Going on a Journey…To the Center of My Mind

A Journey of Mindfulness and the Challenge of the Gap

It could be an interesting journey.

But I want to take you with me.

You see, I’m learning to navigate the intricacies of being mindful, releasing stress in healthy ways, and continuing a journey that I have been on for a few years…except I haven’t entirely taken anyone else on this journey.

Sure, I’ve shared a few things and you’ve seen the creative side of me. I’ve even remarked here and there on recent posts about using gratitude and abundance to improve upon life’s challenges.

But now…I’m going deeper. And well, honestly, I haven’t written much in the past couple years – not here, anyways. My journal, however, has absorbed the bulk of my sanguine thoughts and aspirations…and it’s partly because there are two things I can’t or won’t share much about: my day job and my husby. (The day job…well,  you never know when the boss is reading and I want to keep husby’s life private. Unless, of course, he starts his own blog. Then it’s all fair game.)

More than that, it’s been an issue of time. Sure, there are 168 hours in the week and I work roughly 50 of them. I sleep around another 56 of them. So…that leaves about 60 hours to work with, right? That still has to include cooking, eating, transitions (like getting ready for work), getting groceries, paying bills, cleaning, getting exercise, spending time with husby and/or family, and just plain ol’ down time.

If I’m completely honest, my day job isn’t exactly conducive to having the energy to run a marathon in the evenings, either. Me being an introvert and all.

But, I still want to commit to writing here more.

Reading a Book a Week

I recently read somewhere that if you read a book a week on your chosen subject, that you’ll read anywhere from 52-60 books per year (depending on how fast you read). And that if you keep that up for seven years, you will then become an expert in that subject.

Well…I can say that I have been drawn to positive psychology, personal development, success, and otherwise books known as “self-help” for a long, long time. I have no idea how many I’ve read, but the number is probably in the hundreds.

Everyone from Tolle to Chopra, Dyer to Maxwell, Pavlina to the Dalai Lama – and many, many, between – has occupied space in my brain from their words.

Their wisdom, their ideas, and their thoughs have indelibly imprinted their essence in my head. And coupled with my own life experience and my own perspective, I feel like, well…that I know a few things.

And I feel that now it’s time to share.

It’s an evolving process for sure. And I will continue to read. Continue to learn.

Getting Into the Gap

The above is a phrase for when you actually succeed in silencing the chatter of your inner mind. It’s otherwise known as meditation.

If you talked to me in October or November, I would have told you that I meditate for 15-20 minutes per day.

And I did. I really did.

In January or February, I increased that to 30 minutes. Partly to cope with the stress of my daily life and partly to cultivate something that just seems to work really well for me.

Recently, however, I’ve increased that time again to 45 minutes in the mornings.

Sure, it would be good to meditate again in the evenings, but…unless I want to fall asleep each time, it has to be in the mornings for now.

I want to share (in a future post) what’s happening with that. What I’m experiencing as a result of deciding to do that.

And well, I do want to build up to 8 hours. Not all the time. But maybe once or twice a month. Eight hours sitting on my tush? Yes, I can see your face right now. But you don’t have to do it. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Partly to see what will happen (other than a backside that fell asleep and got numb). Partly because I think I experience some serious happy energy from that process. And partly to see how my mind will evolve.

It’s interesting, too. While meditation is not this “miracle” thing, I can totally see why this practice has persisted for millennia. Since ancient times.

I think our ancestors were really on to something. They had a connection to their roots and beginnings that is not so easy to know now. With the advent of modern civilization, for all our conveniences (and I like my conveniences for sure), we’ve lost something. A connection with the energy field that is nature? A connection to self?

But, I already know it’s possible to reestablish that connection: through meditation, observation of silence, and spending time in nature, among other things.

So…here I am. Ready to share. And it’s going to be an interesting ride in what’s probably a beat-up car, clunckily rolling through the axions and dendrites of the neurons of my brain. If you’d like to come along and don’t mind the occasional sputtering and ear-splitting backfire, come along then and help me shift into second gear. I can’t promise the clutch will last the whole way, but coasting is allowed.

 

Learning to Just Be and #10Thankful

 

Find freedom in yourself.
Be free. Be as you are.

Personal Development Books on CD

I spend a lot of time in the car.

Therefore, I listen to a lot of radio. But not just any kind of radio…

I often find myself at the town library on Saturday mornings, stocking up on personal development CDs to listen to during the week. Because right now, my commute is one hour, ten minutes round-trip. Five days per week.

