Whoops! I’m in the Dog House

From Lisa Bullock

In 2004 I got twitchy feet.  We’d been in our home for about 11 years and loved our house but like many growing families it just didn’t meet our needs anymore and it was probably time to move on.

The thought of moving house was scary but exciting.  I knew EXACTLY what I wanted; a minimum of one acre, sunny, flat and no gum trees.  Now I should explain about these requirements.  I live in an extremely hilly part of Melbourne, known colloquially as The Hills – so “flat” was not an easy ask.  “Sunny” – well, with the hills comes national park and heavily forested areas and lots of heavily shaded houses.  “No gum trees” – gum trees burn easily and we live in an extremely high fire danger region so they were out, small detail being that the Hills are covered in gum tree forests;  they also drop limbs whenever they feel like it – not great for safety!  I love gum trees in the forest but not in my garden – I’m a serious gardener and eucalypts deplete the soil.

So list in hand, we started talking to real estate agents.  One and all they read my list with a snicker – some an outright laugh.  Wrong move!  I LOVE a challenge!  It wasn’t easy but I was absolutely resolved on what I wanted and determined to get it.  Step one – have a goal!

set goals and dreams

It took 10 months of searching, but I found it!  I was driving through a small township about 5 minutes drive from where we were living when I drove past a heavily overgrown, very neglected property with a For Sale sign out the front.  My gut told me instantly, this was it!  I chased down the estate agent and booked an inspection for the next day.  It was a flat block, it had the potential to be sunny once the overgrown garden was tidied up, and it was one and a half acres.  Winning!

It was also practically derelict.  As I walked up the front stairs, my heart sank.  I KNEW this was going to be our home but lordy me, the work!  If I could bottle the smell of the place to show you how OUTSTANDINGLY REVOLTING it smelled I would!  But chances are, you’d throw up! The very eccentric owners had moved out some months before taking their 10 dogs with them.  The dogs had had the run of the house peeing and pooing their happy way wherever they felt like it!   You couldn’t touch a single surface without cringing , it was so filthy.

The estate agent discreetly stood on the front veranda calling comments to me from a safe distance.  I opened the pantry door in the kitchen – whoops, dead possum on the floor. Nice!  I checked through shedding and the outdoor laundry.  Blood spatters on walls that resembled nothing more than the Texas Chainsaw Massacre!  Presumably they prepared the dog food there?  I hope!  I was too scared to ever seriously enquire!

The house hadn’t been updated for over 20 years and would require re-building to meet our needs. The house itself was nearly a 100 years old, had 14 foot ceilings, moulded cornices and huge rooms.  It had great bones (dead rat bones mainly) BUT, we believed we could do it for our budget.  Poor ignorant fools that we were!

Looking back it was an incredibly foolhardy project to embark upon.  Our entire family moved into one large room where we all slept, ate and the kids studied.  Our kitchen was a BBQ in the front garden – not even a veranda for shelter.  And the kitchen sink was literally a sink sitting in the garden where we washed dishes in water that had boiled on a camp stove.  We showered in one of the remaining bathrooms (we demolished everything else around it) where we did our best to clean ourselves without actually touching any existing surface.  I’m feeling a little queasy just remembering! From very early on, our place was known as The Dog House!

We essentially burned the house down!  We’d demolish a section and burn it and rebuild as we went.  I think the bonfire in the yard never went out for 5 months!  (Environmental pirates that we were!).

dog house

We lived without heating through a winter so cold it snowed – super rare for our town; without a kitchen for 6 months; without laundry facilities for nearly 10; we lived without possessions or decorations in the space of one room and it was so liberating for all of our family.  It really reinforced how important for me, family was, and how unimportant possessions are.  Nice to have, not essential!

We endured the visits and poorly concealed sympathy, sometimes shock, from friends and relatives.  The project we had embarked upon was so massive that 99% of our friends couldn’t see how we could possibly do this.

For Craig and I, the vision was crystal clear.  We knew EXACTLY what we could do with this amazing block of land and exactly how we would craft our house to meet the needs of our young family.  I wanted to be able to run my personal training studio from home and needed a dedicated gym for that purpose with adequate parking and outdoor training areas.  We wanted space to lay out my “show gardens” (still waiting for time to do that!) – shedding for Craig and the boat he was building; space for the kids to play and to roam and camp out for fun!

I would sometimes stare at visitors with surprise when they commiserated on the workload – couldn’t they see what we saw?  It’s right there in front of them!  Couldn’t they see the potential?

Too many people limit their vision – their sense of what is possible with hard work and determination.  Theoretically we should never have been able to afford what we have now.   Re-building an entire house for one third of the standard cost should never have been possible – but we did it!  We had vision, we had work ethic and determination (and lots of wine to blur the edges of reality lol) and nothing was going to get in the way.  Our house is now a beautiful, homey place where we love to welcome clients and visitors.  We hosted my sisters wedding, my daughters 21st, numerous parties and family celebrations – it is The Dog House no longer!

Now, I’m not being subtle here – this is an analogy for any goal you set for yourself.  Formulate a vision for what you want to achieve, make it crystal clear in your mind so you can see every detail – go forth and work at it!  It won’t be easy, it won’t necessarily be quick and sometimes you’ll rebel at the challenge and possibly even shed a few tears.  But do it anyway!

You’ll achieve amazing outcomes that other people only dream about!

We’re ordinary people just like you and millions of others – but we were prepared to do something that others weren’t prepared to do.  I know that heaps of you have amazing stories of challenges that you overcame – we’d love to hear them!  Someone could be just waiting for you to inspire them with your story.

If you need motivation with your health and fitness check out Female Fat Loss over 40 – and hint, hint, we’ve got some big and exciting changes coming soon!


lisa bullock

Lisa Bullock is a Personal Trainer based in Melbourne, Australia.  She’s run her successful fitness business for over 15 years and has trained over a 1000 clients helping them reach their health, fitness and wellness goals.  Married for 27 years and mother to a daughter (22) and son (19), she is a proud proponent of the philosophy “keep on keeping on”. She believes that consistency is key to achieving goals.  Lisa loves weight training with a passion; she’s boxed for over 12 years and sees no reason to stop soon!  She’s faced her own health and weight issues and come out fighting.  “I believe in training for the long haul” she claims, “I fully expect to be doing handstand push ups when I’m 60!.”

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