When learn you are moving do you usually think, “Ugh…It’s going to be terrible but I just need to get through it?”
I have had my fair share of terrible moves. The worst might was when my first roommate in San Francisco moved me out by throwing my stuff out the window and calling me fat. Then she changed the locks and refused to give me my security deposit back because I did not clean my room—which I could not do without access to the apartment. Apparently, she decided I could no longer date the man with whom she set me up. No accounting for logic when it comes to love, sex and money.
But it worked out—I stayed with that nice man literally on the corner of Haight-Asbury until he found me another place. Very nice, man indeed…
Since that first post-college foray into adulthood my moves to New York, Paris and DC have been far better.
This one, happening this week, might actually be the best yet.
I am writing this blog because maybe I could help those moving, or about to move, have a better experience.
Through my personal and academic work in narrative, I learned how to write the story of my life before it happens. What would be the perfect move?
When I found out my landlord was selling the apartment, I immediately decided the whole transition would be a gift.
Deciding the move is gift
I told myself that the move would help me let go of stagnant energy and even some poor fitting clothing. Because the move coincides with my doctoral graduation, I decided it was the perfect time to close down this chapter. If I stayed in my same place, I could more easily remain in old patterns of thinking—thinking I developed as student. Not a graduate.
Deciding the move would be easy
After deciding the move would be a gift, I decided that the new place would come to me without effort and that the move itself would be easy and…even fun!
Then that is exactly what happened. A place literally presented itself to me. Then so did the movers, the timing and the parking space. Any time the process became wobbly I said to myself, “Things are always working out for me. This is supposed to be easy.”
So long as I committed to easy instead of effort, everything unfolded. It did not always happen on the timeline I wanted—when I got impatient I just went for a walk.
When I lost my house keys in Europe I said, tant pis. That’s French for, “oh, well.”
You may think this sounds weird, silly, fantastical, or childish—I can only say after years of moving and transitioning this approach seemed to be really effective.
Cleaning with a thank you
I scrubbed my walls, my bathroom, and doors while thinking about how much I have appreciated this wonderful apartment.
I thought of all the great showers took, the amazing walk-in closet I had, and the doors that helped make my space quiet and private.
Leaving with a thank you felt good.
Hope this helps you in your move or upcoming transition. The main takeaway is --write your story before you live it. Focus on how you want to feel during the process versus exactly what you want to have happen. Then turn on your spotify and dance around as you pack. When I'm in a real pinch for inspiration, I lean on Mary Poppins..
Sarah Federman, PhD
Enjoy these short blogs and videos designed to bring you a little cheer.
My other blog Language of Conflict addresses the importance of word choice and narration in conflict.
Finish and Flourish supports writers struggling to complete projects.