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Fierce Forward | An Empowerment Brand by Ashley Johns

10 Lessons We Learned From Moving Cross Country & Back

Last Saturday, we pulled into Indianapolis, Mark in the Uhaul and me and Axel in the jeep. A little over a year ago, we left Indiana to see what else was out there. At the time, Mark and I were both curious to see if we should try something we’ve always wanted to try: move to another part of the country. We were two years into a house I truly loved and he was ready to move on from his job of 10+ years in inside sales.

We both felt we were standing at a crossroads in our life, wondering what else could be out there for us.

We decided we didn’t want to have regrets in our life so we sold the house, picked Austin and moved.

Leaving our home in Indiana for Austin

When we first got to Austin and got settled in, I really thought by taking this courageous leap that the best things would be waiting for us on the other side. Except, things didn’t turn out that way. I think I believed it would be easier than it was. Mark had a difficult time finding a job, the cost of living was almost triple what we were used to paying in Indiana and making friends was more difficult than we expected. 

In our minds, we felt like we jumped across the chasm and missed the land. It was a really hard adjustment for both of us. Stress, anxiety and worry were always with us and it was hard to get ahead when we were just trying to stay afloat. Eventually, our lease was ending and Mark’s less than desirable phone sales job and our uncertainty that austin was the right place for us led us to Miami. 

Miami was the toughest. Everything to get there seemed to be an uphill battle. We lost our little kitty son Leo the first hour into the drive. The movers told us to watch our backs for the people in Miami and be careful with making friends, that most people are looking out for themselves. Let’s just say it was not a great introduction into our new residence. Everything that could have gone wrong seemed to go wrong.

The first two days after arriving, our car windows were vandalized and smashed in. 

On top of all the little things and losing Leo, we still weren’t having luck finding ground with Mark’s job search.

There was always this underlying stress.

At the same time, I wasn’t doing well with the new move and the people I was experiencing in Miami. We sold our car so only had one for mark to go to work. I was stuck. And that was the hardest thing for me. I really felt isolated. We got to a point where we hit a breaking point with everything. We wondered if we made a huge mistake in ever leaving.

I poured a glass of wine and I made mark a whiskey and coke and we sat down and white boarded it out. What we came to realize from writing down our top lessons is that we didn’t in fact make a mistake. We just needed to regroup and look at what this journey has given us. Most of the time we felt all it had done was take from us, until we looked at the big picture.

After coming up with these top 10 lessons together, we sat down and looked at each other. We knew we had to go back to Indiana. We knew our journey had come to an end here and that we needed to start building something for ourselves.

Our last night in Miami before we left the next day

Something that would give us stability, bring us closer to friends and family and mostly, would bring us to a place we could thrive and build this next chapter of our lives.

Here are the 10 lessons we learned from this journey.

10 lessons we learned from moving cross country & back

1. Don’t give up your day job for no job. It would have been smarter of us to have another job lined up for mark instead of just relying on our savings and winging it. Winging it didn’t turn out well in this case. It added alot of financial stress.

2. People make the difference. We learned how difficult it is to make new friends and that the experiences and living somewhere cool is great but without people, it’s less rich. It’s the people that enrich our lives. 

3. You can never save enough. We realized how important it is to be a saver and not a spender and that we don’t need things to fill us up. Saving is one of our biggest goals as a couple now. 

4. Know where you’re going and why. Be clear. This has been a tough lesson for both of us, as a team and individually. We never thought of ourselves as unclear. Turns out, we both were running towards something, propelled by things we were running from. We learned along the way that we weren’t following a clear path, we just wanted a new path. We didn’t really know what we were moving towards or why. We were following emotion and that’s it. To us now, being clear means knowing where you’re going and why. Knowing what you’re building. That’s key.

5. Don’t make decisions solely on emotion. We did this multiple times. And while I do believe our emotions can point us to what we most value and love and can often be the first step in identifying what’s most important to us and what we want, I think logic has to come in next. Us moving to Miami, while in hindsight was not a mistake, now, we would do it differently. We moved to Miami when we should have moved back to Indiana at that time. But our emotions got the best of us. So did our pride.

We didn’t want to think we failed and had to go back where we started, so we saw it through. Miami was the straw that broke the camels back and sometimes we need to learn the hard lessons so they really register. When we decided to move back, there was alot less emotion involved and much more logic. It was a well thought out plan that benefited us in the long run and across the board. Logic has to always be involved in big decisions.

6. You can be happy with less. We started our move by leaving a 2500 square foot home and a 28′ Uhaul. We came back in a half filled 26 footer we got by accident when we planned for a 20′. We now live in a little home in Indy that I’m so happy in. It’s not the things or the quantity in our lives, it’s the quality in our lives. We shed so much along the way, alot of things, beliefs and ways of living that mostly felt overwhelming, clustered and unclear. We’ve cleared room in our lives for what really matters. And less is more.

7. Wherever you go, there you are. I honestly thought I would feel differently in my life and in myself when we moved. I was craving a different feeling and every time we went somewhere new, there I was. I learned that if we want to feel differently, it’s not going to be found in a new location, a new experience or new things in our lives. It can only be found in our own self exploration. 

8. The grass usually isn’t greener. Truth.

9. Pivoting does not equal failure. When we got to the point of knowing we would need to go back to the place we started this whole journey, we had to really work through our pride about this not working. We felt we gave up so much and went through such a hard time for it to not pan out how we thought it would or maybe even wanted initially. What I saw in this was that it was keeping us from taking action we needed to take.

We needed to pivot and if we kept doing what we always did for fear of what pivoting would mean, we were never going to be able to build in our lives. We’d always be just trying to get by. Letting down the curtains of our pride, we could face it and come up with a new mantra to move us forward. Pivoting does not equal failure. 

10. Trust the path. The path was definitely not linear. It wasn’t gallantly leaping across a chasm, hands entwined, landing on the other side with angels singing a chorus for our welcome. No, it was jumping off the chasm and landing tooth and nail on the other side, turning to each other and making our way up. Rising to the other side, marred and dirty. But ready. And stronger than if we would have just landed with soft feet on the other side. And for that, I’m so grateful. Trust the path. Trust your path. 

*11. To thrive, you have to learn how to survive. Throughout this whole journey, I interestingly felt disconnected to my mantra, Fierce Forward. I questioned if I was truly doing that and what that even means to me at this point in my life. This trip changed me. It changed us. We didn’t thrive in the way we thought we would. Alot of times, we were just trying to keep head above water. Most of the time. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned that came to me after writing our top 10 down was that you can’t thrive if you’re trying to survive. BUT, sometimes we have to be in the process of survival, of challenging experiences we aren’t sure how we’ll make it out of alive.

These moments of our lives are our greatest teachers. And they show us an uncharted path we maybe wouldn’t have taken if we knew what we would have to do to chart it. What we would have to give up. How we would have to feel along the way. And by charting this path and facing our most fiery challenges, they point us to a path of thriving in a way we never would have been able to if we didn’t have to learn how to survive. It all matters. The whole journey and everything that comes with us matters. All you have to do is be the student. Never stop learning, growing and seeking the lesson. 

Fierce Forward,

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