Tag Archives: throwbacks

Throwbacks: Selling my home.

I haven’t written a ‘throwbacks’ post in awhile, but was prompted to last night when I came across an email from my old real estate agent. I’ll get back to the significance of that email in a minute, but first, the story of selling my (marital) home.

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When I went through my divorce, selling our home was one of the biggest stumbling blocks that stalled the process more than anything and was one of the hardest parts to swallow, because not only was my life being turned completely upside down, my home was soon going to be taken away from me too, leaving me with nothing but a blank slate (in hindsight, of course, having a blank slate and starting fresh elsewhere was the best and fastest way for me to heal, but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t an extremely hard decision).

The process itself was completely eye-opening, because navigating the mortgage waters put me in an utter tailspin. I had no idea where to start. I didn’t know if we could even keep the house, if we tried. And tried, we did. Attempted to refinance it so the mortgage might be feasibly affordable for one of us to maintain. Fail. We had an 80/20 mortgage (which mortgage companies now no longer do), which meant 80% on one mortgage and 20% on the other (to avoid PMI), and neither mortgage company was willing to consolidate into the other and neither would refinance since we – surprise, surprise – had little equity in the house since buying it 3 years prior.

Once we realized that there would be no way either of us could afford to keep the house, we shifted towards selling. Another tough pill to swallow, because at the time, I was hell-bent on staying in that house. We’d both put so much time, money and effort into it, and I loved it, from the yard, to the pool, to the home gym I’d created.  Home appraisal came back and when I opened it up, I almost passed out. Since buying in 2005 (now, in 2008), the house had depreciated by almost $100K. $100K. Yup.

What’s next? Short sale. Short sales were, at the time, just becoming more commonplace for all of those people that bought at the height of the market, when prices were high, but interest rates were (relatively) low. It felt like a scarlet letter to me, though, because I always equated short sale homes to beat-up, abandoned homes for some reason. But ours? Was beautiful. Brand new remodeled bathroom to the 9s (for 5 figures, no less. gulp. that would bite us), new roof, floors redone, walls redone, basement floor retiled (it was a finished basement)  and the list goes on. In those 3 years, we’d put about $40,000 into it, upping the loss that would come.  I utterly hated the idea at first, and as I’ve mentioned in prior throwbacks on the end of my marriage, this was one of our biggest fights…to sell, or to try and fight for it. We eventually agreed to sell, no matter how badly it would hurt our credit, no matter how low the price.

And the price…was low. Less than HALF of what we paid, and completely obliterating that $40,000 we’d invested into it, to boot. THAT hurt. THAT was hard to swallow. Especially as the mortgage companies ordered us to pay $12,000 at closing in order for them to wipe the debt clean (where we wouldn’t be taxed on the loss, but our credits would nose-dive). Ouch. And back to the part about the email from my old real estate agent? When we closed on our house, our agent, to his credit, got us a buyer faster than I ever thought possible, but how? He was an investor. Rolled up in his nice shiny Benz, dressed to the 9s. And we were literally handing our home over to him for pennies on the dollar.

That real estate agent is this man…now starring in a show on A&E called ‘Flipping Boston’ (on the left)…he’s profiting from his smarmy ability to short sell homes and flipping them, to boot. I had my reservations that he was tied in to the investor he sold to, and that he would profit, personally, from our short sale, but this confirmed it, to me. Reading that email last night…and my blood boiled. It brought all of those feelings back, the pain, frustration, anger and sadness.

But, then, once I ranted a little bit to M, and to my sisters, I realized something. It wasn’t worth it. Fighting for the house wouldn’t have been worth it for a number of financial reasons, but also? Why would I have wanted to fight for a home that was akin to the shell of my marriage? Why would I want that shell hovering over me day in and out? I wouldn’t. 

And as M hugged me tight, and told me that we will have a bigger, better, and more soundly-invested home in the future…together? All of that anger and frustration melted away…into the most perfect evening together. Everything truly happens for a reason…even if it may not seem like it at the time, it truly does. And this was just another reminder of just that. And I am firmly planted where I am meant to be.

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It’s my (second blog) blogoversary!

