Recently, we (our business and family) were forced out of our comfort zone in a pretty colossal way.
Let me take you back to a time not so long ago when the Enriches family Clan were facing having nowhere to live and somehow, the Universe pulled together some pretty amazing people and opportunities and a potential disaster was averted very quickly.
TL;DR: Our house was totally flooded, we were almost ‘homeless’ and somehow we managed to move into a new house with a family and business and pets in 48 hours.
For context, it is worth knowing we have a little family consisting of Jess, Ben, Leiarna (18yo sister) and Jax (13yo brother) as well as Marshall the anxious Kelpie, Lorrie the streetcat (adopted old girl), Alex the teen mum (also a cat) and Pancake, our newest baby (surprise 3.5 week young kitten).
On the evening of October 2, a rather stressed Leiarna was shaking me out of sleep at 11:30pm, telling me my bedroom was flooding (hilariously, I decided for the first time in 4 years I would take a sleep supplement and get a “good night rest in” for a very busy week).
It was flooding. Like, F L O O D I N G.
The flexi-hose under the vanity in our ensuite has burst, unleashing a deluge of water throughout our bathroom, bedroom and wardrobes and creeping down the hall into the other rooms.
I don’t know where that water pressure has been in the last 4 years we lived at Southside, but it was not present in the shower. Irony?
Little Pancake (precisely 0.8% of cat at this stage) was sleeping directly in front of the vanity in her little box. Awoken by this sudden flooding, Pancake was found was wading through approximately 1cm of water across the carpet for safety. She made it to the couch and she and her mama slipped under the cover of the couch like refugees.
Half asleep, I realise the seriousness of the situation and awake Ben.
Together, (after some slight shouting as everyone was disoriented and in shock) we tried the following:
🤞 Turning off the water main (lime or calcium build-up rendering this useless with bare hands – and we couldn’t find the one tool we needed ANYWHERE)
🤞 Called the Real Estate Agent
🤞 Called the Plumber connected to the real estate
🤞 Called every other plumber that showed up on Google Search (which was minimal. Guys? We can help) and no one answered
🤞 Called the wrong water company for our area, who very s l o w l y explained that they don’t have the number for the correct company, and also did not give me the name of it, while I am yelling in a panic about the now 2cm of water in my bedroom and the slow-moving tsunami that was making its way through our home
🤞 Called the Gympie Regional Council thinking this call was in vain because it was the bathroom and not council property, but tried anyway.
Unable to turn off the water main, Council was our last hope as I think we can safely say we are now at about 3cm of water in our room. They said they’d patch the overnight person and they would be with us ASAP. I started thinking about how I would manage to sleep through the water, and just accept it as part of my life at this point. I loved Water World as a kid (don’t judge!) so this could be possible.
It’s now midnight and the person who was on call for Council that night? Our neighbour. He lived *directly* across the road. I know. What. (WAIT. It gets better!)
Water mains off, house soaked, bedroom floors totally underwater. Back to sleep (what else are we meant to do?). During the night, I woke to a meowing and stressed mama cat patting me with her little paws and a tiny little screm from under the couch. The water came under the couch and I woke to rescue little pancake from the wet, cold carpets under the couch. Poor, poor little pancake.
Fast forward to Thursday morning. The Real Estate is aware and actioning the problem, the carpet guys are here and we’re kind of laughing through what had happened.
“This house is unliveable. You need to get out ASAP and find somewhere else because we’re about to install about 20 industrial fans through this house” – almost direct quote from the Carpet guy. It may have been friendlier, in fact, it definitely was but this news was a chair to the face.
Cue: Panic. My anxiety levels are creeping up faster than the water that was seeping through the walls.
The Real Estate is unable to move us into another home as they currently don’t have any suitable for our family (we rent, guys. Ben and I didn’t really start to ‘adult’ until our late 20s, early 30s after meeting and playing together for a while) so they kindly offer to call all of the others in town and try and help us by explaining our case. We received emails with properties and contact details immediately and were so, so grateful for the help.
It’s now Thursday afternoon. It’s been about 14 hours since The Great Flood of 2019 and we’ve moved almost every room of the house in the dining room. We’ve cracked a beer (certain times in life call for a beer – this was one of them) and we’re applying for the two houses available in our region that are suitable for Leiarna’s job, Jackson’s school and the size of our family and business.
