Rip off the mask, tear down the walls. Show the world my beautiful, vulnerable self!

Inspired by Morning Walks

Oh the Things You Can See When You Walk

I don’t know any of my neighbors well. I’ve lived in this house for almost 40 years, but am, for the most part only passingly acquainted with the ones who’ve been here longer than me. The rest, not at all.

It surprised me to learn the ones I have gotten to know in passing are aware of my latest new habit of taking morning walks. I ran into one walking with her friend around the small park at the end of our street. She commented that she’d seen me go by her house every day, and congratulated me for my efforts (she’s in her 70’s to my 60’s).

I’m a little more friendly with my next door neighbors, a lovely couple in their 80’s who bought their house when it was new back in 1961 (I suspect they were newlyweds at the time, and the 8- or 10-thousand dollar price tag was huge!). They’ve become fond of my outdoor cats because of their propensity to decimate the rodent population. They too have noticed my morning forays, and as daily walkers themselves, offered their own words of encouragement.

Lost in the 60’s Can be a Good Thing

This is kind of an interesting neighborhood. Because it was built so long ago and in fact, wasn’t even connected to the city sewer system until the 70’s, we don’t have any common areas other than the small city-owned park I mentioned. We also don’t have HOA’s which thrills me as I don’t have a lot of good things to say about those organizations. My own experiences with my parents’ condo as well as a business adventure leave me less than enamored with the way they’re run or the people who see fit to govern them.

We also have a lot of families who are either renting or managed to buy by moving several families into these 1100 to 1200 square foot homes. Quick research on current rents showed me the newer renters are paying somewhere around 3 times my house payment including taxes. But newer homeowners also paid 4 or 5 times what I did, and a good many more times what the few original residents paid. (and much to my dismay, their tax bases and bills are less than half what mine are. I shudder to think what the newbies are paying in property taxes!)

I’m a Homebody at Heart more than one occasion, I’ve been asked why I don’t get tired of living in the same house. The reason is similar to why I keep a car for over 10 years. If I stay in the same house, my monthly payments are predictable and manageable. If I keep a car for 10 years or more, I have no payments for at least 5 or 6 of those years. It’s simple economics. I also don’t need a bigger house, though my dream is to have one in a more remote place (kind of weird to think of as I’m finally starting to get to know my neighbors better) where my nearest neighbor is neither visible nor audible.

I have friends these days who can’t afford to buy a house at today’s inflated prices (an $8000 house in 1961 sells for upwards of $500,000 today), so they’re renting. The last time I paid rent was in 1992 when I was divorcing my ex-husband. A two-bedroom apartment in one of the nicer parts of town cost me $800 a month. The same apartment now rents for upwards of $1800. Meanwhile, my friends living in nearby areas are reeling under rent increases which mean they have to pay as much as $2500 a month for a smaller 2-bedroom apartment!

Appreciating What’s Been There All Along

My daily walks are giving me something I hadn’t found in the last 30-some odd years; an appreciation for the neighborhood. Because it’s been here awhile, the trees are tall and the bushes are thick, providing a haven for a vast assortment of birds, butterflies, and June bugs. The cheerful chirping and exuberant soaring from place to place lifts my heart. While chatting with my next-door neighbor, a stunning orange and black Monarch swooped down and gave her stamp of approval to our conversation.

It’s not just the butterflies, lizards, and birds that bring me joy. Neighbors I’ve never even talked to are recognizing me from my morning walks. We smile and exchange pleasantries when I pass. Sometimes I even stop to talk. I’m meeting a lot of the local canines too. Most are friendly, though one named Tammy nipped my leg as I passed by, as cantankerous as her elderly owner. (thankfully, he wasn’t the nipping sort!)

Keeping Things the Same on the Outside

I know people who are either moving or remodeling every few years. Though I’d love to upgrade my kitchen and maybe add a little more space, my friends’ woes with contractors as well as my own fiasco lead me to believe at this point that the remodel will happen when I find someone patient enough to help me do it myself, and who’s willing to teach me in my own slow, fumbling way.

For now, I’ve heard no complaints about the accommodations at our annual post-Thanksgiving gathering. The kids and I have developed a routine to manage the cooking and the furniture re-arranging quite nicely. Some of my friends stick around to help put the house back to rights afterwards too.

Keeping the Dream Alive While Appreciating the Now

I may have grand dreams of a solitary piece of property overlooking the beach, for now, where I am suits my lifestyle and budget. It’s more than enough to manage by myself, and my kitties have plenty of places, both low and high to rest their weary bones after stalking flies and spiders who’ve managed to sneak into the house. Friends drop by occasionally, and my red Adirondack chairs are a welcoming sight on the front porch. Like Happy Face Hill, seeing those chairs gives me a feeling of home.

My needs are simple, and I have no airs to put on or people to impress. The ones in my life now like me for a lot more than how I look or what I own, as I do them. After many years of working to have better stuff, I’ve learned it isn’t worth it if you haven’t learned to enjoy whatever you have and wherever you are. When you do that, you’re happy almost anywhere!

How about you? What is your dream abode like? Draw a picture with words, crayons, paints, or whatever moves you. Put in all the special touches you believe will make it perfect. Are you there now? If not, what do you need to do to get there. But more importantly, are you happy where you are now, even if it’s not perfect?

Gratitude Wherever I Turn

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for my furry roommates who remind me what’s truly important.
  2. I’m grateful for my daily walks which are teaching me a greater appreciation of my neighbors and neighborhood.
  3. I’m grateful for things that stay the same, holding space for things that are changing.
  4. I’m grateful for butterflies. I see at least a couple every day now and just seeing one brings me joy.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; energy, love, joy, exercise, strength, opportunities, inspiration, encouragement, chats, life, imperfections, friendship, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

I look forward to your comments.

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