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Posts tagged ‘relocation’

How to turn your life on its head in 12 months or fewer

selfieSome of you have noticed that our sweet little blog has been neglected this summer. In retrospect, I should have scheduled and declared a short blog break, but I didn’t have the foresight to know how busy the last few months would become.

Now that I’m back, let’s have a little catch up.

In July 2014, my husband and I moved from Massachusetts to Washington State, relocating to a beautiful island due west of Seattle with our two sons (now 10 and 7). I immediately felt at home here, but it was disorienting to leave loved ones behind. I have three children from my first marriage; my two oldest sons (24 and 21) are in Boston and my daughter (19) is heading back to CU Boulder for her sophomore year. My mother lives in New Hampshire.

Life unfolded, as it does, and with the settling in came the understanding that a relocation and the passage of time would not heal the pain from years of conflict between my husband and my three oldest children. In January, after 14 rocky years together, I reached the end of my marital rope. The accumulation of hurt and resentment forced me to look in the mirror and own the many ways in which I’d failed my children — and myself. Of course, there were ways in which I’d failed my husband, too. I’m not an easy person to live with — I know that — and ultimately, I don’t think I’m capable of the compromises that marriage requires. But if I had to stamp a single label on our situation, I would have to go with “blended family fail.”

While we’d had a few dress rehearsals, it was — is — at times searingly painful to leave someone who you still love and are attracted to. The pain comes in waves, which is something I’d heard before but never quite understood. Over time, one learns to keep breathing when the waves hit. And they start to lose some of their crushing weight.

I no longer believe that love conquers all. But I do know that my priority of existence is this:

  1. Myself, because if I’m not taking care of my own needs, I’m of no use to anyone else.
  2. My five children, regardless of how old they are.

And that’s it. Everyone else — family, friends, acquaintances — are part of my life because they have a net positive impact on #1 and/or #2 above. It’s that simple.

Today, I am living in a lovely little rental cottage. I share my two youngest boys 50/50 with their dad. Our relationship is surprisingly friendly and cooperative. (I give my ex a lot of credit for that.) We’re both committed to staying here on the island and raising our boys as co-parents.

I am repairing my relationships with my older children. Every day, I am profoundly grateful that they didn’t give up on me. My daughter came for a visit last month, and it was an enormous gift to be able to spend time with her without the burden of ever-mounting guilt that I used to carry. The guilt from past mistakes doesn’t go away, of course — and there are some things I will never forgive myself for  — but at least I’m no longer adding to the inventory.

Moving twice in a year — including a cross-country relocation — and getting divorced adds up to rather a lot of recovery. But amidst this period of intense change I am finding myself. I am more “me” than I’ve ever been before. My life is full of new friends, new experiences, new places, new tattoos, and new men. (Don’t be alarmed — I’m not using new relationships to bury my emotional pain, but rather connecting with other people to rediscover and redefine myself.) There’s also the usual challenge of making enough time for my client work. That’s been a struggle given all of the other things I’m focused on.

As I find my feet, I am awash in creative energy. I fought for some time to maintain my creative practice before allowing myself to just do what I’m doing. As summer comes to a close, and I near turning 46, I’m preparing to reconnect with a structured practice — but until then, I have put down the whip of self-flagellation.

So, that’s where things are at on my end. I look forward to sharing on a more regular basis and supporting you in your creative work.

Much love.

Robin: Home is where you dwell…

“You Belong….” – See more HERE

The idea of what “home” represents has shifted considerably over the last 9 months while living in Germany. Those things I held so confidently as the things that would sustain me and see me through the loneliness of being away from everyone and everything I know failed miserably. I spent the last several months mourning the things that weren’t to the point where I suddenly realized I MUST awaken my heart to the things that could be catalysts for change and growth within me. Changes I would not have thought to ask for. People I would have never encountered had I not had to seek connectedness elsewhere. I considered listing these beautiful people here but I know I would leave someone out so I have made it my mission to value them personally.

This mixed-media piece above represents the beginning of some inspirations birthed from this season that is closing in the next 14 days. Oh how I am ready to see it end! And yet, I KNOW the changes I have experienced could not have been chiseled by any other means. So I do extend grace to those who thought they could be there but were not. I ask for mercy for those times when I broke those promises to the people I care about in their most desperate moments and I prepare for the shifts that have occurred as a result of this extended separation.

