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Going as Far as You Can on your Own

I am someone who is loves to learn new things. Not just academic sorts of things, but just about anything. I love a challenge and searching out answers to questions.

I recently taught myself to put in an adhesive tile floor. I have a cabin in the north woods of Wisconsin and the kitchen floor was a taped together jumble of old linoleum. After watching many many DIY shows, I thought I could tear up that old floor, prep for a new floor, and lay down that sticky tile. So I went to the home improvement store and bought something I could live with that was on sale and with the help of a two wonderful exchange students who were visiting me at the lake, we got to work. After the prep work I followed the DIY show directions starting in the middle and working my way out. And I have to admit it was not all that difficult, once I enlisted help to move the fridge and stove. Inspired by my floor work I thought I bet I could put in a back splash over the kitchen counter.

Again I followed my previously successful self education and preparation. I measured the square footage, very little as it was only a section between windows and then about two inches under the two windows, and went off to the home improvement store to find the on tile. How hard can this be, I just did the floor that was significantly bigger. I only had to “cut” for two electrical outlets so there appeared to very little detail work.  I got to work this time with only the insights of my sister who has done this before…..and while I don’t think that visitors to the cabin will say oh, you tiled your backsplash yourself (as they might say if I were wearing something I sewed myself), I don’t think anyone will be asking me for the name of the person who did my tiling!
So here is what I have learned from this experience….you can really only take yourself so far on your own steam. The point of moving beyond your own DIY expertise is different for each person, but we all reach a moment of when we would do better by working with someone who can teach us more than what we can find in a book, on TV, or talking to others.  Our world expands exponentially when formalize our education. We learn not only from the designated teacher, but also from the experiences and insights of other students. Learning from their successes and missteps is something we can’t do when we are working on our own.
I might have learned that one inch glass tile look darker when it is on the wall, and keeping those lines straight is harder when you have so many tiles, even when you use a level! Next time I will take the tiling class that the home improvement store offers.

Are you ready formalize your education?  Have you reached the point where you can’t move up or over or even out without some additional skills or a formal education? While you may not find what you need at a DIY tiling class at the local home improvement store, I bet you could find it at the local community college or university.  Take the plunge and go back to school.

Dr. Ellen McMahon


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