Living In An Empty House

The day after the moving company emptied (for the most part) my house, my friend Barb, a fellow “semi-cripple”, came over to help me clean.  Despite cleaning constantly for showings, I just didn’t feel the house was quite perfect enough to pass on to the new owners.  Barb has severe shoulder, arm and leg pain on her right side, but she was wrangling my vaccuum cleaner fairly well with her left hand.  Meanwhile, I was in the downstairs cleaning out that mess of leaves and road sand otherwise known as a garage.  Barb kept chiding “I thought you would have everything out of here!” while wrestling the vaccuum around piles of things that were still in the house.  Geez, I was still going to be living at Jo’s for 2 months and as we all know from past posts – I need my stuff!!  In addition, there were a few other piles.  There was the “give-to-Karen pile, the give-to-Jo pile, the donate-to-Goodwill pile, the donate-to-Friday’s Animal Rescue pile, the plants-going-to-Claudine’s pile and the more-stuff-to-bring-to-Barnes-for-storage” piles.  Alright, alright, I’ll admit it, I was a little behind on the moving-out schedule, but I would manage.  Here it was Thursday and closing was scheduled for Friday and Barb and I were cleaning around more of my STUFF.  I admonished myself with a “perhaps you should pick up the pace a bit…”

And then the call came.  It was Marilyn and she had news that no homeowner ever wants to hear from their real estate agent.  Let me pause for a moment and tell you that I had been in the midst of one of the nicest closing periods one could ever imagine.  The buyers were great.  They loved my gardens and they were so nice, I created a garden guide for them.  We chatted over the phone from time to time about our respective progress and I checked with them to ask if they wanted this or that.  The inspector loved the house and passed it with flying colors.  The real estate agents had a great relationship.  Even the garden flowers were looking the best EVER (this might have had something to do with Liquid Fence and winning the battle with the deer, but I digress…).  Everyone was playing so nice in the sand box!  But the bank that my buyers used……oh the bank…….hereupon known in less-than-flattering terminology.   Let’s just say that they started making life miserable – for EVERYONE.  And there was to be no closing on Friday.  NO CLOSING!!!!

Oh my God….the drama that ensued.  Your author here was NOT a happy camper.  There I sat in basically an empty house and there was a possibility that the bank would make problems such that I would have to put the house back on the market.  And what could possibly have been the FIRST thing to occur to me?  I am a stager after all.  Well, with my furniture being gone, I had nothing to stage the house with if it had to go back on the market!!!  The horror!  “No, No. Can’t go there! This is just a delay, not an end” I told myself.

 

 

 

 

At left is what remained of my beautiful staging.  Not much to work with for sure!

 

I love CBS Sunday Morning and watch it every week.  A few weeks before this unfortunate event, they broadcast a segment about swearing.  Apparently it is good for you according to this study!  Listen to this:

“Cursing makes you feel better. In another study, participants were asked to plunge their hands into ice water for as long as they could bear it. When they were encouraged to swear up a storm, they were able to keep their hands underwater 73% longer.”  [1]

I have to admit there was a lot of loud making-myself-feel-better over the course of the next 2 days, which DID indeed prevent me from having any thoughts of finding some banker and submerging his HEAD in ice water.

On Friday morning, I cancelled my “Bittersweet” party as I had named it, and proceeded to sulk and cry and do a bit more self soothing, a la cursing.  Work was going on in the background to get things moving again, but when all there is to do is wait for the decision…AND there’s no guarantee…….Ugh.  Feeling as though all your plans are being held in the balance by someone else is so…..well….scary and out of control.  Desperately needing a distraction, I went over to Barb’s and helped her pack a bit for her move.  It did work to get my mind off things and helped my fellow procrastinator get ready for her move to a new abode.

That evening I went home and closed up my former bedroom and spare bedroom.  No sense getting them dirty again!  Since the girls and I no longer had beds, the living room became the living room, bedroom, dining room, and, of course, worrying room.  But I do have to say, a couple of good things came out of this.  First, I learned that I just LOVE my INTEX air mattress!  My old bed was laying out on the street waiting for bulky waste pickup as the last few weeks had seen me waking up every morning in pain.  But this air mattress was the bomb as they say (or used to say – do they still say that??).  Anyway –  it inflates and deflates itself with the touch of a button.  Why had I been spending nights in pain for so long?  It feels like, you know, sleeping on air!  AHHHHHH!!  Another good thing was that I learned how little I need in my surroundings to keep me happy and content.  Bed to sleep on, roof over my head, my dogs and cat next to me (they were not as pleased about their sleeping arrangements however – blankets on the floor versus their cushy beds.  HMPH!!!!), food, internet, computer and NETFLIX.  I am really starting to like minimalism and I am thinking that a lot of those boxes going to Florida may contain items that will soon be for sale!  Lastly, I had more time to finish getting my junk out and donated once and for all.

As the week progressed, the two real estate agents continued to do battle with the bank.  I decided to stay calm and pray for the best, binged on Mad Men episodes and kept the phone close.  If I can make a suggestion here to future home buyers….go to a local bank for your mortgage.  Somewhere like Liberty Bank or Charter Oak Credit Union or whatever small institution exists wherever you are reading this.  There are human beings in those banks and credit unions who you can actually go and SEE and talk to versus a faceless voice over the phone half way across the country.  The home town banks know the area and they have a vested interest in the local economy and the people who live within it.  There’s my two cents on that.

Anyway, the bank gave their “clear to close” on Monday.  The closing was scheduled for 9 am Friday morning.  BUT….are you ready for this?? On Thursday, they started fussing with my buyers about more paperwork!  By this time, the buyers were exhausted and stressed to the max and had been living in a hotel for a week.  Like I said readers – go local.  Those are the businesses that care.

Finally, all got settled at the 11th hour and the closing was scheduled for 5:30 pm on Friday.  On my way to the lawyer’s office, I stopped my car and turned to take one final photo of the street I had come to love so much.   It really is a great neighborhood.  I will miss it.  But it is time to look forward to new adventures, people and places.

And so one nail-biting week after our originally scheduled closing – smiles surrounded a big round table at the buyers’ lawyer’s office.  It was done and instead of feeling sad like I thought I would, I felt relief.  Maybe that was another positive to the drama.  By the time the closing finally came, I had HAD it and just wanted to move on.  I have to admit though….after the closing, my car started driving back in the direction of Silva Lane.  I had to remind her that we didn’t live there anymore!  Silly car.

