Sunday, August 24, 2014

Contentment...A Year in the Making

Most blogs take me a couple of hours to write, re-write and edit. This one took a year. It's been almost 365 days since I had to close the door of the house where my family made a life for 19 years. Fifty two weeks since I locked the door, handed the keys to a new family, climbed into a rental truck and not look back. There were probably tears, but I most remember how hard my heart was pounding in my chest as I pulled onto the road. And it's a busy street. A road so heavily traveled that for the past 19 years, it was usually hard to get out of the driveway...but strangely, not that day. The life I knew was gone and there was no traffic to stop me from pulling onto the highway. Solo.

Tiger lamps! And a window covered with furniture!
A year later, the why's, the who's, the how's, and the fact that there are still more questions than answers, don't hold the relevance they once did. I've moved on. I moved up, I've moved mountains. I once read "You'll never know how strong you are, until strong is your only choice." I held onto that thought for so many anxious days and sleepless nights. When the thought of living on my own for the first time ever was too overwhelming, I would whisper to myself "stay strong."
NEVER cover a window!

Months before the old house sold, I had planned and paid for a trip to Maine with my friends. As it happened, the trip ended up being less than 14 hours after I made settlement on my new home. As my sons and friends were unpacking the truck, I was literally rifling through boxes for clothes to pack into a suitcase. In practicality, the timing couldn't have been worse. In reality, the timing couldn't have been better. Climbing into a car full of friends for seven days of laughter, lobster and wine was apparently just what I needed. Like an astronaut looking back on an earth getting smaller, distance gave me the perspective I needed to let go of the pain, the worry, the anger...and to exhale.

My home, my colors!
...And I've been breathing it all in ever since. First up? Making this new place, a place to call home. It was so important to me to create a home base for my sons. Both of them out of the house, with lives of their owns, I wanted them to walk in and feel the warmth of the many holidays and Sunday dinners that they knew in the house that they were raised. Breaking up a home was not my choice. But creating one was now my responsibility. I also wanted to make an investment that would one day be passed onto them. And this may have been even more important to me then them, but it gave me purpose. And that was all I needed to get started!

Wallpaper, linoleum floor, old appliances...all had to go! 
In short, the place I was trying to create this haven in was ugly. There is no other word. Jungle green walls stained with the outline of spears that they had removed. The carpet was nasty. Black and pink wallpapered kitchen with outdated appliances, and a poster of a Native American Indian glued to the wall over the sink.

Now, I'm an earth tone kind of girl. Always have been, always will be. So, first order of business was to get busy with the warm hues of creams and taupe, hardwood floors, and oriental carpeting. I'm not a designer, but I knew what would be me happy. And more importantly, make me content.

And with all that needed to be done, what surprised me the most was my ability to do things that I never thought I could do. I think there is an undiscovered ability in all of us that lies dormant until necessity calls for it. And trust me, it was called for! First off, to get rid of the house-wide jungle motif, every room had to be painted, and I hate painting. I tend to do it fast so I'll finish quickly. The end result is never good, and I end up looking like I had painted the Sistine Chapel. But, I learned to take my time and just get through it. My sister Betty, who has a very steady hand, painstakingly did all the trim work while instructing me to slow down on the walls. (Keeping her quiet was my other motivation to do it right!)

Wall down, granite countertops, tiled backsplash!  Home!
As many readers who followed the transformation know, I created a basement workshop and supplied it with tools and such. I watched YouTube instructional videos for everything from hanging blinds to taking down a wall.

The cost of renovation was quickly eroding my portion of the equity from the house we sold, and I had to learn the "how-to''s of home ownership best I could. I took a few carpentry classes at Home Depot and hired contractors only when I absolutely needed to (such as anything to do with electric). There is still work to be done, but it is mostly limited to bathrooms that not many see, and I need to replenish my funds before I continue.

Looking back, my need, my almost obsessiveness, with working day and night to get this place to reflect my taste, probably had more to do with me, then making it appealing for my family and friends. I'm sure of it now. I had to leave a home I loved, and I just couldn't live in one that I didn't. And now I do. Actually, I may be too comfortable here. Sometimes, I find myself making excuses to stay in. With so much help from family and friends, several gallons of paint, the warmth of wood flooring, and a kitchen I can really cook in, I'm home. I am grateful for this in every way possible.

Now, this next year will be all about breaking out! I have always told my boys to trust their instincts. That 99% of the time, that special inner being is right. Well, my instincts are telling me that there is something on the horizon. Something just outside of my comfort zone! Something that will force me to inhale, catch my breath, and whisper the two words that got me here.

 "Stay strong."


  1. Thank you Asta! It finally feels like home!

  2. Thanks Jess! Moving on instead of rolling over is a good feeling!

  3. Jo, your writing reads like a movie! I can SEE your focus, determination and spirit in your words! I'm incredibly inspired by your strength and just so happy for you.
    Your new home looks like a place where love and happiness and new memories will be quite happy existing! As we say in these parts: "Mazel Tov!!!"

  4. Thank you, dear Patti! I think I lived a sheltered life, You, and all the women in my world have opened my eyes and nurtured my spirit. I am grateful to you all!