Within the past month I have sold my house, left my job, moved up to New Hampshire, and moved in with my sister-in-law...in her basement. Typical Millennial, right? Well, it turns out it is not so simple. I would like to view myself as super brave and divergent rather than an entitled self victimized gal of my generation but in the end it matters how I choose to view this. I choose the blank slate. So here is how it went:
My husband, our two dogs, and I lived in Rhode Island for almost ten years. We lived in cool places, made wonderful friendships, and walked most of the dirt paths that had a trail marker on them (and some that didn't). Professionally, I was able to work in a phenomenal school with an incredible team of educators who daily left me in awe of their care, advocacy, and dedication to developmentally appropriate, intentional, and joy filled days along side of children and college students. It was hard work but good work. But life as it turns out...isn't about work. Even the good work. We realized that we missed two things: our family and then mountains. Both were calling us back.
Besides that, there was the rock we were tugging around with us too. I think some might know this rock as DEBT. We lugged it around everywhere. It weighed us down. We couldn't dodge it. It was always there causing me to stub my toe directly in it and scream out in frustration, "I did everything right!!!! I went to school! I got a good job. I am a good person. What the frigggggggg!!!!!!" It's a big rock.
Side note: I really like collecting rocks. I stack them. I write memories on them from the places they came from. I even make up stories about rocks. But this rock sucks. And I didn't like it in my collection. I am currently trying to relocate the rock to the bottom of a large abyss so that others might not stub their toe on it.
As a classic Millennial...I indebted myself to tremendous school debt that I couldn't escape from and truth be told, I am not skilled in the art of money. I like it. I like sharing it and having it. But I am not the best at figuring it all out. Or saving it as it turns out. Whenever we would save, a vet bill would happen or something on the house needed fixing. We couldn't catch up. We were just always skimming by.
Outwardly, I was successful and happy. I was in a lot of ways happy and successful. In reality, I was living pay check to pay check, slightly above my means, using my credit card when an emergency did arise, and trying to act like I was fine. But it was tricky. I had been bitten with the traveling bug. I found out I couldn't have children naturally (or with the help of medical alternatives) despite many different tries. I found that I was becoming a human "doing" not a human "being". And I was opening up spiritually in a way I hadn't expected. A way that left me wanting something different. Maybe adventure? Maybe a blank slate? Whatever it was, it wasn't what I was doing or where I was at.
We had real choices, my husband and I. Good choices. We could have stayed in Rhode Island in our adorable little cape in the sweet neighborhood where Mike and I both had solid jobs. We could have continued to spend two out of four weekends traveling to New Hampshire and trying to pack in all the mountain time, family, and friend time we could fit in and then haul the dogs back into the car back to go back to Rhode Island. In about 15 years (or a miracle, a job change, or second jobs for both of us) I would finally pay off my schooling. Maybe I could teach night courses and try to earn more to pay off more debt but that would mean less time with my family. I also didn't think that all the hours of grading and attending to my computer along with trying to fulfill my actual job duties to the high level I was accustomed to would have done anybody any good.
But being in our home, with good friends, and good jobs...it was a good choice. I could listen to my podcasts on the way to work, fill up my inner cup as best I could with positivity, and maybe get around to writing that book I wanted to write. Did I mention I want to write a book even though I have no training or experience? Yeah, there is that too.
Many people would have stuck with that safe road or "path" or whatever you would like to call it. There it was: the reality of our quiet (somewhat stressed but sweet) little life in Rhode Island.
But it always came back to missing New Hampshire. I saw it in Mike's eyes. And each time we drove back to Rhode Island I felt it in my heart. We were missing my niece and nephews special events. We were missing dinners, and walks, and sunsets with family.I missed my dad. I adore my dad. And after a lot...A LOT of talking and considering, we came to a decision.
We made the decision of option number two: to give up the house, the quiet, the good jobs...and move back to New Hampshire.
