Month: August 2016

Change Contortions

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“To put it concisely, we suffer when we resist the noble and irrefutable truth of impermanence and death.  First, we expect that what is always changing should be graspable and predictableSecond, we proceed as if we were separate from everything else, as if we were a fixed identity, when our true situation is egoless.  Third, we look for happiness in all the wrong places. The Buddha called this habit ‘mistaking suffering for happiness,’ like a moth flying into a flame.”

~ Pema Chödrön

A lot has happened in our lives over the past months.  As of the last time I posted, we had an offer in on the farm of our dreams and were waiting to sell our house.  About a month ago, the owners of the farm took another offer, meaning we had 48 hours to turn our conditional offer into a firm offer to buy the farm or let it go.  This set about a huge change for us.  I was hoping that we would sell our place at a good price with the perfect closing date and no restrictions on the offer.  That way we would be able to firm up our offer on the farm and move when we were ready…just like I had pictured it in my head!  Unfortunately life doesn’t work that way.

It seems that it is the darkest hours that bend us into our new shape, forcing us to face our ego and the unrealistic expectations that can come along with it.  We found out about our 48 hour time limit at 9pm on a Tuesday night.  The following two days remain in my memory as a blur of crying, anxiety, fear, anger and shame.  We wanted that farm so badly!  We had been visioning our lives there and considered it to be an upgrade from our current life on all fronts.  With every other property we had looked at, there would always be at least one thing that was a ‘downgrade’…but not this place!  This was the one.  I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t coming together easily.  I have always put faith in the idea that if something is meant to be, that it will happen.   During those 48 hours as I stressed and paced, Rob was working tirelessly to figure out a way to manage financing the purchase of the farm without first selling our house.  We were scrambling.  Our agent called all the people who had recently  viewed our home and also those who were about to view it.  The number of showings went up and  I was out of the house with the children for over 12 hours, adding to the already long list list of days the children got to bed too late.  We were all feeling it.  After our hustle to sell the house in a hurry, all of the potential buyers fell away, and we were left with a tough decision to make.

In Canada, if you purchase a house and cannot secure financing as of the closing date, you are taken to litigation.  You are responsible for all incurred financial damage to the sellers of the property, and subsequent roll out of financial damages to any properties they are unable to close on due to not having the capital from their property.  This risk was unbearable to me.  For the first time in my life I was awake all night long.  I couldn’t get off the toilet, was having anxiety attacks, couldn’t stop shaking, and would burst into uncontrollable fits of sobbing every so often.  The scene was not pretty.  It reminded me of labor.  And a labor it was.

The following day, Rob found a farm lender who provides bridge financing for new farm purchases.  This meant that it would be alright, although costly, for us to own both properties at once for up to a year.  We had to jump through several hoops in order to secure financing with them, including contacting Rob’s parents who were leading a nature tour in Yukon and Alaska.

Everything about that 48 hours felt like a fight.  We were fighting so hard to get the farm.  We were fighting so hard to get the financing in order.  We were fighting so hard to make it work.  Every time we thought we had made progress, we found another hoop we had to jump through.  But we didn’t give up.  I stayed with my horribly uncomfortable emotions.  I took time to talk to my spiritual teacher, seeking guidance for what to do with ‘all of it‘ because my emotional rawness was overwhelming.  I took time to get myself grounded.  I took time to go for a walk in nature.  It was a wild ride, and one I hope to never take again!

When I talked to my in-laws on the phone from the Yukon, they offered 110% support.  They wanted us to get the farm as badly as we did!  The day we needed their help to gather information happened to be the only day they could have provided it .  They spent that day of their working vacation running around to find internet, talking to their financial planner, getting the hotel to print forms for them to fill out to send back to the lender.  They worked so hard for us.  But all I could see were the road blocks.  All I could see were the ways in which things weren’t going to work out.  I couldn’t see past my fear.

15 minutes before our time deadline, we heard back from the lender that with Rob’s parents as co-signers, we had been approved for the loan!   We bought the farm.  The same day, we significantly dropped the price of our house to try and sell it to avoid the costly endeavour of owning two homes at once.  Then…we got excited!  I celebrated for about a day…imagining all that moving to the farm would mean for our lives.  I felt genuine excitement for the experience of packing and moving.  I was dreaming about all the things we were going to do and accomplish in our ‘new life.’

The day after, we got an offer on our house.  A very low offer.  An offer that was less than we had paid for our place when we bought it 8 years ago.  All of the ways we had spent money to improve our house came rolling through my consciousness…Don’t they know we put on the most expensive and best warranted steel roof?  Can’t they see that we did so much to improve the insulation in this place?  Don’t they love the granite counter top I won in an radio contest?  Do they not put any value to the water distiller we installed after we inherited it from my grandparents?  Don’t they like the new pine floors we put in upstairs?  The offer felt insulting.  We said no.

