A move and a reflection
A year ago today, I boarded a plane with my 14 year old shih tzu Coco and beloved cat Belle from New Jersey for destination : Portland. It was the BIG MOVE my husband Jay and I had been talking about, planning through and nervously anticipating for nearly a year. Now it was here.
Jay was driving cross-country in his Subaru Forester, stuffed to the ceiling with all the personal belongings we could fit inside. Meanwhile I had 2 big suitcases, a dog and cat to transport all the way to the opposite end of the US.
Saying goodbye to my sister Jenn was the hardest part as she drove me to the airport. We are only 1 year and some months apart and had never lived that far apart from each other before. We had both gone to college in NJ and at most were separated by about a 2 hour drive. Even beyond that, I had never lived outside of New Jersey before. I think the longest I had been out of the state was for 2 weeks on vacation.
As we were saying goodbye, I just recall bawling like a little child. She was a lot stronger that day, which I totally appreciated because it comforted me to know she encouraged me to go and try this new life out.
In the months following our initial move out to Corvallis, I just remember feeling so alone and isolated. I missed my friends, family, the old neighborhood haunts, the familiarity of my old life. Things were changing and I didn't like it, even though I spurred the change by initiating the move. I didn't know anyone besides my husband Jay and at the time we were house sitting for his parents, so we were in a really isolated part of Philomath. If we didn't want to, we didn't have to see people for days.
Thanksgiving and Christmas were really hard. I thought I had made the biggest mistake of my life. I missed everything about New Jersey and I felt really unsettled here. I was afraid to drive anywhere, so Jay drove me all over the place and basically he was my only friend here. I felt lonely and depressed, but one of the things that really kept me going were the really nice and helpful people in Corvallis and Oregon in general.
People were always inquisitive and ready to help - it seemed they were not in a rush, but they really enjoyed the quality of life and being present. I remember those first months, chit chatting with people at the grocery store, post office and just strangers here and there. What strikes me most is that when people ask you, "How's your day going so far?", they really are waiting and wanting an answer. It's not a generic, great or not so bad. People want to know. I love the genuine interactions of my everyday life in Corvallis.
There were also times I questioned opening a Pilates studio and being a small business owner - it is a big time and life investment. It is definitely not the same as going to an office and working for someone else. But I am glad I took the leap of faith - to move and to start my own Pilates studio. It is hard work, but I am passionate about what I do and I love seeing the improvements in my clients' lives.
In reflection, these were the TOP 5 things I learned on this year-long adventure:
1. Be Open to what comes your way. Nothing is as how you planned it, but as long as you stay open you can learn new ways of doing things and grow.
2. Connecting with others is the entire point of life. We aren't robots here on earth to complete a task and then move onto another task. The quality of our lives are enriched through connection with others - whether it be a pedestrian crossing the street smiling at you as you stop for them, or the person bagging your groceries.
3. It will be hard before it gets better. When things fall apart (Pema Chodron) is when you find your own strength. Going through tough times - whether with the people in our lives or through other challenges - forces us to dig deep and find out who we really are. Without going through the ebb and flows of life, we never get to rise to the occasion to find our voice. I am grateful for all the seasons of my life.
4. Oregon is beautiful. The landscape, the mountains, the farms, and the sky. It is a beautiful place to live. The rain doesn't bother me that much. I remember when my husband and I first met - my moods used to be dictated by the weather. If it was raining out, I felt dreary. If it was nice out, I was cheerful. I learned through the years to not rely on the weather to dictate my feelings about the world. That same rule applies to everything. If something doesn't go my way, I won't be devastated by it.
5. Lastly, your home is where you are. Sometimes I wonder what things would be like if I were still in New Jersey. I wonder if I would have eventually quit my New York City job, if I would have continued to teach Pilates on the weekend, if I would have kept the same friends. The list goes on, but I don't ruminate on it for too long because home is where you make it. You can choose to see all the bad things in your life, or you can see all the good - the neighbor who smiled at you today, the lonely penny you found and took the time to pick up, or the great parking spot you scored in the pouring rain. It's not so much where you live that matters, but it's the outlook on life. Your home is where you make it.
This year has truly been a journey of ups and downs, but I have made many friends along the way and am grateful for everything, all of it.