Selling Sunshine: A Lesson of Leaning In, Letting Go and Reclaiming Life
Updated: Apr 27, 2022
“When a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower” – Alexander Den Heijer
When we bought our home in early fall of 2018, we left an apartment in the city for a home on a private road where some of our closest neighbors were chickens and horses. We wanted peace and quiet, privacy and more nature and when you live on a street named Sunshine Drive, that kind of life is guaranteed. With less than ten homes on our street, spaciously separated and surrounded by woods, we knew this is what we were looking for. The home itself was simple yet welcoming and we knew with some time and hard work, we could make this house our home. We had a good amount of yard space although mossy, uneven and laden with rock. The trees surrounding the property created a thick, full blanket of leaves that had been neglected through several autumns. The interior needed multiple updates and renovations to not only bring it into present day but to reflect our personal preferences and style. I’m setting the scene here; this isn’t a home makeover story but rather one of learning to accept change while finding joy amid life’s hurdles.
We settled in very quickly and within six weeks I had painted the interior, purchased new furniture and we began clearing out the yard. We even managed to host Thanksgiving. I immediately began taking cookie orders, Christmas rolled around and as we kicked off a new year, life seemed to accelerate in ways we did not imagine. As Andrew began a newer, more demanding position at work I began to encounter issues with my health. While non-threatening, these issues took up a good amount of time and mental space. In March, Andrew’s mother passed away. In April, Andrew and I were engaged and while this was a happy moment, so much had been going on elsewhere in our lives that there wasn’t much time to celebrate. The rest of the year played out similarly to the beginning of it and the to-do list of our home continued to grow.
After a year of so many highs and lows, we decided we wanted to make 2020 the year for us. We had other plans for our wedding day but after a year of family loss and other difficulties we chose the intimacy of a courthouse wedding, just the two of us followed by a dinner at one of our favorite places along with a few days away. It was exactly what we needed and was clearly the highlight of that year for us. The remainder of 2020 went just like how we all remember it. 2020 called for Andrew to work remotely and unexpectedly, 2020 was the best year for The Crassy Cookie. Most couples would find themselves going stir-crazy, but we enjoyed spending so much time together. My customer base continued to grow and when I wasn’t constantly baking, we spent nearly every weekend chipping away at projects for the home.
2020 quickly led into 2021 and those two years somehow seem like one long year, for many of us, I’m sure. The never-ending projects kept coming and it seemed for every project we crossed off the list, another one came about, and we could never get ahead. As the house became more of a resentful burden than a home that we loved, we lost any excitement we had to live there. We had so many plans, hopes, and dreams yet none of them were coming to fruition and the cause seemed beyond our control. Throughout the time of purchasing this home and working on renovations to improve it, I had many changes going on in my personal life as well which took a toll on my mental health. I had been dealing with anxiety, loss of sleep and a deep depression all while newly married and growing my small business. Life is like this sometimes isn’t it; a bunch of good things can be going on while everything else seemingly falls apart.
We were spending most of our free time on the house that we forgot everything we enjoyed. We missed going to parks, spending weekends in D.C., grabbing coffee just because, Friday night karaoke, breweries, weekend trips and shopping. We couldn’t blame it all on the house but alongside The Great Quarantine, we were spent. We truly loved the quiet mornings, the daffodils popping up everywhere, and beautiful sunrises but we realized we missed being surrounded by neighbors and community. And no, we weren’t completely in the middle of nowhere but were incredibly more isolated than we’ve been used to. With not much family around and friends dispersed, we realized we need people and connection to what felt familiar.
In late fall of 2021, we met with our realtor and made the official decision to sell the house. As soon as the Christmas décor went up, it came right back down again for photos, decluttering, and packing. Our home was on the market for less than a week and we accepted an offer. We took the rapid pace of the sale as confirmation that it was meant to be. While we wait for our new home to be built, we will be transient for six months or so. I’m excited about the adventures ahead and I’m hopeful that we will find our village and make our home exactly where we are supposed to be. We do have good memories from our old house and while it may have had its troubles for us, it was also a haven away for us to heal and grow.
Sometimes we know the answer to what we’re looking for all along, but we need time. Sometimes we need sit with the grief, the sadness, and the difficulty to truly acknowledge and process those hard feelings before moving forward. The lesson I’ve learned during this time at our first home was just that; healing takes time. The last few years where I thought life had grown stagnant, I was learning who I was, receiving closure to things from my past, finding new passions and re-igniting old ones. And lastly, sometimes the answer is simply no. We know now that what wasn’t meant for us at this home is meant for another family and I sincerely hope our “no” will be their absolute “yes”. As spring approaches and we leave behind what was truly the winter of my life, I will always bring a little bit of sunshine with me wherever I go.