Moving when you were in your 20's meant calling on the good graces of your friends with the promise of pizza and a case of beer. I have made many moves in my day. From across the country and back to across the hall in Lake Louise staff residence. None were super fun and typically a reminder of how much useless crap I had accumulated since the previous move. I am not one to hold on to stuff I do not need or use yet somehow I seem to accumulate and purge with every move. I have learned in my lifetime that I prefer a clean, clutter free environment. My brain is cluttered enough and if everything around me is messy and cluttered it becomes less manageable. Also with 5 dogs and 6 birds making as much mess as they possibly can daily I need to be able to clean as easily as possible. Where was I going with this? Right. The move. When we put our house up for sale this summer to pursue our dream of acreage life I knew the actual move would not be pretty. I expressed to Aaron that we are too old for beer and pizza movers and that if we made such a big move we had to budget for the full meal deal. Professional packers to pack our latest collection of useless crap, take furniture apart, move everything and put it where it needs to go in the new home. He agreed and thus our journey began. Tomorrow I will write a bit about what it is I love about small towns and why they suit and charm me. This is a tale of moving, why we should be more minimalistic and my first day of acreage life. We began our journey at a historical Church in tiny Water Valley. Rather we attempted to buy it. Yup there was and still IS a Church for sale there. I was instantly in love with the charming little home situated behind a beautiful little Church which had once been abandoned and neglected. A really cool and infinitely talented couple rescued it and spent 4 years pouring everything into restoring, rejuvenating and loving the property. The light and sound in that Church are amazing and living there, using it as a studio and running it as an event space would have suited me just perfectly. The lot was not the big acreage Aaron envisioned and the house was pretty small for the 13 of us but we went for it. Sadly there was more to it as a commercial property with zoning, not enough history as a profitable event space and lack of lenders willing to as one put it "risk foreclosing on God". Wow, ok. There were so many hoops to jump through that Aaron settled on a number that was the walk away point and it just didn't work for both parties so we walked away. I still adore that little Church and recommend anyone in this part of Alberta drive into Water Valley for a visit. I think the coolest little place to get married or have an event. In hind sight us living there would have been a disaster with no more space to run the dogs than we had in the city. Also we both like space for autonomy which is why we work. Living on top of each other with 5 dogs and 6 birds would have been tough. We wanted to be close to that area still as it was more affordable than our dream area of Bragg Creek, so the search continued. Our saint of a realtor Craig Smith (well deserved plug for him.. seriously if you need a realtor) showed us acreage after acreage and we even had an offer on one but our home in the city did not sell in time. Call it fate if you believe in that because ultimately it led us to this place exactly where we wanted to be. Nestled in the foothills and the gateway to Kananaskis mountains, Bragg Creek is my idea of heaven on earth. We got an amazing deal on 6 acres with the most perfect house with windows everywhere (perfect natural light studio) a beautiful forest, stunning views and 10 minute drive into my beloved mountains. Then came the wait for moving day. I booked packers on the 9th who would load it all up on the 10th and onto the newest chapter in life. I learned about wells and septic systems and satellite internet. We went shopping for a telephone. Like a real home phone as there is no cell phone coverage. We purged like a third of our stuff and took load after load to the dump. I miss the days in Lake Louise where I could move in an hour with a back pack and a few trips. Those were among the happiest days of my life. Everything I needed was outside. Aaron is amazing, truly wonderful in so many ways. However I would say a tad messier and more inclined to hold onto stuff 'in case'. Or I often suspect he loses stuff in mess and disorganization and buys the same type things over and over. My mom does that as well. I was determined not to bring useless stuff here with us. I am still mystified as to how all this stuff ends up existing and where it hides in my typically minimalistic and tidy home. I find that until you move you just don't realize how much stuff you actually have. As was the case of the lovely family we purchased this property from. Here is the day before we were to move in the following morning during our final walk-through. Uh oh I thought. There is no way that they were going to be out in time. Super Craig was on it though and has us contact the lawyer and got on the phone with their realtor. Rather than get too upset I felt kinda bad for them and figured that like many of us they just did not realize how much stuff they accumulated. I really try not to give negative thought any real estate in ......um there is someone walking around outside in the dark with a flashlight Ok a little scare there. Wow. I do not scare easily but that was terrifying. Turns out Aaron let Dudley and Radish out for potty and thought they would follow him to the temporary dog run (sigh) and instead they went on an acreage adventure. Now where was I. Negative thought....no real estate in my brain. Sooo watching all the packers pack up our stuff 3 days ago was a real eye opener. I felt shocked at how much crap we still had and when I saw this house in shambles I knew the family were just overwhelmed in the vast sea of their own piles of accumulated crap. They however went old school, and thought they could move 4 people and the better part of a decade worth of stuff with some friends and perhaps the promise of pizza and endless beer. Between their struggle to get out in time and our movers deciding to do 2 loads we decided that we would move the dogs and birds the next day. Aaron stayed in the city with all of them while I directed movers and tried to clear out some boxes. The movers finally left sometime in the evening as did cleaners who blessedly came out on short notice once I realized not only would we be moving in as they moved out but that they would not have time to clean. I finished cleaning and started the momentous task of unpacking. I hoped to have everything a little less chaotic for Aaron and the furramily the next day. At about midnight I decided to take a bath and relax for the first time in weeks. I noticed a slightly unpleasant odour and realized it was me. I was clever enough to set aside some extra underwear but had been wearing the same clothes for 3 days and working like a maniac. Ew. I had the most relaxing bath ever and went about trying to find which boxes may contain some clothing and bedding. I couldnt find either. There was one wardrobe box that made it into my closet. It was filled with fancy dresses and one polka dot blouse. I remembered seeing my fav old pair of navy sweat pants with the big white UBC across my bum. Perfect. For bedding I reluctantly opened the gorgeous basket my cousin/realtor had brought for us. It was so beautiful I did not want to take it apart. Made by Craig's delightful wife they are most stunning and thoughtful gift baskets ever. I saw it had a throw blanket in it so it had to be done. I spent the first night blissfully alone using the sweatpants rolled up as a pillow and covering myself with the throw blanket from our gift basket. I awoke to the silence of the country and a spectacular sunrise. I did not have any food and had to get in and help move the pets and plants. I threw on my pillow/pants, my pretty blouse and the open foot shoes I had and headed out to clear the snow from my truck. The end. I have to go finish unpacking and a million other things. Stay tuned tomorrow for some inside info and hope you had a fantabulous weekend.
