Unraveling. (No, not my knitting.)





There are some things that I don't talk much about over here. Some subjects are too private, others are too sensitive, and still others are simply too fragile. I talk a lot about my life, but obviously there is plenty that I don't discuss.

As it turns out, the dominant story in our life for the past four months is one I have chosen to keep mostly to myself. No, it's nothing dramatic and life-or-death-y. But it's something that has been dear to our hearts for these past many weeks. I've hinted at it but I haven't discussed really what we were working on. I was waiting for the right time to share it with you, in all of its magic and wonder.

It turns out today is that day, though this isn't the post I was expecting to write.

In the past few years I've often shared our desire to move back to the country. I've expounded on our dream several times, and even given your quiet glimpses into the three places that we seriously considered through my photos and words in several posts. We've looked at countless parcels in the past seven years. Only these three have stolen our hearts.

We never offered on the first two. The third, however, we did. And much to our joy, our offer was accepted. Everything was coming together.

But sometimes things don't shake out the way you imagined. And while I believe that anything that doesn't work out (in the moment) will work out (eventually, in a different way) and you will someday find yourself in an even better place, on days like this I tell that positive-thinking-Abraham-manifesting part of myself to stuff it and let me grieve.

And that's where I'm at today. I am grieving the death of a story we were writing in our hearts. 

You see, we fell in love with this piece of land. There is this list that we've kept for the past seven years of our "dream property". (What can I say. I'm one of those dorky "list" people.) And every item on our list (of more than a dozen "non-negotiables") without exception was met – plus two we had removed because we thought we were asking too much. This place looked like everything we'd always wanted.

We even fell in love with the family who owns it and loves it too. The family who has lived on it for decades. Everything was lining up. So we gathered a small community of like-minded people to share it with us. We found three families who shared our vision and our love of this land and we set to work. Our amazing team worked tirelessly to determine property boundaries, write covenants, and offer on the land as a group.

And to everyone's delight, our offers were accepted. We were creating community! Something that Pete and I have talked about for more than a decade. A new "family" of sorts – good neighbors and friends – each of us owning our own parcel but sharing access and sharing the work and sharing the dream. Four families, four parcels, four houses. One cow, one orchard, one sauna. The support of an intentional community ("Will someone please feed our chickens and stoke the woodstove while we're away?") plus the freedom of owning your own land ("I think I'll cut this tree for firewood."). The best of both worlds.

We put our house up for sale. We bought a kitchen stove and a woodstove for our cabin. We even started packing. (Remember that simplicity kick? Yeah. There was a reason I was in such a hurry this time.) We were moving. In July. Our long wait was over!

But then something happened that we never expected. After the offers were accepted and we were all moving forward on getting things in order to complete this journey, everything fell through. (I don't want to go into details out of respect to everyone involved. Sometimes things fall apart. We'll leave it at that.) And we stood in shock watching our dream turn to liquid and run through our fingers. Our offers voided. Our vision – at least for this land – dissolved. Done. Over. Back to the beginning.

To say we are heartbroken is accurate. (At least for me. Pete has a tendency to take things in with a little less heart-felt drama.) Emotionally I feel drained and defeated. Quite simply, I'm sad.

The sentence I keep saying when I talk to friends that chokes me up every time is: "We were so ready." All of us. We were so ready. When we told the children this morning I held Sage in my lap while he wept for what seemed like an eternity. I cried with him. We all mourn the loss of this dream.

Yes, yes. I know. Everything happens for a reason.

I know beyond doubt that there is something better waiting for us and when we find it we'll smile and say, "Oh! This is why that happened. I'm so glad!" But right now I'm not. Right now I'm just feeling disappointed, heartbroken, and yes, sad.

It was so close. And we were so ready.

63 thoughts on “Unraveling. (No, not my knitting.)

  1. Jenn says:

    Oh Rachel, I can feel your pain. I know that feeling, of being SO READY. We’ve just gone through the whole “fall in love, buy a home, sell a home” journey, and I can barely imagine what would have happened if it had gone in a different direction. I love your vision, keep fighting for it. Xoxox

  2. Lori says:

    Oh Rachel, im so sorry. There really are no words right now that will help. I’m just so sorry. Something you’ve prepared so long for and had so many things already laid out for. Sometimes it does all just seem very unfair (yes, there are always the positives and the blessings in life that we can be greatful for so many things) but sometimes certain events just seem a bit unfair.
    I’m sorry you have to go through this – there is always good around the next corner but just take your time to be sad for a bit.

  3. Carrie says:

    So sorry. That has to feel devastating. With every devastating event in my life, I have ALWAYS looked back and thought, “THIS is why this happened.” and things always end up making sense in the end and always lead me to the place I need to be. I know things will be no different for you.

  4. Casey says:

    You have every right to feel sad, and to allow yourself time to FEEL. Whether that’s sad, angry, whatever.

