Starting Over: A Photo Tour of This Old House

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Karen Fisher-Alaniz is a freelance writer and published author. She holds a master's degree in education and taught special education for 14-years. She is a frequent speaker on veteran's issues, and teaches workshops on memoir writing. She teaches a life story writing course at her local community college. At midlife, she found herself dealing with health issues, divorce, and the loss of a job she loved. She shares her journey of starting over at midlife on 8 Women Dream every Sunday morning. Her dream is to build a writing life, and find her writing voice, while restoring her 100-year old home. She dreams of writing best-selling books in her own voice. Karen lives in the pacific northwest with her family.
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This Old House: 1910 Craftsman in Washington

My “new” old house: a 1910 Craftsman

 Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do but how much love we put in that action. ~Mother Teresa

The biggest, baddest, scariest decision I had to make as I began  the process of starting over at midlife, was where to live. I considered many different options and then weighed the pro’s and con’s of each one.

Those included;

• Renting an apartment

• Renting a house

• Moving in with someone else – as a shared housing option

• Moving in with my parents (seriously!)

• Buying an inexpensive mobile home and saving my money to buy a beach house some day

• Temporarily moving in with one of my kids

• Buying a house

• Buying a condo

There are probably more that I’m not remembering. The point is–I seriously considered all of these. I could see good and bad in all. I perused websites like  Zillow, and CraigsList. I watched the want-ads and other local places. Finally, I made a list of what I wanted in a home; a large front porch, three bedrooms, a garden area, and fireplace.

But the list wasn’t nearly as satisfying as I’d imagined.

So, I made a second list–his one was what I wanted out of a house. At the top of that list were; a place to entertain family and friends, a place where my (adult) children would feel at home, a place where my granddaughter and future grandchildren could make wonderful memories, and a place that fit me, that just felt right.

I was living in my married home at the time–my stbx (my ex) had decided to buy me out of my half of it, and time was running out. He was renting a room at a friends house, while I stayed in our home. We were both anxious to move out of limbo-land and get on with our lives.

And then something amazing happened. While checking Zillow for new listings, I saw a house that looked like it fit me.

It was an older home with a big front porch, quaint curb appeal, and a large garden area.

Have you ever watched the movie, The Secret? I’ve watched it several times. But this is the first time that I’ve seen the concept of the Law of Attraction in action. The visuals I’d created as I dreamed of this perfect house, had materialized. But I still had to see the inside of the house, and I needed to make a good business decision, not just a heart decision.

Many, many things happened to confirm that this was the house for me. One example is what happened when I drove my mother down the valley to show her the house one day–though she has quite severe vision loss. She wanted to get out of the car and so we did. She stood at the fence overlooking the backyard.

She saw flowers.

Unless you know someone with macular degeneration, you probably don’t know what this means. But my mother SAW the flowers. She also began–right at that moment–saying things like, “Well, when we work in your yard…” My yard. I said, “Hold on, Mom. I haven’t even seen the inside yet.”

But in the end, it turned out Mom was right!

This Old House

My Dream Home: This Old House

A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire for the mind as well as the body. ~Benjamin Franklin

This house has good bones. Everything is there, it just needs some TLC, and well, quite a lot of updating. I love the main living areas. I even like the paint with the yellow tint. I don’t mind the dining room color, but will probably change it to something lighter, since the floor is already dark.

There are lots of windows, but well, there are issues with those too. That’s for another time.

So, at this moment, the rooms I spend the most time in are enjoyable and pleasant.

This Old House dining room - view from living room

dining room – view from living room

This old house: living room - view from dining room

living room – view from dining room

And then there’s the kitchen.

You probably can’t tell this from the photo, but the cabinets are narrow. I don’t think a regular sized dinner plate would fit in them. Luckily, I have vintage plates, from the era before super-sized everything, that work just fine. I also can’t fit any of my larger appliances such as my mixer, bread maker, and blender in the cupboards.

And there’s no room for my toaster oven on the counters, without taking up too much space. I don’t know what I’ll be doing about all that. Also, the counters are very low, and the washer and dryer are smack dab in the middle of the kitchen!

Might seem convenient, but it’s also messy. No matter how I try, there is always laundry falling on the floor – including unmentionables.

This old house: Words can't express how much I hate this kitchen!

Words can’t express how much I hate this kitchen!

This old house: I've actually seen these floors on the "before" part of an HGTV makeover show!

I’ve actually seen these floors on the “before” part of an HGTV makeover show!

And the bathroom. Oh, the bathroom.

Everyone loves a claw-foot bath tub. I do too! Unfortunately, that’s about all I love about my bathroom. It’s an odd shaped room, the toilet faces the kitchen and there is a tiny corner sink that makes me feel like I’ve been sent to the corner every time I brush my teeth!

I’ve had plumbing issues too–not all of them are resolved.

And there isn’t one ounce of storage. But I’m happy with all of this because you know what?

My realtor said that the bathroom was one of the major reasons that people didn’t buy the house. Score one for Karen! Oh, one more thing – I hate the blue color. It’s different than the rest of the house, which has more calm colors. I don’t want my bathroom walls to scream at me to look at them.

This old house: My one and only bathroom

My one and only bathroom

This old house is becoming a home.

Just like my personal life, there are things that look good and things that need work. There are things that don’t work quite right, and things that seem beyond repair. There are things that look good on the outside, but are really falling apart on the inside.

What gets my attention varies from day to day.

I sometimes just feel like I’m putting fires out all day long, and I never get around to looking for the cause of all those fires. But at the end of the day, it comes down to this; I like where I am in life. I have a family I adore, a home to call my own, and a career that’s a seedling.

Are there ugly parts of each? Yes.

I’ve got a lot of work to do–but it’s work that I’m finally in a place to do; one day at a time.

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. ~E.E. Cummings

This old house: First Rose

Be it ever so humble – there’s no place like home.

What we choose to spend time on is a reflection of not only who we are, but who we hope to become.

What “old house” projects are you spending time on as part of your dream life make-over?

Karen Fisher-Alaniz
Starting Over at Midlife

Give us your thoughts!