January 23rd, 2017
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This past week I pretty much took up residence within Maria von Trapp’s quote: When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window. It’s not the comfiest of quotes. There’s that itchy emptiness that accompanies the waiting you have to do between the door slam and ensuing window appearing ‘somewhere.’ If you know me at all by now, you’ll know I appreciate coziness and nurturing aesthetic in my furnishings. Like the abbey Maria left, this quote is furnished with faith and not a whole lot else.
The Closed Door, or, Why I Did Not Put In an Offer on My Dream Farm:
As many of you know, last week I was unexpectedly given only one week (!) to gather and confirm investor funds and make an offer on the property I’ve had my eye and heart on as a home for Nurture. The one that found ME one evening back in May. As a motivational tool, this dream farmhouse is unparalleled. Following the call towards anything that lights you up is an obstacle course, each ensuing roadblock asking you: how much do you really want this? I wanted this farm.
Turns out the heart is both capable and willing to face the biggest obstacles and longest discomforts when you have decided you are worth what you are seeking. Including when that obstacle is giving up on the dream manifesting in one particular way.
As much as I felt so drawn to this property, attached to the story of how it came into my life, there were some realities I had to face this week that let me know: while it IS the property that fueled my dreams, it is not the property OF my dreams. Here’s why:
Monday of last week saw me bundled against the Canadian winter winds on site at the property with my dad and my house inspector Steve. Steve’s patience, practicality and integrity lead us through a day-long process where the word ‘thorough’ would be the ultimate in understatements. The inspection journey brought my knowledge of houses from “it’s um…four walls and a roof and doors and windows, right?” to understanding the ins and outs of cold air returns, heating systems, coding specifications, septic capacity, structural integrity, and the mystery that is plumbing and electric.
The inspection also revealed that the work and upgrades required to bring the space up to a standard that would be insurable as a commercial property would be extensive, expensive and (to put it mildly) comprehensive. His message was not: “Sonja, you better run!”, but rather “Sonja, know any millionaires?”
The Window, or, How Miracles Happened while Looking Out An Actual Window:
Seated comfortably on the Via train home, I stared out at the Ontario farmland streaming by and had a heart to heart with my CFO, who sometimes goes by the name God/The Universe/Love (we’re cool with whatever and in my personal inner world, the terms are irreligious, yet deeply spiritual). It was a conversation which was, hopefully, mostly silent. It went something like this:
S: Um, hey. So, I’m going over this inspection report and I’m feeling really great about air filters and I beams. NOT feeling so great about where I’m at in terms of next steps.
You see, Lord, I’m confused. You brought this property into my life (that WAS You, right?!) and You’ve been orchestrating all kinds of miracles along the way and now I’m at an impasse. What about the response to the blog post I wrote last week? It was unprecedented. I was so profoundly moved and affirmed by the outpouring of love, support and investor interest that landed in my inbox (I cried, dear friends – I don’t think I can adequately describe how touched I was and continue to be by your support). Lord, this project has created real community! So many people – strangers even! – want to see this Nurture space exist. So why the major roadblock?
G: (Smugly, but Lord knows I’m projecting here) Look at the trees Sonja! Hmm, not as much snow as last year here. Damn, I did well with that hill. See how it looks against the sky there? Good work, Me.
S: Yeah, yeah. Looks awesome. Um, back to me. Back to this Crisis of the Soul that you seem to be ignoring. Is this the way you want me to go? How do I raise the funds to look after these upgrades if my offer is accepted? Do I put in an offer? God, this is other people’s money so I’m not in the mood to be kidding around. I need answers. God, I’m all alone here wishing I could have a strategy session powwow with people who actually know about these things. You know, someone who has done a real estate deal before and who GETS what I’m up to and the miracle bit, but who won’t bullshit me either. I have no fucking clue what to do next except remember to not freak out because “The solution is never at the level of the problem” has been on repeat in my mind since we started this gig.
Lord, I NEED A MENTOR.
S: Hello? God?
