::Recovering My Cottage Instincts::

This will be long and convoluted and rambly, but I'm writing it for posterity....

(Robyn Rose 8 months)

And it documents when I started believing in magic again.  

Which means, I recovered my cottage instincts.

Magic, I tell ya.

Ya know, the last year or more on this blog I've been mostly absent.  It was an intense year for so many reasons, and it left no time or energy for me to fluff and frouff and stage and edit and post.  

Or have a sense of humor.  

I kinda thought my blogging days were numbered.  

Then in the last couple months our family decided it was finally time to move.  Say so long to the last 4.5 years in a community I didn't care for or fit into.  Say 'I've done what I can' to my circa 1982 ranch and look forward to new decorating adventures.  Mostly wave goodbye to the previous 18 months and hello to a bright future.

And a new house meant new fodder for blogger. :)  Lucky you!  (Am I over-reaching there?)

And by 'new', I mean brand spankin' new.

Let me start at the beginning...

Mid-November, we started thinking of building.  I talked to two builders in our area. I toured models.  I drove thru finished neighborhoods to get inspired.  We put money on a lot.  We made an appointment with Mortgage Guy.  We got a hold of Realtor Lady and began the process of getting our house ready to sell.  (understatement, saith my aching back)

Then this past Sunday, we came *this close* to signing the building contract....as in, Sales Rep Person was drawing up the contract before my husband realized it was *the* building contract and said "Whoa. Not yet...gotta talk to my money guy first."  

Which was an embarrassing moment, lemmetellya.  I'll even let on that I was a bit miffed. 

 Having dealt with the excitement, working endless hours on 3 different floor plans, 

....arranging furniture on gridpaper just so, picking out a lot (ooooo, there's one extra tree on that one....), trolling Pinterest for inspiration, firing one Sales Rep Person #1, well.....let's just say I was ready to be done with the indecision and get on with it.  


That evening I began to understand how profound my husband's less-than-socially-acceptable-halting was.  
I began to thank my lucky astroids that I have a husband who is hesitant about throwing down many thousands of dollars on the table before knowing the actual lay of the land.

I didn't sleep well.

I arose Monday feeling agitated and irritated and confused and mad (and tired).  I suddenly felt I needed to get a job to help pay for this 'dream house'.  Which I'd never felt in my whole life. (!) In our 27 years of marriage, hubs and I held to certain values like not spending the upper limits of our income on housing.  Like me staying home with our kids even if it meant older or not-as-nice cars and homes.  Like knowing our neighbors.  Like not giving into the Galloping Gimmies too often.  
(every parent needs this book, just sayin'.)

I closed my eyes for the zillionth time and tried to see myself dwelling in a home I'd never actually been able to walk thru, a home with walk in closets, upstairs laundry, a corner garden tub, 9 foot ceilings, transom windows, a MUD ROOM.  I tried to imagine a pristine new home with slabs of wet driveway cement and a thatched front yard, the roar of bulldozers building someone else's dream next door.  
It wasn't working.  I simply couldn't see it. 

I tried to distract myself with some of my Country Living cottage deco books....and was reminded how much I love old stuff.  Which, of course, can look totally cool in a new home, don't get me wrong.  But they just 'fit' in an older home.  I was also reminded of how much environmental havoc is involved in the building process....and the outgassing we'll deal with (as the new carpet upstairs has been reminding me this week). 

So I left for yoga and decided to drive thru some areas near where I used to live....80-100 year old homes with no yards, no driveways, no garages, no walkout basements....and spiraled a bit deeper into the abyss of indecision, wondering and observing this weird sensation of 'not sure' after getting so cozy with the idea of 'new and fabulous (and expensive)' for the last couple months.  Thinking how foreign to be thinking about getting a job after all these years to help pay for the 'dream house'.  And then wishing we could find some older home, a mature, settled place that would fit our needs as well as our dreams....and realizing that was a slim possibility.

I drove to our new lot and stared.  Nothing.  I felt nothing.  I remembered sitting at the table less than 24 hours previously ready to sign off on an as-yet non-existent dwelling....looking at my husband when Sales Rep Person told us our 'new' address, and both of us saying 'eh, not crazy about that name'.  I recalled all the forcing and struggling and frustration trying to get people to call us back.  And the house price increasing with every visit to Sales Rep Person.  And telling myself I deserved a new house after all these years, goshdarnit!!!

