Where the rubber meets the road.

The renovation process is a roller coaster -
the preparation & anticipation of the project…
the excitement of getting started…
disappointment at the first set back (but surely, there won’t be more!)…
then comes the sucker punches one after another - bad plumbing, structural issues, dangerous electrical, holes in the wall hidden by wood paneling, water damage, rot, mold, un-level floors, and so on and on.

This is where the rubber meets the road.  This is where your fortitude is tested, your resourcefulness is pushed and your sanity is questioned.


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Just like any other challenge you face in life - this is where you either hang in or you bail out.  You can throw your hands up and walk away, start throwing money you don’t have at the project or you start problem solving and getting your hands dirty.  

We’re in THAT phase now - every site visit unveils more damage, instability, or risk.  Every visit reallocates money from aesthetics to repairs that will never be seen.  But THAT’S the renovation process.  Thankfully we’ve done this before, so I know to keep calm, clear my head and start getting creative!  Sometimes it even works in your favor to restore, repurpose or go the non-traditional route.

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And in case you were wondering, we’ve found all of those heart breaking issues already - and we still have another floor to start renovating.

Brick House renovations, Part II

We’re two and a half weeks into the overhaul of what we’re currently calling the “Brick House.” (Don’t worry, there’s a very good chance the name will change once we get a history of the building, which rumor has it dates back to the civil war! How cool is that?!)

As this is a multiunit that is currently occupied, our projects have been limited to the attic and exterior. So far we’ve…:

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  1. Removed the sliding door to one of the units to create an exterior cellar access which is great to have in a multiunit so you can have 24 access to the utilities.

  2. Removed the extremely unsafe, un-permitted addition on the backside.
    (Side note: It’s always frustrating to A. take responsibly of previous owners’ shady work or complete lack of maintenance and B. lose valuable square footage. But that’s part of the risk when you’re in the real estate business. When you buy a building, you buy all the neglect that came before you.)

  3. Removed the roof over the front door to expose the beautiful granite lintel and gave the front entrance a facelift by putting in granite steps and re-grading the lawn to show off the granite foundation.

  4. Cleared all the goodies from the attic, demo’ed all the walls and took up the floor boards for repurposing. (Tiny dormer will be getting removed when we start building the TWO NEW DORMERS!)

The green string is level… And yes, that’s every HGTV show’s nightmare - knob and tube!

The green string is level… And yes, that’s every HGTV show’s nightmare - knob and tube!

While we wait for tenants to move to their new homes, we’re leveling the floor of the attic which is off by 4” at its worst. (Did I mention this is a REALLY OLD building? But this doesn’t scare us, the first property we ever bought had a TWO direction lean that rivaled this one…)

Check back for more updates in 2 weeks! We should be seeing some major changes by then!

FRONT ELEVATION BEFORE + IN PROGRESS: Landscaping, lawn, and fresh paint are coming in the near future.

ATTIC BEFORE + IN PROGRESS: The floor boards will be repurposed for the ceiling among other fun places!

Courage Training

Fitness - courage - health

Exercise is the tool I’ve used to claw my way out of some very dark times. No one’s life is exempt from hardship, disappointment or heartbreak but some are much more adept at weathering the storms. I am definitely in the sensitive camp and tend towards getting stuck in dark places. Over 10 years ago, what started as forcing myself to just break a sweat a couple times a week - and maybe finding a brief moment of peace during an especially hard workout - lead to the development of new levels of self reliance and confidence.

After YEARS of consistent practice, exercise has become my meditation but it has also created mental fortitude where there once was very little. No one forces me to get up early and do a painful workout - that’s up to me and I never let myself negotiate out of it. Ever. Showing up up to do something uncomfortable creates courage. And courage is what will get you through the hard times, courage will get you through the tough decisions, courage will help you survive the storm.

You create your own courage.

If you’re struggling, I’m here to help. Whether it’s creating a plan, providing the workouts, being a sounding board - I got you.

Wearing a new hat - Brick House, Part I

We’ve returned from our three and a half month road trip in Vaughn the Van, and since arriving on the Midcoast I’ve hit the ground running…

Some things are back to normal - I’m training one-on-one clients, Forward Momentum is still cranking out great workouts for the FOMO Tribe, our Airbnb is almost completely booked through the summer, I keep working on little projects in our home (last week I refinished our kitchen island, this week I finished a mural in the basement) and the boys are happy to be back on their daily backyard-hike schedule.  


SHE’S GOT GOOD BONES… AND BRICKS AND GRANITE!

SHE’S GOT GOOD BONES… AND BRICKS AND GRANITE!

But there’s one NEW thing - we bought another multiunit and I’m managing the construction project! 

It’s a six-unit in Rockland, you’ll probably recognize it.  Yes, “it’s a project.”  Yes, we’ve “got some work to do.”  [Insert various armchair quarter back comments.]  Rest assured - this isn’t our first rodeo, we’ve got a great crew, our heads are not in the sand. 

And don’t worry, I plan to document the whole process!  