Oh…and the bank that caused us so much angst?  Well, Mom always said if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.  So I don’t want to name names or anything, but…….their initials are B – O – A……..

[1] http://www.cbsnews.com/news/faith-salie-some-frank-words-about-profanity/

Moving Day

After going through what seemed like a half ton of newspapers, tape and boxes, I was really ready for moving day.  The time I spent packing – since I took so long doing it – seemed to be a good amount of time for me to get used to the idea of leaving my house.  Besides, being decorated in Early American Cardboard Box as it was, the house no longer felt like my little treasure.  I was tired and stressed, and ready to move on to my temporary home at my friend’s house and just relax for awhile.  My dear friend Ken drove from Torrington – a two hour trip –  to help out where he could and keep me relatively unruffled.  Ken and I met in rehab in 2010 – he learning how to walk, talk and feed himself again after his stroke and me learning how to balance and walk again after breaking my neck.  Injuries like that leave you forever damaged a bit, but the two of us together manage to have one completely functioning brain that succeeds in calming one another.  Yes, I may have been ready for moving day, but it was still bound to be emotionally charged when reality hit and the furniture actually started being marched out of the door.

The moving crew, from Barnes Moving and Storage in Mystic, was great.  They actually threw me off balance a bit by not only being on time, but being a little early.  I have learned to expect people being late, so I wasn’t quite ready for them, but no problem.  They were consummate professionals who actually ignored my usual chattiness as politely as possible and started industriously itemizing and inventorying my household immediately.  Recalling those online horror stories about household items ending up miles away from their intended locations, I took the hint and decided that it was perhaps in my best interest to stop yacking for awhile and let these people do their job.  Far be it from me to be the cause of distraction and major boo-boos.

Not knowing what to do with my animals in the commotion and fearing I could lose them, I placed my cat in her carrier, rolled down the windows of my car and put the 2 dogs and cat into the car.  The dogs love that.  They don’t care if the car budges one inch as long as they can sit in it with the windows open.  The cat, however, has a different opinion of being taken out of her Royal Roost (otherwise known as my bed) and placed in her paltry and unworthy carrier.  She immediately proceeded to howl as loudly as possible and inform the neighborhood that she was NOT amused.  With my head tucked low so as to hide my embarrassment, I returned to the house hoping that no one would think I was abusing my cat.  By now, she was REALLY annoyed and the usual MWOW! MWOW! had evolved into her Princess-Ticked-Off MMMMOOOOOOWWWW!!! demand for immediate release back into the Royal Accommodations.  For those of you who live under the silly notion that cats are unfeeling, aloof creatures, all I can say is that you have yet to meet my Diana, Princess of All She Surveys – and that includes me and my dogs.

Having thus far found myself in the way of the moving crew and rattled by the cat’s alarms, I retreated into the living room with Ken and my computer.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I had decided to sell more furniture and there I was at Closing Day Minus 2 with items that needed to get out as quickly as possible.  So I logged onto Facebook and started slashing prices on my sale postings there.  “Moving Sale! Everything Must Go Today! Prices Reduced!” started attracting the sharks in the water and my private messages were pinging like a pinball machine.  At this point, the moving crew and Ken were starting to have a few questions, Diana was MMMOOOOOWWWing, the cell phone was ringing and bargain hunting Facebook customers were presenting themselves at the door.  Suddenly it seemed like my house had become air traffic control and I was one trafficker about to be fired.  Thank God Ken was there to help handle the ringing doorbell and strangers in my house.  At lunch time, I decided that Ken, the movers and I needed to be fed and made a run to the pizza house for grinders.  The rest of the country may feed their movers pizza, but here in Connecticut, we feed them grinders.  And no, those aren’t subs.  They are grinders.  Don’t even try to compare subs to grinders.  To those of us from Connecticut, that is blasphemy!  Anyway, it felt so good to get out of there for 20 minutes!  Besides, it seems that a lot of people don’t think to feed their movers (seriously people??), so mine thought I was the best thing since sliced bread (or so they said….).

Despite the chaos and all the people going in and out of the house, we had all gotten along well.  Diana had fallen asleep and quieted down, the Facebook crowd had stopped, the majority of my belongings were in the moving truck and the day was finally winding down to a close. Things had actually gone fairly smoothly.  And then came the used furniture store guy.  All was about to change.  I pointed he and his helper in the direction of what he had come for and walked into my living room under the assumption that a guy with a used furniture store would know how to move furniture.  All of a sudden, I heard a loud thump and then….S..C..R..I..T..C..H!!!  I immediately jumped up and ran over to where he was starting to drag a heavy piece across the floor.  In my usual calm-under-pressure demeanor I screamed  “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING????  PICK   IT   UP!!!!!” while Ken started to pace with wild eyed apprehension of what I might do next.  The guy started flubbering excuses, then picked it up until he got it outside, where he put it down again and started breathing as if he were about to have a heart attack.  Being the caring person that I am, I glared at him, released a loud “ARGH!!!!!” and retreated to another room leaving Ken to collect my money.  A minute later, poor Ken sheepishly came up to me and delivered the news that the guy was asking for his change.  At this point, my head started spinning like Linda Blair’s in the Exorcist while I’m telling poor Ken “He wants his WHAT????  You tell that guy to take his change and stick it…..” well….I’m sure you know where I told him he could place his change.  Apparently the guy must have been standing right outside the door when I made this pronouncement. When I made it to the door a few seconds later waving his change in my hand and uttering more words of endearment, the guy, his helper and his truck were gone.

Meanwhile, the horrified Barnes movers, who had originally thought I was the kindest person of the week, had served as witnesses to my temporary insanity.  I looked at the young lady in charge and said “All day!  All day you guys have been in and out and in and out and in and out and not one!  Not ONE paint chip!  Not ONE floor scratch!”.  She looked at me sympathetically and remarked something to the effect of “yeah that stinks….”, but I knew she just wanted to get OUT and away from the crazy lady as soon as she could.  Sigh… I couldn’t blame her.  They made their escape and poor Ken listened to me until Linda Blair slowly shrank away and left only me muttering to myself.  Fortunately, I was able to do floor damage repair that evening and relax.  My house was empty and in two days, it would be cleaned and then sold……or so I thought……

Another Lesson in Revaluating What Matters

Deciding what furniture to bring to Florida was a real challenge and I realized that many of the things that fit into my Connecticut home weren’t going to fit into my Florida home.  I halfheartedly placed items for sale, but really had no bites.  I wasn’t too concerned about things not selling because, truth be told, I was so darn conflicted about parting with them anyway.  “What the heck?…..I’ll just take the stuff with me!” became my mantra.

