Updated: Aug 10, 2020
I am not an emotionally driven person. My opinions are usually filled with honest feedback soaked in logic prevailing pragmatism. I’ve always been proud of my ability to get things done efficiently, often not stopping to think about how I get it done.
My generation has not previously endured colossal events that course corrects our way of thinking. With the recent COVID, #Blacklivesmatter, and the leadership crisis of our neighbours, my mindset is shifting. It has been a stark reminder of the fragility of life, has put into perspective what we value and emphasized the importance of how we treat others.
COVID reinforced how precious my interactions are with friends, families, neighbours and even strangers. How life can be taken away in one horrific swoop and we don’t necessarily have control over that. What we can choose is how we honour and love the moments we have together.
#Blacklivesmatter reminded me that I, along with everyone else, have an important role in making our world a better place. Every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Self-reflection, equity based policies, deeper understanding, dismantling broken systems and reconciliation are important factors we need to communally work on.
Trump drove home that ignorance, racism, misogyny and bullying are unacceptable and inexcusable no matter how accomplished you are, how much money you make or how much power you wield.
2020 is screaming at us. We need to listen.
We are not winning if we leave bodies in our wake. We should not be celebrated if we’ve made it to the top no matter the costs. We should not have a value system based on people’s gender, skin colour, positions, accolades and paycheques. It’s time for us to start asking different questions and respecting different answers.
This week, the world showed me again what it is like to win with heart.
We have been looking for a new home since last November. Very little has come on the market that we were remotely interested in. We were giving up hope, thinking our dream home was unattainable within our current budget. We started some small renovations to our current home thinking we would be in it for another five years until we could afford what we really wanted.
On a sunny mid-summer morning, as I sat in our yard with a cup of coffee to ritualistically go through what was new on the housing market, a home caught my eye.
The 1965 house is nestled on a small cul-de-sac, steps from my running trail and in the same neighbourhood as three of our close friends. It sits among large Garry Oak trees with a splendid south facing yard filled with raised vegetable beds and gardens textured with natural rock. The sun pours in through the large windows in the solarium, which opens up to a large house.
I fell in love. I fell in love with all its beautiful features, with the rooms I could picture our family in. I could hear the pitter-patter of our kids’ feet scurrying down the halls. I could see us entertaining our friends and family in the living room and I could envision Roland and I with a glass of wine by the fire. It has flaws, it needs some updating, but the imperfections made me want it even more. We could make it our own.
Early the next morning, unable to sleep, I sat down to write the letter Roland and I crafted the night before. I imagined how trying this process must be for an 84 year old couple that had raised their three children in this home and had put their heart into it over the past 40+ years.
The process of purchasing a house can be competitive and impersonal. The system is built to accommodate a cold transaction out of the most important purchases of people’s lives. Buying a home is so much more than square footage, desirable postal codes, feature sheets and price tags.
The Wiebe’s deserved more.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Wiebe,
We thank you kindly for considering our offer to purchase your home.
We are a family with three young children. We understand, Mr. Wiebe, that you are an agriculturalist. We are from the prairies, where my parents still farm. In Victoria, I have worked in policy, legislation and programing for the Ministry of Agriculture to support and grow the sector.
Our ties with agriculture were one way in which we connected with you and this house.
In many ways, this already feels like home. Three of our closest friends, all with children the same age, live a quick 15-minute walk from you. We also frequently run the golf course trail.
We envision raising our children and growing old together here. We promise to take exceptional care of this house and to love it as you so clearly have.
We hope we have proposed a fair and respectable offer for this beautiful property, which honours your legacy. If we are the fortunate new owners of your home, we would love if you came to visit us on occasion.
Thank you for considering us and best of luck with this new chapter in your lives.
When the Wiebe’s sat down to review the offers, we were one of six who put in a bid for their cherished home. We waited, every minute stretching out in the way time does when you’re riddled with anxiety. An hour… an hour and a half… two hours. I throw my hands in the air. We didn’t get it, and they are clearly negotiating with whoever the top candidate was.
“I’ve got some good news!” says Stephanie, our real estate agent.
Our eyes go wide, our hands fly into the air and the tension bursts into shrieks of happiness.
A few days later, we did a walk through of our soon-to-be new home. Our extended family and close friends joined us, to share in a special moment. I placed a bouquet of fresh lilies and a hand written thank you note on their counter. In it, I left our contact information to invite them for tea once they are settled into their new home.
Mrs. Wiebe called me later that day. Through a shaky voice, she said thank you for the flowers and the notes. I could hear her tears through the cracking of her voice as she expressed how grateful she was that her home was going to another family, who would raise their children there. I told her we want to fill the walls with love, laughter, joy and good memories - as they had.
Even though the system is set up to be cold, we made the choice to put hearts and souls back into the process. The Wiebe’s were happy they got a fair price for their house, but what brought them to tears was how good they felt knowing their home would continue to be loved.
Hard decisions need to be made, things need to get done and that won’t change. However, especially in those moments, I am going to stop, take a deep breath and inject love, empathy, kindness and soul back into the situation. There’s always a choice.
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