“Rethink My Home“. What does that even mean? Have you ever seen the tv show “Hoarders”? The show depicts people being rescued from their homes, practically buried beneath possessions they’ve accumulated, and the filth their possessions prevented them from cleaning. They become immobilized by the compulsion to accumulate and no longer participate in the lives and relationships they used to enjoy. Now, I know these are extreme examples, but tell me this: have YOU ever felt like your possessions owned YOU, instead of you enjoying your possessions? Do you find yourself drowning under the burden of debt, or feeling a recurring tension of financial conflict within your relationships? Do you find yourself spending so much time and money to OWN things – like your current home – that you’re unable to fully enjoy the life and relationships you used to?

According to many marriage and divorce support experts, money is the top area of conflict in relationships. So why do so many of us still try to buy into homes that leave us house-poor, struggling under the weight of the debt we carry and spend so much time working to afford that we cannot even find the time to spend together in that very home? Have we all bought so deeply into the concept of “keeping up with the Joneses” that we are willing to swallow the encumbrance that often goes along with it and call it “normal”. While it may be very common, I refuse to accept that anything this unhealthy be “normal” or even “tolerable”.

So we buy bigger homes to accommodate (read: store) our possessions. We don’t want our little darlings to have to learn to share, so we make sure they each have their own rooms, which they only occupy full-time for 17 of the 25 years we are paying for our home. Does that really make sense to all of us? Add to this the status of an address that reflects prestige to people who don’t really matter to us in the long run.

So, here’s where I’m coming from… What if we didn’t borrow as much as finance companies are willing to loan us? What if we didn’t buy as much space as we could borrow for, but bought enough space that we would truly use effectively? Enough shared living space that your family could actually spend quality time enjoying each other’s company? What if we only spent our money on things that enrich our lives? Sometimes more is just…well, …more. Maybe it’s time to “Rethink My Home“. Maybe, rather than buying bigger, we should think about down-sizing. Maybe, if we repurpose rooms or furniture, we can actually use the entire square footage we own? Maybe it’s time for a yard sale, or a few trips to consignment store or The Salvation Army. And maybe, just maybe, if I Rethink My Home, I could actually spend less than I make.

To me “Rethink My Home” means simplifying life, and instead of my possessions (including my home) owning me, I would own them, …but only if they enrich my life.

What is Your Legacy?

November 11, 2016

     This was a strange week, with both Remembrance Day and the U.S. presidential vote. While we remember those who fought for our freedoms, we watch our neighbours vote in a highly controversial.  In addition to these events, we also filled our Operation Christmas Child boxes. Gifts and trinkets to delight a child’s spirit in honour of Christ’s birth. So, while we look on the legacies of freedom, of hate and oppression, and now of hope and generosity, we ask ourselves, “What will our legacy be?”

My paternal grandfather fought in World War II. He was in the navy, and his terrible job on D-Day was to raise bodies from the sea, take their dog tag for notification, and then to dispose of them. When he returned to Canada and began his family with his beautiful red-headed wife, he did so through what would now be diagnosed as PTSD. My father was never taught how a healthy man would express affection, or praise. In Grandad’s later years (and by the time I was getting to know him) he had softened, and his symptoms were unnoticeable to this grandchild. But I knew and felt my own father’s difficulty in expressing love, or to appreciate our differences.

Fast forward to the next generation. My children are being raised with the affirmation and unconditional love from both a mother and a father who are very aware of how these things affect a child’s development and choices leading into adulthood. While my parents were never wealthy, they lavished upon us in adulthood what they were unable to in my childhood. While no fault can be found in their generosity, we value “things” differently. As my kids look to birthdays or Christmas, they understand that these occasions are more about the people they celebrate with than the things they receive to mark the occasion. We have tried to limit them to no more than 3 gifts, and one would be home-made. Some children would not have appreciated these efforts, but the few years I worked full-time and was unable to make these gifts, they said those were what they missed the most.  We have always opened our home to people in order to build relationships on foundations of love, generosity and open-ness. We have, at times, hosted 50 or so people (whole families) on a weekly basis for Bible studies and meals, at the cost of the children’s time, freedom in their schedule, and not a few toys broken by visiting “littles”. My children understand that people are always more important than “stuff”, and that by investing in the lives and well-being of others, we all receive the reward of healthy families and shared values.

When we bought our home, our children were 11 and 12 years old. We no longer needed the house to be baby-proofed, and we no longer really needed a playroom to house the children’s toys, but that’s the kind of home we were looking for. We knew our lives would include nurturing young families, and we wanted room for the kids to be cared for elsewhere in the house, so that we adults could enjoy some real conversation. We intentionally bought a house we could use to reach out to others and “do life” with people who were at a more difficult life stage than we were, many of whom had no extended family nearby for free babysitting and moral support. We wanted our lives to not be about us, but rather about others. One anticipated result is that our children will live the kind of lives (and in the kind of relationships) that meet a need in society. They will serve the people in their own communities, and even have expressed interest in adoption, rather than feeling compelled to fill their homes with biological offspring. My husband and I like to think that their attitude toward others and their value system have developed because of how we intentionally instilled our own values in them, through conversations about American politics and inclusion, through the remembrance of the sacrifices of their great-grandfather and his peers, and through each donation and Christmas shoebox they fill. We hope that because we intentionally made choices to nurture others, they also will look outward for their purpose. And above all, we hope our legacy is LOVE.

What will your legacy be?    