I listen to everything from Earl Nightingale to Wayne Dyer to Deepak Chopra to Karen Armstrong. I get so inspired to  be my best and I actually derive so much energy from listening to these people.

And well, maybe I don’t believe everything they say. But really, they want to make the world a better place as much as I do.

So, I listen to like-minded people to propel myself forward.

And that’s the thing.

Propelling myself forward.

Because I listen to personal development stuff for hours and hours each week, I think it’s literally changing my brain make-up or something. I get so many ideas and things I want to do and things I want to try….

But more recently, I was listening to a conversation between Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra. There was a strong message about acceptance: of the way things are and of who you are.

Which led me to thoughts of “just being.”

Your “To Be” List

Chopra reminded me that we’re human “beings,” not human “doings.”

A few years ago, a friend shared a book with me called, “Your To Be List.” (No affiliate link there.) I remember thinking, I have zillions of “to do” lists, but I never thought of a “to be” list.

And it stuck. I vowed to become more contemplative, more mindful.

Be mindful.

That has a certain ring to it.

And honestly, I am looking at how I revamped my blog a few months ago. All the categories here now fall into:

  • be a leader
  • be aware
  • be creative
  • be divine
  • be grateful
  • be knowledgeable
  • be motivated
  • be spiritual
  • be the change
  • be your light

I had unwittingly created my own “to be” list. I smiled that I already have been working on just being. For that, I am grateful.

But most of all, and one that I didn’t include was “be me.” To be as I am. Flaws, perfections, mess of thoughts and smiles and all.

Be me.

There’s a certain peace that comes with acceptance of the self. That we really don’t have to be better than exactly who we are.

Coaching Others

Which brings me to another item of “grateful.” Because I listen and get so inspired by personal development-type stuff, I feel this need to share it. To share in this special knowledge that I’ve acquired that has changed my life. Especially more recently.

I’m grateful I’ve discovered free life coach courses online that I want to take. I’m not sure when: my day job takes a lot of time and energy at the moment. But I hope to do these soon.

I’ll have to hit up all my blogging friends for free life coaching sessions to hone my skills. But I want to look into being a spiritual/personal development coach. I keep thinking and thinking about this.

Will I quit my day job? Only if it’s meant to be: I am working on accepting life as it is. And I accept (and rather like) my day job…though I’d prefer a little more free time…like most of us, anyways.

But coaching feels right: I can incorporate all sides of myself: the creative side, the mindful side, the listening side, the desire to make a difference…

Spiritual Development

And I’m grateful for the spiritual journey I’m on. It’s a trip, really.

I’ve started meditating every single day. I’m no pro at it: my thoughts swirl like marbled ice cream, but the act of sitting but trying to be consciously quiet, well…it really does change you. Slowly. Over a long period of time.

I feel it. I feel it in the way I respond to stressful situations now. I feel it in all my interactions with others. I feel it in the way that I listen to my own instincts. And it engenders compassion.

And no matter what walk of life we have: religious, spiritual, or no affiliation with anything, compassion is at the core of every major doctrine and it’s wired into our brains.

If the whole world cultivated more of it, we’d know peace.

12 Steps to a Compassionate Life

I’m grateful for the very interesting and very compelling Karen Armstrong recorded book I’m listening to called, Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life.” Wow. What a powerful piece she’s written. And so poignantly relevant in today’s polarized world.

Morning Yoga

I’m grateful to Melanie for introducing me to Yoga With Adrienne. I don’t do yoga every day, but when I have the extra energy in the morning, Adrienne has a few yoga morning sequences. After meditating, I do a session of yoga and feel completely and incredibly energized and ready to start my day.

Actually, it would be good to do this every single day, but that’s not always practical…

But still…learning to stretch and breathe and be kind to myself…ahh, yes.

The whole breathing thing that goes with yoga and meditation…I really am embracing it.

Daily Meditation

I usually do about 30 minutes of focused meditation per day.

But I have this wish to try it for 8 hours sometime.

30 minutes can be hard, to say nothing of 8 hours or more.

I read about people going on meditation retreats and that’s all they do for 10 days straight – or longer.

I think about that with hesitation. First because meditation seems to be such a personal thing and doing that with others around does sort of freak me out a bit. But second, my legs fall asleep after not too long…I’d need a meditation bench or something.

