What I've Learned: Part Three

Published: September 20, 2017

Happy Wednesday, friends! That is the last installment of a three-part series (you can find part one here and part two here). 

These are some of the most important things I’ve learned since moving our family and my business 200 miles west, from Baltimore to Mountain Lake Park, MD (near the West Virginia line). I hope these small tidbits of wisdom are helpful and inspiring.

So on to my last 5 life lessons (for now): 

1. Our new home is perfect for visitors, but even that can become a burden. What a joy it is to have to the space to have not only one, but two guests bedrooms, plus a large yard, etc. Over the past year, we have had the privilege of hosting a cast party for a play I was in, an end-of-the-season softball team party, a large 4th of July family weekend, several groups of friend weekend getaways, a 3-day middle-and-high-school retreat, and much more. 

Most of my favorite memories in this house have come from these various events. But hosting is tough work, and I realized that even opening our house to guests too frequently would not be a wise decision for my sanity. We now ensure that we have a balance of “empty weekends,” when we’re not hosting out-of-town guests or a gathering of some kind.

2. Instagram has done wonders for my brand. Doing my one-photo-a-day project was not only good for my inner life, but it’s helped me find a social media outlet that is really in line with my personal and business brands.  Instagram has been a great place to share discoveries in my life, my work portfolio, and work-related announcements to a strong following of friends, family, and others that share my values. You can read more about what I've learned about Instagram here.

3. Husbands and wives can work together to create amazing things (without killing each other). When Mark began working for CurlyRed full-time in February, it all could have gone horribly wrong. I mean, we already spend a lot of time together, given that we’ve moved to an area where we’ve had to make new friends, find new babysitters, and people tend to go into hibernation in the winter.

A husband and wife team wouldn’t work (understandably) for many, many people. Work roles and responsibilities need to be firmly established in advance. You need to take steps to create boundaries to divide time into work, and when work shouldn’t even be discussed.

But for us: it's been a wonderful 6 months. Mark is not only extremely talented and knowledgeable at what he does, but our work styles very much compliment one another. We both like quiet times. We often have brief internal meetings over coffee in our living room before our work day begins to discuss projects and to-dos. We now collaborate on much more—which gives me the freedom to hand off more of the day-to-day items that I didn't enjoy, and has resulted (in my opinion) in stronger, more balanced work. I can think of worse ways to spend my days than with my best friend.

4. I still find plenty of reasons to return to my hometown. Next week I’ll once again be in Baltimore for a few days—and I’m really looking forward to it. From a work perspective, visiting in person with my clients and presenting at conferences has been extremely valuable. But spending time in Baltimore with family and old friends, going to weddings and Orioles games, visiting our former home church, etc., has done so much to make this move easier. It fills up my tank and gives me more perspective and appreciation of my life in Western Maryland. (Listening to books on CD from the local library makes the long drive pretty painless as well.)

5. Taking calculated risks often make sense if you’re not too tied to the expected outcome. Let me explain: Last summer, we held our hands wide open when we decided to make this life change. We went into it embracing the possibility that IT COULD BE A HUGE MISTAKE.

At the end of the day, would that be such a terrible thing? Either way, it would be an adventure, a cool story to tell. Two years down the road, we could always throw in the towel, move back to Baltimore, find a different path. Not going into this move with these high expectations of what this change would bring made all the difference. At the end of the day, life really is too short to be stuck on doubt and “what-ifs.”

A small side note: Sometimes you have no choice but to be attached to the outcome. For instance: marriage. When you marry someone, I think most of us deeply desire to be with that person for a long, long time. Otherwise, why would one make such a commitment?

But if you have the choice to not be attached to the outcome of a decision, it is so freeing! And in most life decisions, even big changes, you can choose to keep your hands and eyes wide open and know that it’s rarely about the outcome, anyway. Real life happens in the process, the journey, the transformation that occurs when you’re brave enough to imagine a different life for yourself.

So go on. Try it. I dare you.

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