Guess what! It’s been a year since I started this blog! I call it my (second blog) blogoversary because I haven’t been blogging for just a year. I started blogging in February 2009 on another blog, as some of you know, and last December, decided to start ‘anew.’ I did this for a few reasons, one of which was to be more anonymous (to ‘lose’ the trail of some IRL people, both from my former job and some other people I just wasn’t thrilled to find out were reading) because it was making me censor myself from what I really wanted to write about, and to me, that is the complete opposite of what blogging (for me) should be about.

I wanted to write about my new job. The challenges. The fears. The worries. The triumphs. The success. But I felt like I couldn’t do that before.

I wanted to write more deeply about my relationship with M. And knowing who some of my audience was, at the time, I felt I couldn’t do that as openly as I wanted to.

I wanted to write about my family, my past, my life leading up to and post-divorce. My throwbacks.

I wanted my ‘haven’ to more accurately reflect the me I am now, not the one that was going through divorce. I went through divorce, but it doesn’t define me anymore. Divorce, for me, was a catalyst for changes I never knew I needed or would embrace.

And now, this haven is evolving into my tiny piece of the world to share all of these things and also my passion for all things sweatastic, in the form of barre n9ne, running and training for potentially another half marathon or some sort of goal ‘out there’ that’s driving me towards this challenge I’ve put in front of me.

So, thank you, to all of you that came along from my old blog, to all of you that have come along the way, in various stages of divorce yourselves, and to my newer readers and friends who are following along in my fitness journey. I love this mixture of readers and friends. You all ‘get’ me so much more than I could ever have thought possible, and that means more than you could ever know.

Cheers…to year two of Determined…to BE.

 

Throwbacks: my wedding.

I actually never thought I’d write a throwback post on my wedding, but after coming across a picture from my wedding, I felt compelled to write about it…and share that picture here.

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I got married on October 21, 2006 in Poipu Beach, Kauai.

(As I have said many times, I loved the location and premise behind my wedding, but doing it again, I definitely would have some family there…and on a different island, of course.)

It was a Saturday, and we had arrived two days prior, to adjust to the time difference (6 hours) and enjoy the island. It was the farthest distance I have ever traveled (still is), and one of only two times Pete and I had traveled anywhere together (Bahamas was the other place, two years prior). Looking back on our wedding/honeymoon now, it was lonely. We didn’t do a heck of a lot. We ventured out to some of the island, but we didn’t do much. We didn’t even drink much (blasphemy!!! He didn’t drink much then, and I would feel weird drinking by myself back then, so we just didn’t drink much while we were there, except for some mai tai’s with fresh pineapple). We definitely didn’t have much sex, either (not even on our wedding night…TMI? That’s ok). It honestly – thinking back-  felt lonely. And a bit boring. I say this now, because it’s hard not to compare then to now, and how much more right and fun and memorable it would be…with M.

That Saturday morning, I decided to get my hair done, rather than do it myself (I remember feeling like I shouldn’t spend extra money on my hair, since we were already paying for some professional pictures and the minister…though both were actually cheap, less than $500!). I was nervous to go to the salon by myself. I remember not talking very much to the hairdresser. I was quieter then. I hated going places alone or doing things by myself. This was one of those times.

I came back to the hotel, and Pete was getting ready. He seemed nervous. I was nervous. I did my makeup. I took out my dress (a J.Crew white strapless dress) and put it on. I walked out and can’t honestly remember what Pete’s reaction was. I think we were both just nervous and not very talkative. We went outside and took some pictures outside (randomly, Pete had a childhood friend that lived on Maui, so he flew over for the day and was our witness. It was the first time I’d ever met him.). I picked a flower and put it in my hair.

We drove to meet the minister at a nearby beach. This is when I started really getting nervous. We met him – odd guy, nice, but odd – and signed the marriage license and he took us to a secluded nook, a little sandy area where sea turtles swam through the water and we were away from anyone else. This is where we said our vows – canned vows, that is, from the minister (I’d never go this route again…while the vows were fine, they weren’t my words. The one cookie cutter thing in our wedding that day). It was very brief, 10 minutes or less.

