Monday, July 17, 2017

Red Sky in Morning

Generally, I try to make a point of not starting posts with lengthy explanations about just where the fuck I’ve been.  I suppose this time is a little different because it’s relevant beyond just curiosity.  As I mentioned in one of my very long posts, there is no part of me that runs towards change.  I don’t necessarily run from change either.  I tend to just dig my heels in, fight it, and shelter in place.  Much like the idiot who refuses to sell to the city in cases of eminent domain.  Sure, you might win your case but you live in a highway median now.  Grit serves us well, belligerence shoots us in the foot. 
One of my favorite Barbie photos ever. 
Remember how I was giving up carbs...
The sunrise on the vernal equinox was absolutely unreal.  It had been weeks since we'd had anything other than grey skies and it broke for about 15 minutes to reveal this otherworldly show.
So you can imagine my shock when I started feeling the urge of change before it started calling me.  While I started my business amid personal chaos, personal chaos does get sorted out with a steady hand and a corkscrew.  Things that used to make your blood boil now barely merit an eye roll and there is comfort in the minutiae.  Though it can be murky realizing that not feeling plagued doesn’t exactly mean you’re thriving. Recovery of any kind--addiction, heartache, financial exhaustion, grief—must be taken one day at a time to reach success.  But how long?  The only people with a RECOVERED stamp to press to paper are the IRS.  There is no clinical assessment of how healed a broken heart may or may not be.  So at some point, it’s up to you.  No surprise as a well-cushioned Taurus, I moved a little slow.  Somewhere in the last year, the propellers began to rotate here and there.  Kicking up mire and that sat previously undisturbed.  And in these cycles of clouding and clearing, I made more room.  More room for options, permissions, and allowances.  Forgiving people in earnest, not based in declaration or pomp.  Apologizing to others in sincerity, not hinging on manipulation or motive.  If I could term this time, it would be that everything was placed under review.  The mental equivalent of Janet’s favorite hobby: removing everything from your house, cleaning it, and scrutinizing each piece as it comes back in or is officially divorced from your life.  I learned things like I need a lot more white shorts and a lot fewer celebrity memoirs.  Not exactly enlightenment but I’m on the road. 



Pileated Woodpecker
This is challenging because you come face to face with the unrealized pieces of past and current dreams.  It’s confrontational and dusty, both mentally and physically.  Hopefully through this, your gaze is widened.  And where you lived in the myopic cycle of surviving the recovery, you can reset the course from decisions and plans you made while treading water.  The hardest part is accepting that failures along the way do not need to be final, they are allowed to just be knots in the wood. 
I came into the new year with a sense of restlessness and unease.  I needed to think.  And since I’m slow it took a while.  Like, I feel like for about five months my free time was spent with a vacant stare and radio silence.  Maybe I just got fat enough that I was in hibernation and didn’t know.   Regardless, it was good.  While my mind at work is a one way tunnel, my mind at rest is more like a summer treeline at dusk.  Between the squirrels boning, birds chirping, and lightning bugs twinkling, it’s hard to focus.  But as everything in my head boiled, steamed, and distilled, I began to get a vision for a new direction. Or another direction, I suppose.
  

So first things first, I am still going to do hair and have my salon.  I still love doing hair, I love my clients, and I think they love me. In addition to hair, I’m moving into real estate.  I’ve always thought about real estate, as it’s a natural fit with my talents (if we can call them that) and interests.  God knows I have an eye for detail and can work a list.  But it wasn’t until I braided in a Hilton Head connection that it made perfect sense.  As many of you have sensed, a part of me belongs down here.  Yet, not all of me.  If rain and wind-whipped October days amid the decadence of decay were no longer a part of my life, I don’t think any amount of dappled golden light dripping in through Spanish Moss could spackle the hole left in the absence of deciduous magic.  If you’re familiar with HHI, you know that it really could be OHHIO as the amount of Ohioans there practically makes it the Midwest.  So my working plan is to provide kind of concierge service, connecting with people in Ohio and then also working with them down in South Carolina.   I’m currently working on my Ohio license and will then also become licensed in South Carolina. 
I wanna live two places.  Can you do that? Have you done that?  This is where having a blog comes soo in handy.  So many of you are smart and experienced and willing to share.  Please share your thoughts about living two places at once.  Have you done it? How’d it go? Was it for work or pleasure? Have you owned a vacation rental?  Horror stories? Tell me, tell me, tell me.  If you are or hear of someone interested in Lowcountry real estate, thiiiiink of me.  My cell is 614-314-8099. Put me in your phone just in case! It’s written on most mens bathroom walls anyway. It’s 2017 and we all know privacy is dead.  Speaking of which, you may throw rocks at me and call me a hypocrite.  I am now on Instagram in official capacity.  Follow me! Or don’t, it’s fine.  I probably will actually post a photo of myself there though so if you’d like to grab a seat for the horror, it’ll be there. 


