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Farewell Fenix!

Have you ever felt like you don’t belong?

Back in middle school I remember not fitting in with the “cool” kids and feeling like an outsider—craving to fit in and be accepted. Ironically, I was seeking to fit in with those who I really didn’t have much in common with. I wasn’t “like them,” yet yearned to belong with those girls. At age 13, I’m sure it was just a desire to be popular. As an adult, however, I’ve realized what true friendship means, and I’ve had a variety of adult friendships that have been wonderful. Today I have a true tribe of amazing friends. When you meet the right people, those relationships are effortless and easy! As humans, we are naturally drawn to people we like and it’s awesome when relationships just “click.”

Fast forward to 2019, and I must chuckle at life and how it’s funny sometimes. Two years after building and moving into Fenix—our home I loved so much that was built with life energy post-fire—all 12,000 square feet of it—AJ and I now find ourselves living in a 1,600 square-foot apartment.

No, we didn’t have another fire or file for bankruptcy. Rather, in October we unexpectedly received an offer for our home and all its furnishings, and we decided to sell Fenix. Our house wasn’t on the market, per se, but we knew in our hearts that we wanted to move from our neighborhood. Sitting here in this Carmel apartment, we can’t help but breathe a sigh of relief. Because as beautiful as our home was, living there didn’t bring us as much joy as we had expected. In fact, quite the opposite was our experience.

Our purpose

AJ and I built our grand home with purpose—be generous, share Fenix with others, and make fun memories. We enjoyed using our home for good—raising money by holding modest fundraisers, supporting our favorite political candidates, and hosting fun gatherings that connect people. Now, these weren’t loud, all-night parties. In my opinion, we were low-key and respectful of our neighbors. We just love, love, loved sharing our home, having people over and creating experiences with others. Some of our greatest memories were the kids swimming in our pool on Sunday Fundays with smiles and laughter.

Unfortunately, it quickly became clear that our neighbors didn’t jibe with us and our hospitable nature. In fact, the majority of our 11 neighbors felt the exclusivity and privacy of the gated neighborhood were tarnished by our visitors and friends. It was like being 13 again—we didn’t belong. Once we were even asked for a guest list for one of our gatherings. We refused and the HOA would not open the gates for our visitors. HOA rule after rule was passed with the intention of deterring us from entertaining with ease in our own home. Street parking was disallowed 24-hours/day by any guest, and covenants were amended to disallow any kind of activity that was "altruistic, commercial, trade, educational or religious,"  Hosting my company Christmas party, conducting church small group, having missionaries on furlough stay with us, or raising money for our favorite charity were all disallowed. 

As time wore on, our days were filled with complaints and certified letters in our mailbox. We were deflated and burned with anger as a result of the bullying. The last straw:  we received a letter in September complaining about a few weeds in our mulch beds. Really? A few weeds? It was so clear that we didn’t belong in this neighborhood. So, when our buyer and his offer came along, we were ready to pack our few belongings and get out. I wasn’t emotionally ready to leave Fenix, but we were mentally ready to be gone from a place where we didn’t fit in and where it was clear we weren’t welcomed.

Life is too short

Life is too short to live in an environment with people intent on destroying your happiness. This experience has forced us to think about what it REALLY means to be happy, be neighborly and live in abundance. We’ll be pondering that question long and hard before we make our next move. Perhaps the fire and all that came after it is the universe’s way of telling us that we should simplify our lives. What do we really need to be happy? Heck, right now we don't even own a couch.

This is the first time we’ve lived in an apartment in more than 20 years. It’s certainly been an adjustment. This foodie misses my kitchen the most. And gas cooking! I’m using one of those apartment stoves with the electric coils!

Where in your life have you not belonged? And, have you ever made a major life 180 in the pursuit of contentment, fulfillment and happiness? I’d love to hear about it! Email me at ksmith@IndyHomes.com or leave a comment below!

p.s. Fenix was the highest priced home sale in Zionsville or Carmel in 13 years. I guess part of me can smile about that!

Here's a photo on our last day at Fenix.


#1 By Thomas Peterson at 12/14/2019 8:50 AM

Kiddo, this post was filled with so.e amazing insights. Haters gonna hate. Thank God daily that you and AJ have no inclination to write such letters. Compare the amount of effort it takes for those people to silently, without praise, to pull those few weeds for a neighbor and go on with your own lives than to make the complaint, send the letter and wait for a reply.

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