I can already feel the anxiety brewing as I sit to write my second entry since I announced my new beginning. I am not entirely sure what to write, but I am sure that the nagging voice in my head telling me again that “no one cares what I have to write” will certainly halt my progress if I let it. Calming this voice is my only task at the moment. Reminding myself that the point of this project is simply to share, as honestly and authentically as possible, my own personal journey to finding peace and balance – and nothing more.
As I sit here, one of the topics that keeps floating to the top of my consciousness is my recent life journey. In the past year and a half, my entire life as I knew it got flipped upside down. Luckily, the life transitions that we went through as of late were ones of opportunity and growth rather than tragedy and loss. But change is change and even when you embrace it, there are still growing pains.
It was around this time last year that I stopped writing for The Hourglass Project. As I said in the previous entry, I’m not sure exactly how I let the project go. I believe that it was mostly due to the high pressure I put on myself for each post to be perfect and useful to others, but as new challenges arose in my day to day and the time between the current moment and my last post became greater it was easy to simply stop.
Last summer I kept pretty busy as I had the kids home from school, was focused on training for the 2015 New York Marathon (& was raising money for The SLE Lupus Foundation), and continuing to grow my photography business. In addition, I was the Social Media Assistant Chair for the Junior League – which was time consuming and made me feel burnt out in regards to an online presence.
The summer came to an end and both kids entered Public School for the first time ever! My daughter was in Pre-K and my son in Kindergarten. I decided not to go back to the University to work as a counselor at this point because I wanted to make sure I was available for drop off and pick up. I was able to work on my photography business and household chores during their school hours and I enjoyed this flexibility.
That fall, after five years of discussion with my husband, we undertook a small kitchen renovation. While the construction was being done I would often work outside on my garden patio project that I had started a few years before and expanded each cool season (which is limited in Florida).
I had also started focusing on decluttering our home and making the best use of our space. We even moved our master bedroom into what was previously used as our guest room and turned the larger master bedroom into a home gym. We figured we spent very little time in our actual bedroom and a lot more waking hours working on health and fitness. We even split up the kids for the first time ever and gave them their own rooms (with the caveat that my daughter had to bunk up with her brother when a guest was in town).
Since the start of the school year we began expanding our neighborhood friendships and were doing regular playdates. We were excited to have kids in the neighborhood that we enjoyed and even better, we enjoyed the parents too! Our neighborhood, which we originally moved into to so that we could raise the kids down the street from their cousins – who moved not too long after, lol – was beginning to feel like home. We had reinvested into the house and the community and we started to see our future there.
But of course the universe had different plans for us. Ironically the day I handed our final check to our contractor I made the joke that “Now that I have my kitchen done, my husband will get transferred”. He laughed and asked if it was a possibility. Although we had a long history of being asked to move to DC, we did not feel like it of concern at the present time, so I said “Not really”.
That night though, after dinner with his director, my husband asked me how I felt about moving to DC. And so, the discussions began. We explored our thoughts and feelings about the matter. We weighed pros and cons. We talked about the course of action we would need to take if we left as well as if we stayed. And after what felt like months, we decided to take the biggest leap of faith in our lives thus far and commit to the transfer to DC.
With the decision made, the to-do list piled up. We agreed that it would be a smarter financial decision to sell our home rather than try to find renters, so we met with a realtor and carved out a plan to make it sale-ready. I got to work decluttering even more and cleaning like a beast. I seriously cleaned every nook and cranny of that home including steam cleaning carpets, couches, and tile floors. I completed the garden once and for all and planted new fresh flowers where my summer and fall crops had died out. I took pictures of our home and then handed the rest over to our realtor.
We were in a privileged situation where my parents owned a home in our neighborhood and we were able to move into their property for the few months between staging the home and moving to DC. This was a huge benefit as the realtor was able to show the property as needed without having to coordinate with us. In the meantime at my parents house I sorted through boxes upon boxes of memories that had been sitting in our attic. I had old dolls, school projects, journals, pictures, cards – you name it! I forgot what a packrat I was!