Gorgeous Red Headed Woodpecker

An Indigo Bunting! I hadn't ever seen one before.
So the plan at this point in time, is to buy a place down there as kind of an office, place to stay, place for Barbie, and maybe I’ll offset the expense by renting it in season.  I need to get my fucks in a row before I do that, but I’m hoping sooner than later.  I’m sorry to say this will all happen more slowly than rapidly.  It’s not really my nature to share things like this as they unfold, but I suppose sometimes we cannot be omniscient narrators in our own lives.  So rather than my usual practice of sitting here and updating you on the other side of whatever the focus of the story may be, I’m going to trepidatiously share a bit more in real time.  As Mr. Gorbachev and I tear down this wall, I’m wearing a little bit more vulnerability. Which, admittedly, makes my skin crawl.  But it’s good.  I’ve ended up opening myself to other phenomena of the natural world as well.  After all, change does have a ripple effect...
I’m sorry for the long silence and truly touched that some of you really missed me.  Thank you. 

84 comments:

  1. Yes!! SO glad you are back. Saying I missed you and your posts and pics is an understatement...What an exciting new venture, and yes I do think it's tailor-made for your skill set. And your lucky clients who can get tips on staging their house as well as selling and buying expertise -- how perfect will that be?! It is difficult to write during transition times, but sometimes it's also grounding to do so, and so I hope we get to accompany you on this new journey. As for living in two places, I have not done so, but have friends who do and seem relatively sane and rational. So it CAN be done.

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    1. Thank you so much! You are so very right. I started writing about 1000 times but just couldn't commit to a vibe. Sane and rational are not really in my wheelhouse but I will try!

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  2. Oh, Stephen!!!! I'm so glad you're back and you're okay. I think it's a great idea for you to sell real estate.
    I have checked almost daily to see if you're back; then tonight I read about your instagram from La Contessa's instagram.
    I love the Great Blue heron photo at the beginning and then the really blue heron later in your post. Sunset photos are great. I had a question: do you have your usual number of hummingbirds this summer? We are facing declining numbers.

    Again, welcome back! Ann

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    1. Thank you so much! No not nearly as many this year so far here either! But my salvia is just now really taking off so we'll see how if I have more as I have more blooms! I hope so!

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  3. HI Stephen, welcome back!!! I just posted a comment but it seemed to have vanished in thin air.
    Hope this doesn't appear twice! I think selling real estate is a great idea for you and can picture you doing it.
    I love your Great Blue heron photo at the beginning of this post and then the stunning blue heron.
    As usual the sunset photos are great as are all of your other photos. How often I checked to see if you were back, and, then, finally
    there you are! Again, glad to see you on your blog and on instagram!

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  4. Driving along today, I suddenly thought of you - like, where has Stephen Andrew Jones been lately? - came home, and there is a new blog post :) I know, psychic.. Congratulations and best wishes on your new life venture, which will suit your talents beautifully. My father also had a talent for real estate, among many other things. Your photos are exquisite, and that red-headed woodpecker - what a charmer. Never heard of an Indigo Bunting but am in love with him too. And the sunsets, and the strawberries... Be Happy!

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    1. Thank you so much! You are indeed psychic! Funny when those little feelings turn out to be exactly right!

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  5. hello SAJ, how nice to see a post from you featuring all our favourite things - food, Barbie and a bit twitcher action. If the real estate does not work out, you could try bird photography.

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    1. Thank you so much! Haha don't think my bird photos would take me far but I appreciate you saying that :)

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  6. Great to hear from you and as always, I love the photos. Did you photo that blue bunting in Ohio? I have never seen one in SW Ohio nor Columbus. As far as owning a second place here is my opinion . If you have the time to deal with it and the money then you should be OK. We are selling our condo in the Caribbean because it is a hassle and we just do not have the time. Hurricanes can be a concern but we had shutters for that. Never rented it out so I cannot give an opinion about that. I love Hilton Head but consider talking with real estate agents about your plan. My other thought is vacationing in a place you love is so different than working here sometimes. I got a job in a place that I oftened hung out at because I loved the vibe, but then I did not want to hang out there after I started working there. Just food for thought.

