What’s the worst that could happen?

Escrow on our house opened on  August 4th. This means that it should close on September 5th, the 4th being a holiday. The best case scenario is that everything will go smoothly and it will close on time. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Right now it looks like we will be on schedule. However, we just learned we have a few hiccups that may or may not turn into something more threatening. We are awaiting the results of one report and a response to our latest communication. With luck all will go well.

I don’t remember ever going through anything as stressful as this. I have sold two houses before, but I don’t remember being this anxious. I know that I have no control over the outcome but that doesn’t help me when I am lying in bed at 3:00am with all of the wheels in my brain spinning. I am trying to remain positive. My husband, on the other hand, is more pessimistic. He sees each hiccup as a sign that this was not meant to be. I’m guessing that our reality will be somewhere in the middle.

It is difficult, when you have two people wanting to control a situation that they ultimately cannot control. In cases like this, you just have to turn it over to God. This is something I try to do on a daily basis. There are so many things that have to be scheduled.  As of right now they are all lined up based on a closing date of September 5th. Should anything fall through, all of those locked in dates will fade into the paper they are written on. This would not be the end of the world, but it certainly would give credence to my belief that everything happens for a reason. I have to remember that I said that. My job is to remain as neutral and flexible as humanly possible.

I continue to pack, knowing that at some point we will be leaving. Living in limbo like this is my worst nightmare. It shouldn’t be, but it is. (Well, maybe 3rd worst.) As I have mentioned before, I like structure and I need my nest to be in tact. This is hardly a description of our current situation. The more I pack, the more I am surrounded by boxes which translates in my brain to upheaval rather than structure.

Finding the time to write this was challenging. I am actually writing as I sit in the arena at my barn watching my horse walk around searching for loose grass in the sand. My days are full and go by too quickly. Figuring out times to get together with friends or loved ones for the last time before we leave is next to impossible. I am doing the best I can.

Is there a lesson in all of this? Of course there is. One must let go of the things one cannot control. This is something I’ve known and practiced or attempted to practice for years. You must remain flexible, patient and above all,  keep the faith that it will turn out in the end the way it was supposed to. I do believe that, strongly.There is an end to this chaos and I will be on the other side of it dancing for joy. I honestly can’t wait for that moment.The moment when I will do my happy dance and I am hoping that my husband will join me.

As I sit here on the mounting block in the arena watching my horse, I am praying with all my heart that the dance of joy will come sooner than later. Stay tuned, and keep the faith. God bless.

Down to the wire

As we move closer to selling our home, I find myself with mixed emotions.  Someone told me recently that after you fix up your house and stage it, it looks so good that you don’t want to leave! I’ve felt some of that. Our house has never looked this good; free of clutter, freshly painted and staged to perfection. Remind me again why we’re leaving? Oh yes, I remember now.

It’s hard on the brain. I walk around this beautiful home trying to comprehend that soon it will not be mine. Someone else will be bathing in my claw foot tub. Someone new will be washing dishes and looking out into the yard and my favorite tree that at sunset softly filters the last of the day’s light. A fire in the fireplace this winter won’t be warming me as I lay curled up on the couch watching an old movie.

So much has happened in this house. My youngest son got married here in 2012. The reception was out at the pool. A DJ played for people to dance in our courtyard. In 2014 Bill and I renewed our vows in front of friends and family. And then there were the many summer days at the pool with our children and grandchildren.

Oh dear, this is not a good path I’m on. I need to be looking ahead to the new adventure. Here’s to not stepping out of my comfort zone but leaping! Sprinting down the path instead of having to be dragged, kicking and screaming.

So many changes. World upside down. Developing new routines. Becoming a new me,  a more advanced form. Sarah 2.0.

This could be fun! I remember being in Oregon in May. We were in a trendy area in Southwest Portland. Walking together with my son and his family I remember thinking, I could be a different version of myself once we’re living up here. No one will ever know. There’s tremendous freedom in that. The thought actually made me excited. Maybe I’ll cut my hair short and wear hats. Maybe I’ll change the way I dress. Maybe I’ll change my name to Sadie or Madeleine. The possibilities are only limited by my imagination.

I look forward to writing up there. So much inspiration; beautiful evergreens, waterfalls, volcanoes, mountains, bridges, rivers and wildlife. My third book will be written there. I feel the seed for it already growing inside. So much lies ahead.

Somewhere up there is a woman who walks around her home, knowing that it will soon belong to another. Maybe me.

