The Impossible House
Meet Wendy Bowers.
Wendy worked hard to get through the Mindset Mastery course and reaped the benefits of each experiment, but what stands out to me the most is how thoroughly she documented her journey. Keeping track of one’s challenges, attempts, setbacks, and breakthroughs is exactly what aids and inspires the next person to do the same. This is why I count Wendy as one of the most thoughtful, giving students I’ve ever met.
I’m thrilled now to be spotlighting Wendy as one of our Mindset Mastery Honors Graduates.
Back when she applied for graduation, I had some questions.
Q. Did you face a Terror Barrier during the course?
Oh Yes. Many, many times!!
- When I finally got up the courage to call the builder who owned the lots I wanted to build on, to see if he would sell a house lot to us.
- When I called the builder’s agent back after leaving a message which she hadn’t responded to.
- When I asked for what I wanted in terms of price and terms to buy the lot.
- When I set aside my anger at his counter offer and just explained to the agent what I was trying to do so we could have a candid conversation about how to counter to his counter offer.
- When I called all those builders about re-doing the bid for the house after we discovered our original design was $200,000 over budget.
- When I called 10 banks to ask them about construction loans.
- When I sat down with 4 different bankers, exposed all our financial secrets, and had to sit there alone and in silence while they told me my financial statements weren’t good enough. And in my head I was saying to myself, “I hear what you’re saying. But I don’t believe it.”
- When I had to go back to the drawing board and restart the whole building process, admitting that I didn’t know what I was doing the first time, so had to pay for it twice to get it right.
- When I had to turn from the big bank we were using and go to the small bank and ask them if they could just look over what we had done to see if there was any way a construction loan would work for them, after they had already said they couldn’t do it.
Q. What was your Phase 1 experiment (the inconsequential goal)?
My Phase 1 Goal was to purchase the lot we wanted for our new home. Though it wasn’t an inconsequential goal, quite the opposite actually, I already knew the principles worked from an earlier, money-related goal I had set and achieved and decided to apply this experiment to the next thing I really wanted.
Q. Did you achieve it?
Yes, what we wanted, wanted us!
My family needed a bigger, better-sized house. When we moved to our current city 6 years ago, we found “temporary” housing with the goal of finding something bigger a little later. But we couldn’t find anything in our preferred area of town. What we did find were awkward layouts and too few bedrooms or family spaces. It was very frustrating. There were no 6 bedroom houses anywhere, except far out in the country or in the million dollar price range.
As our children grew older over the past 6 years, they ran out of space in our home. There was a lot of reflexive biting as a result of too many bodies in too few spaces. Our home was full of contention and disharmony. But my husband and I didn’t feel like we could afford something bigger.
We had some friends who happened to be building a house in a neighborhood that we hadn’t even considered because it seemed out of our price range. They encouraged us to look more closely at building and when we did, we realized that maybe that was the best path forward for us after all, even though we didn’t see how we could afford it.
My dream house included a walk-out basement. Basements are an unheard of luxury here because of large underground limestone deposits, the kind that create cave systems and sinkholes. As a result, local builders typically don’t build houses with basements because they lose money on them. And so there are not enough homes with basements for appraisers to get comparables in order for banks to provide financing.
I knew that having a house with a basement meant that I would have to custom-build it. That sounded even more expensive. In faith, my husband and I looked at lots in our friends’ neighborhood. We identified only 3 empty lots that we could build a walkout basement on. Only one was for sale.
Our 2 preferred lots were both owned by the builder who had built our friends’ home and they had had a HORRIBLE experience, to the point they considered suing him for losses.
I panicked thinking that he would put a spec house on one of those two lots, ruining my chances of having the house with a basement that my family wanted. I avoided calling him about it because I was so afraid he would tell me No, or that he would hold the lot over my head until I agreed to build with him or risk losing it. In addition, I HATED making phone calls, especially to people I didn’t know. I avoided it at all costs and even made my husband call people for me.
