Thanks for following along, everyone!
Here's some more tidbits I’ve learned over the past year since relocating my life (and CurlyRed) 200 miles west to Garrett County, MD:
6. It’s easy to become overcommitted anywhere. As I shared last week, being overcommitted and having little or no margin in my life was a driving force in our move.
But even before we moved, as I was thinking about our new lives here, I realized something about myself: I’m an oldest child, and a people-pleaser by nature. My inclination is to say “yes” to anything anyone asks of me, even if it's not the best fit or may be emotionally/physically/mentally draining.
When you move to a small town, folks quickly figure out what you’re about, what you’re good at, and what you might be willing to do. So I needed to do the work of really evaluating each request that came my way, and be extremely selective about the things I say “yes” to. This book really helped me in this area.
7. Business dynamics in a small town are WAY different from doing business in and around a major city. Ahhh, yes. I could talk at length about this, but let’s just say: Garrett County is a very small community. Every person I’ve met here has long-time, deep connections with folks in every industry. Everyone has strong opinions about the best accountant (I'm looking at you, Brian Boal!), the best dentist, the best internet provider.
CurlyRed has plenty of clients, both nationally and in the Baltimore area. But I was also hoping to grow locally. Being completely new to the area put me at a disadvantage (I am married to a quasi-local, so that does help a bit). Locals here are slow to trust outsiders. But I was also not privy to local businesses and their backstories—good and bad relationships, reputations, etc. So when I (blindly) stumbled into a sticky situation with a client and the competition of said client (with a complicated backstory), I remember feeling like this wouldn't have happened if this business was located in Baltimore. It's been a steep learning curve, to say the least.
8. It hasn't gotten easier to not have family around. I hadn’t realized just how fortunate I was to have both of my parents and one of my two siblings less than 30 minutes away for so many years. Family is so incredibly important to both of us, so we’ve needed to increase the texts, phone calls, emails, and plans to visit for weekends and/or holidays to make up the difference.
9. A tight-knit network of neighbors and friends does make the absence of family more bearable. We’ve been so blessed to land in a neighborhood of some incredibly awesome folks (and several of them have kids the same age as ours). Our kids love spending time together, they have great taste in food and drinks, and make great conversation around a fire pit. But even better, they’ve helped out countless times when Mark or I have had meetings, doctor appointments, or a ride to pick up our car from the shop. And we’ve, in turn, been able to serve our neighbors in this same capacity.
As I talked about last week, having friends nearby has been a great answer to homesickness. In the isolating wintertime, it became even more important for me to seek out community. I planned girls’ nights out, had friends over for coffee or dinner, and auditioned for the town play in order to meet even more like-minded folks.
10. At the end of the day, most people don't care where CurlyRed is located. I worried about this so much when we moved. Now it seems almost silly. I mean, I had set up my business to run from anywhere, and my clients have become accustomed to see me in person maybe once or twice a year. As long as CurlyRed could continue doing creative, unique work while providing great customer service and maintaining those client relationships, all I really needed was reliable high-speed internet and time to take phone/video meetings.
Now that Mark is working for CurlyRed full-time, we have this unique opportunity as a family to physically be wherever we want and do our work. We’re hoping this will lead to even more adventures moving forward. We’re already talking about taking a month, maybe the summer after next, to drive across the entire county. It's something I've always wanted to do, and now it won’t require winning the lottery or using 5 years of vacation time—it will only require a little advance planning.
Thanks again for reading! Stay tuned for more life lessons next week.