The Grass is Greener Where You Water It

Green, the color of growth and abundance

Dear Friends,

I’m going to take you back in time because I’m feeling a bit nostalgic about why and how we land at the places we do.

When my husband and I were first married in 1980, we lived in a tiny, one bedroom apartment in San Francisco’s Sunset district where our only windows opened up onto an adjacent brick wall, and we could hear streetcars rumbling by outside at all hours of the day and night.

The L Taraval in San Francisco

Yet, I was happy as a clam.  We were young and resilient, with dreams of simply being together and starting a family.  The starting a family part came really fast, and we knew that the one bedroom apartment wouldn’t work much longer.

My husband came home one day to announce that his brother Bob’s friend had a family home for rent in “The Sunset”.   Off we trotted, smiling and optimistic, to a two bedroom rental with a wide open floor plan and lots of windows letting in light.  It was an answer to our prayers. Our three children were born in the five years we lived in this corner house.   Many families found their homes in The Sunset after World War II, including my husband’s family.  He was one of ten children, but his was not the only big family in the neighborhood. It was the Baby Boom!

A snapshot of San Francisco’s Sunset district, so named because it was in the western section and had views of the sun setting over the ocean every day, at least when fog wasn’t lying low and heavy:

One day in June 1986, while I was baking a  birthday cake for hubby (with a 5, 3 and 2 year old at my ankles), I got a visit from my landlord.  He announced he was selling the house, so off we went to the classifieds, looking for houses to rent in the Sunset. We wanted to stay there because our older son was slated to begin kindergarten in the fall at the same Catholic school my husband had attended, but it was not meant to be.


A Catholic Parish in San Francisco’s Sunset

While I prepared the cake, I started to cry.  Tears dropped into the batter; I had not expected this, and as soon as I finished the cake I dived aggressively into scouring ads for rentals.  I wanted a solution and I wanted it quick!


My daughter-in-law posted this on IG and it got me thinking!

Later in the week, my husband came home one evening to tell me he ran into his brother Bob and Bob’s best friend at the local hangout, Fahey’s Irish Tavern.  The friend just happened to have a home for rent:  three bedrooms in a peaceful little cul-de-sac in Pacifica, Ca, a 20 minute drive away.  Although my sister lived there, I didn’t really want to move to Pacifica, but all of a sudden our dilemma of where to live was immediately solved.

I dusted off some memory cells and recalled a distant time when I was nine years old and my family had driven from Arizona to California in 1963 to start a new life.  My parents were talking to realtors and looking for a house to rent.  I saw a brochure on Pacifica, noted its lure of beaches, horse corrals, and golf course and asked my Dad if we could move there.  I guess this Midwestern girl had the heart of a California beach girl because this seemed like heaven to me:

We didn’t move to Pacifica in 1963, but the future held out a another set of cards and I was destined to live in that town.  In 1986, it ended up being the best thing that happened to us, and it was all out of my hands pretty much. All I had to was accept and take the steps.

Pacifica, CA

We lived in that Pacifica rental for a year and were very happy there. There was a hiking trail just steps outside the door, and the cul-de-sac was perfect for the kids.  Life was good and we settled in…until my wonderful Father decided it was time (with heavily dropped hints from yours truly) that we become homeowners and offered to help with a down payment.

The house hunt didn’t go so smoothly; we simply couldn’t find the right fit.  Until one day, a neighbor from down the street came up to talk to my husband.  He was selling his house and he had an assumable Veteran’s loan which made the house buying process practically seamless.  We didn’t have to worry about applying for loans or coming up with a big down payment.  It was another answer to our prayers.  Of course, any worrying and hand wringing I had been going through was for naught.  Things were resolved, in spite of myself!  All I had to was accept and take the steps.

The five of us lived in that 1100sf, 3 bedroom, one bath rancher on a quiet street, and  were content for 7 years until we accepted the fact that the home had a dampness issue causing respiratory issues in my kids and me every winter.  We began the search for another home  in a sunnier, dryer section of Pacifica.

