I have been living in my home for about 20 years, and, I am embarrassed to say, I have been disgruntled with it for most of that time. My complaints have been many. It has always felt too small. The style is that of a lifeless 70s tract home. When we first moved in, it had white walls and gray carpet. Boring. I disliked the walls, the carpet, the finishes, everything. There was no charm and no personality.
At times, I will sit on the deck outside of our upstairs master bedroom. Believe it or not, it is a multi-million dollar view. We are located up on a hill and I have a sweeping (more than 180 degree) view from left to right. I can see over the top of every home in the area. To my right are the Saddleback mountains, where the sun comes up and creates the most amazing pink glow. To my left, I can see almost to the ocean. It is just on the other side of the hill. And since Mission Viejo is one of the older communities in South Orange County, the trees are tall and I enjoy lots of green from up here.
Now compare my first two paragraphs. Notice anything? The description of my surroundings changes as my focus and perspective changes. Over the course of time, the issue with my house has become a metaphor for my life.
I was 34 years old when we moved in here. I am now 55 years old. Where did the time go? So much happens in a woman from ages 34 to 55.
Much of the time I was in my own process of rebuilding and remodeling internally, I was projecting this onto my home and hating it. This is too small, that is too old, that doesn’t work the way it is supposed to. Just as the house seemed small and unfinished--I seemed small and unfinished, still showing signs of a past era, needing some upgrades.
For the house, the work has been external. Over the years, we, along with the help of our landlord, have been upgrading things. New paint, new carpet, new fixtures, new furniture. We invested in some patio furniture that almost doubled our living space. Beautification and expanse have been happening slowly but surely.
At one point, due to a wall leak, the entire downstairs flooring had to be replaced. A few walls had to be replaced and that meant new paint for the entire area.
Sometimes, catastrophes lead to some nice upgrades, internally and externally.
For me, the work has been internal. During that time, I have been growing spiritually, emotionally, socially, physically, and psychology. The fruit is that I am more free, and more me, than I have ever been.
Even with my newfound freedom, it can be tempting to stay inside the house and complain about what it isn’t. Instead, I can decide to get out on the deck, sit in my tall chair and take in the view. I can let the expanse before me be my context. I will be content with what is, internally and externally.
When I sit on my deck I realize how much I have, how much I am. When I stay inside and obsess about things, I stay small, unfinished, and can begin to wither. Gratitude is key. There is so much to be thankful for.
The view from up on the deck is sweeping, freeing. The great news is that this isn’t the end of the metaphor, it is the beginning of a new way of life.