Two days later the same offer came in again, slightly higher, but still lower than what we paid for the place.  They were going to give us our closing date and the offer was firm.  Knowing the showings would be over and having certainty about the deal closing in time made the offer very tempting.  The only outstanding question for us was whether or not our initial lender would still finance us with less capital.  There was also an outstanding appraisal of the farmhouse and 20 acres that needed to be completed to be sure they could finance our deal.  We were going to accept the offer, we just needed some time to make sure things would work out on our end.  We asked for a few days to consider it.  They withdrew the offer.  I felt like my heart was being put through a cider press.  “This should be easy,” I said to myself on repeat, “Why isn’t this easy?”

The following weekend we had committed to working on a natural building project that we helping to orchestrate, well actually we’re teaching a course on it in a couple of weeks (which is another post all together).  We were going to help out at a ‘work party’ on the Sunday in order to get the foundation underway for the project.  After the events of the week, and because I just plain felt exhausted, I decided I wasn’t going to worry about the state of the house when we left for the day, despite the quantity of dirty dishes and laundry that had been flung about the place.  It was nice to just be able to walk out of the house without worrying about what it looked like for the first time in weeks!

At the work party, I got a text from our realtor (I’d like to write another post about my personal experience of the impact of having a cell phone on me at all times…).  The text came in late morning to request a showing that afternoon.   Rob and I were supposed to be guiding the work that day at the building site.  My children were all there as well as my in-laws who had since returned from their trip and were now helping with childcare and the building project (they are amazing people!)  We decided that any opportunity to sell the house was worth a shot, so I left the work party and shoveling rubble into a trench to rush home to clean the house.  I worked harder in that hour and a half than I had at the building site…to the point where I was relieved to return to the rubble trench in the afternoon!

The following day, we had a flurry of showings, 4 or 5 I think.  In the meantime, we asked our lender to do an appraisal on the farm, just in case we sold the house before closing.  The day after, another Tuesday, the low offer returned for a third time.  This time, they returned with the same offer except the closing date was a week later…but still no concession for us to secure our financing.  Then the offers started to come.  We got a total of 4 offers that day and all of them left that first offer in the dust.  We accepted a firm offer with our farm closing date.  The heart wrenching had finally come to an end…or so I thought.

Part of the process of ensuring we got financing was to prove we had enough income to pay the related bills.  I have been on a leave of absence for over 2 years.  Lenders usually consider your previous few years of employment as proof of what is to come.  In order for us to proceed, I would need to be bringing in some income.  I had applied and been approved for a leave of absence for the coming year as well, hoping to maximize my time with my young children.  A call to my union confirmed that I am able to return from an approved leave, even though they have already done staffing for next year.  The postings for the year had already gone to external hire, meaning that they were interviewing people not already part of the school board to fill the spots.  As a result of putting in my request, I had to go through the interview process with the external applicants!  Luckily, after learning I would need to participate in an interview process I was working on updating my resume during the children’s rest time because a few hours later I was siting in front of a principal and vice principal interviewing for a primary/junior arts and kindergarten gym position.  The following morning I interviewed again for a junior/intermediate science and social studies job.  I got news the following day that I had gotten the arts position!

It has been a whirlwind.  I am left feeling a bit up-swept in the whole mess, and like I am still processing all that has happened in the past month.  There is a lot of processing that still needs to happen, including some reconciliation with the idea of returning to a teaching position.  I am very grateful to have a spot in kindergarten gym and the arts, and hope to be able to bring some of what I’m working on to that venue.

Perhaps this goes without saying, but I feel it needs to be acknowledged that as a homeschooling family, our children were with us through it all.  They saw the ups, downs and in-betweens.  I’m sure they learned a lot about emotional processing.  They were amazing through each and every showing.  My sons worked hard to keep their toys tidy, picking up every piece of Lego and sitting quietly on the sofa reading books on the sofa until we were ready to leave the house.  There were a couple of occasions where they watched an excessive amount of a DVD while I cleaned the house, or fielded an important financial phone call.  What I can say for sure is that my children are resilient.  What a blessing amidst the storms we’ve weathered in these past weeks.

I wanted to share the journey with you.  Because it was hard.  Because we made it through.  And most importantly because it matters a lot to where we are going.  As we move through the actions of relocating, juggling homeschooling, returning to the classroom, and becoming farmers, I will have lots to share.  I love writing and have not had space to do it.  This post took precious time out of my day that could have been used to pack more boxes…but I needed to write it out.  I needed to share it.  I wanted my readers to know I haven’t forgotten…about you or how important this work is to me.  I will return.  After the dust settles and we find our new rhythm.  I am bursting with ideas, excitement, ponderings and the like.  I want to write.  And I will when I can.  Thanks for riding alongside me…

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