This summer has been a time of letting go and moving on. After years of saving toward our next home, we found a fixer-upper in a kid-friendly neighborhood that fit our budget. Less than three weeks later, we posted our home for sale and accepted an offer. Then came the move. In the midst of the whirlwind of buying, selling, and moving, there was a process that helped me let go.
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The Process of Letting Go
Last winter I began preparing my heart for our next home, but I didn’t think we’d find a house this year. Few houses that met our criteria were in our budget. Although I checked real estate listings and even went to some open houses, I did so passively.
Switching to an Active Mindset
In May we contacted my uncle, who is a realtor, to see if he would be our buyer’s agent. We also asked him to check out our house and estimate its market value. The day that he came over, I switched from a passive to an active mindset.
Because I now had an active mindset, I didn’t focus on cleaning our home for his visit. Instead I chose to act like we were definitely putting our house on the market. I gathered empty storage bins from the attic and worked with the kids in their rooms. We packed up everything they could do without for the next six to eight weeks. Since they knew they would get their beloved belongings back, the kids were excited to help declutter their rooms.
That evening we received a favorable estimate of our home’s value, and we gained confidence. I continued the active mindset by scheduling a professional to clean our living room carpet and upholstered furniture so that we would be ready to sell when we found a house to buy.
Learning Through Trial and Error
Late May and early June were a roller coaster of emotions. In the span of about 15 days, we made offers on three different houses. The first two houses helped us define which search criteria were most important. Though we didn’t purchase them, they were part of the process to help me let go. By the time our offer was accepted on the third house, I was better able to handle the emotions of letting go of our home of fourteen years.
Preparing Our Home for Sale
We had completely remodeled our home both inside and out, but there was still much work to prepare it for the real estate market. We set a date to put the house on the market, and each day we worked toward that goal. The constant process of making repairs, decluttering, and staging the house for sale helped me work through my emotions so that I could let go.
Photographing for Dual Purposes
My husband enjoys taking photos. While he prefers nature as his muse, we both desired that he be the one to take the photos of our house when posting it for sale. Two weeks before the house went on the market, we cleaned and staged it for the photo shoot. During the photo shoot, I took the kids up to my parents’ house to celebrate Father’s Day with my dad.
The photo shoot was another integral part in letting go. Not only do I now have amazing photos to remember our home by, but I was able to use some of the photos for my blog post about the kitchen. And, of course, writing about the kitchen for the blog also helped me let go.
Anticipating the Move
We closed on our new house two weeks after we accepted a contract on our old house, but we didn’t take possession for another week. Knowing we owned the house but having to wait another week to get the keys really heightened the anticipation. The week’s wait also gave me a little downtime to gather my thoughts, write a final blog post about our home, and relish the time we had left there. These were all integral in letting go.
We knew we had purchased the quintessential fixer-upper – the worst home in a great neighborhood. But when we got the keys, we were still surprised by the amount of work ahead of us. Not only had the house had few updates since the 1980s, but it had not been maintained well in recent years. As things had broken, they were removed or left in disrepair.
Before moving in, we spent two weeks cleaning the house and making the necessary repairs that the inspection had revealed. My husband graciously replaced three toilets during that time. He also pulled up the tattered kitchen floor, and my father-in-law helped him replace it. I painted the pink laundry room a lovely shade of blue called “Solitude.”
Despite our discouragement at the current state of our new house, we look forward to making it our own. As a family we’ll celebrate each victory when when something is repaired or remodeled. There is solace in letting go of our old home because this house needs us to make it welcoming again.
Keeping Traditions and Capturing Memories
In those last weeks in our home, we made sure to keep our routine as much as possible. When we could have continued work on the new house, we stopped for traditions like family movie night. We also filmed the kids giving us a tour of the house. We will always cherish our memories of our first home, but I am glad we took the time to capture their thoughts about it on film.
Help and Encouragement
Throughout the summer, we had help and encouragement from many friends and family. One friend supplied plastic bins and basement storage space so that we could remove our excess items to stage our house for selling. Several friends babysat for us during house hunting and closings. Family members helped us clean and repair the new house, and our community group came together to do all of the heavy lifting on moving day. While we definitely needed the physical help, the encouragement we received lifted our spirits during the long process of moving and letting go.
Cleaning for Closure
After we moved, we still had our first home for twelve more days. This gave me enough time to clean each room. Making the house ready for its new owner helped give me closure. I was able to appreciate all the changes we had made over the years. We left our first home better than we found it, and that brings me joy.
A Final Goodbye
The night before our closing, we took the kids back to the house and had a cry fest. Our youngest child didn’t know why we were crying, but he joined in like a professional mourner. My husband took a few more pictures and caused us to laugh through our tears when he turned the camera on us. We played together in the backyard one more time and then loaded the kids in the car. Before I closed the door for the last time, I gazed at the office built-ins I had enjoyed for the past five years and cried yet again.
Passing the Torch
We met the buyer of our home on closing day. She was so gracious and complimentary of our home that she truly put my heart at ease. She also extended an invitation to bring the kids and visit any time. To know that we are still welcome in our old home is gift.
Keeping Perspective When Letting Go
Perspective aids in the process of letting go because it helps us see beyond ourselves. In many ways this summer, I had to check my heart by keeping perspective about our move.
We live near a military base, so we know several families who pack up and move every few years leaving their communities behind. When we moved, our zip code didn’t change. We still have the same friends, attend the same church, and shop the same stores. We let go of only one thing, our home. Perspective gives a new outlook.
Life is Precious
The sale of our home this summer paralleled a sad time for our family. While we were putting our house on the market, my uncle stopped receiving treatment for glioblastoma. As we prepared our new house for our move-in date, he was transferred to a hospice facility. Sadly, we attended his funeral the day after we closed on the sale of our house.
I struggled this summer with the thought of letting go of our first home. Yet my aunt and cousins spent the summer letting go of a husband and father. Whereas I have a new house to focus my attention and create memories with my family, they have a void in their lives that cannot be filled. Perspective is everything.
Our new neighborhood has kid-friendly sidewalks and a cul-de-sac. The families here have welcomed us warmly. Children from several families come over to play with our kids regularly. One neighbor shared with me that our family was an answer to prayer. That new perspective is so encouraging.
An Eternal Perspective
This earthly life I have is a gift from God, but this is not where I’ll spend eternity. When I feel sad about missing our old house or overwhelmed by the long fix-it list for the new house, I remember that these houses are temporal. Instead, I can focus on God and His will for my life. An eternal perspective truly helps me see beyond myself.
The Remedy for Letting Go
Letting go has been hard, but for me the remedy has been in the process of moving forward and in keeping perspective. Each day this summer, I had to focus on some aspect of buying, selling, or moving. Being active in the process of change allowed me to let go. Keeping perspective continues to remind me that even though I feel loss, I am not alone, and there is much to be gained in the process.