As I worked through the Mindset Mastery Lessons in Phase 1, I realized that I needed to disconnect from needing this builder to provide my solution. God had provided more than enough land for me to build the home we needed. It didn’t have to be this one lot. If this didn’t work, another would be provided.
During Module 7 about Facts vs. Stories, I had a breakthrough.
I realized that I was creating all kinds of negative stories around this lot and this builder. And this was causing all kinds of fear and anxiety in me so that I couldn’t bear making a simple phone call to ask a simple question. Even though I knew what to do, I couldn’t act. I was locked up in fear.
One morning, I was studying the Module and I was a little tired so I dozed off. In that half-state between waking and sleeping, I could see my brain rearranging itself into a new track to accommodate this new way of thinking, like a train moving cars from one track to another. Instead of needing the builder to be the solution, it unhooked the builder from my result and I still had my house, independent of him.
As I gradually returned to consciousness, I felt this immediate urge to call the builder RIGHT NOW before my conscious mind had a chance to head down the old fear track again!
I sat up, grabbed my phone, groggily Googled his info, and pressed the Call button before I was even fully aware. The secretary that answered asked me which subdivision I was interested in and then transferred me to an agent that handled those. “Good sign!” I thought. “Apparently they’re open to selling if they have an agent handling these calls.”
The agent didn’t answer, but I left a message. I told myself I would call back the next day if I didn’t hear anything. The next day I made sure I was emotionally disconnected from needing the builder to be my solution and called again. This time she answered and said that I was in luck!
That very morning she had received the files to sell both lots that the builder owned in that subdivision. If he sold one he would likely just build a spec house on the other, so it looked like I could choose first!
There were no signs on the lots announcing they were for sale. There were no listings on the MLS. The brokerage’s website had just posted them for sale that week. I had called between the time the builder decided to sell and when the agent started advertising it.
I was speechless. Full of gratitude and excitement as I realized that my dream was coming to meet me! It was almost as if he had bought the lot and held it for us while we got our affairs in order to purchase it ourselves.
I had already identified which of the 2 I wanted most, so I told her and she was ready to have me put together an offer right there on the phone. However, I wanted to call my husband first to double check before I moved forward.
He was very reticent because he wanted to do another real estate investment deal with his partner. He was in between deals at the moment and wanted to preserve our resources in case he needed it.
Instead of freaking out, I listened and reminded him that he had promised me I could build this house after he had done one deal (which he had completed two months previously). I felt buying the lot was the right thing to do and that it was the right time to do it. I had received it so I wanted to move forward.
But I respected him enough to let him get his own answer before we made an offer. I expected him to stew on it for a few days. But he was silent for a moment and then proposed another option to pay for the lot and continue investing. I was floored at his suggestion because I would never have proposed that, though it would work just fine. I was impressed that he asked for and received a solution that would enable us to both have our dreams.
I called the agent back and we put together an offer. The builder countered and I immediately got offended. Why would he counter? My offer was more than fair, I was saving him money by not using an agent, etc. But then I realized I was creating a story again so I calmed down and tried again. I could see more clearly that the counter offer wasn’t positive or negative, it just was. I had applied MY meaning to it and projected my feelings into the situation. So now I could step back and decide that both the builder and I wanted the same thing: to feel good about this deal.
Over the next hour the agent and I negotiated back and forth with the builder via text, finally coming to a price we were both comfortable with. Amazingly I never actually had to talk to him, which was what I had been afraid of the most!
The next day we went in, signed the final paperwork for the contract, and then took it to our local banker who put the loan package together. It was easy!! And it didn’t cost anything extra to do it. I was afraid we couldn’t afford it, but because we had an unused HELOC on our existing house we could use a portion for the down payment without needing to come up with cash from savings.
Shortly after that, my husband’s real estate partner found a property that they could purchase, and because of the condition of the home, they could buy it using a construction loan instead of a conventional 20% down payment. Thus, the resources my husband “thought” he needed to invest weren’t needed after all.
We were able to buy the lot we wanted AND my husband still got to do another real estate deal at the same time. Better yet, when they finally flipped the house and sold it, the profits paid back the money we had used for the down payment on our lot purchase.