We had so much stuff to get rid of as the apartment that we had picked out in DC was only 850 square feet. Coming from a 2,200 square foot home with an attic and a two car garage, this was a feat in itself! My husband and I agreed that we didn’t want to pay for storage and that we were going to get rid of anything that we didn’t want to take with us (with the exception of our china and silver which my in-laws are graciously holding at their home). We sold most of our furniture, donated boxes upon boxes of home goods and clothes, and gave meaningful items to friends and family. My motto was “I’m not paying for the past”. It was either coming with us to be part of our home, or it was time to say goodbye.
We were completely blessed with our real estate experience and with the help of a great realtor found ourselves with multiple offers and a relatively seamless sale. After three months of non-stop work, our house was cleared out and sold, most of our possessions were donated or disbursed, and we had said our farewells to our friends and family. My husband and I, with help from our longtime friends, packed up our 15 foot U-haul and headed to DC anxious for what laid ahead.
The excitement of the move was enough to keep me going, but inside I was falling apart. It wasn’t the sadness of leaving that was the problem. I was confident in the bonds I have with my friends and family and knew that I was only a plane ride away. I had my small nuclear family with me and an adventure of a lifetime ahead. I was thrilled.
The problem was, that for the past three months I worked sun up to sun down taking care of all the needs of the move – packing, cleaning, decluttering, selling, researching, planning, etc. – and had lost site of my own self care. I had turned to a lunch of Cheetos and Pepsi more days of the week than I want to admit, hit the drive-thru for dinner, and often drank several glasses of wine while sorting through an entire lifetime of memories. I couldn’t remember the last time I had done yoga and running was not an option because I had a really bad flare up of ITBS (Iliotibial Band Syndrome) during the marathon and needed a few months to recover.
At one point I actually started a Beach Body program because I thought I was almost done with my tasks at hand until I realized I had 7 memory boxes in the attic that still needed sorting (palm to face)! Needless to say I got three days in and gave up. I needed every moment to get things completed! I had easily gained 15 pounds and I broke out like a teenager hitting puberty. I was tired and needed about 4 cups of coffee to make it through the day and at least one glass of wine to get me calmed down for the night. Agh. Not a place I wanted to be. Needless to say writing about finding balance was the furthest thing from my mind.
That said, I was drawing a hard line in the sand. I had convinced my husband that upon moving to DC we would make some major lifestyle changes. No more fast food, dramatically less processed foods (if any), and even cutting out sugar! I committed to researching the science between various lifestyles and finding which one worked for us. Damon and I decided that for the time being I was not going to go back to work, but rather I would focus on our family and our health. Having this flexibility and freedom was exciting, but I knew I had a lot ahead of me and that I needed to stay diligent and accountable. It is amazing how easily a few free kidless hours can easily turn into Facebook surfing and Netflix binging if you let it! This move had opened up so many new experiences for us. We were dedicating ourselves to living a more minimalistic life focused on the things that mattered. This was a gift. Now, it was up to me to use the gift wisely.
As of today we have lived in DC for roughly 6 months. Our transition here has been relatively smooth and we are truly enjoying the area we chose to live. We have been blessed with a continual stream of visitors, which keep us from feeling too homesick. I laugh at the fact that we had a beautiful guest room in a large house that sat empty for years, but the moment we move to a tiny apartment in the city our “guest room” (aka the pull out couch in our open plan living space) pretty much has a waiting list. And – I LOVE IT! I truly love sharing this adventure with others!
We are still experiencing growing pains and adjusting to our new environment as there is so much to learn in a new city, but I am starting to reclaim that infamous balance we all seek. I’m learning that life is not about perfection, but more about good enough – and not just good enough in the eyes of others, but simply good enough to me.
I know this post was long, but I felt it was important to discuss some of the major life events that occurred over the past year and have forever shaped me. Now that the hurdle of playing catch-up is out of the way, I am excited to share some of the things I’ve learned along the way!
If there are any questions you have about the journey thus far, or topics you’d like me to write about, I am always open to suggestions. I encourage this to be a place for dialogue 🙂 Thanks for sticking with me to the end of the post! See you next time!