L in the Southeast

L in the Southeast
Atlanta, Georgia, United States
November 04
Retired PR Director
I am a retired Public Relations professional who now writes purely for fun and catharsis. I covered most of my memoir-type pieces in the first three years here. Lately I have dabbled in politics, current affairs, pop culture and movie reviews. Life is my muse.


L in the Southeast's Links

JULY 9, 2010 12:41PM

Full Circle

Rate: 36 Flag

It's over.  My 16-month ordeal has come to an end.  I'm exhausted, I'm humbled, I'm smarter, and I am free!

Yesterday I assembled at the closing lawyer's office with the buyers of my house and signed it over to them, lock, stock and barrel. They suddenly gained a $2500 per month mortgage payment.  I got zero dollars in exchange for my house of 17 years.

My job loss, long-term unemployment and housing crisis loss of equity in my home is much too common among Americans today to repeat here.   Suffice it to say that I fought my ass off.  I used every negotiating skill I've ever had.  I schemed.  I begged.  I cried an awful lot for a hardass like me.  Nothing worked, and I was headed for foreclosure.  My credit score plunged to depths I'd never seen since FICO invented scores.  My pride?  Shambles.

 Finally, I jumped enough of the bank's hoops to qualify for a Short Sale.  This just means that the bank determines a lesser amount than I owe as a settlement.  In order to achieve that amount, I couldn't afford to pay a real estate agent, so I had to sell it myself.  Never second-guess the value of an agent, folks.  It is one of the most stressful jobs I have ever had.

When I handed the bagful of keys to Mr. and Mrs. A. at 2:45 p.m. yesterday, I was expecting to feel emotional about turning over my beloved house for nothing in return.  Instead, something akin to an orgasm swept over me.  The sense of relief was absolute ecstasy.  And I said, "Congratulations!"

I am thrilled that I found a family to live in that house who I genuinely like.  They have two adorable little boys who I will be able to watch grow from my new residence, directly across the street.  I am even thrilled that they were able to get a home that they never could have afforded two short years ago.

I am not the same person I was the day I received the call from my boss telling me he had no choice but to lay off all his employees.  That person was still driven by the desire to own things, to get more of those things, and to display those things with pride.  I was not unlike other children of the 1950s and 1960s, who spent too much time finding more and more money, and working longer and longer hours to earn it. 

The day my fate was altered was the day I refinanced my 13-year-old mortgage and took out a huge chunk of cash to remodel the house.  That was in January 2006, the height of the housing market.  It was the beginning of the end for me.

I'm different today, because I have taken a long time to remember how relatively stress-free my life was when I wasn't a homeowner, when I wasn't a taxpayer, and when I wasn't responsible for so much debt.  Sure, there were months that I would run out of money before I would run out of month, but I managed somehow.   The American Dream, which included the house with the white picket fence and 2 cars in the driveway, caused me to live the majority of my adult life under extraordinary stress, and I didn't even know it.

But my body knew it.  Backaches, headaches, high blood pressure, chronic depression.  I gained weight, due to 10-12 hours a day sitting at a desk, grabbing vending machine snacks to survive.  The bodily toll was tremendous.

As for possessions?  I have just spent the last two months shedding them, and most were given away.  I've kept only the things that can fit into my severely downsized living spaces.  They just don't mean anything anymore. 

Instead, I delight in the nature around me, the friends who have been irreplaceable during this difficult time, my family and my dog.  I am proud of my 30-pound weight loss between March 2010 and today.  I feel and look younger and I have far more energy.  None of the things that delight me so much cost a red cent!  Zip, zero, nada.

I believe I am about to live the best part of my life.  I am so grateful that I was able to avoid foreclosure, but if I hadn't, I would still be just fine.  I am grateful that I have a little savings left and that I receive Social Security and a small company pension, so I can pay my rent and buy the simple foods I have learned to eat. 

Life is good again.