Wendy, this is Excellent!!
Q. What was your goal or intention for the Phase 2 experiment?
The Phase 2 Goal was to get the construction loan we needed to build the house.
While my Phase 1 goal took about 4 weeks to achieve, Phase 2 took another 18 months, almost to the day…
Once we closed on purchasing the lot, my next step was to get a construction loan so we could start building. I faced a few obstacles to achieving my goal:
- I needed to find a loan product that would allow us to build a large house with only the equity we had in our current home, AND also allowed my husband to keep investing. Unfortunately, there wasn’t one on the market that would do that.
- Our dream was to build a house with a basement. Basements are rare luxuries in our area because of the large subterranean cave system (sinkholes!) and large limestone deposits that sit just beneath the surface.
- My husband and I decided that the money to pay for the construction and mortgage would have to come from me. My multiple side-hustles would need to generate enough income to cover the costs. I had an amazing experience working through the blocks around earning more money and shared it inside the Mindset Mastery group. A blog article about it is here.
One day I was meditating in my yoga class and decided to stop by the grocery store to pick up 4-5 items. Normally I don’t run to the store for just a few items, but that day I decided to do it. At the store my card was denied, there wasn’t enough money in the account to pay for my small purchase. Impossible! I knew that a large amount of money had just been deposited. I checked the app on my phone and was horrified to discover that I had mistakenly paid a large bill out of that account. The good news was that the large charge was still pending so I hadn’t been charged overdraft fees, yet.
I chose to stay calm and quickly thought about the quickest way to reverse that charge and fix the error. I decided to run to the branch I usually frequent, talk to the teller I know, and hope that they could fix it. When I got to the branch, my teller wasn’t present, but I stayed calm and hoped that someone else could fix it just as well. The teller who helped me was not normally at the counter but could easily help me because she was one of only two people in the branch who actually had the authority to reverse a charge like that! Phew!!
As she took care of it I happened to notice her business card propped on the counter and asked her what her titles meant. She said that her role is to help people secure loans from the bank. Huh. I explained to her that I was looking for a construction loan to build this house and wondered if they had a loan product that would work.
She put me in touch with a loan officer who started me on the process of securing a construction loan! They had a brand new loan product that would perfectly fit our situation. In fact, it had only been available for a couple of weeks. In order to apply we needed to have a list of information from our chosen builder.
At this point, I could have technically applied for graduation, but my dream wasn’t to find a loan product, it was to get the loan. This house goal was part of my life-purpose, so I soldiered on…
In my mind, the biggest obstacle to building was the money needed to build it. We had a ballpark figure on what we thought it would cost, which was still outside of our budget. In addition, my husband and I had agreed that the monthly mortgage payment for this house needed to be paid by me, out of the income from my business. At that time, my side-hustle wasn’t netting enough to cover the payment, but I felt like it would come together by the time we finished the house. It was just one more goal to be added to the many others in this process.
I moved forward anyway, acting as if it already was within the budget. I interviewed builders, selected one, and then started the process of designing the plans. Then came the engineering report, the plot plan, the lot staked, and almost to the point of getting permits.
Then the builder came back with his cost estimates and we froze.
There was NO WAY we could afford that. Not even if we sold everything we owned and lived on ramen in a tent for a year. Or several years.
My husband, who had followed my lead in trust and faith, was ready to throw in the towel.
I still believed we could. When I prayed and asked again, I felt that it was right to get our family into a larger home.
But considering how much it cost, the bigger question became: How LONG would it take for the resources to gather to build the house we had designed? It was a very large, beautiful house. Almost a mansion. It had everything we wanted, except it was more than our budget.
Again, I knew we could afford it…some day. But I wasn’t sure how long I was willing to wait for some day. I didn’t want doubt to cause my dream to dissolve back into ether. However, I really needed to take a long, hard look at WHY I was building this big of a house in the first place.
