Last weekend, we moved from our little beach house two blocks from the ocean, to a home in the Santa Monica mountains.
We moved for a lot of reasons. Some I feel good about, and others I’m still trying to wrap my mind around. My heart is filled with a lot of emotions, about way too many things, that I’ll save for another day.
The bottom line is, right now, I know nothing. Except that our dream is to call California home forever. And knowing that with certainty feels really good.
But besides that, there are only two other things about this move that I know for certain. One, our family needed more space. We have that now. And two, I miss the Ocean. Deeply.
And right now, there’s no way to marry the two. Instead, both coexist, simultaneously. Heartache and loss for something I let go of and excitement and hope for something new.
Me, as a parent, doing the thing I believe is best for our kids and our family as a whole. And I, as an individual, missing the ocean and the life we created there. Two very different needs. Two parallel lines running alongside each other, never crossing. Simply coexisting. Some things don’t have solutions. They just simply are.
This move felt like that. It just is.
I drove down to the beach yesterday with JP (we live about 20 minutes from Malibu Beach now). I put my feet in the Ocean and felt an immediate pull at my heart. I looked over to him and asked “How can I be homesick already for a place that I hardly called home.”
Even though we were only in Manhattan Beach for 13 months, it very much felt like “home” to me. More than any other place I’ve lived. And although I didn’t have a big community there, and to be honest, hardly any friends, I never once felt lonely. Instead, I felt as though I belonged. I felt safe there.
So much happened for me personally while living by the beach. So much loss. Figuratively and literally. Shedding of old identities. Letting go of physical things like our home and all our belongings. Friendships. Routines. Communities. Habits. My uterus.
So much was shed this year, and all the while, this place was my sanctuary. And for that, I will always be grateful. Our little house by the beach was my reprieve.
In many ways, our move from Chicago to California last summer felt easier than this one. I think because I was ready to leave the Midwest. Our time there felt complete. So although it was physically challenging and stressful setting up a new life out west, there was also confidence and ease I felt within. A knowing that this was where we now belonged.
Leaving the beach feels different. I wasn’t ready. My time there didn’t feel complete.
I joked with our kids recently that this year felt like my “gap year”. You know, the year off between high school and college when you’re not sure what you’re doing with your life so you take a year “off” to soul search, travel, volunteer, work, whatever. In some ways, this was that year for me. A year to push pause on real life and just simply be. With no plan. No answers. Just existing.
Since moving into our new home last week, it feels a little like coming back from that gap year away. Reality setting back in. As if my parents are going to walk into my room and ask me what I’m doing with my life.
Our movers delivered a few boxes of things we had in storage that we brought with us from Chicago but didn’t have room for in our beach house. Going through the boxes was like unearthing a ghost from the past. A lifetime ago. A world, and a person, I hardly even recognized.
Almost all of it went to Goodwill.
It’s wild how much you can change in a year if you let yourself.
As of today, the boxes are almost all unpacked and I’m sitting down, with a cup of tea of course, at my new desk, in my new office.
I opened my computer, a blank new Google doc, and at the top of the page dared to write the words I’ve been dreading for a year….
The reason I’m sharing this with all of you now isn’t necessarily to talk about our move or how ungracefully I’m navigating this transition. We’ll be fine. (In fact, we’ll be more than fine).
Rather to share how I navigate moments of transition. When things feel uncertain. When my thinking is foggy and my internal compass is off.
We all have moments like this.
In fact, I believe so many of us find ourselves in a moment like that now. Whether it’s a move, a new relationship, a career, or just simply the close of the summer season. So many of us find ourselves in a season of transition.
In these moments, when things feel ungrounded, new, and uncertain, it can be so easy for us to want to focus on what’s directly in front of us.
To control things on the outside, in hopes to feel a little more control on the inside.
So we hyperfocus on our kids, our schedules, our homes, our bodies. We get caught up in the swirl of busying ourselves, fixing, and controlling.
Keeping our minds and bodies constantly busy, rather than sitting and staying in the uncomfortable feelings of uncertainty.
Our home currently feels like a mess. I have no idea where the closest grocery store is and my kids are just outside my office window arguing on the trampoline we just overspent on to make their lives magical.
Instead of listening to my mind tell me all the things I need to be doing, like breaking up the fight between my kids, organizing closets, and figuring out the new fall school schedule…
I do the opposite.
I know enough to know that I can’t trust my mind in moments like this.
Instead, I step away from everything, find a place I can just be, and give myself a moment to feel. Not think. Just feel.
Today that meant going into my office, and pulling out a big easel pad, you know the “post-it” note kind that is huge and sticks on the wall. I found one in our move. So I pulled it out, grabbed a thick black Sharpie and at the very top o the page wrote.
So what the fuck am I going to do now?
And I mean it in all seriousness. What am I doing?
Am I leading more meditation groups, am I hosting another retreat, am I (ever) finishing this book?
I have no clue. And when I feel this way. When I know enough to know that I know nothing. I step back and do nothing.
Rather than trying to force answers, I ask myself this one simple question…
What feels true for me, right now?
And the answers came flying in.
A need to feel grounded
A need to process this year To put it into words. What happened to me and how I’ve changed
A yearning to be creative
A yearning for community
A yearning to no longer feel a drift
A yearning to belong
To feel worthy. To feel loved. To feel enough
And when my list felt complete I asked myself the next simplest question I could.
So what do you want to do about it….
I want to write. Every day.
I want a new morning routine in this space that includes meditating, walking and writing
I want to deepen my meditation practice
I want to tune into something outside of myself
I want to let my inhibitions go
I want to stop limiting myself
I want to stop feeling unworthy
I want to start having some fucking fun and not take it all so seriously
I want to ENOY this life
I want to trust and have faith that this is EXACTLY where I’m meant to be when I’m meant to be.
I want to like myself. Like really like myself. To feel good about myself.
And when that list felt complete, I put the big chunky Sharpie down, hung the two Post-it notes on the wall and stood back, and just stared.
So then that’s what we’ll do.
The logistics of what any of that means, I don’t have the slightest. Nor do I need to. Life/the universe/whatever will figure the rest out.
All I have to do is focus on what feels true, right now, in this moment.
And then listen.
A friend of mine from Manhattan Beach sent me a text the other day that I loved. She said…
“nothing is forever unless we chose for it to be.”
So while right now I can’t quite see the full picture of where our family is landing. And I once again feel as though I’m adrift and searching for a place to call home.
I know this is not forever.
Nothing is. Not this home. This relationship. The career you find yourself in. The body you’re in. This role as a mother, father, sister, or brother. This moment in time…
Nothing is forever.
Unless we chose for it to be.
And on a side note, for what it’s worth, I have to say that I am so damn proud of our family. A year ago we moved out west, not knowing a soul, and honestly not really knowing anything about life out here. We moved here blindly. And hands down all of us had our best year yet. The kids thrived in school, made great new friends, excelled in their activities, grew closer as siblings, and gained a new sense of confidence. JP grew personally and professionally and our marriage is closer now than ever. Me, I’m still figuring it out, but I would say that this has been my personal hardest, yet equally the most wonderful, happy, and peaceful year I’ve ever had.
And as far as Manhattan Beach goes, it will go down as my favorite place I’ve ever lived, and I have no doubt we’ll live here again soon. I think the thing that surprised me the most here was the people. I don’t know if it was just me, and the state I was in, but I met the warmest, friendliest people here. Even more so than the Midwest. And for that, I will always be grateful.
Going through old photos from the year and of course, now feeling emotional about how good this town was to us. Not sad it’s over, grateful it happened.
A few of my favorite moments….