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    1. Thank you so much! Yes the Indigo Bunting was up here in Delaware County! Such a beauty. How are you finding retirement? Thank you for your input! I could see how having a place especially out of the country would lead to many headaches. I did an exploratory trip in June to meet people in the industry down there and it was so wonderful how everything clicked.

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    2. Love retirement and I mean love it. However, I have a part time job for now. I probably need a PT job that is a little bit more interesting. I love the social part, but I may get bored sooner rather than
      later. Time will tell. Retirement has provided me with time to act as the general contractor for our house renovations that are now completed and look great. I am now working on custom window treatments for the living room and dining room. The days of going to the department stores or drapery stores are over to buy pinch pleat drapes made with great fabric. This dates me , but I remember when Eastland in Columbus had a small window treatment store that had off the rack drapes that were fabulous or of course they did custom. Now I am working with custom. She does great work. Also every time I drive past the Monroe outlet, I think of you and the Le Creuset outlet store there. Have a good day!

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  7. I couldn't be more pleased with this post (seeing it gave me such a good shock as I was thinking of you lots this past weekend and was planning to send you a whiny email). Your description of the mental mechanics you've gone through to get to the point you've reached are really an encouragement to all of us to face down those feelings of restlessness and desire for change that are so hard to process. Thank you for sharing that in your usual hilarious articulate way!
    This is going to be a huge success. For you and those fortunate enough to find you to connect them to holiday homes. You will love to live in two places, if anyone can do it it's you. Really it requires lots of lists and plenty of dishes, you've got this! I've thought lots about it myself and it's something my hubs and I talk about often. Of course we need to wait until our youngest graduates high school and we can scale back work. But it would involve an ocean and hopefully warmer temperatures than Ontario... much like your Ohio clientele.
    Love you Stephen Andrew thank you for coming back to us!!!! XXXOOOOXXXX

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    1. Thank you so much Dani!! Yes you and I need to talk Charleston as it seems I'll also be spending a lot of time there. Change is hard for control freaks to wrap their heads around I think!

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  8. Thank you for you stunningly gorgeous photographs. I've read your blog through Ellie's for a while and I'm glad your back.

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  9. WELL THANK F-ING GOD you're perfectly OK. Not perfect, because who wants THAT?... But fine - in that you're just figuring out your life like the rest of us. GREAT to hear from you again. Well, our situation is a little different than yours - we do have the second home but it's not very far away, just down on the water. If you're going to rent.. don't put your best furniture down there or you might be mightily disappointed. Be picky about who you rent to - do the homework, call the references, insist on those.

    As for living in two places? If financially that's feasible for you? Why Ever Not. You only go around once, at least to the best of my knowledge. If you're not tied down to one place and your heart yearns for another place too... go there! Be there! Make it work in whatever ways you determine it to. What is it that would hold you back? And are your fears real or imagined? That picture of Barbie on the Beach? Who wouldn't want THAT!!...

    Go. Be. Do. See. LIVE - love, Karen of This Old House 2

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    1. Hi Karen!! Thank you so much! I can't wait to see how your cove house has come along! I've missed so much! You know it'll be hard to menot to decorate it with fab Southern antiques...

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  10. Welcome back SAJ! I just about wore my SAJ link out on my computer as I searched for an update! What good news last night when I saw that you were back with a new post. I think you can do whatever you put your mind and back into. You are multi talented, witness those gorgeous bird photos! Go for it. What are you waiting for? Incidentally, we have two houses, but they are only about a mile apart...one smack dab in the middle of town and one with the country vibe going for it. Take care and keep us posted!

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    1. Thank you so much! I love the idea so much of having a town and country house so close to one another!

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  11. "You can reset the course from decisions and plans you made while treading water." I love this phrase!

    And by the way, the photography is breathtaking. I have no experience living in two places so all I can say is that it sounds like something worth doing, if you can and if you have the desire to try it!

