Sunday, January 12, 2014

Two Years and Counting

I can't recall exactly where I've heard it, but it seems to come up a lot in conversation, this idea that it takes two years to feel at home in a new community. And maybe I'm paying particular attention to that folk wisdom as my husband and I entered this new year as two year residents on this island.

I know settling in can be done faster, and I think particularly of military families with children in school, and clergy in the United Methodist churches, finding themselves appointed for year-long stints in locations they didn't choose. They jump into their jobs and into community building; they don't have time to "waste."

It's different moving to a community you've selected based on intuition and feel without a particular role or position. In that way it's more like retiring, moving to a place you think you'll feel comfortable. I laugh now at my own naiveté, thinking that when my husband and I moved 900 miles from our friends and family, we would live largely the same life we did in California, just a bit more enlightened in a new location.

In California we had an unground doughboy swimming pool. I did a lot of floating reading.

I learned to knit and felt in California. An interstate hobby.

We hosted most of the family gatherings in California.

Maybe because we are surrounded by familiar furniture and dishes and pets the new didn't feel stark and glaringly unfamiliar, it felt welcoming, richness to uncover, beauty to explore. And yet, since we chose to remodel a home with our own two (four) hands, those two (four) hands needed to spend most of their time in our home running drills, wielding crowbars, rolling paint, sawing trim, drawing plans.
The pets are happy as long as someone's in bed somewhere.

We didn't invite strangers to dinner when remodeling, does anyone? We got used to climbing over boxes and building materials stacked in the dining room, and our old friends and family didn't think twice, but the neighbor's we just met? We were reluctant to find out.

Would you entertain in this disarray? We ate out.

When your home and its renovation (as well as looking for a job) becomes your job, you don't sign up for dance lessons or yoga classes. You don't take up a new hobby and join the amateur astronomy club or become a wooden boat aficionado.

But that's not a permanent state. When unemployment benefits ran out, we could call ourselves entrepreneurs instead of out-of-work. My husband began making contacts and connections in the construction trades working side-by-side with those he hired. I volunteered to help with a church event (and was put in charge of organizing it). We began to have responsibilities outside our home, deadlines and projects that didn't always involve each other.
Ready for his first day at the project house.

The two-year mark was approaching and we had places to be and people to meet.... My husband has become a real estate investor and employer, with all the joys and headaches that come along with running a business and dealing with county regulations. A contractor is finishing up the to-do list on our home remodel, and freed from those daily responsibilities (and from weed pulling in the winter) I find myself organizing a church event, having my first book released, and leading my first series of spiritual writing workshops in Washington, all within one week of each other.

What happens next is open for exploration, but our gifts and talents have been uncorked, and wherever we go, it's clear we're meant to use them.

On the theme of using our gifts and talents,  invite you to listen to my latest poem "Full Ablaze" on my website.

Let your light shine!

I also invite you to spread the word about my book of poetry, Burnt Offerings, which is out on Tuesday, January 14, at

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