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It’s been more than six months since Scott moved out, and although I haven’t been asked outright, if my readers are anything like my close friends, I have a feeling that there are some curious minds wanting to know about adjusting to remodeling a house alone (especially when the kind of work that needs to be done often needs a second set of hands). In case you can’t tell from some of my unhinged (and as I attempt, funny) rants, I guess I’ll just go ahead and sate your curiosity.

(First I’d like to just say, this subject is a little awkward and this post was written without much time spent  editing. For you new readers, you might want to skip or read the story in the link above to get caught up. Since this isn’t really project-related, if you read this blog for just that, feel free to skip this post too and wait for tomorrow’s. Big reveal of the desk coming up then!)

Remodeling a house is a very challenging (and stressful) task. When you couple that with the everyday goings-on of having a job, a social life, and adding school to the mix, remodeling a house can be damn near enough to drive you crazy. We’re not talking redecorating a house here either; we’re talking ripping up flooring, dealing with plumbing issues, and being up to my elbows in drywall dust. It’s not something a coat of paint can always fix. Or that I can afford.  One’s living space is supposed to be what relaxes them, and although I strive for that, getting there requires a lot of hard work, frustration, and mess. And for the last six months, I haven’t had another person I can call from another room to hold something steady for me or stay home for the termite guy or another set of eyes. So, how does one handle these things? Or simply, how does one keep it together?

I’m no more interested in hashing out the details of my love life (or, well, lack thereof) now than when we first split, but the best part about that post (which now feels a lot longer than six months ago) has been the overwhelming support I’ve received from my readers.

To the many who have left comments on this site, and to the many more who have sent me private emails, thank you. I don’t think I could ever say that enough. You guys are freaking awesome and the thing that keeps me writing.

But to answer the questions at hand (I suppose):  What are things like now, and how do they get dealt with?

I still have help, but I have to wait a little longer and plan a lot better.  My family, especially my dad, is wonderfully supportive. It’s truly great to have his (and my mom’s) help, but since we live nearly an hour apart, I don’t get to tackle things as quickly as I used to when I had another set of hands mere seconds away. To put it simply, it’s just something I have to learn to plan around. There is a lot more “Hey, since you’re here, can you help me with one more thing?”  My friends aren’t immune to this treatment either. They have pretty much learned to accept that if I invite them out for dinner anywhere near my house, there is a strong possibility I’ll ask them to hold something steady or lift something heavy before we head out.

Distractions ease the stress  of not knowing what to do next.  Between the job, the house, and school, it’s probably obvious I’m taking on enough to keep me occupied for the next century. While that can be really taxing sometimes, it also means I have the ability to change things up all the time (sort of because I have to). There simply is no time for being in a rut for too long (project-wise I mean).

I spend my free time wisely.  The time I have for a social life is rare enough as it is, so I try to spend what little time I have catching up with friends. And since they are mostly coupled up already, the opportunity to meet someone new is simply nonexistent. The whole out of sight, out of mind thing plays a pretty big role, and unless I were to meet someone who would consider tiling a bathroom floor as a date (okay, maybe not a first date), the chances of finding something sustainable are, by my assessment, pretty unlikely. I’m not purposely avoiding dating, but wearing a HOLY SH*T I’M BUSY tattoo on my forehead doesn’t exactly turn me into Gwyneth Paltrow.

This, I could probably make time for :)

I’m happy where I am.  Being in a relationship that lasted nearly four years (and buying this house) brought a lot of clarity to what I want. For the last six+ months, my time has been spent on things that will lead to something better. And while I’m always busy, and sometimes feel in over my head, I’m exactly where I want to be and doing exactly what I want to be doing. Which, believe it or not, makes things seem far less strained since I know I’m making that time really count. Someday, I do want a relationship that is meaningful, and that means being a little picky (okay, a lot). Knowing what’s worth my time and effort brings a great deal of joy and satisfaction to what’s lying ahead; whether that includes another person or not. And not only that; the freedom to not give a damn if I want to is kind of nice. Paint that curtain rod red?  Why not? Do a little dance Cameron Diaz style while I work on my study-o desk? It’s not like anyone’s going to see (or hear my singing voice).

I let people have their own opinions and do what I want anyway.  When you’re in a couple that isn’t working (which to be fair is not the same thing as a bad relationship), people offer plenty of opinions on what you should do. When you’re single, same thing; only they keep trying to inquire about dating again as if it’s an exposed wire you haven’t gotten around to fixing yet. If you just accept that others are going to want you to the exact opposite of what you are doing, finding balance is a little easier because the advice is eventually all just noise. Kinda like an office cubemate who can’t figure out how to mute the keys on his cell phone. It’s annoying, but you can deal with it. After all, each person giving advice is only trying to find a way to help (they can read that tattoo loud and clear). The convenient thing is, you can easily start to apply this to home remodeling, too. You don’t need to get everyone else’s opinion before making a decision. Let the creativity flow (just try not to let it drip on the new rug). You’ll be surprised with what happens with that newfound confidence.

My brother-in-law bought me this shirt for Christmas. LOVE it.

Budgeting.  From a financing perspective, Scott (& Colby) were roommates and did not contribute to the cost of home improvement projects. We shared living expenses (half of my mortgage was his rent and we split utility costs), but since I was the sole owner of the house, DIYing came out of my pocket exclusively. It made things pretty easy when he moved out, and it made for only a little bit of a budget adjustment after the fact. That’s not to say that I haven’t had to take a longer period of time to save up for bigger projects than I would have if I were still splitting those expenses of course (I still haven’t bought the bathroom tile), but part of why I bought the house was that it was cheaper than renting an apartment, so thankfully I’m not in a difficult financial situation like many people are after a breakup.

