Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Renovating a Pig's Ear is American?

There’s something very American about wrapping yourself around a challenge others say is impossible.  Christopher Columbus ignored naysayers and set off to find a better route to Asia in the east by traveling west.  And consider the American Revolutionaries who came up with the notion to break away from the British Empire.  There were certainly more than a few who didn’t think that was such a good idea.  And what about landing on the Moon?  Who did we really think we were setting our sights on that goal?  But that’s what we’ve grown up to believe in; putting things on the line and persevering to achieve what others say can’t and/or shouldn’t be done.  

It’s A Wonderful Life is a classic American movie made back in the 1940’s.  In one memorable scene of that film George and Mary are standing outside the abandoned Granville house.  Mary says she wants to live in it someday just before George makes a ‘hatful of wishes’ and then breaks some glass by throwing a rock.  They ultimately get married, honeymoon in the old home, fix it up, and raise a family there.  This house was definitely in the Pig’s Ear category.

At the start of the process of renovating a Pig’s Ear, I’m anxious and willing to roll up my sleeves and get to work and for me, buying and resurrecting these wrecks have exemplified American capitalism.  I invest money, make improvements, and then (if all goes well) I sell for a higher amount which creates a profit that compensates me for my time and the risk I’ve taken.  

I believe that buying and rehabbing an old, run-down home exemplifies who we are as Americans, especially if the house is considered a hopeless cause and beyond the point of repair.  It’s not easy, but in most cases that’s why other people have not fixed up these properties.  Sometimes it’s hard to explain why renovating a Pig’s Ear is such an amazing experience.  There are so many reasons, large and small, but this tie-in to our American Spirit is at least to some degree an element that draws me in to take these projects on and see them through to completion.     

Friday, October 7, 2011

It's An Adventure

An adventure is exciting, but it’s most often challenging.  It’s jammed full of tests and trials and usually some element of endurance (it likely doesn’t start and then finish in a day or two).  An adventure is laced with satisfaction, which isn’t to say that it’s full of chocolate and giggles throughout, but it has moments that are unforgettable and worth savoring.  An adventure oftentimes has an element of danger and perhaps forces the person involved to deal with fear.  An adventure might provide its participants with the opportunity to meet interesting, colorful characters, but could also put them in some sort of standoff with nefarious individuals who could knock them off track, want to do them harm, or maybe take advantage of them for financial gain.  And an adventure may have a dividend waiting at it’s conclusion like tremendous personal satisfaction, attention, and/or something valuable.   

Renovating a run-down house is an adventure.  Most of my projects have taken at least a year to complete.  On many occasions I’ve had to climb and work higher above the ground than I would have liked, been forced to crawl or squeeze myself into tight spaces in order to finish tasks, and been faced with ridding my project of critters that make my skin crawl even now as I type these words.  While renovating Pig’s Ears I got my dog and have made countless friends.  I’ve had my share of clashes with inspectors, contractors, and vendors when they hindered my pursuit of a Certificate of Occupancy.  And in renovating Pig’s Ears I’ve been thrilled to see my houses featured on-line or in magazines at the bookstore, I’ve been showered with praise from neighbors, friends, and relatives, I’ve made some money, and I married a beautiful girl who parked in my Pig’s Ear driveway without permission.

Like any adventure, renovating a run-down house will involve unexpected obstacles, setbacks, trying times, perhaps some scary moments, and maybe even a visit to the emergency room.  Renovating a Pig’s Ear or taking on any challenge that others think is impossible won’t be easy, but it will be an adventure and you have to believe it will be worth your effort.  So if you’re considering a house renovation that seems overwhelmingly daunting like climbing Mt. Everest or heading across the ocean in a boat, I want to stoke your fire and recommend that you keep that consideration burning.  You may enjoy taking on that Pig’s Ear as much as I do and like me, it might even be a life changing experience.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's Possible

Blood, Sweat, and Pig's Ears is all about doing things other people say can’t be done.  Growing up, my friends and I loved the Rocky movies.  The Italian Stallion always did the impossible.  Nobody thought Rocky could hang in there with Apollo Creed, but he did it.  He went the distance.  Then in Rocky II he defeated Apollo.  Maybe that's why I grew up ignoring other people's negative predictions.  It might just all trace back to Rocky Balboa.

When someone say’s, “You can’t turn a Pig’s Ear into a Silk Purse,” they’re saying you can’t do the impossible.  Fine, I get that.  But who’s to say what’s possible and what isn’t.  There are plenty of folks out there ready to pour cold water on your plans, whether you’re excited about renovating an old house, starting a small business, running for public office, or doing just about anything others judge to be extremely challenging.  What I’ve found is that when someone feels compelled to say, “You can’t do it,” what they are really letting you know is that they believe they can’t or are mystified about how you’re going to achieve your objective. 

I’m not a big fan of the word impossible, but I will share something now that utilizes that word.  It would be impossible for me to name all the times people have heard details of my house renovation plans and let me know with attitudes of authority that what I’ve described could not be done.  I’ve also had lots of support and encouragement from people who have been excited about my projects from the beginning to the end.  All the time, strangers walk by and say things like, “The house is looking great.  Keep it up.  We can’t wait to see how it turns out,” or “We’ve been waiting a long time for someone to come and fix this place up,” and one of my favorites was a man I had never met and only saw once.  He was bursting with excitement as he walked by and shouted, “You’re doing it man!  You’re really doing it!”  Apparently, I had converted him into a believer. 

But there’s a third category of people that seem to consistently migrate to each of my Pig’s Ear projects; people who are curious to know how I do what I do and how they can do the same.  I love to encourage other people to follow their dreams and although my writing will be exemplified with knowledge and experience from renovating Pig’s Ears, in many ways the lessons are applicable to anything other people think can’t be done.  In twenty years working in the construction industry and a decade renovating extremely run-down homes, I’ve come to believe that if someone tells you something is impossible, and you don’t even try, then they will be right. 

So, if you have a big, impossible dream, treat any obstacles as if they were Clubber Lang/Mr. T in Rocky III.  Don't let those challenges bust you up.  Embrace the profound words of wisdom uttered by Rocky Balboa and 'Go for it.'