For years when my girls were in school, every spring break, we would spend a week usually around Easter in a cabin in Tennessee with my mom. When I was a kid, we lived in Knoxville for a while so many times this felt like a homecoming. I love the mountains and desperately wanted to move back. LIfe would be so much better there than in Ohio. This held true for other areas I would vacation to that caught my fancy. Oh how much better life would be if I could just live in a place like this, start over and start fresh.
Then last May we took the girls for their respective college and high school graduations for a week in a big cabin outside of Cosby, Tennessee. It was a place I would have sat on the porch and dreamed about owning such a place like this especially since this cabin was out of the tourist trap areas of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. But I realized my connection to such a place had faded. While I could do yoga on the porch overlooking the smoky foothills, it no longer moved me to feel as if this was where I belonged. I was strangely blasé about the scenery. Unattached.
This has happened at several places this past year that we spent a long weekend in, I no longer felt compelled to look at job ads nor did I pick up the free real estate publications that are everywhere trying to entice people to buy. I simply enjoyed our time there and looked forward to going home. This last time was Lexington, Kentucky, which is where we got married. This is one of my favorite cities and area. Gentle rolling hills, beautiful farms, friendly people and just enough of a touch of the South to make me feel at home as my accent from childhood slowly starts to creep back into my voice. I could be happy in Lexington for certain. But after two weekends away from home, I found myself restless to go back to Ohio, to my home, to my life. Rather than running from it.
Pondering this thought on the drive back from Lexington, I realized my life had changed right where I have been for the last seventeen years. Other than moving from one house to another, I have been at the same job, the same house (15 years), the same town, the same state and so on for all these years. Many of those earlier years had been miserable and were at the height of the times where I wanted to escape, move to Tennessee or where ever peaked my interest at the time. Escape. Running away. That is what I was trying to do. Rather than finding happiness within myself and creating it in my life, I thought the solution was to go somewhere, anywhere. However, now that I look back, if I had moved in my mid-30’s, the same husband and the same personal issues would have followed me. I would have been just as miserable there, the only difference is I would have been admiring mountains rather than softly rolling landscape just south of me in Ohio.
Once I created a life for myself right where I was planted for the last 17 years, then my need to run and escape disappeared. My desire to move has vanished as if part of a magic act. The secret wasn’t starting over somewhere else but creating the life I wanted right where I stood. It’s a bit like believing if you lose all that weight, that your life will be completely different and happy only to find out that it’s pretty much the same except you are just smaller. Not to say that maybe your dream job isn’t somewhere else and you would have to move for it to make yourself happy, there is that scenario.
I think the peace of the mountains and these other beautiful areas called to me because my life back then was in such dissarray. That was the calling, the pull. And of course when you go on vacation somewhere, you start thinking that oh, life could be really good here. Except that you will still have to work, still be married to the same person, still be struggling with the same personal demons that you always did. Until you work on those issues, it won’t matter if you live in paradise. The beauty of this means, you don’t have to uproot your entire world to be happy, you have to focus on fixing yourself, your issues, make changes right where you stand to have a happier life.
As I thought this entire concept through, I realized it also comes down to choices we make. Granted, life is going to throw some shit at you. There will be obstacles, challenges, tragedy, heart break as well as moments of beauty, laughter and joy. That’s just the recipe of life. But it is truly what you do with it that makes the difference. You can let yourself be defeated by hard times or you can keep moving ahead, moving toward your ideal life. There are so many things that ten years ago I thought would never happen for me, never be my life that are exactly that way today.
What I had to do was make some serious changes in my life which were very difficult as well as keep working on myself. It’s easy to blame everything and everyone else, but truth is, I was always in charge of my own happiness. I just had to grow a pair and do the hard work to get there. But of course, you have to continue working at this, it is definitely a journey and not a destination. And your choices in life really, truly affect you for years to come. But the great thing is, you can take the next fork in the road and redirect your life.
I no longer want to run away from my life. I am surprisingly content and happy in basically the same place I’ve always been. I work at the same job, I live in the same house, I do many of the same things. However, what I did do was divorce a toxic, abusive spouse, got more counseling, married a wonderful man, paid off most of my debt (this was a major key to happiness for me) and changed my outlook, my attitude and stopped being a big old victim. I’m still working on myself. Still striving for what I want in life but I am in a lot better place than I was 7 years ago today. That life seems like a bad dream.
Like the saying goes. Bloom where you are planted.