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Leslie, I am glad you have that stress gone! A home is wherever you hang your hat! R
Bless you L !! I'm learning some similar lessons concerning 'things'. Whatever we own, eventually owns us. And I want to be free! I'm happy your situation has been resolved. Have a great, free, weekend!
What a journey and told w such clarity & honesty. Rated for Brave.
Lezlie, you sound just fine to us here. You know what you are? A trooper!
Thoreau said ,"Simplify, simplify." It does prepare a person for what's real.
I'm proud of you that you rose to the challenge and a re a damned sight better off for the experience. Bravo!
R for ready to move forward
Been close to there, done some of that. It ain't easy! Glad you landed on your feet, Linnnn!!! msp
oops - I meant L!
Wonderful! I love that you know you are about to live the best part of your life. You truly are blessed. And I deeply and truly mean that. You are.
Happy that part of your journey is over. Congratulations on being a survivor.
This was so wonderful to read L. I've been there - done that - never been happier now not being burdened by the mortgage, the debt, the fear, the phone calls.......Life is good.
I'm so glad is worked out well for you, a simple life has it's own beauty and advantages!!
Good for you Lezlie, you deserve all the new-found happiness!

an important lesson for us who are tempted to accumulate. Congratulations!
I am so glad this worked out for you. I had to go the foreclosure route, but getting rid of that debt and not having to worry about it changed my life. I too had to get rid of a lot of "stuff". Stuff I didn't really need or want. I just bought a used car that I will have no payments on, and it feels good to finally have money to take my wife out every now and again. You might not have gotten any money, but you got peace of mind!
Lezlie: I am so happy for you. "Things" come and go, but peace and serenity, once achieved, stay with us. This is indeed the best part of your new life. Thanks for sharing this with us. R-
It may sounds crazy, but congratulations on the beginning of your new life!!!
Libmomrn -- that is so true.

desert_rat: Thank you so much. I was definitely owned by that house!

Jon: Thanks for your loyal reading.

Poor woman: I have learned so much from you since I joined OS. I love that you are proud of me.

Kit: Yipeee. I got an msp! Thanks to you and Monkey Sue, the smartest Sock Monkey in the South.

Mimetalker: And you got a Cover Story!!!!!! Congratulations and well-deserved. Yes, I am truly blessed -- to have friends like you.

Kathy: Surviving is what I do. And it's what you do, too.

trilogy: it is amazing, isn't it? What had we done to ourselves? And why?

Poppi: Thanks. I agree that a simple life is full of rewards.

Joy: Thanks for being here.

Catherine: That's right, take heed. Moderation in everything is worthwhile.

Scanner: You have no idea how you have inspired me to fight my way thr0ugh this. You set a great example for all of us.

Dave: I am so glad you have come to OS. You're quite the inspiration yourself.
Releasing all the weight...all the heaviness of all the events. You are the victor! Congratulations on wars well waged, victories hard fought and won! My heroine! ;) r
Lezlie, I'm happy things worked out for you, and your new neighbors!
Muse: You are too kind. Just be glad you didn't have to be around to watch the wars! LOL. It wasn't pretty.

Lucy: Hi, there! Thanks for reading and our kind words.
I would bet it feels as though a building has been lifted from your heart. Simplicity has benefits too.
bobbot: that is EXACTLY how it feels. I prefer simplicity and will choose it from now on.
So happy for you. This post holds a message for some of us.
Hi, sophieh! Yes, there is a message and I'm glad you are "hearing" it. Life is much too short to have to learn this lesson the way I did.
Eloquent in its summation of the road that took you down and the path that led you up. You, like Milton's Adam and Eve, have all the world before you. I think you're wiser than they were, though. Hearty congratulations!
Letting go of the old leaves an opening for the new. You have survived intact- which means you have come out of this a winner.
Such clarity of thinking.
I am glad you are able to take that burden off of your shoulders. You are blessed with a new opportunity.
Pilgrim: Thanks so much. I've learned a lot.
Wow. What an attitude. You are made of titanium.
Enemy of State: that's a great way of looking at it. In fact, I'll take it. Enough of feeling I have failed!

Vanessa: I agree wholeheartedly that I am blessed to have this over with.
You have written a wonderful success story that teaches everyone about the true value of things. I believe you are in the next, better, best phase of your life. I congratulate you on your hard decisions, your resilience and your attitude. I have thought many times of people who have lost everything in wars, even a homeland, and they survived and thrived and lived to appreciate their journey. Those who stayed because of their things, their homes, their possessions almost always perished if they were in the path or the object of destruction. Knowing when to leave things is very important. Great story, great writing. R
Awesome news from you - I am so glad you are relieved, and so delighted with all those "free" accomplishments you list.
Man Talk Now: Titanium? Thanks for a terrific compliment.

Bonnie: Yes, I do realize that I got lucky. I know of the stories you mention and it's heartbreaking. I must say, though, that part of the reason I did get someone to talk to me is because I learned a trick back in my corporate days. We had a motto: "Once around and up." If person A failed to return my call or fix my problem, I'd search the Internet until I could find someone at a higher level. Oddly, enough, though, I started getting somewhere simply by sending an email through the banks website. I got lucky that day when a certain supervisor happened to answer the email.

