Finding The Pony

There are many variations to the story about the exuberantly optimistic boy who, when presented with a huge pile of horse manure, began jumping excitedly. He dove into the pile and began digging around. When asked why, he replied that with this much manure there was bound to be a pony in there somewhere.

I once told a friend that one of the things I admired about her was that whenever faced with adversity she always began searching for the pony (and usually found it).

Earlier this year I was faced with just such a pile of manure. My biggest client was undergoing some changes and the probability was high that I would see a significant drop in income.  Momentary images of home foreclosure and car repossession flashed through my head.

My second reaction was to begin  a search for new sources of replacement revenue, but my first few attempts were not fruitful. It looked like a tough stressful slog.

Then a little voice said, “Hey, you know that plan you’ve had in the back of your head?  That may be the answer to your problems.”  I had long ago said that when the value of my home got high enough I would sell and buy something – probably smaller – that I could pay cash for. My wife’s input was that if we did so she wanted to move out of the big city and into some place more rural.

The value of my home had risen dramatically in the past year.  A quick check of rural home prices revealed that it might just be possible.  My wife and I took a hard look at the budget and it was apparent that by losing the mortgage and some other expenses, we could live quite well without my biggest client’s revenue.

Three-and-a-half months later, we sit in a jewell of a home about 50 miles from the big city – a home that we own free and clear.  Not only that, we’ve cut our expenses in half. (Our car insurance went down by $950/yr for example.)

And as a result, We’re living a much more stress-free relaxing life.  No big city crowds. No big city traffic.  No big city smog. No big city noise. With a much smaller ‘nut’ to crack every month, I can be much more picky about the clients and projects I take on.  I have much more free time – time for my old hobbies.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people say, “Oh I wish I could move into the country to a place all mine.”  I’ve realized that I’m living a dream held by many.

For me, I think of it as finding the pony.

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