We kissed, lightly. Took some pictures, and then took more pictures around the beach and in the grassy areas. I hated having my picture taken. I hated being the center of attention (I still sort of do hate that part). And looking at the picture I found today showed that…fake, forced smile. You can tell I felt uncomfortable. Not loving the picture taking session.

And beyond that, if you look at the picture here…it doesn’t even look like me. In any way. I don’t look happy. My eyes aren’t shining. I don’t even look particularly happy. It almost feels like a foreboding…of the end of my marriage. In a weird way.

I want to keep this picture…just to remind myself of how far I’ve come, in so many ways. The me I am now is the me I always want to be. Living an amplified life.

 

Throwbacks: summer: a time for singles or couples?

I remember writing a post last summer about whether summer is more fun as a couple or single (at the time, feeling *so* ready to find love again) and out of curiosity, I went to my old blog and found the post.

I wrote it almost exactly a year to this day (May 30, 2010).

Wow.

Fitting for a throwback today, more than any, as I look outside and summer has finally arrived at my doorstep. It’s going to be a gorgeous, sunny weekend, in the 80s and I couldn’t be more ecstatic.

…and re-reading parts of that post made me realize just how beautiful the here and now is for me, and honestly, how perfectly wonderful summer is whether you are single or coupled up.

What I liked:

And when I was explaining this (in part) to my sister, she said “I just want you to be happy.” And I responded, “but I AM happy.” Because I am, truly. Life is great, I’m in a good spot emotionally and mentally. It’s summer. I have lots of fun things planned in coming weeks and months. It’s just that tiny nagging at me, the alone-factor, that nags ever so slightly more now and again, and right now, it’s nagging.

I know my time will come. I know you all will reiterate that. Or say that I should stop looking. Or stop wanting. Or just to enjoy what I have now. And I am – sorta kinda, all of these things.

Last summer was probably one of the best – if not the best – summers I have ever had. And being on my own ended up having a lot to do with that. I enjoyed the living shit out of last summer and loved the ability to do whatever I want, whenever I wanted. I loved having just my schedule, nobody else’s, my agenda and nobody else’s and I guess you could say, it was my time to be selfish and just be.

Not to say I am limited in what I do now because of M…not by a long shot. We have such a great understanding of each other, what we both like, what we both need, the right balance of things we do together and separately. And that’s what my biggest fear was before we met.

Losing the independence and freedom I had cultivated for myself and grew to love so much.

I haven’t lost that and that has a lot to do with us both having a similar outlook on that and having open communication and striking the right balance. Of course, there are days where I might not love his schedule, or vice versa, but we make it work, we find time, and on the other hand, we also carve out the ‘me’ time whenever we need it.

I guess the point of my posting this throwback is two-fold. To give those that wish they weren’t single hope that it will happen…and that in the meantime, enjoy the shit out of summer and all there is to offer (and let’s face it, everyone looks hotter in the summer, right? Tanned, cute tops, dresses, lots of great ways to meet people, and well, go on dates too!) and use this time as the ultimate in ‘me’ time. And to reflect on the juxtaposition of the ‘me’ I am now and the ‘me’ I was at this point last year. As I said in my throwbacks/story of M, I am me…amplified. I think I am absolutely the same person then as I am now, but just that much happier, that much more self-aware and that much more committed to him, to us, and to the us we are as individuals. Never to lose that.

And, as I scroll through the comments in that post, one lept out at me….specifically from my sister, which said:

Jo – I know you are just as happy being single, learning new things about yourself, and enjoying the journey, but damn do I wish I could find that perfect match for you like rightnow. I know, all in due time, but seriously, you deserve love and affection and all that comes with finding your “other half.” I know it’ll happen, I know you’re happy but it does make me a little sad when I sense that you’re sad. I just wanna wipe it all away in the worst way.

Reading that now, it makes me smile, it makes me see that M was meant for me, in my path all along, at just the right moment. The week after the unofficial end to summer. Labor Day. And the rest, as they say, is history.

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Happy weekend friends…enjoy the shit out of it, will ya? Cheers!! 😉

Throwbacks: My Nonna.

My Nonna was, and still is, one of the most influential women in my life, past and present, and as her would-be birthday nears, I thought doing a throwback post on her would be most appropriate.

