Moving In – Day Two: Unpacking
How Quickly Old Age Comes On

Muddling Through

category_bug_journal2.gif I am amazed, touched, overwhelmed, pleased and feeling a little abashed by all your good wishes, advice, enthusiasm and blessings throughout this move from Portland east to Portland west.

Beginning with the post on 8 February about my intention to switch coasts, through my current settling in, it is only busy-ness and the distraction of tracking all the details that have prevented me from acknowledging, until now, all your encouraging comments. I so appreciate all of you.

A thread running through many of your comments during these three-plus months is the idea of my courage in making the move. I've been trying to puzzle that out because it doesn't look like bravery to me - in general or at my age - just tedious and tiring, but equally exciting. The dictionary definitions of courage go something like this one from Encarta:

”The ability to face danger, difficulty, uncertainty, or pain without being overcome by fear or being deflected from a chosen course of action.”

There was no danger or pain (physical or psychic) in my decision. The difficulties were mostly logistical, but problems were solved one way and another. My biggest uncertainty was whether cost overruns (everything costs more than you imagine) would impoverish me. And there was nothing to fear – except the potential cost overrun. (The move did cost more than I had planned, but not enough to lose sleep over.)

As far as being deflected from my goal, once the contract was signed on my Maine house, which happened on 15 March, there was no backing out.

Plus, it is not like I'm moving to Afghanistan or some remote Chinese village where I don't know the language and customs. I was born in Portland, Oregon and have visited often over the 50-odd years since I left. I've gotten lost on driving errands this past week, but I generally know the territory and was already comfortable here.

And, I was not leaving behind anything in Portland, Maine that I will miss (if you don't count cheap lobster).

So I wonder if people who think I am brave to move across the country might, on second thought, find they are less comfortable with making big decisions than I am. We each approach choices in our own way; I just want them done.

Dithering is painful for me. I don't like decisions hanging over my head so I often make them quickly to relieve the anxiety. I've rarely been sorry and when something doesn't work out – like Portland, Maine – I figure out how to fix it.

The fix is not always ideal (for me, ideal living is New York City), but I learned in childhood (as so many our age did) that you can't have everything. More often than not, however, second-best and even third is good enough.

It also helps to not have regrets. I've never seen the point – what's past is past. It certainly would have saved a lot of time and effort, not to mention money, to have moved to Oregon four years ago - which I considered then – rather than Maine. But I didn't. My mistake. Fixed now.

And if the move had not been possible, I would have made Maine work well enough so that I was not miserable. What else is there to do in such circumstances.

I didn't always take setbacks and decision-making so lightly. If my mother were still with us, she would have a few tales of my teenage agonies when things didn't go my way. Mom had a saying for every situation. “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” “Into everyone's life some rain must fall.” And frequently: “Get over it, Sarah Heartburn.”

It would be lovely to think I am brave and courageous, and it's nice that some of you do. But those words should be reserved for heroes, which I definitely am not. Mostly, I try to muddle through, point myself toward what makes me feel better and hope for the best.

A housekeeping note:

There are emails from some of you that need answering. I've become a bit fanatical this week about unpacking as many cartons as possible each day and then in the evening, I'm too tired to think. I promise I'll get to them soon.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Vagabonde: Recollection of a Special Kiss


You hit the nail on the head with your surmise that some of us (me, for example) are uncomfortable with making big decisions. I used to be famous for efficient decision-making, but that trait must have been somehow, peculiarly, linked to collagen production; I'm crappy at both of them now. It's exciting and inspiring to read about your adventure!

I actually think you are showing bravery and exhibiting how it is in little things as well as the big ones where we show it. You saw what you needed to do and you did it. That is admirable even if you do not see it as so for yourself, I bet you would for others. It's a good example that we are never too old to change channels in our life.

Where it comes to decisions, I am like you. I want to get it over with and if it's hanging out there, it will bug me until I deal with it. Sometimes I let it hang anyway but I am happiest when I move forward.

From my view, the way everything came together to enable you to make this move in such short order, is to say it is certainly a right move for you. Since I believe the Chinese dictum, "Everything acts to further," I would be curious about what you did learn in Maine other than it was not a good fit for you. Since you are such a thoughtful person, I'm sure that when everything is unpacked and you settle, you will harvest the wealth of lessons you brought with you from Maine. Congratulations on finding your way home, even if its not NYC.

If you don't want to consider yourself as a hero, at least accept that you are a shining example of a how-to person who inspires. I've taken away many ideas from your posts and the comments of your readers. Now if I can only overcome my procrastinative tendencies.

