Thirteen and a half years ago, I vowed that I would never move again. Last year, I learned an important lesson. Absolute promises that include the word never are difficult to keep. What I initially anticipated would happen in my life did not come to fruition. After living in my dream home in Colorado for only thirteen years, I would be moving on.
What circumstances caused such a rigid view?
I was happy with the decision to build our dream house in a convenient family-friendly neighborhood. Equally important was the fact that our new residence was located in one of the best places in the world, Colorado. Few places can boast 300+ days of sunshine and a mild, dry, climate.
Did I want to consider moving from Colorado? No.
Although I loved Chicago’s restaurants and culture, I struggled with endless cloudy days and extremes in temperature. Suburban Chicago had been “home” for almost my entire life. Moving away from friends and family in 2000 was an emotional experience. Many tears were shed as we said our good byes. Nevertheless, the lure of the West could not be avoided. I was thrilled to be heading to a less congested location that had easy access to the Rocky Mountains.
Being able to work with a semi custom Colorado builder had enabled our family to add many special touches. We picked all of the finishes and modified various features of our home during the construction process. The end product more than met the needs of our large family.
Did I want to build another dream home? No.
The stress associated with relocating from suburban Chicago to the Denver metro area had left me weary. We were able to sell our Northbrook home relatively quickly. Nevertheless, preparing our house for showings was challenging with four sons.
Our family of 6 had accumulated an enormous amount of things. Packing for a large family was an immense chore. Only a small number of things could be taken by car. Everything else needed to be boxed, labeled and packed onto a moving truck. Fragile items were specially wrapped.
Even though we labeled all of the boxes, unpacking was a nightmare. It took months to put all of our possessions away. Countless items were lost in a sea of boxes that lacked sufficient labeling. Most of our furniture fit in its designated space. Fortunately, we did not have to make too many additional purchases.
Getting accustomed with our new environment took time. We had to find our way. I frequently got lost. Map Quest and Google Maps frequently sent me in the wrong direction. Arriving 30+ minutes late happened too often. Building new relationships with neighbors, service companies, and doctors took longer than anticipated.
Did I want to experience another moving experience? No.
Scheduling and waiting for post construction repairs was tedious. Whenever I needed to be somewhere, a tradesman either showed up late or came with the wrong part. I developed tremendous patience.
Why would I ever want to repeat this process? I had my dream house.
I was content.
While I knew that my children would eventually grow up and that I would become an empty nester, I never anticipated how an empty nester house would feel. My in-laws had lived in their enormous home for over 40 years. They appeared to be doing well and thrived on the luxury of remaining in their home. Few people in their 80s can boast that they are self sufficient and living in a large house.
Many empty nesters downsized while a small number remained happy in their homes. What prompted some to leave their memories behind while others held on tightly to their family’s abode?
One-by-one our children went off into the world. Luckily none moved back after college. Yes, I was happy that they were all becoming self-sufficient. But there was a part of me that missed the daily interactions. At one point, only one son out of four lived in Colorado. Family events were now limited to a handful of days a year.
My beautiful dream home was now big and empty. I started to question whether never really meant never.
- Did we want to maintain such an enormous home for just two people? Five and a half bathrooms was more than I wanted to clean.
- Would our children’s lives include more frequent visits to our home?
Even though I never considered moving, downsizing became a viable option. I started to explore the ins and outs of this transition. My husband and I searched for a smaller home. We pared down our possessions. We put our beloved home on the market. We then had to wait for the “one” buyer who would fall in love with our home. We started to make preparations for the move.
This process caused me to reflect once again on the necessity of being flexible and being open to different options. Too many times in my life, I have settled on a comfortable and predictable pathway. In those instances, I only considered options that maintained the status quo. With such a narrow focus, my view was partially obstructed. It reminded me of sailing through the Fjords in the Bay of Kotor. While the fog had covered up the majority of the landscape and made navigation difficult, my narrow viewpoint had limited my options.
Once in a while it is essential to explore unexpected and unknown trails. Was I willing to make another bold step into an unchartered territory?
Isn’t that what I had done when I relocated in 2000 to Colorado and then once again stepped outside my comfort zone in 2010? Temporarily moving to a Third World country had turned my predictable life upside down. I never imagined that I would live by myself in Bangalore, India or teach at an international school. Culture shock forced me to reevaluate all of my priorities. My life was enriched by this amazing experience. Even though it is only a few years later, circumstances warranted another move.
Was I ready to forge a new path? The answer was yes.
The act of downsizing and moving reaffirms the importance of being open to changes.
A flexible mindset has 3 advantages.
- Efficient Use of Time. Being rigid makes an individual fret about anything that does not fit into one’s game plan. By being more open to change, a person spends less time worrying about things that she cannot control.
- Instills Positive Attitude. An individual is able to handle curve balls and unexpected events with greater ease and confidence. Having an open mindset prevents a person from seeing every detour as a negative event.
- Embrace and Appreciate Changes. Stepping outside a person’s comfort zone instills a new perspective. She can welcome unanticipated events and be open to participate in the outcome rather than shying away from something less familiar.
Can you share a moment that illustrates the importance of being flexible?
If you are stuck in a rut, can you describe what is holding you back?
While I cannot promise that I will remove the word “never” from my vocabulary, I will certainly try to limit its usage. Stating that I will “never” do x, y, or z creates undo stress and anxiety when the definitive statement cannot be followed. I certainly hope that I will be able to spend the rest of my life in my new home. However, I have learned that I cannot say for any certainty that I will never move again.
Sandra’s memoir highlights her living and teaching adventure in Bangalore, India. She is a licensed Colorado teacher who has taught K-12 students in the United States and abroad as well as college level courses. Sandra is married and has four adult sons.
The memoir was a finalist in the Travel category for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the 2013 International Book Awards, the 2013 National Indie Book Excellence Awards, 2013 USA Best Book Awards, and a Honorable Mention award in the Multicultural Non-Fiction category for the 2013 Global ebook Awards.