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Saturday, March 25, 2017


So the home we currently live in I bought “sight unseen”.  That is to say, of course I had “seen” it via the world wide web, but I hadn’t visited it up close and in person.  This factoid stuns and amazes most I share it with, for good reason.  Who makes the biggest investment of their lifetime in something they have never actually laid eyes on?

This girl!
Here's the backstory:  the house we were leaving sold in 2 weeks and my husband had already moved to start his new job and he'd been scouring the local market to no avail for over a month.  I sent listings to him nearly daily, but up until this point he had assured me nothing he had seen was suitable.  I was home alone with a 3 year old and a dog and my despair.

Then, one fateful Tuesday (yes, I remember what day of the week it was) THIS house came on the market.  I had those little heart palpitations of excitement as I looked over the listing and quickly sent it on to both my husband and our realtor with an urgent flag:  get into this one IMMEDIATELY!  Then I set off to pick up our son from preschool.
When I returned home no one had responded to my URGENT online request, so I called and left URGENT phone messages.  The realtor FINALLY responded (later that afternoon, but I was VERY anxious so it seemed like an unreasonable wait) that he had an appointment for Thursday.  THURSDAY!!!!  Like Wednesday just didn’t exist, you know???

I was on pins and needles until they FINALLY got in to see the place (36 hours of torture) to confirm my intuition…we had finally found “the one”!  I was ready to hop in the car and drive 10 hours, but that is just not done when there is a toddler expecting preschool and a nap the next day and a dog needing to be fed and walked and such. 
Then the horrifying news that there was to be an OPEN HOUSE on Saturday!!!  MY house could be stolen right out from under my nose before I ever even had the chance to see it!  So I did what any reasonable person would do:

I authorized our realtor to make a full price offer that very night.
You are probably the one suffering heart palpitations at this point in the story, right?  But I am an intuitive person and I trusted my intuition.  Luckily, our offer was accepted because some totally jerky idiot from the open house wanted to make an offer too but backed down when he heard there was already FULL PRICE on the table.  What a jerk! (jk!)

Okay, now I secure appropriate care for the kid and pup and head up to see my dream home with a song in my heart.  I meet up with my husband who drives us there (here) for the first time without the local realtor navigating and having mistakenly relied on Google maps to set our course.  You see where this is going:  we get lost.
But not run-of-the-mill-I-made-wrong-turn lost, more like omg-have-we-entered-the-7th-circle-of-hell lost.  We find ourselves on this weedy, bumpy, unpaved little rural road that seems to get narrower and narrower the further we drive and we literally keep having to stop because chickens and goats are wandering into our path (yes, I know what literally means.  This is how it happened).  Of course, my response to the apparent fact that I am about to move my life and child into some kind of outtake from Deliverance causes me to burst into hysterical tears.

I sat sobbing cooperatively as my husband tried to figure out where things went awry.
But all’s well that ends well and we finally found MY house (on a PAVED street!  In a LOVELY neighborhood!  With NARY a chicken or goat in sight!) and now we have lived here nearly eight years.  And, as an added bonus, the people we bought the house from have become good friends in a serendipitious turn of events, so we were doubly blessed.  That, my friends, is intuition in overdrive and a very happy ending!

But there were a few bumps in the road on our way here, right?  Literally.
So now I tell you about that mysterious little chickeny, goaty trail we found ourselves on;  it’s like the “ye olde fashione” version of a major bypass  WITH THE SAME NAME which is why the splendidly helpful Google Maps mistakenly routed us that way.  I am a big walker and walk almost daily the couple of miles to the entrance of this makeshift “road” and often warn drivers who have been given the same bad intel from the fine folks at Google to stay clear.  It seems to be mainly a place where kids drive their ATV’s and possibly drink a few beers with the farm animals.

Then recently we had a big snowstorm and afterwards I was tromping my usual path and frankly fretting about my current life challenges.  When I arrived at the trail of doom, I saw the plows had just piled up everything from the road I was on, totally blocking the entrance with a pile of snow taller than my head.  And as I contemplated the icy wall, wondering how the chickens, goats and ATVer's would feel about all of this, I had the sudden thought:   this obstacle is temporary.
And then, upon further reflection, I decided that most ALL obstacles are temporary.