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  12. Glad you returned. I'm fairly new to your blog, having found you through Ellie. I live in France and in only one place, but I too have always thought what a great thing to live in two places. The hard part is taking care of them both, not letting the plants die, etc. Not a huge problem if its not too far between places. I am unfamiliar with both Ohio and Hilton Head, other than what I read. Your willingness to start something new is very healthy, I think, and holds out the prospect of rewards of all kinds. Looking forward to hearing about it.
    Bonnie in Provence

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    1. Hello Bonnie! Thank you so much! Ohio and HHI are separated by about a 12 hour drive so not close but manageable. I know, I'm going to need to be very disciplined with my plant purchases down there because I'll be so excited to buy all those higher zone things I long for!

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  13. You write beautifully! Your line about rain and wind whipped October went straight to my heart! Thanks for sharing!!! I missed you.
    Rose

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  14. Hola! Of course we missed you but know that when you break it is for a reason. Thought I'd jump in and say 2, even 3 homes can be fun. We've done it multiple times over 20+ years. Go try it! It maybe stressful at times but an experience for sure. The beauty of it all...you can always go back to a single abode when that seems right, wherever that seems right.-Laurel

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    1. Thank you so much, Laurel! I'm glad to hear that!!

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  15. You write beautifully! Your line about rain and wind whipped October went straight to my heart! Thanks for sharing! I missed you.

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  16. I have missed you and kept checking your blog just to be sure I hadn't missed anything. We are living in two places, as of September 2016, because of my husband's job. We own a home in VA and are renting a home in Winter Garden, FL. We think it's fun. Winter Garden is our alter ego - living in downtown, driving a golf cart, even going to a Methodist church!

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    1. Methodist! How raunchy! Haha :) thank you so much! I think I've been to Winter Garden! Where in Virginia?

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  17. Oh my God!! That is literally what I said out loud when your e-mail pinged my in-box! I've been so wondering about you. Was thinking about you just the other day. Thinking that I need to be better about commenting on all of your posts because sometimes I read and though I love them all, I don't always comment because I have nothing original to say and I don't want to be boring. But blogs are an exchange of energy and I need to be better! So glad you're OK and your news is very exciting! The photos are gorgeous and it's lovely to see Barbie!! You'll do fabulous in Real Estate. I worked for realtors for 10 years. The only thing is you are so nice and I found it not an easy business to be involved in if your nice. I mean no disrespect to anyone here who is a realtor, this was just my observation. You'll bring some civility to the field and dare I say it, some decorum (thank you Ellie for coining the phrase). I miss Ellie so much too. :( Thanks for the food inspiration and all that you bring to this world! xx Valorie

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    1. Thank you so much, Valorie!! I so prefer blogs too, so much more complete. It seems some real estate cultures are very rude and others are very respectful! I miss Ellie terribly as well! Don't you wish we had her takes on all the 2017 insanity?!

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  18. Hi Stephen,

    Welcome back. Congratulations on your percolating new direction. As for living in two places, you might want to reach out to Mike of "Inspired by Charm" blog fame. He is doing that himself, splitting his time between his home and new apartment in Pittsburgh. Cheers, Ardith

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    1. Thank you so much, Ardith! I'll look into him!

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  19. So glad you're back-- you always inspire me! Your pictures are beautiful. Would love your key lime pie recipe if it's not too much trouble. I know how scary change can be but this seems like such an exciting adventure. Beth

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    1. Thank you so much, Beth! Yes I will post it soon. When is her birthday? If it's soon soon just email me salonstephen@gmail and I'll get it to you! I'm trying to be a less slow blogger but I'm still a Taurus!

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  20. Stephen, so wonderful to find a post from you, and I only saw it by chance!!! For some reason it was in my spam, which I don't often check because I have it set to auto-delete after 24hours. I was cleaning up my inbox and decided to look though and manually delete the spam and there was your post mixed in with all the unsolicited X-rated stuff... too funny!
    You will be fantastic working in real estate - close your eyes and jump in! Your love of houses and design details, along with your fabulous eye for style, will benefit both buyers and sellers. (Think of all the help you could give sellers when it comes to staging!) As for having two properties in different locations, I'll offer my thoughts to you on that a bit later. Gotta run for now, but just wanted to say WELCOME BACK!
    xo, Catherine

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    1. Catherine, that means so much coming from you! Thank you!! Yes whenever you have a moment, I'd absolutely love your thoughts on the matter of living two places! Great to hear from you!