But the day before my moving company was scheduled to arrive, anxiety had taken over and I was pacing around wondering about the space I would have for furniture in my new home.  Suddenly, a memory flash came to me….I had the dimensions of my new home!  Now where the heck did I put that paperwork??  After ripping through files long ignored, I found the schematic for my Florida house.  With that and my measuring tape in hand, I began evaluating every piece of furniture I had – and that is when I found myself tearfully blubbering “it won’t fit…it won’t fit…..it won’t fit…..”.  As all of you who are Baby Boomers know, we hold onto things that meant something to our parents.  China dishes.  Oriental rugs.  Dining room sets.  And yes, in my case, Mom’s dining room hutch, her side tables and her curio cabinets along with a couple of other things I was holding onto.

My Mom was an incredible woman.  She came to this country as a war bride after WWII and things were tough financially for my parents for a long time.  But she persisted and endured without complaining.  One of the things I did hear her mention often though was how she would love to have a dining room and a formal dining set.  Finally, in 1985, my parents bought their own house and in it, my Mom placed her brand-new French Provincial dining set.  She was so thrilled and I loved seeing how happy it made her.  Since her passing, I have had that dining set and I treasure it – more than anything because of the joy it had brought Mom, not because I am the Martha Stewart of the neighborhood.  But now here it was, 2016, and I found myself sadly looking at her beautiful hutch because I knew that it …..just …..wouldn’t .…fit.  “I’ll repurpose it!” I thought to myself.  “I’ll cut the top off and put it into my new kitchen as a cabinet!” (obviously, I have OD’d on HGTV’s Flea Market Flip).  The “how” of that idea didn’t really come into the picture – it just sounded like a great solution (or more appropriately – a great pacifier for my emotions).  But then I did more measuring and realized that it still wouldn’t fit.  “Well, I will figure out something and just keep it in the garage until I do”.  The fact that I couldn’t even budge it, never mind move it once it was placed in the Florida garage was only a minor detail.  And then reality hit.  It just wasn’t going to fit and it was silly to pay movers to bring it all the way down to Florida to become an immovable garage fixture with “stuff” in it.  Plus, if truth be told, I loved it more than anything simply because Mom loved it and every time I looked at it, I saw Mom’s smiling face.

As the Baby Boomers downsize, we are finding that the Millennials aren’t moved by the history of our items.  They don’t even like some of our things. Your grandmother’s exquisite living room set is now being replaced by an assemble-at-home something or the other from IKEA.   The younger generation places more value on experiences and quality of life rather than quality of furniture.  I suppose they just might have a point.  But this has created a glut of once-beloved, beautiful furniture on the market and we Boomers are struggling with the reality that our treasures just aren’t worth that much.  It isn’t that I wanted so much money for my Mom’s hutch – I just felt so…..well……disloyal to consider low prices.  My parents had worked hard and struggled for years and they finally had a few special things.  But I found myself with no one to sell the hutch to for a decent price.  It just hurt.  I sat staring at it for a long time and finally came to a few conclusions.  First, Mom doesn’t care about that hutch anymore.  She is in a place now where peace, happiness and contentment surround her without things.  And second, more than anything, Mom’s wish for me was to be happy.  She isn’t looking down at me from Heaven with a scowl on her face because I’m leaving her hutch behind.  She is looking forward to me finding new joys in Florida.  I know that is what is most important to my Mom and to my Dad too.

I hardly watched the guy who took away Mom’s hutch.  Basically, I pointed him to it and turned my back.  He had paid me a pittance that I won’t even mention here.  But I console myself with the thought of some new person spotting it in the guy’s store.  Slowly a widening smile grows across his or her face with the realization that they can afford that lovely piece of furniture.  Someone who is just as thrilled as my Mom was to have it in 1985.  Someone I could not find on Craig’s List or Facebook yard sales, but someone who was out there nonetheless.  Best wishes to you new owner!  Use it in good health!  My Mom and I are thrilled that it makes you happy!

Who is Gonna Move Me?

One of the most important considerations which every person moving out of state must make is “Who is going to handle my precious belongings and get them to my new home safely?”  Back in the day, I’d get a bunch of my friends together, rent a U-Haul, buy beer and pizza and all was good.  Now that all my friends and I have become settled into the Ibuprofen-powered set, that isn’t an option.  As I always do with anything major like this, I research it endlessly until I have made myself crazy.  First, I thought of everyone I knew who had moved and asked them who they had used.  Surprisingly, many of them had forgotten.  That was probably a good thing since we tend to remember the people and companies who send us into seething rages.  The only problem, of course, is that I didn’t have company names.  So then I went to that source of all irrefutable information – the internet.  Oh….My…..God.  I would read a review of one company and be relatively assured that all would be well with my world.  Then I would make the mistake of scrolling down the page where dire warnings of gloom and despair would besiege my brain.  “These guys were HORRIBLE!!!  My Mom was standing quietly for too long I guess and they mistook her for a statue, wrapped her up, stuffed her into a box, and shipped her off to St. Louis!  They said that they recalled hearing “some sort of squeaking”, but chalked it up to road noise.  The worst part was that we were moving to New Orleans!  It was months before we saw her again and no one at the office would answer our calls!!!”  YIKES!!…..

On top of everything else, my tenants in Florida waved a lease at me that didn’t expire until December.  It was a little difference of opinion, but I had to concede that they were right.  Which, of course, fit right in with the “Ball Is In Your Park” decision delayer (if you recall my list from a few posts back).  I was able to sell my house and still have time to get used to the idea of leaving Connecticut.  I would be able to spend the holidays with my friends and help Karen finish up the bait shop season.  And I could take a little more time looking for a mover – and now a storage facility.

I started first by calling some of those movers that give you a quote over the phone.  As I walked around my house describing what I owned over the phone to a complete stranger sitting who-knows-where, my brain was screaming “Are you NUTS???  This guy has NO idea if the table you just mentioned is big enough for 6 or for a Heads of State function at the White House!!  And he’s giving you a binding quote?”  I pictured myself in Florida, standing in front of my house screaming at a driver handing me a $10,000 invoice in addition to what I had paid upfront.  The internet had some of those stories too.  By the time a few hours had passed, I was in full-fledged panic and the nerves from my spinal cord injury were on fire.

