It was about 7:30am on a Thursday. I was exhausted, sitting in bed holding my 6 week old daughter as she slept in my arms. My husband walked into the room and sat on the bed.
"I've been thinking..." he said.
"Oh Lord," I responded as I mentally prepared myself for what was about to come out of his mouth. Those three words are always followed by some crazy idea that's sure to cause me to freak out a little, sometimes a lot.
"Do you remember what my biggest fear is?" he asked.
I didn't hesitate with my response. "Yes, the fear of being average."
Ding! Ding! Ding! He pointed out that 'average' is exactly where we have landed and I couldn't disagree with him.
We got pregnant and bought a house with a two car garage out in the suburbs, minus the white picket fence; our fence is mahogany. My husband continues to work in Corporate America, putting his best foot forward so he can move up in the company. I'm a new sleep deprived mom to a 3 month old, figuring out life in my new role while trying to not let being a mom define my entire identity. We live a comfortable life. All of our needs are met, and we get to travel domestically, sometimes internationally (pre-covid).
The American Dream. We achieved it.
We are Average.
Granted, I am totally aware that this is an actual dream for some and not accessible to all. If the American Dream is what you're striving for or you already have it and you're content, great. Don't let me make you feel bad about it, there's no judgment here.
For us, however, this isn't what we said we wanted for our lives. We always wanted more than this. Not being intentional and instead making decisions and purchases based on cost, circumstances, rushed timing, and shortsightedness is what got us here. Here isn't bad. We're extremely blessed. It's just not exceptional.
My husband's proposal was to start over with a blank slate - rebuild or design our life from scratch exactly the way we want it to look. When he initially proposed this, he literally meant blank slate, like sell or get rid of everything that can be replaced, house included, and take an inventory of our responsibilities and obligations and decide what we need to stop doing as well. Then act with intense intentionality about the material items, experiences, and obligations we add to our lives.
The goal is to get to a place of freedom where we don't feel held back from doing the things we truly want to do and living the life we want to live as a result of things like having too much stuff, owning a home, and obligations to our tenants along with the responsibility for the upkeep of the homes we provide for them.
Surprisingly, his proposal didn't freak me out. It actually excited me! ...Weird.
Quick side note: A completely blank slate was a little extreme and we later decided
not to take it that far.
Why would his idea excite me when something like this would normally terrify me?
When we first moved to Columbus, crafting and building the life I truly wanted to live was exactly the journey I was on. My primary focus was figuring out what I wanted to do in terms of work/career. But next in line was determining how I wanted my life to look. I made progress toward that goal my first year in Columbus. However, what followed in the next year was busyness, distractions, doing all the wrong things, and lots of frustration. I got off track, started going through the motions, made circumstantial decisions, and said yes to things simply because they seemed like good things to do. Where those things would lead us specifically, I had no idea, but the outcome seemed good.
When you don't know where you're going, anything can seem like a good idea.
A lack of direction leads to the inability to accurately
discern what should get your "yes."
When my husband came to me with his proposal, I internally acknowledged my dissatisfaction with certain aspects of my life and where I have ended up as a result of a lack of direction and focus. He stirred up excitement about going back to the drawing board to craft the life I want to live. I started dreaming again, and figuring out what needed to go in order to make space for what I wanted to receive. I immediately started to physically clear things out.
Our closets, storage bins, and items around the house were the first to be purged. Next up was our investment properties. We listed two of our Georgia properties for sale and plan to put the third one on the market when that lease ends next spring. After that, we'll sell one of our Columbus properties in the next year or two leaving us with just one rental property whose purpose is to fund our daughter's college tuition or a business venture, whichever she chooses.
Getting rid of things is/was the easy part. Figuring out what I want my life to look like is what's difficult. My husband has asked me "What do you want (for your life)?" multiple times over the past few months. Blank stare, frustration and an "I don't know" has followed almost every time. But deep down I mostly know what I want, what I don't want, and what work I want to do. I struggle with two things, however - (1) the concept that I can have almost anything I want and (2) how to actually get those things. Both of those require a much deeper discussion than I can offer in this particular post...
But essentially, I place false limitations on myself and operate from a place of scarcity due to a lack of abundance when I was growing up. For example, I would love to be able to purchase, with cash, a second home in San Diego one day, but it's real difficult for my brain to believe that's actually possible.
Anyways, whether or not I can actually achieve it doesn't matter right now. What matters is saying out loud and writing on paper what I envision for my life. So I did. My husband and I both wrote out our individual 5 year visions for our lives and are in the beginning stages of implementing the first step we each need to take to bring them to fruition.
Our visions aren't set in stone. They are allowed to evolve as time goes by. Three years from now I may not want the same things, but I at least know where I'm headed now.
Stay tuned to read what I see my life looking like in 2025...