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  21. Dear SAJ, you have been very missed. I thought you might have been lost in your dish room so I'm relieved to hear you've just been busy been plotting a revolution!
    I second Dani BP "lots of lists and plenty of dishes" - makes perfect sense don't you reckon?
    I have no useful advice other than to take good care of yourself and mind that in dividing your life like this (and being a details guy) that it doesn't get too exhausting. I think from following you from afar for a long time that you seem to be happier when you do things at your own pace and don't flog yourself (such an Aussie expression that)
    So glad you're back and sharing your views and thoughts, you never know who they've touched. xMiss Janex

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    1. That is so wonderful of you to say! Thank you! Haha you are SO right. I don't rush well! I was kiiinda lost in my dish room for a while but I clawed my way out!

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  22. well. and there I was... thinking you were surely going into some kind of professional photography.
    you're that good. national geographic has nothing on you.
    or that you were going in for professional catering or house staging or wedding planning and hosting.
    but. having two different homes and life as a real estate mogul. YES! I can see you doing that too and/or all the above.
    I have never had two homes. but if you follow ted kennedy watson ... they love it and make it work very well. he and his partner have a home in seattle where their high end shoppe that carries unusual and beautiful living goods is located. then they have a home in NY when they go on buying expeditions and/or just need some rest. their little dog bailey goes with them of course. and that kind of life suits you to a tee. T? tea? until such time you want to become a professional writer and publish your own fabulous coffee table books. I'm still waiting for that one from you!
    I also have a personal plan. I will be living out of my car someday for at least 5 months out of the year. it's the only way I have of living two places at a time. it's to escape this F'ng triple digit HEAT. hey. it's all some of us have got as a second home. don't be alarmed. a 72 year old woman should be safe. if not I'll carry a glock.
    kudos my darling Stephen Andrew Jones! now I must go visit your Instagram. good luck dearest boy! XOXO♥

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    1. Tammy! Thank you so much that is so sweet of you! Haha National Geographic photographers are shaking their heads in dismay everywhere! I know of TKW but not much. Seattle and NY! That's quite a hike! One of my uncles travels around and stays in his VW camper and loves it!

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  23. So glad to see you again, SAJ. The dark pink sky colors are truly other-worldly and incredibly beautiful hues. Your assessment of thriving (or not) is so funny and I like your ability to discern without being too harsh on yourself. Linear time does not compute with a broken heart. They are different galaxies. Sometimes the heart is mended and forever altered, and, again, one discerns what is good in it. A life with no pain, or at least conflict, might never know true peace. We learn and grow in the contrast (and perhaps thrive). I'm a Sagg and believe me when I say I threw out the clock on healing and mending. Then it is a matter of the process, as you say, meeting the grief, the questioning, as if all of our being rises up to be assessed for worth and longevity - will we take all the minutiae into the next phase. No is a good answer. And failure? Eventually we see (didn't say accept) it as part of the process, and then appreciate the process. Life isn't the destination, it's in the details. I better stop now before Hallmark sues me for copyrights.

    My former stylist in NH has a house in FL that he gets to perhaps 2-3 times per year. I know he loves it there, though not sure how he feels about having it and using it so little. He lets family (namely mother and aunt) use it but I don't think he rents it. He's a busy guy so I'm sure looking forward to going is almost as fun as being there for him. If that is where your heart is, go for it. Good luck! ~Nicole in CA

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    1. Thank you so much, Nicole! Yeah that is a significant trip to get from California to Florida! Totally agree with you.

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  24. I just looked at your blog the other day to see if there were any new posts. I get your blog by email and hadn't seen a new entry in such a long time, I thought perhaps I was no longer subscribed!! Anyway, glad to see all is ok.
    I think everyone should follow their dream. I haven't many times, I those are my biggest regrets. Don't let them be yours.

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    1. Thank you so much! Haha yeah I intended to take a few week break but it quickly turned into six months!

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  25. Hey SAJ,

    You don't know me from a bar of soap as I've never uttered a peep on your blog before and lurk about like a stalker. I'm very pleased to hear that you're back in the land of the living and to know that your long radio silence is because you, like so many of us, are having one big shitty 2017 where all the cards have been thrown into the air, with intent or otherwise. So we've got something in common now! (As I'm not gay, male, dog-owning, well-groomed, a morning person, American etc...)

