by Morella Devost, EdM, MA
On a gorgeous Friday afternoon in August of 2012, I asked myself a question that turned my world around in a split second. It opened the doors to an overnight miracle like I’d never experienced before and changed me forever.
It has the power to do the same for you.
Between the spring and summer of 2012, I found myself in renters’ limbo. I was out of my previous home and needed to find a new one. While I searched, my stuff went into storage, and I moved in with my dad and stepmom. They were up for the summer at their beautiful condo on Lake Champlain.
Trouble was, I had a hard deadline: I needed to move out by August 31st because the condo was going into major renovations. The folks would be going back home to Venezuela and I had to vacate before the massive construction project started.
I was determined to secure an apartment early in the summer so as to avoid competing with the back-to-school crowd. The University of Vermont student body represents 26% of the total Burlington population. When they come and go has a big impact on our tiny city’s rental market.
To make things a bit more interesting, during that spring I had also been casually dating George. When we met, George was recently separated from his wife. He was house-sitting for his neighbors while he and his ex-wife sorted out the minutiae of their divorce and shared custody of the kids.
George and I had fun that spring. We went ice skating on our first date. We shared poetry and juicy conversation. We loved our rich philosophical and spiritual tête-à-têtes, as well as the coziness of or matching kind hearts. It was sweet.
But as the spring rolled into the summer, it became pretty clear that George was not going to be my forever man. I wanted something different and he was cool with it too. George and I moved out of the dating zone and into the sometimes tricky friend zone. By then, I had also rekindled a steamy affair with an ex of my own, which was pretty exciting. So romantically speaking, George and I were done.
And then, sometime in June, George floated an idea that sounded brilliant at the time. Since we were both looking for a place to live, how about we look for a big house and find some like-minded roommates to start a conscious community?
I loved it! I loved the idea of not being on my own. I loved George’s kids and thought it’d be fun to share a home. My friend Gardner was also looking for a place to share and he was a perfect match for our green-living, organic-gardening, meal-sharing, “conscious community” home. So, why not?!
George started emailing me links to big houses for rent in Burlington. We wasted no time (because, you know, the students are coming) looking at them. We toured three homes and settled for one near Oakledge Park.
The house had five bedrooms and three baths, was recently renovated, and it was close to the beach. It was perfect. I’d take the room on the main floor, George and the kids two rooms on the other story, Gardner room number four, and we just needed one more roommate.
A CraigsList posting got us several roommate applications. George and I met with Brooke, a lovely acupuncturist who had just moved to Vermont. Gardner had a phone conversation with her, and we all agreed that Brooke was the perfect match.
The train had left the station. We found our perfect house. We had our community living plan, and even our landlord was delightful. He kindly let us delay the lease-signing from mid-July when we told him we wanted the house, into August so as to give us time to line up all roommates and not assume the burden of rent.
And then it happened, Friday afternoon August 17th, 2012 at 5:00 pm. I was on my way home when George called. His voice was grave as he shared what was going on for him. Even though we were scheduled to sign the lease the following morning, George said he wasn’t feeling it. He’d changed his mind!
I was beyond livid. “This was your flippin’ idea!” I yelled. He could not articulate why he had a change of heart. He just “wasn’t feeling it.” I told him it was his job to notify the other roommates and the landlord that the plan was off. I sure as hell wasn’t going to sign a lease and scramble to find roommates to take his two vacant rooms.
I got to my folks’ place in an anger tornado. I shared what George had just done. They were flabbergasted because I was running out of time. I had to be out of the house by September 1st. Here it was mid-August and my plans had just fallen through.
I wasted no time in my fury. I pulled out my computer, sat at the kitchen table, and asked my dad to pour me a drink. I had to find a home on Craigslist, STAT. The pickings were slim and disheartening. Everything was overpriced and dingy.
Right then, in the midst of my angry searching, my dad came over to say they were headed over to the neighbors for ‘First Friday,’ the monthly condo happy-hour. “Want to come with us?” he sweetly asked. I declined.
