Dog Hill. Photo by Steve Doyle, owner, NewStone Realty.

From the Series: Life on Dog Hill

“Elvis has left the building,” is what I texted my realtor Steve Doyle, owner of NewStone Realty after I pulled out of the Dog Hill driveway for the last time. Just a few hours earlier, he had stopped by only to find me taking a break from gardening.

“You just can’t let it go, can you!” he said, disbelieving.

I assured him that I was almost done and would be out in the next few hours. Everything had to be just right.


I never wanted to leave the property in Chapel Hill that we affectionately referred to as Dog Hill, owing to the 12 dogs who had lived there over the last 12 years, all but two of them rescues.

Many times over morning coffee or a shared bottle of wine in the evening, hubby would ask, “If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you want to be?”

I would always take the time to imagine some of the different cities in the world I have had the good fortune of visiting. I would reflect on how it would feel to be there again… Munich, Vienna, Paris, London, Cairo, Bangkok. I remembered taking three of the kids on a two-week jaunt to visit Zion National Park, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and several other amazing parks. I thought about the time hubby and I flew into San Francisco, rented a car, and drove up Highway 1 in a convertible, taking in the sites.

My answer would always be the same. “I would be right here on the hill.”

This answer always frustrated hubby. He would shake his head and restate the question stipulating that I had to choose some place other than home.

“But why?” I always challenged. “Home is where I most love to be.”

So you can imagine how I felt about leaving Dog Hill, yet that’s exactly what has happened. Hubby wanted to see more big sky, and in spite of my offering to clear part of the Dog Hill forest to make that a reality for him in Chapel Hill, he insisted on a new experience in a new place.

Hello, Texas!

A Process of Transition

We closed on our Texas home just before Christmas, packed up a small U-Haul with the essentials, and took off across the country with our youngest son Ryan and five dogs.

The agreement was that I would return mid-January to oversee some home upgrades, including hiring two amazing home stagers, before listing the house to sell in the Spring. This was a big job, consuming all of my time for two and a half months, but it was an investment that paid off. When it was all said and done, the house looked amazing!

I hired Steve Doyle as my agent, and together we agreed on a plan forward. While Steve was doing his part, I focused on getting the gardens in tip-top shape. It was the perfect time of year for listing, the dogwoods were in flower, wisteria hung in fragrant purple clumps from the trees along the roadside, and around the house bloomed azaleas, forsythia, and spirea.

Needless to say, the house was under contract for full-price in four days.

So how did I come to terms with moving? It’s been an unfolding process, to be sure, but having this time to make the house shine has been a wonderful way to say goodbye.

Moving is Hard Work


A fantastic crew from Two Men and A Truck. Obviously, it was four men (from left) Terrence, Antoine, Derrick, and Robert showing their guns. Oh, and they had two trucks!

Thank goodness for these guys with Two Men and A Truck. Everyone worked so hard to pack out the house, and even at the end of 12 hours, they were still making it fun.

But here’s what I’ve decided after going through this whole “move across the country deal”… next time I’m just gonna give it all away and start from scratch.

Why must I be so sentimental? Do I really need to carry all of these rocks to Texas just because I collected them from Martha’s Vineyard? Is it necessary to keep every last thing anyone has ever given me? Granted, I’m most sentimental about the few things I have from my late mother, but seriously, if I ever move again, I’m positive I can fit it all into one of those trailers I can pull behind my car.

So yes, everything is out of the house, and it’s beautiful and clean. The gardens are stellar, although I wanted to prune the roses before I left. And I’m exhausted from it all; which is why I’m taking my time driving across the country to San Antonio. As I write this post, I’m in Asheville, North Carolina. Tomorrow night I’ll be dancing in Nashville.

Work hard, play hard. That’s all there is to it! Now that I’ve released Dog Hill, I’ve made room for something new and exciting. Bring it on, world. I’m ready for an adventure!

Sheila Callaham is a best-selling author and motivational speaker, instructor, and coach. She is currently driving ever-so-slowly across country toward her new home in Bulverde, Texas, and wondering where to plant her first garden.

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