The home we moved to in 1994 was 2,000sf with four bedrooms, two full baths, and a half  bath.  We stayed there until we sold it to our middle son in 2014.  My husband moved 500 miles away to begin retired life in a Sun City 55+community, where his brother Bob also lived. (Yes, the same brother who was the link to home opportunities each and every time we needed it!)  I still worked and lived with my son and family.  Life was great – I commuted between the Bay Area and our retirement home, and eventually got a little apartment down the street.  I wanted my daughter-in-law to be queen of her own home and not have a mother-in-law under foot.

For those who follow me, you may be aware that I’ve debated giving up the apartment, see  Split in Two (when no decision is a decision).  Both my husband and I went back and forth:  let’s give it up, let’s not.  My head was spinning and I couldn’t make a decision, and figured I would simply need to wait it out.  Any time I thought I had come close to a decision, my husband would agree, and then the next day he would wake up and offer a new view as to why we should hold off.  Even he admitted that it was not an easy decision and one we shouldn’t treat lightly.

My husband Dan has common sense and street smarts; I try to listen to him more, but often I falter!

Since I couldn’t seem to make a firm decision one way or another, I would wait for a sign.

“…I hate to wait. I struggled, prayed for guidance, weighed the pros and cons. The answer was always the same: wait, do nothing yet, the time will come. When my thinking becomes distorted by trying to force solutions, I probably won’t get the results I seek. As the saying goes, when in doubt, don’t.  Guide me in all I do to remember that waiting is the answer to some of my prayers.”     From the book Courage to Change, page 37

Follow the example of little children — trust, faith, innocence, acceptance:

Grandkids loving life in the green belts:

The sign finally came.  I received a text from a family member saying she would need my help getting through a challenging period and could I move in with her to help out for six months.  Of course someone saying that they needed me was like heavenly music to my ears.

What a perfect excuse to give up the apartment!  I didn’t have to do a thing.  Higher Power had it all sorted out and all I had to was listen and go along if I wanted to, and simply take the next right step.

Acceptance of God’s plan for me

Not forcing things to happen, but staying patient and trusting:  not always easy but if one can pull it off, it usually pays off with surprising dividends, far better than anything I could conjure up with my limited understanding.

Speaking of life’s surprises, I didn’t think that this beach loving girl could settle comfortably into a gated desert retirement community, but Sun City Palm Desert has exceeded my expectations, and I love it.  There’s good reasons it’s been named one of the top eight places to retire to in America:


I have to admit I am so happy about this turn of events (giving up the apartment), and even though I’ll have to put retired life in my Sun City community on hold, it’s only temporary, and at the end of the day, I get to help out a family member in need, and be near my grandchildren and 88 year old Mother for an extended period.

I’ll also be present when my 9th grandchild is born next year, and  I’ll be pretty much living the same kind of life I’ve been living for 8+ years, commuting between Norcal and Socal. Nothing has changed, yet everything has changed.  I’ve accepted a new job as a live-in Nanny!

Mother’s Day 2019. 6 out of 8 grandchildren present.

If I’ve been dragged kicking and screaming at times, I reflect back at the trajectory of twists and turns in my life and realize that it’s all had a purpose…and I’ve been in the right place, each and every time.

The color green is definitely enhanced by a good, rainy winter:

I’m so glad that with each change, I’ve tried to water the grass right where I landed.  It’s true that the grass is not greener next door; instead, if we look down, it’s greener right under our own feet. What makes all the difference is our attitude and willingness to add daily TLC and a healthy sprinkling of water.

Water is life. Tahquitz Canyon, Palm Springs, Ca

When you look back at your life, do you find that it’s met or exceeded your expectations?

Wishing you all peace and acceptance of life’s twists and turns,




23 thoughts on “The Grass is Greener Where You Water It

  1. The green grass in my own life has far exceeded anything I could have imagined, and here we are, still close friends sharing the wonder of a Guiding Hand behind the scenes. I love how you shared this major journey with all of us, answering all the questions, and showing us the beauty of “being right here, right now.” I, like you, look for signs in all things and it has never failed me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Suzette,

      WOW! I got your comment. How did you do that? At any rate, I am eternally grateful for your wisdom and friendship! Life is good – better yet, God is extremely good! We are blessed indeed.



