We have been in our new home for 2 ½ months. Although we are excited every day to see the ever-changing landscape, smell the juniper-infused fresh air, and watch the critters that cross our path and sky, the house has not been all roses and unicorns. Far from it.
The house looks great on the outside and the previous owners spared no expense on some the interior fixtures, like a hammered copper farm sink and nice light fixtures and window coverings. Unfortunately, the previous owners neglected a lot of repairs and maintenance—big and little—over the last couple of years (or more). (During the escrow process, I often felt we were being called to give this house a good home. Now I know why.)
Various and sundry things with the house and getting settled in it are far from perfect. The space is quirky and many of the things I brought to the house from my previous lives don’t fit and/or don’t feel right here. (Todd and I regularly refer to it as the Winchester Mystery House.) Appliances and whatnot that passed muster on the home inspection and when we initially moved in have crapped out in short order. This has left us feeling overwhelmed and sometimes burdened by the long to-do list and imperfections as well as short on time and money to get the things done that we want.
Although the house has certainly required a lot from us, it has also given us a lot. Our time together has been a learning process. We are still getting to know the house as well as ourselves in this new environment. Already, Gentry House has taught me a lot—mostly about myself.
Enjoy the process. I can be an incredibly patient person about a lot of things. Where I am not patient is when things linger unfinished. I am a finisher by nature. I am a to-do-list crosser-offer. The upside of this tendency is that I get things done. The downside is that I can fall into the trap of just trying to filling the hole for the sake of being done, feeling rushed and grasping for the first seemingly good solution. Instead, as much as it pains me, I need to try to enjoy the process and let it unfold naturally.
Allow for space and time. This lesson is part and parcel of the previous. When I rush to the finish, I don’t allow whatever I am working on to evolve into the best version of itself. Me included. I need to give myself space and time to figure out what feels right for me before rushing to correct a perceived deficit. There’s no rush. Let things be what they want to be.
Good is good. One of my favorite quotes is “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good,” and it has become a daily affirmation because I can too easily get wound around the axle striving for perfection—with the house, with my writing, with myself. This creates a lot of stress, dithering, paralysis, and grasping. No one and no thing is perfect. Ever. Good is good enough. When I recently put this new mindset into practice with our housewarming party, I discovered that good enough was actually pretty great. I had the most fun I think I’ve ever had at one of my own parties.
Let things fail. The process of acquiring Gentry House was challenging, to say the least. Twice, we fell out of contract. All along, I maintained the belief that if this house was meant to be ours, it would be. Happily, the house worked out. However, other things have failed, such as the assistant innkeeping job. By allowing things to fail, I know I am creating the opportunity for something better to take its place.
Let go. My recurring theme. In this particular instance, much of what has made my houses feel like home for the past 20 years just don’t seem to fit, physically or emotionally. As hard as I have tried to find the right spot for some things, it always feels forced and unnatural. It’s time to thank these treasures for their contributions to my happiness and move on.
Practice abundance. I am not usually prone to fears of scarcity. However, shortly after moving to Gentry House, I was plagued by feelings that there just wasn’t enough time or money. False fears, I know. Once I acknowledged all that I do have and that there has always been more than enough (money, time, love, etc.), it has been much easier to act from a place of abundance with myself and others.
What you don’t see matters most. I am as guilty as anyone of getting distracted by appearances, mostly my own, which gets increasingly disheartening as age and gravity take hold. Like the house, it doesn’t matter how good I look on the outside if I don't feel good on the inside. If I don’t take care of me—emotionally, mentally, and spiritually—I will be of little use or service to anyone, least of all me.
Acceptance. Perhaps the most important lesson of all. I often say to Todd when he gets frustrated by something about the house, “We need to accept the house for what it is and not judge it for what it is not.” Likewise, I need to accept myself for who and how I am at any given moment on any given day. Because here’s what I know …
- I will fail
- I will feel less than
- I will get impatient
- I will feel rushed and grasp
- I will strive for perfection
- I will get caught up in appearances
In fact, I fell victim to all of these while writing this post. That’s OK. This journey is a marathon not a sprint and most days I am good enough. And that is pretty great.