I remember my mom said something to me once which stuck immediately and forever. Likely because it resonated deeply with my fundamental desire to connect with people and have the world an idealistic and happy place. She said we often go out of our way to point out flaws or take time and effort to make complaints, yet if we have a fleeting complimentary thought we rarely share it or take the time to compliment. Something like that. From that day forward I owned that and for probably 25 years implement it almost daily or many times in a day. It has made me a happier person. I wish I had been that diligent an advice follower when she said things like "wear sunscreen" or "save for retirement" or "I would not date that guy if I were you". Cest la vie.
Now they have to be GENUINE compliments for me. I am not one to blow sunshine up your ass, as my close friends and family will tell you. I think calling a spade a spade is the kindest way to really support loved ones.
So how does this work? If I am in line somewhere and I think a woman in the next line over has fabulous hair I will lean over and say "excuse me but I just wanted to tell you that your hair is FABULOUS. Like a movie star". That person may be having the worst day, battling depression or living her version of a perfect life. Regardless you may have just made their day. I think because I am being genuine it can warm up even the most aloof person, even if it initially takes them aback. It really is not done a lot in our society sadly. I incorporate it into everything I do. I say "thank you for such attentive service. You are really great at your job" to a great server or customer service rep, lawyer... you name it. If that is what I feel.
Now take it a step further. I see long lines say at the postal office before Christmas, or 10% off Tuesdays at Safeway. 2 things happen in this order.
- My ADD brain kicks in and starts thinking about how long we will be standing in that line practically being tortured and trying to postpone (procrastinate or ignore) whatever it is I am there to do.
- I look at the cashier, postal worker, hostess and feel their frustration or being overwhelmed by person after person annoyed to wait, in a rush, and intentionally or not intentionally blaming them. Maybe you do not blame them but you are still tired, busy and focussed on your next task.
I love to go out of my way not to pay them a fake compliment, rather if one does not cross my thoughts, I will open with. "Wow your job must be hard. I bet people you deal with are usually tired or frustrated. That must suck" It looks a little condescending in writing but I assure you it is not. I once told a dentist. "I think you have the hardest medical profession" she sort of looked wearily at me and said "oh?". I replied "you look in people's stinky mouths all day, do things that are unpleasant or that people dread, and many dislike you before they even walk in the door. Let alone thank you or show great appreciation". I mean it is true, or at least how I see it. Her face got teary and she touched my arm and said "Thank you for seeing that. I really needed someone to realize that". Wow. Was no extra effort on my part. Just saying a compliment or thought out loud. Trying to put myself in others shoes as they say.
It may mean everything to that person. Also I think the more positive things you say out loud, the more positive things you attract. My brain is now wired to think positive things first. I really like that about myself . Even if it means I sometimes get hurt or people misunderstand my intentions.
I will share a time when a stranger touched my life in the very moment I needed it. My dear friend Norma ( I will write about our story one day) was in hospice dying from cancer. It was very sudden and from when we took her to the hospital for her cough she never even got to go home again to sort her stuff or say goodbye. So I was heading home from a visit where I had remarked to her that I had never seen her in my life without perfect manicure and pedicure. She just always looked put together. She looked happier than I had seen in weeks and said "Yes! That would be wonderful. Purple would be a great last colour (I choked back tears)". Then in delightfully Norma fashion she said "like a lavender except brighter, deeper but without being too blue". Hmmm ok. I left my daily visit promising to return the next day an expert beautician, then bawled all the way home.
After I fed my dogs and tried to wash my face to look less sleep deprived, puffy and red I headed to the neighborhood Shoppers Drug Mart. I googled how to give a good mani/pedi and since I had my own nails done at a local place, I had no supplies. I was wandering around the cosmetic aisles blankly with no ability to focus or think. When I entered I had been greeted by a friendly and very tall woman whom asked if I needed a hand. I declined, not wanting to talk to anyone. After a few minutes of watching me stare at the shelves, feeling hopeless at the simplicity and also importance of this task, she came over and with a big smile leaned towards me and said " you look like you need a hug" or maybe "you look like you need a friend". I have remembered it both ways (I am bawling writing this ).
Either way I got both a hug and a friend. I explained the situation to her and she led me merrily about the store finding the best tools and best deals on them. She gave me a pretty cosmetic bag to put it all in for Norma and added some fun samples and treats. That was a tough time for me as one of my manifestations 'on the ADD / Spectrum' neurodiversity (which is also my superpower I know now) is that I feel things extremely intensely and my feelings take a lot longer than neurotypical to fade or lose the immediate intensity. I know this about myself so tried to ignore it to be 100% there for Norma and her family. As she was the human who likely came closest in my life to totally understanding me, I was holding on by a thread. That one little encounter filled my soul up enough to pull it together and keep on keeping on. It meant everything.
I challenge you to try this or share this. Comment below and tell me of a time someone paid you an unexpected compliment or you reached out to a stranger.