Over the course of twenty-seven years, my husband and I have moved five times. This number does not include the countless moves across town during our college and early years. These are the big moves – ones to a different city or state.
It has not always been easy digging up roots and planting them in a new spot. There have been definite bumps along the way, yet with each move we are better informed and prepared for the next. More importantly, my little family (son included) is adventurous and despite all of the stress relocation can bring, we enjoy the process and become excited at whatever awaits.
Some things I have learned to manage the craziness of it all:
1) RELY ON – If you move with a spouse, partner, or friend, lean on each other for support whenever the stress or loneliness becomes too much. If you venture out on your own, maintain connection with someone you trust from back home. Despite the distance, they can help you get through the rough patches.
2) DISCOVER – Schedule “explore days.” Take over the role of tourist and visit historical sites, heritage markers, museums, and parks. Finding out about the region where you live will make it feel more like home.
3) BE PATIENT – Do not force things. Friendships. Job. Dating. Home. School. It takes time for everything to come together. Pushing too fast will only lead to frustration and create disappointment, especially if reality does not match expectations. The best things truly do come to those who wait.
4) LEARN – Watch the local news. Read the newspapers. Attend a community meeting or gathering. As a citizen, following the events and people in your area will create a deeper connection.
5) BE OPEN – A new town or city means new experiences. Try different restaurants, visit unique shops, attend a play or musical, find a favorite local hangout, support the school sports program, and if there is an ethnic or cultural fair, go. Seek out places you have never been. Embrace activities you have never done.
6) CONNECT – If you workout, join a gym. Find a welcoming place to worship. Become involved in your child’s school. Have a hobby? Track down a club. If you are a bit introverted or tend to overschedule, be careful of doing too much too soon. Work into these things slowly and do not overcommit.
7) BE GRATEFUL – Many people never get to visit new places, let alone live in them! Gratitude for this remarkable experience is paramount. When you appreciate the special opportunity you have been given, the transition not only becomes easier to bear but amazing.
8) PAUSE – No matter how organized, the chaos of a move is overwhelming. Set aside time to be alone. Enjoy quiet nights. Unpack at your own pace. Settle into the comfort of your surroundings. Take a moment to watch a movie or read a book. Treating yourself will energize you to keep after that long to-do list.
9) REFLECT – If you had a bad experience in your previous town, consider how you can make it better this time around. Job, finances, relationships, or mistakes you have made are lessons in disguise. Analyze what happened, accept your role, and dedicate this as a time of change.
10) REINVENT – This is your chance to do things differently. No one knows you. If there has been something you wanted to change, now is the perfect time. Do not pretend to be someone other than who you are, however. Simply embrace the ability to start fresh and view yourself through new eyes.
11) LIVE – Wherever you are and whatever the moment – that is where you belong and the best place to be! Do not fall into the trap of comparing the past and present. Avoid dwelling on what was left behind. Be wary of overdreaming about what your life could or should be like in the future. Remove the idea things will be better once you do [insert crazy thought here]. Give yourself the gift of living in the now.
I have learned to embrace the challenges of each move and love the journey. Yes, there have been sacrifices but there have also been wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime rewards. Life is what you make it. Home is where you live it.
Nurture the place where you have been planted and it will grow into something quite beautiful.