I was on a mission and I was reeling. “How could George put me in this position?! I wasted so much time because of him! This was exactly what I’d wanted to avoid! Now I was in the market along with all the stragglers and disorganized students who failed to plan for September 1st.”
I spoke with Gardner, who was still on board to be roomies if I found a two-bedroom place. He told me he was chill about it all and not to worry. Brooke was out too. She decided she wanted her own place.
After hanging up with Gardner, I returned to Craigslist when all of a sudden, I heard myself think, “this is the WORST thing that could be happening!”
By some divine power, I paused after hearing that negative thought and reflected, “huh… is it really the worst thing that could be happening?” What followed was the question that changed everything. The question that shifted my worldview in a split-second and altered me forever:
“What if instead of thinking this is the worst thing that could be happening, what if it’s the BEST thing that could be happening?”
There. What if this is the best thing that could be happening? That was the question. In an instant, I realized perhaps it really wasn’t such a good idea to share a home with a former date, however casual. Perhaps community living might not have been the best for me. What if this was a huge blessing from the universe? I began to see all of the reasons why perhaps it wasn’t such a good idea after all. But more importantly, I opened up to the possibility that something extraordinary might be in store for me!
At that moment, I closed my computer and grabbed my drink. I hollered out to my dad that I would be tagging along after all. I had lined up two CraigsList apartments to look at the next morning and I realized that stewing in my anger and self-righteousness was not going to get me a home any quicker. So off I went, drink in hand, across the shared lawn to the neighbors’.
At the gathering, neighbor Joyce asked, “so, how’s the apartment hunt going?” Sigh… I told her what was up. And then the miracle came: “Oh! I think Susan and her kids are moving out! You should go ask her!” she said. “When?!” I asked. Joyce replied, “I’m pretty sure she’s moving out for September 1st.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. The Susan in question was a neighbor living two doors down from my dad’s place. I’d seen her in passing but never knew she was a renter, much less that she was planning on moving out. The thought that I could live right in the paradise of my teenage Lake Champlain summer vacations was too good to be true. I tried to contain my excitement, assuring myself that the landlord probably already had a plan and that the rent might be outside my budget.
Still stunned by the synchronicity, first thing Saturday morning, I stopped by Susan’s. She was already packing and confirmed that she was moving within days. She further expanded my glee when she revealed that she hadn’t notified the landlord yet (this place wasn’t even listed!) and that her rent was a lot less rent than all the dingy Craigslist apartments!
I couldn’t believe it. Within hours I’d gone from being livid with George for putting me in my worst-case housing scenario, to witnessing the very real possibility that in two weeks’ time I’d be moving into a home beyond my wildest dreams, paying less rent than anywhere else, and living two doors down from my folks, who I cherish.
I’ve lived in this haven for six years and counting. I still pinch myself sometimes and have taken countless pictures of my view of the lake and my strolls down to the beach.
It’s been a blessing, and yet the greatest gift is that ever since that August weekend in 2012, whenever I’ve caught myself resisting the flow of life, I’ve asked the question: “what if this is the best thing?” This spring, I’m navigating the waters of separation and divorce. Whenever I slip into deep pain, I remind myself, “what if this is the best thing for both of us?” And just like that, I begin to sense the many blessings that are in store for us.
As an important footnote, the instant I asked the question back in 2012, my anger towards George evaporated. I was no longer a victim of his decision. I became an eager witness for whatever magic was about to unfold. What allowed for the seemingly miraculous turn of events was my willingness to turn my point of view around, to open up to the possibility that this might be the best thing.
I invite you to ask the question that will turn your point of view around. You will cease resisting whatever is happening and open up to welcome the blessings to come. I promise you they will come.
Morella Devost facilitates profound transformation for people who want to thrive in health and life. She has master’s degrees in Counseling from Columbia University, and is also a Clinical Hypnotherapist, NLP facilitator, and Holistic Health Coach. She is also the host of the Thrive With Morella show.