I agree with Rain that it sometimes takes courageous to make a decision. It is often easier to just let yourself drift without facing a problem. You recognized your problem and did something about it. It was a big decision that would affect the rest of your life. I think that took a certain amount of courage. An act doesn't have to be one of heroism to be called courageous.

So take the kudos you earned and, as Estelle said, realize that you might inspire someone who is afraid to make a change to follow your example and do so.

Sounds like you are settling in... getting lost running errands makes for great "How do you like your new home" stories.

I too, had trouble with the label "courage" when applied to my big move to Newfoundland.
And then a friend explained that it gave other people permission and inspiration to follow their hidden dreams, to leap out and take the chance.
I find your move particularly inspiring, Ronni, as when your first didn't work out, you bit the bullet and moved in spite of the daunting task it is to schlep across the country.
I salute you!

Having enough money to"hire help" is an obstacle for me...otherwise I have no problem moving on to see new places. I don't regret any of my moves. Now I'm worn out with aging, but the spirit is willing....

I agree with others. Making big decisions in my life has always been a challenge. So when someone has an idea for a BIG change, then follows through with such speed as you did, it makes my head spin. I am in awe of you.

I think I've lived with cats far too long as I follow their temperamental tendencies of getting extremely stressed out with any kind of change. Even if it's for the better.

(Speaking of cats, might we have a photo of Ollie in his new digs :-)

My journey over the last 3 years is different but similar to yours. Moved to the city to be near children and decided to return to my country property.
Built a smaller home and moved in 3 stages. Final move last fall. City home just sold, it took a year. Your thoughts, emotions and now weariness - I understand.
But this is all exciting. Keep sharing.

Since I am slightly agoraphobic, and I have a hard time making big decisions, you are very brave and decisive. I love my rut, but I admire people like you. Ronni, you left home and made a success in the big city. I'd love to live in New York, but I'm too chicken, even if I had the money. So, it's all relative. You are a brave person to me. And efficient too, for uprooting yourself from East coast and moving to the West cost so quickly.

I moved around alot as a young adult out on my own. Loved it. Gave the obligatory 2-week notice, then packed all belongings into whatever car I had and took off for some new place. And, all my life, SO many people have said how brave I was.

But bravery had absolutely nothing to do with it! I enjoyed the thrill of that whole process. The thrill of not knowing exactly what was ahead. It was FUN! You could hardly call that bravery!

Many of my friends stayed put and had children. Now, to ME -- THAT'S BRAVERY! I would NEVER have the courage to have children!

But if you told the mothers how brave they were to have kids, they'd probably look at you with the same puzzlement as YOU had on YOUR face when they told you how brave you were for moving. :)

Good luck with the move!

You got there just in time for the Rose Festival!

I had to close down this post before responding and look up "courage." Scrolling down on the Wikipedia site I found a list of four aspects of courage. Bravery. Perseverance. Honesty/integrity. Zest. For us procrastinator type B personalities, you epitomize these qualities.

Your moving process posts displayed forthright honesty and clarity of thought. Maine didnt work out, okay move on and much more.
You were persevering. when an obstacle arose, you worked out a solution. YOu set your goal and kept to it.

Your posts show a true zest for life, for working things out, for making changes that will work for you, for living and for Ollie. :)

It is brave to make changes. To move oneself out of inertia and create new things. We are all heros. The heros of our own lives. To keep on living and not fade from life or turn away from life is heroic. Think of "Hero with a Thousand Faces" kinda thing.

Anyway, good luck with continued unpacking and settling in and enjoy the fun of getting lost!! That's how one comes upon even more of the richness of life....getting lost. be well, Suki

I agree with the concensus, yes, you are courageous! And, most of all I admire your pragmatism in finding solutions to the issue at hand. Being decisive has not always been easy for me. I admire that about you. Good luck in your new home, and please continue to share your adventures with us.

Just "muddling through" is how most of us live our lives (including heroes, I think). Just taking it one step at a time, like you did, is how most of us survive darn near anything.
Am also considering moving back East to be closer to my kids and grandkids. I'm 73 and will do it alone, just as you did. Your on-going saga as it unfolded on your blog has given me additional courage to go ahead and plan such a move.
Thanks for that -- as well as all the attitudes and outlooks that I feel I share with you and your other readers. It comforts me after I've been exposed to the major craziness of some the other people in this world ... sighhh.

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