My Private Construction Zone

My Private Construction Zone

Photo by Ümit Yıldırım on Unsplash

By: Stella Orange

For the past eight years, the Philosopher and I have lived by construction work. Long time readers may recall that we lived in Coconut Grove, Florida – it started there. A few months before we decamped for Cincinnati, the city tore up the sidewalk in front of our home.

Then we moved to Ohio and lived in a retrofitted can factory. Our window looked out on an open lot that got developed into an apartment building. We watched the scaffolding go up, then the walls, then the windows, doors, lights, and landscaping.

Then we moved to Buffalo. When we bought our house, the house next door was in the process of being flipped. The guy doing it wasn’t the most methodical, so it took him four years to complete the job.

A few years ago, I mentioned this to a couple wise women (to name names and because some of you know them, Zenia and Morella, perhaps also Rebecca because her mind works like that, too). In a knowing way they all said something like, “Oh, isn’t that curious?”

When the house next door was bought this April, I thought that this story line – let’s call it “we’re neighbors with the Builder” — had finally come to an end. 

But you want to know what happened next?

We went from living next door to the construction to having it move onsite with us.

The Sufi poet Rumi once wrote that being human is a guesthouse. These days I’m tempted to say it’s more of a construction zone.

In the past ninety days, we’ve:

  • had the main wastewater plumbing stack replaced (they cut through walls on two floors to do it). 
  • gotten a new roof
  • watch the city dig up our front yard and part of the street and rip out the old lead line from the city water main to our place (and poured new cement on our front walk, that we put our handprints in). 
  • chopped down a tree on our hell strip that had seen better days

And today we’re getting a new hot water heater and cleaning up the plumbing in our basement. Our house was built in 1902. She’s strong as an ox and holds us well but needs a bit of loving care right now, just like the rest of us, no?

I mention all this because it’s a curious story, isn’t it?

From where I sit, it looks like change is getting closer. And it’s a very specific kind of change – a kind of shoring up. A consolidation. A tending of the place that holds our family and sundry beloveds.

And when I game that out, I can see where this is headed. When you deliberately spend time laying a strong foundation for the next hundred years, how can it NOT lead to good things ahead?

That’s when I get all excited for what’s coming.

I overshare all this to say: how about you? Where you at? What are you laying the foundation for in the future? 

(If you want help answering these questions because you’re tired of going over it in your own head, email to chat. We can talk about what’s going on and what it could look like to work together. Or just connect. Up to you.) 

Also? I’m not sure who needs to hear this, but I’m called to say something I’ve been reminding myself of a lot these days: You don’t need to wait until the course you’re on gets so painful or so messed up that you can’t bear it anymore.

You can build towards what you want to see happen, using what’s at hand and already around you. In fact, that is the most reliable way to do anything – using what you’ve got, in connection and cahoots with people you already know. Chances are you already are connected to so many resources and goodness and possibilities right now – if you swung a cat, you’d hit at least 40% of them, I bet.

But when was the last time you gave yourself the space to swing that cat?

All I’m saying is, everyday Rebecca and I swing cats with people looking to get ahead of whatever is changing. There is something about having those high-level conversations not just in your head – but slowing down and talking it through with people like us, who are quite skilled at seeing things differently and helping people like you get ahead of the curve in a remarkably un-painful, organic way. 

As for my personal construction zone, I am charmed by the idea that its current trajectory is next door>our place>some more subtle area. My leadership acumen, perhaps? My long-term vision to be a business owner, mama, wife, artiste, and citizen extraordinaire? I don’t know yet. But I’m energized by the possibility and look forward to the day I can tell ya the story.

If this resonates and you’re feeling it, we’d love to talk. If we haven’t met yet, let’s! If you’re considering hiring help, let’s talk about what that could look like. Email Jane at to inquire.

Stella is cofounder and copywriter at Las Peregrinas, a creative and consulting agency. As our resident word nerd, she writes copy and points out the stories everyone is living and telling through their work. She is also fun at parties.

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