Finding Happiness When A Dream Falls Apart

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Lisa is a freelance writer, consultant and life coach. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton and her MPA from Harvard. Lisa recently finished the first draft of her book manuscript, Burning Down the House. Her dream is to publish this first book and teach the world how to discover their hidden joy. Her post day is Tuesday.
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Finding Happiness When A Dream Falls Apart - Everything happens for a reason Marilyn Monroe quote

I always go after my dreams, diving in fully and giving it my all. Most of the time, I achieve what I set out to achieve.

Every once in a while, a dream falls apart. That does not mean this dream will not be realized in the future in a different form, so really it is more of a dream deferred than a dream lost.

And, I am still able to find happiness even when a dream is lost. That’s the beauty of giving something your all.

I have no regrets, because I tried, and I can always look back knowing that I did my best. Sometimes we give something our all, and it still doesn’t happen, but at least I know that I did all I could.

It still is painful of course to not make a dream come true when you have worked so hard for it. I am in that space right now of keeping the faith, and reminding myself that everything happens for a reason, even when we cannot yet see or understand what that reason is.

Goodbye to the Dream Home! Finding Happiness When A Dream Falls Apart _ photo of what I wanted

Regular 8womendream blog readers know that I bought a gorgeous, historic 9,000 square foot commercial property earlier this summer.

I am working with my team of contractors now to renovate the property, screening prospective tenants, and doing all that I can to bring this beautiful property back to an active life in this community.

Behind the scenes, at the same time, I was working on buying my dream home as well. I didn’t share that dream with anyone, because it fell into my lap unexpectedly, and I didn’t want to “jinx” it.

I simply wanted to take the steps I needed to take to make it happen, and to make it move forward.

And I gave it my all. And it still fell apart.

So I’m dealing with picking up the pieces and moving on now, disappointed but not defeated.

I do trust that I will someday understand why things happened as they did, even if it’s hard to understand right now.

How This All Evolved 

The scenario was improbable and unusual. I was happily living in the home I already own in historic downtown Troy, the John Hooper House, which was built in 1845 and was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

My beautiful home was owned by John Hooper, who was an African-American laborer, from 1848 to 1888. There are two apartments currently, and a large, dry basement that can also be turned into a third apartment.

I was living in the second floor, 1,300 square foot apartment, which I had renovated back in 2008 after my tenants accidentally set my house on fire.

It’s a gorgeous space, with a double parlor living room, two ornamental fireplaces, a large master bedroom, a second spare bedroom, an office, a dining room, a fully renovated spacious bathroom with a clawfoot tub, and a giant kitchen with exposed brick, stainless steel appliances, and a large bank of windows at the back, overlooking a green courtyard, lush with ivy.

There was really no reason I needed to move out of my beautiful home, and I was not planning to move. Opportunity appeared however in the form of another stunning home that I had long admired, right down the block.

Neighbors and friends of mine had put this home on the market the summer before, and it wasn’t moving. They were looking to rent it out, as they informed their property manager and my dear friend, back in April.

My friend Steve let me know that they wanted to at least rent it for now, since it wasn’t selling. I had always loved this house, which is a 3,000 square foot Victorian wonderland, and decided I would consider it.

Finding Happiness in A Glorious Palace!

The house is staggeringly beautiful and grand. The first floor has 12′ high ceilings with giant chandeliers, with a living room/parlor as you enter and then a dining room (which I intended to use as an office) beyond that, through a set of wooden pocket doors.

The office was the piece de resistance of the home, with a 12′ stained glass window, lit from within, of the Holy Spirit (I thought it was a peace dove at first, until a friend told me otherwise, but either interpretation of this 12′ piece of art is beautiful!).

Finding Happiness When A Dream Falls Apart - My dream home office

There was a peer mirror with gilded angels around the edges that was actually a door, hiding a bathroom. There is a back courtyard, with garden beds and flowering trees.

The second floor features a two-story kitchen with a courtyard atrium in the middle of it – this is the other most stunning feature of the house. There is a second floor family room with black and white marble floors, and a dining room with built-in wood cabinets with glass doors, and a beautiful wooden framed mantelpiece on a fireplace.

The third floor features a balcony overlooking the kitchen, with a 10′ by 10′ giant skylight above it, two additional skylights (one above the stairwell, and one in the master bedroom suite). The master bedroom suite has its own bathroom with tub and shower, plus a jacuzzi bathtub in the large spare bedroom.

It is a jaw-droppingly beautiful and unusual home and I had always loved it. So I jumped at the chance to rent it.

We Made A Deal! 

I contacted the owners in Berlin, Germany, where they are now living, and offered to pay them above-market rent for a year. I would then buy the home at full price, minus the amount I’d paid them in rent.

They know how much I have always loved this house, and they agreed! As of mid-May we had a deal, so I decided to rent out the other house I own, and I secured a two-year lease on my beautiful apartment down the block.

I could barely believe my good fortunate – I was going to be moving into and then would buy the home of my dreams! I planned to live the next 60 years of my life there, and figured I would never move again. I love this home just that much!

I asked if I could plant flowers, and the owners agreed. I bought beautiful ceramic pots and filled them with flowers, and decorated the front porch of the house.

I started hanging my art in the house, a bit at a time, was stunned to find that everything matched. It all felt so meant to be, just clicking into place to perfectly.

I was so incredibly grateful. I slowly moved my things in, a bit at a time (since the two houses are just five doors away from each other!). In the meantime, I was waiting to sign the lease, which the owners had promised to me.

And I waited, and waited, and waited… and still, no lease. I had to be out of my other house fully by June 15th, and that date was rapidly approached. I emailed the owners several times to check on the status.

Finally on June 11th I got an email from their realtor, and it was not good news. They had changed their minds, and would not rent to me unless I bought the house immediately.

Basically, they have me 48 hours (two business days) to come up with a purchase offer and contract, as well as a deposit on the house, plus a security deposit (nonrefundable) and the first month’s rent. They were asking me to hand them $5,500 two days later.

This was all news to me! And I needed to be out of the other house I owned exactly four days later.

Needed More Time! 

I needed more time, and I told them so. The realtor was angry, and told me she would start showing the house immediately that coming weekend, and that I could not have any more time.

I could not believe what was happening! I prayed that things would work out.

I contacted my bank and started working on getting financing. In the meantime, I had essentially staged the house for the realtor with flowers and art. I had cleaned and dusted the house.

I also had nowhere to live after June 15th, because I had rented out the home I own, and now could not rent the new house unless I bought it as well. So I started staying with family and friends, and living out of suitcases.

My distressing situation? Having all of my things in a beautiful house that I was not allowed to live in – and living out of suitcases while scrambling to pull financing together quickly!

I tried. I gave it my everything. I lived out of suitcases for a month, and worked on structuring a deal.

Unfortunately, in the meantime, the owners’ realtor was showing the house aggressively, and ended up landing a cash deal. Before I knew it, they worked out an agreement to sell the house right out from underneath me, in cash, fast.

And therefore I am now forced to move my things out this weekend. Not the ending I had hoped for, at all, but I will make this most of this, as I do everything.

No one can steal my happiness, nor can a broken business deal. I will find a way to make the most of whatever happens next.

Stay tuned for an updated next week about where I will be living next!

 Lisa Powell Graham
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