    My own experience of living in two places? Well, last year we sold our two adjacent holiday houses, a three-hour drive from 'home', after 15 or so years of trooping back and forth. Some years we spent up to half the year there, other years just a couple of days a week on average. We rented in the high season for a few years and had friends and family to stay whenever possible, and for a few years also had my in-laws living in one of the houses. Emotionally, as much as we tried to make it work, and we had some really good times and I learnt to garden and renovate, I cannot say how happy we were to finally sell them (it took nearly 2 agonising years, in spite of a so-called property boom) and settle back into one place. Financially, if we could do it again, we would rent not buy. Having one place can be costly enough, but over a long period of ownership the running costs will amaze you. Would the $$ have been better spent on renting somewhere gorgeous? Maybe.

    My tips: don't fall into the trap of using the second house as the sorting house for your devolving possessions and clothes as it will become your albatross if and when you want to simplify your life again; be vigilant about doing your washing in the house the stuff belongs in, otherwise you'll live like a homeless person with all your dirty-then-clean stuff in bags in the car (less room for Barbie's kit); get some decent lightweight thermal bags for transporting the food from the fridges, as in addition to your best intentions to keep a perfectly stocked pantry in the second place, you will always have a tonne of fresh food that 'needs eating' to carry with you.

    Whatever and however you decide to do this, you'll do a fabulous job!

    Greetings from Sydney,
    Vanessa

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    1. One of my best friends' parents came from Central Europe and they had so much traditional folk wisdom. When she was thinking of buying a holiday home her father said "To have milk you don't need to buy a cow!" So true. She didn't buy the holiday home and is now very pleased about this as it would have tied them down. Now they travel to different parts of the globe every year without worrying about other properties or feeling guilty because they're not using them.
      Your tips are such good advice. Pammie

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    2. Vanessa! I love your name! My sister is a Vanessa! Thank you so much! Haha well you never have to worry about be taking old stuff to the new place cause you know I'll go insane hunting for Southern antiques! A big thing for me is that this very much be a working property that affords me the chance to entertain clients in my own home since that's such a part of me. My hope is to be there at least one week a month. Thanks again and congratulations on the sale of your property!

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    3. "you don't know me from a bar of soap." i've never heard that but i love it and am stealing it. thank you vanessa. xo

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  26. I just started following you on instagram. Count me in as glad to see you back. I adored so many of your posts. I believe I found Karen (above) thru your blog and was tickled to see her pop up on your instagram. (We have chattered about second home ownership on her blog.)

    We live in two different places (small college town during the week/middle of the forest on weekends) but it's only a 45 minute drive between the two.

    Thoughts?

    I have keep life at the cottage simple and I am ruthless when it comes to keeping it clutter free and EASY. I only have what I need and love at the cottage, the opposite of the main house......

    We don't rent it out but have been approached many times. We may consider renting in the future if we buy the land across the street and build another cottage. However, friends have a very nice beach house and you would think the price would keep the riff raft away but it does not. Renters have done all sorts of damage. One that comes to mind is a group that snuck their dog along. This dog chewed all the legs of a $8,000 dining room table and the renters had the nerve to complain that their $1,000 security deposit wasn't returned.

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    1. Oh how awful about your friends' table!! Haha yes unfortunately the riff raff often still has the cash to pay! How exciting about the new parcel of land and potential cottage! Would you consider one of thoss prefabricated ones? Those seem to be getting better all the time! Love Karen's blog! Have read her forever!

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  27. Glad you are well and the synapses are firing. Living in two places is complicated: too much stuff, the thing you are looking for is elsewhere, the person that you'd most like to see lives in the other spot, etc. But the benefits are worth the irritations. At some point you may choose one over the other, but in the meantime, if you can manage to work out living in both, you should definitely do it. Owning two homes is not continuously smooth sailing, but what is? And if you find you can't handle the travel, expenses, or headaches, you'll make the appropriate choices: leave? stay? sell? lease? start a new business? All those queries will be answered.

    Be sure to post your vrbo page when the time comes!

