days had a lot of other snippets of my life– general philosophy, recipes, style– as it’s grown I know that people expect a certain amount of powertools and badassery when they visit, so I felt like these “life projects” deserved their own place. What you’ll find here are the same principles, DIY attitude, and general craziness that surround my powertool projects, there will just be slightly less sawdust.

Here’s to an interesting journey.

(Side note: The RSS feed from this site is different from the regular DIYdiva feed. If you’d like to follow these posts, click here.)

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  • Jen

    I really like the “other snippets”, and I missed them! I think it’s a wise thing to focus on and great to write about.

  • Guerrina

    Kit, I found your blog and became adamant that I was going to learn to use power tools and create new things in and for my home. In the process of checking in almost daily over the past year, I found you to be a wonderful person with a sense of humor I get with a tenacity to learn that I envy! I look forward to getting to know you with a little less sawdust!

  • Guerrina

    Oh….and I’m still adamant, but still saving for the power tools!

  • Melanie

    I was so excited when I came across your blog. I’m a single mom that bought a house 6 years ago that needed “a little” fixing up. That “little” fixing was going to cost me big bucks to have someone else do. I’ve always had an “I can do” attitude so I set out tackling small projects and building my tool collection. I came across your blog in search of learning how to build a bathroom vanity. Of course, I’m finding that the bigger project require a table saw. Can you give any recommendations?

    I look forward to hearing back from you and following your blog.

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