Happy ‘house’ Hunting!

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It’s amazing how one thing can change everything.

Happy ‘house’ Hunting!

There it was – a little hand-written note at the top of our receipt, punctuated with an exclamation point and a smile.  We almost missed it, both of our minds still spinning with the details of our dismal (depressing) home search.  We almost missed the very thoughtful and kind message from our waitress at The Greenhouse Grille.  Just like we almost missed the wonderful and fresh taste of our lunch, while we poured over pages of maybe-kinda-sorta potential houses in Fayetteville.

But we didn’t miss it.  And it changed our day with laugh.

Then again, our journey to Arkansas has been like this – painful waiting and frustration, only to have the absolutely perfect option handed to us like a gift.  First, it was JP’s job.  He’d been applying for positions since November and had only be receiving negatives.  Not a single offer, which baffled his family, friends, professors, recommenders…basically everyone who knows him.  Then he got the email from Arkansas.

He had applied to that position after the deadline.  I made him do it – hey, it was still posted online so why not?  A day after he applied, JP got an email from them.  The director had a short list already but didn’t want to make a decision until he saw JP’s portfolio.  A day later, the director asked for an interview.  Only 3 days after that, JP had a job offer for the job he’d been working toward the past two years.

Armed with a highly recommended realtor and a list of possibilities, we went down for a weekend and spent the entire morning looking through one dud after another.  Too far away.  Structural problems.  Foundation cracks.  Destroyed by 5 dogs and 4 kids.  And I could go on.  It was disappointment and frustration all over again.

So we stopped for lunch – fish tacos (yum!!), Southern-style iced tea, and our friendly, observant waitress 🙂  And then it all changed from there.  We met up with a professor who was moving and wanted to rent her home – her absolutely perfect, everything-JP-and-I-would-ever-ask-for home.  A house that changed our outlook on Fayetteville houses and made us hopeful about finding some place we’d love.  We even stayed for two hours, talking and laughing with her about everything from “woo pig sooie” to natural foods to cross-country moves.

We still have no idea if we can rent her house.  We don’t know if/when I’ll get a job.  We don’t know exactly where JP will stay in between starting his job and finding a more permanent home.  But if the rest of our journey to Arkansas is anything like our journey so far, when the going gets tough, that will be when the perfect job, house, or simple message on a receipt will turn things around.

 

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Just Because

I don’t know about you all, but things have been a bit harder than usual this week.  Some say it’s because of what is happening astrologically.  Some call it Spring Fever.  Whatever it is, this week has gone by a lot slower than usual.

So here is an little extra Feel Good-ness…on a Thursday…just because 🙂

Finding A Tribe

A little less than a year ago, I made a spontaneous Groupon purchase that would change my life physically…and pretty much in every other way imaginable.  I bought a 10 class pass to a pole dancing studio and dragged my early-30s, already greying, haven’t worked out more than walking the dog in more years than I could count self into Brass Ovaries.

Best. Decision.  Ever.

Pole dancing and aerial arts are fun, an absolutely fantastic workout, and the best confidence builder.  There is nothing that quite builds bonds and breaks down boundaries like literally having someone you’ve just met grab your derriere and hoist it in the air so you don’t land on said derriere.  I started level 1 with a group of fantastic ladies (and gents!) and, by the time I left Austin, I had found my tribe.

Trading tips on grip aids.  Wardrobe malfunctions.  Going for a pedicure and having the nail tech sand off your well-earned (and much needed!) callouses.  Comparing pole bruises.  Spontaneous grunts, squeals, and shouts of “yes!”  Staying up all night watching footage of international competitions and pole idols.  Finding your own groove and letting the music lead you. 

A few days after this video was taken, I dislocated one of my ribs and made the decision to take a break from pole and focus exclusively on aerial hoop and dance.  And my tribe grew.  Learning from a classically trained ballerina and a former circus performer.  Bundling up and driving across town to an unheated gym (yep, SmartWool socks AND leg warmers) to hang upside-down by knees, ankles, hips, and blistered hands for two hours.  Gratefully downing a ginger ale from a fellow student to calm the “ugh spin hoop, I’m gonna vomit” stomach.

After 6 weeks in KC, I finally started taking classes at a new studio.  I still find myself wanting to call or text my old instructors and fellow pole monkeys when I hit a good move, or bend myself into a new contortion trick.  But the other night, hanging from a trapeze, struggling to get myself back up onto the bar, a fellow student reached instinctively over, grabbed my derriere, hoisted me back up onto the trapeze, and then cheered “yes!” as if I had nailed the move entirely on my own.  So yeah, my tribe is now growing again.

 

Honor Finances vs. Big Purchase

Honor my finances.”

I was sitting in the waiting room of the local Honda dealer’s service center, taking the time to review my descriptions of the my 2014 theme – Foundation (re)building.  For me, 2014 is the year to be in the now, rather than getting ahead of myself, and a big part of that is honoring my finances as they exist now. 

