Collecting the tools of a sustainable, self-directed life


15- Finding Your Place, Part Three


After letting go of my old life, I went to Dallas to plan and prepare my new one. 

The third stage of change, which Martha Beck called the Hero’s Saga, began in November of 2016, when I decided that one of the two wooded plots with a stream in Kingston would be the site for my home. If you’ve subscribed, you know some things that happened during this third stage, where nothing comes out the way you plan. 

In January 2017, I bought a car and drove to New York State. A few days later, the City of Kingston decided to save my two plots “for a future project.” 

I was disappointed but, I had already moved my life and I needed a home. So, I enlisted the help of two real estate agents—one in Ulster County and the other in Sullivan County.

After looking at a few vacant residential lots that weren’t right, we moved on to foreclosed houses. Most of them were falling apart. But we braved our way into houses with hanging ceilings, funhouse floors and dank labyrinth basements and. And we came running out screaming and laughing at each other’s hysterics. After 5 minutes of sweaty, tearful, ab-busting laughter at the last house, my agent caught his breath and asked,

“How would you feel about looking in the next town up—where I’m from? It’s beautiful up there. It has mountains, views, trees, and lots of waterfalls and swimming holes.”

“Absolutely,” I said. I’d been on the hunt for years in more towns and counties than I hoped. Properties that fit my needs were few. And I had to push on.

He sent me listings for a beautiful piece of vacant land and foreclosed three-bedroom, one-bath pre-war brick home that were the same price. The vacant land was wooded and serene in a cozy neighborhood but had no amenities. The house was lovely. It had a sunporch, an old fashioned rotary phone mounted in the living room, original windows and hard wood floors, a doorbell with actual chimes and secret, built-in safes in the master bedroom. It was more than I wanted to spend so I made a low cash offer. But the bank wouldn’t budge on the price. 

When private financing options also fell through on the 1945 log cabin on two acres of huge pines, across the street from a lake in Sullivan County, I was left with another decision make. 

I had been looking full time for two months, yet I found nothing small, simple, off-grid, wooded, conveniently-located, self-built, light, airy and in my budget. I wasn’t finding even a trace of my vision, and so I looked for something I might make work.

It was then that I remembered the reason for all of this: I quit my job and left my life in NYC—not to own a property—but to build a LIFE.  

In trying to find a place, I forgot my vision. No matter how they charmed me, I couldn’t wipe out my savings and take on debt just for buildings that needed work and didn’t fit my vision. I let them go.

On the Hero’s Saga—when plans fail, it’s important to stay immersed in the vision, the reason for your journey. Keeping the big picture in mind can make even the smallest tasks move you toward your vision.

Along your Hero’s Saga, how have you dealt with your dead ends, disappointments and failures? Did you lose hold of your vision? If so, how did you reconnect with it? Put your answers in the comments below.