I researched “how to pick a mover” and tried to find an article that was not sponsored by any particular moving company – no easy task.  I finally did get some useful information though.  I learned that I must be sure that my mover has a US DOT number, which is a unique license number issued by the United States Department of Transportation.  AND my source gave me a database from which to investigate this information!  AHA!  NOW we’re cooking!  With open spreadsheet on my laptop, I diligently compared license numbers, insurance information, years in business, etc., etc., etc.  And when I finished, I had myself a spreadsheet full of DOT numbers, insurance info, years in business and ……..not a whole lot else.  PLEASE!!!  I need someone to tell me who to pick!!  Obviously, the panic was not subsiding any.

After agonizing over this for several days, I employed my “Scarlett O’Hara – I’ll think about it tomorrow” decision delayer mode until I could handle going back to deal with it.  Hopefully, my brain would unscramble a bit as well.  Finally I got up the nerve to think about it again and called two companies who would provide in-home interviews.

We did the tour of my house and chatted a bit.  A few days later, the estimates came in.  I even visited one to see their storage facilities and got a good feel for the office staff.  I then analyzed my silly spreadsheet (made me feel like it hadn’t been a total waste), reviewed the estimates and then made my scientific and well-researched choice – which was to pick the one closest to me who also seemed most capable of dealing with my anxieties.  Alright, alright…not the most scientific but at least I had made a decision!  A few weeks after they had come they had moved my precious belongings out of my house, I was talking with a friend of mine.  She said that the company I used had been her mover and she had just loved them.  Now why didn’t I think to call her sooner?  It would have saved me a lot of Googling, spreadsheets – and angst!  Ah well – better late than never I suppose!

Shout Out To Those Scrubbing Bubbles!!

You may be wondering why it took me so long to pack up my belongings, especially since I swore to you that I got rid of a ton of things.  Yes indeedy, I sure did unload lots and lots of stuff!  There are probably hundreds of people out there right now wearing my clothing, eating from my dishes and listening to my old albums.  But I still had a lot of stuff in the basement.  You know, that big, often ignored, hole in the ground under your house, (which is, in effect, another house), into which most of us shove lots of “stuff that I will use someday”.  Oh yeah, some of us also have superfluous items in the basement like furnaces and washers and dryers, but for the most part, basements are storage spaces for stuff we cannot part with.  Remember that George Carlin routine about stuff?  Well, that about sums it up I think.  For those of you too young to get that one, just go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac.  It explains a lot about …..you guessed it….stuff.  We also put things like canned food  in the basement.  Thanks to my basement and BJ’s Wholesale Club, I am pretty much prepared for the next flood, hurricane, blizzard or apocalypse.

After working on the upstairs for what seemed like enough time to pack Buckingham Palace, I had the upstairs (the place where I lived with stuff I used on a fairly regular basis) under control.  Despite my efforts to avoid it, I realized I had no choice but to move on to the dreaded “basement stuff” (the treasures that I would undoubtedly need if I was foolish enough to throw any of it away).  Being the black holes that they are, basements tend to get a little dirty and dusty along with everything in them, and well, just….eewwwwww.  There was just no way that I was moving my stuff DIRTY!  Oh hell no!  What if one of my neighbors at my new Florida home stopped by in the middle of me unpacking Connecticut basement stuff?  There was no way I was going to have them think “Oh my God…she seems nice, but what a SLOB!”.  Nope.  I am not having that!  My STUFF may be a lot of that other name George Carlin uses, but it would be clean before any of it saw the inside of a box headed to Florida!

Now this is where the bubble guys came in.  I would like to say that I am immune to advertising.  I am a highly educated consumer who does not make purchasing decisions based on silly TV commercials.  HA!  That was the huge lie I told myself for a long time – until reality hit me one day while I was standing at the cash register.  Make me laugh with your commercial and you have my attention.  Then provide a coupon in the BJ’s circular and that’s it….Sold!  And folks, I am here to tell you about a product that makes light of years of collected basement grime and makes you and your stuff the pride of any new neighborhood.  – Scrubbing Bubbles!    “But isn’t that just for bathrooms?” you ask.  Not in my Phyllis Diller book of house work it isn’t!!  Anything that makes it such that all I need to do is spray, sit back and watch the dirt run down is good for just about any room and any item in the house, I say!  Those cute little scrubber guys flying around on my TV screen one day caught my attention.  That and the BJ’s coupon, which enabled me to buy something like 6 cans of the little guys.  “Six cans for a single person with one bathroom?  Are you nuts?” you may ask.  Hey….Its not like they are going to go bad!  And as it turns out, 6 cans of that stuff is a cleaning gift from the Universe (or SC Johnson I guess) for a major move.

I went into the basement armed with my Scrubbing Bubbles and started to take things apart.  My food storage cabinet for example.  It is one of those four shelved plastic units I bought from Home Depot a few years back.  I put it together, started shoving stuff onto it and there it sat, doing its duty, but getting a little grimy as well.  I unloaded it, packed up the food and then took it apart, brought it outside and sprayed the heck out of it with those little bubbles.  Five minutes later, I sprayed each piece with the garden hose and VOILA!  Brand new again!  God I love those bubbles!  I also have a garden fairy that got put away every autumn without a whole lot of fanfare.  She is going to Florida bright and shiny now due to Scrubbing Bubbles.  Now don’t get all judgey on me about her before shots…remember – you too have basements with surprises in store!  Here she is in the process of being Scrubbing Bubbled.

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And here is the finished product!!

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Isn’t she beautiful now?  Oh and yes, there are other things that I just could not part with, goofy as they may seem.  This face will probably find itself on a palm tree soon – clean thanks to my little Scrubbing Bubble friends!  THAT is definitely something to smile about!  And oh yeah….I still have a few cans left if you need some…..

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Boxes, Bubble Wrap and Packing, Packing, Packing

Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve written to this blog, and I very much appreciate all of you who have stuck it out with my posting black out.  This moving stuff is a LOT of work!  The day Marilyn, my real estate agent, told me she was definitely coming over with papers for me to sign, I started pulling from my stash of boxes in the basement and was packing before she even got there.  I knew this could take a bit of time and I sure did not want to leave it until the last minute.  As usual, my desire to avoid stress is paramount, and I decided that the earlier I could start, the better.  What I discovered is that I must be the world’s slowest packer.  My friends were either at work, running businesses, in physical therapy for extreme pain or otherwise engaged.  So I was on my own for the most part.  And yeah – I….am…..s-l-o-w.

