How to Navigate Big Life Changes

Jessie Uncategorized 4 Comments

Inhale.

Exhale.

It’s been a strange time.

Three weeks ago, we moved into a new house across town. It was a dream come true.

And as most dreams-come-true are, it was also incredibly overwhelming.

Good things often come in stressful packages. This was ours:

First, my enthusiastic husband Rick took on too many boxes and exacerbated some old knee injuries (yes, plural, poor guy). He was a rockstar getting us out of the house, but once in the new one, he could barely walk. So in spite of his protests, the ball was in my court to get our new place functional so we could have a change of clothes and stop living off of takeout.

Which would have been fine, except…

The day of the move, our movers couldn’t fit everything in the truck. Which meant there was still a good number of boxes left at the old house. And some were important boxes!

Have you ever realized how many bowls you use in a given week? And have you ever thought about how tupperware makes for an extremely lackluster cereal experience?

We were bowl-less and many-other-things-less, and we need to rent a van to get the rest of the stuff to the new place.

Which would have been fine, except…

Rewind to early last month. I had been waking at 5:30 am every morning for a week straight. As a solid 8:30 am riser, this was unusual. But then, as someone who also has never gotten more than 5 hours of sleep on Christmas Eve due to excitement-induced adrenaline (every. year.), it made some sense. We were in the process of buying a house. Everything was a very exciting time.

…But a week’s worth of early rising? That seemed odd.

I didn’t think too much of it at first. But then I got suspicious.

Turns out a week straight of adrenaline is not a symptom of getting a new house. But you know what it could be a symptom of?

Pregnancy 🙃

Introducing my new project, launching June 2022

Holy moly, we’re having a baby.

For those who want details (I certainly don’t expect everyone to), it’s still the early days of turning our alien blob into something recognizably baby-like. I’m only around 9-10 weeks—still in the scary zone of uncertainty. I’ll feel calmer after the next ultrasound. So far I’ve been blessed with limited nausea, but the physical exhaustion has me spending my days sleepwalking (and often sleep…sleeping).

We’re definitely excited and incredibly grateful for these huge developments. And there’s also the reality that for the past few weeks we’ve two people with batteries constantly below 10% trying to pull off some gigantic projects, like getting a house ready to sell and trying to find that damn cord/shirt/kitchen appliance (I-know-it’s-gotta-be-in-one-of-these-boxes).

But things are finally looking up. So, with time to reflect on this whole experience, here are a few things I’ve learned about those times in your life where everything is so beautiful and so hilariously difficult all at once.

Muddling through the big life transitions

Side story: The last time I felt like this, we were planning a wedding and moving house at the same time. I wish I’d known these lessons then.

1. Get some freakin’ help

We are lucky to have family members in town who are able-bodied and who like us enough to help us through this messy time. Because of them, we were able to get the rest of the boxes to the new place without causing worse damage to Rick’s knees. We also invested in house cleaners for the old house and movers who took care of the bulk of the move.

But if we didn’t have the financial resources or relationships to make all of that happen, I’d have been on Facebook trying to loop people in with promises of pizza and good vibes.

Many of us are painfully disconnected from community. We don’t want to be a burden on the people we know, even in times when we really need it. But humans naturally tend to enjoy helping each other! It’s in our DNA. Don’t be afraid to reach out, either individually or by making a public plea. Let people surprise you.

2. Look for tasks that give you back more time

What could you spend your time on today that would give you more time tomorrow?

With a house full of boxes, I’ve had to stay ruthlessly prioritized. That meant first getting to a minimum-viable-kitchen and a minimum-viable-closet. Then, it meant spending my awake-brain hours unpacking the boxes on the kitchen counters to have space to cook meals in a lot less time.

Whether you’re moving, changing family structure, getting a busier job, seek optimizations.

A few things that I’ve done in the past or am planning on doing:

  • Meal planning
  • Figuring out a real cleaning schedule that works for me
  • Shopping for low-maintenance clothing that I don’t need to hand wash
  • Getting boxes to organize inside the pantry, under sinks, and in drawers (these don’t need to be fancy—I love reusing shoeboxes and gift boxes)

3. Expect big emotions

My Life (In Lists): Emotions, Schemotions

A few nights after we moved in, I was down in the pits. Nothing was unpacked, the kitchen was a mess, I had tried to nap (unsuccessfully) three times that day, and I was now horizontal on the couch with Rick—who was in pain from his knees and also exhausted from pain-induced insomnia. I was a whimpering ball of self pity, he was trying to avoid being dragged down with me, and neither of us could easily leave. So we lay there, feeling miserable and being little pains in each other’s asses.

But as we grumbled at each other, I eventually remembered that sometimes life is shitty, and it’s okay that it’s shitty. So while you can’t change the way things are, you can change your expectations about them. You can change your reaction. It’s a whole lot easier to simply accept that things such and to remember that transitions are transitory. This too shall pass.

And similarly, you don’t need to feel ashamed about your emotions. You don’t need to feel bad about feeling bad—one level of feeling bad is plenty. We think that good things come with good emotions, and bad things come with bad emotions. But it’s more like big things come with big emotions—and you get the full spectrum. This is normal.

4. Prioritize yourself

Right before the move, I made the very difficult decision to resign from my job. Yes—my dream job that I started just this summer.

It took a long time to come to that decision. But ultimately, I decided that it’s okay to put myself first. It’s even vital. Especially as women, we’re conditioned to put others’ needs before ours. But prioritizing yourself doesn’t make you a jackass (as long as you don’t, you know, act like a jackass). It means you’re taking care of yourself.

You’re allowed to do what you need to to survive. And what you need to do to come alive. Even if it inconveniences others.

I am very glad that I made that call, and I’m incredibly grateful that we’re in a place financially where it was an option. Leaving was bittersweet—my team was absolutely amazing, and frankly, I’m sure my leaving caused a lot of stress for them. But by making that decision, my quality of life increased tenfold.

When you become essentially bedridden at 1 o’clock almost every day, having those precious morning hours back to do life tasks is an absolute game changer.

So, what’s next?

I’m happy to report that things have mellowed out. Our house is semi-functional (minus the continual labyrinth of boxes; see Exhibit A), Rick’s knees have begun to feel better, and even our pets have calmed down. (Our stressed kitty yowled for 24 hours straight when we first arrived!)

Exhibit A

I’m now looking forward to having time to write and create again in the coming months, especially as my energy levels stabilize. I always tend to promise content that I don’t end up making (the best laid plans, etc.), but I would like to say that I am very excited to share with you the systems and processes I’ll be using to make this house feel like ours. I’ll also share a few pregnancy updates once in a while, but since that’s not my main focus here, I’ll be keeping that to a minimum for now.

In the meantime, I hope you are enjoying your November. Winter in the desert is just a less-hot summer, so please enjoy the frosty air and cozy vibes for me!

– Jessie


Feature image by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Comments 4

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  1. Congratulations on your first little love trophy, 🙂 I’m now engaged at the ripe old age of 44 and I don’t see children, but, I know what it feels like to be overwhelmed. A new house and a baby on the way will do that. Love the post’s, keep’em coming 🙂 Congrats again 🙂

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