Joy Cometh In The Morning

My writing well was dry. Hard as I tried, I could not think of my message for this blog. This rarely happens, but today it did. I think I am tired, maybe even exhausted, probably from all of the packing and moving. And a few other, unnamed things. But I wanted to keep my commitment (to myself) to write one blog post weekly, and tonight was the night this week’s post needed to be written.

I decided to go back and look at previous blog posts, hoping for inspiration. And I found it. While I won’t name the exact post, for it really doesn’t matter, I found the inspiration I was lacking. And the inspiration I found was not in my words, but in the words of someone who replied to one of my blog posts. We never really know when someone’s words will touch another’s heart. But if something is in our heart, we should put the words out there, and while we might not know how they will touch another, they likely will.

Winter is almost over, and there are signs of spring. While we know the seasons do not necessarily come at the time the calendar says they will, we can trust that one season will end, and another will begin.

Our lives are like the seasons. One part of our life ends, and another begins. That is as predictable as the seasons. If we try to hold on to one season of our life, we miss the blessings of the other season that is unfolding.

Regardless of our struggles, joy comes in the morning. This promise is found in the Bible in Psalm 30:5, which says, “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning.”

For the joy to come and rest within us requires that we let go of the darkness and embrace the light.

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Taking Care Of Our Environment

On a recent trip to Alexandria, Virginia, which is a wonderful walking city with a great downtown, I discovered a book I am so enjoying, Sustainable Minimalism, published in 2021 by Stephanie Marie Seferian. The book has me making some small changes in my daily life. While these small changes will not in and of themselves solve our environmental problems, if we all made some small changes, they would add up to large changes.

One change I have consciously made is to refuse receipts, which are not needed since the charge is on my credit card, and why do I need to accept more paper, just to throw it away? This change relates to receipts for gas and all other purchases. Since I am paying more attention to what I am spending, I am recording charges on my phone as soon as they are made.

The overuse of paper towels is so wasteful. I have cotton cleaning rags that I use for most things I previously used paper towels for. Spills can easily be cleaned up with cotton cloths which can then be washed. In fact, cotton cloths can be substituted for (almost) any chore that we normally use paper towels for.   

Mike and I travel a lot, and most of that since COVID has been driving. So, we are using public restrooms quite frequently. Whereas I do not like the noisy hand dryers found in many public bathrooms, I have finally decided that using them instead of paper towels makes perfect sense when one considers the positive impact on the environment. When I do use paper towels, it is only one, whereas previously I would pull several off without giving that any thought at all.

One of the most negative impacts on our environment is travel, whether by air or car. Think of the amount of fuel used, and what that does to our atmosphere by the buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, resulting in climate changes. Reducing our travel would be a major lifestyle change for us, and I am not ready to make that drastic of a shift yet. What I have done, and this is not a recent change, is not make unnecessary vehicle trips to stores and/or backtracking. I “bundle” my car trips and travel the most efficient route possible.

Changing our overbuying behavior is one important aspect of sustainable minimalism. Too many possessions lead to clutter. We need to have less, not organize more. Now, this is a hard one for me. While I am not as guilty of overbuying as I once was, I have entirely too much stuff from years of overbuying. Moving from an almost 5000 square foot home into a less than 2000 square foot home and attempting to find room for many of our possessions, has been a significant challenge. While we reduced much of our furniture, we have not reduced much else. The cabinets and closets in our new home are overflowing. This is my next growth area. Casserole dishes, measuring cups and spoons, and linens beware; you are next to go! 

What should we do with items we plan to let go? One option is to donate them to Goodwill or other agencies that accept slightly used items. While in doing so we rid ourselves of the immediate clutter, this option does not necessarily positively impact the environment. Many of the items donated are not able to be sold or given away to others and end up in landfills. A better option is to donate items to people who need them or can use them now. While this takes more effort than just taking a carload of stuff to a donation center, our effort is better spent. Our new neighborhood has a list serve where people who have items to sell and/or give away can post those items to the 1200 homes in the neighborhood, and the items find a new home fairly quickly.

Making conscious decisions is key to making any of these changes. While it may be easier short term to go through life mindlessly, failing to worry about the environment, longer-term that choice can create significant problems for our children and grandchildren. I choose to make some changes now that can result in a safer world for those I love.

How about you?

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Changes Outside of Our Control

This describes our new home, now that we are settled in and have made it ours. This sentiment is a card given to us by a good friend/family member, MoMo. 

