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Sweat Equity

July 1, 2010

There is a show on HGTV called “Sweat Equity” hosted by Amy Matthews. She is sexy, smart, gorgeous and funny. Even though I am a bit older, less in shape and much sweatier than Amy, I’m developing my own version of her philosophy: I am building equity by working hard on and in my business. After all, if I want my business and my life to reach their respective potentials, I have to be willing to do what is necessary. I have to be willing to sweat.

I am happy to tell you that I have proven myself as someone who is not afraid to sweat. Amy Matthews would be proud. I spent the day with my not-so-small butt crammed into a client’s not-so-big shower stall in order to find out why it was leaking.

Once I had gotten my butt into the shower stall, the real work began. I scraped out the old caulk and grout and Eureka! I found the problem right away. Someone had tried to fix holes in the grout with caulking that was not only, no longer working, but which had been installed a bit half-assed in the first place. Plus, as an FYI, this is not a good fix for grout. Apparently, the original grout had not been sealed and this was allowing water to get up under the grout and caulking, ultimately creating large gaps in the tiling. Sweat Equity Amy would have been appalled, but she would not have been daunted by the task. And neither was I.

When I finished digging out all the old grout and caulk, I vacuumed up the loose pieces and sprayed a mixture of 50% each of bleach and water to kill the mold. Once it was all dry, I applied pre-mixed grout.

Grouting is like playing in sand and mud. It is grainy, sticks to you and gets in your hair. You have to squish it around in different directions to fill in all the cracks and holes properly. Frankly, it was fun, but a bit messier than myself or Amy would have liked.

To finish, I wiped down the tiles – not too much or I would have wrecked my handiwork – and left my client with instructions to apply liquid sealer after 48 hours. This requires simply squeezing the bottle to apply and then wiping the excess away. Once everything is completely dry, my client can caulk around the edges to give the shower an extra tight water seal.

I had caulk and grout in my hair, but I felt truly empowered. No matter how small the task might seem, it brought me one step closer to my vision for my life.

As DIY women, even the tiniest steps we take toward being independent around the house have the potential to give us a giant boost forward. As long as the goal is clear and the tiny step is a step toward it, we’re going to get there. Eventually. And with hard work.

I am willing to sweat. Are you?

Let me know if you have any questions before you begin your own caulk, grout and shower stall Sweat Equity adventure. I am here for YOU and your DIY projects, armed with determination and loads of deodorant.

  1. July 2, 2010 8:54 am

    I think I love you! You are officially added to my Blogroll! YOU GO, GIRL!

    • July 2, 2010 9:39 am

      Well, that was an awesome way to start my day. Thanks for the vote. I certainly appreciate the pat on the back. I love what I do! I am glad to be here and look forward to your comments/questions in the future. Have a great weekend.

  2. July 2, 2010 9:07 am

    Hi, just found your blog through the wordpress home page – love it!
    off to explore it to see if i can find some hints on fixing up my front porch/sidewalk (some cracked concrete here and there) and bathroom cabinet drawers.

    • July 2, 2010 9:37 am

      Thanks for the comment. The local hardware store sells concrete crack filler for small cracks that works pretty good. I can give you tips for the bathroom cabinet drawers if you send me a note about what the problem is. Good luck and let me know how it turns out.

  3. July 2, 2010 9:13 am

    I too am a small biz owner…and a woman! I think you’ll agree – it’s tough, but eventually this sweat will pay off, right?

    • July 2, 2010 9:35 am

      Congratulations for being a woman-owned business. Yes – sweat equity does pay off! Hard work is also about being hard at play if you enjoy what you are doing. I am enjoying myself every day and bounce out of bed with the anticipation of what’s next. Rock on!!

