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Broken, Break-In, and the Beauty of Gratitude

Joined: 11/6/2008
Posts: 702
It all depends on how you look at life.

In June my family and I moved from our cozy little home in Pennsylvania to an idyllic community in Illinois about an hour outside of Chicago.

When we lived in Pennsylvania my husband’s constant travel schedule back and forth to his job in Illinois prompted us to take a look at our “family together time” and re-prioritize what’s the most important aspects of our lives. We left so much behind - familiarity, our families, our comfort zones, and a community relationship that we built for 12 years. In our small town Pennsylvania life, we couldn’t even go to the gas station without bumping into someone who knew us and wanted to catch up. Most errands took us double the time, but being known and loved felt wonderful.

Our house in Pennsylvania sold quickly, we found a home even faster in Illinois, and the move went smoothly (even driving cross country with a geriatric pug, and a 14 year old house cat who had not been outside in 12 years). We got here with little fanfare. Neighbors came to greet us and make us feel welcome. Our two daughters (ages 5 and 9) found instant friendships with the neighbors and spent the summer creating outdoor magic - putting together plays, building club houses, going on secret spying missions, playing zombie tag and shark in the water. Each evening we called them in, wiped off their black feet, slathered anti-itch cream on their fresh mosquito bites and put them to bed.

My husband and I found kinship with the neighbors as well. They couldn’t be nicer. We’ve told everyone from Pennsylvania that we won some sort of neighborhood lottery.

On the flip side of all the amazingness of being here, we’ve also had a huge learning curve. Our new home, built in 1892, needs some work. Almost every single room in the house contains at least one broken window - a screen is missing, or it can’t stay open without some sort of block to hold it up, it sticks or as in the case of the huge beautiful window in our bedroom, it takes an inordinate amount of effort to open it (our painter told us that “we need to put our butt into it in order to make that baby move”).

One of our dreams after we moved into this house was sitting in the hot tub and toasting to our new adventure, but our hot tub doesn’t work. We’ve had a hot tub specialist try to revive it, but the money it will cost us right now doesn’t fit in our budget.

We also fell in love with the beautiful pond that sits right off of our outdoor deck. The waterfall can be heard from almost every room of the house. In July, my husband and I tried to remove the algae by draining it and power washing it. Somehow, we managed to also damage the liner in a spot we can’t find. The pond can’t hold water enough for us to run the filter now. In order to fix it, we need a pond expert. Who knew that hiring a pond dude costs $85 an hour?

The biggest let down this summer happened two weeks ago when we discovered that someone (or someones) broke into our outside garage and office area. They smashed a back window to get in and stole our newly refurbished mountain bikes, and they also took my GPS from my car’s glove compartment. Although the loss of our stuff hurt, it was more the violation of our sense of security being broken. As we were slowly finding our footing in this brand new location, the break in shattered our trust in the 1950s feel of this adorable little town.

The neighbors were shocked and dismayed at our luck. At first with all the brokenness in our summer, my husband and I were getting down. Is our new community rejecting us? Was this move away from our familiar comfy and easy lifestyle the best decision? Will we ever feel safe again?

Instead of focusing on the broken aspects of the home, or the break in, we are choosing to focus on all that we have. Right before I left Pennsylvania, I had the opportunity to practice yoga with my favorite yoga instructor. He gave me a set of meditation beads (even though my meditation practice is pretty weak) and inside the bag that held the beads he included this message “Take pleasure in what you have, and more will come to you.” If we focus on all that we don’t have, life can feel pretty empty. Instead, my husband and I are choosing gratitude and seeing all of the follies of the summer as part of our adventure. Mostly, we are choosing to see how amazing we really have it here.

How great is it when you get to begin again? We are surrounded by loving neighbors in a charming community with a thriving downtown area with shops and restaurants. Our girls made friends instantly and play outside every day. There is a lake within walking distance from our home. The girls can walk to their elementary school and the amazing library is right across the street from their school. Our adorable old home has character and even with the fixes it will need in the future, it’s still at a way better starting place than our previous home that took 12 years to get exactly the way we wanted it to be.

Gratitude isn’t always easy to find in the midst of the huge transitions in life, but when my husband and I sat on our back deck on Labor Day with glasses of wine in hand and watched our girls play freely in our back yard with all their new neighborhood friends, we smiled at each other and toasted. Life sure does feel good when you choose gratitude.
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Comment by warren

Joined: 6/22/2011
Posts: 293
Welcome home!
Posted: Monday, September 8, 2014 3:50:21 PM
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