And in realizing this, I went about my way with a lighter heart, knowing that the obstacles in my life would eventually melt away like the snow, and I would see my way clear again.  Or, as the common wisdom mandates, this too shall pass.   But it is not quite that simple.
Each day, as the snow melted more and more I imagined the obstacles in my own life getting smaller and smaller too.  I felt a renewed sense of energy and faith.  And then one day, sure enough, the wall of snow was completely gone; the obstacle had been removed.

As if to bring the point home, the ATVer’s had already driven their machines up over the last remaining hump of dirt the snow plow had left, mashing it to the ground with heavy tread.  I felt liberated!  And then I saw it:  a brand new handmade sign that someone had tacked to a tree:

Yes, like the sort of thing you would see outside of a child’s fort or treehouse. Not the most uplifting end to my tale, I know.  Yes, the obstacle was gone, but that means I have to move ahead now AT MY OWN RISK. 
And that’s how life is, isn’t it?  We think IF ONLY there weren’t these OBSTACLES! But then when the obstacle no longer exists or is overcome, fear may still assert itself; just because the pathway has been cleared doesn’t mean we don’t still have trepidation about going forward.  Going forward means being brave and being brave means there is always some risk involved.  We know what we have to do, but will we be brave enough to do it?

Now to answer your questions:  YES, all of this actually happened (literally).  YES, my brain does work this way ALL the time and there is no such thing as “just” a melting pile of snow (or a cigar).  And finally NO, I didn’t have buyer’s remorse having pulled the trigger on a house I had never seen.  I trust my intuition; it has given me good reason.
So the moral of the story is this…even on the path of intuition there will be obstacles; these obstacles are always temporary and are testing your resolve.  And when these obstacles are overcome, bravery will still be required to move ahead.  But if you can remember all of this, it will help keep you sane while you are on the path to your very own dream house, dream career, dream life. 

In life, you pass at your own risk.  But as Keirkegaard put it, “Without risk there is no faith.” And what is faith but making the biggest investment of your lifetime in something you have never actually laid eyes on? 

Saturday, March 4, 2017


You know how you get a song stuck in your head and it just replays over and over on a loop?  It’s quite possible I just did that to you with my title.  Sorry about that.

But Dave Mason’s “We Just Disagree” may be a good anthem for the times we are going through right now.  Darn it.  Oh, I know…but theybut theybut they…I know, truly I do.
I’m not saying no one ever does anything “wrong”.  I’m certainly not saying no one ever does anything unkind.  I’m definitely not saying no one ever does anything hurtful.

I’m saying that our need to draw those lines, to label people as “good” and “bad” and “right” and “wrong” is really not terribly productive and may be more damaging to ourselves than we realize.  This anger we feel, that we believe is directed at “the other” is actually a swirling storm going on inside of our own minds.  Like the song that replays over and over on a loop, this game of shame and blame becomes our own toxic trap.
Okay, it is hard right now with all of the dangerous, dishonest collusion dangling right in front of us to recognize our righteous anger as harmful.  So let’s take the discussion to a more personal level; have you ever been witness to an ugly divorce?  One where dangerous, dishonest collusion may have been involved?

The sense of betrayal and heartbreak in the “wronged” party can be excruciating without a doubt, and good friends will not only validate the experience of grief, they will also channel much of their own anger towards the “bad guy”.  This provides a temporary sense of relief and support for the person as they extricate themselves from the unhealthy situation.  But what ends up happening when they hold on to the anger and blame instead of moving on?
We have (unfortunately) all seen parents who (inexplicably) try to turn their children against the ex-spouse after a divorce.  If it is not common sense to you that this is a miserable idea, I am not going to Google the kabillion articles that tell you so on your behalf.  But even if there are not children involved, how many people do you know that hang on to the bitterness and sense of victimization long after the relationship has resolved?  How do these people tend to do in forming new, healthier connections? I won’t Google that for you either.