I have experienced a lot of change recently, the most impactful being the sale of our home and moving into a much smaller home in a neighborhood somewhat removed from our local haunts. While I resisted that change for quite a while, I knew it was the right thing to do. Now that it is behind us, we are settling in, and actually enjoying some things about our new experience. More about that at another time.

There are a couple of impending changes that I would like to resist, but it would do no good to try to do so. These changes are totally outside of my control. Both of them involve businesses of which I have been a long-time customer. Both have a loyal customer base, or at least, it appears that they do. But loyal customers can’t keep these businesses alive. The decision to close these businesses has been made at a corporate level, and likely for financial reasons. That is more obvious with one of the businesses, and somewhat of an assumption with the other. I will miss them both.

The first business to close in our area is Tuesday Morning, a discount store that sells mainly upscale housewares, mostly close-outs from other retailers. Tuesday Morning will not close all of its stores, not even all of its NC stores, but all of their stores in my area will close, and soon. The retail company filed for bankruptcy recently and announced the closing of more than half of its stores nationwide. I will miss my occasional visits to these stores and will certainly look for open Tuesday Morning stores in other locations when I am traveling.  

While I am somewhat removed from Tuesday Morning, not knowing any of its owners, that is not the case with the other business that is closing. The other business to close soon is a restaurant/bar, Sawmill Tap Room, which has been our local Cheers, where the staff knows and loves you, and always makes you feel welcome. Mike and I were at Sawmill Tap Room the first day they were open, twenty-three years ago. We even knew the owners before they opened Sawmill, when they worked at and managed 42nd Street Oyster Bar, and took great care of Mike and the business groups he frequently took there. Our family Thanksgiving celebrations started at Sawmill on the first night of our three-day events for most of our thirty-four years of gathering. Eating at Sawmill is like eating with family.  

Sawmill Tap Room did not plan to close, but the landlord obviously has other plans and refused to renew their lease; no reason was given. While there is wailing and gnashing of teeth from its loyal customer base, Sawmill is slated to close at the end of May. There is talk of perhaps opening in another location, which would be a change, but not the death blow that is felt now. Since we have moved out of the neighborhood, Sawmill opening in another location could be of benefit to us, depending on where that new location is. Whether Sawmill will open in another location remains to be seen. Between now and the end of May, Mike and I and others we know plan to try to visit Sawmill at least once a week. For old times’ sake.

What are the lessons in these changes? There are several. First, and perhaps most important, it is important to know whether an impending change is within our control, or outside of it. If it is outside of our control, we should not waste physical or emotional energy trying to resist it. Just move with it.

Second, we should loyally support the businesses that we frequent, with our dollars and our presence. We should help them stay alive financially. I tried to do this with Belk, which was my favorite local department store, until they shifted their merchandise from brands I love to brands I do not even like, much less love. I am now quite an infrequent shopper at Belk. I predict this major retailer with a long NC history will find itself on the chopping block in the near future.

The final lesson in these changes is that cash is king, and profit is more important than sales. A business that doesn’t have cash left over that can be reinvested in capital and growth will not survive. Hard times will come, and when they do, it is important to have a surplus to weather the storms. If COVID did not teach us this, its lessons were wasted.

I wonder when our government will figure this out. Perhaps even more importantly, when will we figure this out?

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It’s All About the Culture

Last week I wrote about problems in retail, specifically staff not being customer oriented. This is the other side of the story.

Mike and I were in High Point, NC last weekend staying over in route back from a visit to Alabama. I wanted to go to a fabric store there, and we spent the night to make that possible. We were given a list of restaurants in the area by our hotel. We selected J Butler’s Bar and Grill on Main Street, thinking it would be a casual place to get some decent food. It turned out to be even more than that, although it didn’t start off that way. 

When we went in, we were told to sit wherever we wanted, and we chose a booth. Almost immediately, we both realized that it was cold, and considered leaving at that point. Instead, we asked the server if she could adjust the temperature to make it warmer. Her reply was, “I will ask the manager.” We then were asked for our drink order. I ordered my usual, half-and-half iced tea. Mike asked for a non-alcoholic beer. He was told that they did not have non-alcoholic beer, but that she would ask to make sure. She came back soon with the news that indeed, they did not have non-alcoholic beer. Mike ordered a Diet Pepsi.

Since we noticed that it was warmer than it had been, we decided to stay and order. We ordered a burger with fried okra and split it. Our food was very good, and my tea was perfect. (I judge a restaurant by the quality of their iced tea!) We enjoyed our meal and then asked for the check.

