Blogging and Looking Back

The road most traveled Percy Warner Park Deep Well entrance and trails. Copyright 2019 Marla Baxter Sanderson -

Since starting this blog, I have been spending a whole lot of time looking back, instead of forward. Why? Thanks for asking. To see what I have actually accomplished. I live my life and really there are many days when I just say to myself, "Self, WTF have you really done with this life?"

I am at the stage of figuring out what exactly I've done with the last 10 years of my life. I can only take it in 10 year chunks right now. That is enough to overwhelm me, but I am trying to get through it. I realize I soon will have 6 of those decades to get through, but I keep plodding along. Somehow, I feel that if I take the time to see where I've been, I'll somehow recover my voice. That voice has felt lost for awhile now, so I'm going to look for it.

Here I am, looking back. It is easier to do now that everything is digital. I'm looking at 10 years of FaceBook posts. I'm looking at old blogs from a time when I thought my political opinions mattered. I'm going to peruse old Twitter feeds and Instagram posts. I'm looking through old pictures that I can hold in my hand and some that have stuffed many a computer hard drive. I felt this sometimes grueling activity would remind me of time well wasted, the time well allocated, or at the very least answer the all important question; Where the fuck did the years go? I guess I'm taking stock of my past life so I can move forward into this last few chapters of my current and future life. Along this journey, I'll share a few things. Read them or don't, I'm OK either way. I just feel this need to gather it all here. Could be a radical mistake to be so open about the 57 years. But you know, I have spent 57 years being semi-open, or pretending to be an "open person"when in actuality I am a "selectively open person". Right or wrong, I'm not sure my current way of being is serving me well. I feel stuck and I'm just trying to free myself from the shit "up in there". Maybe then I can feel free or at least maybe I can feel lighter. Because let me tell you, I am pulling WAY too much gravity in my head, heart, and yes, IN MY ASS!

I won't know if I'll feel lighter or over-exposed until I try to get it out. The major thing I want to get out first, is probably my last personal remodeling project. I made a statement to my contractor on more than one occasion that I was remodeling this house because I plan on ageing in place and probably dying here. As the project went on, I felt like the fucking thing would kill me. Ehh....the goal will be accomplished one way or the other.

I know that the first months of this blog will be recording this downsizing/remodeling "adventure" (yeah, that's a positive term), but I will write about other things. Really....I promise.

When I first registered the name "" and decided to start a blog on, I wanted to record, for me and all of posterity (that isn't a whole lot of people, by the posterity...) what it took to downsize and remodel this house. I have always wanted to write, and I felt this was a good place to start. I might as well share my ideas with the interwebs because at least it gives me something to write about. Of course, there are MANY other things I feel the need to write about, but I have to start somewhere.

I managed to get a few posts up on the old blog, but I got bogged down in the details. I do that a lot. It isn't a particularly good trait, but's me. I also did not have enough time and space between the project and my brain and soul's recovery. Yes, that is a thing. Because, remodeling a house is a grueling task if you hire folks to do every damn thing and you and your spouse are on the same page every damn day. If you DIY a lot of it, or differ with your spouse about much of anything, it can be traumatizing. I can only speak for me, but I found that the whole project would drain my life force on many a day. It was a year before I could even watch HGTV again! I'm not kidding.

Ken and I had some extenuating circumstances for downsizing and our behavior toward one another during this remodel. First and foremost, I was pouring a ton of self-worth and back breaking labor into a house that was NOT my dream house. It wasn't even a house I liked spending time in when his family lived in it. I agreed to this house purchase for reasons that had little to do with me wanting to actually live in this house. Ken's mother, Dorothy, was suffering from failing health. She had already been in an assisted living facility for a couple of years, and unfortunately needed more care. The cost of assisted living will rob even the most comfortable person of their life savings. Dorothy needed more funds quickly. We were ready to move from our over-sized home a couple of miles from here, so the decision was made to downsize into this house so that it could be sold quickly without money coming from Dorothy's account to fix it up just to put it on the market. It would not have sold quickly. It needed a ton of work. So we paid fair market for it, did some financial magic tricks between leveraging the equity in our old house and the family trust holding the mortgage for the house (this allowed Dorothy to have a steady income from our mortgage payments) and closed in a couple of weeks (less than a month) so that Dorothy could be moved to a facility to receive better care. This wasn't my dream house, but the transaction made good financial sense for the whole family. I'm very glad that we did this, for many reasons, but my love of this house was not one of them.

At the risk of sounding like an ungrateful bitch (truly... I really am grateful for our home now), I am going to be even more honest here. I have always called this house, "THAT AWKWARD-ASS HOUSE". Sometimes, I STILL call it, "THIS FUCKING AWKWARD-ASS HOUSE". The lay-out was undesirable to me. Its lot placement was undesirable to me. Behind the house is a set of condos I can see from the kitchen window if the leaves are off the trees. I remember visiting when the folks were alive and wondering how the hell the house could be fixed so that it had ANY flow. It was SO awkward that it truly stumped me, and I'm pretty damn creative.

