When I was first married, I moved to Clarksville TN, because my husband was part of the 101st Airborne Division in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. We moved into a little rental townhome in a bad area. But it was brand new construction and had trendy cabinets and stainless appliances! It was $725.00/month. I got on my knees on the builder-grade frise carpet every night and thanked God that I had this sweet little place, and this sweet little dog, and this sweet little life with my new husband. I felt rich. I felt blessed beyond measure.
Eventually, I got to thinking to myself, man, if I could just buy a house, I would be super happy. I got a house that year with a VA home loan, which is ZERO DOLLARS DOWN, and a five hundred dollar escrow deposit. I bought a house for my signature and five hundred dollars. And it was just as awesome as I expected it to be. I thanked God every day for that house. My mortgage was $1,100.00 per month. I cleaned our first home with such great care. I put my own backsplash up with my husband over a weekend and a bottle of wine. It was so simple. And so was life. Even amidst an intense deployment with an active duty Army husband and tornado warnings almost constantly, life was still so simple.
Two years after purchasing our first home, we moved from Tennessee back home to NJ and bought a bigger, more expensive home. Somewhere along the way, I got distracted from having a heart full of thankfulness. Are you ready for this? I am about to be completely transparent, but I’m willing to do it, if it means that I can shine the light for even one person. So go ahead, Shore Locals, judge away!
My lawn was the worst on my street. When I say “the worst”, I mean I would apologize to my neighbors on a regular basis for how awful my lawn was. I began to agonize over having a brown and yellow lawn with “crunchy” grass, instead of soft, vibrant green blades, like the rest of my neighbors. We tried everything to get our lawn green, but to no avail. It became a focus of discontent for me. Sure, this home was bigger, but the lawn was crunchy!
I sold that home after about two years and bought a beautiful home with a spectacular lawn. Not only did this home have a spectacular lawn, but it had one hundred and twenty thousand dollars worth of landscaping in the backyard. The home was built by a custom home builder, who built it for himself. This guy pulled out all the stops in this yard, but now wanted to move back to his family up North, so I was able to make this backyard oasis mine at an unheard of price.
I remember sitting outside one Fall day in November, on the brazillian wood steps that led to the incredible scene, and it hit me like a ton of bricks: As beautiful as the landscaping was, it didn’t bring any more joy than I had when I lived in the previous home, or back in TN in my very first home, or than I had when I lived in a totally run-down rental apartment in Ocean City with no air conditioning or heat or dishwasher, and certainly no lawn in sight. Not only that, but I missed home. Real home. Atlantic County home. I felt called to go back there and this amazing landscape couldn’t give me the joy that being close to my family, my people, and the beaches I grew up on could. Here is the lesson you can learn from me this week: I was an idiot! I let freaking crunchy grass become a distraction and get in the way of a heart of total thanksgiving. That is ridiculous.
I believe thankfulness is a paradigm. A way of thinking. A lifestyle. You have to train your brain to be thankful and correct your course as needed to live ] the thankfulness paradigm, but it is life changing. Everything becomes more vibrant and meaningful.
I am now back home in Atlantic County, in a small, simple backyard. To be honest, I could move into a tiny home on a wooded lot and be just as happy as I am anywhere else. I’ve learned that when I actively seek to be thankful for everything that I have, whether it is a super lush lawn, or a lawn full of crunchy grass, or nothing at all, but the air in your lungs and the song in your heart, life becomes magic in high def. If you’re looking for a way to bring yourself to life, this is a great place to start and November is the best month to begin. Until the next issue Shore Locals, I’m wishing you peace, love, and good vibes from my beach chair to your’s.