Swimming My Own Race

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It’s official…  Our landlords want to sell this house.


He told me we may be able to extend the lease by a few months, but it really depends on the market.  I was grateful to know with certainty what his intentions were so we can begin making plans… Or at least preparing somewhat.  Even though it will be months before we actually move, it’s nice to mentally, emotionally and realistically prepare.

One thing I didn’t expect when we moved here was that you need a real estate agent to find a rental.  You know how you hire a real estate agent to sell your house, or to help you buy a new one?  Well the same applies to rentals out here.  Which means the broker fee applies too.  Suddenly moving becomes ridiculously expensive.  And that’s just renting!  When we first moved into this house, we considered what it would take to buy it.  Holy moly batman the property taxes are outrageous.  We’re talking over $1,000/month.  We have friends that pay twice that much in a neighboring town!  And that’s before you even begin to pay a mortgage and HOA fees.  Scratch that.  How do people do it out here?!

On my walk the other morning, I noticed a house on our street for rent.  David had told me he’d seen it on his run too.  We called.  $4300/month?!  Oh my goodness…

I decided to scour Craigslist (which can be suuuuuuuper shady out here, btw) just to see what was out there and what the prices were like.  It made our apartment in Washington seem like a castle compared to the size and prices of things here.  I was discouraged.  Every day for the past week I have opened up the computer to look and am sobered by the realization that unless I get a job, we are downsizing BIG TIME.

But when I talk to Krista who lives in the city and see how you pay even more crazy buckaroos just to have a place to lay your head at night, suddenly the rents in NJ don’t look that bad.

It’s all a matter of perspective.  Of swimming your own race.

When I was a swimmer in college, and even in high school for that matter, my coach would tell me over and over again to swim my own race. ” Don’t pace yourself against lane 4,” he’d say, “she might be swimming slow.  Know where you are in the pool but swim it your way.”  He said this so I would focus on swimming my best race possible.  Sure, the competitive drive in me always knew how I was doing at any given moment, but if I slowed down just because I was ahead, then I might not get a best time.  Or in contrast, if I tried to keep up with the girl next to me on the first 50, I might not have enough steam to bring it home on the last one.  I needed to swim my own race.  I remember one meet against Cal Berkley I was swimming right next to Natalie Coughlin, an Olympic gold medalist and former world record holder.  If I were to try to swim her race, I would have gone all out the first lap and then ended up dying the final three trying to just make it to the finish.  Thankfully I took my coach’s advice and swam my own race and you know what?!  I even kept up with her for the first lap.  She ended up blowing by me the last three, but I wasn’t dying to finish.  I swam a solid race actually, and was genuinely happy for myself and for her.

Compared to a small studio apartment in NYC, a two bedroom unit in NJ is huge.  A two bedroom unit in NJ compared to a house in CT is insanely small.  But you know what?  Each one is precious in its own right, and perfect for someone.  I must swim my own race.  Focusing on what’s best for our family is the race I need to swim.

Swimming my own race gives me the freedom to be happy in my success and also genuinely happy in others.  Just a couple weeks ago we were looking at model homes with my in-laws.  Someone in the model home said, “I don’t like looking at things I can’t afford.  It makes me unhappy.”  I can honestly say I felt quite the opposite.  When I’m swimming my own race, I can be excited when someone else does well– even better– because it doesn’t take away or diminish my own race.  I’m swimming my own race and they’re swimming theirs, and unlike the Olympics there’s enough gold medals for everyone. 🙂

I’m not saying I’m above greed or coveting or consumerism, however.  This is something I have to remind myself of; of swimming my own race.  Motherhood beckons us to swim with everyone else, no?  Society calls us to keep up with the Joneses and amazon sends us emails with all the new ‘top 10 things’ and ‘recommendations’ we can’t live without.  I’m just like the next person– I like new shiny things as much as anyone.  I adore looking at dream boards on pinterest, walking through model homes and looking up real estate.  Wanting things isn’t the issue.  At the root, it’s about contentment!  I’ve learned by swimming my own race I am much more content.  Free to enjoy.  Free to rejoice with others in their success.  Free to be happy!

As I read an article this morning on one of the regular blogs I follow, I was encouraged by the author who has swam her own race to the extent that her family of 5 lives in a 665 sqft cottage.  Now, I’m not about to start looking for something like this for my family.  I’m swimming my own race.  For her, though, this cottage provided the freedom for her family to be debt free.  It gave them the ability to do what they were passionate about (buying land in the country with hopes of building a large home later on) while practically saving, paying things off and spending quality family time (how can you NOT spend quality family time with five people in 665 sqft?!).  I enjoyed reading about her journey and while her situation is one I would never hope for me, I applaud and respect her.

Whatever aspect of life/motherhood/friendship/career you are in, I encourage you to swim your own race!  It’s beautiful and freeing and happy in your own lane.  There will always be someone else’s race to swim…  Swim yours proudly!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

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