Preservation

Lately my weekends have been streaking by in a blur of friends, errands, family, and adventures. There once was a time when weekends were more relaxing than weekdays, remember? When I could sleep late, neglect the alarm clock, go about my errands and to do's as the mood struck and as time allowed — back when there was such a thing as time to spare. When sweet summertime and bittersweet adulthood collide, there's the constant urge to pack my weekends with the things I'm unable to do during the workweek, and even still the list of reminders and responsibilities keeps growing and growing. One of these days I'll catch up or, dare I even think it, get ahead — right?

This weekend was spent mostly with family. After Saturday errands and apartment cleaning, the family gathered to celebrate my grandfather's 88th birthday. Though the guest of honor and I aren't the thickest of thieves, any time spent with family is okay in my book. One cousin and I haven't seen each other since Easter — a travesty, honestly — and all of us first cousins haven't been together at the same time in the same place since then either. It's always lovely when that happens. Add to that bumping into some old friends later in the evening who I haven't seen in two years and Saturday was a delight.

On Sunday, my brother, his girlfriend, and a certain other man {and the dogs, of course} and I went for a hike at the Apshawa Preserve. We spotted quite a few cute creatures — little frogs, a baby snake, and this guy:
I love days spent out in the world. When I was a kid, I honestly hated nature. I maintain that this was mostly because I never had a choice and was constantly dragged out for hikes when, at 10 years old, I much preferred sleepy Saturday mornings and, you know, not getting dirty. Over the last couple of years though, I've undergone a bit of a lifestyle and value transformation.

I'm coming to a crossroads now. My lease expires on August 31, and while I can't wait to be out of this place and able to terminate any relationship with this sorry excuse for a landlord, I'm getting a bit nervous as the day draws closer and closer and I'm still left wondering... what's my next move?

I love this area that I live in — 20 minutes from NYC, under an hour from the top of the Jersey Shore, mere minutes from countless preserves and reservations and great mountains for hiking. But all that comes at a price: Proximity to some unfavorable reminders of regrets and mistakes, great distance from some people I love dearly, and the very literal steep price of rent and cost of living. Striking out on my own with no roommate to split living costs is doable in my position, but will certainly mean more changes in my lifestyle.
And as I think about that — and spend hours upon hours searching for a potential apartment to no avail — I'm tempted by possibilities that exist for me elsewhere. My generous and wonderful brother has offered me a place to stay while I weigh my work and living options without the stress of having to make a game-time decision. And while I couldn't be more grateful for this offer, he lives about an hour from where I am now, although in a lovely area just outside Princeton and a closer drive to and from my mom and stepdad, who I don't get to see nearly enough. And if I don't take this one specifically, there's the option of seeking out rentals there as well.

But do I want to live on his couch and cramp his {any my} style while I figure out my next step, and move all my belongings more than necessary? Not really. Do I want to be closer to him and have a bit lower cost of living? You bet. Do I want to change jobs? Absolutely. Do I know what I want to do other than what I'm doing now? You're funny. Do I want to leave this great town and area? Not sure. Will it still be within my reach if I do go? Of course, so why am I being ridiculous?

Believe it or not, this does circle back to where I started. I was thinking about all these things in the moments of silence and reflection between chatter on yesterday's hike. Years ago, I couldn't image not being minutes from NYC and didn't consider running routes a factor when thinking about a place to live. Now, I do. And that may change again, but I sure hope it doesn't, and don't see it realistically doing so anytime soon. I want to transition my career into one that has deeper roots in healthy and natural living. I want to work and live in a space and place that supports the things my mind wanders to when I find the ability to release the anxiety and just let it happily go.
These days, I find that mental space outside. Whether on a hike or a run, with family, with friends, or solo, becoming a part of the natural world around me is a surefire way for me to find balance. And for me, balance has never been easy to find. So like I started saying a hundred and fifty years ago when you started reading this post, these are some things I was thinking about over the weekend.

But now it's Monday and I'm back at the office, chained to my desk, going numb in the butt from sitting like it's my job, drowning in documents and so far away from meeting deadline it's laughable. And as I try to remind myself that it's not the end of the world, it'll all be okay, people make mistakes and sometimes shit happens, calm down self, it's okay, stop tensing up self, it'll all work out... I really just wish I could go take a walk outside.

Do you have any advice for making big work/life decisions or efficiently weighing options? I'd really love to hear how some of you have ended up where you are, or decided to go where you're going.

