3 Lessons Learned in Moving Cross-Country | Chapel Hill, NC

This past Monday, I celebrated my first “NC-versary.” One year ago on that date, I moved to North Carolina from the San Francisco Bay Area to join my husband after we had been bi-coastal for two years for work reasons.  A lot has happened in a year.

When I moved, I knew I would be taking this time as a sabbatical for a number of reasons:

  1. Combining two households after living across the country from one another for two years is a monumental task. You don’t realize the stuff you have accumulated.  The stuff you live with and swear by and the things that are packed away into drawers and cupboards that you forgot you still owned.  And there are all those things you’ve been meaning to do…
  2. After working for almost 15 years supporting and coaching other people, I wanted to travel, spend time with my family, and hug the babies of my friends. More than anything, I wanted to spend time with my husband in those nooks and crannies of our lives that are easy to take for granted: Friday evenings with the weekend ahead of you and weekend mornings where you can putter around the house and the garden.

Before I left the West Coast, I met with a former boss of mine for a catch up and a goodbye.  Chatting with him over coffee made me think, “Why didn’t I do this more often?”  When he said the same thing out loud, I resolved to keep in touch with the great people I have met over the years.

One of the questions he asked me was how I was going to go about meeting people.  “It’s different when you work outside of your home or have children,” he pointed out, “You have a built-in social network.”  It really made me think about integrating into a new community and how identity is defined by what we do.  That morning Rob and I volleyed some ideas around, and I am grateful for that impromptu brainstorm session because it forced me to think differently, to rephrase a question, to figure out what I needed and wanted from this new community.  This conversation inspired me to ask friends in the Bay Area if they knew anyone in NC and with these introductions, I have met amazing, funny, kind, fun people.

Lesson #1: Ask the people in your tribe for help.

This move to NC was launched via a cross-country road trip with a friend who offered to join me for the 3,000+ miles we would cover.  She later told me she volunteered to do this because the idea of it scared her.  What a brave soul, and now this is advice I try to remember when I need to make a decision.

Lesson #2: Do the things that scare you.

After I arrived in North Carolina, I went about finding more of my people and adding to my already amazing and fab tribe through photography, through beekeeping adventures with my husband, and through my own curiosity about this city where the fire trucks are Carolina blue and the state is the 9th largest state in population and the 6th most visited state.

I have traveled by plane and by car up and down the Eastern seaboard to spend time with my family.  I have held my friends’ babies.  I have hugged them (my friends AND their babies).

We took other friends up on an offer for a ‘free puppy.’ These friends live in England, making our adoption an international one and provoking more questions about our travel plans and wanderlust.

In the past year, I have visited over a dozen new cities and traveled to four countries, two of those for the first time.  Another trip to a country (new to me) is on the calendar, as well, and I always remind myself that this is a gift.  The time I have with the people I love is the secret sauce to keeping me real and authentic.

Lesson #3: Follow your curiosity.

The year has not been without its challenges.  We have seen the toll that Alzheimer’s takes, robbing a person of their memories and their personality. We lost people we have loved.  We mourn these losses, hold each other close, and then remember we must embrace this one wild wonderful life that we have.

And then there are the animals…  Every few weeks, I am completely defeated by the menagerie of pets we have.  A bee once got tangled in my ponytail, provoking a slight panic until Dan could untangle said insect from my hair.  The chickens come into the house when the door is left open.  (I once had to corral one from upstairs…no joke.) Whitby, our black lab, is kind and sweet and has brought me many small creatures that he found in the woods, showing them off and making me feel a bit queasy.  Last summer our garden was enjoyed immensely, but not by us…the local deer got to it first.  Once again, I am embracing this one wild wonderful life that I have.

On a final note, we did answer the ultimate question: “Where is the ideal place to live?”  The best place to live is the place where you can be with the person you love, near the people who keep you real and true to who you are, and that place changes all the time based on what needs must be met.

This past year has been a wild ride, and I know that Helen Keller was right when she said that “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

Take the daring adventure.