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    1. Thank you so much, Em! I think you're so right! It will be an interesting experience for sure. It's funny how it seems to be such a good plan for me right now. And the universe is certainly nudging me along with signs it's a good idea! Though I suppose I can always be found guilty of deciding something is a sign :)

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  28. Thank God you have returned. I was getting ready to drive to Ohio to search for you! My plan was to hit every hair salon in Ohio until I found you! (I live in PA.) Hair, real estate, blog. Yassssss! I was born and raised on the southern NC coast, and Hilton Head was not a thang at the time. I think you may have hit on a great idea to assist northerners in purchasing or leasing in HHI. But why limit yourself to Ohioians? People in PA need help, too! Anyway, glad to see your post, and especially your photographs (they are awesome). Good luck and keep your army posted!

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    1. Thank you so so much! Oh--by all means, share my name and number and whatever else you need to connect me with people looking to buy down there!!

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  29. Amen and Hallelujah, he's back! How I love you! OF COURSE you can do this! Absofuckinglutely! Go for the Gold, Darling. Yes, Yes, YES. It suits you! I'm excited for you and will live vicariously through your adventures. So, so happy you've arrived at this decision. There is no law of limitations other than what we tell ourselves, remember that. Also remember that fear will tell you how it is, how it's going to be. But fear lies, fear is a bullshit artist. So don't listen to a word it whispers. Before you know it you'll be soaring, I know it!

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    1. Thank you so much, Barbara! That means so much to me and I couldn't agree more about fear. Also the way one fear tends to multiply into many others!

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  30. Good for you, Stephen Andrew. Go for it! Next, we'll see you on "Million Dollar Listings of Hilto Head Island. " it's great to have you back. ( your photos are gorgeous)

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    1. Thank you so much, Emily! Haha I don't think MDL would take too well to HHI. It's all too laid back and slow there! But maybe I'll see the teeth come out as I get further in!

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  31. Dear Stephen Andrew
    Welcome Back! Have so often wondered about you and hoped all was well. Have really missed your posts. The photos here are beautiful as usual - and I loved seeing from what you've written, so beautifully, the amount of thought you've been giving to life - yours and life in general. Other parts I can see are a work in progress. Good luck with your new venture - it will be a challenge and stretch you. That can be really exciting, though also stressful but you're young enough to respond well and hopefully you continue to have your wonderful family and friends as your support system.
    In regard to living in two places - have friends who have lived in two countries for years. One couple is English - they worked for an international company where they were sent around the world about every three years or so living in different places (eg France, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Dubai etc) and really enjoyed this life. When retirement came they couldn't face going back to England to live forever so they bought a house in Oz and live half the year here and half the year in England (winter never comes for them as they time their moves carefully). All their family has come to Oz to live permanently. It works well for them and they're very happy - though not sure as they get older. The other friends live half in France and half in Oz (the wife is originally French) - they have apartments in Paris and Nice and a home in Oz. It's a wonderful life splitting their time between their residences (they're retired so have the freedom to do this). In a small way we do it too as we've been spending about two months each year in Europe, in last few years mostly in France. But I couldn't imagine spending very much more time away - as we'd miss our family too much - also as it would become too expensive, even though we're lucky enough to spend much of that time in a friend's apartment. We've in fact just returned from Paris this past week, arriving back for really cold weather. Here it's been -7 and -8C. A shock on re-entry! Best wishes, SA, once again so glad you're back, Pammie

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    1. Thank you so much, Pammie! So good to hear from you! Hope your time in Paris was wonderful! How fabulous that your friends never have winter! That really is cold for Australia! Do you have to worry about anything in your garden at that temp or is that relatively common for this time of year?

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  33. So glad to have you back! Have missed your humor and beautiful pictures.

    My hubby and I once owned a small, second home at the lake. It proved to be too much trouble with the yard mowing, upkeep, etc., so we ended up selling it. Now, a few years later and a little wiser, I would love a second home in the Blue Ridge Mountains somewhere in North Carolina. A place where I could get away from the demands of my job and life in general.

    So go for it!! Live your dream! I don't know who said it, but wise words - "life isn't a dress rehearsal." Jan

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    1. Hello, Jan! Thank you so much. I love that part of North Carolina! No mowing there! Just pine mulch, right?

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  34. Thanks for your beautiful pictures of birds that we do see in Australia. I too checked your blog yesterday as I have been wondering if you were OK, so happy to see your post today.

