It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything & I realized just how much I miss writing! In my real world, I’m a grant writer, so writing is overwhelming sometimes. This is different. There’s just something about sharing your passion, goals & dreams while encouraging others to do the same, that soothes the soul.
For many, many years I’ve dreamed of helping single parents navigate through difficult areas of this season in their lives. Having been a single parent, now empty-nester, I’ve made so many mistakes, I couldn’t even list them. Helping others learn how to not make those same mistakes has become my platform. I was a Singles Director at my church for many years & this was one of the most rewarding seasons ever. We walked through several painful experiences together while continually encouraging & supporting each other.
I’ve always wanted to have investment property or a business of some sort & in 2006 I got an idea that soon became a burning desire. I wanted to develop a single parent community providing affordable housing, which is generally one of the most important factors of a family’s survival. This community would feature a daycare, which is yet another dire need. Onsite resource services such as case management; community referrals; job skills training; & education would also be components within the community. What seemed like a lifetime ago is coming into focus. In 2015 I moved from Dallas to San Antonio. I fell in love with SA during my early years from 2006-2009 of being a Corporate Trainer. When I traveled here, I seriously felt home. I loved everything about the City & spent all my spare time exploring its culture. When I decided to move from Dallas, I cast a very wide net for a Grant Writer position. This would be a new learning curve for me. I was a grants analyst & had only corrected or helped re-write grant applications for 6 years. But…. in my past, I was never a Corporate Trainer either. I had been a nurse since 1979, so…. when I wanted change, I learned, adapted, & changed. As an empty nester, I could’ve moved anywhere in the US, but kinda wanted a place on the beach! None of those doors opened, so…. I searched for my next favorite thing…. culture. I applied for a position in with the BGC in NY. NY! Then…. I happened to search one more time within my organization & state to discover there was a job in San Antonio. What? From being a divisional employee for 10 years, first as a Corporate Trainer, then Grants/Program Analyst, I was familiar with all their programs; knew some of the staff; was familiar with the area & I had my fav restaurants already! LOL! Once I accepted the position, I began looking for a place to live. Other than those people from work, I knew a total of 3 people in SA. I put the word out to network with them toward finding a place to live. I was currently in a lease that still had 7 months left, so my tiny budget & with paying 2 leases was going to allow me to practically live in a closet! Through a friend of a friend, I located a small duplex. The only information I had to go by were a few pics sent from the landlord & a direct message from said friend of fei8end verifying my landlords were truly genuine people. Talk about stepping out in faith! This was a giant, blind leap! As I packed for the move, I purged things that had moved with me since my divorce in 1994. I know that was a painful confession, but…. we all have things we hang on to. I despise clutter & loathe the thought of hoarding anything. While I was no where near that status, this was my chance to truly embrace the minimalist season I now wanted. Why would I pack up my cheering suit from the 70’s again? My move would be in 2 phases, as I wanted to leave some things for my daughter to use until our lease was up. I had my tiny U-Haul truck loaded up, put my car on a tow dolly & headed, sight unseen, toward my new destination. I’ll never forget my first day as a new resident driving into San Antonio. As I rounded the corner of the interstate, & when seeing the entire downtown view, I cried. I’m seriously very emotional right now even recapturing that feeling. I had that reaction about the Dallas Downtown Skyline sometimes, but this was very different. This was a completely new season in my life & except for staying within the same organization for my job, the slate was clean.
My very small place was 5 minutes from my new job & I quickly fell in love with my neighborhood. I began to realize I had common visions with many of them. This past year one of my very talented, brilliantly amazing, single parent neighbors wanted to have brunch to discuss some of her goals. As I sat across the table from her listening to her plans, I had a surreal moment. Every word she described were the exact words that had been spoken by myself years before regarding single parent communities. Down to the life skills classes. It was almost as if I zoned out of the conversation & heard myself explain these things during past conversations. I immediately knew what it was. At that moment in time, God was reminding me that even though nothing in the natural had materialized regarding my goals/dreams, He knew they were still much alive. I was reminded of this scripture:
2 Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.
3 This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.
If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place.
It will not be delayed. – Habakkuk 2:2-3
I left that brunch in awe of what happened. My neighbor’s words completely resonated within my heart. I finally understood…. this season, right now, was the future time. What seems like years in the making is unfolding. That’s always the case, right? Fast forward…. During a County meeting we were discussing landlord incentives & because of my questions, I was encouraged by my local Continuum of Care to apply for funding that assists with property acquisition; rehab; & some tax abatement. My dream of having properties for single parents; senior citizens; homeless students; Veterans & those who need a hand up is happening. I’ve had the privilege of talking to our Mayor, Councilman & other City/County department staff that want the same thing. I’m working with a bright, energetic, knowledgeable, sassy Realtor who shares a passion for housing female parolees re-entering society. Who knew? I’m locating income properties that offer multiple units for long term rentals (LTR-1) & short term rental (STR-1) unit I’ll host through AirBnB. I’ve found the perfect location that offers at least 3 LTR units; 1 STR unit; & living space for me! Score! My intent is to offer properties to the very same organizations I work with on a regular basis. I will be a solution rather than a sounding board. My season from always living on the edge of possibly requiring assistance to providing it was happening.
