These days when you set off on a big adventure, it’s usual to write a blog so that others can follow your ups and downs and live the dream vicariously. If you do it right you can even ‘blog the book’ afterwards so your eager followers can have their own copy of the whole story. But what if you’re uncertain of how the story will pan out? It’s fine to tackle a challenge, but if the whole world is able to watch you fail, how much pressure does that add to something that’s already difficult?
About eight months ago my husband Ed and I decided on a major life change. He was feeling the chill winds of retirement approaching and we were already finding it hard to make ends meet in the lifestyle we liked. With a mortgage-free house and a ridiculously high property market, we decided to sell up and release the capital. We’d use it to have some adventures for the next decade before getting too old and infirm to enjoy them. The bucket list and the ‘one day we’ll do that’ were calling.
But first, to get top dollar, we needed to do some basic repairs to the house and update it to a modern look. The bank cheerfully lent us the recommended 10% of the house’s value for the renovations and we threw in extra for contingencies. Quite a lot extra, which proved to be a wise decision.
Ed quit his job (which he didn’t like anyway) to work full-time on the house and I assisted while fitting in my various editing projects and photography work as time allowed. We worked. My God how we worked! From August onwards we rebuilt the kitchen and laundry floors, had all the tiles ripped up and replaced, new carpet throughout, fresh paint inside and out, and transformed the backyard. We shovelled uncounted cubic metres of clay, gravel, scoria, gap 7, sand, topsoil and bark. We painted dozens of corrugated iron fence panels, and posts, battens and trellis. We wore ourselves to a nub trying to meet the agent’s suggested deadline of late October and finally, battered and broken, had to admit defeat and postpone the sale until February.
It was then that I felt greatly relieved, not just that the immediate pressure was off, but that I hadn’t done what I originally planned and embarked on a regular blog to tell the world about our progress. We’d failed, but at least it was only in front of our friends. I hadn’t built up expectations among people who might have been less charitable than our wonderfully kind mates who’d done their best to cheer us along the way and had even come to help when they could.
We soldiered on. January arrived and the house was finally ready. We signed up with an agent from a small local company that I did a lot of photography work for, the one who’d been giving us all the helpful advice on presentation and marketing, and the house went on the market. Everyone wished us well and said ‘you’ll have no trouble selling – you’ve worked SO hard’ but failure made another unwelcome appearance as few people showed up at the open homes and interest seemed low. There were no offers, and after a month we decided to withdraw the property from the market until things picked up. Again, thankfully, no audience watched us stumble. We picked ourselves up and carried on.
Another month has passed. The house is now re-staged and immaculate, the new agent from a much bigger company is more forceful and dynamic, and we’ll finally get to auction in early May. That’s the point when life will change dramatically. That’s when we’ll leave normal life and set off into the unknown to see where our hard-earned cash will take us. That, I think, is when I’ll start my blog. We may still fail from time to time but I think I’m ready to share the adventures, both good and bad. We’ve already been inspired by several blogs of people living aboard their boats and travelling the world and it’s enticing to see things through their eyes. I’ll screw up my courage and try to bring some entertaining real-world adventures to an audience.