"You cannot create a statue by smashing the marble with a hammer, and you cannot by force of arms release the spirit or soul of man." — Confucius
Patience is one of my huge life lessons. I want what I want when I want it. Usually, I want it now. When the fire happened, I remember sitting in my car down by the pond. The volunteer firefighters were dealing with the main house. My insurance agent gave me a few numbers to call for emergency service to board up our now-condemned house. I sat there bewildered and wondered if I would have to cancel the four upcoming retreats we had booked for Still Waters that summer. Could the house be fixed in a few months?
That was four years ago on March 30.
Things take time and it's not always on my preferred timeline. The creative intelligence of the universe had big lessons to shine on us. I had the chance to see this as an opportunity for growth or a vehicle for cultivating resentments.
I tried to push and I pushed hard by scrambling for contractors and pleading with banks for loans. Approaching potential bankers, I tried explaining a complex insurance claim that I didn't fully comprehend. In retrospect, the best thing I did was hire a fabulous public adjuster to help us with the claim. Ken knew the language of insurance-speak and how to read a policy. He stuck with us for three years until we got through all the ups and downs of fulfilling on a very complex fire situation.
Since the part of the main house was built in 1730, it was a miracle that we had Code & Ordinance coverage in our insurance policy. Code & Ordinance means that when there's a claim, anything in that area has coverage to bring the space up to current code. As you can imagine, even if you know nothing about insurance, a house built in 1730 compared to a house in 2014 had very different requirements. Because our claim was mostly code & ordinance, we had to pay for the "repairs" ourselves, then the insurance company would reimburse us for a small percentage of the total costs... later. Um...from what we could see, the entire side of the house needed to be knocked down and rebuilt, not a small repair.
These things take time, and in our case, a lot of time and money. The complexities of our situation began to unfold. The fire, while it destroyed half of our large house, was technically only destructive in a small portion of the home. We would have to cover the rest of what needed to be done. Emerging artists on a limited budget are to fund this project? We'd better be hungry to make this happen.
While all of this was unfolding, my wine drinking escalated as a way of coping with the stress. As some of my close friends know, I am mentally and physically prone to addiction (my three favorites: sugar, nicotine, alcohol), so I had one hell of a complex situation on my hands. You can read more about the details of the journey in my book I published this Spring, Finding Still Waters: The Art of Conscious Recovery. Let's just say that the stress of the fire brought me a huge gift, the chance to return to a path of recovery. And I did. Thank God. The fire became a gift of renewal and opportunity.
On this bright Spring morning, I write this post from the newly constructed beautiful half of the main house, in the space above where the fire happened. It's been four years and we have our Certificate of Occupancy. We are ready — almost. I am getting the business side of things launched with contracts, waivers, forms, and finding our necessary team of providers: caterers/chefs, housekeepers, and gardeners. Tao is grinding out all the outdoor and interior finishing tasks. We recently soft-launched a work exchange program called Symbiosis, where friends and friends-of-friends come work and help us in exchange for bed and breakfast while enjoying the great outdoors and peaceful energy here. We are getting our ducks in a row. So many people stepped in to help. They continue to show up. We are truly grateful.
We are working diligently, and getting closer. Nature will handle the rest.