by Kathi Szabo

Last week Mark wrote about our quest to find the perfect spot for our Eclectic Sanctuary and perhaps grow some culinary herbs. We thought we found the spot, but after further insight, further introspection, we realized those 3 massive barns were not it. No matter how much we wanted it to be, the house just didn’t work for our lifestyle.

We almost put in an offer.

We almost got so wrapped up in the new “shiny object” that we forgot what is most important.

See the barns were amazing. The whole property was amazing! The idea of US owning them and making it into this herb farm where folks could come get fresh herbs and maybe even take a cooking class was drawing us in.

There was plenty of space for farming. The barns could be repurposed for drying out herbs. We had space to construct some greenhouses. The kitchen was most certainly large enough to host a class.

Square Peg – Round Hole

So, what was most important, where living in this home would have been much like trying to get a square peg in a round hole?

Ultimately it was the importance of entertaining friends and family.

Mark and I do not host big parties or have gatherings every week. But when we do have friends and family over, we like to hang out in an area that is comforting, brings nature inside, and where we can cook and still be part of the conversation.

On Thanksgiving, we ultimately enjoy preparing dinner together while also partaking in all the conversations with family because our kitchen is open to a space where everyone gathers.

No matter how hard we tried to make this house meet our desires and become our home, allowing us to enjoy living in it, it just didn’t fit.

And we tried.  I sketched out numerous plans and ideas, but there was just no way to connect the beautiful entertaining room to the kitchen and no way to have a bright airy bedroom and not take away from public space.

So here we are, back to step one.

We could have saved much time and energy had we had more clarity on what is most important to us.

See, we set out with an idea. A rough framework. We gave a guide to our realtor. It was pretty specific, but it didn’t express what was most important.

One must be perfectly clear about what brings them joy if they are to find joy.

Mark and I were looking at all the opportunities that had come into mind since starting this journey: Farm Stay, Herbs, Chickens, and being close to the Delaware River towns.

When we started this quest, it was all about having a few guestrooms and then space to host Wellness Retreats.  I intentionally wasn’t clear about specifics because I thought there could be numerous ways to make this work.

But ultimately, my goal was and is to be financially self-sustainable and also live a life I love. Every single day!

I realize now these two things are what is truly important to me. My true desire is not having a small retreat center. My true desire is to create a life I love where I am financially self-sustainable.

So when this opportunity of a farm came into view, and it had a pool where I could host Aqua Yoga classes, it seemed we found IT! We found the property where we could manifest our dreams.

What I wasn’t clear about, was my personal life needs and desires. How I want to live when not working.

So last week after our second trip up there, I started drawing new plans. Researching other possibilities. But nothing worked. I was ready to just make an offer and figure it out later. There had to be a way, right? How could we let this opportunity pass us by?

And then it hit me.

Listen to Your Heart

I sat quietly and listened to my heart. I listened to my desires of how I wanted to wake up in the morning with the sun shining in through my windows.

How I want to continue to have family over for Thanksgiving and be able to congregate in a shared space of nature and food as well as be accessible to everyone in my family, something that would not be the case in this house.

How I wanted to relax in the evening. Spending time noticing the sun set while maybe turning on the TV for a show or two.

And my heart was sad.

No matter how we remodeled or changed the flow of the house, it was not conducive to our way of living.

And it was not really helping me get to being financially self-sustainable.

Making all these changes was going to be expensive. At least $100K to $200K. Using up a lot of funds that could be better purposed toward financial sustainability.

And my heart wouldn’t be happy?

And what about money to start the farm? Buy a tractor, seeds, a greenhouse?

I put away the sketches and plans for the house and sat down and wrote what was most important to me in living my life. Mark was out shooting pool, so I had plenty of time to think alone.

Integrating Our Desires

The next morning, I asked Mark to make a list of what is most important to him. How he sees us living our lives say 5 years from now.  I didn’t share my list at this point as I didn’t want to influence his desires.

His list was a bit different. But there was some overlap.

But the overlap is not our combined vision. It is the totality of both visions that is our combined vision.

I cannot ignore Mark’s desire for land just as he can’t ignore my desire for still wanting to teach at FIT. That would be sacrificing our own individual desires and would probably leave one of us feeling a bit unsatisfied.

Our list is longer now. It may be harder to find that perfect property.


See now we have an easy way to say yes or no. We go to our list. How many boxes does it check off? We now have complete clarity of what we are looking for. Will there be adjustments and compromises? Sure. But knowing what is most important, makes the decision-making process much simpler.

Today we are headed out again to look at some areas and properties: 2 open houses and a few drive-bys. We will see what the universe decides to show us now that we have clarity on what’s most important.