Reflections on Moving (and moving, and moving)

Few experiences in life beg reflection of you as relentlessly as packing up all of your belongings and moving them to a new place. In the last 3 years, I’ve moved my stuff (or a large portion of it) to ten different apartments in various cities. One of the best things that has happened to me throughout this process of packing and unpacking is learning how to let go of my belongings and dwindling down my material possessions considerably. One of the downsides is the feeling that I can’t quite sprout roots and have a whole, deep, connected life in any one place. Each move I’ve had has been temporary from the start and I always find myself with one foot planted firmly in the present and one foot ready to say goodbye.

This inkling that rests deep in the back of my mind has stopped me from jumping in feet first to learning a new language, pursuing jobs, getting involved in my neighborhood or community, and even attempting to make new friends. It’s isolating and debilitating at times. I wish I could say that knowing that my recent move to Montreal is long-term has relieved me entirely of this, but like most things, it takes time to re-train your mind how to act and react; how to open up, how to sprout.

My first basement dwelling in Southeast Portland, July 2016
My little basement dwelling in Southeast Portland, July 2016

The one constant I’ve had with me throughout this process over the last two years has been the love and companionship of my partner, Phil. In moments of extreme doubt about what I’m doing, why, how, where, and what the future holds for me, the one thing I am entirely certain about now is that if my life is with Phil, it will turn out mysteriously and miraculously great. It’s not to say that we don’t struggle and that every hard choice we’ve made has worked itself out quickly and 100% perfect. But rather, I know the one thing that I am sure about, the one thing I am certain has to be a part of the picture, and it gives me hope and inspiration to carry on through hard times. 

Our little studio in Amsterdam Noord, 2018

Recently, while reading one of my absolute favorite books “Dare to Lead” by Brene Brown, this passage jumped out at me as exactly how I feel about my life at this moment. 

“I used to believe we would always know we’re in our values when the decision comes easily, but I’ve learned as a leader that it’s actually the opposite: I know I’m in my values when a decision is somewhere between tough and really tough. I wish doing the right thing was the easy thing, but it rarely is. I no longer expect wonderful moments. Instead, I look for quiet moments when I feel strong and solid. And, usually, tired.” 

My holiday decor in La Petite-Patrie, Montreal 2016
My holiday decor in La Petite-Patrie, Montreal 2016

While my life has taken the scenic route through incredible and unbelievable territory that I never imagined, the journey has been hard at times. And because it’s hard, I know that it’s forced me to adapt, to grow, to solve problems, and to become a sharper, better, version of myself. One that I couldn’t be if I were comfortable 100% of the time. Weighing the options and giving up some things in order to have others is never easy. And for me, my close friends know how difficult it is for me to close a door, rather than dwell in possibility forever. But making hard decisions is something I’ve gotten better at and being courageous is a skill I practice daily.  It’s not that my life has been incredible in spite of the lonely, sad, or anxiety-ridden times (that are the condition of existence for all of us), but my life has been incredible because of these times. Because the times that I’ve placed myself outside of my comfort zone have been the times that I learned most about myself and about the world. Times I learned how to ask for help, how to lean on my family and friends for support and reassurance and hopefully when the roles are reversed how to provide that love and support in return. 

Looking around my new apartment, and this new version of my life, I feel strong and solid. I’m proud of the ways I am constantly changing and the ways in which my life has unfolded. Looking back at pictures of past homes reminds me how much can change when you’re busy living! I feel my feet planted firmly in the present as I try to navigate becoming part of a new community, a new language, making new connections, and truly settling in to this place. In reflecting on what I’ve gathered from move to move, and what I’ve let go, I feel like a little seed ready to unpack my life and bloom. 🙂 

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