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.
Change and transition. It brings different feelings and actions on different days. Overall, it’s a real door opener into yourself. You get to witness first-hand how you respond to events or thoughts and you get to notice those places where you are allowing yourself to change or resisting with all you’ve got.
I’ve been there, done it all and experienced all of it – feeling wise – over the past two and half months since we left Baltimore and as we get ready to move into our new home – not the summer home which can make things feel a little temporary . I know that more “stuff” will come to the surface… the “stuff” that feels good AND the “stuff” that doesn’t feel so good.
With my regular, all of my life M.O. being that of a Type A, charge ahead no matter what type of gal, I’ve had to keep reminding myself that I wanted to leave some of that person behind. Been there, done that and it served me fairly well in the past, except I’m wondering how much more I would have truly experienced life and felt joy IF I hadn’t felt that everything was a race to the finish and that I had to keep proving myself… to whom? for what? Why did I feel like the only people who were worthy or getting things done were the ones racing around and neglecting themselves? Ummmm.
So… this is what I’ve learned: at this stage in my life, I have nothing to prove. I don’t need to impress anyone. I don’t need to win an award. I don’t need another promotion. I don’t need to run another race or head up another committee. I don’t need to have someone paying attention to me all of the time and telling me how fabulous I am. That was then.
This is now: I am learning to pride myself on taking care of me – for once, really focusing on my health and feeling good – good fresh food, really regular exercise, trying new exercises, plenty of rest, exploration of places, trying new things (pottery class, here I come), and spending lots of time in nature for that is where I really soak up some good vibes and energy.
This is now: The best advice someone gave me before I left Baltimore was to experience it all. Don’t jump into things just to “get busy” and up and at ‘em again. Let new people and experiences come into my life, get to know them and then determine if there is friendship there or the possibility of something I want to be involved in further there. So, what’s really been great is exploring relationships that have nothing to do with furthering business or what they may be able to provide me – other than friendship and the possibility of getting involved in things that really float my boat. So far, that advice has served me well.
I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t still have some little battles with myself about what I “should” be doing if I was worth a hoot (you know, that “work martyr” syndrome). Those “shoulds” are getting easier to drop for the “want tos”. But, I still have some work to do.
This is now: Finding joy in the journey – past, present and future.
Would love to hear about you and how you are handling the changes and transitions in your life. Easy peasy or, learning to navigate a new way of being? – and, what have you learned about you?
“Be easy. Take your time.
You are coming home to yourself.”
- Nayyirah Waheed
My previous posting stirred up some fabulous conversation with women across various social media platforms and in casual conversations over coffee and wine in Baltimore.
I have been fascinated to understand the changes that will inevitably happen to me now that I am 50 and yes, fabulous! The “balance” of our hormones seems to be the core issue to relieving hot flashes, not to mention the continual changes women encounter in the journey to full menopause. To my complete surprise, I learned SO many women, are simply “toughing it out”! It’s 2014, why?
Many women in today’s society feel the pressure to take on more responsibility with a profession, raising a family, running a business, single parenthood, acting as caregivers to aging parents and they end up running on auto pilot (picture the energizer bunny!) Have we created a message inside our minds to say “oh, it’s just hot flashes, no sleep and I am miserable….tough it out”? I say, “NO.”
Women’s bodies were created to be healthy and in harmony and balance. Strength, energy, productivity and glowing health should be enjoyed throughout all stages of a woman’s life…right?
Women, by nature, are made to be strong and resilient. These attributes are necessary components to enable women to bear and raise children. I am very in tune with my body. I rarely get ill and when I do, I can feel it deep inside – even with the onset of a head cold.
Quite frankly, I am shocked that women are not demanding more information about their hormones. I have found in my research there are safe effective new therapies with regard to eliminating and relieving the changes we encounter on our journey through menopause.
When women “tough it out”, we are actually hurting our health. Do you know how critical it is for women to have balance in our hormones for our overall health? By not addressing our hormonal changes to bring them to balance women are hurting themselves in the long run. I am talking about women having issues with bone density, intestinal tract issues, bloating, unexplained weight gain, more fat cells, higher insulin levels and the obvious lack of sleep! I was amazed that in the past ten years, more women have experienced an increase in broken bones at ages 50+ than ever before.
These findings are getting me fired up, how about you?