{Linking up with the beautiful B for another edition of Weekending.}

Comments

  1. Wowza - those views are beautiful and perfect for reflecting!! I think it's hard to give advice in these situations because you end up or go towards what you are supposed to. You can go the more logical route with pros/cons to each scenario or you could take a leap of faith and go with your gut...it's probably right anyway!! For me personally - I'm not necessarily where I thought I would be career wise - but my current role has afforded me to do things I didn't think was possible! So there is a give and take with everything...you'll make the right choice for yourself!! xo

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  2. hmmm.
    I will say I do not envy your decision! the good thing is that you will still be close to NYC and all that jazz if you do move away. I definitely consider running routes or just general outside-ness when considering areas to live. making a decision like this is super hard. i moved across the world and that was an easier decision. but honestly, sounds like nature and outside is super important to you, and life is for living and being happy, so... just make sure you come to NYC at christmas time! :)

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  3. I almost could not bring myself to click on this post because of the picture next to it. I got chills. Many dont understand how I can even be afraid (terrified) of lizards in commercials and pics hahaha but for you I clicked ;)

    Your decision is a tough one but you're a tough girl and I know you'll figure it out soon. Think of it as a new found freedom and you have the choice to chance the norm or go a diff route, but either way it is a new journey and will be diff from any past lives/regrets that surround it! PS. the views are breathtaking! :D

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  4. I also have the case of the "I wants" -- but I am too afraid to actually take the leap and make the changes. I want to live in Austin -- my favorite city (so far at least), but all the questions and uncertanties about it make me too afraid to pack up and go. I want to travel the world, but then how can I do that with my job? How can I do that without a full bank account?

    And even though I have all these rational thoughts about money and what I would do there, I still feel stupid. The way I see it: we only have one life to live. Do I want to waste it somewhere that I'm not happy? Do I want to spend my time doing something I do not love? But then again, I have responsibilities. I have student loans. I have puppies to take care of. I can't just abandon all my responsibilities just becuase I want to travel the world.

    Maybe you won't get everything you want. Maybe you have to pick just one or two things -- and then let yourself enjoy the other things when you can. For me, I may not be able to move to Austin or travel the world right now-- but that doesn't mean I can't visit Austin on the weekends or take a trip somewhere new.

    So I guess my advice would be to focus on what will really make you happy. Make a list. Maybe number one would be a better job -- but maybe that better job is somewhere in the city. Would you move to the city for that job and then be okay visiting nature on the weekends?

    Or maybe number one is being closer to nature -- but then maybe the job there wouldn't be everything you've dreamed. Would that be okay?

    Don't get me wrong -- you may end up finding everything you want exactly where you want it. How awesome would that be?!

    But I think making a list of your priorities -- the things that would make you the most happy -- and then deciding how much you are willing to compromise on each one may help you come to a better conclusion.

    At the end of the day, just remember you have one life to live, so you might as well do the thing that makes you happy. And if, by chance, that doesn't work out, at least you know, and you won't have any regrets or "what ifs" later in life.

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  5. That's a tough one. The good news is that you have a saftey net from your brother so you don't have to make a decision quickly.
    I'm like you I love to be outside and explore. We were outside most of the weekend and it was fabulous. For me I hate commuting so I need to be close to work for quality of life. I don't mind driving out to trails or the lake, but the daily commute is my biggiest factor.

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  6. wow, these pictures are absolutely stunning. i feel the exact same as you as weekends just seem to fly by. i love going outside and just seeing the world!! i am terrible about making big life decisions. i wish there would just be a sign!!

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  7. Um, hi, we're the same person. Except my deadline has come and gone and I'm just as lost as before. WE NEED ANSWERS. But I agree, nature does clear the mind and so does running.. too bad I'm sore from yesterday's mind clearing.

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  8. I've made a lot of big life decisions over the last year and a half, and the #1 question I ask myself when trying to figure out what to do is this: a year from now (or two, or five, or however long the implications of the decision are), where do I want to be? That actually simplifies it a lot. I read a quote that was something to the effect of "You can either live the life you don't want or create the life you do want. The time will pass anyway." It really changed my outlook and how I make decisions.

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  9. Girl, girl, girl. Speak to my soul a little more why don't you. This was an awesome post, and basically mimicked a ton of things going on in my mind right now! Hopping over here from One to Nothin' and so glad I did! New follower :) P.S. I loved nature when I was younger, then hated it for a really long time and am finally back to being in love with it - and my soul feels a whole heck of a lot better aligned when I'm lovin it. :)

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