I wanted to write this one for a long time. It’s near and dear to my heart. Here’s what I learned from our big cross-country move in December 2012 from Virginia to Arizona (that’s 2,256 miles!):
–>We are not our stuff. (Let some of it go.)
Lots of stuff filled our 900-ish square foot apartment. (Our office/guest room served as more of a storage space rather than a living space!) We got rid of a lot in the months leading up to the move. Things we didn’t need, use, or want. Old stuff, new stuff, stuff we bought, stuff given to us as gifts, even hand-me-downs. Deciding what something’s worth paying for to move across the country puts the true value of material things into perspective. I realized that we didn’t need much of what we were hanging onto for so long – (Out of habit? Security? Guilt?). Gail Blanke’s book Throw Out Fifty Things helped me a great deal by putting things into focus. She asked the important questions, cited real life examples, and demystified the psychological power which material things can have over us. It’s a quality read, and I suggest you check it out, moving or no.
I finally recognized that the clutter was constantly creating stress and bringing me down. I realized it was okay –(in fact, more than okay)- to let go of stuff if it wasn’t serving a purpose or adding value to our lives. We sold, donated, and gave stuff to friends and family. I felt relieved and humbled to know that the once unused stuff would now be put to use by others.
When we arrived in Phoenix at the end of 2012, we temporarily moved in with my sister, bro-in-law, nephew, and niece. All of our remaining possessions were stored in their garage, except for our toiletries, shoes, and a few dressers worth of clothing. We grabbed additional stuff out of the garage as needed: a few books, Opie’s Xbox along with a couple of favorite games, and some of my craft supplies. The rest remained packed in the garage until we moved into our own place seven months later. Living with limited access to the majority of our stuff made us realize how little we need or use on a daily basis. Sure, when we moved into our own house we needed to unpack the kitchen stuff, sheets and towels, our own bed, and a few other pieces of furniture. However the rest are non-essentials which hopefully will be useful and add value and not stress to our lives.
I could write a book on this one, but it’s not necessary. There are plenty of good resources available on the subject, my favorite being from these interesting guys. They even went so far as to make a game out of it. Food for thought.
–>Risk-Taking is valuable.
Many of the best things in my life occurred because I took a risk and stepped out of my comfort zone:
– Attending a university far from home (400+ miles away) where I knew no one. I made lifelong friendships and gained invaluable experiences.
– Applying to a job despite thinking I didn’t have a chance. I was hired and still work there.
– Going out with a coworker I barely knew right after leaving the job after only a few weeks of working there. He turned out to be “the one”! 😉
Even though my immediate family (parents, sister, and brother-in-law) had already made the big move, I was still apprehensive about the prospect. I viewed it as an impossibility, something too big and complicated to accomplish. Man, was I wrong. Taking this giant step expanded the horizon of possibilities. Since we took the plunge and succeeded, imagine what else we can tackle!
Sure, the outcome won’t always amount to sunshine and roses, and I by no means sailed smoothly through all of the circumstances I mentioned, but it’s still worth it. I want to keep pushing myself to take chances which my gut tells me could make for an interesting, beneficial, wild experience, just like this move. My newest venture is this blog and all of the things I’m learning along the way about WordPress, web design, and tons of behind-the-scenes stuff which is no longer foreign to me. And next up, this small business I am attempting to create from scratch, piece by piece, where the excitement and joy outweigh the fear and anxiety. I feel that I can’t not do it, because my gut is telling me to press on.
–>People’s generosity and thoughtfulness will astound you.
We were lucky to have family and friends step up and assist us with moving preparations. Together we packed, cleaned, donated, lifted, and moved every single item out of the apartment. When the man with the moving company arrived to pick up the pods filled with our stuff, we had packed the final things into them just minutes before the truck pulled up. We couldn’t have done it all and stayed somewhat sane (our norm) without their helping hands. Everyone showed up without complaint and worked tirelessly for a few days until the job was done.
Our brother-in-law and sister took us into their home. And let us take up tons of space in their garage with our stuff. And shared their food with us. And it was their idea. This act of kindness surpassed standard generosity. They beared with us when it took longer than we expected to find a home of our own. And they put on a brave face as we went round and round with the loan officer for weeks until things were finally resolved and approved. Their selflessness and understanding went above and beyond, and we will be forever grateful.
–>Even though it’s often scary at first, sometimes change is necessary to give us a renewed outlook on life.
I felt like we were stuck in a rut. Whether this was true or not, I don’t know for sure. What I do know is we lived in the same apartment for eight years without changing much and felt increasingly smothered by stuff (see #1). The place was a great deal and served us well, but I had grown tired of it. I wanted to mix things up. I missed my family and longed to get to know our nephew and niece while they were still young kids. Opie told me a few times through the years that we could move out to Arizona someday if I wanted, and the time had come to hold him to his word. We were both nervous, scared, and unsure if we made the right decision. Upon arrival, some of the heat was taken off me because I kept my job and worked remotely from home, whereas Opie had to venture out into unknown territory (quite literally) after our old car was delivered from Virginia in early January 2013. However, he went forth with his best efforts: applying, interviewing, and navigating this new environment, until he was hired the next month.
After we moved into our own place in August, we began to settle in and grow comfortable exploring our new state, city, and neighborhood. We found a new favorite spot in the neighborhood to eat our most relished weekend meal, breakfast. We gained new appreciation for parks and “alive” outdoor spaces, since we now lived in an environment where green spaces were harder to come by. We made friends and reconnected with family. The move and the steps following it injected our lives with vigor and excitement. You could say it woke us up to focus on what we’d taken for granted.
–>Nothing is permanent.
Opie and I discussed this both before and after the big move. While still living in VA, we reassured one another that if we moved to AZ and hated it there, couldn’t find employment for a while, or were unhappy overall, we could plan to move again. That was easy to say before going through the complete experience of a big move. After arriving out west and rocking it with hardly a snag, I knew we each had the will and know-how to do it again, or many more times, if we desired. I feel that if we want some type of change in our lives, we will find a way to make it happen. The final result may not materialize immediately, but we can set a plan in motion to work towards our goal. If we don’t want it badly enough, then we probably won’t set if off until we’re ready to receive the change. That’s been my own personal experience as well as ones I’ve observed throughout my life so far.
If/when we decide to move again, we will make a plan with a time-sensitive goal in mind, and we will most likely achieve it. We already did the impossible, (or what I used to think was impossible), so I know we can do it again. Right now our general feeling about living here is happily content. However, we don’t see ourselves living here for decades. Eventually we might split our time between here and somewhere down south or in a beach town. Maybe we’ll try someplace completely foreign and new to us. I don’t know what we’ll decide to do down the road, but I do know we’ll be here for the next few years (or several, who knows!). I’m also comforted and excited by the fact that I do not feel stuck here nor do I think I’ll feel that way again. Because now I know we have the capability to move just about anywhere we choose, and again after that if we like…and I think that’s just fine.