So we manifested some cool energy, got a lot of support from friends and family, and what seems the blink of an eye...badda bing badda boom we figured out a plan and were able to move up. We needed to sell the house with a profit to pay off the debt we aquired and one of us had to get a job with healthcare. The housing situation was imperfectly perfect because we were going to move back into a house with Mike's brother and his girlfriend. Not ideal, it was a very small space, but also ideal, because the rent (if you could call what they wanted rent) could allow us to continue to work towards our "clean slate." Wow. The Universe does indeed work with us. Incredible.
I think we all assumed that I would get a job easily but as it turns out, Mike was the bread winner. With the help of my step-mom and Mike's experience he was able to land a wonderful job...with...wait for it...healthcare! And me? With my schooling, drive, and experience? I would certainly get a job- no problem. It would come soon. Anytime. I am so ready to serve and learn and grow!
Fast forward three months. I have no job. As expected, I am losing my sense of my identity. What is my purpose? What is my next move? What the hell do I do?
It is the strangest thing. I have been a work horse my whole life. I am a classic high achiever and recovering perfectionist.
I do not know what to do with this gift. This time.
What do you do with time? I spent a few weeks at my parents house while they were away in Alaska (yeah...I did get some of that travel bug from them) and that was nice. Lots of time with the dogs, in the hammock, in nature by the river and in the woods. I saw my New Hampshire friends which was soul quenching and relaxing. I certainly spent a lot of time with family. I meditated, read, and listened to podcasts.
We finally moved into what would be our actual space: my sister-in-laws basement. Which although was unexpected, turns out to be quite lovely. Again, very Millennial of me to be recovering from debt with no job living in my families basement but it is actually a gift, I assure you. I am grateful and humbled for sure. We have a whole space to ourselves but we also get time with my niece and two nephews. We are in the middle of the woods looking out into trees. For all intensive purposes we met all of our goals. We sold our house, paid off some major debt, one of us got a great job with healthcare, and we are spending copious amounts of time with family and nature.
So then what? Everything should be good, right? It is....but. (Always a "but," right?!) But then there is time to fill. I know myself well enough to understand that I need accountability and progress. If there are no extrinsic motivators telling me how to be productive and accountable then I will set mini goals myself. I will use my new book Getting Grit to help set a stage for goals both personal and professional goals.
To help keep track of these goals, I got a planner.
As much as I do feel like something wonderful is going to come I need to feel like I have some control over my life. The Universe did not support all of this happening without a purpose for me. I did not jump out into the proverbial net in order to fall through one of the holes and grab for dear life at a thread hanging down (it is hard to hold onto the net with the DEBT rock weighing you down even more). I am trying as best I can to be in the "flow" while still holding a paddle and steer when and where I can.
So I got a planner. And I am setting goals. I am tracking my "Grit" as deemed by Caroline Adams Miller. I am listening to Brené Brown and Liz Gilbert for their wisdom in understanding myself as an emotional creative being. As small and uneventful they are, I am goal setting. And I am going to write because writing makes me happy. It makes me feel naked and vulnerable. But I am also completely okay with being imperfect. I can totally flex my humility muscle.
I like my planner. Today I applied for jobs and changed all of the addresses to the correct/new NH address.Tomorrow I am meeting my dad for coffee, bringing the dogs swimming, and going to Zumba. I don't have anything written down for Friday. Saturday I am having a spa day with my girlfriend and having a barbecue at her house. I don't know about you...but that sounds like a wonderful to-do list (the grit part comes in when I applied for all of those jobs that I am either under-qualified or overqualified for but need a job so applied anyways. Damn that humility). And if a planner is what I need right now to be feel in control, accountable, and happier then I am 100% okay with it.
Onward to the blank slate. Which is messier than imagined but oh, the adventure!
"Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.
Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness."
Brittany Courchesne is an early childhood educator, teacher mentor to teachers in training, public speaker, and blogger.