People of a certain age

“But I was 45!” I recently said to someone in order to explain how uprooting my family in the 90s was so much easier than it is today. That started me thinking. Why do we lose confidence as we age? Why are we more anxious, more fearful of change, new adventures, risk taking opportunities? Of course this isn’t a blanket statement. I’m sure there are exceptions. I know of some. Many people in their 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond have done incredible things worthy of our admiration.  Putting aside these amazing humans, do the rest of us not stand a chance? Are we doomed to our living rooms, knitting, watching television, doing exercises, playing golf or painting with our fellow seniors? Ugh.

Where do we get the notion that we are too old for some things? Our American culture tells us that once we get past a certain age we shouldn’t or can’t do the things we did when we were younger.  We shouldn’t expect to. In addition, our bodies often dictate what we can and cannot do anymore. In my case, there are things I used to do when younger that not only couldn’t I do today, but conveniently have no desire to do them!

Our families, especially our partners or spouses, either encourage us to do the things we want to do or gently remind us of our age, as if that alone should stop us.  How we were raised to view ourselves; i.e., a strong sense of self or the opposite, also plays a critical role in our thinking.

Our achievements in life thus far give us the courage to try new things and take more risks. Our self talk is very important because we have a tendency to believe every word of it! “You’re too old to try that!” “You’ll hurt yourself!” “You’re not as smart as you used to be!”

All of this got me wondering. Why am I calling this big move so difficult?  Why shouldn’t I believe I have all of the necessary resources at my disposal? That I am smart enough to handle the challenges that come with the territory. If anything, I am in a better position today than I was at 45. More life experience and more wisdom.  The only thing holding me back is me!

We become more cautious as we get older because we are cognizant of all the possible negative outcomes. The younger we are, the more ignorant we are about the bad possibilities. With age comes not only the knowledge of what could go wrong but also how to fix it.

I say go for your dreams, regardless of age. Take that risk but do your research first. Answer all of the important questions. In other words, don’t jump off the high dive before checking to make sure there is water in the pool! But don’t make your only excuse, “I’m too old.” The time to stop living is when you stop breathing.

I’m going to refrain from calling this move scary and I’m going to call it a glorious adventure. Now all of you out there over 60,  stop saying you’re too old and live your life!

 

I think I want to be five again…

Still in the middle of the chaos of moving. Hiring contractors. Waiting to hear back from them, never hearing back from some. Fast approaching deadline, July 20th, when we hope to get our home on the market. So much has to be done by that date. Actually a couple of days before that date because pictures must be taken for the listing. And on it goes, until I feel like I am going to lose it.

Yesterday during my morning chat with God, I asked if I could be five years old again and climb into his lap.I would let Him finish all that needs to be done for the move. He certainly could handle it. I would just rest there, comfortably wrapped in His arms. He would nudge me awake when it was time to reconvene my earthly life in our new home. Doesn’t that sound wonderful? It would certainly be a welcomed respite from the craziness I am currently going through.

What’s wrong with contractors that they would be so flaky? I do know some who are not that way, but it seems that all of the flaky ones have volunteered to enter my life only to disappoint me. They don’t get back to me when they say they will. They don’t provide a bid as promised. Some of them completely disappear!

There was one who had come highly recommended by a neighbor, over a year ago. I tried using him then and he disappeared right after he gave me the bid. I thought I would give him another chance now that we could definitely use his expertise. He came out, asked me to give him a week to finish a job and then he would give me a bid and hopefully start the work. Yeah, he never called back and never answered my voicemail or my texts. Some folks never change I guess.

Another recommendation for a different job. And I love and trust the person who recommended him! He came out and promised to give us a bid in a few days. That was over a week ago. He has also not responded to my voicemail or texts. What’s wrong with people?

My son says that some contractors will say they will do the work when it’s the only job in town. Then they get the chance to make more money and they drop you like the proverbial hot potato. Perhaps.  Nevertheless it is extremely frustrating. Now I know why many people do their own work, even if it’s not perfect, at least you can count on yourself!

I want to be five and have my only decision be what I will play when I get outside. Or will I stay inside and play with my dolls until Mom calls me for lunch? Those were the good old days, right? Wasn’t five a wonderful age? Still untouched by the stark reality of life but old enough to do things that entertained you for hours. No stress, no problems, no contractors!

Please don’t misunderstand. I know and have worked with some wonderful, reliable and talented contractors. They’re just not around now, apparently.

So when possible, I will curl up in my Father’s lap and have him take over the problems of the day.  I will dream about wonderful new adventures and new friends and moments of sheer bliss. Ah, to be five again!