S: Is this conversation done? Are you busy? Are you actually there? Is Margaret taking all of your attention again? (Sorry, bad joke to illustrate that in these moments ‘humour’ is what keeps me going). Fine. I will sit here and keep reading this report till you are back because I refuse to believe You won’t show up when I need You most. Have fallen for that one before.
(Literally 5 minutes later). My cell phone beeps. It’s a text from a woman named Jenn. She and I have been recently introduced by our mutual friend Josh (a broker of miracles) on Facebook. She says she’s read my blog post thanks to Josh’s prompting and do I have a minute to talk? She’s got some questions.
Curious, I say “Sure!” and discover that Jenn appears to be a woman filled with real estate savvy, entrepreneurial wisdom and all the right questions, but upon further investigation is actually an angel. I’m pretty sure.
She started our conversation with the preface: “Sonja, this will seem abrupt or like I’m interrogating you, or like we’re on a speed date or something. Please don’t take it personally, I am only asking you the questions that any investor with a head on their shoulders and any sense would ask.”
I was like: You have no idea how this is exactly what I need right now.
She proceeded with her ‘interrogation,’ pressing me for answers about my company and vision and details that I felt at first were testing me, like: does this lady know her company, or is this a case of some naive girl with a penchant for ‘dream farms’ and rose-coloured glasses? Thankfully, I ain’t done all this work and surfed the learning curve for nothing: I know this venture inside and out and will be the first to admit when I don’t know something. This is why, when Jenn asked me: What’s the LVA? I was like: LV-wha???
Land Value Assessment, apparently – a third party assessment that takes into consideration the natural elements of the the property and its assets and pitfalls. This was followed by a variety of other terms and considerations which, as a potential investor, I would need to know about before making an offer. She asked me all the questions I-didn’t-know-I-didn’t-know to ask (or answer!) and then, like true angels do, offered to call the Township on my behalf. It was very early in our speed-dating relationship to say “I love you,” but I certainly thought it in that moment.
Prayer works, Nurturers. It really does.
Later that evening, Jenn got back to me with The Scoop. The contents of what she discovered affirmed that, aside from the door being closed thanks to projected upgrade expenses, the door was also closed due to a whole number of odd enlightening quirks, facts and tidbits surrounding the property and the potential of any offer towards it. My personal favourite? My options to sever the land as a possible further income stream were limited due to over 50% of the property being protected Green Space due to its being the home and habitat to an endangered frog or dragonfly or something. So, there’s that.
Endangered species aside, miracles were most definitely not in short supply. Nurturers, the next question Jenn asked me was whether or not I was open to alternative sources of funding. Had I considered partnering with someone who was interested in purchasing rural property as an investment but would give me carte blanche to outfit the space as Nurture’s home as a long-term leasee? This was an idea that had only recently popped into my mind as an option, as others had also suggested it, so when I mentioned that yes, I was open to that idea, she followed up with: “Cool, cause – full disclosure – I may be interested.”
Nurturers, my hopes are up. I don’t think I can adequately describe my feeling of RELIEF that cascaded through my every pore when it struck me that I didn’t have to (unless I wanted to) carry the weight of being both a first-time property owner AND a first-time CEO of a corporation of a venture this size. The idea of navigating both these learning curves had me dizzy with overwhelm.
I have succeeded with this venture so far because of moving forward when it felt right, and that ‘feeling right’ has to be mutual, across the board. The rush of a mere week to see this through did not feel right. Connecting with Jenn in a last-minute-miracle talk did. We’re going to meet and talk next steps, which includes looking for properties closer to Toronto that meet both of our needs and visions (anyone know of any? Send ’em my way!).
Whether or not this suggested partnership with Jenn moves beyond the idea stage is, at this point, not what’s important. What IS important is faith. It works. Whatever is calling to you from deep within is achievable, you simply have to cross the threshold, have faith and begin. You will likely begin from the threshold of a door, but it’s that window threshold where the real magic happens after the roadblocks loom and the shit inevitably hits the fan, as its been elegantly designed to do. See you there?