What used to be my dining room became box-packing ground zero.  During the course of the following weeks (yes, weeks….), I bought LOTS of tape and bubble wrap, made appeals on Facebook for boxes and newspapers and packed a lot of boxes.  The ZZZWWWIPPPP!! sound of the tape gun could be heard coming from my house at all hours for days on end.  My friend Paulette came a couple of days and brought massive amounts of boxes with her in addition to helping me.  She was a HUGE help!

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But still, it seemed to go on and on and on and one day, the inevitable melt-down reared its ugly head.  By this time, Paulette had done her snow bird thing and was out of the state.  Karen and Jo were working at running their businesses, and Barb and Beth were busy trying to move out of their current residences.  So there I was, feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, lonely and pathetic and…… did I say exhausted?  AND singing the old “Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I guess I’ll go eat worms” blues.  I was completely immersed in my pity-party to the point of watershed tears and it was at that point of course, that I called Karen.  I shamelessly begged her to please come over and promised that she didn’t have to pack.  Just plllleeeeeaaase come over and talk to me!  And much to her credit, my dear friend knew just what I needed.  After all these years, Karen knows me like a book.  She knows that when I get involved in a project, I don’t bother to stop to eat, which probably had something to do with my melt-down.  When she showed at the door, my stress level decreased about 150 points just seeing her face.  It’s amazing how people you love can just do that.  But she also brought a surprise – a big container of her own homemade ratatouille.  Ahhhhh!  The girl is an angel for sure!  And so it was that on that evening I was reminded that somebody DID love me and nobody hated me and I did NOT have to eat worms!  My dear sister brought me her love and kindness in her heart and in a container of homemade ratatouille!

Readers, don’t ever forget that there is no better gift than the gift of your time.  Looking into the face of a loved one is a cure for so many ailments, both physical and emotional.  It is a priceless gift that should never be underestimated or taken for granted.  That is the gift Karen brought to me that night.  Oh and some great ratatouille didn’t hurt either!  I love you Karen.  God may have given us separate mothers, but He knew what He was doing when he sat us next to each other in 10th grade Geometry.  We are sisters forever.  And I will always be grateful for that blessing.

Accept and DIVE IN!!

It was late morning when I countered the buyers’ offer and the day went by with no response.  Ugh…..Maybe I should have accepted.  Maybe they changed their minds.  Maybe, maybe, maybe.  And then it hit me – just STOP doing this to yourself.  They want the house.  You’ve decided to sell it.  Eventually, you will come to an agreement, it just doesn’t have to be THIS MINUTE.  So I went to Karen’s bait shop in New London, waited on customers, counted sandworms, sold clam necks, and sat out on the back deck a lot soaking in the sun.  And we laughed and talked and passed the time.  By late evening, my anxiety was starting up again and I once again managed to talk myself down.  What will happen, will happen, I decided.  If the buyers walk away, perhaps they weren’t the right buyers.  With that in mind, I passed the hours enjoying my friends and not worrying about what time it was.  And to be honest, I even forgot about the whole thing! Then at 8 pm, the phone rang much to my surprise and there it was – a new offer from my buyers.  This one hit the the magic number I had held in my head and I accepted!

Now comes the reality.  I have to move.  I have to leave my beautiful little home.  I have to leave my sister (by another mother), Karen.  And Jo.  And Barb.  But I HAVE to do this.  For my own happiness.  For my own health.  And hopefully, they will visit me often and we will have phone contact often.  Because I cannot imagine my life without them in it.  I love them.  They are part of me.

Obviously, I don’t know what religious beliefs, if any, my readers may have.  But I feel that if we listen hard enough, God, or the Universe or whatever you feel helps you along in life, speaks to us.  And so it was that night after I went to bed and started reading my latest in a series of historical novels set in Virginia immediately after the conclusion of the Civil War.  The heroines of the book were each trying to blaze new paths using their passions and they were encouraging one another to brave new frontiers.  One remarked to the other:

“My grandmother asked me one time to think about who the happier woman would be – one who braved the storm of life and truly lived, or one who stayed securely on shore and merely existed.  Her words gave me the courage to leave home, but there have been other times I’ve forgotten my answer and decided to stay on shore.  I’ve always regretted not taking risks.  I hope I’ve learned to never do that again, but life can be scary.  It’s easy to want to hunker down where you believe it’s safe”.

Wow!  What the heck?  Was someone talking to ME???  I could not believe that I was reading those words on the very night that I chose to say yes to sell my house!  Yes to leaving my home state.  It was like a gentle push telling me to go ahead and embrace this change.  And then, if that wasn’t enough, came another line that spoke so clearly to me.  Me personally.  Because it described EXACTLY what I had been doing.  It was EXACTLY what had been holding me back.  Because I don’t take anything for granted.  Not the gift of another day.  Not my dear friends.  Not the old 1998 car I still have.  Nothing.  And after having come close to leaving this world twice, I am SOOOOO grateful for everyone and everything I have in my life.  But there it was in black and white – the next line of the book that resonated with me:

“Change is hard for people because they overestimate the value of what they have, and they underestimate the value of what they may gain by changing”.

I had to really think about that sentence.  Overestimate the value of what I have?  No way!  That sounded down right ungrateful!  Until you look at the entire sentence that is.  Basically, it was saying to me that I was committing a transgression other than the offense of being ungrateful.  It was the crime of not fully embracing the life that had been so mercifully given back to me.  Twice.  First after I broke my neck in 2010 and again after I survived peritonitis last year.  OK God, I am listening to what You have to say to me.  I know there was no coincidence that I saw these lines on THE SAME NIGHT I shakily agreed to sell my beloved home and move 1,322 miles away.  I’m going to stop underestimating the value of what is out there ready for me to gain because that in itself would be ungrateful.  So here I go!  Ready, set, DIVE IN!

Showings

The “Ball Is In Your Park” decision; the BIIYP, as you may recall, ended quickly with a request for a showing.  Geezzzzzz!!!!  So SOON??!??  This was supposed to take awhile!  I just got used to seeing the sign for Pete’s sake. I was quite comfy in BIIYP and was not ready to have strangers (otherwise known as BUYERS to regular people who list their homes) coming into my home!  No!  I didn’t want to show it!  But the PIA voice started nagging.  I could clearly hear her lecturing me about wasting Marilyn’s time if I wasn’t serious.  About having wasted MY time too.  “Alright ALRIGHT!!!  I’ll show it!  Shutup already!” I hollered to the PIA voice.

