Taking the full measure of life

Life, Evolving

January 4th, 2010 · 23 Comments

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While all was quiet on the blogging front, I moved. A long way.

Last year was a hard year. My husband finished his Ph.D. We looked at a million options of where to live. Seriously, we considered everywhere from Berlin to Adelaide (South Australia) to Seattle. We also spent a good bit of our savings while I wasn’t bringing home the (relative) bacon like I used to, and while I found my first year of self-employment hard (emotionally). In the ‘end,’ it seemed we were destined to stay in Atlanta a while. Dan took a job there. I started grad school in Seattle and flew out for it about a week a month, doing the rest long-distance. I spent the whole year feeling unsettled and, quite frankly, anxious. And it showed—in my difficulty to remember good self-care tenets, among other things. I tried. But I didn’t feel like I had much to say. I panicked when I felt like I did have something to say, and I found much of what I believe deeply hard to do. Much of what I want my life to be about, much of what I consider Truths we should all know, I struggled with. Self-acceptance. (We are all enough. We may need to grow, but we also need to appreciate ourselves.) Acceptance of the unknown. Acceptance of change. Etc. I gained between ten and fifteen pounds over the course of 2009, but that was the least of it.

I still worked hard at taking care of myself. But my exercise routine suffered. A knee injury in August didn’t help. I would have to say of the last 3-4 years, this past year was the most difficult for figuring out, and achieving, what I needed. If I were going to paint the year 2009, it would be swirls of color—a few strands bright (cooking classes I taught, the births of friends’ babies), many dark. Very swirly. Very uncertain. Very anxious.

Despite having great co-workers, my husband didn’t love his job in Atlanta. If you spend a chunk of your life getting a Ph.D., you should love the job you get using it. But the work wasn’t a good fit for him, and because I am an emotional sponge, I soaked up his feelings and felt them myself. Empathy is good. No emotional boundaries between yourself and your spouse is not good. It didn’t help that he took the job–for my sake, for the sake of my grad school tuition–while he was still finishing his thesis. I didn’t see very much of him for several months, when I did see him he was a ball of stress, and that whole situation was hard on both of us.

I knew I could get back to good, that I could achieve a different and new good. The question has been how, and the answer has been a struggle within myself–a mighty, internal wrestle between Jacob and Gabriel. Living in limbo is very uncomfortable.

In November, Dan was recruited for a new job in Santa Monica, California—a job with a very respected research firm. We flew out for the interview even though I had always told Dan I wouldn’t live in California. The most logical reason is the cost of living in much of the state, but California had also just never held for me the appeal it holds for some people. Nonetheless, when Dan left his interview, he told me it seemed like the perfect job for him right now. When the money worked out where we could manage to afford it, I gave Dan my blessing to take the job. Due to internal regulations, the company had to have him on payroll by a certain date, so we rearranged our lives to arrive just before Christmas.


I know that it’s a fallacy to think that a change of location fixes everything. I’m not sure that, by itself, a change of location fixes anything for very long. But I do think you can let a new location be a catalyst for change. What do I want out of life? Who am I at my core? Who do I want to be? How can I express myself as that person starting now? What plans should I make to make life here what I want for it to be? Those are the kinds of thoughts that have been running through my head.

So what am I doing about it now that we’re here?

I’m utilizing a life coach. Molly and I talked before I moved, but I decided to wait till I was settled here to officially start working with her. We just started last week, and I’m working on a plan for my year. I’m really pumped about coming up with my goals and the steps to reach them.

I’m running, and I’m doing it first thing in the morning to get my emotions settled, as exercise does, at the start of the day.  I’ve been out of running for a while.  Since my knee still gets unhappy sometimes, I am easing back into it by redoing Couch to 5k. With low humidity and weather in the 60s-70s year-round, Santa Monica is great for running. I’m planning on joining the (cheap!) YWCA this week, as well, for access to their weight room. I’m also contemplating yoga and belly-dancing classes. Santa Monica basically has classes in anything you can think of. I’m also halfway considering using a personal trainer for a while, though the cost is off-putting.