But I read story after story about how people emerge from long meditation sessions and they literally see the world differently and their level of compassion is at a maximum. I really want to try this sometime and then write about it.

Perhaps I should next week when I have a couple days off….it would be so interesting.

I have no idea how many gratefuls I talked about in this post. But I can say it’s so much fun being part of Ten Things of Thankful. 

Higher Consciousness and Ten Things of Thankful

Gratitude Is Changing My Life

Yesterday, I was making a “Ten Things I’m Grateful For” list (not related to the Ten Things of Thankful Blog Hop). I started this practice back in October where I either write out ten things I’m thankful for first thing in the morning (well…after some meditation) or mentally catalogue ten things for which I’m grateful.

The Magic

I started doing this because I make it a point to work on my own personal development. This involves reading inspirational books, listening and watching uplifting/inspirational material, and watching my thoughts. One such book – I’ve mentioned it before – is called The Magic, by Rhoda Byrne.

This book is not like The Secret. I actually didn’t buy into a lot of what The Secret says, so I was hesitant to give The Magic a try.

I’m glad I did. Between the gratitude I practice now each day, meditation, and doing activities to increase my mindfulness, my life is changing. Bad days aren’t as bad as they used to be. Stressful events aren’t as stressful as they used to be. My mind is calmer and other things are happening.

Life will always have its ups and downs, but more and more I see the “downs” as a time to reflect, give more thanks, and take away important lessons that can guide me back to the “ups.”

Life Is Happening Now

Every experience we have really does have the potential to teach us something: from how we handled that encounter with the colleague at work, to the way we spend our free time. It all matters. Because life is happening now.

[Tweet “Every experience matters and has the potential to teach us something. Life is happening now.”]

So, I’m glad for the lessons, the ups, the downs and gratitude.

I’m glad for what it’s doing. Let me share an experience of awareness I had yesterday:

I was at work, and I was feeling particularly grateful. I was giving thanks for the beautiful snowflakes I could see outside my office window. I was giving thanks for the good working relationships I had. I was giving thanks for the abundance of funding that I have right now for my after school program – it is grant-funded and is set to run out in June (more on that later).

Responding to Positive Energy

It seemed like during the entire day, people were responding to me. Maybe it was the energy I was putting out – the positive energy of gratitude. But things were happening.

I was at the central office for the public schools where I work. The assistant superintendent’s grand-baby was there. I was going about my business when I wandered into a room and there he was. For what seemed like five minutes, that baby wouldn’t stop smiling at me and held my gaze. It was at once so powerful and humbling. This little creature was adorable and calm, and wouldn’t stop looking in my direction.

I’m not saying that I’m the prettiest thing since Marilyn Monroe – far from it. But I am saying that I swear the energy I was putting forth as a result of the gratitude I felt for having met the little guy was causing this wonderful reaction.

From Crotchety to Positive

Next down the line was how a friend and colleague responded to my presence. She’s normally kind of crotchety. She’s a bit of a negative person, so I do consciously limit my contact with her – I need positive energy in my life as much as possible. But, I found myself giving thanks for our working relationship as well as how she really wants to learn Spanish. I gave her some suggestions for websites and she went out of her way to help me out on a project and was even nice when she returned to doing paperwork that she did not find amusing.The path to enlightenment

Still, I was offered some extra food at lunchtime for someone’s birthday party and back in my office on the university campus, my group colleagues enjoyed the rest of our lunches over casual conversation – which hadn’t happened much before – we’re usually always buzzing around with lots of things to do.

It was just one of those days when it felt like there was a positive charge of energy everywhere I went. And I’ve been aware of this energy growing.

A couple days ago we had a parent night and did a survey of parents’ satisfaction in the program. I make sure to run my program with so much love and kindness and instill in all my employees that we All Are One and we need to treat each other like it.

There was not a single complaint about the program – and we have 54 kids in the program! Parents came up to me, as well as the students we teach, to hug me, to hug each other and share in love and camaraderie. The employees I have under me all know I love them and that they matter.

You’re a Life Coach

Last evening I met up with a another friend. We were sharing stories about work and life and all its offerings – both good and bad.

The conversation meandered to spiritualism and talk of energy – this has been on my mind so much lately.

I mentioned how I want to make a difference on a wider scale than just a small organization. Granted, the experience I’m gaining is priceless, but still…I find myself wanting to affect people in a way that really makes the world a better place.

