Making Home In a New Place

Within one month, I flipped it all over.

New job, new company; new city, new state, new community. New. It’s as if the moment I made my decision to leave Smog City was the same moment that everything moved easily and quickly to guide me into a new adventure in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I accepted a new opportunity to do cool work with creative and visionary people. while also finding a nook within this new work-home where I can offer value and find mutual “flow” as the director of business development.

As far as career and location are concerned, I’ve never thought in permanent terms. I’d like to! Heck, it’d be a lot easier on the nerves if I did. But I don’t. I’m willing to seek out alignment in my career with where I want to live. That’s why I’ve moved more often than people my age, and how I create community whenever a “flipped it all over” moment arises.

With each new city comes a new climate, a new culture, a new local fruit I’ve never heard of, and a new need to look inward at my habits: what’s worth keeping because it heals me, and what’s worth archiving in order to make new space for the city I’m going to call home. It’s hard to keep all the habits and “all the things” when you move, because attaching to everything doesn’t ever — in my experience — allow for the richness of wherever you’re going to seep deep into your bones and allow you to find your new pace amongst fresh scenery. It’s not to say that my way is right for each person’s own assimilation process, and there are definitely layers to it and how to mindfully approach a new move. Ultimately, though, it’s important to give space and kindness to yourself once you’re there, and lean into the communities while knowing your “platforms,” the ways you keep your mental home intact and in balance.

The tried-and-true tangible platforms I stand on to feel more quickly at home every time I move are:

  • Animals
  • Yoga
  • Books
  • Markets

The Animals

This one doesn’t quite apply to those weird people with whom I don’t fraternize ;) — the non-animal loving people. So, for those of you who don’t understand the act of just going to a shelter to pet dogs and cats and slowly torture yourself because you can’t bring them all home, I’d imagine the equivalent to this trick would be working under your antique car, or strolling around in nature with your headphones on and the daydreams turned up loud. The animal shelter is purely selfish, people. Truly, it’s a place I can go, receive unconditional love from puppies, dogs, kittens, and cats — no age discrimination here — and get out of the house while not entirely having to leave my head.

When you move to a new place, there’s a ton of thoughts and to-do lists that circle your brain throughout the day. So, my place to “be out without being out” is the animal shelter. Your place — for those aforementioned “non-animal lovers” out there — might be different, but the point is to find a location that gets you out of the house while not requiring a ton of energy from your already tired-from-moving self.

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To find a place near you, Google “volunteer animal shelter” to see all the shelters that need and welcome volunteers and some human-love to these kind creatures.

The Yoga

I might not consistently practice outside of my home, but I consistently find my first taste of community within a yoga studio or yoga meetup. I do it for my mind and it’s a constant reminder to reject the idea of perfectionism (because no matter how long you’ve had a practice, you will never be “perfect” on the mat. That’s not what it’s there for, anyway).

Yoga can be a place where I walk in, completely in my head and nervous and wanting to run out every second I’m there because it’s a new studio and new people, OR it can also be a place where there’s a welcoming tone, big smiles, rejection of unhealthy competitiveness, and a place to explore your boundaries and bulldoze past your limits. If you can withstand the nerves in the first scenario, the reward of the second is totally worth it.

In my yoga practice, I find people who are just as curious about life, and I tend to find people that want to explore other areas of the city as well: meditation centers, exploratory bike rides, talking shop, or talking philosophy. (Side note: such an extra blessing when you get to recycle one community into multiple communities!) Ultimately, this is my place where I start. You can’t have a home without a community, and you can’t have a community without connecting to people on a genuine level, ideally sharing similar interests. Your community might be a recreational sports team, some nearby family who introduce you to new people and communities, the bar you often frequent and decide to actually introduce yourself to the staff, or the interest group that’s themed after your favorite novel series or phone game (I’m looking at you, Pokemon Go).

The bottom line is that if you’ve moved to someplace new without many people you already know, it’s vital for your health (seriously) to jump into a group of people who are more apt to share your interests and explore your new city with you.

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The Books

The books, the books, the books are on fire! Ok, I’m sorry for that one. I might be drinking caffeine right now. Anyway, the books! Every move I’ve made has begun with a library card. It’s the first thing I do that sets my mental tone for “This is home; for however long it might be, I don’t know, but right now this is home.”

It makes me feel like I’m part of the inside crew. It also gives me comfort in knowing that there’s an alternative to a coffee shop or my living room to go and read, unplug, and create a little world for myself without having to actually be out in the world and entertaining.

I also love to read, so it’s a bonus on that front AND on the financial front.

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The Farmers Markets

Farmers markets have long been a place where I find a sense of built-in community. I strike up conversations and friendships so easily and genuinely in this environment that I almost feel home at a market even if it’s my first visit.

I fell in love with the markets back in Cleveland, Ohio, drawn to the support and food-trust they offered as I navigated allergies, sickness, and new knowledge about the food industry. Everything from small eateries to large family-owned and generationally owned farm offerings is appealing to this gal, here. I can people-watch, talk with a fellow newbie on the benefits of raw honey for the dreaded allergies that happen after a move, and just generally connect with a group of people promoting their business, their food, and their passions.

Markets come with a setup of shared priorities: support small, create sustainable food funnels, eat whole, eat real, and connect with each other — in person — once again. The more farmers markets have grown and become a “trend,” the more I actually find myself loving them! People of all backgrounds wander the vendor-lined streets ready to explore what will be on their dinner table this week. Talk about a melting pot.  

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How do you find home? Do you have a routine you employ when you move, or have you ever had to reimagine your “home” without moving? You can live someplace all your life, yet have mentally moved and reimagined the city according to your growth a million times. How do you find balance, excitement, and community when you have a deep sense of newness within you?