I believe it is SO important to be involved in your health as a woman. One thing my mother did role model to both my sister and me from a very early age was to be invested in our bodies and ask questions. So I am asking the questions and I urge you to ask the questions and be bold. DO NOT SETTLE. My fellow fabulous female friends, we cannot afford to “tough it out” any longer! Heck, we don’t just want to live longer, we want to be vital and healthy into our 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. Heck, I am shooting for my 100’s!
My quest to understand my changing body at 50 and be curious about cutting-edge treatments and therapies lead me to a resource in Baltimore dedicated to working with women experiencing hot flashes. The Maryland Center for Sexual Health (MCSH) is participating in this phase three trial. Currently, recruiting women, between the ages of 40 and 65, are experiencing any form of hot flashes. Substantial financial compensation is awarded for your time to participate – 4 visits over a 12-month period. The best part, you can continue to use this new product that is showing remarkable results in a final phase study. The rewards just might outweigh the financial return! To learn more and stay up to date on topics, trends and additional studies Click Here.
The MCSH is dedicated to the application of modern diagnostic and therapeutic approaches to the treatment of a broad range of sexual dysfunctions and conditions experienced by men and women. In addition, the MCSH conducts an extensive range of therapeutic clinical drug trials, evaluating the therapeutic efficacy of new drugs for the treatment of numerous sexual problems.
I urge women reading this article to share the information with other women. Come out of the closet of “toughing it out” and know you are worth it – to live a full vibrant healthy life as you blossom like wild, wise flowers into the most fabulous years of your life! Just imagine a day with NO HOT FLASHES and sleeping throughout the night… not to mention a healthy body that is aging gracefully.
“In a dark time, the eye begins to see.”
- Theodore Roethke
In the photo accompanying this article, what do you see? Darkness and loneliness or, an open door and light?
I think everyone at one point (or more) in his/her life feels lonely, out of touch with the world, and asks, “Is this all there is?” or feels that it just isn’t worth it. One day or one year or most of their life, they could have been the belle of the ball, and then suddenly, the floor gives in and they are grasping for something. Something to make them feel alive once more.
What happened? An illness, a breakup, a job loss or any other trauma could facilitate the feeling. Or, maybe it was there all along and they were dancing too hard and too fast to let it surface – knowing that if they stopped dancing, the darkness would show up.
I’ve been there and I would wager that most of you have. There were times when I thought I could not go on – the hurt was just too bad and too much to deal with. How could I possibly keep going? Was there anyone out there who could make the pain go away?
Most of the time, no. So I drank too much, partied too hard, worked as if those long hours could keep me from hurting. I chose bad-boy relationships because they were the exciting ones – at least you could feel something. And, none of it worked.
Sure, for a time – when there was plenty of adoration and attention around – that band-aid could feel good. But, when the band-aid got ripped off, there was a plunge back down into the depths of darkness.
When the true Dark Night of the Soul came along for me, I was ready for it. Not welcoming it by any stretch of the imagination, but ready for it. It was what had to happen in order for me to do some waking up, to see some light, to find the open door.
The more I fought the deep – and I mean deep soul-searching – and tried to explain my “issues” away by blaming others or circumstances, the bigger those “issues” became for me. “They” were the lesson I needed to confront, to accept and to love myself through.
With the sadness that has surrounded Robin Williams’ death or Philip Seymour Hoffman’s or countless others who just could not take one more minute of this life as they felt it, some of those old feelings of mine bubbled up to the surface. I’ve heard from others who have felt the same way at some point in their life or have been close to someone who is battling depression or close to someone who took his own life. These feelings are everywhere and can show up in anyone – even those who appear happy or seem to have it all.
Not that you need another article or me telling you what to do… but, I am. If you are in the pits of hell, reach out to someone. If you are aware of someone who needs help, reach out to them. Ask them if they want to talk or need someone to just be there. It can make a difference. It sure did for me. And, getting through those times are when I started noticing just how bright the light really is and how healing that can feel.
It became a brand new day.
“And in the emptiness there’s a solution.
Just look within yourself for absolution.”
- Poets of the Fall, a Finnish rock group in their song, Locking Up the Sun
No matter what problems you are dealing with, the National Suicide Prevention Line wants to help you find a reason to keep living. By calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) you’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, anytime 24/7.
Learn the warning signs for suicide on the Lifeline’s website, then share them with everyone you know! Spread the word that suicide is preventable.