She just said to me, “you know, I have an acquaintance who decided to become a life coach and all I could think was why?” She was telling me how she wasn’t sure he had the personality and even the mental practice in place to claim such a position.

But then she turned and looked at me and said, “Cyndi, you’re not a life coach by name, but it’s in your DNA. You’re here to make a difference and be part of something bigger than you even know. You’re supposed to teach and bring light to others. And I think you’d be a great life coach!”

I could only look at her in that moment while my mind entertained the possibility, and simultaneously gave thanks for such a beautiful compliment. She asked if I would ever write a book on how to help people be the best version of themselves through mindfulness and creativity. I told her, “well, not yet.” 

But, I’d like to. Sometime.

 

Not Nervous About the Future

Furthermore, I remember seeing the awe on another colleague’s face when we were talking about funding for our program. She asked me, “don’t you get nervous not knowing if you’ll have a job in a few months?”

I smiled and looked at her and said the following: “I’m in the business of helping people. I came into this job knowing it was grant-funded and it was a risk I was willing to take: to get the experience, to work with this particular population and I know that I work to help people. Therefore, no matter what happens, it’s going to be all right.”

This post is part of the Ten Things of Thankful Blog Hop.

 

Acceptance, INFP, and TToT

It’s been so long since I’ve camped out and stayed long enough on my own site to eke out a post.

Well..it’s about time I change that. And why not join that most grateful of blog hops?

Thankful for Employment

First things first: I’m immensely thankful for my job. But that’s the biggest reason I don’t find myself visiting my humble abode of cyberspace nearly as much as I had in the past few years. I went from being “just a teacher” to an administrator, managing 35 people plus 54 students, translating and interpreting for the families of those students, ordering supplies, running daily operations, being a liaison for four agencies working together to pull off this program, among other things.

In other words, I’m doggedly tired when I get home but relish in knowing that I have this incredible opportunity to mentor college students and young minority students whose first language is probably not English.

It’s kind of mind blowing, sometimes, when I think about it.

It brings me to muse about how I’m a clark and an INFP personality.

And how, those days when I’m feeling quite stressed out and wondering why I put myself into such an interesting job situation – that is grant funded and never had any guarantee of continuing beyond June of this year – for better or worse.

Well, for one thing, I crave change. You usually don’t hear people say that.

I once wrote here on nearly a daily basis (and oh how many times I’ve thought of deleting this site to get rid of the potential baggage I’ve created for myself here…and in the end I always decide that this is a running record of my journey and that, no matter how little or how much I write here, this is an indelible part of my own footprint, whether I recognize that or not. I recognize that enough to keep it here, me thinks). But see, since I crave change, I don’t write here as much now – obviously.

But that’s the thing.

I used to chastise myself for not “sticking with it.”

I’ve dabbled in palettes of creative: photography, drawing, painting, writing, knitting, crafts and more.

I did all with the notion: ooh, I’m going to make a full time living out of this! I see people online do it all the time! Two Zazzle shops, one Etsy shop, and multiple sites later….

Eh…my focus ebbed.

Do you know how many times I’ve felt like I’ve failed myself?

But before you think this post is going to be oozing lumps of depressive ectoplasm, I promise it’s not.

It’s about the journey. The journey of understanding and accepting yourself.

The Wakefield Doctrine

So the second thing I’m thankful for is the discovery of sites like the Wakefield Doctrine and reading everything I can about INFPs (introverted, iNtuitive, feeling, perceiving) according to Myers-Briggs.

I never stop thinking. It’s the “clarkest” of clark characteristics.

Apparently many INFPs struggle with finding their place in life. And often lack follow-through.

This is me. I want to make a difference. I want to inspire. I want to get those emails in my inbox that read, “you do not understand how you’ve changed my life.”

But then after I’ve gotten all caught up in the moment and my heart is bursting with “I’m here. I’m on it! I’m making a difference!” I sort of get this burned out feeling because I suddenly need to go hide. And recover from the massive energy expenditure of just being me and absorbing the energy of everyone around me.

I swear, if it wasn’t for the “you’re locked in” nature of having a job, I’d probably float all over painting sidewalks one day, volunteering at the nearest Hispanic agency to translate to Spanish the next, and still  on the third day I’d be taking a hike with my slightly deranged dog who looks like he drank one too many kegs of beer. And well, sometimes he acts like a mean drunk.

But that’s neither here nor there. I accept and love him.

Meditation

Which leads me to number three. I’m thankful for meditation.

