If you knew when something was expiring, would you appreciate it more?
About 8.5 years ago, I learned that I would be moving to Dallas for a new role with my company. At first it seemed as if it was going to happen fast. I remember feeling a lot of anxiety around moving and leaving what was familiar to me. And then it came to a halt; I wouldn't be moving for another year. During that year, I really began to soak in and appreciate Nashville more. I'm a Tennessee native and lived in Nashville for 7 years during and post college. I took the time to visit places I had never been before, and enjoyed the places that had grown to be my favorite local spots. I also said "Yes" to more adventures with my friends and really appreciated each moment with them. I knew I would be leaving soon and didn't want to waste a moment.
Fast forward to 7 years later and I'm making another move; except this time it's unlike any I've done before. On December 31, 2017, I completed my Year of Action by moving into my first solo apartment. Moving into my own place was a big deal for me. Prior to this, I had spent my entire life living with other people--family, friends, roommates. I've always enjoyed living with others. Although I'm self-sufficient and independent, it was always comforting to have someone else around. And I was always fortunate to live with respectful, low drama people. And I'm a pretty stellar roommate. So that only enhanced the experience. Just sayin'. ;)
There's never one way to do something. Some people have roommates for the community, and to save money; while others may live on their own to be in their own environment without having to worry about accommodating someone else; perhaps to have a sense of ownership. Regardless of your style or situation, have you ever taken the time to look deeply at why you prefer to live a certain way? I had never really thought much about it until I went on my very first meditation retreat in April 2016. It was a 2.5 day photography retreat lead by my dear friend (who I coin as my spirit animal), Ashlie Woods. She incorporated a couple of meditations as part of the retreat. I had not spent a lot of time meditating prior to this. I wanted clarity (don't we all?) with some things in my life when I went to the retreat. And what I walked away with was that it was time for me to move to a new place.
When I moved to Dallas, my oldest sister and her husband had also ended up there just 6 months prior to me relocating. Before I moved, I remember half-jokingly telling my sister that we should all get a place together. Initially I was thinking, "cheap rent!" But on a deeper level, it was my fear of commitment creeping in. It was safer to live with someone else, and I would have an "out" for when the time would come for me to follow my heart and travel the world (I kept this "one day" conversation going for years and years). We lived in an awesome high rise apartment for about 18 months. When my sister found out she was pregnant with her first child, they decided it was time to get a house. Here it was -- a doorway for me to finally step out on my own. But oh, the cheap rent! I won't be able to travel and live my comfortable lifestyle if I get my own place!...so I moved into a house with them. 3 years and 2 nieces later, I went to the weekend retreat and found enough courage and insight to tell my family it was time for me to get my own place.
If you're any good at predicting what happens next, you guessed it. I didn't get my own place. I moved in with another roommate. The same conversation about money and being stuck in a lease came up. If I lived with someone else, it would be cheaper, and again, I would have an out. The ironic twist to this story is that 3 months after moving in with my dear friend and roommate, I learned that she was pregnant. We had just signed a new lease. I considered my options and chose to stay. After all, I had been a live-in aunt before that and like all of the other times, I knew I would be leaving soon... The pattern continued. I stayed in the apartment for several months (including after my roommate's baby was born). We both lived our own lives, so I could still live my independent lifestyle while embracing cheaper rent (and again, an out).
I continued to participate in a lot of transformative seminars and conversations. I was finally beginning to chip away at what I was so afraid of by branching out on my own. I attended another meditation retreat and got really clear on the first day that I was tired of playing it safe. I finally could see that by living with others, I was playing it safe and holding myself back. I embraced this realization and got the courage to move out. Yes, it would be more expensive, but I knew it would also provide a clearing for me. Letting go makes room for new things to arise. So it was time for me to let go of my comfort and security, and trust that something great would come from this.
What's ironic about all of this is that I moved into my own place knowing that it would be temporary. I already had plans to leave my job of nearly 11 years and step out into the unknown. So on December 31st, I completed my year of Action by moving out, and woke up in MY new place on January 1st to kick off my year of Bold Freedom. I loved my sweet space. It was 577 sqft of open space that was all mine. I made it my home; I decorated it with my favorite photography canvas prints and set out several keepsakes to remind me of how far I'd come. I fell in love with living on my own and enjoyed the freedom of being in solitude. It was a place of creation and refuge.
On April 24, I packed up my apartment, sold my furniture and turned in my keys. Although it was temporary and knew my time would be expiring there, I embraced every moment of it. It was just the break in my cycle that I needed. And now here I am just 3 weeks later, sitting in a cafe in Thailand. It's a bit surreal. I find myself both in awe and in a trance; like at any moment I'm going to wake up and learn it was all a dream. I just pinched myself...so I know it's actually happening.
I know my time in Thailand will expire at some point, so I will embrace each moment and soak it in. I'll be posting more about my travels here and on Instagram. Follow @wanderingaunt for the most up-to-date moments of my life as a nomad and wandering aunt.