Coping with the emotional stress of moving and change

What Home Means: Navigating the Seasons of My Life

As we prepare to move, I'm suddenly struck by how rooted I am in the notion of home.

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Lately, I've been playing "Landslide" over and over again. Not necessarily the iconic Fleetwood Mac classic, but the version by the Dixie Chicks. Natalie Maines' voice pierces through the air like an ice pick and cuts at the very core of my heart. This song has always given me goosebumps, but more in the past few months than in any time prior.

We're supposed to begin the long and laborious process of selling our beloved country cottage in January. We've spoken to our neighbors and former landlords, the ones we purchased the home from five years ago as bright-eyed newlyweds. We've hired the contractor and paid the deposit on the architect's time. We've dug up old blueprints and line drawings, spent hours envisioning how we want our new home to look and browsed online for decor ideas much longer than we ever anticipated.

Still, throughout it all, this old home has stood watching. I know it's silly to give properties human characteristics, but this place is so full of personality that it's difficult not to. The archways hold the pencil markings of my two toddlers. The kitchen has participated in way more dance parties than it ever intended to. The floors have supported curious little feet and weary mother ones in the wee hours of the morning. They creak alongside us, a cacophony of sighs and celebrations.

This new place sits far off the road, on the back side of family land. It's everything I've wanted in a home since I was little, growing up beside my cousins in my own backyard paradise. This home has a long driveway perfect for riding a bike, established trees and acres to explore. It has two creeks, solar panels and a skylight on the roof, a vast swath of woods just begging for a playground, cornfields on both sides and a sod field in the back. It's got views for days, but I haven't given my heart over to it yet.

Why? I didn't bring my babies home there. I haven't lied awake there and made a to-do list for the next day in my head. I haven't swung on that front porch swing with a fast-food sweet tea in one hand, a preschool workbook in the other, and the most precious four-year-old girl by my side. I haven't done laundry there on a Saturday or mailed Christmas cards from a kitchen table within its walls.

I've done all of those things, and so much more, in my home now. We lived here for three years before moving away for nine hard months and eventually making the easy decision to buy it for good. We worked with the best building team in the county and spent two years pouring ourselves into every detail of every square inch. I was expecting my firstborn when we began the project and expecting my second-born when we finished it. A labor of love, indeed.

Though at times I thought I'd rip my hair out at the snail's pace in which that process moved, the end result was a million times worth it. This home is precisely what my heart would look like if someone ripped it from my chest and asked me to give it a house. It's quirky. The floors are uneven in places, the basement gets wet after a hard rain even though we finished it off fully, and the baseboards could stand a solid paint job. Yet, this is where I've stayed up all night rocking sleepy kids to dreamland. It's where I've read a billion bedtime stories, watched a thousand cartoons and indulged in many late-night television show marathons with my husband.

At the end of the day, I know a home is only made and defined by the people within it. I know I'm taking the memories with me and making some more. Still, I can't help but feel a tinge of sadness as this new season of life officially ramps up. I can't wait to see what's on the horizon and I fully believe it's bright for our family. Yet, I keep looking behind me, down the road I'm currently walking on, trying my best to leave a trail of footprints in case I ever need to find my way back.

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To The Soon-To-Be College Freshman Who Think They'll Keep Their High School Friends, Know This

You will maybe talk to 10 people back from your high school while your in college.

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I know what you are thinking "Of course I am going to still talk to all my high school friends once we graduate." "You just didn't keep up with your friends." "I am going to talk to them every day."

Of course, you may be the lucky ones that go on to the same college and university, but if you follow your best friend to college then have you ever thought to yourself. "Did I choose my school based on if my friend(s) would go to college together." Obviously, it could be coincidental that you end up in the same place, but my argument is more on the idea of having friends that go to the same college on your list of important things once you move away.

Now if you are still reading and still in denial with what I am saying then continue.

Since moving away from home I have broadened my horizons and met more people then I could ever have imagined. I have met people that if I have not kept an open mind to them I would not be friends with them now. You will most likely choose the same type of friends that you had in high school if you do not keep an open mind when finding friends in college.

