My own thoughts on moving well? I am still learning, and if I am totally honest with myself, I am finding that it is getting harder with each move. I crave comfort and familiarity more and more.
Yes, I love adventure and new places to explore! I love a challenge. I love meeting such diverse people. I love arranging different houses to make them feel like home. I love finding new traditions that add to our family culture. But…all this adventure, all this change, is hard on the soul. Whether you’re an introvert like me, or an extrovert, being new is not easy. It is much easier to lock up my heart and stay inside. It is easier to just sit at home and hold us tightly together, however, I know from experience that this does not lead to happiness, joy, growth or fulfillment.
Here are the mantras I live by to make each place we land, no matter how temporarily, full of purpose, presence and joy:
- Be here now. I was given this advice when I arrived in Brussels, Belgium, barely speaking French and looking down the barrel of 18 long months away from my family and friends while I would serve locals, refugees and immigrants, and share the gospel of Jesus Christ and His church in a foreign language. I needed to focus on the present then to thrive and it made all the difference. It is SO easy with any change in life to look back to the past with nostalgia and long for days of comfort and familiarity with old friends and places. It is SO easy to cast your eyes a few weeks, or months, or years down the road and anticipate better days or happier times in a new place or circumstance, but this is damaging to your present happiness. BE HERE NOW demands that I look for the best in today, my current home and environment, and the best in the diverse people in my sphere. I can make it what I want it to be.
- Decide ahead of time that you are going to be happy. Yep, you can do that. However difficult the circumstances are that you face, you can actively decide to experience and feel joy in the midst of them. When I am feeling complete exhaustion, loneliness, depression, or frustration, this simple decision pulls my mind and heart away from negative and back to a place of perspective and peace. I have decided to be happy no matter what. I’m not talking about a plastic smile through hardship, but a genuine attitude of looking for the silver lining and affirming the good and purpose in all that comes my way. Someone described it to me as choosing to see that everything is rigged in my favor.
- Be a friend to find a friend. It is way too easy to focus all my efforts on ensuring that my children are well-adjusted, happy, and finding good friends, but the reality is that I need true friends, as well. When you’re new, it is also easy to assume that everyone is already settled into great friendships and social connections and that there isn’t any room for the new girl. I have discovered time and time again that many are hoping for someone to reach out, even if they themselves have lived and worked in the same area for a long time.
- Extend the invitation that you would like to receive. I heard this from another military spouse and love it. How do you feel when you are invited to something, big or small? It feels good to be thought of and included. When you’re new, you simply cannot sit around and wait to be noticed. Be the first to invite others to do things with you. Meeting up at a park, going on a morning walk, out to lunch, to a movie, a girls’ night, a book club. Whatever you love to do, be the one to plan it and gather people together. When I am new, I’ll ask a new acquaintance if they can help me with the guest list and invite their friends. When I do this, I find true friends and have a much-needed support network right away. Don’t wait to be invited! Be the one to make it happen.
- Be a tourist! View your environment through a traveler’s eyes. Where are the best views of the city? What are the best hikes? Best local eats? Chips and salsa? Best flower shop? coffee shop? art galleries? concert venues? Explore and decide your favorites. One of the best ways to start my list of favorites early on is to host a get together (see tip #4) and spend the evening compiling a list of everyone’s local favorites so I have a curated list to start with.
Other conscious efforts help as we transition from place to place, like making sure I decorate for the holidays, hanging all the art on the walls and unpacking every box as soon as possible, and cooking in a new kitchen consistently in the first few months to find my new flow. These tips have changed me in the best ways. I hope they inspire you to reach out and choose to create happiness no matter where you are.
(photo credit: @annewaddoups)