Vicki Robin

How to Be versus What to Do

In Uncategorized on April 17, 2011 at 8:48 AM

Right now we all want to know what to DO about our money lives – myself included. First we need to BE with our money lives, though, and let the doing come from clarity rather than fear.

Every day I hear another story about someone whose house is “underwater” – not a tsunami of water but a tsunami of debt. Their houses are worth less than they paid for them so their mortgages are more like rent than investment in ownership.

Do you hold or fold? Stay or go? Cut your losses? Keep dog paddling to avoid foreclosure? Walk away and let the bank deal with it?

What is the “resourceful” step when your security is shaken – which promises to be a more common stomach-sinking experience from here on. As you’ll notice if you’ve been reading this blog, Resourcefulness is my theme, what I taught in my teleclasses and will teach at Schumacher College end of May.

There are two (at least) kinds of resourcefulness – being and doing. Inner and outer. Without inner resourcefulness, the outer choices will likely be hurried, fear-based, strategic but not spiritual. The solutions will be the next problems – and if you aren’t prepared for that you’ll lurch from one adaptation to the next.

Selling my wonderful house in Seattle is an example. A group of us bought this capacious 8 bedroom home in 1987 with such creative financing it utterly confused the bank – but it worked. By 1990 we owned it free and clear.

Many hundreds of people passed through that front door. Our commitment was that entering the space of the house was entering the space of love. They came as friends. They came as colleagues – many well known speakers lecturing in Seattle or promoting their books.

They also came as volunteers for our medical research project on the mind body connection in Lou Gehrig’s disease (we found a strong correlation between attitude and outcome in this normally fatal condition and published the results in a peer review medical journal).

They came for parties and Dances of Universal Peace and work parties and meetings for Conversation Cafes or our New Road Map Foundation.

After Joe Dominguez died in 1997 they kept coming, and some even moved in. After I was diagnosed with cancer in 2004 I moved out to enter a phase of solitude and still people kept filling the rooms with love and life.

It was like a sprawling family home to everyone who ever lived there. Problems of every kind were solved in the kitchen. Chores were shared. Repairs were made and appliances replaced but nothing remodeled for the sake of style.

Finally, 2 years ago I settled again and bought my own house (for cash with savings mind you!) and now my co-owners are moving on to a new community so we are selling.

Had we chosen this 4 years ago we would have sold into the peak of the market. I’m sure a developer would have torn the house down and taken advantage of the double corner lot a mile from the University of Washington with a view of the Cascades and built two narrow tall upscale townhouses. But we chose then to have it continue as a community home rather than a cash cow.

Financially we’ve definitely taken an expectation hit if we compare to the top of the market. To potential buyer’s eyes, our home cries out for updating and remodeling and they are mentally adding that to our asking price. So far, lots of lookers but no offers.

We’ve taken the price down to attract whatever buyers have been circling but not landing. A good strategic choice, yet it required an inner choice as well. To surrender expectations born of the wild housing market of the last decade. To remember that this house was never for profit. It was for love. If we get back what we put into it that is ENOUGH. Our wealth is a quarter century of shelter, lived integrity, great adventures, and as much good for others and the world as we could generate. I’d like to pass that along with the 3000 square feet.

Having made that mental shift from greed to gratitude, you bet I’m getting REALLY resourceful about what to do. We’ve gone from apparently no options to a dozen options I’m going to enact in the next months. I’ll bet we even get our current asking price. More on this adventure in posts to come.

My point here is that my heart needed to surrender. So what we didn’t sell at the top? So what my so called retirement may be less cushy? So what I wasn’t financially astute enough to work out a deal with a buyer or bank earlier in the cycle? So what!

This house is like a human. To die well we all hope that the process of dying will bring out the best in us, not render us querulous and in denial. So too in selling the family home.

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  1. I retired in 1996 at the age of 55, I’ve been retired 15 years now.
    I started saving/investing for retirement when I was in my late 20′s.
    Three books kept me going on my goal to retire early. One was Cashing in on the American Dream how to retire at 35 by Paul terhorst, another was Work Less Play More by Steven catlin, and your book Your Money or Your Life. I’m 70 now and my house is paid off and I’m living a very peaceful life in Northern Michigan in a town called Prudenville. Life is good, but you have to plan for it.
    Thanks for helping me do the planning.

  2. Beautiful. This is what I teach my clients, abundance from within will fulfill the rest of our world. Patience, time and tons of love.
    Thank you for the share.

  3. Thank you for sharing this enlightening story, it helps people to resonate with the importance of love and living life. This is what I teach my clients, abundance comes from within . A strong financial foundation comes from the integrity and honesty we approach our world.

  4. Thanks for opening your heart and sharing your life’s insights, struggles, love with all of us. Rarely do people not only balance the spiritual and intellectual, but integrate them, own them, and share them.

  5. Nothing simple about wanting to leave a comment. Sheesh.
    with that said, I completely APPRECIATE your sharing your thoughts about your home, it’s gift to so many and not making it all about money.
    In my lifetime, I’ve lost many loved ones as a kid and young adult, and the way in which lives were summed up by the “worth” of objects still makes me feel awful. If you are more worried about the worth of thing than the worth of LIVING you’ve missed the dance.

  6. Lovely thoughts about the home that sheltered many with love, and may continue to stand and do the same with the right buyers. Enjoy your new home !

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