I once knew a woman whose husband had betrayed her on a level most of us will thankfully never experience; essentially, their whole relationship was a lie.  But they had children and even though this man continued to treat her with mind-boggling disrespect after their divorce, I never heard her say a word against him.  They maintained a cordial relationship for the kids and she made every effort to allow them whatever access to their father that they chose.
I was young enough to be outraged on her behalf and awe-struck by her lack of anger.  But as my life evolved and I witnessed the beginnings and endings of more and more relationships I began to see how wise she was.  First, because her ex was the father of her children, vilifying him would have meant on some level rejecting them; but also, he had taken so much from her already, she wasn’t going to let him steal another moment of her peace and contentment.

So you are wondering—is this guy not a “bad guy”, in spite of her stalwart efforts to not empower him to ruin her life?
Here is my opportunity to give you the whole back story and make you if not empathetic, at least more intellectually understanding of why the man behaved as he did.  But I’m not going to do that.  I am simply going to point out that there is always more to the story, always.  And to paraphrase Neal Donald Walsch (who himself claims to be paraphrasing the Almighty):  no one does anything wrong given his/her model of the world.

Ugh, that is hard to accept, isn’t it?  But now we can return to those lawmakers who do all of these (horrible IMHO) things with big self-righteous smiles on their faces—smiles we self-righteously want to wipe away—and realize the ugly truth of it…they actually think they are doing the “right” thing.  ARRRRGH!  SO. HARD. TO. ACCEPT!!!
Given my model of the world, they are 12,000 kinds of wrong times a million, but I have to understand that they think THEY are “the good guys”.  They think they are protecting me from my naiveté.  They think they are putting in place a system that supports the people who “deserve” that help.   ARRRRGH!!!!!

Okay, the good news is, like the song says—we can disagree.  And unlike the song, we don’t have to “leave it alone”; we are 100% within our rights to stand up for each other and against policies that we believe are dangerous or damaging.  That is democracy, and we are seeing it in action now on a daily basis.

The bad news is, when we self-righteously attack their self-righteousness—well, you see where I am going.  We A) aren’t getting any closer to a solution and B) are living in an angry space of our own making.  Anger breeds anger, contempt evokes contempt and it is just as pointless to vilify someone who we think is making a mess of things (even on a colossal scale) as someone who is having a bad day. 

ARRRGH!!!  I hate that I’m right about this, I promise you that.
If your child made a mistake in class and the teacher screamed at him and told him he was “bad” or “dumb”, you would just about lose your mind, wouldn’t you?  The child is in school to learn, and mistakes are part of the learning process; demeaning a child for his mistakes is not going to accomplish anything positive.  So why do we think this is the way to go when dealing with other adults?

I hate that I’m right about this.  But when we spend our time and energy, whether in our personal and professional relationships or in our global politics, screaming about how “bad” “dumb” and “wrong” the people who disagree with us are, we aren’t getting anywhere we want to go.  Mistakes have been made; this goes without saying.  The question is, are we going to fixate on it and let our anger feed on itself in that endless loop in our heads?
When we (or someone we care about.  Or people we don’t even know.  Or our country.) have been “wronged”, we have every right to say—“This is unacceptable to me”.  We have a right to walk away from people and situations that feel harmful or disrespectful to us.  We have a right to make a stand for people who may not be able to stand up for themselves.  We have a right, as citizens, to vote, protest, petition and rally.  We have a right to speak up for ourselves and our beliefs.

But let’s try to remember that (again, as the song says) we’ve all “grown up differently”.  There is always more to the story than meets the eye, always.  And as we learn each other’s stories, we begin to understand a little better that we are all doing the best that we can, given where we came from and what we know. 
My Aunt likes to tell a story about me as a tiny child; she overheard me saying that I thought she must not have gotten enough sleep, given how cranky she was.  She loved that even though her crankiness was directed at me, my empathy was with her.  Maybe it is too much of a leap to accept that our lawmakers may just have not “gotten enough sleep”; but if we can start from that point of compassion with the people in our lives, it would be a step in the right direction, don’t you think?