Brittany: Happy Surprises

It’s been an eternity since I wrote a Studio Mothers blog post. For months, my life has been in an endless state of upheaval. My husband and I decided it was in our best interests for him to leave his job of 10 years, sell our house, and move from South Carolina to New York with all our worldly possessions, two toddlers, and four pets. Had I written a blog post on the subject, it would’ve consisted of a whole lot of whining and weeping, or a combination of the two, as we put our house on the market, freaked out during the period of time it took to sell it, bought a new house, and prepared to move. Moving isn’t fun in the best of circumstances, but Dante left out the layer of hell known as Moving With Children.

I didn’t know what New York had in store for me, but I knew it couldn’t be good — not in the short term, anyway. I was leaving home, and all my friends, and all my sons’ friends, 14 hours (and a universe) away. We would be living in isolation in temporary housing — a two-bedroom suite hotel — for three weeks, and then after that I could look forward to a long, depressing, boring summer. I figured all that solitude would give me ample opportunity to write, even though I didn’t welcome all that free time, and was feeling grumpy at the prospect.

Mind you, I was trying to be optimistic, and was going to try my hardest to have a good time no matter what, but deep down I was steeling myself for disappointment.

And then the happy surprises began.

The first surprise was the drive itself. A 14 hour car trip with a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old can easily become a 20-hour car trip, so Tom and I decided to break the trip up into two days. Since we were driving both cars up to NY, we split the boys up, plugged in the DVD players, and fervently prayed that the drive wouldn’t be too bad. Now, I don’t even like to drive across town, so I dreaded the cross-country drive with a (possibly hysterical) two-year-old. But I put on my complete collection of CS Lewis Narnia books on CD, plugged in the portable DVD player for John, and hoped for the best. And then the miles flew by. I was listening to Voyage of the Dawn Treader when we arrived in NY and felt like my brain had spent a week at a spa. I had not had to think in two full days. It was wonderful, and a welcome relief.

The second surprise happened with a knock on my hotel room door. Our next door neighbor turned out to be the best friend I could’ve hoped for under the circumstances. A mom of 2-year-old and 4-year-old boys, whose husband had just started at the same company as Tom. Both of us were stuck at the hotel until the 1st of July, both of us were a long way from home, and both of us were about to lose our minds. What was supposed to be Part I of my long, boring summer of solitude turned into a whirlwind of little boys out-on-the-town. Kira was destined to be my friend, because we have similar interests and personalities anyway, but it certainly helped that our boys loved each others’ company and wanted to spend every single second together, and that our engineer husbands could hang out, talk, and understand each other, as only a pair of engineers could. They’ve moved to the town right next to ours and even though we’re no longer together at the hotel, we see each other almost daily.

And then a third surprise. I thought our neighborhood in SC was the friendliest, most awesome neighborhood that ever existed. But I was wrong. Our new neighborhood is just as friendly and the neighbors we’ve met so far have all been so welcoming, at times I have to pinch myself because I really feel like I’m living a dream. Our house is cheerful and quirky, and the most “me” of any house I’ve ever lived in. The neighborhood itself is picturesque and charming. The location, absolutely ideal.

And yet Tom and I were this close to losing it all. When our house was on the market, a family loved it, but ultimately chose another house in our neighborhood with an identical floorplan but a larger, flatter lot. At the time I was really perturbed that another house was chosen over ours. But the final happy surprise occurred last night, when Tom and I checked out the MLS listings in our old neighborhood to see what the market was doing. That house, which had gone under contract several weeks before ours, was re-listed and touting its recent home inspection and appraisal. The sellers moved out and then, we’re guessing, the deal fell through, whereas our buyers came along a scant few weeks later, fell in love with our house, and couldn’t move in fast enough. I feel horrible for our neighbors whose house is re-listed, and I feel boundless gratitude that the Fates smiled on us and let the sale of our house go through.

I can’t think of another time things have aligned so perfectly in my life. I’m reassured that the upheaval was worth it and our lives are finally on the right track where, no doubt, other happy surprises await us.

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