Girl in a Man’s World.

I work, live, and play in a man’s world. Everything that brings me joy, makes me giggle, and challenges the hell out of me resides in a man’s world, and I’m okay with that. I actually never gave it much thought, I just followed my dreams. I never cared what other people thought.

I won’t say it’s been easy — it has not, but I wasn’t going after easy, I was going after my dreams. And I’ve reached them, with more to go.

I haven’t always been welcomed — but I never expected a welcome party, I just wanted the opportunity to fulfill my dreams; and I have. You can too!

I have received pushback from those closest to me and those who didn’t know me at all. I never let that stop me. Ever. Don’t ever EVER let anyone stop you from chasing your dreams. It doesn’t matter what happens along the way or if you even get there. What matters is you did everything you could to make them happen. You’ve already succeeded at that point. The rest is just a matter of determination and perseverance.

Some dreams took decades. I didn’t mind. They were all worth the wait.

I started flipping houses when I was 22. You know, just like in those tv shows where people buy really ugly houses and make them beautiful. That’s me, only I don’t have a television crew following me around — yet.

My love of rehabbing started in my late teens when my mom and I would walk through neighborhoods and I’d point out houses that needed work. I’d say… “I would get rid of those bushes, cut back those trees, paint the patio, put on some shutters, and change the paint color.” I had a real sense of what would make a house look appealing.

I continued my assessments at open houses. “That wall needs to be moved to open up that space, the door is in the wrong place. If you closed up this door and put one over there, it would create better flow.” I was a natural.

On my first flip I removed a load bearing wall (the wall that holds up the roof) and had to call a contractor to come fix it so the roof wouldn’t come crashing down. My vision for the house required that open feeling. It was a great learning lesson. I never made the same mistake, but I made many other bonehead moves, but I made sure I always learned. That’s what we’re all here to do.

For the next three decades I bought really ugly properties, the stinkier the better, fixed them up, and sold them for big bucks. It was really challenging and exciting, and very rewarding.

When I was 16 I wanted to be a race car driver, so my father recorded the Daytona and Indy 500, editing out all the commercials (this was long before TIVO and DVR.) He did it all by hand. I was a bad ass teenage chick driving a 1967 Chevelle Super Sport convertible with a 396 and turbo 400 trans. I was hell on wheels. When I was 15 I would take the car out behind the airport. There was a road that dropped off suddenly, and if you drove fast enough, you could get the car airborne. It was a hoot!

I was the only girl in my high school auto shop. No one wanted to be my partner. I did my report on Corvettes. I still want one. In college I was one of two girls in auto shop. I rebuilt carburetors. I typical date for me was helping my boyfriend pull a transmission. I rebuilt the engine in my car just to see if I could. I could. But even back then I didn’t like getting dirt under my fingernails. I like being in a man’s world, but be very clear, I am still a girl.

When I realized you can take your own car to a race track, get an instructor for the weekend, and drive as fast as your car and skills would allow, I thought I’d finally be able to get the speed bug out of my system. It was one of the most exciting weekends of my life! Unfortunately, it only made my problem worse, and after leaving the race track I hit the highway doing 105 mph. Problem not solved.

After a year or so I moved up the levels very quickly and wanted to instruct, and an instructor clinic just happened to be scheduled for my car club, but one of the requirements was two years of track experience. I only had one. I have never let lack of qualification, or anything else, for that matter, stop me from doing anything, so I did the one thing I always do when I want something someone says I can’t have. I asked.

I called the chief instructor, who happened to know firsthand of my driving skills and rapid assent through the ranks, and he allowed me to participate. Some rules are made to be broken. Never be afraid to break the rules — just be willing to suffer the consequences.

One might think knowing how to drive on a race track means you can teach someone how to drive on a race track, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Instructing is a learned skill, just like driving, and it took a while for me to figure out how to get the information from my brain and turn it into words a student would comprehend and follow. I loved the challenge.

After a while though, I got bored with volunteering my services and wondered if there was a way I could actually make money doing high performance driving instruction. There was a world famous track an hour from my house and I contacted the man in charge. I asked. I got the job.

Now I’m building my race car. It’s got a hot pink roll cage. It’s awesome!

When I was in Jr. High School, I was bullied. I didn’t like the feeling of not being able to take care of myself so I started taking Karate. I got my ass kicked! I quit after 6 months. I guess life just hadn’t kicked me around enough to summon the bravada to fight back. I needed time for that feeling to percolate.

Decades later I dated a guy who taught close quarter combat. Even though he outweighed me by 60 lbs and towered over me, I learned techniques to defend myself against him. Learning how to protect myself was an amazing feeling, and after we broke up, I went in search of training.

Martial arts came easily to me. You might laugh, but my background in dance, with proper body alignment and positions really made learning Wing Chun Kung Fu easy.

I earned my black belt in three years. It was the toughest thing I’d ever accomplished. There was a point just a few months from earning my black belt where I was so emotionally and physically drained, I wasn’t sure I could make it.

It’s very common for people to earn their brown belts and quit. I was not going to be one of those people. I knew if I didn’t keep going, I would never come back. I had to dig deep and find strength I didn’t even know I had. It took everything I had, but I did it.

My instructor is a Grand Master and holds multiple high ranks in multiple arts. When I took him to the ground, I knew I had accomplished something huge. I’ve now been training on and off for 12 years and have a 3rd degree black belt in Kung Fu, and black belts in DeCuerdas Escrima and Penchat Silat. I get great satisfaction teaching students coming up in the ranks. I especially like having young girls in my class. I like for them to see in me what they are capable of accomplishing. It’s incredibly rewarding to teach a young girl skills that one day may save her life. #girlgonnakickyourass!

I am confident that no matter what situation I find myself in, I will be able to get home safely… the other guy I’m not so sure of.

Everything I have accomplished, I earned. No one has given me anything but a chance. When there wasn’t a chance, I made one. I asked. I have had to prove myself over and over again, as I should.

I have never gotten, nor would I ever want preferential treatment. I wanted to earn the respect of my peers, and I have, in every thing I have tried.

I have failed. I have fallen, but I have never given up, and ultimately, I have always succeeded.

Sure I have battle scars, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I can do anything I set my mind to. That’s a pretty amazing feeling, especially when there are so many people just waiting for the chance to knock you down. I can help you make your dreams come true.

I don’t care who you are or what you want to do, if you want something bad enough, you and I can make it happen. Many women have fought the battles and led the way before me. I have learned my lessons and earned my rewards.

Follow along on my journey and I’ll share the roadblocks and pitfalls, and I’ll also show you some shortcuts and secrets.

Come on! Follow me. Just think of all the fun you’re going to have!

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Life’s short. Eat the cake. Buy the car. Laugh until you cry. Please yourself. Be real. Always be honest. Live with integrity. Never give up. Be better everyday

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Janine

Life’s short. Eat the cake. Buy the car. Laugh until you cry. Please yourself. Be real. Always be honest. Live with integrity. Never give up. Be better everyday