Mike noticed that we had not been charged for either of our beverages. Mike always lets a restaurant know if something has been left off of our bill. When the server came back to our table, Mike mentioned that we had not been charged for our drinks. She replied, “I know, I did not charge you. You wanted a non-alcoholic beer, and we did not have it. So, I did not charge you for either drink. We want to take care of our customers.” We thanked her and added some money to her tip for her graciousness.

As we were leaving the restaurant, another staff person thanked us for coming in, asked how our visit was, and said, “We want our customers to be happy!” We replied that our food was great and that it was obvious that they take good care of their customers.

J Butler’s Bar and Grill in High Point, NC has a culture of service. We never met the owner or the manager, and we did not need to. The staff took good care of us, and that culture of service starts at the top. We met the manager and owner through the behavior of the staff.

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Retail Challenges

I have long enjoyed shopping, but not lately. And the use of the word “shopping” is intentional. By shopping, I do not necessarily mean buying. Shopping has been an outlet for me. I used to enjoy shopping for hours and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Perhaps it was the variety of goods. Or it could have been the beauty of the items or how they were arranged or displayed. Or the enjoyment may have been just losing myself in the stores, without having to do anything but enjoy the experience. If I was looking for something in particular and I found it, the shopping could have culminated in a purchase. But it did not have to for me to enjoy the experience. But not lately.

As one who has long advocated for customer service, speaking and writing about it, this is not the first time I have noted deficiencies in customer service. But things may be worse now. I am noticing a definitive lack of the basics of customer service. I think it may relate to COVID and the staffing shortages as a result of all of the challenges COVID fraught in retail. I wonder how long we will be able to blame all of a business’ problems on COVID?

Since we are in a new home, shopping for some things has become a necessity, or if not a necessity, something that seems like a necessity. Since we left our trash cans in the house we sold, because they were a part of the cabinetry, purchasing new trash cans seemed like a necessity. And since we are in much smaller quarters than we left behind, and we have not scaled down all of our possessions, such as shoes and clothes, it has been necessary to buy some items to make the closets manageable. I know, a case can be made that if we culled the clothes and shoes, we might have avoided buying new bins, etc. But that was not the choice we made. So, shopping for some things has felt like a necessity.

While shopping, I noticed a lack of the basics of customer service. Staffing is insufficient. It is difficult to serve the customer when there isn’t enough staff. But I, and I think others as well, have been fairly tolerant of that. What I am not tolerant of is poor attitudes and lack of friendly service from those staff who are present. Two recent examples come to mind.

I was in a store several times recently for containers including shoe holders and trash cans. On each occasion, I had to lasso someone to help me, and there was an attitude on the part of the staff, and it was not a friendly attitude. I felt like I was an unwelcome interruption in the staff’s day, while I think the main reason the staff is present is to serve the customer. After experiencing this several times, I decided I had to say something. While checking out I said, “Your merchandise is not inexpensive, and I have made several purchases in the past few days. On each occasion, at least one staff person has been less than friendly, and some rude.” The response was not what one would hope for, which was an apology, or something said to turn around a bad experience. The response instead was “We do not have enough help.” While that may be true, the comment did not address the problem I was describing, which was an air of indifference or hostility of the staff that was present. I let it go at that, for I did not have any time to spend trying to help the store fix a problem management was allowing.

At another store recently I had an unfavorable customer experience. I went into a fabric store with just a few minutes to spare, to locate one item in particular. There was two staff busy rearranging displays. Neither spoke to me. They were more focused on what they were doing than serving a customer. I looked around for a few minutes, not bothering their work. After a few minutes, I asked if there was anyone who could help me. The man replied, “We are short-staffed today, and we have to finish rearranging these displays.” Translation, no one could help me. What they were doing was more important than serving the customer. So, I looked around some more, and after a few minutes, the man came over, reiterating that they were short-staffed, and asked what I needed. I told him what I was there for, and he directed me to the area I needed and went back to work on what he had been doing. I actually did find what I was looking for, made my purchase, and left. The feeling of not being served well by the staff left with me.

What is a customer to do, given the increasing lack of service? I have several thoughts about this, although none of them will solve retail’s problems. The solution for retail’s problem(s) is with management. That will be the subject of another blog.

We must be accepting of the lack of service, for it is everywhere. Otherwise, we could explode. This problem is not going to go away quickly. It is our current reality. While I do not like to have to admit it, our expectations for service are not going to be met soon, if at all. We may find we are living with this lack of service dynamic. 