    I’m just on the other side of that bridge — the part where I can look back at feeling sad and say “Oh! That’s why! I’m so glad!” but I was absolutely sad, too.

    I wish I was closer and could come bring you a pot of tea. Be gentle with yourself — your dream isn’t gone, it’s just in a direction you haven’t looked yet.

  5. Karen C says:

    I am so sorry. It is ok to feel sad and grieve your loss. Without sadness, we wouldn’t be able to feel great joy. Good things will come your way again. Hugs to you and your family.

  6. Jayna says:

    sigh…I can SO relate…even with the 7 year wait. I don’t have words, just a cup of tea to offer and ears to listen and honestly, a good cry and stomp and shouting time. Things do happen for reasons, but that does not mean our hearts know just when the “happen” will appear. xoxo

  7. meghann says:

    I’m so sorry, Rachel. I know what you are talking about—we’ve gone through the same thing (except we were only buying a house, with ourselves, rather than land, with friends/family). It ticked all our boxes—we were never going to find another place that was *exactly* what we wanted, *exactly* where we wanted it. I was so upset, and I wrote a similar blog entry (right down to the “this isn’t the post I thought I would be writing” bit) last week.

    And…things turned around over the weekend. It all worked out. I was so upset, all last week, and on Saturday it all clicked into place again.

    I don’t know whether the falling-through is irreparable, but I am hoping the same thing happens for you. And if it doesn’t, I hope it is because something even more perfect is just around the corner. xo

  8. Susanne says:

    There is nothing worse than when what we wanted doesn’t come to fruition. Even as an adult, I get mad and want to stomp my feet and whine. I had a similar experience two years ago (I was so excited to begin the journey) and there was nothing I could do to change the situation. It put me in quite a funk – I just felt like a door was shut and locked in my face. Then, last August, I decided to pursue the idea again and my “big day” comes on Thursday. So yes, things generally do work out, but it’s the waiting that is the worst and hardest part. Lots of love to you and prayers that your dream is on track soon.

  9. Kim says:

    Oh it all sounded so wonderful, so sorry it isn’t working out right now…but it will. Keep the dream alive, one day it will be reality.


  10. Elaine says:

    I’m so sorry! I’ve been in this place before, twice. The first time I lived right across from the place we were trying to buy. It really sucked! It took me a long time to get over that loss. I hope for you that when the time is right that something better comes along. xo

  11. KC says:

    I’m so sorry. But it sounds to me like your dream is still alive. Your post though sad, has hope and future written all through it! We’re all there for you, keep on trucking!

  12. Mikaela says:

    Geez, that sounds so rough! Oy, why doesn’t life always work out in the way we want it to? I will never understand that 🙂 Gotta go through the grieving before getting to the moving on part… Moving on feels so much better that way.

  13. Marian says:

    I’m so sorry. You know what I love about your post though? There’s hope. There’s optimism. There’s faith in a reason for it all. You guys deserve for your dream to come through, and I know it will. Like you said…in the way it is supposed to, when the time is right. But it still hurts! Loving thoughts to you.

  14. Lisa says:

    It’s so tough when you have your heart set on something and then it falls apart. It just sucks. We have been negotiating buying a business which would allow our family to move back east closer to family, and then this morning we made the hard decision that we had to walk away (for a number of reasons). Although both my husband and I believe that things happen for a reason and tend to work out in the end, it doesn’t make it any less hard at that moment. My thoughts are with you and your family, looking forward to hearing when you do find ‘THE’ place.

  15. Susie says:

    Oh Rachel! I too had a similar thing happen this week. Our house is on the market – we had a viewing on Saturday. The people were really positive and we got our hopes up (even looked a couple of properties on the internet on Saturday night – something I have refused to do before now). Anyway, the people loved our house but couldn’t get past the parking situation (one off-street space). I feel so low now. I’ve been snapping at the children and on the brink of tears. This is hard time. So, my heart goes out to you Rachel, it really does. I’d give you a hug and a hankie, if I were near you. XXX

  16. hinke says:

    I´am really sorry for you, so difficult that you can almost touch your dream and have to let it go. Good luck and keep dreaming!

  17. Robyn says:

    I know this feeling too…different causes, but same feeling. Take the time you and your family need to feel it and grieve. I know you know in your heart that it will work out the way it should, but that thought never makes me feel better in the moment of lose. I’m someone who needs to feel the lose and let it go in my own time, and then when i’m ready, I can move on with an open heart. I’ll be thinking of you all and hoping it isn’t too long before it works out for real. Hugs to you!

  18. Rachel Wolf says:

    Yes. As one member of our group put it, barring a miracle, its over. The reason for it falling through would make it not our ideal place anymore. Its complex. But there are other places – I know.

  19. S says:

    I had a similar thing happen about 5 years ago when we were trying to sell/buy a house. It was such a difficult time. I kept saying, outloud and silently to myself “it’s going to be ok” And I kept thinking of that Dr Seuss book about the empty green pants “I said and said and said those words. I said them, but I lied them.”

