Ever since December 2013 when we announced to the world we were uprooting our lives in Baltimore and re-planting them in Woodstock, Vermont, I’ve heard from hundreds of people via conversations, email, blog posting comments, and social media. I’ve gotten everything from High-Fives and Way-To-Gos to “Have you lost your mind? You’re moving where???” But, the two biggest questions I continue to get from people from all over are “How did you decide where you wanted to settle?” and “How did you get the momentum and courage to just do it?”
First of all, I had no idea how many people have serious dreams and plans to live elsewhere – and they are in all stages with this from it being just a dream to having a plan to make the move in a year or even five years or more. They’ve always wanted to live near the water, on a beach, in the mountains, in a small town, in a big city, in a RV traveling the country, in warm weather, in ski country, where they can fly-fish whenever they want, where they can golf every day, where they start their dream of making fig jam and selling it at the local farmer’s markets – there is always something tied to the place they want to move that makes them want to move there.
For others, they haven’t determined where the where is… they just know that they are ready to pull up roots and start anew in a different locale. They aren’t in a rush. Nothing is making them move like a job or elderly parents or children and grandchildren. They are just ready for change and ready to explore other parts of them that are waiting to come to the surface.
The latter is exactly where Bob and I found ourselves. We weren’t being chased out of town and we didn’t have to leave for any particular reason. However, we weren’t “from” Baltimore, had no family ties there, and our answers to the frequently asked, “Where did you go to high school?” made no difference at all since I grew up in Virginia and Bob in New York Bob could do his work from anywhere and I had to make the decision to stop the radio show and as difficult as that was, I know me and I knew that something else would fill that void and give me the opportunity to explore other interests and possibilities. We were as free as birds.
But, it wasn’t that simple. We had to explore and really do some homework before we made the decision. So, for the past five years or so, we had seriously been looking and considering. What part of the country? What about living in a foreign country? What kind of weather? What size city or town? Besides having “mountains” or “beaches” of “desert”, were there other things that would be important for us to have around? And, the answer was, “Absolutely.”
Here was our list of most wanted things:
- to love the “energy” of wherever we moved – to feel something special about the place. I call it the “pinch me” factor. I am still pinching myself and imagine I will be for a long time.
- to be able to afford to live wherever we chose – to find out about housing costs, all forms of taxes, utilities and any other expenses of living in the chosen place. Also ,to consider that if we could not afford to live exactly where we wanted, but we could afford to live ten miles away – would that be okay or real deal breaker?
- to examine the demographics of the town we were considering and the areas close by. Would there be enough diversity for us and would we have access to diverse people?
- to have good medical health care options and a major medical center close by.
- to have a major college or university close by – feeling that the youth of the students keeps things lively and the institution itself would offer endless opportunities for learning and entertainment.
- to have access to cultural classes, programs and events.
- to have the perfect place for road biking and access to a top notch fitness facility.
- to be able to take advantage of other outside interests the area has to offer – golf, winter sports, fishing , hiking, sailing, kayaking, etc. – being able to participate in things we knew we loved and also, to be able to explore other new activities.
- to be aware of the ease or challenges of living in the chosen spot – how easy are daily errands, where would we go shopping, where would we have our car serviced, etc.
- to live in a walkable place – we loved the idea of walking to get a cup of coffee or visiting the local bookstore.
- to be aware of traffic – what are daily traffic patterns like or what happens when tourist season hits full force?
- to be comfortable with the number of and types of restaurant choices in the chosen area – it had to be way more than fast food chains for us and we had to have access to good ethnic food and places that serve healthy local foods.
- to be in awe of the aesthetics of the area – to not only LOVE our surroundings but LOVE the home we chose.
So, those were the main things for us and it took us five years to say, “BINGO!” We traveled north, west, southwest and south. We did what I called “field trips” and stayed in places (not hotels, but apartments or houses we rented) and got a feel for really living in the place. This activity made a huge difference for us because we really loved all of the places we visited – they were lovely. However, when it came down to what were the “must haves” on our list and would we really be happy living in a certain location, the decisions became easier to make. We were quickly able to rule out certain locations until we knew we had our place.
Even though our decision may have seemed to others as if it was made quickly and emotionally, it really wasn’t. Much thought and study had gone into it. It just so happens that by the time we made it and were sure about it and all of the pieces came together in a perfect way… we were wild with excitement. And, we still are.
No regrets at this point, and I’m actually looking forward to our first Vermont winter so we can do Part II of our homework, which asks the question, “Where is our winter breaking point and when will we feel the need to escape to Key West for a while or to Sarasota for Orioles spring training?” When we figure the answer out, we’ll be ready to act on that the following year.