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  35. SAJ!!! I have so missed you! I'm am loving the change that you are embracing in your life.....even though I, myself, hate change! However, my life has been FULL of it and I am better for it and my life is richer for it. So GO!!!! We have two homes....half the year in Georgia and half in Harbor Springs, MI. In one location is family...with a few close friends....and the other location is filled with friends and community. My only advice would be to get each location to be as turn key as possible. Home maintenance is a four letter word with one home, much less two. BUT we regret nothing! Also, I live by the phrase "nothing is forever"....if you don't like your dual existence, go back to one home. My philosophy is when you get to the end of your life try not to have regrets....if you don't try this you may regret it. I will be sending you happy thoughts and prayers as you venture into a new life....even if you are doing it with your sphincter squeezed shut!!!!

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    1. Thank you so much, Nan! Oh I'm in trouble I literally regret everything I've ever done! Hahaha each day is a chance to start fresh and regret yesterday, right?! I need to look where Harbor Springs is. Thank you for the encouragement!

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  36. Hi. I wanted to reread this at least once before commenting. ;) You know me, I am not at all ageist but still sometimes I wonder how you are so damn wise, even when you admittedly aren't! You have given me inspiration, my beautiful friend...but then again, you always do. I believe in you a million percent. And if I can live out of a suitcase for a year then you can most certainly make do in two such very good places (and you know that I am not being sarcastic about Ohio in saying that!). With much Love to you. H

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    1. Thank you so much, Heather! Yes I know you know Ohio is not the tragic beast it is portrayed to be! If only I had your packing skills!!

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  37. I'm so glad you are back and that all is well! I enjoy your posts immensely, and though I am a recent fan, I am a big one! You are brilliant.
    We are in the last throes of remodeling a second home that is halfway across the country. I'm not sure you would say we're going to live there, but it is a second home! My tips are to get to know the neighbors and your insurance agent. And, for us, we are trying to keep the house pared down and only for vacation/fun/relaxing--no piles of business papers or accumulations of stuff, as in: one thing in, one thing out (although we seem to have about 10 fancy bottle openers). So for your situation, don't plan to leave many work-related things there, have a traveling file that is always with you. I am a piler and accumulator by nature and I am finding it very liberating to be without my carapace of stuff.
    Mary

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    1. Thank you so much, Mary! I am an accumulator too so I am right there with you. Congratulations on your second home! Glad you're at the tail end of the remodel!

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  38. Firstly may I say "Barbie you are glamorous!" Secondly welcome back, you have been missed, I'm afraid I cannot offer any advice on living in two places, but I can't wait to share your journey. Love from Australia, Suzana

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    1. She says thank you! Haha thank you so much Suzana!

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  39. I find it fascinating that although we are all perfect strangers here in blog land, we have one thing in common - you and how much you've been missed by one and all. 2017 was billed as the year of BIG change - go out and grab it. xx

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    1. Haha it certainly has been!! Thank you so much!

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  40. Beyond beautiful and the food and of course that gorgeous dog! I am always glad to see you back posting for sure!!

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  41. I am glad you're back! This next chapter will be great. I just know it. I can't wait to follow you along on your dream.

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  42. I ADORE THE PLAN!
    I think YOU will ENJOY TWO HOMES MORE THAN ONE!
    More to FUSS Over and think about!
    What a BEAUTIFUL POST from THE HEART..................
    I'm kinda speechless at the moment maybe I need MORE caffeine but since I do not live close by but have your CELL NUMBER ALREADY I will check in with YOU from time to Time.........
    WELCOME TO INSTAGRAM!
    I LOVE how you went from 7 FOLLOWERS to 275 OVERNIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    THAT JANET was GOOD TO SPREAD THE WORD...............and now MORE will do as well.
    Your PHOTOS ARE STUNNING!
    I best skip to LA CUCINA.........and make another LATTE!
    XX

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  43. how am i always late to your parties? omg, the photography stephen! i'd ask what camera you use but why bother bc i know i won't buy it. if you tell me your iphone i'll die. wow, i'm so excited for your new project. you will make the perfect real estate agent/concierge. and what a great idea to begin with. love that top photo of barbie, i agree, it's the best. xoxo janet

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  44. Oh hello and how great it is to read your post...lots of stuff happening and beautiful images are incredibly beautiful!
    Hope you have fun finding a new spot...we did too!
    We invested in a quarter share waterfront Gulf Island cottage which I have named Quarter Deck Cottage...it is fabulous and we are in our 2 week summer rotation now.
    Please give Barbie a pat for me...

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