I joined a weekday hiking group. My first hike is on Wednesday. I’m excited to go take photographs on the hike, and, I hope, also meet people. My hiking boots are on our big shipment of belongings that haven’t arrived yet, but I stopped by REI’s scratch-and-dent sale this weekend and found a pair I might like better than my original ones.

I (and Dan, to a degree) joined a variety of social and volunteer groups: a book club, a wine outing group, a YWCA event-planning board, an urban adventures group, a Westside women’s social group. I may, in time, create a gluten intolerance and/or food allergy group here, but I’m going to let myself settle in more before I think about that in much detail.

I am reaching out to friends of friends and friends of friends of friends. Know someone wonderful on the Westside of LA? Connect me–I’d love it. (I’m not a snob about locations, but traffic in LA is insane, so I’m accepting that most of my friends are going to need to be near me.)

I’m getting a bicycle, a beach cruisier, so I can skip using my car as much as possible. I’m leaning toward the Electra Townie 3i, though I welcome suggestions of other kinds. (I want the option of foot brakes, I want an internal shifter, and I want to be able to put my feet down at stop lights.) I discovered when I went to test-ride a couple of them that I have developed a fear of bike-riding. It has been about twenty years since I’ve ridden a bike, so I’m not chastising myself for that. But I’m also not letting it hold me back. I’m going to practice with my bike in an empty parking lot before I join the world on it.

My husband and I chose an apartment that’s well within what we can afford. It’s still a hell of a lot of money, but it’s not a stretch for us with his new salary. We ended up feeling like the great little house with the gourmet kitchen that we rented in Atlanta stretched us too thin financially there. We aren’t doing that to ourselves here, even though it means we’ll be in a small place for at least the first year.

We are putting money directly into savings from each paycheck to rebuild our savings account.

We are getting a dog. I have wanted a dog for ever so many years. We weren’t ready for one till now. The dog will be my jogging buddy in the mornings and then my companion (along with the two cats) while I work at home during the day. We have been approved for a rescued English Springer Spaniel and are just waiting to be matched with the right puppy!

I’m writing, as you can see. I’m putting the pen to the paper (or the fingers to the keyboard) to keep it real, and honest, and mostly positive. I can do this. I know I can.

Tags: Uncategorized

23 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kim // Jan 4, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    Wow Sally – I had no idea that you were in the throws of all of this. Congratulations on making the leap into California, and to Dan for taking such a wonderful new job.

    I wish you all of the best on this new adventure. I know that you will make the most of it!! 🙂

  • 2 Sarah // Jan 4, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Oh wow Sally! I am SO excited for you and Dan. Such changes, such fun. I have always admired your well thought our posts, and I know I am not the only one glad to see you posting again. Enjoy CA…but it sounds like you already are 🙂

  • 3 Kirsten // Jan 4, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    Sheesh girl – that’s ALOT to deal with! It sounds like you have immersed yourself in the california lifestyle down there – I hope you meet some great people and find tons of happiness. I’m only about 3 hours north of you in Pismo Beach!

  • 4 Ricki // Jan 5, 2010 at 5:39 am

    Congrats, Sally, on all these positive changes. Sorting things out can be so difficult–it sounds as if you are well on your way. And a puppy! Well, you know how I feel about dogs 🙂 . And I can’t see any downside to 70F year-round!

  • 5 Kristen // Jan 5, 2010 at 7:14 am

    Welcome back. I thought about you a lot, even though we exchanged an email here and there, and am happy to hear that your new location is treating you well. Sometimes that can be everything.

  • 6 Leslie // Jan 5, 2010 at 7:48 am

    So glad you’re back and writing again. I’ve missed reading you! I wish you good fortune and happiness in your new home and new year!

  • 7 Karina // Jan 5, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Welcome to the Westside! I love living in Santa Monica. Sounds like you are settling in.

    I’d love to hear more about the women’s group. And the book group, too.

    Be well and enjoy the beauty of Santa Monica!


