By the end of this week…

I submitted my offer on the land. Now I’m waiting to hear back from them. We’ve each counter-offered, and we’re sneezing distance apart, but they are mulling on it i gather as I haven’t heard anything since Friday.

In line with my relaxed, let the universe take care of it approach to this entire adventure, I am not stressing about it. Sort of. To be honest I do have moments when my stomach clenches with anxiety, but most of the time I’m reassuring myself that all will work out and it’s highly unlikely it will fall over at this point. Buying property always feels so fraught at this point, but the fact that we’ve even entered into the ngotiation and bargaining process indicates an intention to complete it.

Besides, if I wasn’t just a little bit anxious, I’d be concerned: when you care about the outcome, as I do in this case, it’s normal and entirely appropriate to be at least a bit anxious about it.

I’ve been running the numbers and working out how much I need to save over the next several years of working to afford the next phase of development, and it’s looking quite possible. Which makes it seem all the more unreal, that it could actually be real.

Meanwhile, I’m doing okay on the physical front. The shingles are healing up, thank goodness. For the next two days I am required to eat bland, low fibre food in preparation for my procedure on Tuesday. Low fibre food is incredibly unappetizing I have discovered: white bread has no texture to it, and I’m not allowed fruit or any of the veges I like to eat (tomatoes, beans, broccoli, spinach). Last night I was reduced to white rice with steamed white fish with no spices or flavouring. It was about as appetising as it sounds.

Come the end of this week, I will be either in exactly the same place I am now, or I will be in a very different one. I’m hoping to be the proud owner of 23ha of farmland, and with a clean bill of internal health. Any other permutation or combination of those two elements will put me in a very different space both mentally and physcially.

 

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The universe giveth, the universe taketh away

An early start on Saturday as I needed to  drive north to meet the land agent and tour the block of land I am considering buying. 

She was accompanied by Bill and it was some minutes into the tour before I realised that Bill owned the land and was there to tell me about it (nitrogen fixing deep cover clover or some such – the net result being rich green, long, lush grass) and to open the gates. Health & Safety rules being what they are, better he get zapped than us. 

The land is beautiful. The potential house site gets the sun all day and has a beautiful, endless view of the mountain range and the river valley. I was so enamoured I didn’t even think to pull out my phone to take pictures. 

Bill was a delight. As the agent had to run off Bill took me to see the pump house (for the stock water), the woodshed he renovated to live in while he built his proper home, and his  homestay accommodation which he proudly told me just got 5 stars on Google. His wife arrived, we chatted and I realised I liked them both. I could see myself belonging in that community. It just felt right. I’ll put in an offer this week. 

On that, the universe delivered, big time. 

So what did it take away? Turns out I have shingles. At first I thought they were flea bites (red, very itchy bumps) but now they are hot, red, angry welts and blisters  wrapping around my leg and making me feel poorly. They hurt like crazy: imagine a wire brush over sunburned skin. I am now on antivirals. More medication. Good thing I am an expert pill swallower by now because they are huge. 

I realise these two things are not equal, land and shingles. But when the shingles popped up they tempered my enthusiasm and caused me to question my ability to pursue this dream.  I am physically unsure I can do this – it’s going to take work and I don’t know how much of that I can manage. 

But as I sat there at the gate waiting for the agent to arrive, I thought, of course I’m scared and of course I doubt I can do it, because I haven’t done it before. But what’s the worst that can happen? I have to sell up. Not so catastrophic. 

It’d be far worse not to give it a go. 

Balancing planning for the future with living in the present

My plans for the land purchase are quietly moving forward. I met with the lawyer, called the estate agent, planned the trip to see it (and another property that looks equally interesting). 

It’s both exciting and a bit surreal (and a little scary) to be thinking that in 5 years I could be living a whole new life. 

It’s also a bit distracting. I’ve still got a life to live day by day. 

Last night I had dinner with my nephew and I outlined to him my long term plans. I told him that he and his brother are beneficiaries of my estate (apparently that was news to him, I thought he knew but why would he as I’d never actually told him.) I explained that my plan was to gift over the assets to him and his brother by the time I’m 85, on the condition they buy me a little retirement unit to live out my days and give me an allowance. 

He was a bit puzzled as to why I was even thinking about things like this. He pointed out this was 30 years away. To which he added, “that’s longer than my lifetime so far”. He’s 28. 

It brought me up short. It’s peculiar how, at the midpoint of one’s life, the second half looks a whole lot shorter than the first. The first half is chock full of experiences and adventures and milestones, while the prospect of the second seems to be a gradual closing down of options. 

This is nonsense of course. And I’m glad my nephew reminded me of that. Thirty years is a long time, plenty long enough to have a whole lot of new adventures and experiences. 

Which is why it’s so easy to get caught up in the planning of the future, the land, the house, the chickens and beehives. It’s exciting. 

But now is good too. There’s plenty to do, and the future goal is a fantastic way to focus my energies and attention on the things I can do now that will help get me there. 

Coming into focus

I’m not a fan of the “if you can dream it you can do it” school of personal development. It’s always seemed simplistic, not to mention it completely ignores the role of privilege in identifying our dreams.

However, occasoinally I am forced to admit there is something to it. Perhaps most obviously, dreaming about something puts it on your radar, and once something is on your radar you notice it, pay attention to it, and possibly quite unconsciously take steps to put more of whatever it is into your life. So it’s not that mystical, and quantum physics needed get involved: it’s just basic psychology. Thinking about buying a Honda? Suddenly you see Hondas everywhere. And it’s not because the universe has organised itself to show you more Hondas.

This week, I’ve been talking to real estate agents and lawyers about buying a block of land – 23ha (about 55 acres) of grazing farmland to be specific. This has come about because of a conversation I had with my nephew about his butchery business and the cost per head of transporting cattle to the butchery. In short, having land nearby to hold the cattle until ready for butchering would be a Good Idea. So now I find myself on the brink (I hope) of purchasing said land.

This has triggered a whole bunch of flow-on ideas – building a house, building a cottage to rent out for weekend stays, having beehives, growing avocados, going off grid, renting out my city home, and yes, retiring sooner because of all this.

In between getting ahead of myself with the plans,  I looked back through an old notebook and found that in 2015 I had written down a Life Goal that I wanted to retire on a block of land where I could build an off-grid house and have a cottage to rent out. I had completely forgotten I’d spelled this out back then. It had seemed like a highly improbable goal (or as Martha Beck calls them, a “Wildly Improbable Goal” or WIG) because I didn’t think I could afford to retire any time soon, and I couldn’t figure out how to get the isolation I wanted without having a whole bunch of land to manage. I have very little idea about how to manage a large chunk of productive land. Turns out I don’t need to: that’s what leasing is for.

In rather short order all these ideas seem to have come into focus and coalesced in a rather unexpected way. I am excited, to be sure, but I also have this strange-but-good feeling of being a bit removed from it. I’m doing my work to make it happen – lawyer, accountant, real estate agent etc – but I’m not pursuing it aggressively and feeling that sense of desperation to have it all work out. In other words, I’m going with the flow. The last time I did that was when I was buying my current house, and it’s been my happiest home.

The only fly in this ointment is my body. Last night I had the worst night to date with rheumatoid arthritis pain. I was sobbing from the pain in my hips and unable to find any way to relieve it .(Eventually I got some relief from medications but it took a long time to kick in). This worried me because I thought, how am I going to cope living on farmland and being relatively isolated if my body does this? It is a concern, to be sure. But it’s not enough to stop me from keeping going with this land purchase and maybe, just maybe, having my Wildly Improbable Goal come to fruition.