Oh, yes… there is one regret. We really miss our Baltimore friends. We miss our Friday night standing dinners with people we love and the ability to get together for a catch-up coffee or glass of wine when we want, or to pull together a Girls Night Out dinner with some fabulous females. Thank goodness for phones, emails and social media – the connections are still there and still feel close. Heck, I even have a Orioles game buddy and we text each other commentary through many of the games. Better even yet, I am so looking forward to many of those friends making the #VTRoadTrip2015. There are lots of things I want to share with them.
Several years ago, I heard through a spiritual teacher that many people would be getting a call to relocate to a place that makes their soul sing and that we would know it if we were getting the call. I believe that and know many people who explain that very feeling. I finally got the call and even though it took us a while to act, we did and are so very glad we did.
If you’re getting the call, don’t just dismiss it. It could be your soul calling and even though it may seem like a farfetched dream, it may not be. Start thinking about what you want, what fills your heart and put some intentions our there. Heck, you may even find that exactly where you are right now is what you want and where you want to be. Just pay attention.
And, of course, I love stories and would love to hear about what “moved” you or convinced you to stay where you are – and how that decision was made.
Ain’t life grand?
Five provocative questions answered by an inspiring and fabulous woman – a woman with something to say.
Meet Jessica Watson
Jessica Watson is the CEO/Creative Director of JWatson Creative, a savvy design studio that helps ambitious brands transform where they are into where they want to be. Jessica runs her studio virtually while traveling and living in other cities around the world. She also manages B’More Creatives, a networking group for women in the creative profession, and spearheads the 28 Days of Kindness project. When she’s not saving the world one design at a time, you’ll find her telling stories by campfire, cruising down a waterway in her kayak, or living like a local in a new destination.
People would be surprised to know that: I started taking rowing classes at the Baltimore Rowing Club. I’m actually terrified to be on the water this way (8 rowers, 1 coxswain calling out orders). I’d much rather be in a kayak where I feel more balanced and in harmony. But, I’ve been forever in awe of those dragon boats, with its crew in complete unison using their power to glide across the water. Fear is always an opponent worthy of conquer.
The WTL 5:
What is the conversation that changed your life?
“What else are you waiting for? You need to jump,” said my friend, straight faced, over sushi at our favorite spot in the city. I had completed everything on my to-do list for starting my own business, but was still holding on to my job and paycheck, standing on the dock but afraid to dive in. My corporate life was draining on my spirit. Now, over 4 years into my company, I live an adventurous life I could not have ever imagined before. Sometimes a swift kick from a trusted friend is all you need.
What are you most conscious of today?
I’m most conscious of my energy and intentions, as well as those of others. I’m working to be incredibly present in all aspects of my life, and to appreciate the life journeys of those around me. I’m learning that we are all more connected than we care to acknowledge, and there’s a commonality in our human-ness. I’m looking to have more real conversations and experiences with people, letting them know its okay to accept and explore their whole self. Also, doing this allows me to show kindness and gratitude for the many facets of my being.
What part of you have you yet to give a voice to?
After unlocking the sense of balance that comes from my travel/work lifestyle, I’ve found myself growing fond of writing and speaking passionately about what excites me.
For most of my life, I’ve been identified as an artist or a graphic designer, so it’s fascinating to see the flow of words that my mind puts together. I’m investigating how to give more of a voice to that side of me, which includes stepping in front of more people, and there’s also a book in the works.
What’s the conversation that women need to be having collectively?
I love when we can be real with each other, putting away preconceived notions to simply be. We receive a lot of pressure on all ends to fit into a box or to do things a certain way. But I’m enamored when someone becomes comfortable in their own skin, embracing their uniqueness. Our life journey is about peeling back layers, gravitating towards what makes us happy and balanced. Often times we turn away because it may not fall in line with other paradigms. Honest conversations reveal our similarities. We’re experiencing life together, so perhaps we can grow together, too.
What needs to be said bigger, louder, stronger?
You are not alone. And if you shift your perspective and look around, you’ll find people and circumstances purposefully placed in your life to help see you through. Lean on what you have a little bit more. It’s okay to reach out. You are not the first to feel a certain way, to act in a precise manner, or to find yourself in a particular situation. Seek and you will find. Trust your intuition, that little voice… know that throughout it all you are always okay, and again I echo, you are never alone.
Thank you, Jessica, for sharing your powerful voice
with WomanTalk Live.