Every year, I come up with what I call “New Year’s Initiatives.” I don’t make new year’s resolutions– those inevitably feel too restrictive for me (I mean, how can I possibly know what I’ll want to do or who I’ll want to be for an entire year? I’m not the same person I was an hour ago, you guys). So instead, I set some intentions for things I’d like to be more mindful of. Things like setting better boundaries when it comes to time for myself, saying yes to my children’s requests for togetherness instead of putting them off until later, and making space in my day every day for uninterrupted conversation with my spouse. Those help me shape my approach to each new year with some level of intentionality and thoughtful purpose, which is always a good thing. And to help me keep it all together, every year I choose a word to represent my intentions holistically. In 2019 my word was gracious. In 2018 it was boundaries. 2017 was restoration, and 2015 was transition, and in between those, in 2016, I chose the word settled.
Ironically enough, 2016 was the start to a season of nonstop moving. We had moved back to Atlanta from Nashville, and were settling into life with me as a stay at home mom. I thought that would be it for us, but the problem was that settling down is about so much more than just buying a house and staying in one place. You need community; you need consistency. You need to feel rooted to a place and what’s there. Atlanta didn’t do that for us. We had friends and family, but the environment of Atlanta didn’t suit our humble hippie lifestyle, and it got harder and harder to be different without constantly having to explain that our lifestyle choices weren’t making statements about anyone’s lives other than our own. So for all my good intentions, 2016 was just one more year of transition for our family. We had to do some soul-searching to figure out if we wanted to continue the gated-community lifestyle with high HOA fees and 2+ hour commute times, or if we wanted to do a complete 180 and find something totally different. So we abandoned the “settled” vision in favor of something that looked a lot more like “searching.”
We’ve been on the move since then. Actually, we’ve moved in 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018. And as this year comes to a close, we’ve done some deep questioning of ourselves about our next step. We have been so blessed with great careers– we moved multiple times for mine when I was working, and have moved for my husband’s since I started staying home. He’s taken on great jobs and been willing to go wherever they send him, and they’ve taken great care of us as we’ve relocated across the country. It’s been amazing. But things are changing for us. Our kids are getting older. And somehow the prestige of continuing to climb the corporate ladder doesn’t feel as alluring as it once was. As we approached time to move on to the next big thing, we had to confront the nagging feeling that maybe it’s time to settle down.
We have an amazing house here. If you’ve followed me for a while, you know we bought and renovated my husband’s grandmother’s home. It’s lovely, in a lovely neighborhood, and has more than enough space for all of us. Beyond that we have a wonderful homeschool community that has blessed us far more than we could possibly deserve. We’re close to extended family and our children have developed a sense of love and care for their great-grandmother as we’ve visited her in her assisted living home nearby. It’s been a beautiful chapter for us. But our hearts don’t belong here. In 2017, we moved to Salt Lake City, and there we discovered an amazing homeschool community and church family, with amazing neighbors and life-giving outdoor activities that fed our spirits in ways we’d never imagined. There’s something special about getting to a place and feeling like you’ve found your people.
So as things were changing at my husband’s company, and we were looking at potential moves to New York City or leaving the organization, we made the decision that if we moved, we’d be going back to Salt Lake City, or we just wouldn’t be moving. That’s a pretty big leap of faith. Because Mike’s job wasn’t going to stay here, and finding a comparable job in Detroit is not the same as finding it in other markets. Mike is amazing, and he diligently flew all over America going to interviews, and because he’ll never brag on himself but I definitely will, I’m not too modest to say he was offered every single job he interviewed for. Amazing jobs in cool cities like Portland and Louisville. Even a hard-to-pass-up opportunity here in Detroit. Incredible, once-in-a-lifetime type opportunities again and again, and he turned them down because of his commitment to getting us back to Salt Lake or staying put. He’s a winner, you guys. It was hard on him- it’s hard work being responsible for the job you have (especially an insanely stressful one) and also hunting for a new one. But he did it, because he’s him, and because he gets commitment better than anyone I know.
And finally it happened. The big one. He interviewed for an amazing job in Salt Lake City, one that comes with complete relocation (because there’s no way we could’ve moved ourselves out there at this stage in our lives), and he got it. We’ve been on a crazy roller coaster since we got married, because we’re hard-charging go-getters at our core. But we’re ready to take a leap into doing something that is totally out of character for us…staying put. We list our house this week– the family dream home that I designed myself– for the sake of going back to a place we love and the people who came to be like family for us. I have no idea how we’ll do…when the one-year itch gets me and I’m ready to start over again some place new, when the opportunity to advance comes up and we have to look more money and prestige in the eye and say no, when a chance to do something fresh and different that no one else is doing pops up…I hope I’ll say “no, no, we’re good here.” But I honestly have no idea. We’ve been nomads for so long that the idea of being settled is completely foreign to me. But we are going for it anyway.
So this is us, friends. Starting over again, but this time with the hopes of it being our last frontier. We are so blessed to have a life that has consistently flooded us with options and choices, and I’m just praying that we do this blessing some justice and manage it well. We’re hoping to savor what’s good and not constantly look to what’s ahead. To love what we have, to pursue activities and community interactions without the worry that we’ll just have to leave them behind. There’s something very liberating about always being on the move- I’ve never felt compelled to commit to much of anything. I can always plea that “we won’t be here long enough to see it through,” and just be spectators or casual participants. Staying in one place means forming relationships that might get messy. It means opening up your heart to more than superficial connections with people who just might see the real you. That’s hard for me. I do a lot better opening up to you guys (I mean, you’re not seeing me in my pajamas, you feel me?). So this is a push for us– a real opportunity for growth that we haven’t had.
We had a messy season in Salt Lake. Our friends did see the real us. They saw us struggle, and they picked us up. They met us where we were and filled in our gaps and loved us out of a really dark time. We’ve never had that before. It’s hard to be that real with people unless you really have to. But it taught us that we can handle it. That we can put our faith in a community of people. I’ve prayed every place we’ve lived for people to build a community for us, one that lifts us up. And the Lord has never let me down in this way. When we moved to Salt Lake and knew absolutely zero people, we found the most genuine and loving community I’ve ever experienced. We’ve found it here in Michigan, and we are looking forward to it going back west. In Michigan I learned that I want to be that person for my friends- the one who meets them in their times of darkness, who loves them through the messy and trying times. Sometimes we receive the goodness from others and sometimes we have to be it. Different seasons mean different roles.
I normally have some sort of a challenge to add here, some way to connect you to the story I’m telling. But today I don’t have one. I’m just overjoyed at the next chapter ahead of us and I couldn’t wait to share it with you. Thanks for hearing me and for joining me on our family’s endless whirlwind of adventures. It’s great to be able to come here and unwind my thoughts as I wrap my head around what’s next for us. (Side note- all these photos are from our time here in Michigan, because we truly have loved every bit of it.)
And Salt Lake City, dear, precious, beautiful place tucked into the mountains and the desert and full of all the things we love, get ready. The Halciks are coming home. And this time we’ll never leave.