My ever-optimistic and sunny Husband was positive; “This is great. We’ll move house and we’ll start fresh somewhere new and probably even find a place that’s more suitable for our plants!”. We love plants and have about 100. Highly recommend.
Thursday night? We had a [few] nightcaps and tried to sleep through the literal 17-odd Industrial fans strewn through the house, on our mattress on the dining room floor.
I, being a genius, listened to an all-night sleep meditation and slept through. Ben, being the worlds.lightest.sleeper. did not sleep a wink.
It’s Friday morning now and I’m packing the house into boxes not knowing where those boxes (or we) will be going. I am talking to Jax about staying with a friend for a few days (at most… hopefully?). We had a temporary option: To stay in a Parent’s house at Curra (20 mins out of town) which was barely used. This was great as it was a roof, but long-term, we had no reception out there and no access to the internet, so while we were eternally grateful, we knew it wouldn’t work for long (work from home feels, right?).
On the inside, I was openly crying – no, wailing – on the floor and in pieces.
On the outside? I was machining through the house and audibly thanking the Universe for pushing me into a change I was putting off, for forcing me out of my comfort zone and pushing me to a shift I didn’t quite understand yet. Did I believe it at the time? Not really. But I wanted to and honestly… I had to. I had to believe that this was literally a flushing of our status-quo. Otherwise? Well, that outlook was far too bleak.
While this is all happening, the potential new real estate agent is evaluating our application. Being a small business, it can be difficult to prove a stable, reliable income in terms of wages. Ben was handling this with back and forth calls to the accountant, the realtor, the accountant…His sunny disposition was starting to cloud.
Ben’s mum called. She said her best friends cousin owned two homes in the Gympie region (they are from Canberra, so this is an insane ‘coincidence’). One is a little out of town and available for 3 weeks while they are on holiday, which we were invited to house sit while we figured out our next move.
The other? One of the two houses we had applied for.
It was not yet on the market. The owner had freshly renovated it (we thought we were applying for a house that was still standing from its’ original build in the 70s and we did not care a bit [in fact, it was entirely on-brand for a little mustard-loving, retro-loving little hippy like me]) and the owner had only moved out the day prior.
Emotional, tired and somewhat relieved, Ben came inside to my packing station and told me we have somewhere to live. I refused to believe him until we had keys. I couldn’t take another hit, surprise or shock being so close to my limit and honestly, so utterly traumatised by the shock and terror that I couldn’t house these kids safely (Ben and I will deal with whatever hits us in the back of the head, but stability and safety for the siblings? Priority #1 always).
The cousin, this wonderful person who was kind enough to offer us their actual home, phoned the Real Estate to asked them to put our application through as approved. As soon a possible. No hoops, no questions. The Real Estate Agent didn’t hesitate.
At 5pm Friday evening – less than 48 hours since that flexi-hose in a smothering of water from pressure I would have normally been so very grateful for – flooded our home, we had two sets of keys to a new house and somewhere to live.
A freshly renovated Queenslander, with rooms for all and office space for Enriches.
At this point, I had not processed what had happened, at all. We didn’t stop moving until Monday afternoon from Thursday morning. We packed up an entire 5 bed, 2 bath house which included offices and the aforementioned approximately 100-odd plants.
Somehow, our house flooded in the night and the Universe (call it whatever you like) conspired to connect every single dot imaginable to ensure the situation was… I want to say self-corrected but that doesn’t feel right. Instead, I’ll say: To ensure everything was OK.
In 5 days we were flooded, house-less (I don’t want to keep saying “homeless” as I do recognise our deep, deep privilege and fortune), moving to ???, manically applying for houses and then moving into a new one.
Somehow through all of this, we managed to continue to run a business, servicing our clients, managing our team with barely a disruption to normal activity (on the outside). Our ad campaigns ran beautifully, our projects powered forward (thankfully we have the best team ever) and business flourished. We notified our clients immediately that our communication would be minimal and gave them a brief run-down of what had happened. As expected, they were kind, concerned and sent good vibes in our direction (can confirm: these were FELT).
Monday afternoon, we again cracked a beer. We had just finished moving and cleaning a house in 38-degree heat over the long weekend. We were stuffed, we were emotional. But we were safe, housed and very, very fortunate.
