My house sold yesterday. It had been on the market for 5 days.
I had a blog post started before this one. It was a long spiel justifying why I decided to quit my teaching job of 16 years and sell my house after living in it for only 3 years. But, I deleted it. It was a big long list of reasons why I’m fed up with the public education system and why I no longer like living alone in a really large house in a nice neighborhood. I deleted it because while those reasons are valid and have merit, they don’t really get down to the truth of it all: my heart is calling me to live larger and love harder than I have ever lived or loved before.
What all of that looks like is uncertain to me. Where I go from here is really uncertain as well. When I think too hard, fear shows up. I try to welcome its warning signs that I’m on the edge of something really great. Something steeped in mystery and rich with possibilities. But, I struggle with the things I can’t see or pretend to control.
This weekend, my friend Valerie and I rented a small cabin in Southern Illinois as a way to take a break from fast and furious changes happening in our lives. Time slowed down and we both had a chance to unplug and unwind.
Late on Saturday morning, while we sat at a greasy spoon eating an amazing breakfast, I got a phone call from my realtor. She told me the young couple who viewed my house the night before fell in love with it and made an offer. I walked outside to talk more in detail with her. I took her advice and went with a high counter-offer to see how serious they were. They took the bait and offered a counter that was reasonable for them, but not beneficial to me. I asked for a few hours to breathe (my house had only been on the market since Tuesday, had 5 viewings in that short amount of time, and here it was Saturday morning with another viewing for later that day). My realtor was supportive and told me to call her when I was ready.
Val and I drove 40 mins south to Fern Clyffe State Park to see the luscious and unique ferns and small flowers that are in bloom this time of year. Once we were at the trail head, all of my anxieties and nerves over the impending real estate situation dropped away. We started in on the north side of the loop and immediately were greeted by lacy ferns, spiral and spiky plants, tiny flowers peaking out from underbrush, sunlit leaves, mossy stones, and warm sunshine on our faces and arms. I silently said a prayer to be guided to an answer by the time the hike was done.
We came around the western side and noticed the changed ecology. Here were dry evergreens, splotches of sand, prairie cacti, little geckos running underfoot, and a passable incline to sit on the cliff and look out across the park and towards the lake. The sun was hot and we didn’t have much shade. We made our way up the trail to sit on the bluffs and write in our journals. Valerie was gracious enough to help me with a writing exercise. She asked me a series of questions regarding my feelings and ideas to selling my house and all I had to do was write my honest responses. It helped but I didn’t have a specific answer to my question: how much should I accept and how quickly should I sell my house? I had emotions around all of this, but mostly I was numb to it all.
I have been in a “get shit done” mode since I crossed the threshold into this new phase and journey in my life. Time and events seem to be swirling around me that it’s all I can do to stay calm and centered. I had been doing well and felt grounded most days, but I could feel myself beginning to run on fumes. Sitting in the hot sun on top of that cliff really brought me to the edge of a breaking point or a break through. I wasn’t sure which one was coming. I walked deeper into the brush and wound up seeing a higher part of the cliff about 10 feet away. Valerie heard me yell “Oh wow!” and came to my side. She was in awe of the beauty as well.
I was ready to walk away and continue the hike, when Valerie suggested we do some yoga poses near the cliff and take pictures of each other. I wanted to do my classic wheel pose (a deep back bend) and Valerie advised I do a few strengthening and back-bending poses before I went into something that deep and physically engaging. So, I wound up doing Warrior II and Reverse Warrior a few times. And something inside of me called me to assume a focused Warrior stance, like I was ready to release my bow and arrow and hit my mark. I stood a few feet from the edge of the cliff, grounded my feet, got strong in my legs, stood tall in my spine, and pulled back my imaginary bow and arrow and said a prayer to be guided so my aim could be one-pointed, fierce, and full of love. That’s when Valerie snapped this photo:
Afterwards, we climbed down the trail and headed south. The ecology changed again and the scenery became more lush and dense. A coolness settled onto our skin as we were shaded by denser trees, ferns, moss, and a damp earth that smelled of sweet and decaying leaves mixed with mud. We rounded the corner of the cliff and tucked back off the trail was what looked like a grotto.
