I had a religious experience with finding an apartment once.

I knew what I wanted: a little nest where my partner and I could have a baby and sun pouring through the windows and happiness by the bucketload. Without being aware of it, I also believed that there was exactly 1 apartment like this on the planet earth and if we didn’t find it, we would miss our chance. So naturally, I was filled with fear and dread and refreshed the Criagslist housing listings 85 times per day. It was a delightful time.

Thanks, in large part, to my therapist, I was able to re-orient myself toward a few things.
1) There are actually a whole bunch of places out there where we could live and be happy,
2) It’s possible to get what you want, and 3) It’s helpful to get really clear about what you want, do any work you can to help yourself get it, and then (and this part killed me) prepare to receive it.

Prepare to receive it.

I struggled with the language and the new age hippie connotations. But the strand in her advice that I could relate to was a concept that the world works in mysterious ways and can help things come about in a much more elegant way than I can all by my little self. So I held that image in my mind–great big galaxies weaving their magical spells for apartment hunters everywhere–and I wrote down all of the things I wanted in an apartment.

I wrote it all down. EVERYTHING I wanted. I put it on our mantle. I even lit a candle. And then I prepared to receive it.

After weeks of more Craigslist refreshing, struggling, not believing and feeling angry and scammed, I finally started to understand what that meant.

I was flying to El Paso to be with my dying grandmother. The timing, in terms of apartment hunting, was horrendous. This was the week when, in a month’s time, it would be move-out day, so we would be able to sign a check for an apartment on the spot. I had been waiting for this window of time, and now I was going to miss it, and that one dreamboat apartment was going to be snatched away by someone else. Probably a really cute, young couple who were wildly fertile and loved their high paying jobs.

Then I heard my therapists voice: Do the work, and then prepare to receive it.

So I did the work–I re-posted our months old “Housing Wanted” ad on Craigslist, and then I boarded the plane. While we were in the clouds, I had a moment of mental and physical lightness. My body just felt like it knew things would be okay. In that moment, I trusted. I handed the whole burden over, and let go.

A couple days later, we got a reply to our ad, and it was our future, best landlord of all time, asking if we might want to live in what was to be the cottage we loved for the next 4 and a half years. I remember walking through the cottage for the first time, stunned–nearly everything from the list (save more closets and a dishwasher) was there.

So I know this process can work. I shy away from calling it “manifesting.” All those hippie-new-age connotations again. I think other people would call it praying or handing things over to God. Any way you cut it, it worked.

I credit the same exact process for helping us find this duplex we just bought. Granted, I never wrote down that I wanted a duplex. We were looking for a place to rent. But then we stumbled into an open house one day, realized we actually had enough money to make an offer and then I went back and looked at my dog-eared list that was sitting under a pile somewhere. The duplex had everything on my list. Everything.

Now that I’m 2 for 2, I really do believe in the process. I also know its hard as hell in the midst of it and that there are many days that I look at those damned lists and curse them for not working fast enough. Or seeming not to work at all.

That brings me to the present day. We’re searching for renters for our back house. I have a clear vision of what I want. The list has been written, the candles lit. Seemed like everything was going according to plan. And then we offered it to our favorite family. They said no. And we did the same thing again, twice. Two more no’s. It’s made me doubt the magical universe.

In the past week, I’ve been completely off the rails. Feeling fearful, worried, all tight and constrained in my chest. We’ve stopped getting as many email replies to our ad. So I’ve been relaxing my criteria and showing it to folks I don’t feel much connection with. Things crescendo-ed yesterday when I cancelled an appointment to show the place again to a guy who I had a strange gut feeling about, and was met with a string of nasty emails.

Blleeech. I feel yucked. And tired. And pregnant. Like this whole venture is screwed.

So, once I got myself up and J to daycare this morning, I decided to spend some time doing a whole bunch of things that my brain likes to tell me are a waste of time. I put on some ambient music featuring sitars and gongs and Native American flutes–sounds that conjure up visions of fog and smoke and magical galaxies.

I got out the candles, and I ate some applesauce while I wrote down all of the things that I’m freaked out about on a piece of J’s art easel paper.

Then I burned it.
The paper, not the applesauce.


I carried the hot bowl outside and blew the ashes into our street.

Then I washed my hands and made a list of the work that needs to be done for the rental: re-post Craigslist ad, install new doors, find a better light fixture for the living room. And then I re-acquainted myself with the list of things that I want in our new renters. It’s a lovely list, really.

Wanted: responsible, warm, funny family who can afford the rent and wants to garden with us sometimes.

So here I am. Lute music playing, hands smelling of rose soap. I feel a bit better. Still traces of tentativeness and worry, but my thoughts feel more sorted and my body calm. Things to do, check. Prepare to receive…well, I’m working on it.