So you might think that with my half-hearted attitude about selling, that I would give showing the house a half-hearted effort, but that is just not me.  Nope.  Everything had to be perfect.  Each showing was akin to preparing for a visit by heads of state.   Every tiny speck of dust removed, every pillow karate-chopped just the right way.  Did I mention that I am a Certified Professional Home Stager and HGTV addict?  Well, I may not have really wanted to sell my house, but darn it!  It was going to look like it jumped out of Better Homes and Gardens for every showing no matter how I felt inside!!  Probably the funniest incident happened when I was in such a pre-showing rush and panic, I whipped myself around and accidentally stuck the running vacuum cleaner hose into dog’s water dish and it started sucking up water!!  So that showing wasn’t quite perfect of course since I had to have the vacuum upside down in the basement sink draining out the water.  Lesson learned.  “Budget your time a little better” the voice said…….  At another showing, the PIA voice nagged about giving more attention to detail.  “Maybe next time, you can remember to take down the bra hanging from the clothes line in the basement.”

I met each prospective buyer at the door, at least momentarily.  Yeah, yeah….I know you aren’t supposed to.  I cleared out quickly enough, but I wanted to get a read on the people who might buy “my baby”.  All told, I had a crew that came in and toured 3 times and each time they came, the entourage grew (should I set up a polling station??).  Another couple who came twice and spent at least an hour both times (The house is all of 1,176 square feet.  Seriously???  I don’t take that long to view some of the mansions at Newport).  Then they gave me an insulting offer.  Obviously, after all the time they took to look, they gave not a second’s thought to the problem with ticking off an emotional seller.  They found out quickly enough……  Then there was the couple who said the yard was too big (that would be why there is a lot size and lots of pictures in the listing (sigh…).  The single lady who had a big house and was trying to downsize.  A former colleague who told my agent that she knew my house was perfect because that’s how I did everything at work.  I decided to take that as a compliment and ignore the PIA voice reminding me about my tendency to nit-pick.  Each time, I did NOT want to show the house.  Each time, I ran myself ragged making everything perfect.  And each time someone didn’t want it, I felt myself indignantly asking “And just why the heck NOT???  HMPH!!!”.  Most importantly, with each “No”, I was able to stick with the satisfaction of the BIIYP.  Hey, I had no control over these folks, right?  I was doing my best to make the house look great.  It wasn’t my fault that no one was buying (or forcing me into changing).  So basically, I’d put in a good faith effort to make it look great, and feel a bit put-off when someone said no.  But if truth be told, there was that feeling of “Whew…I dodged THAT bullet!”.  There is probably some technical name for this in the psychology books under general weirdness or wishy-washiness or something along those lines, but I think the term “scared of change” would be most appropriate.

And then THEY came.  I liked them.  They loved my home, but decided it was too small (dodged another bullet HA!HA!).  But then they came back for a second look on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend.  And apparently, they REALLY loved my house.  Ut-oh…….

Marilyn called me the following Thursday evening chirping “Well, we are going to have an offer tomorrow”.  My response was “Oh yeah?  Hmmm.  What made them change their minds?”  So after all the staging and yard saleing and furniture listing on Craig’s List and Letgo and Facebook and just general angst, my response to her was “Oh yeah?  Hmmm.  What made them change their minds?”  Well, that’s what she heard anyway.  But what I was actually saying, with wild-eyed, screaming anxiety was “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!   I      CAN’T      DO      THIS!!!!!”  I felt the tears behind my eyes, just waiting to explode onto my cheeks as I struggled to keep my stomach from flipping.   Instead of jumping for joy, I was terrified!  Scarlett came to my rescue.  I didn’t know what the offer would be, Scarlett decided.  It could be as bad as that first one.  So Scarlett wrapped her arms around me and decided “I can’t think about that now.  I’ll think about it tomorrow”.  I love Scarlett.

By morning, I had gotten hold of myself and was OK with the idea of selling my beautiful little house.  Still not jumping for joy, but OK as lukewarm as my OK’s usually are.  And so there I was…. waiting for the offer.  And waiting.  And waiting.  And then doing what I normally do when I’m stressed – I find something to do.  I took the dogs to the park even though it was 88 degrees.  I don’t have a problem with heat as long as I stay in the shade.  Perhaps wearing fur coats, however, is what made the dogs less-than-enthused.  They sniffed a bit here and there and then looked at me, tongues hanging out of their mouths, as if to say “Seriously????  What is your problem woman??”.  OK.  Home we went.  Since they were hot, I took that as a good time for baths.  Of course, that also means washing their beds.  And what the heck, while we’re at it, I might as well strip my bed and wash my sheets too.  Having completed my “torture” of the dogs, there were a couple of plant stands that I had intended to sand and spray paint.  That kept me occupied for a few hours even though I found myself checking the time regularly and wondering……WHERE…..IS……THE…..OFFER????  Sigh.  The personification of cool am I (not).  Moving on, I cleaned all the windows on my car – interior and exterior.  Finally around 8 pm, I couldn’t take it anymore and texted Marilyn with “Well….Did they change their minds?”  As it turned out, the offer had come in late and she hadn’t had a chance to look at it yet.  I wanted her to see it first.  Silly?  Well, maybe, but I know how I am.  Just in case it was another insulting offer, I wanted to give Marilyn time to come up with her calming words of wisdom.

As it turned out, their offer came in with great financing and a fairly decent first offer.  More hemming and hawing ensued, but not even Scarlett could save me this time.  I had to make a decision.  I HAD to embrace this change.  The price wasn’t quite there, so I countered.

And so the DANCE begins……

For Sale!

In my last post, I left you staring out of my back window with me wondering what I should do.  Well, time passed and the leaves got bigger and greener, the flowers were popping and the chorus of bird songs filled the air.  I spent more and more time staring out the kitchen window while doing my dishes, savoring every bit of nature’s summer loveliness.  But breaking through the peace of that exquisite scenery and the delightful bird songs was………that annoying, pain-in-the-ass (PIA!) voice in my head telling me “Sooooooo….you DO want to end up regretful don’t you?”  UGH!!  SHUT UP VOICE!  By mid-June, Scarlett’s “I’ll think about it tomorrow” became Nadine’s “Alright!  Alright, voice!!  I’ll find a real estate agent!!”.  After four interviews, I picked the one.  Her name is Marilyn and she had no idea what kind of nut she was signing on with, but she seemed like she could handle it.  I can’t possibly have been her first wavering client.