It took several months for me to sort it out in my mind. This was my dream. It was my dream to have a house large enough for my children to spread out and have their own spaces. To enjoy making music without drowning out the conversation between family members, or disturbing a child quietly reading a book or playing with friends. In our current home that all happened in the same two spaces, which caused lots of problems.
But there was a very real risk that by the time the resources gathered to build this house, some of my children might have moved out and into adulthood, thus negating the reason for building a bigger home in the first place.
I’ve always been a stubborn person, holding on to hope until the last possible moment, driving my dreams forward despite opposition or facts. But this dream wasn’t just for my benefit: I was building it for others. So I had to weigh out the costs and benefits to them.
During this time, my husband got a job offer to work with a company in another state, which forced us to revisit our decision about building.
In the end, we decided that he can CREATE the position he wants anywhere, we don’t have to chase employment.
So we decided to stay where we’re at and build anyway.
For four months we went back and forth: do we build or not? Is it the right time or not? Over and over. When I prayed, I was reminded that I needed to do my due diligence, make the awkward phone calls, and ask. God would not short-change me of this opportunity to grow and learn. I was growing my ability to create something on my own, independent of my husband. And it was important for me to master this process.
One morning, when I was creating a vacuum space in our front entry by getting rid of an old rug, I decided that I was no longer in alignment with this rug or this house. And that if I had a choice between building that dream home or moving into a larger-than-we-currently-have home quickly, then I chose speed. It was more important that we moved than that we built exactly what I had envisioned. I felt all the angels in the vicinity celebrating that I had FINALLY made a decision! 😉
Prioritizing speed meant that I had to start over. So I swallowed my pride and went back to the drawing board, literally. I recontacted my short list of builders again, trying to find one that could build the house for less money. The least expensive bid was still more money than we wanted to spend, so I decided to back up even further and redesign the house plans. The new builder we hired gave us some very clear parameters on how big the house could be to stay within budget. That information was absolutely necessary for me to create a house that would check all our boxes.
Initially I was embarrassed at having to call people back and ask them to redo work they had already done for us because I didn’t know what I was doing the first time. But the process of doing it again really helped me gain confidence and learn how to not “give my power away.” I needed to be the one in charge. This was MY house, I knew what it needed to be.
On the plus side, I asked better questions this time so I got things back on track with a design that fit within our budget and a builder that could do what I needed and wanted. This or something better!
The new design still had all the essentials that we wanted and needed, but cut nearly $200,000 off the cost!
Finally, a year after we bought the lot, we had all the paperwork we needed to go to the bank and get the construction loan. Having learned my lesson about due diligence, I called over 10 banks and met with four in person. Some of the conversations were humiliating and I faced them alone as my husband confessed he didn’t have the mental tenacity to be told he wasn’t “prosperous enough” to borrow that much money. I honored him for recognizing his limits and gave him that space. It wasn’t easy facing the “firing line” by myself, at the risk of being made to feel small, but this was my dream and my children were to be the beneficiaries. So I faced it.
In those meetings, I asked questions and sat in silence, listening to people tell me I “wasn’t enough” over and over. I had to choose to stay calm, choosing to trust and believe despite appearances. I learned that No actually meant, “No, at our bank. Maybe someone else can do it.”
In the end, I went back to the bank and loan product I had been led to nearly a year ago in my yoga class. By this time, rates had dropped and banks were flooded with double the amount of loans to close. So we got in line and waited. We went with this product because they only required a 10% down payment. Most construction loans were 15-20% of the bid amount, which we didn’t have.
As we gathered the paperwork to apply for the loan, we got a text from our loan processor letting us know that the loan product we wanted was no longer offered. But because we had started our paperwork a few weeks earlier, we were grandfathered in IF we could submit everything that day!
That loan product existed for only 12 months. I learned about it a few weeks after it was released, and we got our application in right as it expired. We were able to take advantage of it during the short window of time that it was available. One more miracle to add to the list!
Over the subsequent months I submitted and resubmitted more paperwork, proof of income, my company’s sensitive financial information, everything. I felt like I was exposing my family’s inner workings to this bank. But I chose to let go of feeling insignificant and not quite good enough and just took the next step. Every time they asked for more, I let go of any and all stories and just provided what they asked for.