Back at home, I sighed, plunked myself down in front of the computer and decided to check the MLS again in hopes that by some miracle, the right house might pop up, even though for 3 months not a single property seemed suitable competition to what we wanted to build.

You know where this is going right?  

I typed in my old zipcode and... 

 First house listed, no pictures yet, just an address.  But I recognized the street name instantly....my old neighborhood....but the older, more stately section.  The area we could never afford.  The neighborhood that rarely offered up one of it's pearls of homey goodness. I mapped the address and soon discovered it was THAT HOUSE....

THAT HOUSE that I drove by daily, wishing I lived there. 

THAT HOUSE that I walked by s-l-o-w-l-y with the dog...hoping he'd choose to relieve himself right there so I could take in the goodness, and perhaps steal a peek thru the windows.  Obsessed might be just slightly too over-the-top, but it gives you an idea how I felt about the place.  

It was all window boxes and front porch swings, and 2 car attached garagey (!), and inground pool-ish.  It was shuttered off-center-window-quirkiness, and tall, old tree loveliness......

And now, (be still my heart) my screen was telling me it was available, weighing in at 90K less than what we were considering building.  

Oh Hello.

I shook my head in disbelief.  Which moved quickly to tears.  Which progressed to laughter. Which moved back to tears.  Which culminated in 'dare I hope?'  

THAT HOUSE!  Up for grabs????  REALLY???

I even said aloud "No.  This isn't happening.  This can't be happening.  It's too good.  It's too full circle and perfect and and and....."

,,,,And suddenly all the agitation, all the frustration, the stress, and worry evaporated.  
The words "NO WONDER" reverberated thru my heart.  

That, my friends, *that* is where the magic jump-started into a whirling purr in my spirit.  
I hadn't felt it since my granddaughter emerged into this world on my family room floor in April.  
I wasn't sure I'd ever feel it again after my beautiful mom succumbed to cancer in September.

The last day has been spent looking at the pictures that were finally posted and doing my yoga breathing and downward dogs so I don't take off into spaz-land in my anxiousness to see it.  Our first showing was scheduled for last evening (just after the meeting with Mortgage Guy).  It was postponed until Friday.

FRIDAY, PEOPLE.  That's like the equivalent to a thousand years, right?

I can't say that this whole deal doesn't look suspiciously like a big present wrapped up in a satin bow with my name on it.  But I also know there is always good and bad to everything...even when it's special-delivery from the Universe.  Like with our kids, who are beyond fabulous, but can be less-than-fun on many occasions (like 3am wet-the-bed sessions, for instance.)

Then there's that whole changing direction mid stream thing.  Some might call it flakey.  

I mean, a mere 24 hours previously I had designed my dream home . Was pissed my hubby engaged in contract-signing interruptus.

Now I'm sure I'll be forever content with a house where I'd share a bathroom with 2 teenage boys.  

Does that seem just a mite strange?  

I toyed with the idea that I might be completely deranged and have no clue anymore what I truly want in life.
Although I'm a sucker for crystal knobs.
And original hardwood floors.
And arched doorways.

This complete about-face made Hubs and I ask ourselves some hard questions:
1) What do we actually need/want in a house?
2) What kind of folks are we really?  New house people or old neighborhood folks?
(I've had 2 people in 2 days say we're definitely the latter, and my counselor told me I'm an 'old soul' and should explore living in an older home, which we did 20 years and 4 houses ago...it was the only home where I cried the first time we walked in).
And  most importantly,
3) What are our values?  Have they changed?

And that last one was a doozy.  The meeting with Mortgage Guy laid out for us the reality that although we could afford the new one, things would be tremendously tight financially for awhile.  When we examined our values last night after the meeting, I realized I like the freedom we have in our finances now, and that we've wanted to be more purposeful in our giving, and that being in debt is just plain awful.  And that, lo those many years ago we wanted to be people who didn't stretch the financial limits when it came to homes.

It's all about those cottage instincts, folks.  My heart loves all things cottage because it lines up so perfectly with our values for homes.  Smaller, older, quirkier....cheaper.  

I suppose you find the emotional trail and follow it....
even if it seems to lead to the Crazy Train.  

Because, honestly, there's lots of others on that train.  Those who've shunned the popular, the trendy, the copycats to live their own authentic, unique lives....be it in their clothing, their values, their homes....