In July, I shakily signed the paperwork that would bind Marilyn and I as partners for the next six months.  And so began the “Ball Is In Your Park” decision; the BIIYP.  Hey I did something, right?  I made a decision to sell my beloved house!  A decision to move on to Florida!  A decision to change!  That was it.  The decision making was now up to the buying public.  It was out of my hands.  Having to make any decision and actually change anything was no longer in MY ballpark.  Whew!  Glad to get THAT off my chest!

A couple of days later, I was in the kitchen staring at my beautiful yard again, when I heard a loud, thump, thump, thump sound.  I went to the front of the house, looked out the window and swallowed my heart.  There they were.  Pounding a “For Sale” sign into my front lawn.  I resisted the urge to run out in my pj’s and bedhead, screaming “Get that off my lawn!!!!  I didn’t mean it!  I changed my mind!!!”.  Instead, I just quickly moved away from the window so no one would see the blood draining from my face.

And so it begins…….

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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

I have always loved Florida.  For years, it has been my dream to move there, but year after year I would visit and then chicken out about buying a house.  In the fall of 2013, after much hang-wringing and driving my friends crazy asking for advice, I finally bought a home in Venice (a shout-out must be extended here to my long-suffering friends who went through THAT decision making process with me – poor things).  And then I went back home to CT to start a series of what I affectionately call decision delayers.  Which are basically change avoiders.  I’m really good at these.  I like them so much, I have names for them.  Being from the corporate world, I got used to using acronyms.  In the corporate world, we can speak in entire sentences…sometimes even paragraphs…completely in letters!  But don’t worry, I’ll keep spelling things out.  I’m out of the corporate world now.  Time to relearn how to speak like a human anyway.  So here we go……First there’s the big one.  The Decision Not To Make A Decision, hereinafter known as the DNTMAD.  There is the “Ball Is In Your Park” decision delayer, or BIIYP.  Then there’s the “I’m Too Busy To Make A Decision”, the ITBTMAD.  And last, but not least, my favorite.  The Scarlett O’Hara “I’ll go mad if I think about that right now.  I’ll think about it tomorrow.” (said with back of hand placed gently on forehead while swooning and speaking in true Southern-damsel-in-distress voice).  I’ll just call that one the Scarlett.  It’s too pretty for an acronym.  So what’s the difference between the Decision Not To Make A Decision (DNTMAD) and the Scarlett you ask?  The Scarlett is short duration decision delaying – after which time, the independent woman that I can be decides to drop the Diva Drama and DO SOMETHING.  The Decision Not To Make A Decision (DNTMAD) is not as dramatic, but it can carry on for extended periods of time.  Sometimes months…sometimes years!  And it comes with really, really logical excuses.

After returning from my Florida home purchase I decided that I had to go back to work until I was ready to retire.  So I flew comfortably into Decision Not To Make A Decision (DNTMAD).  Hey I was proud of myself!  I had the house decided upon and purchased.  It was rented to nice tenants.  Life was good!  No need for further changes!  But by the following summer’s end, it was obvious that my spinal cord injury was creating havoc with my ability to function in today’s fast paced, high stress office environment.  And the air conditioning that blasted from vents all around me caused me pain every day.  Winters were no relief from the A/C as the corporate-required 69 degree air blew cold drafts on me constantly. It was miserable. I was miserable.

By the time 2015 rolled around, I had actually made another decision!  (Feel free to applaud).  It was time to retire and head to Florida!  I started with the work of getting my house together to sell and my target date was April 1 to have it on the market.  But my handy man’s appearances were unpredictable at best and when he was here, 4 hour stretches seemed to be the maximum time he could spend helping me.  And then IT happened.  On March 24, at 2 o’clock in the morning, I woke up in agonizing abdominal pain.  WOW!  Never had gas pains like that before!  What the hell did I eat this time???  OMG!  At one point, I actually broke out into a cold sweat, ripped off all my nightclothes (the person who is always cold, remember?) and laid on the floor waiting for whatever it was to pass.  Finally, I felt a little better, so went back to bed – and there I pretty much stayed for 2 days thinking I had the flu – or food poisoning from eating some out-of-date food item (a subject for another post).  To make a long story short, it wasn’t the flu.  My appendix had burst and by the time I finally got to the emergency room, I had developed peritonitis.  I was in the hospital for a week and when they sent me home, I was still sick.  Ten days later, I was whisked into emergency surgery when my temperature hit 102.9 and they realized I had four abscesses growing and pressing on other organs.  That led to another 10 days in the hospital and a recovery period that I could not have imagined.  And so began another version of the Decision Not To Make A Decision (DNTMAD).

See, that little tiny organ called an appendix had a lot of power.  It made me terribly sick, but it also bit a huge hole into my self-confidence.  I am a fairly independent person, but suddenly I found myself unable to take care of me.  My dear friend Karen had to do my grocery shopping for me and buy meals for me.  I had to leave my dogs in the care of my friend Jo the vet as I just did not have the energy to deal with them.  I would get up in the morning, eat breakfast, do my dishes and collapse on the couch, feeling like a wet dishrag.  I did not begin to feel like myself again until August.  I suppose that I could have put the house on the market then, but my psyche had taken a huge hit.  What if I got sick again?  I have people who love me here – who would help me in FL?  I have snowbird friends there – what if I got sick in June when they were gone?  Suddenly, moving to Florida was not very appealing.  I was seriously scared.  And so, I hunkered down.  Decision Not To Make A Decision (DNTMAD) was really comfortable at this point.

That delay did have a beneficial effect however.  First, it allowed me to heal.  There was no way I could have handled the physical demands of moving with a 6 inch, still-mending surgery wound on my abdomen.  And then my dear friend Karen, who so kindly did my grocery shopping and other errands while giving me tremendous emotional support, was diagnosed with cancer in May.  There was no way I was going to leave her to do that battle without me.  I drove her to her chemo appointments and stayed with her while she went through those truly frightening appointments.  Karen and I have been friends for 46 years and I can honestly tell you that our sicknesses brought us closer than we have ever been.  She is not just my friend – she is my sister.  And her family is my family.  And of course with that closeness comes another reason to NOT change my residence…….

