“There’s no way we can move. We said we’d live here forever.” Those were the first words Bill and I uttered when we pondered the idea of letting go of our dream home eight years ago. At the time, we had only been in our beautiful home for two-and-a-half years. And it was truly our dream home. We custom-built the entire thing to completely reflect us and our lifestyle – both individually and as a couple. It was the perfect Minneapolis suburb retreat, tucked in a wooded setting with mature trees, wildlife, and ultimate privacy.
This rare find was thanks to a sweet elderly couple whose home was on a large piece of land, and they decided to subdivide their lot into two. We were the privileged ones who found the other half and bought it.
And it was there that we built our dream home.
A perfect spot for us
Our side of the street was a quiet curve of four homes built in 1948, and all the original owners still lived there – the Swansons, the Emersons, the Bensons, and the Olsons. We – the Stimpsons – fit right in! They all loved the idea of having a new young couple move into the neighborhood, and they took such great care of us.
While our house was being built, there was a constant stream of neighborhood ladies bringing cookies and lemonade over to the construction workers. And the two neighborhood men who were still living – proud World War II veterans – oversaw the digging, excavating, and building. For six months, these folks had an exciting event going on in their neighborhood every day!
The house we built was perfect for us. Here’s an excerpt from an annual New Year letter we sent to friends and family the year we moved in:
“Highlights in our new retreat include some of life’s simple pleasures: Watching deer and other wildlife roam through our backyard (including the albino squirrel we named ‘Alabaster’), weekend candlelight dinners with wine and smooth jazz, whirlpool baths for Michelle with nighttime starlight, and naps in the sunroom for Bill. We love our cozy abode more than we could have ever imagined and feel truly blessed to have such a wonderful place to call home.”
Talk about following your joy. We were doing it. And really, we thought we’d retire there.
But something wasn’t quite right
Saturdays and Sundays included caring for the home and the large yard and extended driveway. Bill would be outside for hours whether it included mowing, snowblowing, raking leaves, or other house maintenance ‘stuff.’ And while he enjoyed it, it also took us away from being the independent couple we loved to be…and being able to head out on a whim for the day to enjoy our city.
And the amount we were paying for our mortgage and upkeep was taking us away from our ultimate dream of regular vacations and adventures and going back to school and starting our own business. We both felt locked into corporate jobs we held, and yet that wasn’t what either of us saw for our future.
I’ll never forget what I learned – and then taught – in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People workshop: When you say “no” to one thing, you’re actually saying “yes” to something else, and vice versa. So, by saying “yes” to the house and that lifestyle, we were essentially saying “no” to what was even more important – starting our business, traveling and adventuring, living as an independent couple without being tied down.
So while at first we thought there was “no way” we could ever move…we began to realize that our dream might start to look different. And that was okay. Yes, the dream of that home and the setting was perfect for us. And at the same time, though, we were ready to move on and create a new dream.
We put so much love and care into that home. And Bill finished the lower level complete with a home gym, kick-ass bar, home theater, and corner fireplace.
And then we sold it.
The most wonderful couple bought the home, and we knew they would love it just as much as we did.
Moving toward a new dream
We ended up downsizing, got rid of a ton of stuff, sold our boat and all kinds of “things,” and moved into a beautiful new townhouse in the next suburb over. We went back to school. I left my corporate job and launched my coaching business. Bill started to look into other pursuits. We taught our first workshop together. We started writing a book. The new dream began to take shape.
So many people cheered us on and also said what courage it took for us to create a new dream for ourselves. I suppose it was courageous, but it never felt like “courage” to us. It was simply about being clear on what we needed – and wanted – to say “yes” to.
Now, we get to say “Yes!” to the lifestyle that truly calls to us. We do several vacations, road trips, and adventures throughout year and come and go as we feel moved. And…I’m coming up on celebrating eight exciting years in business, helping other women live their dream!
I just came across the following year’s annual letter, and here’s the update we gave:
“After much reflection and discussion, we decided to sell our house and buy a townhome. Although our Minnetonka home was absolutely perfect for us, it no longer seemed to fit in with our plans. Saving time and money by moving to a maintenance-free townhome now allows us to focus on our priorities and enjoy more of the things we love to do. It was quite an emotional move to leave our home, but when the time came, we forged ahead and never looked back. Our new place is perfect for us now in this new phase of life.”
So. That’s how the current dream looks…for now. And at the same time, I also sense a restlessness inside both of us to change things up again and take the dream to the next level. Like everyone else, we’re constantly growing and evolving and changing. A plan that once was a perfect fit needs to be updated, too.
Following your joy includes checking in with yourself and making sure you’re on the right track. If you are, great! If not, it’s important to make the course corrections necessary.
Who knows where our new path will lead? All I know is that we’re excited about our future and see a horizon of possibilities.
Life is good.
Where is it in your own life that you’re ready for a change?
What’s the first step that needs to happen?
As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. put it so well: “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”