If I can give one piece of advice it would be to never lose sight of the dream that burns your soul. From my Bible School days, the definition of soul includes your mind, will & emotions. Does your dream encompass these? My dream consumes them all. Here’s a constant thought process I have going on all the time. In my driving time or when I’m going to sleep, I’m purposely thinking about my home ownership & upcoming rehab venture! Using green glue & possibly cork panels as soundproofing materials for walls & this cool Iso-Step® rubber floor underlayment for soundproofing 2nd story floors. I can use Indow Window Inserts to preserve energy & provide sound barriers for my windows. What’s the best color of neutral paint to use? Do I want half brick flooring in the kitchens or use it as an accent wall behind the stove? Unless wood flooring is available, what color ceramic plank tiles do I use throughout the rest of the house? How will I enclose a patio to make a master bedroom & convert the laundry room as my new master bathroom because it already has a huge closet? What will my exterior paint & trim choices be? Should I develop a signature color palette to use throughout the City? Metal roof is my ultimate choice! Out of the apartment space available, do I construct 3 efficiency loft style apartments & 1 true apartment style units or 5 efficiencies? Is it R-4 or R-6 zoning for this property? To avoid purchasing separate laundry equipment for each unit, I’ll be relocating the current large shed to the other end of the apartment unit to serve as a common laundry room space. Also by moving that shed, I will have either additional parking space or more back yard space for my pups. How can I incorporate earthen construction in my rehab process? Between the 2, which spare bedroom will be the living room for the AirBnB? I’ll create a mini-kitchenette from an existing clothes closet so there’s only the need to remove the closet door & design the space. Done! It’s already drawn out! I can rehab the bathroom using cool subway & black/white mosaic or that amazing vintage fleur-de-lis type tile. Then comes the entire conversation regarding the yard! Landscaping is my thing, so…. the new style of using non-climb farm animal fencing panels are my fav now! The panels must be the smallest diameter as not to allow my tiny Chi-Chi to escape through them. Creating a food-not-lawns type concept is a must, so which property strip is the best for my fruit trees? I have Meyer Lemon; Mission Fig; Avocado; & some type of citrus tree. I planted the seeds in a pot at work & can’t remember if it’s grapefruit or mandarin! I only follow xeriscaping guidelines, so I can go crazy with my drought resistant plants & get vouchers from our water provider for doing so. Do I think the City would allow me to use part of their utility access land as a spot for my movable chicken coop? As you can see this one property has my thoughts & minds captive! Then I research additional investment properties & the rehab conversation for them begins. My determined will forces me to knock on enough funding doors that someone will grasp the depth of what I’m referring to & see how it fits into all the neighborhood stabilization/revitalization plans. Emotionally…. I can’t tell you how excited I get envisioning myself driving in the driveway of my newly rehabbed complex knowing how many people this will help & how much this contributes to the affordable housing dilemma. More so, the realization of how my decision to transfer to a new job allowed me to bring all the puzzle pieces of my dream together. The vision was plain. Submitting to & watching God orchestrate this plan, in His time, has been an amazing experience.
Why list all these crazy thoughts? Any dream requires many layers of trial & error. Hours of decisions; changes; planning; disappointment; tears; setbacks; delays; & starting over. It’s completely worth it. Anything worth having is worth fighting for. Cliche, but true. One of my favorite sayings is, ”I never promised you it would be easy. I do promise you it will be worth it.” Always remember…. Goals in stone. Plans in sand.
You know what’s funny? A week after I accepted the job in SA, the NY BGC contacted me & offered me the position. They were willing to offer relocation incentives & wanted to know when I could start! One week. Timing is everything. My destiny was set & the new season of my life was unfolding. And what about the beach? Padre Island South Beach is only 2 hrs away & I love weekend trips there! Who knows…. maybe a vacation property is in my future!
I attempt to practice being a student & read articles daily to provide insight, wisdom, instruction & guidance. #3 of this article validates my plan is right on course.
What dream stirs your soul? What season of life are you preparing for? I pray you find solace & encouragement in knowing it is possible, regardless of what you see in front of you right now. God will either give you a dream or give you to a dream, so determine which it is & act on it. I can’t wait to hear about your success!