Relationships

“There!”, Bill said, obviously upset as he threw the ties on the bed.  “You decide!” He was angry because I wanted the final say on which ties he kept and which he tossed or gave away. He was cleaning out his closet due to the upcoming move. Was I out of bounds? In his mind I was trying to assert control over him, which was clearly not a good thing, not if I want to stay married.

I knew instantly that I needed to fix the situation. “It’s okay. Throw away what you want. I’ll back off,” I said, hoping to restore the peace. I heard him say under his breath, “No you won’t.” I left the room, leaving him alone, hoping he would get passed it. I resigned myself to not only accept whatever he threw away but to not even look into the bag he was putting together. No more was said.

When I came home that afternoon from the barn, he greeted me with “The ties on the right side of the bed are the ones I want to keep. Those on the left I’d like to throw away. Go ahead and look them over and pick out any from the throw away pile that you want me to keep.” This was said nicely and calmly, by the way. “Okay,” I said, surprised at his change of heart. I subsequently found three I liked that he was planning to get rid of. He told me to put them with the others that he was keeping.

Taking advantage of his sweeter mood I explained to him that if I were going to throw away a blouse or a dress that he really liked, I would keep it. He understood. Crisis averted.

Relationships are hard. Communication between two people, especially of the opposite sex, makes it that much more challenging.  Bill has buttons. We all do. I think I know most of them by now after fifteen years together but sometimes his mood can cause a reaction that I wasn’t expecting. The tie scenario is a case in point. You try to glean the mood of the other person before tempting fate. This doesn’t always work. I have misread his moods many times, sometimes to the good and other times to my detriment.

Now when he is irritated I try to look beyond my needs to see what might be the root cause. Maybe he didn’t sleep well the night before or he’s stressing over work issues. He’s worried about our future (a common one of late). All of these have proven to be the source of his irritability in the past.

Listen before reacting. Knee-jerk reactions can get you into big trouble and end up escalating the situation beyond your control. I can honestly say that recently my non-reaction has produced zero arguments and lots of happy moments. This because I chose to keep my mouth shut when all I really wanted to do was bitch! And that makes me a bitch, too, doesn’t it?

Certainly there are times when you must speak up. But determine those times carefully, before the accusations fly. Think it through. There’s a reason for the saying, “first count to ten.” The connotation of words, although seemingly universal, isn’t. This is especially true if you are dealing with the opposite sex. I remember years ago getting into an argument with my first husband over the word “upset.” His understanding of what it meant was clearly different from mine. The fact that he was German simply added to the confusion.

Here is my advice when you are faced with a potentially volatile situation with a spouse, partner, child, friend, etc. 1. Listen, don’t just hear. 2. Try to understand where the other person is coming from. 3. Empathize. 4. Now you can talk but don’t use accusatory language. Watch it turn into a peaceful conversation instead of a heated argument.

In last week’s sermon, our pastor said this, “To avoid a vengeful heart remember hurt people hurt people.” Think about that.

Good luck!  :))

 

It’s great to be alive!

Last week I complained about how overwhelmed I was with our upcoming move. I spoke of being crabby and unnecessarily irritable, sleep deprived and addled. This week, as I am beginning to check off some of the boxes on what appears to be a neverending to-do list, a bright thought enters my mind. I’m crazy stressed out but isn’t it great to be alive?

The fog that as little as two weeks ago engulfed me has lifted ever so slightly. I can now see the floor. I feel a modicum of control again. Ergo the ray of light, the optimistic thought that reminds me of all the good in my life.

My husband doesn’t understand how choosing a potential hairdresser or church in Portland can make me happy.  These are twigs I am collecting to build my new nest with. I can’t go to Portland with nothing! I must bring with me as many nest building pieces as I can. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to being settled into what could easily be our “forever home” with my important and necessary relationships (hairdresser, chiropractor, grocery store, doctor, church, etc.) locked down, even if some of them change down the road. One at a time, please.

Sure, I have stress in my life right now. I have trouble sleeping. I worry about the future sometimes. But, boy am I happy to be alive and well, stressed or not!

I read a story today of a man we know who has a rare form of cancer and possibly only a few years to live. He has recently come home from a long hospital stay and is so weak he can barely get out of bed. He has trouble eating and sleeps most of the time. It breaks my heart. His story is one of thousands. It brings be back to what is important and what is merely a temporary discomfort.