  4. July 2, 2010 9:16 am

    OK, I’m about to start this type of project myself but only where the tub meets the surround. Our 60’s split-level was a DIY project by the people before us but they obviously did not know what they were doing . So one project at a time we are fixing their flubs. What is the best way to get out the old caulk? If the space between the tub and the surround is larger than a single bead of caulk should you say, backfill(?) it with something or just keep caulking until it’s filled in? It does not appear to be leaking now, the old caulk is slowing eroding away. North Coast Muse @

    • July 2, 2010 9:34 am

      Great question Sally. To remove the old caulk you would use a sharp tool (razor knife and/or chisel) – being careful to not nick your tub/shower surround. Because you have a large gap between the tub and the surround you might want to start with rope caulking (buy it at your local hardware store – for tub and tile) – once you have that installed – caulk over it with your regular caulking for tub and tile. I hope this helped and let me know if you have any other questions or concerns. Please let me know how it turned out.

  5. July 2, 2010 9:18 am

    Man goal is important for every one, one should strict to it.

    • July 2, 2010 9:28 am

      You are right. The main goal is what is important. We should all stick to our personal growth and momentum forward. Learning to be a DIY person is very important.

  6. July 2, 2010 9:18 am

    I started to sweat just by reading your piece.

    Good job!

  7. July 2, 2010 10:05 am

    i think it was so great tv program 🙂

    • July 2, 2010 9:42 pm

      Sweat Equity is still on HGTV and is one of my favorites. I am such a dork. While most of my friends are watching Sex in the City, Friends, and other shows, I am looking at DIY shows. I am a loyal fan of HGTV. Have you checked out Holmes on Homes? He fixes others mistakes. You would like that too I bet.

  8. July 2, 2010 10:27 am

    Great advice, fun to read, empowering…I am such a DIY wanna-be, but boy do I need practice. My ideals and final product have a gap. I will read on and I know I’ll learn something. Thanks for being so entertaining while you do this.

    • July 2, 2010 9:40 pm

      Erica – if you are taking the steps to learn then you are not a wanna be – you are a take charge woman! Wanna be’s only sit back and say “I would like to do this – but I can’t”. You do not sound like that kind of woman. If you ever need advice please know you can contact me. I give free advice and have plenty of resources for you to tap into. Keep up the good work! (Hey – remember that practice makes perfect)

  9. Ayesha permalink
    July 2, 2010 11:28 am

    “As long as the goal is clear and the tiny step is a step toward it, we’re going to get there. Eventually. And with hard work.” — Wow! what a thought… your blog page is worth being posted on wordpress home page. Way to go!!!

    • July 2, 2010 9:36 pm

      Ayesha – Thanks. You know – I have learned the hard way that we need to keep focused on what really matters to us – even if it is something as little as doing a DIY project. Each step forward is one step closer to where we want to be. Although steps back can be important (taking a look at our priorities and such), we need to also be moving forward to our goal at the end of the day. Thanks again for letting me know you liked the blog page. Let me know if there is anything you want to read about.

  10. July 2, 2010 11:59 am

    It’s fantastic to meet another DIY’er such as yourself! Seems there aren’t many chicks out there who are comfortable wiring, plumbing, laying tile, facing the crawl space, or attic.

    We’re neck deep in a remodel and I personally have tackled the wiring in our kitchen (half of it, I should say), helped lay the tile, helped hang rafters (discovered the skylight was sinking), helped build the kitchen cabinets, install real wood flooring with old fashioned nails (you know the square head ones that they made way back when?), tackled installing the t&g ceiling, and in the next two weeks will finally be installing the countertops and kitchen sink (we’ve taken pictures of the entire process and hopefully will be posting them soon). Next up, the bathroom, and the rest of the house.

    Will DEFINITELY be adding your site to my blog roll and be reading about your handywork. Way to go, girl!! 🙂

    • July 2, 2010 9:34 pm

      Tara – are you trying to make me look bad???? (just kidding). Holly cow – YOU ROCK !! You are not a DIY’er you are close to being an expert now. You could use this as a back up job in case you get bored with your regular job. I have three women who work with me as subcontractors and they are loving it. I am sooooo impressed. I really want to see the pictures so be sure to send me a copy. Again – YOU ROCK.

