It’s been three weeks since I permanently relocated to our new home. Although there were many things I was excited about and motivated to get started on in the weeks leading up to the move, the transition hasn’t been exactly what I’d anticipated.
We have two cats so I brought them over to the new house the weekend before I met the packers and movers in our old condo. They did okay – better than I’d have thought at their age, really – and I spent the time getting things cleaned and prepped for the influx of boxes.
In addition to lining all the shelves (and Lysoling every surface to within an inch of its life), I painted my new studio – changing the overbearing lavender color to a pleasing calm “Light Drizzle”. Amazingly enough, the purple paint was tamed in one good coat of Behr Premium Ultra in a water-based enamel eggshell – it was worth the extra few bucks for sure and in one afternoon it was a done deal.
By the time I went back to the condo in Atlanta I was feeling pretty good about everything and was eager to get to work on my new studio spaces when I returned. I used the time in our lonely condo (no cats, no frog, no hubby) to work on my online course prep and just watched all the things get sorted and boxed up by the nice people assigned to the job by my husbands new company.
The packing and moving went well but by the time the condo was cleared out I felt myself slumping into a panicky manic state in which all I could do was obsessively clean and detail every square inch of the condo space as though I was trying to eradicate all evidence that I’d ever lived there. When I finally ran out of things to clean it was pretty much the same as when we’d moved in; the overwhelming feeling of being back at square one (and all the uncertainty and anxiety that starting over brings) crushed down on me and I sobbed in an echoing chamber that was no longer “home”.
The following day I loaded the last handful of personal effects into my car, said goodbye to Atlanta, and went back to Alabama to join the movers who’d arrived that morning to drop all of our boxes off with my husband. Throughout everything I ended up aggravating my disc issues worse than I’ve done in the last 3 years ago.
Being altogether sad and a little disoriented by the back and forth as well as being literally laid out for over a week didn’t help ease me into anything at all but rather, perpetuated a feeling of loss and helplessness. It was not a good start to things. Throughout it all, I continued to be surrounded by boxes and the looming presence of “my former life” which was not at all integrated with my current reality.
As my back began to heal from the trauma of moving, so did I.
In the first two weeks I began to take joy and comfort in being able to engage with nature through my sitting room windows that overlook the back porch and private yard. Watching birds is something I’ve missed in my time in Atlanta and I think that this interaction helped me to connect more positively with my new environment (which still included boxes).
I began to create a routine that integrated plenty of rest and mending with some of the little things that needed doing to keep myself active. I found it exceptionally difficult to funnel any energy into being creative, though.
Fortunately, I had a commission deadline that helped snap me out of it – as deadlines often do – and I forced myself to clear out enough of a space to work amidst the boxes. My malaise about creating started to be replaced by the familiar joy of making things and I was really pleased by the outcome of the commission – both of the work itself and in the change I felt inside as a result of having completed it.
It’s taken me a good week to keep that momentum up and as my back continues to improve I find myself able to resolve a lot of disharmonious aspects of an ill-completed transition. The biggest change is that the boxes are now 95% unpacked and the spaces are worked out in a way that feels comfortable to both the humans and felines in the house.
Part of this has included working out my studio space and making all of my tools accessible in order to create a function, inviting, and inspiring place to work. I’m hoping to continue to reclaim myself in the coming weeks and get back on track.
During all of this, I regrettably stopped doing my weekly watercolor challenge – recommitting to this will enable me to keep focused and motivated. It’s not that I lack for time with the summer term wrapping up this week. I feel guilty for having abandoned it temporarily but as I tell my students all the time, you can’t go back and change the past but you can take control of your current choices and learn from your experiences.
So, I’ll take my own advice and let it go and keep moving forward…