That reminds me of something I saw on Facebook yesterday. A small circle a few inches away from a larger circle. Inside of the smaller circle were the words, “comfort zone.” In the larger circle it said “this is where the magic happens.” Good food for thought. It takes your fear of the unknown and turns it into excitement for the adventure that is to be.

No matter what your current story is, remember and say aloud, “It’s great to be alive!” You’ll be amazed at how it changes you. God bless.

One day at a time

It’s hard to sleep. If I wake up in the middle of the night I lie awake for hours before dozing off. During the day it is hard to focus on anything but what is currently going on. I am making lists and keeping notes. Lately I’ve noticed that I am irritable and crabby and taking it out on anyone who is lucky enough to be nearby. I’m quick to get angry. This is not who I am!

It’s the impending move. We haven’t put the house up for sale yet but within the next few weeks we will. We’re deciding between two realtors. We’ve had an appraisal done, a stager come out with suggestions, a painter come out to give bids. I’m trying to find a handyman to do several odd repair jobs. I think I have found a mover but haven’t decided for certain. I believe I have a transport company for my horse but the timing can’t be locked in yet and I’m not sure how smoothly that will go. They have to book it when there are other horses going to the same general area. I have decided that no matter what I must be there on the other end when she arrives. What about our two cats?

Boxes. We need boxes. Lots of them. Will the appraisal be high enough for what we need to sell for? Will the house sell too quickly for us to get out of here? Will it not sell soon enough? When do I give notice to friends and service providers? When the house goes into escrow or when we put the house up for sale? What if it sells and then falls out of escrow?

Welcome to the inside of my mind. I thought I was coping well until I noticed three days in a row that I was in a bad mood,  wanting to lash out at people. That is not acceptable. I will not turn into the mover’s equivalent of “bridezilla”!  No, I have to figure out how to do this moving thing without killing anyone. And then it came to me this morning, One day at a time. That sounds simple enough but can I do it? I have to. I have no choice if I want to stay married and keep my friends. Of course I can do it but how?

I will not look beyond today for what needs to be done. If I need to set up future appointments, I will do so but then I won’t think about them once they are on my calendar. One day at a time.

I’m thinking this is my solution to not feeling overwhelmed. I’m supposed to enjoy the journey, right? This is still my life. It doesn’t stop and then re-start once we get to our destination. I will take my life  day by day, every day. Perhaps we should be living this way all of the time anyway.

When I wake up in the morning I will only allow myself to think about the next 24 hours. This will work.  It will keep me on more of an even keel. I won’t kill anyone, I promise. God bless. :))

The power of music

I just had an argument with my husband. Nothing terribly serious but enough to upset my equilibrium. I used to walk away, find a quiet place and sulk. I would listen to the “devil” side of me which grew my righteous anger and in the end solved nothing. It only served to make me more miserable.

I don’t do that anymore. I still walk away but now I go into the bedroom, gently close the door (that’s important) and turn on KLOVE radio, a Christian music station that plays modern, positive, uplifting music. (By the way, they are all across the country, not just in Southern California.) Within a few minutes I am feeling better. Soon the dark mood I was in has evaporated and I can go back to my husband and my day, forgetting whatever it was that led me to be irritated in the first place. Being a man, my husband  had moved on as soon as I left the room.

It doesn’t just work after an argument. When I am upset, worried or frightened about the things that haven’t happened yet but could, the “what if’s” of life, listening to this station affirms God’s love and  how He wants the best for me. The music reminds me that in these matters I have no control so I turn it over to Him.  Sometimes, when my human side wins out and the fear takes over, I reach out my hand to Him, knowing He will take it. Just as I reached out for my mother or father’s hand as a child. I am God’s child and He is always there.

There are other pieces of music that touch my soul, fill my heart and light my fire. As a child of ten and eleven I remember Sundays in our home were classical music days. That is where I learned to appreciate and love classical music. Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 2 in C minor (my most favorite piece) takes me to depths I am often reluctant to go. It is painfully beautiful and haunting as it finds its way inside of me, taking over my emotions as it takes me away. I can’t truly hear it without crying. For me it is the most incredible piece of music ever written.

Then there is Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe, another favorite. In this piece, Ravel uses human voices like instruments. Again, beautiful, soulful, dramatic music.

Now on to Gershwin, Rhapsody in Blue. My father could actually play this on the piano. Amazing piece of music. You can get lost in it.

