My eyes were swollen as were my lips. Cracked. Eczema ridden. Itching. The irritation made speaking difficult and caused tears I couldn’t control to fall from my eyes and further irritate the red, scaling skin. My joints hurt. I couldn’t control my weight despite eating a clean, organic filled diet and training regularly. I had lost my body and felt with it, the fundamental right of control over my destiny. It’s difficult to follow your dreams when you fear that which you can’t identify. That which others say doesn’t exist.
I had no power over the physical characteristics of my suffering as I didn’t know the cause. I had visited a number of doctors, of varying disciplines and specialties over the months to no avail. Some thought it was psychosomatic, an infliction of a broken view of life. I thought it was something in my apartment. An allergic reaction to something within, perhaps mold in the walls. Some, including peers thought I was fairly disturbed.
The year was 2007 and it was nearing Christmas. I arrived to my work at an architecture firm in downtown Toronto, Canada a mess. My lips were so swollen I could barely speak. I was convinced I had to move from my home, despite having lived there for a couple of years. I was prepared to sleep on someone’s couch if I had to. Something inside me advised to stop reaching for the validation of others, to stop relying on outside authorities to confirm what I felt inside,regardless of how contrary my view was to the status quo’s notion of health. I was in survival mode. Not brazen, adrenalin filled, endorphin rich survival. More like I was completely shattered, crawling and refusing to die. This had been going on for longer than I cared to think about, manifesting in one form or another over the years, but that day in December was pinnacle.
A co-worker named Brigitte spoke of condos being built down the street, resting between Toronto’s Fashion District and waterfront. Prime real estate designed by a respected office. The series of condos were said to be beautiful. They were being marketed and receiving press as Canada’s largest and trendiest new development. They were in demand. I wasn’t interested. I had returned from Thailand one year previously and had spent my days downsizing what I owned and working as hard as I could to return. I didn’t want real estate. I wanted the freedom that health and time allow that I experienced in Asia. I also wanted to spend my days training in muay thai (Thai boxing), not locked into a mortgage. At the time, committing to having a fish as a pet was too confining.
If I remember correctly, Brigitte nudged me for days. Now Brigitte’s personality isn’t one of passive nudging, she’s analytical and strong. She pushed for me to check out the development. She had recently purchased a house and was reconstructing it on her own. This was something that excited her and she tried to pass on her enthusiasm and logic. She had only benefited from purchasing real estate in the past. She made it sound easy. You see, Brigitte’s the type of woman where you could show up at her house to find her dressed like a 1950’s model installing her own windows. Alone. I still wasn’t buying it.
Finally, perhaps three to five days later, I conceded. My physical pain, my fear, my confusion all of it drained most of the fight inside me. I was passive where at another place in time, I probably wouldn’t have been. I slumped into work, I suspect Brigitte nudged me again, I don’t recall, but that morning, I telephoned the real estate agent listed for a small 535 square foot unit. I asked to meet her that day at approximately noon. She obliged and Brigitte offered to act as my agent and make the ten minute walk to the development with me. (Thank you).
As a child growing up in a grey, factory condensed working class border city, I knew I wanted to moved to an urban hub. I wanted downtown. I wanted minimalism. I wanted a condo. I envisioned a big table or desk, a chair and floor to ceiling windows. This was where I was to write. Alone, in the peace of night, overlooking the lights of a metropolis. This was but one manifestation of the many dreams I had. Walking into the front of the building conjured this memory.
The complex had been financially backed by Hong Kong investors. This was evident in the modern, clean design. The building was fairly empty as construction wasn’t fully finished. It smelled untouched, not heavy as older buildings tend to. The textures and colours of the interior were organic and warm. This extended into the unit. At 535 square feet, it felt open, with the bedroom area afforded some privacy. There were floor to ceiling windows overlooking a water fountain. Other than the size of the unit and the beige carpeting, this was was freakishly close to how I envisioned it as a child. I believed this was probably as close as I’d ever get.