      • July 4, 2010 1:12 pm

        (seriously blushing) Thank you for your compliment, but I didn’t intend to brag like I did. Rereading it, I realize how it came across as bragging, so please accept my apology.

        Personally, I think YOU rock, as well as your team of ladies! You inspire women to try things on their own while providing them with practical advice that’s easy to follow. Very well done!

        The photo’s will be sent to you shortly…just as soon as the kit’s completed, sometime next fall, LOL. Seriously should only be another couple of weeks (I hope). Thanks again for the compliment, and for the great blog!! 🙂

      • July 4, 2010 2:10 pm

        Hey – first – I did NOT take it as bragging – it was simply you saying what you are doing. And, second – if you WERE bragging I can only say “You go Girl”. ….. You have the right to brag. You are doing fantastic stuff. I can’t wait to see what you are doing. And finally, Thanks so much for your compliments.

      • July 4, 2010 9:55 pm

        You deserve to brag. Keep up the good work. And….I did not take the comment as bragging. Don’t forget to send me the pics. Whenever

  11. July 2, 2010 12:00 pm

    You go girl!! More power to you! I wish you success. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!!

    • July 2, 2010 9:32 pm

      Evie – thanks! I am syked. I love sharing my (mis) adventures with everyone. I am having the time of my life and hope to help others develop their DIY style.

  12. July 2, 2010 12:26 pm

    Good post.I like it.

    • July 2, 2010 9:30 pm

      I’m glad you liked it. Thanks for letting me know. I appreciate your taking the time to send me a note.

  13. July 2, 2010 5:38 pm

    I’m glad I found your blog–I need all the help I can get with DIY! Best of luck with your business.

    • July 2, 2010 9:30 pm

      Thomas – thanks for taking the time to write to me. I appreciate your good vibes. I have been doing the home repair business for quite awhile and am enjoying it even more now that I am sharing my adventures with others.

  14. July 2, 2010 7:30 pm

    Yes, I completely agree that the things we set out to do in and around our own enviroment can lead the way in moving forward. Great read!!

  15. July 2, 2010 7:59 pm

    Something equally important is being smart. Sweating is great, but as the old saying goes “Worker smarter, not harder”.

    • July 2, 2010 9:28 pm

      I agree with you that working smarter is the way to go. LOL….being a woman in mid-life and having personal power surges keeps me “sweating” even in the coolest of situations.

  16. July 2, 2010 9:07 pm

    “As DIY women, even the tiniest steps we take toward being independent around the house have the potential to give us a giant boost forward. As long as the goal is clear and the tiny step is a step toward it, we’re going to get there. Eventually. And with hard work. ”

    Very well said 🙂

    • July 2, 2010 9:22 pm

      Crissy – I know that sometimes it takes a lot of very small steps to get to the place we want to be. For many years I was a single parent of twins, had some rough spots with unscrupulous contractors myself and made my mind up that I was going to keep other women from going through some of the same things. I am loving working in the field and sharing my adventures.

  17. July 2, 2010 9:10 pm

    nice post. thanks.

    • July 2, 2010 9:19 pm

      Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed it. I am having such a blast sharing my adventures. Sometimes I feel like I should be part of the “I love Lucy”show. It just doesn’t get any funnier at times. Enjoy your weekend.

  18. July 2, 2010 9:30 pm

    I am so glad I found your blog ! I am about to tackle my shower tub surround.
    Thank you for being here, I read your comment back to Sally K, and I will be trying
    the rope caulk on mine too. Thanks again, I will be visiting you often 🙂

    • July 2, 2010 9:45 pm

      Awesome. I am so glad that you found me too. I will try and answer any questions you might have. Good luck with the shower/tub surround.

  19. July 3, 2010 1:39 am

    You are an inspiration to us all! Way to go girl, love your blog!!