Stay tuned and check back often, I’ll be incorporating progress pictures/posts into the blog!  For now, I’ll live you to enjoy these of the attic and all the treasures we’ve found there. (I need to open an antique shop now too!)

Sketches in progress.

Creativity is a spark. It can be excruciating when we’re rubbing two rocks together and getting nothing. And it can be intensely satisfying when the flame catches and a new idea sweeps around the world.
— Jonah Lehrer

I can attest to the pain of forced creativity - I assure you, you do not always feel like fulfilling 4 years worth of studio art assignments day in and day out. Even now, sometimes I still have to just commit to putting paint or pen to paper and go from there.
Lately, I’ve been reversing the process and playing with the paint first then adding gestural lines to the damp paper. Still waiting on the “flame” but I know it will come, it always does.

The process:

  1. Get inspired by colors, shapes, forms, textures within the landscape.

  2. Set up “studio” on the counter in the van (this is quite a process in itself).

  3. Lay down watercolor.

  4. Let partially dry, then add gestural ink drawings.

STEP 1. INSPIRATION.

STEP 1. INSPIRATION.

STEP 2. ASSEMBLE STUDIO.

STEP 2. ASSEMBLE STUDIO.

STEP 3. PLAY WITH PAINT.

STEP 3. PLAY WITH PAINT.

STEP 4. ADD INK.

STEP 4. ADD INK.

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Sky-scape sketches inspired by Florida sunsets over Santa Rosa Island and the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Watercolor and pen + ink on paper.

Desert wildflower super bloom in watercolor.

En route to Phoenix, Arizona from Joshua Tree National Park we stumbled upon the holy grail of wildflower sighting

Much to my delight, just after leaving the eastern exit of Joshua Tree the landscape turned from various tones of burnt orange, chartreuse and creamy mint colors to vibrant yellows and purples.  I had been cautiously optimistic that we would catch the elusive and magical desert bloom on our way east - Mother Nature was certainly shining on us!

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After arriving in Phoenix, we went to search of more strange and beautiful plants at the Desert Botanical Garden.  The colors and shapes of native cactuses and succulents were otherworldly.  

Below is a selection of the wildflower bloom and cactuses in watercolor and pen + ink.  Enjoy.

10 lessons of van life

(In case you didn’t know, Nick and I have been living in our van- Vaughn- since mid January.)

Vaughn the Van has taught us a lot!

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JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK

  1. Somethings are out of your control - like wifi at campgrounds, stupid drivers, dust storms, national park closures due to government shut downs, dog injuries, cleanliness of public showers, etc.  Be resourceful if you can, and patient if you can’t.

  2. Everything has a space and everything in its place - your living space should be treated like your sanctuary.  Keep the clutter to a minimum and put away everything you get out. 

  3. Be prepared for arguments - when two humans and two dogs live in 80 square feet there’s bound to be some conflict, intense communication and (hopefully) compassion + compromise. 

  4. Develop a “today is today” attitude - don’t worry about tomorrow, or at least worry about it LESS.  Chances are good you can’t control the variables that will dictate tomorrow’s weather, traffic, people’s mood, the quality of the next campsite or the emails that are headed towards your inbox.  What you can control is the decision to not be concerned with what hasn’t happened yet, instead enjoy that beautiful summit view and the ones you’re sharing it with.

  5. You can survive with less - I literally have one drawer of clothes and a small cabinet for jackets + sweaters.  (If you saw my closet at home, you’d know I LOVE clothes…)  Do less loads of laundry, use less water when washing dishes, watch less Netflix - it’s not going to kill you.

  6. Keep it simple - it’s pretty self explanatory.  Just simplify EVERYTHING.

  7. Not having service or the time to scroll is actually a good thing - really, what would you rather do, hike a mountain or surf Instagram?  

  8. Team work makes the dream work.

  9. Speaking of pit stops, pee often - you never know where you’re going next.

  10. Be present - there is so very much to see and do.  There are so many views to take in, trails to hike, roads to travel, burritos to savor, flowers to smell, rocks to climb… don’t get distracted or you might miss all of it.

When things start to get weird in Joshua Tree.

The only way to create is if you’re willing to be conscious, intentional, present.

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It also helps to be in a magical place like Joshua Tree where you can help but feel the juices FLOWING!

Once the creative energies start cooperating and collaborating, feel the flow - for better or worse - and just let it ride.

Here’s some more plein air little sketches.  They’re all watercolor and pen & ink, what started as gestural landscapes morphed into abstract suggestions of the rock formations around the van.

Find your light, then stand in it.

Find what makes you feel unburdened.

Find what gives you reason.

Find what makes you feel alive.

And when you find what lights you up…. stand in it, and don’t ever let that feeling of flow and weightlessness leave you. 

LIVE  IN THE LIGHT.

LIVE IN THE LIGHT.

Much of our lives are spent floating through the monotony because it’s easier or it’s all we allow ourselves.  But what if you gave yourself the time to find what really fed your soul?  Deep down we all have a spark and we know what feeds it - don’t stifle that light for the sake of others judgements, or the safety of an unfulfilling job or the expectations of society.  

Take a risk, fulfill your potential and stand in your light.