Spring is in the air, even in Canada, where snow can still fall well into April and temperatures at night can still drop to minus 40 degrees. Yet here in the Ottawa Valley we can sense the promise of tulips, daffodils and crocuses just waking up and ready to make their appearance in our gardens. It’s unseasonably warm these days, which means for me, Spring fever is coming on earlier than usual. I am not one to hang on to items around the home that are not regularly in use, but my family loves to save. We’ve moved 10 times in our 17 1/2–year marriage, and we’ve found the old adage that a rolling stone gathers no moss to be very true. That being said, the years we’ve stopped “rolling”, we immediately begin collecting things we normally would have purged for a move and even I have some” secret” hordes of stashes that should have been discarded long ago.  We have 2 children, who have items they are loathe to part with, and My husband is an avid reader and collector of paper books. With my gradual weight gain, I have clothes I’ve long outgrown, but refuse to donate hoping they’ll fit me again, when – let’s be real – if I ever do lose the excess weight I’ll be buying all new bikinis and wearing them everywhere anyway!

 Today marks Ash Wednesday, the day that begins the Lenten season leading up to Easter and the commemoration of Christ’s death and resurrection. In case you don’t have a religious background, I’ll explain what this means. Traditionally this is a season of self-denial or self-sacrifice, and the energy, time, or money you would have spent indulging is instead diverted to spiritual pastimes or causes. It is a process designed to help one connect with the God of their affections and help them honour the selfless life Christ lived, and the ultimate sacrifice of His life on the Cross. It’s believed that 3 days later – Easter morning – He rose from the dead, enabling we normal, hopeless people to experience a living relationship with God and eventually to experience eternal life with Him in heaven. What does that have to do with de-cluttering? Everything and nothing.  De-cluttering, for someone who relates items with accomplishment, can be a painful experience, and feel very much like self-denial. In my own experience, though, it’s a liberating experience, freeing me from the burden of not only owning too much, but trying to keep all those things I own tidy and, in many cases, hidden.

I want to share two ideas or theories of de-cluttering that my heart has really chimed with. The first is the “40 bags in 40 days” challenge. It’s the idea that for a forty day period (coinciding with the 40 days of Lent) you de-clutter one area per day. The goal is to fill one bag a day, however you can have more or less. A great way to tackle one room at a time is to have 3 labelled bins: keep, donate, and sell. I’ll caution you right here to not be tempted to remove things from the “sell” bin once you’ve decided, and especially if it doesn’t sell. If something doesn’t sell, it goes right into the “donate” bag, ready to go. Examine every item in the room & tackle one piece of storage furniture at a time. Clear the items out completely (and because it’s spring, give it a good cleaning). By the time you’re done, there may even be pieced of storage furniture empty and ready to sell, too! There are always great causes looking for donations to sell in thrift stores to fund worthwhile projects: The Salvation Army funds local projects as well as being first responders in disaster relief overseas, Kidney and cancer donation bins, women’s and homeless shelters, Value Village, Blind Missions, etc. What a great feeling to get out from under the burden of owning too much and have the profits from their sale go to a great cause! Now, once you’ve done this, take a second look, using William Morris's advice: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful". De-cluttering guru Marie Kondo's de-cluttering theories can be reduced to two basic tenets: Discard everything that does not “spark joy,”; and do not buy organizing equipment — your home already has all the storage you need. Now, there are always things we need to keep “just in case”, such as 7 years’ of financial paperwork (longer if
you are self-employed), tools and yard equipment, even some replacement building supplies, but try not to let yourself hang on to too much using “just in case” as an excuse to put it all back where it came from. You’ll be amazed how freeing this process is. Now, many of us work full-time, so the idea of doing this project in 40 days may be overwhelming. Try sorting the items in one room in one evening (it can go fast if you go with your first instinct and be ruthless) and clean the room top to bottom the next evening you have free (including walls, baseboards, windows and screens). The point isn’t how fast you get it done. The point is to do it. One last thing… if your children are young, I suggest you sort through their toys while they sleep or go to school. I have yet to understand the appeal of those breakable dollar store or McDonald’s toys, but the kids love them. You may also want to have a bin of toys you swap in for another load of toys every 6 months or so. We also had the kids pick out some good quality toys they were willing to donate for another child to enjoy when they have a sudden influx, like birthdays or Christmas. Later in the year we’ll talk about birthday and Christmas gift limitations, but for now, let’s focus on getting a grip on letting go!

To read more about Marie Kondo’s process, click here.

To read more about 40 Bags in 40 Days, click here.

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Jack, Molly and Robert Narraway (my grandfather) heading to WWII.

Sometimes More is Just More

March 1, 2017

My family: Josiah (14 here), myself, my husband, Jonathan, and my daughter, Kathryn (13 here).

A THANKFUL HEART

October, 2018


“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace

for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” 

                                                   ~ Melody Beattie

I want to begin this newsletter thanking all of
you: my Clients, friends and family, for standing
with me and encouraging me through our
Brokerage transition to Solid Rock Realty. Our
vision is more person-centred care of both
Clients and the Agents who have aligned
themselves with our mission. Leaving a better-known real estate name was a bit like letting go of my security blanket. I truly believe in the vision of what we are building at Solid Rock Realty, and I’m excited to be involved at this grass-roots level. Becoming an independent Brokerage is allowing us to give more generously. We will be honouring the charity commitments we made for the duration of this year, but in the new year, we will be committing 25% of the Business Development portion of our commissions to build wells for the 319 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are without access to adequate safe drinking water. Thank you all who have bought or sold real estate through me, and thank you in advance for those of you who plan to make a move through my services, or refer me to those in your sphere of influence. Your encouragement means more than you can know. I’d also like to express my gratitude to my own nuclear family. My husband Jon has been a great source of encouragement and empowerment, with unfailing belief in me (even when I doubt myself). My teenagers, Joe & Katie, have been so understanding of my required interruptions and absences. Most of all, I’m grateful to God for the opportunity to make a living fulfilling a dream and doing exactly what I was created to do.

Why “Rethink my Home”?

October 31, 2016​