Strata Hell, Strata Purgatory and maybe…Strata heaven

I have met some terrific, interesting people living in a strata corporation. Some I like and some I do not like. Some are even my friends and some are my enemies. Others are in some limbo place where I am unable to categorize them. All of these people are important to every strata moment I write about because they teach me about myself: the good, the not so good and the ugly.Put another way, strata heaven, strata purgatory and strata hell.

I visit all three places daily, sometimes, many times in a day.

Sometimes I’m so angry and offended by strata affairs and strata people my emotions are on fire for hours. In the brimstone pit, I’m just another ticked off strata owner sparring with council, other owners and property managers who are just as angry and offended by me as I am with them. It does make for a painfully, explosive environment with all the screaming and gnashing of teeth.Emotional environments are always hellish because everyone is so right about their opinions –including me.

But there comes a moment even in strata hell where someone else throws you an arm resplendent in fire-retardant and encourages you to grab hold and shut up at least until you can collect your thoughts, your teeth, and douse yourself with tepid water to ease the burning pain. I say tepid because strata purgatory is a place where the emotional fires are more like smoldering heaps but they could reignite any time.Relief is not 100% in strata purgatory. All those strata issues are still there with minimal protection at best.

The thing about being in a place with a degree of respite is you can do one of three things: you can dive back into strata hell;suffer mild discomfort in strata purgatory indefinitely; or purge the emotional, get calm and make the bad things better for everyone, even the gang in the pit, by finding the door to strata heaven.

I spend huge amounts of time pacing purgatory generally because emotionally it is hard for me to sit still and just “be”. Warriors have a job to do and self-righteousness can create a surge of power that cannot be stifled in a waiting place. The trick is to decide what kind of warrior I want to be and whether or not my choice is an authentic one.

I have to admit I like an adrenalin fueled pit of emotionally driven reactions. A fiery burst of energy is creative.Creativity is an awesome pay-off or rip-off for emotional energy.

Waiting is tedious but when the emotionally charged energy subsides sparring is not so important as perhaps finding a balance – like sitting on a teeter-totter . Waiting affords me time to study and think about situations. Without urgency I am more likely to hear opinions and not cut them down before they even reach my ear. Acoustics are better when I’m just waiting. Possibilities feel like they could be endless. Everyone else has great ideas. Bridges are everywhere. I even catch a glimpse of that elusive staircase once in a while – you know, the one that leads to heaven!

I write better on a bridge with view of the stairway although sometimes my bridges aren’t desirable by design. Interestingly,today I’m on an old, beat up, planked suspension bridge. I’m sitting on a solid couple of planks but my legs are dangling over the fiery lake. I feel sparks actually.

Right here, now, I feel I must do something about a charged strata issue. A dive would be the easy thing for the immediate but I’m thinking perhaps I need to learn something about myself;something I don’t want to learn. Oddly, I feel peaceful although I’m not content. Usually when I feel like this I’m waiting on acknowledgement in some form or another. Sometimes I’m waiting on a friend or an enemy.Sometimes I’m anticipating a council response and other times, I’m just waiting to hit the “publish” button and read feedback on the latest blog.

The waiting generally allows for a small measure of peace. The “being at peace” part lets me move forward towards acceptance and the stairway to the good place. I will not agree with my swamp dwellers all the time and sometimes I roar at them from a distant place:my blog.Everyone should be heard right? But,the roar does keeps me in purgatory.

When I accept a different point of view – not forced acceptance mind you – I really feel emotional duress pull back and I look at strata with a larger view as though I were looking at it from an ethereal place…or the highest riser on the stairwell. I can see so much more from a distance. From a distance everything looks so good. I just stretch and expand and embrace collective goodwill.Everybody wants the best for strata when acceptance is the priority. So much more gets accomplished.

I find it interesting that acceptance allows me to feel stronger than strong. My vision has so much more depth and clarity to it. I become the arm protected by fire retardant that pulls tortured strata owners out of strata hell and drops them into purgatory where they can settle with their own choices, fashion their own bridges and climb their own stairs.

I couldn’t sit in strata heaven, or purgatory or hell without the strata councils, strata owners, property managers, realtors, lawyers, columnists, politicos, government representatives and strata associations who are at various times my friends and my enemies but always my teachers. Strata just wouldn’t be any great passion of mine without each one:the good, the not so good and the ugly.

Thank you all.

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Posted in Strata Minds
3 comments on “Strata Hell, Strata Purgatory and maybe…Strata heaven
  1. Johnny Stork says:

    Another colorful and vividly written post on strata living from Vancouver’s leading strata queen! I can certainly relate, as I am sure many strata owners, to the frustrating and emotional roller-coaster of strata life. Strong “emotions on fire” can certainly motivate a call-to-action or even creativity in some cases. However, one of the most prevalent “conflicts” I have seen in my own short period of strata life, is not between strata owners, but between reason and emotion within any given owner. I certainly don’t mean to suggest we should not get emotional, angry, even outraged at irresponsible, negligent or dangerous strata management practices. This is after all, part of our nature and plays a part in our inherited fight-or-flight response. As valuable and necessary as our emotions are, there are also problems which arise when we fail to separate our “selves”, our emotions, from a business or negotiation process. One of the single most common inhibitors I have witnessed when trying to negotiate or communicate with strata council, is when people take strata management/business disputes personally.

    I suppose the key message is that we should allow our emotions to evoke and initiate any call to action or response to a terrible situation within a strata. However, once started, strata owners and strata council members need to find some way to CONTROL and even suppress those emotions when pragmatic, responsible decision-making is required. Critical thinking skills go much farther than emotion, during such negotiations and attempts to collaborate.

    There is also a large body of psychological literature that has demonstrated the negative physical effects of stress. There is also a corresponding body of literature which has shown the negative relationship between emotions and group decision-making process.

    “Findings in the present research showed rather systematically that intense levels of emotion, regardless of its positive or negative nature, appeared detrimental to group decision-making processes, thus providing further support to the important body of literature that considers emotion as an inhibitor rather than a facilitator of decision-making.” (

    I realize that simply suggesting to someone they should not take things personally, or they should check their ego’s at the door when working with strata owners/council is not likely to have much of an effect. Most of us have ingrained ways of thinking, acting and responding which have been developed over a life-time. However, we all (hopefully) possess at least the ability to recognize when emotions or ego are getting in the way of progress. Getting in the way of moving beyond an impass. When we notice that emotion or ego are getting in the way of resolving a strata dispute, then it may be time to seek out mediation or some other form of third-party support who can bring a fresh, and possibly less emotional insight into the situation. But of course this also depends on those involved having a greater concern for “doing the right thing”, serving the owners FIRST, rather than their own ego’s.

    Great article Strata Queen!


  2. Matara says:

    Most times it is a hell and not worth owning a condo, which I am going to sell as soon as possible. Many of us were duped on purchase due to the fact almost half the condo’s were purchased by one owner who wants to control strata council what goes on with our strata. Nightmare to say the least.


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