While we are accepting, we need to give our business to those stores that serve us best. We need to reward the stores that do have friendly staff, who do have enough of them, by giving them as much of our business as we can. We should help those businesses stay in business.

We should speak up when it is warranted, yet do so in a kind manner. We should not turn a bad situation into one that is even worse by exhibiting negative or unfriendly behavior.

We should have more patience, allow more time for the shopping experience, and expect delays. If things take longer, and they do, we should manage our expectations and plan for them.

Perhaps we should shop less, which may compound retail’s problem. More stores will go out of business, and maybe they should. If something isn’t working, why keep doing it?

There is always online shopping. Amazon always seems to have enough help.

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What Does Love Have To Do With It?!

Happy Valentine’s Day! This day in the year that some think was created by Hallmark and florists to sell cards, flowers, and candy is here again. My, doesn’t time fly? I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day with your loved ones. But more than that, I hope that you have a wonderful day with yourself. For, hard as it is to envision, at some point we may find our loved ones occupied with no time for us, or even harder to think of, gone. Before it is necessary, we need to be able to spend time alone with ourselves and be totally comfortable with our own company.

February is heart month. We need to protect our hearts. Of course, that protection needs to include physical, including taking care of ourselves with good nutrition, exercise, and staying up to date on our routine checkups. It is important for our blood pressure and cholesterol to be at normal levels. It goes without saying that we should not be harming our bodies by smoking, drinking alcohol to excess if at all, or using illegal substances. Most of us know that, and many people take good care of themselves physically. That does not go far enough, however. We also need to take care of ourselves emotionally. In fact, if our emotional health is not what it needs to be, it is easier to damage our bodies physically.

Our relationship with others is important, and without healthy family and social relationships, we are often lacking in the ability to be happy. The relationship with ourselves emotionally is even more important. Without a healthy self-image, we lack the ability to treat ourselves well, and if that continues for too long, we can spiral into depression.

The words self-esteem and self-confidence are often used interchangeably, although while they are both important, there is a significant difference between them.  It is important to understand the difference between these two.

Self-esteem is the belief in ourselves at our core and includes self-respect and self-efficacy. People with healthy self-esteem treat themselves well and require others to treat them well. This is not about being egotistical, it is about expecting the best for us from ourselves and from others. Healthy self-esteem is necessary to be our best self and to live our best life. We are not able to reach self-actualization, which is the achievement of personal potential, without healthy self-esteem.

Self-esteem is formed in our early years and comes from good nurturing, most importantly from our parents, and in their absence physically and/or emotionally, from our most dominant caretakers. Self-esteem is the more internal of the two, self-esteem and self-confidence. If we do not receive good nurturing as a child and lack self-esteem, it is usually necessary to rebuild that through therapy with a good and trusted therapist. A speaker friend of mine has often said that what we do not receive by the age of nine years old, we spend the rest of our lives trying to get. One manifestation of this is looking for love in all the wrong places, including from others when we do not love ourselves.

Self-confidence is the belief in ourselves more externally and involves achievement. Too often people who lack self-esteem try to be worthy by achieving success through external means, including positions of authority, accolades of others, etc. While this may work temporarily, this confidence is short-lived. As soon as the external achievement is lacking, the confidence in oneself wanes. Self-confidence can never replace self-esteem.

This discussion of self-esteem and self-confidence is not all-inclusive, and is not intended as a theoretical analysis, and certainly is not given as an excuse for being self-centered. This has nothing to do with self-centeredness or selfishness, and everything to do with being emotionally healthy. Further, the point of this is to understand why we do not expect the best from ourselves and from others, and why we depend on others to meet our emotional needs. People who do not love themselves, who do not treat themselves well, and who also do not treat others well, need to do the necessary internal work to rectify this and to be emotionally healthy.

Maybe this is too much of a stretch for Valentine’s Day. Can’t we just focus on flowers, candy, and other treats, and not worry about all of this? Well, yes, we can, for a day. But not for much longer than that if we want to be healthy emotionally and be truly happy.

Treat yourself and others well on Valentine’s Day and all days. Be your best self. We need your best to collectively be able to solve our world’s pressing problems. That is only possible when we are our best.

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Still Cleaning Out

It has been five weeks since we moved, and I am still cleaning out. I remain amazed at all of the stuff we have accumulated over the years. While moving from a 4800 square foot house to one that is slightly less than 2000 square feet presents some challenges, those are less about the size differences of the houses than the amount of stuff that we have. I am determined to live with less stuff and am chipping away at the problem. It is hard, but I know it is for the best.

