The Recession is the Mother of Reinvention

For the next four years after we built our welcoming home in the Sunshine area of Deer Isle, we rented it out to summer vacationers and to a couple for approximately a year.  We visited every opportunity we could.  It was well worth the long 10 hour drive from New Jersey as we crossed the humpbacked bridge and felt the stress and nervous tension of our everyday lives melt away.  Here we breathed deeper, slept better, awakened early with enthusiasm. This became the place we daydreamed about, the one that sustained us.

We looked forward to wildlife sightings – the deer, giant herons, eagles and hawks, elder ducks, loons, grouse, a mink, and even a red fox.  Bob came up to the Wooden Boat School for one week and made a wooden kayak.  Our sons joined him in adventures in our wooden boat and the kayak.  They enjoyed exploring the area by sea and by foot. My mother flew in from California to join us.  We walked, cooked, read, and generally relaxed.  We explored the towns of Stonington and Blue Hill.  We reacquainted ourselves with neighbors and people we had met through the years on the island.  It became our special place for fun and relaxation.  Trevor is the family musician and he would bring up his guitar and electric bass and we would enjoy his latest musical creations.

The house had been designed for easy entertaining and accommodations for all – it worked just as imagined.  We had barbeques on the deck or just sat out there in the morning with our coffee and the enchanting view of the cove.  It didn’t matter what the season was, if we had time off we were here.  I always looked forward to these precious weeks with friends and family.   We had plenty of time to sit and talk – a luxury that wasn’t always available during our hectic work and school lives.   We’ve always been a tight knit family and this was our opportunity to reconnect deeply and lovingly.

Then in 2009 we had a life altering event that led us to selling our Westwood, NJ home and moving up here.  After years of working in academia, Bob’s job had ended.  Unlike so many during these tough economic times we had plenty of notice.  Faced with the knowledge that we could no longer afford both mortgages, we did the only sensible thing – we put our beloved Deer Isle home on the market.    We regrouped and then placed our Westwood home also on the market, leaving to fate the decision of where we would live.  As destiny would have it, the house in New Jersey did sell.

We had a quandary.  We had two fully (stuffed to the seams) houses.  Thus came the decision of what to keep and what to give away.  I began to realize that our possessions possessed us.  We had plenty of help from our loved ones as we simplified our lives, giving much away to our children and friends and the Goodwill.  How many things one accumulates in a life together!  We drove a trailer down to Charleston, SC to give furniture to Brian who had just finished the Navy’s nuclear engineering school and now was setting up his first home.  He had asked for and received our antique table said to have come from a French castle, several antique chairs, as well as some of his bedroom furniture to give to his roommates.  Eric and Loren took our large oak china cabinet and other bedroom furniture as well as several boxes of books.  Trevor had just entered William Paterson University and was in the dorms however he claimed his bedroom furniture, the sofa set in the study, and the kitchen table and chairs – all in preparation for the day he would move into an apartment with his college mates.  Each son was forced to finally take all of their things they had stored at our house for years.

Finally at the beginning of October 2009 Bob and I drove up to Maine with two cars packed with boxes, our dogs, and a moving truck which followed a day behind.  I recall that final drive, alone in the car feeling ambivalent.  On one hand I was leaving our children, friends, colleagues, and memories of the past 25 years.   There was so much joy in my recollection of the years in New Jersey and I would miss it.  Then again we were finally living the dream.  We were moving to Deer Isle and for the first time in our married life, we would be alone.  He would have time to putter around the house, do woodworking in his garage/shop, and to photograph the pristine splendor of Downeast Maine.  I would continue for the next six months as the administrator of the Dermatology Department at Columbia.  For this most part this entailed telecommuting with a commitment of traveling to New York City one week a month.

Our original plans had been to work until we were 62 and then retire here.   Ah, so much for plans!  It was too early and we aren’t ready to quit working.   But for now Deer Isle beckoned and we responded eagerly.  We looked forward to the time of rejuvenation and rest.

We left New Jersey with our lives in a state of flux and our minds uneasy.  We didn’t know what the future would bring.  There were no regrets – each step and decision we had made along the way had led us to the richness of our lives together.  We knew that our time here would be relatively short-lived and then we would be off to the next adventure however we seriously needed the time to rest and heal after the insanity and worry of the past months.  We decided to take this time as a gift and to enjoy it abundantly.

It has now been several months and we have taken full advantage of this opportunity to rethink our lives and our priorities.  We find that as much as we love the island, we are discovering that we are missing the activities and opportunities that you are used to living in and near a metropolitan area  and are looking to formulate and find a geographically closer blend of  such opportunities.

In the meantime we continue to open each day as if it were a present.  We delight in sipping our tea flavored with local wildflower honey and of taking walks on the winding trail encircling the coast through the wheat colored sea grass and marvel at the  abundant splendor of this rugged Maine Island.  We participate in community events and welcome new friends in our lives as if it will last forever.   Life here is magnificent and we are loving it.

About Shawn Phillips

As someone who has relocated several times – buying and selling houses of my own for personal and investment purposes – I can easily put myself in my clients’ shoes. I know what I needed from my Realtors and I attempt to provide that or better for my clients. My family relocated to Charleston six years ago and my love for the city and the lifestyle is one I enjoy sharing with others. Prior to entering real estate in the Low Country I was a hospital administrator for many years in Charleston and New York City and was a Realtor in Sarasota, Florida. Leveraging my experience, I pride myself in providing outstanding client service, availability, personal touches, multi-faceted marketing, and skilled negotiations. The level of trust given to me by a client is the greatest compliment I receive as a professional. It is the foundation of my practice. My dedication to each and every client is evident before, during, and after the sale!
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