But, what if?  One thing is clear so far:  If anyone new does come along, they won’t be appearing on this blog for a long, long time (but they’d certainly be behind the scenes – hey, it’s part of the package now). And while being a girl who is 5’2″ and doing most of the work alone can be a challenge when it comes to remodeling a 1980s eyesore (and um, reaching things on shelves), it’s not something I feel that should define what this blog is all about. Yes, it is part of my story (which is the only reason I’m babbling on about it now), but it’s only part of my story. In the end, I’m just a DIYer who wants to figure out how to do something right, and as inexpensively as possible. And then of course, share it so you can kick that project’s ass, too.

So, there you have it:  support, balance, and the usual rambling nonsense. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have class tonight and about six things I’ve got to get to :)

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  1. I love your blog, Sarah. I'm 27 y/o, bought a house (while dating my ex of 3 years), broke up and I rennovate it myself. He only contributed to rent (not DIY projects) .. so I'm in the same boat. You're not alone & I feel really similar when you talk about saving up for projects and working on things alone.

    It is so refreshing to read a blog about single-lady DIY. Don't get me wrong, I love reading wedding blogs, couple DIY and seeing baby pics .. but I love reading about your projects and stories.

    My top 4 – must read every day blogs are YHL, Ana-White.com, Bower Power, Ugly Duck and Censational Girl. I hope you keep inspiring us.

  2. Hey Sarah, I've been reading your blog for about a year now and I must say that even as a “married with kids” 37 year old, I love it! You are just so damn real… Struggles, success whatever – you share and it's awesome. Thank you.

    By the way, I'm not sure exactly where you are in Georgia. But I'm about 30 minutes northeast of Buford so I feel like we are practically neighbors! Keep up the good work.

  3. What a great heartfelt post. Thanks for sharing yourself with us. You are such a strong, inspirational woman!

  4. Girl, I so feel ya! I'm a 25 year old DIY'er, first time home buyer and single.. My house and job consumes the majority of the time.. and while I'd like that “other half” I'm content where I am now and what I've accomplished in my last year of home ownership. So glad to have found your blog!

    You're my DIY hero! =)

  5. I have been actively lurking on your blog since just Pre-Scott, and despite trying to note a few times, this is the first time I've poked my head out.
    I Love your blog. I love that you're a young single woman doing all of this amazing stuff. I love the tone of your writing – it's so positive, its impossible not to like you. And I love your attitude. I just wanted to finally put that out there and say keep up the great work and the fantastic writing :)

  6. Thank you! I think I'm going to have to come back to these comments on days where things don't go my way. You guys ROCK!

  7. I love this post. LOVE it.

    Even for those of us that really believe we can do it ourselves, there's definitely an “oh shit” moment when faced with doing things alone. It's so important to know there are other people out there going through what we're going through, trying to do what we're trying to do.

    Being in a similar spot, I can relate to everything you've said, and I have to add one more thing that is true for me… physically it may be harder to do the work, but when you're in a couple that “isn't working” as you say (so apt) there's a certain amount of mental and emotional energy that either goes into trying to fix what's broken or make some hard decisions. The one thing that has made such a difference in my life since my own breakup is freeing up all of that brain space. I feel much more focused on my projects (and myself) because there's not this niggling feeling the the corner of my brain that something just ain't right.

    And I've got to say, going through stuff like this and coming through on the other side? There is strength and lessons that come from that that will stay with you forever.

    Here's to all of us single sawdust sisters, gettin it done!

  8. I'm still learning from you, while I'm improving myself. I definitely love reading all that is written on your website.Keep the tips coming. I enjoyed it!

  9. i can definitely sympathize with you, i am also a 5'2″ girl, 22 years old, i just bought my first home and i am remodeling the inside of it, all by myself other than important things like water and electric and the roof. It is really not easy but hey, someone has to do it.

  10. Quite frankly I love that you're single. It's refreshing and doesn't make me feel insecure like other blogs can do. I'm in a slightly different situation: 24, single woman, I literally closed on the house yesterday. My house doesn't need to be remodeled and I won't be DIYing everything… mostly because my own crafting tends to be limited to textiles and no one in my family is handy like that. Who doesn't live 15 hours away, that is.
    Also, I just found your blog today but maybe you can empower me to DIY more!

  11. Hello Sarah I like how honest you are about your situation and your skills. In today society being single and renovating your own place as a woman is difficult! Not like we were all born knowing how to remodel a kitchen or tackle electricity or other nice things like this! Then the other part is to tackle people's comments about being single and lastly finding the right person and the right balance in general. So girl, you are not alone there! Keep faith and I am sure everything will roll fine :-)

  12. LOVE this post. Love this blog. I'm a single mom and moved this summer into a house in Atlanta that has a lot of “potential” I find a lot of inspiration (and humor!) in your honesty – thank you!

  13. I'm late to this party but I'm right where you were when you wrote this. It's been 6 months since my ex moved out but we own the house together. Trying to decide if I should refinance it into my own name or just move on. So many decisions. You're an inspiration to me. Maybe I'll see if I can find a fixer-upper and use my DIY skills on something that is mine.