My husband kept asking me for reassurance, proof that we weren’t getting in over our heads, proof that my income could cover the added expense. He needed to see the money in the bank before we started. I told him over and over again that I couldn’t resolve this for him. This wasn’t about having the resources, this was about trusting the process.
One night, during a heated argument on this subject, I shouted, “I DON’T KNOW! I’M JUST DOING THE NEXT THING IN FRONT OF ME. You’re asking me for something I can’t provide. No one can, because no one knows. BUT GOD DOES! If you want to know, GO TALK TO HIM ABOUT IT. BUT DON’T ASK ME FOR WHAT I CAN’T GIVE YOU. That’s not my job. That’s not my part. My part is just to do the one next step. That’s all I’m doing.”
After this conversation, he stopped pestering me. Maybe he took my advice and sought reassurance from the true source. I don’t know, because that’s not my part. 😉
For four months the loan processors worked to get this construction loan approved by the bank. The basement caused a hiccup. Because they are a rarity here, the appraiser couldn’t find comparables for our plan. We would have to pay for it ourselves out of our own pocket because the bank couldn’t get numbers to make a loan for one. So we decided to leave the basement unfinished and tackle it another day. I was at peace with that. This or something better, right?
Then one day I got a text message from our loan processor: despite everything they could do, the numbers just weren’t working. In order for them to do the loan we would have to sell our current home and move in with family for free, not paying rent. Well, with five children I wouldn’t willingly do that to any of our family or friends!
I remember being still when I got the news. Not calm per se, just frozen.
After all I had done, they were telling me this one chance at getting the loan to build our home wasn’t going to come together.
I didn’t have any other ideas. I didn’t see that we had any other avenues in front of us. I had been on this path for so long and now…blank. What do I do? Blank.
In that frozen state, the loan processor texted again: Maybe a local bank could do it. They would have more flexibility than a large, national bank.
Hm. Well, I had backed up and redone parts of this process before, I may as well try again. I thought about the three other bankers I had met with. Which one should I contact first? A name. I still had his info in my phone so I thought I would shoot him a text.
No. On second thought, I’ll just call him. (Remember how I loathed making phone calls at the beginning of this journey…?)
I called. He remembered me as if we had talked yesterday, despite the intervening months. In fact, he said that he had kept my file, just in case.
I told him what had happened with the other bank. “Look, we just need to know if this is going to work or not. Can you look over our numbers?” We scheduled a time for the following Monday.
Over the weekend, my husband and I laid out our numbers in a spreadsheet using the original notes from our meeting with this bank months ago. On Monday, we shared what we had and the loan officer agreed. It should work, as long as the appraisal from the large bank could be used by this local bank.
When we ran the numbers with the small bank months earlier, their appraisal estimate had come in $50,000 too low for them to approve a construction loan for us. But the larger bank had appraised it for $50,000 higher, and as long as the small bank accepted it and the larger bank agreed to transfer it, then we could get the loan!
Both parties agreed. I wrote a check to pay for the appraisal, and in the end, it took a four month detour to get the appraisal that would allow us to get the construction loan with terms that were better for us.
My original goal statement said that the loan package went through easily and quickly. It did! After a four month detour, we applied and closed within two weeks.
It also said that we easily paid the down payment and were able to continue our real estate investing too. Because of the higher appraisal and the lower bid amount, we have so much equity in our future home that the bank didn’t even need our current home’s equity, it was just bonus money at that point! So we can stay in our current home while the new one is being built. Easy!
We broke ground in August 2020 and we’re continuing to fulfill the rest of my goal statement regarding our subcontractors, having the supplies we need when we need them to finish in a timely manner, and having things come together for us easily!
We’ve already seen some of those additional miracles happen during this time of Covid-19 induced shortages on building supplies. Things we had no control over appeared to derail our plans, but we chose to move forward in faith anyway!