Truth is, I still miss her every single day. She passed away on May 20, 2009, almost two years ago now, but her death was the closest death in my family I’ve had to deal with (and I realize I am extremely lucky saying this, to have 3 of 4 grandparents still living) and extremely difficult for me and my sisters to go through (but we did it together and it united us in one more way).

My Nonna was a special woman, she loved my sisters and me dearly, as we were her first grandchildren and we grew up with her, watching her cook, listening to her tell us stories of her childhood and playing dress up with us (our favorite? “Here comes the Bride!” marching around the dining room table dressed up in random dresses and shoes), and seeing the joy in her eyes when we’d come to visit (as an Italian, she was always quick to welcome us in and feed us!). The one sad thing is, I don’t truly think I realized how much I loved and appreciated her, nor realized how much she meant to me or influenced me, until she fell ill and subsequently passed away. As much as that makes me sad, I feel her all around me, I think back to her words almost daily, and in that way, I’m still loving and appreciating her, and that gives me some solace (though it makes me appreciate my grandparents on my mother’s side that much more – stay tuned for a post on them coming up).

Anyway, here are some of my favorite excerpts from my old blog on my Nonna. Enjoy.

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My special moments with my Nonna, on the eve of her heart attack on Christmas Day:

I visited her for Christmas Eve and it was the first time I had seen her since the divorce situation began. I want to sear this memory in my brain forever, as it was one of my favorite moments with my nonna that I will never forget. She pulled me next to her, as she sat in her favorite chair, and looked at me, and could tell I was really sad. She held my hand, hugged me close and talked to me quietly. She said “nonna is always thinking about you, and praying for you. I love you, you are strong, you will be ok. I love you honey, and am always here for you.” And she gave me a kiss on the cheek, and let me cry, and just sat with me. And it was a really powerful moment for me, and I am so thankful God gave me that special time with her, its significance will never been forgotten.

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My favorite quote from my Nonna…and one holds so much meaning for me, then, and now:

“era escrito cosi il libro del destino”

In English:

“look in the sky.  whatever is written in the book of destiny, you can’t change.”

I wrote this post the day the short sale on my house was finally approved, and I could move on towards my quest to becoming ME again, no strings to my marriage or past attached. As painful as it was to let go of that home, it was absolutely the right decision.

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Some of our favorite memories of our Nonna…some of these also made their way into her eulogy, verbatim:

  1. eating “nonna soup” (this was the BEST italian wedding soup ever made…never knew it was called wedding soup until my 20s – no lie!) – she would put the soup into brown wooden bowls for us, as kids, and we’d bring them on the porch, and let them cool down, then we’d put parmesan cheese on top, and devour it, with Virgilio’s bread. We would ask her to make this for us all the time – for our birthday, for holidays, whenever she would make it. And she loved it, because she couldn’t believe someone could love “just” soup so much. But it was her soup, it was made with care and love.
  2. hiding under the dining room table, and in the cabinets, playing with pans. okay, this was a really young childhood memory. We were probably 5 or 6, and we’d hide under the table and play and she would peek under at us.
  3. yucky celery – aka fresh anise. We LOVED this stuff as kids, but always called it yucky celery. Nonna loved that, thought it was so funny.
  4. sleepovers at nonna’s. We would sleep over on the weekend sometimes, and in the morning, she would be up super early, making meatballs for Sunday dinner (notice all of this centers around food? We’re Italian, what can I say).
  5. nonna babysitting us. She would lay between us until we fell asleep, and she always used to tell the story of the time we were sleeping but one of us slowly shifted our arm over her head, and held hands with another sister. She thought that was so cute, and it was, we loved holding hands as kids!

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These are just a few memories of my Nonna, but they always make me smile and make me feel even closer to my sisters as we will sit and recall some of our favorite stories she would re-tell us often. She was an amazing woman, she united our family, and her namesake now lives on in my niece…who has also united our family like never before. Can’t be much more fitting than that. Nonna, I love you, and always will.

“If I had a single flower for every time I think about you, I could walk forever in my garden.”

-Claudia Ghandi