I feel like I have learned more in this 6-month period than any other period of my life… no exaggeration. Whether we are doing something new or the same ol’ thing in a new place, we are confronted by differences. As you can imagine, it is impossible to live with all this newness and not be touched by it.
Surprise! My problems came with me.
I knew this already, but I guess I didn’t believe it down deep in my heart. (Don’t we always think that we are the exception to the rule?) Trust me. It is true. In the past, I attributed many of my issues to things that were external to me. For example, I didn’t have as many friends as I wanted because the people in my area were not friendly enough. Really??? Out of the 1.2 million people in the greater Hartford, CT area there were not enough friendly people. Bah! Who was I fooling other than myself? Or, I didn’t go to the gym as often as I should because it was too far away. I call B.S. on myself. After all, doesn’t “should” only mean that I could if I really really really wanted to. I didn’t go because I gave other things greater priority. (Yup! Cleaning out the linen closet had to be done during my scheduled cardio class. Not my fault. Nothing I could do about it, right?)
Now that my external world is all different, I have no place to put my excuses. If my issues persist, the problem is within me. Plain and simple. This insight did not come easily. It included considerable kicking and screaming. But coming to terms with the idea of personal responsibility has actually been freeing. I no longer scramble to point my finger in an erroneous direction. I admit what I did. Accept what I did. And work alone or with Claudio, to figure out a way to minimize or remove the offending issue. Is this lesson bigger than a bread box? You bet your bippy it is!!!
Change has always been a challenge. Continuous change is…
Big changes are visible. There are generally distinct steps that you need to take in order to tackle them. But son of a gun –it is the small, invisible changes that will get you every time! Back when we lived at home, making our morning coffee had always been something I did on autopilot. Half the time, I didn’t even remember having done it. But now, every step to creating the perfect caffeinated beverage requires thought, attention and time. In which drawer are the teaspoons in this particular kitchen, which was set up differently from the kitchen in the apartment where we stayed last week which was different again from the one in our rental home two weeks previously? Which @#%! button turns on this electric stove (I have only ever had gas ranges)? Other small changes that surprised me:
· The complexity in planning a week’s worth of meal planning while shopping in a store that doesn’t carry all my usual brands. And more than that…
· …what about the fact that my entire grocery store, where I knew what was in every aisle, no longer exists in my new world. And where the heck is the closest grocery store anyway?
· Claudio and I are continually asking one another, “Have you seen my…” because nothing is ever in the same spot. Keys. Glasses. Wallet. Ugh!
I was told that brushing my teeth with my non-dominant hand would increase my brain strength. Well I must be on my way to being a Mensa scholar because I feel like I am doing everything with my non-dominant hand.
With a bit of thought and a lot of discipline, we have developed systems to counteract or moderate this newness’ assault on our living. The first thing we do when we get to a new residence it to designate a spot for keys, glasses, etc. The second thing we do is photograph the kitchen, so I can move things around to as needed, but still replace it all properly upon our departure. The third thing we do is take a bike ride, walk or drive around the area to get our bearings. No, these steps do not completely eliminate my frustration, but they sure do make it much more tolerable.
I don’t want to spend my free time wandering HomeGoods.
Without a home, many things I used to do no longer make sense. Anytime I was near a HomeGoods store and had a few minutes to spare, I would shark around the aisles hoping to find that special touch to add to my home. I loved browsing art shows for the same reason. True confession: I also enjoyed peeping in the windows of home when the lights were on at night –ever on the lookout for decorating ideas. Now, I have no interest in any of that. Two weeks ago, we visited an awesome art show in Miami. My interest kept straying from the artwork booths to pineapple smoothie stands. Yesterday, I went to a drugstore that was located next to a HomeGoods megastore and I didn’t even falter as the store’s door opened automatically, just beckoning me inside.
Finding new ways to fill my free-time has been a fascinating experience. Of course, there is always time that must be dedicated to learning more about posting on Facebook, selecting Instagram hashtags, writing blogs and creating interesting YouTube videos. I most definitely spend a large portion of my free time working on all of those social media related things. And, because we are always on the go, there are always places to research, routes to plan and reservations to make. Add to that the usual cooking, grocery shopping and trying to maintain some form of exercise –and, well, I guess that pretty much fills my days. However, the trick now is increasing the efficiency of our time usage (which can be challenging when you don’t have a set schedule). We are working towards the creation of a standard routine, but aren’t there yet. Stay tuned for another blog post detailing how we progress in this area.
In fact, material things matter less and less.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no intention of giving up my earthly possessions. It is just that I found I can comfortably get by with only one pair of jeans and two sweaters instead of multiples. Who knew??? In fact, having fewer choices is actually less stressful. I always know which leggings to put on the morning. I am quick to grab my pocketbook (singular, because I only have one). And I always know exactly how many jars of honey I have on-hand or how many boxes of cereal or even how many pounds of coffee. (PS: The answer is always one. I only have one of anything at any given time.)
When and if we ever stop traveling, I am certain that my life will be different, both internally and externally. For example, I will never live in a house again. I always thought that a big house was my idea of awesome, but surprisingly, I really like living in small apartments or condos. Smaller kitchens are very easy to use. Not walking downstairs to use the laundry is a pleasure. Having no yard in need of tending is liberating. As long as I have a tiny space where I can close the door and have my alone time every now and again, I am good to go. I repeat: Who knew???
I don’t believe all of these lessons would have been learned if we had become nomads at any other time in our lives. I have realized that it is, above all else, a matter of timing-- the person you are and the degree of your openness to the person you could become meeting with experience and opportunity. At this point in my personal journey, all aligned perfectly. And if you are wondering, I have never been happier.