Sunday, July 30, 2006

conversation between Whirling Betty and Higher Self

WB: I'm here to gain clarity on this house issue.

HS: It seems that you want what is out of your reach financially.

WB: Yes, it appears that I'm behaving like a spoiled brat, at least in this sense. I do not spoil myself with expensive clothing, or jewels; I do not buy fancy furniture; my car is the laughing stock of my workplace. But I want a certain house which, yes, is out of reach financially, probably.

HS: Why do you want it, if it's out of reach?

WB: Because it is not definitely, or absolutely, out of reach. It depends on which online calculator you use. But none of those calculators include babysitting expenses, for some odd reason. So it's possible that my ability to afford this house is even worse than the calculators show.

HS: Do you have a sense of the truth about whether you can afford this house?

WB: I don't.

HS: Have you possibly cluttered your mind with lists, facts, figures and calculations ad infinitum?

WB: Certainly.

HS: Your clarity is thus obscured.

WB: How can I get past the data and find the truth?

HS: Well, one of the factors in that truth is your mindset. You are currently very uptight about money. You cannot afford the house regardless of your income. Your mind is worked up into a frenzy over the expenses of the house in question.

WB: So if I just relax about the finances, I'll be able to afford the house?

HS: All the money in the world won't save you until you do. However, the actual numbers do have to be considered. Technically, the mortgage is affordable, but you will be paying out more each month than you are now. Some people in your society believe that money equals freedom. If you agree, then you will be imprisoning yourself to some degree by taking on the increased expenses. Are you willing to do so?

WB: Here's where I need a fortune teller. I don't know. I don't know what other things my child and I might wish to spend money on in the future. I do know he needs braces someday...... I don't have so much money that I can say it doesn't matter. And I have no parents or anybody else to lend money for an emergency.

HS: That sounds like clarity.

WB: I'm afraid to pass up this opportunity. It may be the last house in that location which I can afford.

HS: You just said you can't afford it. The truth may be that there is no house in that location which you can afford. Just remember though- it is still possible for you to buy that house. The bank will grant you the mortgage, not caring whether the decision turns your life topsy-turvy or not. You may choose to swim upstream if you prefer.

More importantly, I think it would behoove you to ask yourself what you truly seek. Is the house in question going to satisfy you?

WB:, it didn't the last time I lived in a similar house in that very location. I ended up searching the internet for houses in wooded settings the last time, and finally, after living in the urban house only 14 months, I moved to my current house on the park. I seem unable to satisfy myself with all this moving. During the time my child was age 2-4, I moved 4 times.

HS: So it's possible, then, that what you seek is not a house or a physical location.

WB: When I move I think I'm getting a better situation, more in line with my beliefs and desires and more conducive to our growth and thriving. But then all I want to do is move again.

HS: So it's not working.

WB: Correct.

HS: Is it possible, then, for you to live more in line with your beliefs and desires, in a way that is more conducive to growing and thriving, without moving?

WB: Well.....I can find out......

HS: What you want to move to is a new, enlightened, evolved self. You may simultaneously move to a new house, but moving to the house alone will not satisfy this urging of yours. Dealing with just the symbol, the house, will not bring your desired result.

WB: OK, if I do all that, changing my "self" into a new and enlightened one, THEN can I buy the house?

HS: Sigh..............

open house

"My" house is open to the public today from 1-3pm. It's the house I almost bought last week, the Victorian near downtown in the prime whirlingbetty location.

I certainly hope nobody has the audacity to buy my house. It's mine- I'm just not officially buying it until:
A) the price comes down by about 15%, or
B) I experience an unexpected windfall, rendering its current price no object, or
C) I just happen to decide that I'm going for broke, literally.

It has occurred to me that if I buy the house, a void will be created in my life. I will no longer be allowed to obsess incessantly about houses and neighborhoods and moving. Well, I guess I could still do it, but nobody will listen.

This has happened before. I did live in the dream neighborhood, in a dream Victorian, 5 years ago. I only lived there 14 months. I was quiet and satisfied for a while, and then the urge to search gradually took over. I spent hours on the internet looking for properties with lush backyards, in wooded settings. I almost bought one, in a location that I now realize I would have despised. Then finally I did buy one, and it's my current house, the one situated on the public rose garden.

What is this about? Why am I never satisfied, constantly searching for the ideal place to live? What deeper issue am I trying to resolve using houses?

