This is Thriller?

Thriller is the greatest music video of all time; and scared the hell out of me. As a kid I loved everything about Michael Jackson: his songs, clothes, dance moves and especially his videos–except one. Thriller. The ghastly, decaying faces–for a time–were too much for me to handle. But once I conquered that fear, Thriller became my all-time favorite. The key was the documentary, Making of Thriller. Rewatching it brought back memories and revealed these 5 lessons on home improvement.

IT starts with a vision.

Michael saw Thriller as more than just another music video. For him, it was an opportunity to resurrect the art of short film. To accomplish this he sought the help of experts in filmmaking, special effects, and choreography in John Landis, Rick Baker, and Michael Peters. 

When we bought our first place, it was more than just a building. It was a place to establish our foundation as a family and a seed planted toward multigenerational wealth. One of our applicants said they see their home as a potential safe haven for friends and family. Vision is where it begins. 

You will be afraid.

Again, I was terrified of Thriller–that is–until I saw the behind-the-scenes documentary Making of Thriller which demystified the monsters by exposing their step-by-step transformation process. I got to see that all of those "monsters" were really just people under gobs of makeup. 

Similarly, by leveraging the knack and know-how of handy retirees, DIY homeowners can demystify their home improvement projects. With guidance, supervision and the right tools even novices can become bolder, braver and more confident when facing the horrors of the unknown. 

Put up a good fight. 

Michael Jackson endured a lot to get into character: literally hours of makeup and rehearsal. In the film, the characters don't go gently to their grave...but run, fight, conquer and dance like no other. Still the monsters continue to stalk, give chase and never let up. It's scary but decay come to us all. 

RxR knows that as homeowners and community members we have to actively fight against home and neighborhood decay. Ownership comes with a great deal of responsibility. As homes age they require repair and maintenance. Being equipped and proactive will give you a fighting chance. 

Father knows best/Principles are the same.

Rick Baker–the monster maker–said this about his father's influence on his career: 

"The very first makeups I ever did were grease paint makeups where you take your standard grease paint material and use it as an artist paints a picture with highlights and shadows, light colors and dark shadows to create the contours of the shape. My father, who was a fine artist, taught me how to use that. The principles are the same."

To those who say, "What if I don't have a father who paints, is handy or even around?" I hear you and am here to tell you that the point is not about your father in particular. There is someone out there that can and will teach you if you are willing to learn. RxR is developing into a go-to for that kind of partnership. People are out there, maybe it's a former coach or teacher, a neighbor or the relative of a friend. The principles are the same.

Be good to work with.

Can you imagine spending a couple hours everyday in a chair having to be still, quiet and slathered with goop–oh yeah, and being one of the most famous people on the planet? Michael Jackson did. Without his willingness to submit to this routine and be at the mercy of others–directors, makeup artists and choreographers–Thriller would have never happened. 

Whenever you are trying to learn something new, the best thing you can do is be coachable. Through RxR, retirees give their time to assist homeowners with their personal journeys of making their vision of home come to life. Concentration, patience, and humility go a long way in the development of skills, confidence and community.

Fact: Not everybody's project will be as legendary as Thriller. But with a strong vision, a bit of courage, grit and perseverance, steady wisdom, and the right attitude...your home improvement process can be something to be proud of. 

Happy (Re)New Year!

What makes New Year so magical? How can the dropping of a ball at the stroke of midnight instantly conjure hope and possibility? Spellbound by reflection and resolution, many snatch their clean slate and list goals believing, "This is the year!" Maybe this is your year. PL plug. 

I don't know why, but I get it. We want to be better versions of ourselves. We want to be happier, smarter, richer, more in love and–most importantly–look good doing it. "Working out" annually claims the top resolution spot. It's no wonder that gyms are blanketed by a blizzard of people in January only to thaw out by March.

Before the wave of foaming champaign confidence crashes into a beach body infomercial, I have one question. What kind of shape is your house in? The truth is houses age, too. While the rest of the country focuses on abs, is your home able to handle a few crunches?  

Here are few tips when it comes to "property fitness".

  • budget for repairs

Don't get caught empty handed when your furnace goes on the fritz. Anticipate repairs and maintenance and assign some dollars to those future tasks. Think of it as a kind of monthly  membership gym fee. Being proactive can save you money. Ever try to bargain during an emergency? It's tough. Venders can smell desperation. With enough time and prep, your may be able to do-it-yourself. Whatever the case, having that cash handy will alleviate some stress. 


You remember the home inspection report, right? It was a $300 stack of paper that put the fear of God in your home buying process...until you got the keys, moved in and everything was all better. Besides, you've been in the house a whole year (or two) and everything is fine (or not). It can't hurt to dust off the report and see what's been out of sight and out of mind. Bonus points if you have already addressed the issues; if not, make a list. If you never had one, get one. Your house needs to be checked for high blood pressure and hernias, stat!

  • Get rid of some $#!%

Fact: everyone poops. There's even a book about it. Unfortunately, houses cannot poop and depend on occupants to eliminate its excess and waste. Over time accumulation can obstruct access points, hide problem areas in need of attention and–worst case–become a fire hazard. A lean, clean home is easier to repair and leaves more time and space for making fond memories. 

This year, let's make more of an effort to renew our mind, body and shelter.