  • 8 Karina // Jan 5, 2010 at 1:15 pm

    PS: I’m Karina/Gluten-Free Goddess, btw. Cheers!

  • 9 Jessica // Jan 5, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Hi Sally!

    I’m a GF Santa Monica Dweller as well, we just moved here in November. I’m hoping to get more involved and meet people, it sounds like you’re well on your way 🙂

    I also wanted to let you know, my boyfriend Alex is a Personal Trainer working in the Santa Monica area – he specializes in Gluten Free fitness and nutrition. Here is his website: http://www.centerstrengthfitness.com/

    Good luck with all your endeavors!


  • 10 G.G. // Jan 5, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    So much change is hard, but sounds like you handled it very well. California sounds perfect for you.

  • 11 Hannah Handpainted // Jan 5, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    Glad to hear things are falling together. Good luck to you in your new locale!

  • 12 mags // Jan 6, 2010 at 3:28 am

    What a wonderful post! Wishing you much success this coming year…sounds like wonderful things are happening!

  • 13 Cory // Jan 6, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Hope things continue to improve for you. Looks like you are off to a great start!

  • 14 Fatinah // Jan 6, 2010 at 11:59 am

    your new life sounds FABU!! Can’t wait to see pics of the new pup! congrats!

  • 15 Kimberly@Living Free // Jan 7, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    I hope this year is FULL of blessings for you and your hubby 🙂 Hiking, running, and biking sound so fun.

    We just adopted a Cocker Spaniel back in Nov. and he is such a joy. Congrats on getting a puppy, your move etc. Glad to see you writing again!

  • 16 Jenn // Jan 8, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    I’m glad to hear that you have such a great perspective on this next phase in your life and look forward to hearing all about life in CA!

  • 17 Deb // Jan 11, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    I’m glad I ran across your blog. I find few people out there who have as many food allergies as I do — especially the combination of nightshade family plants (tomatoes, eggplant, etc.), shellfish, and vinegar.

    I’ve been scanning through the blog, and have found much of interest. I hope you like California — I did when I lived there — and I look forward to your new posts.

  • 18 Tiffany // Jan 12, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Sally – Wow! That is quite a move from the ATL to the CA. We used to live in Silicon Valley and LOVED it! Also loved Santa Monica the few times we visited the area. You will be a good fit for the CA lifestyle, no doubt! Good luck with all the exciting things I know will be coming your way!

  • 19 Amanda // Jan 12, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Sally. Wow. I knew 2009 was hard for you and that you didn’t seem as happy as when I first met you. But wow. I don’t think I realized HOW difficult it was for you. I’m so glad that you are jumping in to CA with both feet; I think it will serve you well.

    And, you are making me want to move out there with you, for a little while at least. Since you and Terri moved, I’ve got the moving bug. But at the same time, it would devastate my mom. We should email, sorry this is so long.

  • 20 Carma // Jan 14, 2010 at 8:02 am

    Wow, such a big move. I am sorry that my friends in Cali aren’t in your area. My one girlfriend in SF would be someone that you would probably like.
    I love the Townie bikes and wish I would have gotten one a few years ago.

    I am sure that you will find you place and that you will start to feel more settled.

  • 21 Meg Wolff // Jan 15, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    OMG, you DID move!!! I have quite a few friends in LA … I’ll email you. My son did live there, but he just moved to Vancouver, BC. I’ll be there in April.

    Love your photo with the dog.

    Just saw this GREAT dog quote:

    “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend.
    Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”
    ~ Groucho Marx

  • 22 Kim // Feb 2, 2010 at 9:28 am

    What a wonderful post — this really spoke to me this morning in that way that gifts from the Universe usually do. 🙂
    Thank you so much for writing this — I am so grateful to have read it. 🙂

  • 23 Beany // May 1, 2010 at 10:21 am

    I just thought to check in (been reading for years) and found that you were moving to CA! I’m in San Diego and would love to meet up with you eventually. If you do find your way down here, do let me know.

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