We gravitated towards it and could sense the temperature change immediately. A feeling of profound love and gratitude came over me. It almost felt like some earth goddess was calling to me, to climb up the sides of the slippery wet stones and stay with her. I tried to climb the stones using two pieces of wood that others had placed there to do the same thing, but it was just too slippery and I was too much of a chicken. Valerie gave me some space and walked back to the trail. I stayed there and silently prayed. I asked the stone goddess, the Divine Feminine, what I should do about this difficult decision of selling my house. I honestly wasn’t expecting that I could let go of it in under a week. I thought I had at least a month or so before this transition got under way and that I could have a little time to plot out a more detailed version of my new life. Yet, I knew that this was my moment: that I had to take some action and make some really tough decisions and place all of my faith (what little of it I feel I have) and all of my courage (more than the bravada I sometimes tend to show) into this one moment that must happen today. And that’s when I felt a voice somewhere in my heart whisper “Know your worth.”
I took a deep breath as tears streamed down my face. I listened internally again and heard the same loving voice say, “Know what you’re worth. Value yourself. Say it out loud. You deserve everything and you will not settle for less.” And I stood there and cried. I looked up and searched the dark cave-like structure that was above me. I knew there wasn’t going to be anyone or anything that walked out of there, but it felt right to just look up and know that Mother Earth was with me, was inside of me, was a part of me. I placed my hands on the cool, wet stone cliff that was even with my heart center and I repeatedly said, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” I had my answer. I knew what I was going to say to my realtor. I knew that my decision was final and that it was a decision that would protect me and give me everything I wanted either today with these potential buyers or with another one that would show up at another time.
I got back on the trail and Valerie was waiting for me. She saw my tears and my relief and just hugged me and smiled.
We finished the loop of the trail by coming out on the east side to circle back to the car park. We had to climb up three sets of wooden stairs that took us up and towards the sunny day again. The end of the trail was light and airy and a trickling stream was barely meandering next to the trail and underneath the outcrop of the cliff. A family of Amish people were coming towards us and they stepped to the side of the trail to let us pass. They were all smiles and we greeted one another and it was obvious the children were excited to be out in such a beautiful park like Fern Clyffe. There was an innocence and simplicity to our interactions with one another. Val and I walked out to the car lot smiling and said hello to an old man who who was dressed in overalls, a light blue tshirt, and was using a walking stick. He sat down at the picnic area to enjoy his afternoon.
I threw my pack into the car and told Val I was going to go back to the picnic area to call my realtor. I encountered the old man again and asked if he minded that I make an important phone call. I’m a sucker for a charming old man that has the energy and humor of an ornery and adorable teenage boy, so I wound up telling him a little bit of my life story. When he asked where I would be living or what I would be doing next, I didn’t have a really good answer for him. He laughed and said, “Oh well. They still homestead in Alaska. All you need is a chainsaw and a shotgun and you’ll be fine.” I needed that laugh.
He then told me that I reminded him of his daughter and that she didn’t settle for anything but the best for herself and now has the life she’s been wanting for a long time. I told him, “Thank you. I needed to hear that.” He replied with his southern Illinois country twang, “Oh sure. Now, go make that phone call. Just be honest and say what you want. Everything will be fine and you’ll get what you want when you’re honest and it’ll be good for everyone else too.”
I took his advice. I called my realtor and told her my honest answer and what I would be willing to accept for the deal. It was fair. It was exactly what the house was worth to me and what I deserved in order to be free and to move on without any financial or stressful emotional burdens.
I thanked my wise old, funny man and in return I did a favor for him. He asked to use my phone to call his wife because he realized he had left his phone at home on the charger. I dialed and he talked to her and told her that he and the Amish people from their town would be back before night time. “Do you need anything before I come home, babe?” he asked. And then he listened and asked her about her day. They laughed and then he nonchalantly asked, “How’s my chickens?” The conversation went on another 30 seconds or so and then he lovingly said goodbye to her. I smiled and knew that I was a lucky girl. My wise old man gave me back my phone and thanked me. I patted his back and thanked him. He told me he was always there for advice. I turned around to wave goodbye and he said, “Don’t forget your chainsaw and your shotgun!” And like any good trickster or sage, he laughed and laughed and laughed.