This practice alone has saved me from many a nervous breakdown. And by that I mean going from being “just a teacher” to managing an organization with all eyes on you is not exactly what an INFP would do. We’re those sorts of people who do not want to lead or follow.

Honestly, that idiom, “marches to the beat of a different drummer” is quite true. Except, I’d probably take that drum, paint it in all sorts of geometric shapes and put a hole in it from too much banging.

I find myself in the reluctant position of being a leader. It’s a strange feeling of attention that you get and every day I’m grateful for the smooth-running nature of the program and how my employees say they feel like they’re all extended family and that the students in our charge are like adopted children.

That’s pretty cool. That very notion keeps me going – despite me feeling like all these folks are watching every move I do, down to the last footstep.

I wonder if they’ve figured out that I’m a free spirit, yet. I’m sure they have; some of them know I have an artist website….

I try to keep it under wraps. But I still find ways to express myself, despite the serious attitude I have to adopt each day: I wear crazy socks that usually only I can see, I go home and draw or watch bad Spanish videos at night (it’s for practice…but I do get hooked), and on the weekends I find myself reading books about Buddha; still, I’ve recently taken an interest in yoga.

Contemplative Coloring

Back in January, I finally decided to create a site where I’d put all my “sharpie art” drawings in one place. Yeah, once had a “Sharpie Artist” website, but alas, blame it on the INFP, it didn’t stick.dragonfliescoloring

I go through bursts of creativity – feverishly creating work after work after work, and then I have to take a break.

But still…drawing is meditative, people want to color, I like to draw things that have spaces to color…so Contemplative Coloring was born.

It’s a way to build a portfolio over time, yes. But I’m a giver. And not a seller. I like to give my work away. If it somehow leads to something else in the future, well…it won’t be because I’ve stuck to it religiously like a daily ascetic practice.

It’s because I had fits of starts and stops, and decided to not delete that website, too…and sort of kept going with it for years longer than I thought possible and surprised even myself.

I have a lot of fun drawing and sharing these. And I’ve been spending a lot of time there that I otherwise would have spent here. So, now, I have a sort of “personal musings” website and a completely niche coloring one.

Writing

The other day, I made a comment on Bill’s blog, Artistry with Words. That’s the inspiration behind this particular strand of grateful.

Bill is an Energizer Bunny: he cranks out articles, books, hubs, and blog posts. He’s done it for years. I commented on his remarkable endurance.

And that post he did also made me think of the four or five (I honestly can’t remember! Isn’t that slightly nuts?) novels I have sitting on various jump drives and such. I tried to write fiction. Short stories. And other such things.

But, my brain isn’t wired for creative crazy imagination like that. It’s okay. I had to write that much to figure it out.

I’m into nonfiction and personal reflection. I always have been.

Interestingly enough, JK Rowling is an INFP. One of the hallmarks of an INFP is the person’s ability to write. J.R.R. Tolkien was another INFP.

Somehow my expression of being an INFP came more on the artistic side of things.

I’ve always resorted to painting, drawing, and finding colorful activities to entertain my optic synapses. The writing I’ve always done? Journals. I just love to write and express myself through secret entries that will never meet another’s eyes.

It’s just what I do.

It’s taken until I’m 36 to accept all aspects of this: the fact that I’m not one to go blindly into the crowd to celebrate the end of a hard-won work week (please, can I just go home, have a glass of wine, read some more on being a Buddha and go to bed after an episode of Águila Roja?). I change my mind a lot. The thought of having to work at a job until I’m 65 fills me with a simultaneous sense of dread and quiet acceptance of what is.

And still I dream of what could be.

Childfree

I’ve never shared this much before, but…

I think I’m electing to live the childfree life. Being an educator, I do get a lot of raised eyebrows at that one.

It’s due, in part, to a family background that yes, made me write a secret memoir that I’m too afraid to publish.

It could be the miscarriage that occurred two months after my brother’s death in 2011.

It could be the fact that I’ve faced infertility since then and there have been times that I thought, “I’m gonna be a mom!” and then it doesn’t happen over and over again. And no, I’m not one to do anything about it except the fact that if it’s supposed to happen naturally, it will. (The thought of fertility treatments, the expense, the spending time as a specimen in antiseptic offices? Yeah, no. I’m lucky to get my own self to the doctor once every five years.)

It could be the fact that I actually do like my life as it is and I’m learning to embrace the notion that, perhaps, I’m supposed to make a difference on a wider scale than the route of having a family.