The elder Sandersons were very formal folks so this house suited them very well. At the time they bought it (1968 or 1969) it was one of the model homes for the neighborhood. The family was moving from a tiny house (around 1000-1100 square feet) in Donelson, so this house seemed like a sparkling mansion on a hill - and it was! Bernard was doing well in real estate and Dorothy was a good earner as a registered dietitian with an advanced college degree during a time when few women were educated to this extent. They were ahead of their time as a couple and it was only fitting that they have a home that reflected that.

The home had a formal dining room, formal living room, separate den, lots of stairs separating the rooms (special split-level trait), 1/2 acre lot, and all the amenities of a house twice its size. The problem is when you stuff all those formal spaces into a 2000 square foot house, it makes for a very choppy house. Of course, back when the house was built in 1967 this was the popular style of an upper middle class home. It still is a popular style. And 2000 square feet is a good sized house! I'm not debating any of that. However, a split-level house, has a lot more unusable space than a ranch house house. Split-level homes are hard to bring into the 21st Century.....let's put it that way.

During the times that I visited the home, it never had a great vibe to me. Of course, the first time I visited the home was 1996, almost 30 years after it was purchased. It is hardly fair of this late comer to pass judgement on a perfectly fine house. However, the home always had a good vibe to Ken. He would recall the time when his father found this house. Bernard was a prominent realtor in Nashville. He helped sell many of the homes in this neighborhood. When Bernard showed this house to the family Ken and his Mom loved it on sight. They were used to living in their tiny house in Donelson, TN so this house seemed like a mansion in comparison. The family loved the layout of the mid-century home and loved that it had 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms in its 2,076 square feet on 1/2 acre lot. Don't get me wrong, this is a decent sized house even today. Back in 1969, moving from their tiny 1,100 square foot home, that was a LOT of extra space for their family.

Let me express how very lucky I know we are. After the struggle of remodeling this house, we made it as user friendly in these days of open concept homes as we could given the layout. The house is comfortable and I am very glad we have it. I won't consider moving anywhere else, just as long as we can manage the stairs. We put too much time and effort into this house. I don't want anyone else living in it while I'm alive. It may still be an awkward-ass house, but it is OUR awkward-ass house.

Now, back to the remodeling story: Not only were we fighting a lot due to the excess stress and change, but we were dealing with a home that we moved from that took over 18 months to sell. We had two first mortgages, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) on the original house (we borrowed from the old house to fix the new house AND the old house to sell), Ken's mother was falling a lot as her health deteriorated, my business was slowing down, Ken's work was at its most stressful seasonally, and we were trying to fix our old house to sell while we fixed our new house to live in. It was all just too much. We made it through, and I'm very happy we did. I don't want to go back there again. But here I am....going back there to write it all down. WTF is wrong with me?

Oh, so you are still asking about why I was fighting with my spouse while remodeling? Despite our issues mentioned above, you can ask ANY married couple or domestic partnership how stressful remodeling or building a house is. Then get back to me after you have answered your question. In addition to the items mentioned above, my spouse was traumatized by the amount of money flying out the door and the lack of control. One house needed attention then the next house needed attention. He's not big on change and although he normally trusts me, he's a natural born hand wringer. His nature is to worry and over-think everything. I too can be this way at times. When it comes to most anything having to do with a large amount of money, our dueling over-analytical personalities will clash. He would over-analyze the money and every decision that was made to fix the house. I will go with my gut when it comes to design and preparing a house to actually be inhabited. Ken doesn't trust his gut with such things, so he is never going to trust mine. Therefore, when it came to getting bogged down and suffering from "analysis paralysis" regarding this house, Ken would get aggravated when I followed with my gut and didn't spend enough time worrying about the money. The way I saw it, I tried my best to make any and all decisions as inexpensively as I could, but if it had to be done, it had to be done.

Before we decided to buy this house, I said I would only do it if he let me do what needed to be done to make it a home in which we wanted to live. He did not want it feel like the house he grew up in and neither did I. With a ton of fighting and a ton of hard work, it now resembles his family home in just enough ways to honor it. I did my best to make it a home we both could be proud of, without sacrificing our current day comfort. I'm happy to say that his mother, just before she died, got to see it and gave her seal of approval. This is not a family who likes change, so THAT was a miracle.

As I continue to look back, I am just going to tell the stories as I remember them. The remodel is where I am starting, but there are other stories that I feel the need to record.

Stay tuned, if you are so inclined.

That is all.

Carry on.

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