And will Whirling Betty show up at her own open house today?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Perched on the precipice

Whirling Betty is dizzy with decision. This one is pricey and life-altering. Most likely, it's fear that holds her back from jumping.

The child and she live in a small but pleasant enough house on a renowned public rose garden which is connected to very large sports fields, a recreation center, a library and miles of bike trails. It's not a bad place to raise a child, for sure. It's safe, and although there are no kids in the immediate vicinity, most of the child's schoolmates live within a 5 mile radius of the house.

But it's a suburb. Betty has a problem with that. Walking and biking are "in her blood"- that's how she was raised. She never even owned a car until moving to this city. The area Betty lives in is devoid of sidewalks, much to her horror. Although the area is well within the city's outerbelt and only about 9 miles from downtown, it behaves like a true suburb, where the car rules.

Until 5 years and 3 months ago, Betty and son used to live in the urban neighborhood bordering the north end of downtown, in a beautiful Victorian house and garden. People said Betty was crazy, since she was a single mother trying to raise a child in an urban area where street people rummaged through the trash dumpsters. In reality, that neighborhood was as safe as the one Betty fled to after listening to people's judgments. And it was far more interesting, even exciting and stimulating. And, significantly, Betty's car was at rest much of the time.

With home buyers rapidly recognizing how appealing and environmentally friendly that downtown neighborhood is, house and condo prices have skyrocketed. Betty is pretty much priced out of her beloved 'hood, except for one last Victorian house, in an ideal location a block from Betty's favorite city park and near all the other desirable destinations for groceries, restaurant meals, etc.

This particular house is underpriced because it lacks the amenities usually found in that desirable locale. There's only one bathroom and the laundry is still located in the dungeon. The house, with 1820 square feet, is no mansion.

Betty's realtor, a longtime friend, talked his carpenter into agreeing to put in new hardwood floors, a half bath, and a second floor laundry into the house Betty wants, if Betty buys it, for a staggeringly reasonable price. Still, Betty counted beans and decided the price of the house was $20,000 more than she could possibly afford. She told her realtor, and the realtor said that the seller would not bring down the price.

That was the end of that, until yesterday when the realtor phoned Betty to say he had finally talked the seller into lowering the price by $20,000, as long as Betty seals the deal right away.

Instead of rejoicing, Betty panics. When the realtor called, she was hoping he was going to say that someone else had bought the house so that she'd stop thinking about it. The move, even if it is the most positive one imaginable, is still a stressful upheaval of an already challenged life.

Alas, Betty remains indecisive, worrying about possibly feeling overextended financially in the new house. And she keeps glancing at the spectacular Anderson windows in the current house overlooking the rose garden. (The new house features old, barely budging windows which spew lead paint dust every time one dares to touch them.) And for the organizationally challenged like Betty, the ample storage space of her current house has suddenly taken on paramount importance. (Anyone who has ever seen a Victorian house knows that they don't feature much storage. Those Victorian people just didn't hoard the way we do now. Walmart didn't exist back then, for one thing.)

Then again, no house is perfect. The downtown neighborhood is the draw, more than the house itself. Betty frequently talks about moving back there, yet now that the opportunity, imperfect though it is, has presented itself, Betty balks. Is this just the expected fear associated with taking on such a huge financial commitment, maybe an early-onset buyer's remorse? Or has Betty just been full of hot air all along, talking up the urban lifestyle while having no real intention of ever walking the walk?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Independence Day

I have always considered myself independent. To me, independence means "financially self-supporting." I've been that for a long time. And I've lived alone until my child came along to share my house. And since I own that house, I must be REALLY independent, right?

Well, I'm learning that there are levels of independence. If I ever alter my words, chameleon style, to suit the person I'm speaking with, then am I independent?

If I allow another person to manipulate me, am I independent? If I take steps to help another person out of a mess that he's gotten himself into, even though I see that he deserves the consequence I'm saving him from, and even though he has bullied me consistently, am I independent? Or might I be participating in the dance of co-dependence?

I wish to be true to myself, but instead I react to the personalities I'm dealing with. I act not out of independence, but out of dependence upon the behaviors, personalities and desires of those around me.

Do I possess the strength to pull myself out of this spiraling whirlpool in which my self melds with other people's dramas? Can I do my job as a mother, regardless of tears and tantrums? Can I stand up to the father/bully, hiring a lawyer to assist? Can I set boundaries with the neighbor, not falling for his persistent needling?

I'll keep ya posted. Happy Independence Day.