On social media we see so many pictures and stories of people living dreamy perfect lives and we wonder, “Can that really be true? Can life really be that easy and perfect? And if so, what’s wrong with me? Why don’t I have that?” The answers are that yes, sometimes it is true and sometimes it’s strategic positioning. Sometimes it does come easily because some people have advantages like wealth or connections, but more often it’s the result of a lot of effort behind the scenes. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with you, it’s simply a matter of choice. If you truly wanted those things, you could have them, but it might require you to take risks or make sacrifices that you’re not comfortable with.
When I was younger I was in an abusive relationship for three years. I could have left at any time, but I chose to stay because of the fear of what might happen afterward . Will he kill me? Are all men the same? Will any other man want me after this? The answers to those questions were no–he didn’t even argue when I told him I was leaving. No, not all men are abusive, physically or otherwise. In fact, I think they’re a minority. And yes, other men were interested in me. It took many years, a couple of boyfriends, a fiance’ and counseling before I finally found and married a man who loves, respects and even rejoices in me for who I am. All those years ago I could have chosen differently.
Six months ago Kevin and I left family, friends, jobs and lifestyle to move from the Boston, MA area to the Chattanooga, TN area to pursue our dreams. Was it a good choice? I’ll admit, I am tempted to say no because we haven’t achieved our goals yet (not even close) and we’ve encountered quite a few struggles along the way. Stress and difficulty have the magical ability to magnify themselves. Instead I’m going to say yes, we did make a good choice because even if we fail, at least we will have tried.
The lower cost of living here allowed us to buy a beautiful home. There is an abundance of natural beauty here and an active outdoor lifestyle that takes advantage of it. We didn’t have any snow this Winter and the temperatures were mild. Chattanooga is a fabulous city with a lot to offer (museums, restaurants, events, outdoor activities, skill-building, etc.) while still maintaining a neighborhood feel. People seem to be much friendlier and more relaxed here – we’ve already made many more friends and acquaintances here than we had in Massachusetts. Chattanooga has the fastest internet in the country and therefore has many online entrepeneurs which results in opportunities for co-working, networking, marketing and online skill-building. Kevin and I are both building online businesses. Kevin has an opportunity to teach yoga classes in a medical/nutrition clinic and teach meditation classes as well. I have sold a few paintings, will be offering pet portraits at a dog tournament this weekend, signed a contract with a corporate art manager and will be showing in a small one-person show in August.
We have to sell our beautiful home because the location is wrong. While there isn’t snow here, since moving to the mountain we’ve experienced temperatures in the 90’s through most of the Fall, drought, forest fires, a tornado alert that woke us up in the middle of the night, hail the size of walnuts and torrential downpours which caused flash floods. There is so much forested area here that animals are able to stay away from humans, so we don’t see anywhere near the number or variety we used to see in Massachusetts (good for the animals, bad for me trying to photograph them). Despite that fact, there are copperhead snakes and scorpions here which makes us hesitate to clear brush, go off trails or climb rocks. We’re not really making any money. I don’t feel confident in my ability to make an online business work. Kevin is struggling with his as well. It’s difficult to manage my time between painting, marketing and networking. My art seems to be taking a new direction (possibly because I don’t see animals as much as I used to), but the direction isn’t clear yet, which is making it difficult to put a body of work together.
We’re only six months into this Epic Journey. It’s really just moment in the course of time. Naturally there are going to be mis-steps and forks in the road because life isn’t perfect. We’ll need to make choices, for better or worst. But we believe that God has given us a purpose, so I don’t think it’s possible to fail, just maybe end up somewhere unexpected.