Sheila: That is such an interesting observation. I had to be convinced by family members to stop paying my mortgage in order to a) conserve what little cash I had left, and b) to get the bank to pay attention to me. It was only when someone mentioned that corporations do it routinely that I "got" the concept of cutting ones losses. It saved me.

aim: Thank you so much.
Oh yeah, rated for amazingly brave. What a journey and your glass is more than half full. You will succeed. Period.
How glad to hear you're feeling lighter and less stressed, and a thirty pound weight loss to boot? Woohoo!
i'm so glad your ordeal is over and things are looking better. yes, the myth of the american dream has driven millions of us to points we never thought we'd reach. you've been able to maintain a positive attitude, despite setbacks and stress. that's just a testament to how strong you are. wishing you much joy and happiness as you start this next phase.
Sally: It's the only way I know how to be. Fight should be my middle name. lol

JustThinking: The Incredible Lightness of Being (remember that?)

Lemonpulp: Don't think for a minute that I have forgotten about your own personal ordeal. So many of us OSers are struggling with something, and yet, look how supportive everybody is. My OS friends have been a real blessing.
A narrow escape. Congratulations and condolences.
Thanks, Matt, but condolences are no longer necessary. I'm fine with all this. It has been character building.
This was wonderful. I loved how you reframed it all, every bit, so that the view was more to your liking and acceptance. A single blade of grass is as beautiful as field.
greenheron: thanks for noticing my strategy. And thanks for reading.

I love your attitude.
O'Really: Why thank you; I like yours, too. :-)
What a wonderfully happy ending....or should I say beginning?! My mother-in-law is starting this process as my father-in-law's health care costs have depleted their life long earnings. Crossing fingers house sells, but if not they will do a short sale. She has been incredibly lonely as my father -in-law hasn't been home in 15 months-bouncing from hospital to rehabilitation hospital as diabetes and cardio issues continue to wreak havoc on his already weak body. She is looking forward to moving into a mobile home park w/ less stuff and people to talk to. Thanks for sharing your story. All the best.
lschmoopie: I feel for your mother-in-law. I don't have a husband, so I felt very much alone during my challenge. I'm sure she is frightened. She'll benefit greatly from your support.
Your attitude is wonderful. All good luck in your unburdened future!
Myriad: Thanks for the good wishes!
And I know you did work hard for this, Lezlie. You sound happy. I'm sure you feel happy. I toast your freedom!

~big hug~
NOW we're talkin'! You made your own miracle, believe that. Cause you are one. Bless you--THIS...is truly good news! BIG hug...
Congrats Leslie. Thanks for sharing. Many hard lessons have been learned and many more to come for us all. Debt is a four letter word! Most didn't know that, did they? You are commended for cutting the lost, squaring up and moving on to a better place. Now if only the Banks and the Government would do the same!
Robert, thanks. I'm hoping by being open about my mistakes will help some of the younger OSers avoid them. I fear things will get worse before they get better.

Mark: Last time I checked, pride is one of the 7 Deadly Sins and I have always believed that too much of it creates liars and poseurs. I once fit a certain demograph that was working hard and living large. I don't anymore and I am uncomfortable hiding behind a mask. I won't even use an avatar here. You might be surprised at how liberating that feels. I am honored that you chose to share your truths on my blog. You know I have huge respect for you as a writer, and I most certainly respect what you just did.

I am so glad you have this over with. I found that dreading the day we went to court to file chapter 7 due to medical bills was worse than the actual event. What a relief and no shame as we pumped plenty of money into the medical system. Plenty.

So glad for you. Downsizing is the new chic, did you know?
Enjoy your new and lighter life, Lezlie. I'm so happy when things come "full circle". ~R with joy for you.
Lezlie, I've been reading some of your posts, and this one touched in a tender place for me. I know exactly how you feel, but I didn't avoid foreclosure. Back in the early 90s, I went from the penthouse to the outhouse. Lost everything. Home, cars, business, lots of friends and family, reputation, and self-esteem. Those were dark days, but I survived and thrived. As the Bible says, "This too shall pass." You have your health and your brain, and you have a GREAT attitude. I can tell you that tough times make tough people. You're a survivor. As you've discovered, happiness isn't about stuff. Thanks for sharing this.