We sold about half of our furniture, and yet still have tables, lamps, and other items that have to be stored because there is nowhere to put them. I am torn about what of these to keep, wondering if we will have space for them in the future. One part of me wants to just get rid of the excess items, and not worry about the future. The thought of moving again anytime soon sends me into a panic. Another part of me wants to keep all of my stuff since I have loved all of it. If it is damaged, I am well able to get rid of it. If not, I want to hold onto it.

Part of my dilemma with letting go or holding on relates to being in a temporary situation. Not knowing where we wanted to go next, Mike and I rented a house for a year, to give us time to make a well-thought-out decision. So, we are in limbo. While I am trying to not focus on that too much, and live in the present, it is difficult. There are some things I want to do in our present home, yet knowing that it is a rental that we may only be in for a year makes me not want to make too many improvements to it. On the other hand, my space is important to me, and I need to make it my own, even if it is only for a year. So I am going slowly with the changes, and being careful to not spend money unnecessarily on things I can’t take with me.

My greatest dilemma is the windows. They are all bare except for the blinds. I have some gorgeous window treatments that I kept, and I am going to see if they can be remade to use in our current home. I am not happy with bare windows. If the ones I have can’t be remade, I will need to do something else. I can’t be content with bare windows for a year. Even though we know how fast a year can pass.

Then there are the bed linens, including sheets, blankets, and pillows. I have gotten rid of all full-size beds, so letting go of those linens was not difficult. But the decorative pillows, now that have been a challenge. They were custom, matched the window treatments, and meet my need for beauty. But the bedrooms are small, the closets even smaller, and there is no place to keep all of this stuff. I have talked to myself long and hard about letting go, even thinking about buying new if we ever need more. But it is still hard.

But I am working through it, and almost all of my decisions have been made. It is time to enjoy less, and make this home our forever home, whether it will be or not.

I want to live in the present, remembering the past but not holding onto it. And accepting that the future is unknown. All we have is the present, and I am ready to live as if it is all I will ever know.

And speaking of the present, Happy 16th birthday to granddaughter Elsie!

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A New Month in a New Year

January 2023 is now history, and a new month in a new year is here. February 2023 is heart month, includes Valentine’s Day, and also includes our granddaughter Elsie’s 16th birthday. Time is flying by. It is hard for me to believe that we have moved out of the home we built and lived in for almost thirty-five years in Raleigh and moved into a new home in Durham. But the reality is that we have, and time marches on.

Most likely you made some New Year’s resolutions a month ago, which I like to think of as promises to yourself. The most common ones are: lose weight, exercise more, and spend less money. Unfortunately, many people who make resolutions at the beginning of a year find it hard to keep them and are back to their old ways two weeks later.

How is it going for you with the promises you made to yourself?  If your answer is, “Not so well,” do not despair. There is still a lot of time in 2023 for us to reset and keep our promises. We just need to recommit. The longer we go without getting back on track, the harder it is to do so.

When we want to make major changes in our behavior, such as losing weight, exercising more, and managing our money better, we need systems to help us. Systems help us stay consistent. Finding systems that work for us is important if we are serious about making changes in our behavior.

My system for weight control is Weight Watchers, and it is the only weight control plan that works for me. As a lifetime member of WW, I am required to keep my weight within two pounds of my goal weight and weigh in at WW once a month, in order to attend unlimited WW meetings and access their services without any cost. This is a powerful incentive for me and helps me stay within an acceptable range for my weight.

One of the systems of WW is tracking all food eaten. This helps to keep points consumed in clear focus. On days that I do not track I lose track of what I have actually eaten. Too many of those days, and I find my weight creeping back up. The same system works to help manage money, writing down everything spent. It is easy for money to disappear and not know where it went unless we keep a spending record.

It is too easy to fall back into our old patterns of behavior if we do not use systems to help us stay focused on the changes we want to make. The specific systems do not matter. We need to figure out what systems work for us and stay consistent. Then we will find it so much easier to make the changes we want to make. Not easy, but easier. Behavior change is not easy. The easiest thing is to keep on keeping on, doing what we have been doing.

How is 2023 going for you so far? It is still early in the year. You still have time to make the changes you want to make. But the longer you delay, the harder it will be. Wait too long, and 2023 will be gone, and the changes you want to make will not be made.

So, keep on keeping on, if you are staying focused on your resolutions. If you have slipped, get back on track. You can be successful.

And take care of your heart, not just in February, but always!

