Originally posted in 2018:
Why I stopped working on artworks, and how I ended up with a fixer upper mobile home, is a long story… Let’s start at the beginning…
Just a couple of years after starting my art business in 2004, my husband and I started flipping houses. We had already remodeled and sold our first house successfully, and really enjoyed it. We bought our next house (already remodeled) and purchased a two story flip house at the beginning of 2008… Right as the market crashed…
We suffered thefts and break-ins, the heating system was destroyed a week after we bought the house due to previous owner error, and the project was just too big. Our “remodeled” house proved to be a nightmare as well, and in the middle of the other project we had to stop and rebuild the back half of the house we lived in.
After spending over a month with a hole in the middle of our house instead of a kitchen, we finally installed a new kitchen, rebuilt the back wall of our house, and were ready to continue with the flip house. It was a slow, grueling 8 years trying to get it finished. Halfway through that 8 years I went to work as a legal assistant to try to help pull the project through financially, but with the market crash on top we just couldn’t make it happen. After two years of typing, my tendons in my forearms started tearing, and the stress of the environment started giving me panic attacks. By the end of four years there, my arms and hands were in really bad shape. Two good things came from this time period though – I got braces (yay!), and I bought my horse.
Thanks to this guy, it was all worth it!
After four years, I was put to part-time and, because of the overwhelming debt from the flip house, we were no longer able to stay afloat. We finally decided it was time to make some big decisions. The flip house wouldn’t sell in it’s current state for what we owed (we tried to sell it for over 6 months). I couldn’t type without ice packs on my hands, and consequently I also couldn’t work on the flip house (drawing/sculpting was no longer possible either). We filed for bankruptcy and I quit my job, and went on full-time to my next adventure:
The beginning of a new life:
During the same week that my job changed to part-time, I was offered a training position at my horse’s boarding facility. Even with my tattered tendons, I jumped on the opportunity. After quitting my job at the law firm, I started training full time.
I started colts and tuned up a few older horses for over 2 years, and I loved it. This was a time in my life where I experienced a lot of personal growth. I learned so much from every horse that I was blessed enough to work with, and enjoyed the friends that I made during this time. This is probably also one of the single most important experiences for my artworks, as I’ll explain later…
Things are about to change, again:
Unfortunately, the tendon issues got worse, and moved up into my elbows. My horse was also starting to have health issues that the vets couldn’t figure out. I decided to take a break from training and see if I could help my horse get healthy again, and get my arms healed up (actually, I should state that my doctor decided this – when I was told I could lose the use of my arms by the age of 40, I decided I needed to focus on my health – and the chance of never doing artworks again – first).
It was during this time off that I learned I have mild Asperger’s Syndrome and chronic Lyme. That was an eye-opening moment. All of a sudden, I was learning more about myself than I had in the 37 years prior. I learned about my extreme shyness, why working in an office situation was causing panic attacks, and also about my proprioception issues that sometimes made training horses difficult. I learned that both conditions came with muscle issues, such as fibromaylgia and hypotonia, which could explain why I have so much trouble with my tendons (these issues with my arms are not the first time or place I’ve had tendon issues). I also learned why living in the city for close to 20 years had my health and sanity waning. It was time, again, for some big decisions.
Focusing on the important things:
To get my horse healthy again, I started trimming his feet and massaging him daily (this did NOT help my tendons, but it did help my heart to watch my boy get better). I started doing yoga, and even began jogging again, though that was short-lived due to knee inflammation (remember Lyme is an issue of inflammation, and even when nothing’s wrong you can have very painful inflammatory flares with very small triggers). I decided that other people’s views on the “ideal” house and environment (bigger homes, city life) was not conducive to my happiness, and my husband and I started looking at the prospect of downsizing while moving towards getting land of our own. We started looking at more unconventional means as a way of keeping our debt as low as possible (after our experiences, we never want to get into that kind of situation again!). I started reading minimalist books, and formulated an insane idea to hopefully make life easier. Then this happened:
Buying a Fixer Upper Mobile Home
She’s not pretty, but she has a heart of gold! We bought this fixer upper mobile home that had been sitting empty for almost 5 years and had fire, termite, and water damage. We moved it to a nice mobile home park out of the city and close to my horse, and remodeled it (basically, we tore out everything and rebuilt it!). We bought it in March of 2016, and were finally able to move in (while still unfinished, but livable) in December of 2016, right after getting a PSSM1 diagnosis on my horse and moving him closer to our new home. All of this work, of course, set my tendon healing back quite a ways, but it was worth it – it’s turning into a very comfortable, inexpensive-to-maintain home (and no mortgage!).
FOR NEW KITCHEN PICS, see my Small Space Kitchen Organization post!
Downsizing meant giving away, donating, and selling a LOT of things, including the majority of my houseplants. I still hate that I had to sell my 6′ tall philodendrons, but I did get to keep these:
Towards the end of 2017, my tendons are getting better and it’s finally time to get my work space into our fixer upper mobile home.
So at this point, you’re probably thinking “this is after they downsized?” It is! With art materials, it’s hard to really follow a minimalist approach lol, though we have minimized many other things and aspects of our lives to fit into this small, fixer upper mobile home. But, we went into this seeking comfort and ease of living (plus no debt!), not really to follow a methodology.
The drive behind buying a fixer upper mobile home:
We still have a bit of work adding in the half bath (update 2/7/22 – a pantry is far more needed than a 1/2 bath, so this area is now a really nice, big pantry space!), finishing the kitchen, and of course flooring throughout. But while we’ve continued to work on the house, we haven’t been killing ourselves to get it done. There’s this pervasive feeling that “things need to be done now” – the problem is, when do we enjoy life? When do we relax, live, and focus on the journey instead of the destination? How do we become “that couple” in their 80’s that giggle about the silly things they’ve done, the moments they most enjoyed, and the life that they lived? And most importantly, how am I closing in on 40 years old before figuring this out?
Difficult decisions can set you on the right path:
For me, the answer is in simply choosing what is important, and letting the rest go. The path I’m on now came from necessity: I had to choose my health, or money (along with ego and pride for pulling off the impossible with our flip house). I chose my health, which lead to an amazing experience of training horses. During that time I had to choose between the normal idea of home and community, or a stepping stone to my dream of my own land and comfortable surroundings. I chose to follow my heart and do what seemed counterproductive to “moving up”. Again, my health came into question, and another difficult decision: I took a break from training, and during that time, another huge decision: my horse’s health, or the possibility of training horses again after (if) my tendons healed. I chose my horse, and moved him to a different facility that would give me trails and an indoor arena on site.
At this point you may ask how I’ve benefited from these decisions. How could buying a fixer upper mobile home be, in reality, a step up? In short, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. My horse has an incurable disorder, however, the fix is to exercise and play with him daily. My home is cheap and easy to maintain, and it’s no longer in city limits (read as no barking dogs or sirens waking me up, less traffic, no fights in the street, no break-ins or thefts, and so much more!). I have time to get back to my artworks, my health is improving on many levels (including tendons), and I’m one step closer to land and having my horse on my own property (update August 2019 – we made it to land, and brought Gilda May with us!). Through my experiences with horses, I’ve gained the “feel” I’ve been missing in my art, and have learned to enjoy the journey rather than seeking a destination. At this point in my life, I truly feel blessed and ready for whatever God has next for me.