Maybe I’ll adopt. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll foster. Maybe I won’t.

But I’m grateful for the acceptance I’m starting to feel at it all.

The Magic

I picked up this book at the library in October or November. And it’s entirely related to the theme of being grateful. It’s by Rhonda Byrne, the same author of The Secret, though I admit I didn’t like that one at all.

But, The Magic? The whole book is about being grateful.

I make grateful lists everyday now. Sometimes I write them down, and sometimes I do them mentally.

But I’m learning to feel gratitude as often as I can throughout the day: there’s a special power in the feeling of feeling your blessings through gratitude. It’s the kind of thing that, no matter what’s happening in life, you have blessings beyond that which you’re even aware of.

Until I read this book, I never thought to be grateful for the asphalt street upon which my house sits. But I am. I’m grateful for the labor of the people that endeavored to put all that yucky stuff down so that others might benefit. I’m thankful to the earth for supplying the resources necessary for the street to come into fruition. I’m thankful for all the people who planned all that out. I’m thankful for the streetworkers who come and maintain the roads in the summer and winter.

I am grateful in countless other ways, too.

I never thought to walk 1,000 steps, saying the words “thank you” over and over again.

I have been thankful for my health before, but never on a daily scale that I can walk, talk, and lead a normal life.

I have been thankful for my vision before, but never in a way that understands how lucky I am that even though I’m blind in my right eye, I have nearly perfect vision in my left.

Gratitude, meditation, and acceptance of who I am – on every level – are not only changing my life, but they are practices that often make me deliriously happy at best, and mildly discontent at worst (a condition that, honestly, is short-lived).

I’d better end this post here, lest I end up writing some sort of e-book on all the intricacies of a right-brained girl in a left-brained society…

This is a post in the Ten Things of Thankful Blog Hop

 

 

Free Printable Coloring Pages

Note: I have moved this post over to http://www.contemplativecoloring.com – it’s a site I created just for coloring. Come check it out! 🙂  It’s free and there’s lots of stuff over there.

Adult Coloring Sheets for Meditative Purposes

The art of coloring.

It’s making a comeback these days because it’s quite meditative. You get some crayons or markers, you download and print a page or sheet, and have at it.

Play some music. Or not. But just color.

The process of coloring intricate lines and shapes is beneficial because it forces us to slow down. It makes us focus on what we’re doing. If not, we go outside the lines and we don’t quite get the colors we were envisioning.

As such, I spent some time drawing. I wanted to share my drawing skills with you so that you might enjoy some meditative coloring. Interestingly, the process of drawing is as equally meditative as coloring is. If you like to draw, why not try your hand at it and share? I would love to know what other folks come up with – the possibilities are limited only by the imagination.

I have to admit, my utensil of choice is the Sharpie marker. I love those things!

You can print and share as you like! The images below are full-size. Meaning, they might take awhile to load onto your screen. This is because the image resolution is quite high. If you’re printing on a regular printer, the image will be crisp and sharp. If you happen to have a printer that can make images bigger, then you can increase the size accordingly.

The images are also in two formats: jpg and pdf. If you have a hard time downloading one, try the other. (Except the Abstract Flowers one – for whatever reason, I couldn’t upload that. Contact me if you’d really like to get that in a pdf version.)

If you have a favorite, let me know in the comments. Also, if you’d like to see more of these, just tell me.

 

 

 

 

This New House Is Like a Miracle

I am so glad to be back. It’s like my “cyber-home” here at the ‘Tude.

There’s nothing like moving (in the real world) to shake up all your routines. Over the summer it was difficult to blog because I was staying with family while we closed on our house and then had to fix it up (we always buy fixer-uppers) so we could live in it.

We closed in mid-July, didn’t move in until mid-August and work picked back up – all good things, but definitely left me with not a lot of time to do much outside of those things.

new ho

To that end, I have continued journaling and drawing wherever possible. I’d like to think I haven’t lost my writing touch.

But more than that, I have an incredible story to share about selling our house and getting into our new one.

Back in May, our old house in Marshall, NC had been under contract. Then came the home inspection. The folks who were slated to buy the house decided to pull out – for various reasons, but mostly because they kept trying to knock the price down to below market value and, well, we wouldn’t budge.

We’d put a lot of sweat equity into our old house and knew that the market was pretty tight because of its proximity to a desirable area.

