I was almost 40 before I knew living by design was an option. Now that I know, my family is moving toward it.
Our family is at a crossroads. We have been living in Denver for a couple of years. We like Denver. There are neat things happening. The scenery is gorgeous. The weather is ideal for us. There are no bugs (at least compared to what this East Coast family is used to). The homeschooling community here is huge- that makes life great for us for a whole bunch of reasons.
But, we’re bored.
Some will call it wanderlust- say that we will never be satisfied no matter where we are. That is not how I see it, though.
See, up until a few years ago I never thought I would move away from New England. It’s where I’d lived my whole life. My whole family (less siblings, now) are there. My paternal grandmother was still alive when we lived there, and we were close. I knew she would not be around forever. I’d had kids- how could I rip them away from their family?
Then circumstances changed. My husband was offered a new position and we decided to take it. With a heavy heart we left New England. I could not imagine living anywhere else- though I had always wanted to. In fact, I had always dreamed about it. I never wanted to stay in the same place where I had grown up but one thing or another had always kept me there. Then, it made sense for us to move. So we packed everything up and headed west. WEST!
It was so far… so different. Unlike anything I had ever known. It was exciting. It was also sad. Nobody in our family (including me) expected to see this day and off we went; myself, my husband, and our two (very young) kids.
There was adjustment. There was sadness. There was lots of homesickness- especially on lonely days or nights with sick kids. There was also lots of adventure. We lived in Arizona first and woke up to cacti everyday and the soothing colors of the southwest desert. We saw sunsets that we only dreamed of and cowboy hats in the grocery store. We felt heat that went right through to our bones. We thawed out. We warmed up. We calmed down.
Living around those who have always known you has a funny way of keeping you as you’ve always been. Instead of trying out a different part of yourself, you tend to stay as others know you. Sure, there is some growth (hopefully) but it always felt contained to me. Even while we were there. It is hard to become a new version of you when you are surrounded by who you have always been.
When we arrived in Tucson I felt a freedom I had never experienced. So many confines were gone. My husband, two children and I found ourselves with only each other. My choices felt like my own.
Values are different out west. People are different out west. Culture is different out west. The excitement and joy that came from this made me see how much I did not understand. It opened my eyes to how much there is to see.
My kids found a freedom they had not experienced before. It may have been my excitement or joy that created it. It may have been living in the west. Whatever it was may have been the same thing that made my husband’s shoulders relax six inches.
We saw that life everywhere was not as we knew it. We saw that where you choose to live creates an environment. We learned that you can intentionally create your surroundings. We did not know that before moving, at least I did not.
Living By Design
So here we are now wondering what comes next. The norm is to shirk at the thought of us moving again. We “should” stay put- after all, it is what creates stability, right? And is that not what children need? To stay put for most of their lives?
I did not need or want that as a child and we live in a different world now; one that is more connected and accessible. Things have changed. Kids are not out playing in their yards and riding bikes all day anymore. Does flashlight tag even still exist?
We may stay in Denver- it is a good fit. We also may decide to try somewhere -or something- new; an endeavor that excites us. While some may call it wanderlust, I know this is inaccurate. In reality, it took me until nearly 40 to realize that we do not have to stay where we are. We can choose what comes next. We can decide what our life and surroundings will look like. I spent 38 years in the same spot. Exploration is good. Curiosity and new experiences feed the soul.
It is a whole new world for my family and me, and for the first time it is accessible. Some may call it wanderlust, but not me. I know this is what intention looks like. I know that choosing what comes next is better than living by default. I know that as long as we are thoughtful and considerate of each of us there is no wrong next choice. I know now that living by design is all part of LIVING! Life with Kids.