  2. Divine order continuously guides my life’s unfoldment and helps to keep it in balance. “The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain,” Mark 4:28.

    Your presence at SCPD will be missed. I look forward to future Swooning Grace publications to stay connected with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Virginia,

      Thank you so much for reading and your wonderful comment! I believe in Divine Order too and it’s wonderful when a friend like you feels the same way. I love the quote and really appreciate you sharing it. This December 1 blog may be my last one in 2019, so hopefully I have lots of fun and interesting news to share in 2020. I promise to keep you posted on my adventures and mis-adventures! 🤣



    • Hello!

      Thank you for your most lovely comment. Often it’s hard to see clearly when we are “in the middle of it” but when the smoke clears, we can gain more understanding. Especially when we have a chance to look back and think about things. Everything we go through and endure has the potential to make us more compassionate, loving and humble human beings. I admit that I panicked in times of stress and it was often hard to believe things would turn out okay, but I always prayed long and strong and it got me through doubt. Through the doubt I acted “as if”, as if God heard and answered my prayers and all I had to do was watch it unfold. Not always easy – that is why reflection and looking back can give us a-ha moments.

      Sun City is wonderful – they have retirement communities throughout the USA, but it’s said the one in Palm Desert is a stand out!

      Thank you so much for reading and your kind comment!


      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi, Susan – Congratulations on your new job as live-in Nanny. You will be absolutely wonderful at this (because you’re already absolutely wonderful). Congratulations also on your decision to give up your apartment. I greatly admire your decision-making process.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Donna

      Well I am finally sitting down and answering your very kind comment. You are inspiring and my blogging life changed because of you. You may not know that but when we had coffee that time at the daily grind in Sun City, I was getting ready to shut the blog down. You encouraged me and I felt invigorated to continue. I’m glad I did.

      For a good part of my life I made snap decisions and was a bit impulsive. As I became more seasoned and more wise, I tried to let time take care of thorny issues and get out of my own way.

      I am so grateful and full of awe that things have unfolded so perfectly.

      Your kind comments warm my heart and come at a time when I especially need them. I join your friends in and out of the blogosphere when they in unison exclaim:
      ”The world could use more people like Donna!”

      Is it raining up your way? we have had a full day of rain here in the desert. I hope to wake up tomorrow and see more snow on those gorgeous mountains!



    • Dear Janis,

      Thank you so much for reading and your lovely comment. The winter in the Coachella Valley is just magnificent and I am hoping that it stays this way for your visit in January!

      Yes it is wonderful when things just fall into place. That can happen when we get out of our own way 😂


      Liked by 1 person

  4. Susan, We were at a special event in Vancouver this past weekend and I had a chance to only read the title of your story. Immediate goosebumps. My Father quoted me this phrase many years ago. He was giving me Fatherly advice about marriage.

    Goosebumps again, as I read your entire story. You remind me how people may see you at this recent part of your life, often not realizing the challenging steps along the way. It is almost as if life pushes you along a path. Despite the choices you make, you were destined to live in Pacifica.

    I LOVE this phrase, “accept and take the steps.” I get it.

    All of your photos are beautiful. Very fitting photos of the steps. I extra love the Mother’s Day 2019 picture. Extra cute how the children are sitting in order or height.💕

    Susan, your prose often reads likes poetry. I love everything about this post. 💕 You are an amazing, special woman.xx 💖

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear E/E

      I wish I could adequately express the gratitude I have for your friendship and support here. You are a wise woman with a big heart who seems to get me so readily although we’ve never met.

      I’ve had so many existential struggles (like many others I’m sure) and the inner battles and doubts are mitigated by the fact that a reader and writer such as yourself (in a whole different country) identifies and walks a similar path. I am not alone.

      We are all more alike than we are dissimilar, I believe. We all have fears and struggles and if we can inspire and support each other through these periods of both light and dark, then the world becomes more of a gentle place to abide in. As Donna says, it’s about relationships – they make all the difference.

