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A Year after the Move

A year has already gone by since we pulled out of our hometown of Austin, Texas, for the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Charlottesville, Virginia, visiting every Whole Foods Market along the way of our 1200-mile minivan journey. Bear with me as I process this year – some emotions don’t yet have language, but I hope that this post will help me find the words. If I had to summarize the year in two words, it would be SPACE and REST. Yes, we left Austin in search of a slower paced life, a smaller city, and four seasons, but we also left because we needed SPACE – space to breathe, space to run free, and space to know in a deeper way our true selves – individually and as a family. The thrill of having literal space has not worn off, and we love every inch of our 3.6 acres. I still pinch myself as I drive up our gravelly driveway and see our “ugly brown house” (side story: a colleague said at a happy hour, “Oh, you bought the ugly brown house? Can you believe those sellers painted it BROWN???”) perched on top of the hill. It’s our ugly brown house and we love it. Though I will be glad to paint it one day! In addition to actual space/acreage, we have savored the space we have in our schedules. We have deliberately chosen to ease into life here and not become pushed to the margin with activities and commitments. Jonathan works from home, and my work schedule is flexible. It has been a joy to see my husband thrive in his work and do the things that he was made to do – namely, to create and make things beautiful. He gets paid to use these gifts, and is part of a great company with excellent leadership. Though there are parts of the Tea Embassy storefront that we certainly miss, the relief we both feel is immeasurable. We have established a rhythm of life that ensures we have time to care for our bodies, our hearts, and our home, without feeling anxious and stressed. I hope we can maintain this rhythm of rest.

In addition to space and rest, I cannot describe the impact that the beauty here has had on my soul and body. Driving home with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the backdrop is somehow repairing things in my heart and body that have needed to be repaired for a long time. I sleep here. Though my struggle with insomnia is not completely a distant memory, I am grateful that I have not had a sleepless night in over a year. There was a time when I did not think that would be possible. Beauty heals. And it heals in its own quiet, effortless way. I also love the rhythm and predictability of the seasons. In the winter, it is cold and everything looks dead. In the summer, it is hot and very lush. In the fall, there are leaves that change colors. In the spring, flowers suddenly appear and its as if a colorful paintbrush has suddenly stroked the entire landscape. This brings comfort and peace to me. I know it sounds silly, but the erratic weather of Texas made me feel crazy. I am happy to be in a place where I know what to expect (mostly).

Of course life here isn’t perfect. As a relational being at heart, there are days when I miss my friends so deeply that my body actually aches and I have a perpetual lump in my throat. Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until it is gone. My Austin friendships took years to form, and you can’t replace that overnight. I am grateful for MOPS (Mothers of Pre-schoolers) here, where I have met so many like-minded, full-hearted, creative, beautiful, generous, fun-loving women, who though I may not know them yet, would come to my aid if my family or I needed it. I trust that in time, these relationships will bloom into friendships that are more like sisters than friends. Another thing I miss is being known. Despite the crazy growth in Austin over the past few years, it was still not uncommon to meet someone who would say, “I have known you since you were this big,” or “I played golf with your grandfather,” or “Your dad is my periodontist and he is the kindest, most caring man.” I miss that. I grieve having left a history of being a fourth generation Austinite to come to a totally new land where I have to start a new set of roots. I didn’t realize how much that would affect me. I wonder if Texasns are the only ones who feel this way because when I bring this up to non-Texans, they just kind of stare at me like I have two heads and wonder what the big deal is. It’s probably a Texas thing. The other thing is that I just kinda miss being among other Texans. When I think about raising our kids here, I am sad that I will not be raising Texans. More than ever, I have come to appreciate Texas and how anyone is allowed to be anything they want to be in Texas. Texas doesn’t care about whether your ancestors fought in the Revolution, what elite school you attended, or any of those other things that “qualify” a person. Texas just opens its arms and heart wide and welcomes you to be great if you want to be. Don’t get me wrong, Virginians are friendly, too, and I love how they value quality of life – commitment to farming, love of beauty, and celebration of the seasons and the unique joys associated with each. Still – you can’t really explain it unless you’ve lived it. Texas is Texas, and it’s unlike any other place.

So given all that, I know the big question is: “Do you think you will stay in Virginia?” My answer is that – so far – I believe we will. Charlottesville is enchanting and I can’t think of a better place to raise our children. The Austin I once knew is no more, and I can’t think of anywhere else in Texas I would want to be. Besides, we have been blessed here. Doors of opportunity have opened for both us with our work, and we feel we are positioned for success as long as we stay consistent and continue to pursue excellence. Our neighbors are perhaps the biggest highlight and I can’t imagine finding that back in Austin, especially living on 3.6 acres! We love the schools our children attend and feel grateful to be a part of the communities at each place. I have several dear friendships here that in time will develop into those that I am currently longing for. It just takes time – a truth I always resist. Of course we don’t know what the future holds, but we do know that what is happening in and around us as a result of our move is good and needed, and that it has only just begun. Each day I learn a little bit more about what is actually in my heart and then have the (sometimes scary) task of walking it out. I have learned to speak up for myself, at times completely botching it, as I go from one side of the pendulum to the other. I have learned to rest, when the rational thing to do would be to strive to make something happen. And I have learned (am learning) to give thanks – in all circumstances – for abiding joy regardless of geography. Thank you, old friends and new, for loving us and cheering us on. So grateful we are not alone on this journey.

XOXO,

Amy

Easter family photo_2014

Our Easter morning photo in front of our ugly brown house. :)

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