  20. July 3, 2010 2:12 am

    Very cool post – not what I expected but it was good.
    So true that the ladies can do it for themselves – I know I can too. I just painted my house trim. I know it seems trivial but I was tired of my house looking unkempt. (Apparently the previous owner was a flipper because that paint wasn’t outdoor paint. Live and learn.)

    Just wanted to point out – you gave a tip on how to kill mould with a bleach-water solution and didn’t know if you knew – bleach loses it’s efficacy to kill microbes within 1 month of being opened. So fresh bleach should probably be recommended when you’re going to be sealing up the area for an extended period of time.
    Thanks again for your post!

    • July 3, 2010 6:46 am

      Thanks so much for the comments. Congratulations on doing the trim. I have to say that painting is one of the things people tend to skimp on and it always comes back to haunt them. I did NOT know about the bleach. I am going to check this out and send it out to let everyone know. It is very important to kill the mold before you reseal things so I really need to be accurate. I am really appreciative of the tip. Keep them coming. I am learning a lot from my fans. Amazing how easy it is to connect to people all over the world and build my knowledge database. Thanks again.

  21. July 3, 2010 9:21 am

    I love you for writing this. I do. I’ve got a heart condition and I don’t do so well in the heat. I sweat a lot easier than most people do. Reading this, coming from another person makes me feel not so alone. Thanks. (:

    • July 3, 2010 5:53 pm

      Hey – don’t knock sweating. It is good for your body! I am always having a sweat attack. I have hot flashes along with the sweat attacks. Hang in there.

  22. July 3, 2010 3:08 pm

    You look at the issue in a way cute

  23. July 3, 2010 5:44 pm

    My boss at work, “Tim, why you sweatin’ so much?”

    “‘Cuz I’m working!”

    “I like that…”

    Sweating while you work is the one way you know you’re doing something worthwhile.

    • July 3, 2010 5:52 pm

      Good comment. I must be working hard ALOT. I am sweating a lot more than I should but it is a cleansing of the body and mind. Smirk.

  24. July 3, 2010 5:48 pm

    Coming from the ‘blue-thumbed’ school of DIY – as in every time I pick a hammer up things go wrong – i always leave things up to the professionals. Though I’ve just installed a ‘soft-close’ toilet seat and I keep proudly pestering my girlfriend to watch it slowly close.

    Is this a bit weird?

    • July 3, 2010 5:50 pm

      I find NO problem with watching the toilet lid close. But….I have this fetish for the cool features of toilets. I always check out all the new gadgets.

  25. July 3, 2010 9:04 pm

    What an excellent website. You guys have done a great job organizing everything and making the navigation easy to browse. How can I subscribe to your RSS feed? If you have one please let us know how to get more great information from your website.

  26. July 4, 2010 12:45 am

    Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

    • July 4, 2010 7:38 am

      Thanks for your kudos. I appreciate you taking the time to write me. Have a great holiday weekend.

  27. July 4, 2010 8:16 am

    Great post! My husband and I are always working on some DIY project. It is our hobby. Great together time for us. We love to sit back and admire our finished projects at our business and at home. What a great feeling of accomplishment to see something through to completion.

    My goal for this year is to finish any unfinished projects. We are great at getting things 99.95% done. I’m going for the .05% for the final feeling of accomplish before I begin any new projects. I am slowing getting through the list.

    • July 4, 2010 2:12 pm

      How great that is. Yes, I too work with my husband on DIY stuff as well as during the day when we work for our commercial and residential customers. He is a great teacher and mentor. I love it! Keep up the good work.

    • July 4, 2010 9:57 pm

      Awesome that you are working together on projects. It is a great sense of accomplishment to see things through to completion… you deserve many kudos.

  28. July 4, 2010 9:26 am

    I was going to fix the grouting in my shower, but you’ve convinced me to get my wife to do it instead. Thank you!

    • July 4, 2010 2:11 pm

      Oh great – now I am going to get mail from your wife saying you are now making her do the home repairs, AND still clean and cook for you. Thanks so much ……LOL. Really – tell your wife to call me if she needs help.