Suddenly it is raining. Really, really raining. POURING (as the old saying goes, I guess)! I joked to Ben that if that had have happened only 2 hours prior while we were moving the last of the boxes down our old houses very steep driveway and up our new homes rather steep drive, I would have walked into the ocean and swam to the middle.
We exhaled – a long, long exhale – and recounted our incredible week. We had been talking about a change; moving house, making personal changes in terms of boundaries, external relationships, circumstances, health, et al… but we decided to stay put because it was easier and had recently signed a new lease to keep things simple.
I guess the Universe had other plans in mind and since we were taking too long to make some adjustments, they literally flushed us out of our comfort zone. We were Faucet to change (see what we did there?).
While this might not sound terribly traumatising to you, reader, understand this: Jess Riches? She hates change. She hates uncertainty, unplanned moving, unorganised chaos and question marks. She will start packing a house 3 months before it’s time to move, marking boxes and carefully putting things in the order they make the most sense coming back out of the box. She has never been good at changing her comfort zone, no matter how uncomfortable it may truly be. Even if it is uncomfortable, it is familiar and she will usually sit with that while wishing the anxiety or worry away. No, it’s not the image of a healthy outlook but it’s a work in progress and I am very proud of how far I have come in recent years, especially this one.
For me to manage this without falling apart would have been an incredibly enormous feat. Alas, I did not totally manage to do this.
On Monday, day 3 in our new home, the washing machine connection wasn’t perfect and a small amount of water leaked onto the floor and soaked a towel I had placed to stop getting the room wet (without being insensitive to mental health – which I have long-fought so not really sure I can be – there was a definite element of PTSD at play here).
I cried. I cried and I sobbed and I cried some more. Tears just constantly streaming down my face for a good 15 minutes. It was CLEANSING and it was misplaced, being incorrectly channelled into the washing machine, rather than the ridiculously, monumentally stressful and scary few days prior.
And that’s the story of how we were physically forced into changing our environment, our (my) outlook and challenging the status quo.
I am grateful and I refuse to believe that any single element of this scenario was a coincidence. This happened by design, for a reason and I am determined to do it justice by making this new space a retreat and a protected, happy and productive home.
Gratitude and attempts at clever copywriting aside; That was f*cking wild and insane and scary and traumatic and what the FFF just happened! (there’s plenty of this STILL being said, mostly by me, but gratitude shines through as the dominating commentary)
There is no point in writing this story without singling out the people and businesses who went out of their way to help us whether it be through kindness, direct action, hauling a$s or whatever else.
- Laguna Realty, Gympie had the unfortunate task of having to remove us from the home. They made countless phone calls, sent dozens of emails and really worked hard to help us as much as they could with the new Real Estate Agency by shooting across all the paperwork needed and more. We are so thankful to Vanessa
- Your Realty Gympie & Cooloola rescheduled their afternoon to prepare the new house, our application and our paperwork so that we had somewhere to live ASAP. Rachel and Michelle are so kind and passionate for what they do, they didn’t blink an eyelid at helping us in our time of need
- Cooloola removals: OMG. These guys hauled it big time in sickeningly hot weather to move us as quickly as possible! Appreciation +++++
- Jackson and Leiarna… these kids could have bummed around and left this as our problem but they didn’t. They spent the whole weekend moving boxes, packing, carrying, cleaning, moving… and smiling. I actually cannot even begin to explain how grateful I am for these two and how deep my love for them runs
- My step-dad, Kiwi. He did all the tip runs, multiple trips in the ute and moved heaps of stuff with us which saved us shedloads in removalists and hiring trucks
- Our new Landlord. No words for my gratitude. It is so much more than a phone call, it is stability and safety for my family and my business. That is EVERYTHING
- My Husband. Who I wouldn’t allow to even touch me for days, for fear it will let it all out and make it all-too-safe for me to break down in a panic and ocean of tears and overwhelm. We have been through a lot in our years of loving each other, and I am always glad it is you I am doing life with. Always
We are now settling into our new place and our shared office. I actually think the shared office is an upgrade because I am one of those annoying wives that really loves being around my husband all.the.time. (even though Ben can live without constant contact, ha!).
Long post but you know what’s funny – I left so much out.
Moral of the story?
Make changes when you can feel it is needed or the Universe (or whatever you prefer to call it) will do it for you and she won’t be subtle.