You trust your instincts.  Something I thought I'd lost.  
Both the instincts AND the trust in myself.

Most times pushing yourself into a box (even one with a corner soaking tub) isn't smart.  Even in the heady days of arranging paper furniture on a grid of floorplans I wondered why this all felt so hard.  

Sometimes letting go and allowing goodness to come to you, trusting that you'll recognize yourself and your heart when it arrives, is the best way to deal with frustration and stressful decisions.  There's those times we need to chase down and grab hold, but when that gig stops working, it's time to back off.  
Monday morning I knew it was time to stop forcing and start trusting.  

As excited as I am about the possibility of THAT HOUSE being ours.....I'm at peace because I received my answer about building....that it doesn't really align with our family's budget and values.  Even if THAT HOUSE ends up not working out, it has served an enormous purpose in my life....reminding me of what I truly want, helping me say no to some of my LIKES to leave room for my LOVES.  

Now I just need to wait.  

And keep trusting my cottage instincts.  

I'll keep y'all posted.  


Janelle Roach said...

Happy to see you back, Cindy.

Sissie's Shabby Cottage said...

Hi Cindy,
I really, really love your post. We have been going through the same thing. We bought a house in a place where we just do not want to be and now we are making changes that are right for us. We've made a mistake but we aren't letting it get us down. We are moving on and following our hearts.
I'm glad that you have decided to do what feels right. I wish you the best and hope that you get the home of your dreams.
BTW your little granddaughter looks like you.


rebecca @ older and wisor said...


Janet said...

So beautifully written. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. I hope Friday comes fast for you. :)

Sweet Bee Cottage said...

Cindy, you never fail to inspire. And I hope that doesn't make you feel pressured - but just your honesty and conversation about life make me feel inspired to just be myself and not what's popular or trendy. I sure hope you know what I mean by that. :)

Sue @ A Colourful Canvas said...

Hi Cindy, I have been intending for so long to pop over here from your other blog and really spend some time.

And this is what I read!

And, now I just want to sit here hitting refresh until your next post magically appears...um even if it's not 'til Friday.

I cry every time I watch Miracle on 34th Street, and this is the feeling that I'm getting now. There's something about that house and your story that is so compelling.

Can't wait for the next page, the next chapter.

Sue xo

Julie @ followyourheartwoodworking said...

So well written, I can't wait for more!

Sheri said...

Good for you! By the way . . . that is a MARVELOUS monkey hat! ;)

Susan said...

Hi Cindy
Just wanted to say hi and that Im new to your blog. Directed here from Lettered Cottage.
Totally enjoyed your post and wanted to let you know. I'll be checking back to see how it goes on Friday!

Sonnie said...

Cindy....I have tears in my eyes; that was a great post. I could FEEL your excitement finding THAT HOUSE! Your beautiful, authentic, unique self. Welcome back, Dear Cindy, welcome back :)

Tammy said...

Welcome back dear. I hear you so loudly - it is like you are yelling right in my ear waving your arms. I agree. Corner soaker tub- you are move of an old clawfoot tub girl. Shiny new knobs- no way hold our for the old crystal ones.
I can't wait to follow your journey..sometimes the road we take is not so point a- to b in a straight manner- yours seems to be like mine- a very meandering path. But I am sure it will lead to a wonderful place..of that I have faith in.


JunkStuffTreasures said...

Good luck! I hope you get the home that is really meant for you!

Sharlotte said...

Wonderful post, VERY close to home for me! We're in the same boat, however we decided to build with a company that allows us to be contractors. We make all decisions, most importantly budget, our budget!
I feel so much better knowing that things are in line with our morals and values too!
Yes, please, please keep us all posted! I can't wait to see what happens!

cairncottage said...

Wow, Cindy! What a crazy ride you've been on! We went on a similar 'crazy train', starting back in 2010. We moved into our
cozy little lakeside cottage last August, after going to so many open houses, looking through MLS homes, and even bidding on a few houses, only to have to back out or the owner not accept. But we are so glad we waited and got Cairn Cottage! Good luck! I hope and pray you get to buy the house of your dreams!
Blessings, Ann @ Cairn Cottage

Suzanne@Meridian Road said...

Oh, I hope you get it! Glass doorknobs~hardwood floors. *sigh*


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