To get the house ready, we’d painted, repaired and staged it. We’d planted a vegetable garden and really tried to make our old house absolutely move-in ready. When you sell a house, I’d learned, you’re selling a product. And you want that product to be as fantastic as possible.

We also needed to sell and we needed to sell fast. I was commuting 1.5 hours and staying with family during the week.

The St. Joseph Home Selling Kit

After the first contract fell through, there were no showings for two solid weeks. I knew that somehow it would work out, but still: we already had a lot of things packed up and in storage. Our lives were continuing; it was time to move on.

I happened to Google “sell your house faster” one night after about a week and a half of no showings.

I found the Legend of Saint Joseph. I’d never heard of it before, but it was a “thing.” Many, many people on numerous sites had talked about how they sold their house incredibly fast with St. Joseph.

I thought, well, what do I have to lose?

Basically, you can go to Amazon and order a mini statue of St. Joseph. He comes in a small package with a prayer. I ordered him on a Tuesday; he got there by Thursday.

John said, “okay, so I’m supposed to bury him, right?”

I told him to wait because I know that when more than one person sends up the same prayer at the same time, it’s magnified. Multiple people magnify the same sentiments and thoughts.

“Wait until I get home on Saturday and we’ll bury him and say the prayer then.”

On Saturday, exactly two weeks after we’d had our last showing, we went outside. We lit a candle and recited the prayer of St. Joseph – here’s an excerpt:  (The following is taken from the St. Joseph Home Selling Kit we ordered on Amazon – not an affiliate link, by the way.)

Dear Saint Joseph, God the Father chose you from all men to be the husband of Mary and the foster Father of Jesus. You cared thoughtfully and wholeheartedly for them while on Earth.

It was through you that Jesus first learned of His Heavenly Father’s gentleness, compassion, protection and provision.

So close were you that He was known simply as the Carpenter’s son…

Then, we buried the statue upside down. You’re supposed to have him face either your own home or where your new home will be, if you know that information. It is said that he will work twice as hard to help you sell your home if he’s buried upside down. Incidentally, the location of our new house and the old happened to be in the same direction: southwest.

We blew out the candle and hoped for the best. We also believed in its power.

I went inside to take a nap and John went to work out in the shed.

I woke up an hour later to a text message on my phone: a show request.

It was almost exactly an hour later – I’m not even kidding.

We ended up getting two show requests that afternoon for the following day on Sunday and the next was for Monday.

By Tuesday we were under contract for just a little below our asking price! From there on out, everything went smoothly.

To keep the process running smoothly, I decided to also recite the nine novenas of St. Joseph to help sell the house, too.

The last part of the “ceremony” is that you dig up and give St. Joseph an honorary spot on the mantel of the new home. You can bet he has a place of honor.

St. Joseph now sits on the mantel above our fireplace.
St. Joseph now sits on the mantel above our fireplace.

Things Work Out If You Let Them

The funny thing is, we were looking to move to the same town where I now work. But, the houses in our price range were sort of…lacking. Most didn’t have quite what we needed and weren’t in great areas.

We were about to make an offer on a house that we were going to “settle” on when another house 30 minutes away in the next town dropped in price.

This next town was Waynesville – the town where John grew up and where family lives. Furthermore, there were no other houses in Waynesville in our price range – this was the only one. Though it’s a 30-minute commute, this town is centrally located to the larger city of Asheville, NC and the smaller town where I work – in Cullowhee, NC – 30 minutes in either direction.

I drove by this potential house immediately and it was like an electric spark: I just knew that this house was it. It was like everything came together at once: the way it worked out with our old house and this new one coming down in price enough that we could work with it.

We like to fix up houses because if we ever need to sell them, we’ll have automatic equity in them.

Once we closed, we couldn’t move in immediately, though.

We had to fix the heat pump and do mold remediation. The house had an odor and we had to pull up the carpets – revealing the original 1948 hardwood floors underneath. We took up the cracking, warped linoleum in the kitchen: 3 layers worth, complete with rotting plywood.

From there, we (and by “we” I mean John) soldered pipes in the bathroom to get them working again. Every single faucet in the house leaked because all the seals had dried up – the house had been vacant for six years.

There is still the huge rock wall that collapsed a few years ago that will need to be repaired…

The rest of the house will need to be updated (yes, the original bathroom from 1948 is still here: pink tiles with a cast iron tub of the same color – so lovely).

But it’s already a loved house with a happy feeling.