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A New Beginning

Since January 6, we have moved from an (almost) 5,000 square foot house to an (almost) 2,000 square foot house. We do not know where we want to be longer term, so we rented a house fifteen minutes from where we lived for (almost) thirty-six years to give us time to figure that out. We have committed to being in this new house for thirteen months. Now that I have packed, moved out of one house, and moved into another, I may not want to ever leave this new house.

We left almost 4 acres and moved into a house with a yard the size of a postage stamp. We left a neighborhood where the houses and yards were so large that we rarely saw our neighbors unless we connected while walking, and moved into a neighborhood with sidewalks and walking trails, where our neighbors stop to chat when they pass in front of our house. After spending two weeks in our new home, my focus is no longer on what we gave up. It is now on what else we need to let go.

Managing a 2,000-square-foot home is easier than managing a 5,000-square-foot home. There is less to keep up, less to clean, and less to maintain, unless you are trying to put 5,000 square feet worth of stuff in a 2,000-square-foot space, which is what I have been trying to do. While we sold or donated about one-half of our furniture, I held onto most everything else. Most of the china, crystal, and sterling. All of the photos, boxes, and bags of them. Most of the books. Most of the accessories.

Bed linens and pillows for beds in 6 bedrooms, moved to a house with three bedrooms. Wrought iron furniture from a large patio, stuffed onto a patio intended to only hold one table and 4 chairs. Many chairs that were used for seating our large Thanksgiving gatherings, were put in storage in the new house where they would never be needed. Christmas decorations for three large trees were moved into storage in the new house that will only have one tree.

There is more, but you get the drift. Trying to stuff a lifetime of stuff from a large house into a much smaller house. It obviously can’t be done, so I am forced to make some hard decisions about what to keep and what else to let go of.

But I have let go of the resistance to this change, and am embracing this new stage of our life. While I will always miss our home we left and many things about it that I will probably never have again, I am finding that this change provides some gifts I had not expected. As I continue to unpack boxes, I will also unpack the many emotions that accompany this change. I will share how this new change is changing not just where we live, but how we live. 

Isn’t that the way life is, from letting go and grieving, to finding joy in unexpected places? 


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Saying Goodbye to Home

With five minutes to spare, we left the keys and garage door openers on the counter, locked the doors, and left our home at 305 Dalton Drive for the last time. In five minutes, the new owners would come in and take occupancy. Our home that we built in 1988, renovated and expanded in 2003, and raised our family in, would now pass to a new family to make as their own. Mike and I would move to a new home in Raleigh, a transition home for us while we decide where we want to be long-term.

For the past few weeks, we cleaned out, packed, and let go of furniture that we knew we would never need again. This included beds, Mike’s and my large desks, wrought iron furniture, and assorted odds and ends. The cleaning out included discovering letters from family members and an old boyfriend, sympathy cards received when our parents died, and a lifetime of memories from past careers. Also, five hair dryers and four irons, found in bedrooms and bathrooms infrequently used!

I will miss many things about our beloved home. First of all and most acutely, I will miss our Aga, our English cooker. I plan to have another Aga when we are settled permanently. I will miss the space, although, at almost 5,000 square feet, it was too much space for two people who weren’t even there enough to care for the property as it needed to be. I will miss the neighborhood, a neighborhood that always felt safe. I will miss the location, from where we could travel most anywhere in Raleigh in twenty minutes.

I will miss the beauty, both the natural beauty of our almost four acres of land and the beauty of the interiors. The blue and yellow colors of most rooms, the heavy moldings, the simple yet elegant window treatments, and the many custom details that we added through the years. I do not expect to ever have a house that I love as much. Leaving it, knowing this leaving was forever, was so hard, although I know it was the right decision to make.

We take many memories with us. Memories of Tara and Chatham as they grew from preteens to adults. Memories of many Christmases, with the granddaughters waiting on the stairs until everyone was up before they could come downstairs to see what Santa left. Memories of Uncle Barry sitting on the kitchen barstool, barking his orders for breakfast. Memories of the many Thanksgivings we hosted for our extended family, the last few years, more than sixty-five of them. Memories of many family meals, hosting international friends and sharing our home with our business colleagues.

Change is hard. It is much easier to keep doing what we have always done than to do something different, even when we believe it is time to change course. We have to let go of what we have to grab hold of what can be.

We know what we are leaving, yet we do not know what we will be receiving. But we step out in faith, knowing that our next move will take us closer to where we need to be. For our foundation is strong. Our home at 305 Dalton anchors us, creating a foundation so strong that wherever we land, we will be home.

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