You also do not want to be that person who refuses to make other friends besides their high school friends. I hate to break it to you, but your high school friends will find other friends beside you when they leave for college/university. This time in your life is supposed to be "a new chapter" if you do not branch out of your comfort zone then you will be stuck in a little bubble for the rest of your life.

Not only will your friends in your high school class be making friends, but you need to make friends that are in the same stage of life that you are also in. Still talking to high school aged friends will limit you from conversations due to distance, lack of relevance, and just not going through the same stuff as you.

Sounds daunting? I know.

I am not saying that you can not be friends still with your high school friends. From time to time I catch up with mine to see how the school is going for them, and how they are doing, but I am building and forming relationships with my friends at college because you have had to start up from ground zero, and will be forming a foundation until we graduate.

Even when you have broken it is nice to hang out with your high school friends and talk about the good old days. My point to you is to keep an open mind and to not get upset when high school friends have moved on and found their new friends from school just like you.

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The Beauty of Releasing Anxiety Over the Future

What you learn when you learn you don't need to know it all

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I come from a long line of women who worry. We stay up late at night wondering if we got it all right that day. We stress over the details and sweat the small stuff more than we should. Surprisingly, for the amount they fret, my sister and mother are the epitome of calm. They're collected and graceful, whereas I'm a constant bundle of nerves wound tighter than a brand-new yo-yo.

This year, however, I resolved to change all of that. I determined that 2019 would be the year I released all the anxiety and fears around the future. It would be the year I stopped concerning myself with matters of tomorrow and focused instead on the beauty and blessing of today. We're only six days into this new year, but I have already felt that gigantic weight lifted. Why, you might ask, did I choose this particular year? I will turn 32 this April and I've had plenty of turns around the sun to think about getting it right. I've had time to relax, time to recharge and time to start anew.

So, why this year? Put simply, I can tell this is going to be one unlike any other. We're moving out of our home in the next few months, in preparation to begin an enormous remodel project on a nearby family home. As we do so, we're going to be living with my in-laws, our oldest starts kindergarten in the fall, and we're both planning to ramp up our careers by taking on new challenges.

In short, I could easily approach these new obstacles with a jittery heart and nerves that are shot before the day even begins. Yet, each day has its own struggles and if I were to look at this year as a whole, I'd be overwhelmed by the extent of it all. Between school, sports, work and this project, there is no shortage of concerns to worry over, issues to fret about and worries to wonder on. It is for this very reason that I'm stepping out on faith and giving the headaches over, relinquishing the lock-tight control I once held over my own day-to-day chaos.

The thing is, I can see where it's all going. I can already see our dream home that will sit on the lot behind the cornfield. There are two creeks on the property, a sod field in the back, and Japanese cherry blossom trees that I can't wait to watch come alive this spring. I have dreams of eating popsicles on the back deck while the sun goes down in the summertime and I can see the kids running in the huge, open front yard, the one that takes us 10 minutes or more to walk up and down the driveway. I can see the measures we are taking to make the home as energy-efficient as possible paying off with lower power bills. I know the garden we plant in two years will be our biggest and best yet.

I know this will be the home my children remember growing up in. We'll take prom pictures here and first dates will end on the front stoop. Still, the process of getting there, of going home, is a long and laborious one and I could easily crawl under the covers and seek to escape from it all if I think about it for too long.

Instead, I'm getting up early in the mornings these days. I'm having quiet time to reflect and recharge my faith. I'm reading more text and devouring fewer screens. I'm taking more walks (another resolution) and spending at least a little bit of time in nature every day. I'm looking my children in the eye when they speak to me rather than rushing by them on my way to the next, more important thing. I'm making a gratitude list at the end of every day with five things that blessed and inspired me. I'm going to bed earlier and sleeping more deeply, my heart fuller than it's ever been.

I'm releasing my ambition to plan every day to a tee. I'm letting life happen and enjoying the ride of letting go.

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