As I happily spent the winter of 2015-2016 nestled in Decision Not To Make A Decision (DNTMAD), I had what I guess you could say was an epiphany.  One day when I was staring out of my window looking at my yard, I thought of my Dad.  I had begged him countless times to leave his house and move to a retiree community.  He stubbornly refused, but he paid the price in loneliness.  Before he died, he said to me “I should have listened to you”.  And there I was, staring out of my window and saying to myself “You aren’t taking your own advice!  Ut-oh…..I hate when this happens!!

So in January of 2016, I started back on prepping the house for sale.  Which of course, initiated an extended session of I’m Too Busy To Make A Decision”, the ITBTMAD.  I worked like a dog.  I cleaned.  I organized.  I bought things with which to stage the house.  I moved furniture.  And I am not kidding when I tell you I spent the entire month of February in my basement.  What the heck was in the basement you ask?  I think my entire life of “things I just couldn’t part with” was there, that’s what.  Folks, let me tell you something I learned.  Get rid of that stuff NOW while you still have the chance!  OMG!  I had my very own TLC Hoarding: Buried Alive starter kit!!!

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OK.  In all fairness, that mess you see is what it looked like after I took it all out of neatly stored boxes, but still…..AIEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!

After 3 yard sales and countless trips to Goodwill, my house looked like a normal person lived there.  And I fell in love with it all over again!  It was comfortable and clean and organized….  Ahhhhhhh!!!!  And then spring came and the yard just looked so……. beautiful!

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A little unwarranted medical scare at this time moved me back into another Decision Not To Make A Decision (DNTMAD) session.  When that disappeared, I went into an extended Scarlett with the oak tree you see in the picture as the backdrop (just use your imaginations and picture a swooning redhead there by the tree).  My inner (my friends might say outer) Drama Queen was in full swing.  What to do?  What to do?

And the motivation is….

Connecticut is a lovely state and I am fortunate to live on beautiful Long Island Sound.  Living close to the beach is not only a wonder in itself, it is also a weather moderator for us.  In the summer, the cool breezes from the water make hot days bearable.  While people ten miles away are getting snow in the winter, it is often raining at my house.  Big plus here – You don’t have to shovel rain.  On the flip side, while we get less snow, winter doesn’t move on as quickly as I would like.  It is often still chilly into May.  Way too far into May…..  I distinctly recall wearing a wool suit to work in late May one year.  And in May of 2005, I had friends from Florida come to visit on May 15.  They were horrified to see not one leaf on the trees and swore they’d never come back! No, its not normal, but it happens.

Presently, I live approximately 2 miles away from the town in which I was born, grew up, got married, got divorced, bought a home and had spent my 35-year career.  I have had the same doctors, dentists, attorney, and veterinarian forever. (That veterinarian, Jo,  is also one of my best friends).  I have worked for two of the area’s largest 3 or 4 employers.  Many of my high school buddies still live in this area and I see them more than one might think.  It is rare that I can go somewhere and not run into someone I know.  I am, therefore, a typical New Englander, at least as far as the change issue is concerned.  I read somewhere once that New Englanders are the least likely people in the country to relocate.  We generally don’t venture out too far from home base for long.  We measure driving distances in time, not miles.  Visiting a friend who lives 45 minutes away is akin to taking an overnight trip somewhere – it takes a lot of planning.  I thought perhaps it was just us older folks who are like this, but yesterday, my 20 something dental hygienist told me that she could not talk her friends into visiting her college friends in Maine.  Don’t get me wrong – we do travel.  It’s just that people in other parts of the country seem to be more …well….spontaneous about their excursions.  I’m not sure what it is about us.

I have never liked being cold, but in 2010, I broke my neck and now live with a permanent spinal cord injury.  While I am able to walk and breathe on my own (which I came very close to NOT being able to do!), my fingers, hands and arms are hypersensitive to cold.  Emotional stress and inactivity also leads to burning pain.

So it has occurred to me that CT winters aren’t going to get any warmer.  And I’m not getting any younger.  At the moment, I own a house with a large yard.  In that large yard, I went a little crazy with flower gardening.  Oh my…what an understatement.  More than one visitor has described it as looking like a park.  Such a lovely compliment, but taking care of this “park” used to be a lot easier.  You know…back when I was you…..youn…..Um…a few years back.  Also, I am retired now and so I’m a bit lonelier since I no longer have forced interactions (called a job) any longer.  Yes, I thought about volunteering and I know I would be a tremendous help to some organization, but when it is cold, I just have such a hard time going outside.  I am afraid that it would just be too easy for me to convince myself that I really don’t NEED to leave and go out into the cold.  And that just wouldn’t be fair either to the organization or to myself.  There’s also the matter of being with people of your age, background and interests.  During the week, most of my neighbors are out working.  Yes, I do have other retired friends, but I really want to DO something more.  To be a part of something.  To work toward something that matters and helps others ALL the time and not just when it is warm outside.  BUT if I move to a warm place, well, that problem of me burrowing deeper under the covers in January and February (and March…and April….and….well, you get the idea) just melts away.  Stay tuned!

Welcome! Come dip your toe into that scary water with me!

There are so many blogs out there these days about making our lives better. About taking brave steps.  About Change.  CHANGE.  That dirty little 6-letter word that strikes paralyzing fear in the hearts and souls of so many of us otherwise rational people.  You might be wondering then, why I am even considering writing a blog about change.  Hasn’t that been “done”?  Here is my story and why I want to reach out to all of you.

I have decided to sell my home and move to Florida.  Yes, I know millions of people have done that.  But here is the twist.  I am a New Englander.  I am single.  I am a woman.  And I am a baby-boomer.  What a time of life to FINALLY get adventurous, eh?  I do doubt that I am the first single woman to do this at my age, but I don’t know any others and maybe you don’t either.  My hope in writing this blog is two-fold – first that I will gain support from my readers as I venture across this emotion-packed experience and, second, that perhaps I can help someone else considering embarking on the same adventure….or cliff dive into the unknown, depending upon your perspective or level of fear at any given time.  AIEEEEE!  I can’t be the only person just a bit intimidated by this.  Actually, I went to one of those local AARP “Life Reimagined” meetings about a year ago and there she was – a single lady who wanted to move to Florida, but was scared.  Sweetie, I know just how you feel and I hope you are out there reading this.  So…. let’s do this together!