    It turns out that where we ended up was NOT AT ALL what I pictured as the perfect place. But now I am so happy that our original dream fell through, because what was in store for us was well beyond what we ever could have dreamed up ourselves. I know the same thing will happen for you.

    I am excited to hear the rest of this journey of yours. I know it’s going to turn out perfectly. Hugs to you, and let yourself greive.

  20. Karla says:

    I’m so sorry. It sounds like you have the right perspective, though – you know things will all turn out but right now you just have to let yourself grieve. Hope you see the sunshine soon!

  21. Angi Hooker Endicott says:

    “Dangnabbit” is what my Grandpa would say and the sadness I saw reflected in his eyes the few times I saw him truly disappointed was tough to see. But soon his twinkle would return and everything felt “ok” again. Feel your loss, disappointment, strife. But know there is hope, always hope and sunshine, lying just a bit deeper than before. <3

  22. Cassandra says:

    Oh, what a crushing disappointment. I’m so sorry for you. I know it is hard to remember that something better is coming your way soon…but it does all happen for a reason. Keep the faith. 🙂

  23. Joe Dhara says:

    All I know is that I have felt loss, time and time again, and my ego thought it was wrong, unjust, etc…..yet, with letting go, and time, and more time, and more opening of my heart, to a larger vision, well — my life has moments now that blow the lid completely off that old vision, and I see that what I once fancied wasn’t big enough for my soul’s needs. And that what has since arrived, ….. it. is. better. I trust that is the truth here. AND I acknowledge the part of you feeling sorrow. There is a deeper wisdom here, I FEEL IT.

  24. Lina says:

    Rachel I’so sorry about this, after THE post a few weeks back I went to see Paul Mcartney in concert and when he sang ‘let it be’, I thought about you… and today after reading this post I remebered that so ‘Let it be’ lets see where this will take you! hang on friend!

  25. Becky says:

    The hardest part is the heartbroken kids, but they also bounce back the fastest. We considered a dream move last month, and I had to be the one to unravel it – it would not work financially. It still hurts to think about it.

    Your perfect place will happen, you have the drive and will to make it so.

    Thinking of you,


  26. Andrea says:

    Between this post and your “Some days” one which I just read, I want to reach through the computer and give you a hug. Because I am heartbroken for you and because I get it…..

    Wishing you the perfect piece of land in the very near future.

  27. Alex says:

    Just wishing you enough quiet time and connection for you to grieve, at you own pace. I can feel how disappointed and sad you and your family are. Even if you said how this loss will make sense one day, today isn’t this day.

    Love from Alex

  28. Lynne says:

    I must say, considering everything that happened here on this blog a few weeks (?) ago, I admire your bravery in sharing such a raw disappointment. Just as you choose to trust in the world and bare yourself here despite a major upset, you will find yourself walking through a parcel of land with your jaw dropped once again. It’s good to mourn. Because you deserve to allow yourself the disappointment. I believe that your next step is waiting for you because of your ability to trust. It’s coming Rachel. And we’ll celebrate with you when you find it.

  29. hillary says:

    I’m so sorry for this enormous disappointment. It’s really painful to invest so many dreams in something and have it all disappear in a moment.

  30. Emily says:

    That is just heartbreaking. One of my favorite daydreams is the sort of structured commune you were planning. Fingers crossed that sooner, rather than later, we are both the proud owners of lots and lots of fertile soil.

  31. Li says:

    Oh dear…I’m so sorry…we too have gone through similar situations and while it is hard to keep knowing that it will all work out for the best and to keep faith, it really is all you can do. Hang in there:) Big love and hugs:)

  32. Lise Abazs says:

    Community building is a roller coaster ride and we’ve been through many dips on our own journey. I wish you the best as you move forward and keep dreaming!

  33. thekingsandi says:

    It’s amazing to me how crushing losing a dream house (or living arrangement) can be – everything feels so flat for awhile. Plus you’re aiming so good and high, so any falling will be from that height, with all its coordinates that you’ve worked so hard for. It’ll come around, of course it will, but for now I’m sorry for your family (and a bit postscriptedly, so grateful that you continue to write and share your vulnerable spots here).

  34. Jenny Miller says:

    So sorry Rachel. We’ve been through it too and it sucks. But we ended at our perfect place (and it took 6 mos to close!) and I know you will find yours too. sending peace, love and light.

  35. Rachel Wolf says:

    It’s so true. The feel so fully and express so completely and then they get on with the business of being happy again. We have much to learn/learn again.

  36. meghann says:

    I *am* sorry to hear that. I won’t tell you “oh, there are other places and you’ll find one even more wonderful!” because it didn’t really help me when people said that a few weeks ago. I know they were trying to help but…well, I was grieving. But I will *hope* for you that something more wonderful is just around the corner. xo
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    Unraveling. (No, not my knitting.) – Clean.

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