I inquired if the original owner would drop the price. She wouldn’t. The building had been purchased as an investment and the owner was firm on selling it at the listing price, which was fairly low for current market value. There had been a bidding war that had ended, I believe the night before. A number of people had offered tens of thousands above the listing price, but the owner had stipulated a high deposit. She wouldn’t move on that either. No less than a $30,000 deposit with $10,000 at the time of initial signing. No drop in price. I was the first post bidding war viewing.
It was the most expensive impulse buy I’ve ever made.
$30,000 was fairly close to what was floating in my bank account. It was the sum total of years of saving. Of living far below my means. It was that which I had planned to fund my freedom, that which may fund my health and that which I hoped would fund my dreams. With Brigitte’s support and wisdom, with no idea of anything dealing with real estate, I signed and left, knowing by closing date, I may be penniless. You see, other than dj’ing four hours a month at a filthy little highly trafficked pub, I had never made more than $22.50 an hour.
Years and years of saving for nothing I could answer in concrete terms and what eventually manifested as free time in Thailand, was gone in an instant.
Why did I do this? Because when I stepped outside the voices of fear, need, conditioning, and desire that surfaced, I just knew. Perhaps it was the feeling in my midsection, the one that is conjured even as a write this. Perhaps it was just a “Hell Yeah!” echoing in my brain. Whatever it was, all I knew was, it was time to jump.
I walked back to the office and Brigitte and I conducted some research. The woman listing the unit listed far below market value in that effort to sell quickly. If memory serves me correct, it was somewhere in the range of $60,000.
It was the most money I’ve ever made in a day.
In the months that followed, I closed the deal and moved into my apartment. My allergies became manageable. In early 2009 I skipped to Thailand. I hired a property manager to deal with my unit. One tenant, then another. Almost two years of having my mortgage and the majority of my living expenses paid by other people. I had taken a forty year mortgage for this exact reason. In addition, I signed for a variable rate on the interest. I knew interest rates were decreasing and I would only profit from this strategy. Yes, I would only profit financially in the short-term, but that’s as far as I was looking. That was as far as felt right.
In the years that followed, as the real estate market slowed due to rising unemployment, and interest rates began to rise, I felt that the unit may be difficult to rent. In times of economic instability, I believe two bedroom apartments are more easily occupied, as the expenses can be shared and rent isn’t double that of a smaller unit. This coupled with what I viewed as a high turnover rate of a one new tenant contract a year was a liability. Property management fees were more each year a new tenant moved in. I was hoping to find someone who would make my suite their home. This hadn’t happened. In 2010 I decided to sell. I profited well. Not $60,000 well after taxes and associated fees, but I’m writing this to you from Thailand. The interest on that which was dropped in my bank account on closing, then later transferred to a low risk investment account….well that’s paying my rent every month.
There are a number of contributing factors which led all of this to happen, not just the instances I shared with you today. These contributing factors which put me in a position to be ready to accept the challenge when it manifested, were tailored over years. It wasn’t easy. It was, and continues to be a process for me.
In future posts on MBSB I will share with you more of what I know, of what has worked for me in lifestyle design, including financial discipline. Perhaps you can adapt what I’ve done, apply it to your own life.
On this day, if I can leave you with anything, it will be this. When in times you are faced with a large decision, I suggest employing the following:
Rid your mind and heart of the voices of need, fear, desire, jealousy, anger and the conditioning of your personal history, the voice of the status quo. Try to silence them all. And what remains, be it be a voice, a feeling, a pulse of intuition, however you choose to define it, pay attention. Does it feel right? You get a solid feeling inside? A tingle? Any sort of positive feedback? If you do, may I suggest, that you listen to it. No matter how crazy and against what you previously thought what it was you wanted. Just listen, feel, and if it’s all good….Jump. But please keep your eyes open. I can’t promise that life will get easier once you leap into the Unknown, but, if my lifetime experiences employing this method can be examplary, you’ll be on the right path.
I hope this has been beneficial.
I suspect I’m not the only one who has made what many may judge as an irrational or illogical decision to have it work in their favour. If this is you, please tell us your story!