I asked my hubby to make this blog for me-because often, I’m thinking about things I want to share, tell, observe. Of course, as soon as he did it, I sort of freaked out a little inside. Suddenly telling myself that what I had to share – nobody would read. So it’s been a few weeks of playing the avoidance game. But here I am. Sitting at my little kitchen table, staring out the window to the quickly changing leaves on trees that watch my every move. Every window I look out, I see trees. When I traded mountains for hills, I also gained an abundance of trees.
So here is the first of three back stories that led to our moving to Pennsylvania this past July, 2016. Forgive me as I go way back, because I cannot assume that only my closest friends and family will see this.
I grew up looking at trees in my yard also-but in Massachussetts. It’s why fall is my favorite season, and apple picking brings up crazy emotional memories of my dad. (More later on that). My husband grew up in the north suburbs of Chicago. We met in college in Springfield, MO. After some moving around, we landed in Denver, in the summer of 2000. Two kids and two houses later, we settled into our beautiful home in Thornton, CO in 2006. Because we bought a home that was out of our financial comfort zone, I decided to start working again-Sophia was 4, Lilly was 1.
For 7 years, I worked at a Food Bank, running child nutrition programs. I loved my work. In fact, my work was my life. My passion for hunger and nutrition could run full force, it was amazing work, and I felt good about it. I had evaluated the reality that I wasn’t there all the time for my girls, but justified it by knowing that the children I worked day in and day out to feed-they needed me more! My girls were fine, they had two parents, a home, plenty of food-I honestly felt that they didn’t really need me as much. I’m cringing as I write this, but in full disclosure, it’s the truth. This is where my mind was.
I commuted 1 hour north to and from my office 4 days per week, and due to the demands, began to burn out. My husband was working about an hour south of our home, so during the day, both of us were very far from home, and we relied on our parents and friends to do the pick-ups, drop-offs, after school care, cleaning. In essence, life was running us. It felt crazy most of the time. I’d be driving home, wondering what to make for dinner, not even sure what I had in the freezer. Often, we’d eat out, and because we are not fast food eaters, we’d end up spending $80.00 for dinner. On a Tuesday. Let’s not forget that coming home to two cranky and hungry children at dinner time led to a few too many gin and tonics after work. Life was literally bowling over us and we just didn’t see it for a long time. I also began to have major intestinal issues-food allergy symptoms, headaches, stomach aches, very fast emergency runs to the bathroom at work. (I’ll spare you the details.) I knew that I was unhappy with the pace of our life, but I had not idea how to slow it down, or bring sanity back to our life. My mind began to wander to shift into what might be possible. I started to pray for clarity, contentment, and peace.
There was a beautiful day of nothing that happened. I think maybe I took the day off, and my girls went to school, I don’t honestly remember. All I know is that I remember sitting in our living room, cozy in leggings and a sweater, and all I did that day was read, cry, and drink tea. (This was before my husband started working from home, so I was having a rare moment of alone time). I picked up a book called Organized Simplicity, by Tsh Oxenreider. In the introduction of the book, there was this little paragraph that literally changed me. It was just her bio-description of their life. They had pursued simplicity and living below their means for years, and it had worked out. Working from home, which was a 2 bedroom apartment, they were ….happy…. and still drank quality coffee. (A very high priority for me).
This started my longing for something different. I didn’t know what it would look like or how it would happen, all I knew was that I hadn’t even thought about the why’s of how we were living in so long. I hadn’t even evaluated or considered the damage it does to run ragged everyday. To let life roll over us, instead of choosing what kind of life we wanted. The concept seemed foreign, but almost like a warm loaf of bread-irresistible.
I found myself thinking about it more and more, pondering how that might look, asking all the questions. How could I leave my job? How could we live on one income again? People, I became spiritually and emotionally obsessed with the idea of coming home, simplifying our life, our finances, and the more I thought and prayed, the stronger the dream became.
I’ll speed this story up here, so we can actually get to the Pennsylvania part of this. Through 2013-14, Bob and I had many discussions. The first one, shortly after I had my epiphany day alone, I shared my thoughts, read the introduction to him, and said, “I want to quit my job, and maybe find one closer to home.” He said, “Honey, you can’t just quit your job.” And I knew he was right, but I was so hoping he’d say, “DO IT!” Alas, time went on. Almost 6 months later, I was pretty discouraged and had decided that quitting my job would be impossible. I told God that I was just going to try to have a different attitude about my work, try to be thankful and work through the stressors differently. I know that sounds corny, but intentional living can happen in any situation-so if I was going to have to keep commuting and working full-time, I’d try to make it work. I could make the changes I needed to make to be more content. I could leave earlier, and get home earlier. I could ask to work another day at home, I could maybe see if I could be given less responsibility, even if it meant less pay. This is where my mind was at-a pretty healthy place, although my heart was heavy, and sad. I can be a bit of an idealist sometimes, and when things don’t work out, I have to mourn.
At the end of May, 2014, I was just logging into my computer at work, when an email popped up from Bob. It said, “Quit your job. We can do it.” I immediately felt like there was a sign on my back-with flashing lights-SHE’S QUITTING! SHE’S GIVING UP ON THE HUNGRY!” Needless to explain, it took me a while to give notice, but eventually I did. My boss was/is one of my best friends, and her response was so kind, sweet, and understanding. I will always be grateful to her for that.
I gave notice the first week of June, but did not actually stop completely working until the first week of September. From September to January, I literally did two things. Yoga, and made Christmas photo albums for my girls. Everyday, I dropped the girls off at school, drove to the gym, donning yoga pants, Fuggs (fake uggs), and a big sweater, doused in my favorite essential oils. It was an amazing 4 months of total rest and recouperation. By the new year, I felt strong, I was healing from my own emotional torment about my work (another post for another day), and I had just started thinking about where I might go back to work. But alas, God had other plans for me.
So this is the 3 years before back-back-back story that ultimately led to our move to PA. I’m going to end here, and start another post on the next chapter in this back story. Bear with me, not all of my posts will be this long. I have always wanted to write a book…..