      I love that your Father used that phrase. It took me a while to sit down and draft my blog around that phrase… but when I finally sat down, the words flowed. And believe me prior to sitting down, I always have doubts that anything will come (so I procrastinate). Oh bless this creative process and the Muse within.

      I wish that my two other grandchildren were in that photo. I was so proud, of course, to be sitting with them and get a photo taken! Not always easy to do.

      Soon I will be on my journey up north to start the process of moving and trying to fit in all the holiday celebrations and get-togethers as well. I’ll have my strong hubby by my side and that will be great. He is so organized and if I get paralyzed and don’t know where to begin, he’ll know exactly what to do, thank God! And then we’ll have to say our goodbyes and part for awhile. Now if he and I could get a picture together with the grandkids, that would be icing on the cake. I’ll see how that intention unfolds.

      I’m wishing you a magical December attended by home fires burning and the laughter of grandchildren.


      Liked by 2 people

  5. Yes, a similar path, Susan.💕 I do feel our writing process/how we think is the same. Sometimes a thought will percolate, germinate, it stays with me and it will slowly surface. I also do not know where it will go until I just sit down and write. Over the last few years I have read books, articles on the creative process and authors I greatly respect validate these feelings. I also understand the concept of feeling “paralyzed” and somewhat overwhelmed especially at this time of year. Some of it is self-imposed and yet, there are real challenges. There is a reason for the saying, ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back.’ As with many lessons, I can dish it out, yet I don’t see it within myself.

    Your post resonated with me, again. 🙂 Especially when I look back on my life. I, too can see how things ultimately sort themselves out when you listen to the inner voice, or a pervasive feeling. Over the years I have tried to convey this concept to my daughters. Hard to put into words. And I am still learning many lessons along the way..

    Susan, you are part of this wavelength of life that helps me recharge my spirit and move forward. I agree with how Donna says, it’s all about relationships, especially the people that can inspire and support each other. Enjoy this special time with your loved ones. I look forward to joining you on this journey in 2020 ❤️❌⭕️

    Liked by 1 person

    • I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for this beautiful share. It’s lovely souls like you who inspire me to keep on this writing path. Your support inspires and also boosts my spirit.

      I’m back in my old home town and I’ve hit the ground running. No rest for the weary – I’m starting to pack and my 13 year old granddaughter sent me a text last night about how excited she is about us sharing “the downstairs room” with me. That makes it all worth it!


      Liked by 1 person

      • You know first hand, Susan, how quickly children grow. This special time you have with them is priceless, especially when they constantly let you know they love being with you.

        As a very wise lady wrote, “accept and take the steps.” 🙏💕💝

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Susan: Congraulations on your new career as a live-in nanny!!! Wonderful that you are giving up your apartment, and I know I will still be able to spend time with you briefly while you are visiting Pacifica!! I am so lucky to have you as a friend for the short time I have lived on the West Coast! This is this perfect decision for you and your family and I know you will always be “close by”. Keep in touch as you always do and keep the posts coming! They are wonderful!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Bonny! I am so grateful for your support and encouragement of my writing! I look forward to the next chapter of my life and it will definitely be enhanced by your friendship. Who could predict that I would be back for six months?!?! Thank you for being my friend!



  7. Being close to your mother and grandchildren as well as helping out a family member in need sounds like w win-win-win! You will get to retirement living. Those gold courses will be there waiting for you!

    When my mom was in need (she suffered a stroke, then dementia which put her in a retirement community) I was still teaching full time, which meant I was working 50 – 60 hours/week. Give all the time to your mom and grandkids that you can. You will never regret it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Laurie,

      I so appreciate you sharing your wisdom born out of personal experience. What you say is so true – I know in my heart that at the end of the day, I’ll never get this time back, and time with our loved ones is the most important thing. I told someone yesterday that if only I could get more time with my Dad who passed away in 2009.

      It’s funny how when one gets rolling in one direction, all of a sudden a fork in the road appears out of nowhere and you just know you have to take that fork . Sometimes you feel uncertain or have a little trepidation, but your instincts are saying “go this way”. Yes retired life and golf games will still be there so I have to take this fork in the road. It just feels too perfect to pass up 😁


      Liked by 1 person

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