On the home page on the New York Times website yesterday was a story titled:

RECESSION ANXIETY SEEPS INTO EVERY DAY LIVES

It began talking about a woman who had not lost her job but was so afraid she MIGHT that…

She “could not stop reading every single economic report,” was so “sick to my stomach I lost 12 pounds” and “was unable to function,”…

Here’s the thing… it’s true. People ARE freaking out about the possibility of losing everything. At least once a week one co-worker of mine asks me about our house and then tells me: “I want you to tell me more about foreclosure because I’m afraid I’ll end up there too.”

Whenever I tell people more about foreclosure I include the fact that it’s not the end of the world. We’re viewing this as an opportunity. An opportunity to live with less. To, as my dad would say, “Get religion” about our finances. To rearrange our priorities and live like we promised each other when we first got married when we promised to NEVER BE ATTACHED TO MATERIAL POSSESSIONS. This is our moment. And we’re taking it.

I understand the fear. Completely. I’ve been there. I still go there. And I’m most gripped by fear when I’m fretting over the unknown. Waiting for something to happen is not easy. Waiting for the bank to approve our short sale offer, waiting to find out where we’ll go next. Will we be able to stay in L.A.? Will we be able to rent an apartment? Will we end up in my mom’s basement? I’ll start worrying over the mistakes we made to lead us here and the ones that we have yet to make in the future. And I’ll get that feeling in my chest. Like there’s a little man in there trying to stand up.

The anxiety is not usually about what is actually happening, though. Because, yes, we’re in ‘danger’ of being tossed out onto the streets. But, no…. we are not on the streets yet. We’re in our house, actually. I go to work, come home and sit by the fire with Bob and read. It’s really quite lovely. I get up early to write or do some research and I have this beautiful view to enjoy. This is where we are NOW and if we worry about where we might be in the future, we’ll miss it.

Nine months ago is when this all began. That’s when Bob lost his job and we knew without a back-up plan for his income, we were in trouble. Neither of us wanted to sell the house. Everything was unknown… and the fear and anxiety was definitely worse then than it is now. What the hell would happen to us? Well, we didn’t know then, but many of our ‘worst case scenarios’ would come to pass. The house didn’t sell at full price and instead sat on the market through many reductions for over 7 months where it still sits. We didn’t get jobs right away. It took me 3 months and Bob 4 months. Our bank account rested in negative territory for a couple of weeks at the lowest point. And we’re now selling the house in short sale with the hope of avoiding foreclosure.

Having gone through all of that I can honestly say that the fear of losing everything is definitely worse than actually losing everything. Once you’re in it… you realize it’s not that bad. You tap into resources you never knew you had. You surprise yourself. You realize you can handle it. Anything that comes your way. And when you turn the worst case scenario into the greatest opportunity, you give yourself a lot more room to breathe.

A TIP: If you’re freaking out about the possibility of losing everything to the point that you’re just ‘waiting’ for it to happen… stop doing that. Easier said than done? Perhaps. But actions help. Any action. I started this blog. That helped. A lot. It’s a way to focus my thoughts every day. When I feel that anxiety I think next of the blog. And it reminds me to find the opportunity.

ANOTHER TIP: Stop reading every single economic report! Right now. Instead, listen to music. Read poetry. Or read a horror novel, it doesn’t matter. Go for a walk or a run. Do some yoga. Play some basketball. Go bowling. Enjoy the people around you. Cook a meal. Whatever. Just stop. For the love of god. Stop reading every single economic report.

HOUSE UPDATE– I forgot to mention in my posts about the weekend that we received a 2nd short sale offer. We countered it and are waiting for a response. The appraisal is happening today.

 
 

One Comment

  1. Posted April 9, 2009 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Seriously, your attitude is AMAZING. I loved this part:

    “Once you’re in it… you realize it’s not that bad. You tap into resources you never knew you had. You surprise yourself. You realize you can handle it. Anything that comes your way. And when you turn the worst case scenario into the greatest opportunity, you give yourself a lot more room to breathe.”

    You are so right about appreciating the moment instead of stressing about the future. I get stuck in worrying about the unknown ALL THE TIME. It’s a depressing way to go! You have a really great attitude, and I know you guys will be just fine. You are content, and that’s really what matters. I hope you get to stay in L.A. (or, hey, Orange County), but I trust that whatever happens is 100% for the best.

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