Exactly one week ago today Paul and I heaved a joint sigh of relief and relaxed as we have not been able to for four months--the four months that our house has been on the market.
It was July 23, in the hot and verdant Ontario summer, when the "For Sale" sign went up on the front lawn of our beloved house. I wrote about the emotional turmoil of that, here.
A big part of what prompted our decision to sell was that maintaining the acre our house sits on was getting hard for Paul. He was living with chronic joint pain, and as we anticipated our retirement next year, it felt like time to downsize. But we prayed throughout the process for God to guide--and we are still here.
In the four months of having a lock box on our front door; a sign in our foyer saying, "please remove your shoes;" and visiting real estate agents' cards on our hall table; I learned a lot that I am grateful for. I wrote with a groan in July about "the ruthless tidiness of it all." Keeping the house clean and tidy without lapsing was something I didn't manage to do perfectly I'm afraid, so I had a few quite rapid and breathless cleaning sessions for surprise showings; but here are six things useful things I learned.
1) Clearing the house of clutter makes cleaning much easier and I will maintain a clutter free house forever. I'm not sure yet what to do with the boxes of things we packed away and haven't missed, but I'm not unpacking them!
2) It is possible to hide a lot of things that you need to use on regularly and just get them out when you need them. I discovered all kinds of flattish oblong zippered containers for underneath furniture and lots of clever ways to store jewelry other small things. The local Solutions--Your Organized Living Store became a favourite destination when staging our home.
3) Keeping surfaces clutter free is soothing to the eye and soul.
4) A house can be an "anchor" of sorts to people. Several people from our cell group, and the writers group that meets here, said, only half jokingly, "You didn't ask us," when we put our house up for sale, and some of our grandchildren were not impressed.
5) People have interesting reasons for not liking a house. More than one family said that they loved the house but considered the fact that it is opposite a cemetery unlucky, or bad feng shui. I find the old cemetery peaceful and see it as an asset. There is a practice called, Memento Mori, which is Latin for "remember that you have to die," which I recommend in this age of youth culture and denial. As a child in an English village I walked to school through a cemetery and played there with friends afterwards, the past and present co-existing naturally. I find that a cemetery makes me more aware of the brevity of life and also causes me to cherish greatly the gift of still being able to make a difference in the world.
6) What is perfect for us, is not so perfect for other people. Our home has been built and shaped over the years around our lifestyle. It is perfect for gatherings and has many spaces in which to close a door and be alone, but it doesn't have many bedrooms or all of the shiny new elements that buyers look for now, including ourselves when we were looking at other houses. We can now see our home through more realistic eyes, and yet appreciate its perfect utility for us.
Recently Paul went online and did some research on a statin drug he was taking to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart. He learned that the joint pain he was living with could be a side effect of the drug. He decided to stop taking them and within 3 days, he was pain free. The drug he was taking to manage his pain came with a risk of heart attack--the thing he was taking the statin drugs to avoid--a potentially deadly cycle!
Having eliminated one of our main reasons for wanting to move; and realizing that we could happily stay put; we counted down the last few weeks of the real estate contract and celebrated at the end of it.
It was with joy that I watched Paul haul in the box from the garage with our artificial Christmas tree and put it up for another Christmas here, when we thought we would be celebrating it elsewhere this year.
Our Sale of the Century is indefinitely postponed!