I gotta say I’m very, very grateful.

Yes, we go with our instincts on houses – they have “feelings” and sometimes even ghosts. We made the mistake of ignoring our instincts on one fixer-upper we bought and let’s just say it did not work out.

But now…now things are getting more settled. Work still takes up a lot of my time and it will for at least another year. But, I am getting into a more regular schedule where I can now, once again, return to regular creative sessions: i.e. writing and creating.

There’s that book I was working on earlier in the year….

I hope my fellow readers have been well!

I promise it won’t be so long next time.

 

 

Of Houses and Mayhem…Ten Things of Thankful 102

Hello there, dear readers, it has been over two months since I last wrote.

That reads like something out of some Catholic confessional, doesn’t it?

Well, while I have been away, my life has been a roller coaster…the kind that has a long “up” with a sweet, stomach-tickling dip and takes you through some awesome twists and turns. Hopefully I am nearing the end of the “Post-graduate school Loop D Loop;” I’m getting off the ride with a big grin on my face, though.

Because I have so much to be thankful for.

Gratitude makes sense of our past,

At the end of March, I left my old job. I had trained not one, not two, but three people to replace me. Needless to say, those folks weren’t exactly thrilled I was leaving.

But…sometimes life has other plans for you and if we wait until everything’s perfect, why…nothing will ever happen now, will it?

I was thankful for that job. It certainly was a stepping stone for this next one. Plus, well, it does make a girl feel kinda good knowing that the job I was doing required three people to fill her spot. Of course, they were all part timers, but still.

And on to the new job. Working for the State of North Carolina once again. I’m actually thankful for that. When I left my teaching position back in 2012, I thought I was leaving education for good. I remember being annoyed that they “held on” to your sick days for 5 years after you quit. I was like, “How COULD they? I’m NEVER going back!” 

There’s a saying: Never say never.

When I began work on the last day of March, I was told that all my sick days (we’re talking months’ worth) were reinstated. I’m glad they didn’t pay me off for those.

I’m thankful for my office. My sweet office at a university where people just love to learn…like I do. I’m a learningphile. Okay, there’s a real word for that: epistemophilic.

[Tweet “Epistemophilic: an excessive love or reverence for knowledge. That’s me.”]

I’m in love with that word, too. Yep, that counts as something for which I’m thankful.

I’m thankful my house is about to sell and we found another one that will be 30 minutes away from work and 5 minutes from my sweet mother-in-law. My fingers are crossed that it will all go through okay. Our due-diligence date is 5 June.

But…my office. You know, I can’t say I’ve ever been in a position where they tell you, “you need to spend more money!” Yes, I just spent $16,000 ordering supplies and curriculum materials for my after school program. That kind of money makes me incredulous. It was at once exhilarating and intimidating to spend that much. And, my budget renews 1 July so guess what? I’ll have even more than that to spend throughout the next year. Yowza.

I have to tell you that I have had some serious fun in the last couple of months ordering things. It was hard (yeah, yeah…one of those “first-world” problems) because I had to anticipate what all I’d need to manage tutors and 50 kids over the next couple of years. But…some of my favorite items included ordering a parachute, tons of stuff for bubbles, LOTS of books, a Promethean board, finger paint, stuff to make LOTS of gooey goopy stuff, games, card games, Orbeez, and so much more.

Knowing that disadvantaged children will get to enjoy these things for years to come makes me especially happy.

And I’m thankful for my in-laws. You see, during the week I have to leave my hubby and my animals and stay with his family. Work is 1.5 hours from where I live. There are some in the world who would do that commute, but after working 10-hour days, commuting 30 minutes to my in-laws’ house is enough.

But, this means that during the week, I don’t much time to myself, much less to write. My weekends have been filled with packing and trying to catch up from being gone all week…not to mention trying to get a bit of down-time.

I’m thankful for all of it. Wouldn’t you know, the vision board I created in January is all coming true? It’s freaky. If you haven’t tried it, they work. You need to know what to do (just google or youtube it – and yes, I just used those two words as verbs so I didn’t capitalize them)…and it’s interesting how things manifest themselves, but still…it’s pretty incredible. Yeah, another thing for which I’m thankful.

Hopefully my next post will be from my new house (though we haven’t even made an offer on this next house just yet…there’s still a few things up in the air)…but I’ll definitely have to share some before and after photos of our house that we are leaving behind…as well as something about a certain legend regarding selling houses.