Jumping now to more recent music, I recently bought KC & The Sunshine Band’s greatest hits. I love them! As I play that music I am taken back to Tehran, Iran, circa 1975 and dancing at a club with my first husband. We did the “bump” to many of their songs. I can’t sit still when I hear that music. It makes me joyful and full of energy.

Many other artists’ music has the same effect on me. It’s wonderful! When I am in a certain mood I often choose music that I know will enhance it. Or when I am in no particular mood I may listen to music that creates one.

I love country, some jazz, show tunes, classical, rock, ballads, Christian – all kinds, depending on the day and time. What’s your go-to music? Whatever it is, enjoy. It is truly one of the many gifts we have been given as humans. God bless.

Free will can be annoying

I was going to write about the power of music this week but what is in my brain of late is a scattered mess. This morning I told myself to take a deep breath. When I try to discern my thoughts it feels like watching clothes tumbling around in a dryer. Ask me an easy question and it takes me twice as long to answer. Words are swirling around inside my head until it feels like my brain will burst. Have you been there?

I like to be settled. I like familiarity. I like consistency, security, structure, plans, etc. My life is anything but those things right now. Because of this I am floundering and trying to keep it together for people who are unaware of what is going on.  I pretend it’s life as usual but that is hardly the case. I am voluntarily ripping out my roots to make a big move out of state. Part of me is excited, the rest of me lies somewhere between uncomfortable and panic mode.

I mentioned it once before in another blog that we are considering a move to Portland, Oregon. Not a bad place, a place I actually lived in over 17 years ago. I’m older now and uprooting is more of a challenge. I love my life. I have an amazing church, a great trainer (horse), the best chiropractor (I’ve been going to him for 12 years) and the most talented and dearest friend for a hairdresser (15 years). I have a good health care plan that is not available in Oregon, wonderful and special friends and my sister whom I see every six weeks for a “sister day”. I have a son and daughter-in-law here plus three grandchildren and three step grandchildren although it is true that I have a son with a family in Portland as well.

To show you how much I resist change, I remember the moment I knew my first marriage was over. One of the first thoughts that came to me was, “But we have tacos every Friday night!” Routine, habits, tradition.  Walking away from them is not only hard for me, it is painful and scary. But is that a healthy way to live? Shouldn’t breaking away from routine and branching out be good for us? Can’t the change you’re afraid of end up being the best thing that’s every happened to you? Yes!

On the other hand, sometimes making a big change can turn out to be a huge mistake, right? Even disastrous! Oh Lord, help me please.

My husband also has mixed feelings. If he were more on board and optimistic, it would be different but he’s hesitant. He has his reasons, both of which I understand. But then he started the whole move conversation some time ago, making it sound like we had no choice.

I pray about it but no answers come. I try to turn it over to God but decisions have to be made, work has to done, people must be notified.

I’ve been living in limbo for months now not knowing what we will end up doing. Limbo is not my favorite place to be as you can imagine. A decision has to be made soon. We have people waiting in the wings, ready to begin the process.

Breathe, Sarah, breathe. No matter what you decide, you and Bill will make it work. You always have and you always will.  Stay tuned…..

Hope and why I love it

I remember as a child asking my mother for something I really wanted. The second best answer was always “maybe”. “Maybe” soon became my favorite word because it gave me hope. “No” was final, a dead end which led to a young girl’s despair. But “maybe” was something I could handle. It wasn’t “yes” but it wasn’t “no” either. I really didn’t care how long it took to get the final answer. The longer, the better. I let my hope stretch out as far as it could go.

As an adult, even a much older adult, I find myself attached to “maybe” in the same way. Hope. It means that all is not lost. There is still a chance I could get what I want or have a certain outcome. I often hang my hat on it.

Are you someone who believes that if things look bad it means that they will end badly? This is typical and completely normal. But it doesn’t make you feel good. It can lead to depression and a negative approach to life. When things look bad or scary, know that the outcome isn’t necessarily going to be what you imagine. There is always hope. “It isn’t over until the fat lady sings.” (Not very p.c., is it?)

With God all things are possible. I remember hearing about someone who needed a lung – a lung! I immediately thought, Oh, this is really bad. He’s not going to make it. Then it dawned on me that I am very limited in my understanding of what is and what is not possible. I have a human brain. There is still hope because God has the final say. What happened? He got his lung and is alive and well.

Don’t ever decide how things will turn out until they’ve turned out. Hold onto hope until it slips away  and you have to let it go.  Sometimes things don’t work out but sometimes they do. There is a certain mystery in not knowing the outcome. And there is always hope that in the end you will get what you wanted anyway. God bless.