Plus, thanks to my husband choosing to attend Genius Bootcamp during the summer, he has enthusiastically joined me in thinking the truth, despite appearances, and watching the miracles roll in.
It has been incredible to see the tortuous path that our dreams seem to take to become reality.
In the end, it created a better result. Those four months of waiting in the hands of a large bank gave us the appraisal we needed to have the equity to get a loan with another bank, despite their higher down payment terms. Plus, our builder infinitely prefers working with the new bank so it’s a win-win for him too.
Learning to stay calm and in the flow of ideas, despite ALL the nay-sayers (including my own spouse ;), was one of MANY take-aways from this experience. I’ve built my faith muscles. I am mentally stronger, more powerful, and more confident than I’ve ever been before. I don’t let people drain me or disempower me. I choose to retain my power, I don’t give it away. I make phone calls easily and regularly. I ask for what I want and need and don’t mind when people tell me No. It just means they aren’t part of my solution. I appreciate their candor and can release them and move on.
The impact has rippled through all areas of my life.
Q. How effective were you at being able to think truth in spite of appearances in assignment/lesson 18?
The assignment I gave myself in Lesson 18 was to present a new pricing model for my services to my existing clients. This is relevant to my Phase 2 Goal because part of the agreement with my husband for building a house was that I would be paying for the expenses out of my business income. In order to do that, I had to fine-tune what I offered and how much I charged for it. I had to not only pay for my company and my employees, but I had to have enough profit to pay myself a larger salary. I planned to move from hourly rates to a monthly retainer pricing model. Then I’d have consistent revenue so I could plan ahead for the growth I needed to pay for this larger home.
I was afraid that my existing clients would choose to part ways and that I wouldn’t find other clients to replace that work/income.
I did present the changes and we were able to have a conversation to move forward together. And it set me up to start working with more clients on a consistent basis because I could hire the help I needed in order to expand.
Q. If you had difficulty with anxiety or other troubling emotions, how did you deal with them?
I struggled with the negative stories I created in my head, which made me afraid of doing what I needed to do. I had to learn to stop focusing on the negative possibilities and instead choose to focus on the positive possibilities. I used a visualization technique I call “unplugging” to help me disconnect from anyone or anything else to achieve my dream. Every time I came across needing something to happen, I had to unplug myself and plug myself up to God as my supply. So that no matter what happened, I knew it was going to be ok.
Q: If you had any advice for other Mindset Mastery students, what would it be?
If I could give a bit of advice to anyone taking Mindset Mastery: Be aware of your fears and doubts.
When we face an obstacle, a nay-sayer, or anything that is outside of our comfort zone, be super-conscious of where your fear is stemming from. Are you afraid of appearing stupid as I was? Are you afraid of feeling small? Are you afraid of ridicule, pain, grief, or being wildly successful? When I recognized where my fear was centered in any situation, I could consciously unplug/unhook myself from it and just exist. Just be. The situation then existed outside of myself and I could choose to engage the fear, or let it pass me by.
Once I recognized that my weakness was making negative stories around everything, sabotaging all the good I could do, I could choose to exist differently. I was now in control. I was neutral until I chose to apply a meaning to it by using one of the Laws of Thought.
I am a better mother because I can teach and guide my children to think truth despite appearances. I’m still learning to unhook from all my kids’ behaviors…that’s an ongoing process. 😉 They know these laws and regularly use them, even my 7 year old!
Thank you so much Leslie. This has been the single-most liberating experience of my life. I am now truly free and getting freer every day.
Congratulations, Wendy! Keep up the great work!!
Success with the house was one thing, but the process stretched her in ways that also brought her success in other areas of her life as well. She reports:
Over the past 18 months, I turned my side-hustle habit into a successful business development agency specializing in branding and marketing to pay for this house. I have tripled my client roster and love the work I do. I hired a team and I manage them with confidence because I understand these principles.
Wendy is now the proud owner and founder of a boutique branding and marketing agency that helps speakers, coaches, influencers, and service providers define, design, and share their genius ideas with their audiences:
Learn more about Business with Wendy at https://businesswithwendy.com
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