The irony of that moment was that my review was interrupted by my service concierge informing me that the cost of repairing my beloved CR-V was basically going to be more expensive that the car was currently worth.  And that was only to get the car running safely, not to fix the leaks and other issues they found in the aging engine that would have to be fixed by the end of the summer.  Thud.  How exactly was I going to honor those finances?

Considering all of the variables, we decided the best plan was to trade in the old car for something new.  But we didn’t want to lose ourselves and our shared goal of not getting ahead of ourselves, so here’s how we did it.

Research in advance – We didn’t have a whole lot of time to buy a new car, given the extent of the repairs needed on the new one.  But we still took the time to do some online research about different types of cars, ratings, dealers in the area and their inventory, and value of our current car.

Pick a “walk away” number – Right now, we’re living on one income.  JP is interviewing, but we didn’t want to base our monthly payment amount on what he might possibly make down the road if/when he gets a job.  And the point of getting a new car wasn’t only to have something less likely to break down on a moment’s notice, it was to have a more predictable (read: manageable) car expense flow rather than one that resembles a theme park roller coaster.  So we came up with a target range for what we were willing to spend, and agreed to walk away from a deal if it was outside that range.

Ask for what you want – My last three cars have been Hondas, and I have loved them all.  But this time around, I wasn’t happy with the drive of the newer bodied CR-Vs.  Call me old fashioned, but I don’t trust back up cameras and prefer to look out the back window…and the CR-V window is just too small.  JP and I fell in love with a VW model recently – we loved the drive, the features, and the gas mileage of VW’s clean diesel.  It was what we wanted.  But I found myself driving to the Honda dealer out of some sense of “that’s where I’ll get the best value for my trade.”  JP, on the other hand, directed me to the VW dealer because “if we’re going to spend money on a new car, let’s make it something we like.”

Problem with that approach – There were no used versions of the model we were looking for in a 225 mile radius of Kansas City.  Apparently, people just don’t trade them in…or get rid of them at all.  So our choice was a new one, or a different car.  But we asked the dealer for the 2014 (yikes!) in the price range we wanted.  Amazingly, the dealer found a way to make it happen.  The finance department took the time to find us a long list of rebates and discounts in order to bring our payment down to within the range we could afford.

Eat before you go – The entire walk the lot, test drive, negotiation, purchase process took over four hours.  By the time we drove off the lot, it was dinner time and the only meal either of us had eaten all day was a late breakfast.  Luckily, “late” meant we ate right before we left to go car shopping, which meant that we were operating at fully brain (and intuition) capacity for all of the important points – deciding which car we wanted, negotiating the deal, and agreeing to the fine print.  I just started to get the low-blood-sugar-shakes as we were signing on the dotted line.  Perfect timing. 

Don’t look back – I fully realize that cars are inanimate objects, but I still feel sad every time I trade in a car.  I feel like my old car has been a real trooper, given me a lot of good years (ten in the case of my CR-V), and somehow I’m betraying them by trading them in for a newer model.  Despite feeling absolutely solid about purchasing the new car, my guilt at trading in the old one literally woke me up in the middle of the night and made me think of all of the “shoulda, coulda, wouldas” of the prior day’s car purchase.  And then I realize – holy crap, I have a new car!

I mean, how cool is that?  In one day, JP and I found a way to identify our car-buying (and driving!) goals and get every single one of them met.  Yeah, I would have loved to have more time to find a used version – used cars are more my style.  But getting a new one for what we were willing to pay for a used one?  What a way to honor my finances 🙂

When the Universe Answers Back

When I created my theme for 2014, I figured it would take a while to manifest – like a sweet potato that you plant in the spring and can’t dig up until almost winter.  And that’s IF my theme manifested itself at all.  Some seeds, and plans, get eaten up by the unknown and never sprout at all.

But, nonetheless, I mustered up a bit of faith and took the time to describe all of the shapes of my theme, all of the nooks and crannies and details of what Foundation (re)building means to me.  Sometimes the results were pretty esoteric – “practice gratitude.”  Sometimes they were more concrete – “switch to natural beauty products.”  I put wrote it all down and put it all out in the universe, and then I walked away from my theme and focused on the day-to-day.

About a week ago, the universe actually responded to a big component of my theme and I received the surprise of not just 2014, but of many years to come.  I received a gift that is allowing both JP and me to get our feet back under us and finally be in a position to realistically (re)build.  For the first time in years, JP has started to let himself dream again – not about wild adventures or giant shopping sprees.  He sat on the sofa with me the other night and chattered on about all the ways he, we, could become more stable – fix those things that are always breaking, pay down the student loans that eat almost half our income every month, maybe take our first vacation in five years so we can finally get a real “break,” and make regular weekend trips to reconnect with our family, as they were a major reason we relocated to Kansas City.

Someone once told me that a tree needs strong roots, so that in can stay solid while at the same time moving and bending with the wind.  Today, I am grateful for my own roots – Here’s to a great rest of 2014!