Hard Work is One of My Guilty Pleasures

a backyard before the hard work of installing concrete began putting in the hard work using a Bobcat to flatten the gravel before a concrete pour
This is what the yard looked like before the new concrete was placed. Photos courtesy of Bent Mikkelsen. 

I will have spent the better part of three months this summer helping some friends with a backyard project at their home. When asked to stop by and offer my “concrete” advice back in early May, I had no idea I would be the guy who was going to end up doing the work. However, I’m glad it turned out that way.

Almost every day after my time at the desk ends for Concrete Decor, I saddle up and head across town to my friends’ Callan and Shelley’s house. I sometimes show up at 2 p.m. or as late as 4 and work until 7 or 8 in the evening.

I’ve taken this project from design, hiring subs, shooting grades, setting forms, stamping, staining and sealing 23 yards of concrete to building structures, making regular trips to the lumberyard, getting the homeowners involved in the project and hanging doors. Working the hottest hours of the day, I nearly drown in perspiration, but I have honestly enjoyed every minute of it.

I love to work with my hands. Granted, I come home feeling like a whooped horse, but I sleep great and I wake up the next morning excited to do it all over again.

a concrete patio can be a lot of hard work
The project starts to take a definite form.
Glad for the diversion

There’s no doubt this pandemic could have taken a toll on me without having something to do physically. But work has always had a way of finding me and I’m grateful for that. A bonus has involved my youngest son, Kannen, and his help on the project.

To tell the truth, until this year I didn’t think he would ever work well with tools. It started with a Jeep renovation (his first car) at the start of the pandemic. Since then, things have progressed onto working with wood, selecting lumber and using a compound miter saw, nail gun, tape measure, shovel and wheelbarrow. He turns 16 this month.

staining and texturing the borders of the concrete patio
Stained and textured borders and bands add an artistic element to the extended patio. (Notice the matching cat at the right.)

Believe it or not, I had originally intended to do the work for my friends without any compensation. It wasn’t until I was a few hundred hours into the project that my friends said, “We need to pay you something for all of this work.” I’m glad they offered because my son was helping me so he could earn some money for a lift kit, new tires and wheels for his Jeep. (LOL)

I share all of this with you because I’ve noticed that it’s not until I’m back at my desk that social media, the news, the chaos of a pandemic, fighting among Americans, the challenges of business and industry, race, the media and the destruction of property all come barging into my life.

Physically at work, I’m totally at peace! Sitting in front of my computer, and the world comes crashing onto my doorstep. WOW! is the only word I can utter when this happens.

the homeowners staining and texturing the borders of the concrete patio
The homeowners pitch in to help make the project their own.
Work is good

Tragically, it happens too often as every piece of technology vies for our attention. Regardless, I’m happy I see this struggle for what it is — a focus on myself versus choosing to put others before me.

Tearing things down; that’s easy! But building, and physically doing something to improve the lives of others, well, that takes a lot of work. Additionally, some people are afraid of work, and for good reason. It’s difficult and often uncomfortable, especially if we don’t do it often enough.

I believe this is what’s lacking in America. Too many people have forgotten what honest hard work feels like. And it’s a great feeling! We have lost sight of what our freedom is intended for. As a result, that has deprived too many of the joy of pride in workmanship cultivates.

Can you imagine a country where everyone helps each other? Better yet, can you imagine what the media would have to report on?

Okay, you guessed it, more incredibly good-looking concrete!

Putting some
The project is nearing completion.

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