    • July 4, 2010 9:56 pm

      Steve – tell your wife I said I’m sorry. Oh – and remember – for each job she does you have to do one – so could you please fold that load of laundry??

  29. July 4, 2010 2:21 pm

    Awesome! I love it when people work to the fulliest to get a job done! If we had more Americans like you.. I have a question, Isn’t your name Jo Ellen?

    • July 4, 2010 9:54 pm

      Thanks for your post. I am not sure I understand the question about my name – can you please explain.

  30. July 4, 2010 11:58 pm

    I love the Idea “to be willing to sweat”
    i am gonna reblog it at my blog. =)

    Keep up the spirit up!

  31. July 5, 2010 4:41 am

    Good post.Thank you.

  32. July 5, 2010 11:03 am

    unless you are a business owner, understanding this concept of “sweat equity” is nearly impossible. I honestly had no idea how much work it took until i started my own company. There is no such thing as an 8hr shift, and no such thing as weekends off.

    Even now, 1 year since i started my business, i’m still sweating and busting my ass. You just have to think of the brighter future you are creating for yourself once its all said and done.

    I rather sweat like hell now so i can cool off later, verses sweating a little everyday for the rest of my life. 😉

    • July 5, 2010 1:49 pm

      Mike – you said a mouthful. You should read the E-myth books by Michael Gerber. He gives great advice about how to build your business without working so hard all the time. They are excellent books.

      • July 7, 2010 2:04 pm

        thanks for the suggestion. i actually just ordered one of his books from amazon. i love to read and was looking for my next book, so your recommendation came with perfect timing. 😉

      • July 7, 2010 2:22 pm

        You will enjoy him. He is very funny and very straight forward. His blog is a lot of fun also.

  33. July 5, 2010 5:08 pm

    As a 49 year old man who caulked for the first time in his life one month ago I salute you!

    • July 6, 2010 1:06 pm

      GOOD FOR YOU ! I am glad that you did that. Keep up the good work. We are NEVER too old to learn something new. (I am older than you so I can say that)

  34. July 5, 2010 7:51 pm

    Good post. And really important!

  35. July 5, 2010 9:23 pm

    Hey, awesome website. I actually came across this on Yahoo, and I am stoked I did. I will definetely be coming back here more often. Wish I could add to the post and bring a bit more to the table, but am just absorbing as much info as I can at the moment. thanks for sharing.


    • July 6, 2010 1:05 pm

      Kris – thanks for the note. I am glad you enjoyed my writing. I write about true experiences so there will always to a moment of (mis) adventure involved.

  36. July 5, 2010 11:02 pm

    I’ll follow this! Hope u visit soon my blog too!

  37. ermadear permalink
    July 6, 2010 12:41 am

    nice blog

  38. July 6, 2010 3:07 pm

    you go girl! I would not have known how to fix that shower… kudos!

  39. July 7, 2010 6:17 am


  40. ctantia permalink
    July 8, 2010 5:32 am

    simple and funny and fresh….
    and..yeah..i am ready to sweat!!i’m a house wife and working woman..we surely sweat a lot!

    • July 10, 2010 6:50 pm

      I can understand the housewife/working woman – sweating. Been there, done that. It is such a good feeling of accomplishment though. You rock!

  41. July 8, 2010 9:16 pm

    Cute blog. I liked it

    • July 10, 2010 6:48 pm

      Thanks for the note. I am glad that you enjoyed my blog. Please check back for more fun and information.

  42. July 12, 2010 9:31 am

    Great site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some friends!

    • July 13, 2010 10:45 pm

      Thank you for passing my information along to others. It is really important for us all to know we can do things we are not comfortable with. We just need to try.

  43. August 20, 2010 6:10 am

    I can understand the housewife/working woman – sweating. Been there, done that. It is such a good feeling of accomplishment though. You rock!

    • August 20, 2010 6:58 am

      Thanks – I just wish I would only perspire instead of sweating half my body fluids out during a job. And YES, the feeling of accomplishment is a great thing.

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