I think this blog is about transition

5 Feb

I’ve made significant progress fighting anxiety in this new month. I sleep better (though still not enough) and I celebrate more. Instead of begrudging potentially losing my income, Aaron and I started to budget for it. What I learned from my January of self-pity is that transition hurts. And I think that’s what this blog is about.  How to recognize it, how to handle it, and how to move forward. Step one was to give myself permission to be sad. It took me until January 28 to finish writing my last post because I developed an “I can’t  deal with this right now” kind of headache with each attempted revision. When I finally wrote the not-making-fun-of-myself part of the entry, I started to cry. It hurt and I needed to feel it.

What a relief the rest of the weekend was. As Gretchen Rubin clarified for me, I became happier because I admitted I wasn’t happy.  The whole time Aaron was trying to cheer me up, I just wanted permission to be sad.

A child psychologist I saw on TV recently explained how to apply that same technique in dealing with a toddler tantrum. Simply acknowledging what the child is upset about can inherently calm him or her down. You don’t have to give in, just acknowledge.

I realized I’ve just compared myself to a creature that kicks and screams when it doesn’t get what it wants. But when we’re feeling hopeless, we’re all id. It’s not that much of a stretch.

I moved to Florida based on little to no research. I looked at home values a bit but most of my inquiry was into potential teaching positions in the local schools. I trusted my husband’s judgment on everything else since he had lived here temporarily while working on his master’s. I was a move-out-of-state virgin while Aaron was a pro. He may have attended college in his hometown but he followed that up with moving out of the country (Peace Corps), then to Colorado and Louisiana, then back to Virginia to meet me.

While I moved to different cities (okay, some were towns) in my home state, I never got enough continental wanderlust to jump ship for more than a vacation. A huge motivation behind this was to avoid changing everything at the DMV. Which moving-box-we-stuffed-in-a-closet holds my car title, again? Ugh.

Here’s the research I should’ve done, but neglected because I was planning my wedding, packing, and moving. And taking time to reflect on my crafting deficiencies. And without further self-centered linkage, here’s a bunch of statistics.

The median price of South Florida homes in December was $203,700, a decline of $11,000 from 2009. The market in Broward County, if you believe recent projections, won’t hit complete bottom until 2012. Fort Lauderdale values are still on the decline (-13.6% in 2011), which is worse than Phoenix (-12.8%) but better than Detroit (-15.1%). Topping the deflating market is Naples, FL, just around the peninsula from us, at -18.9 percent. This means buying a house on a tight budget might just be possible for this potentially one income family.

In contrast, $219,546 was the average price of homes in my former city of Richmond, VA. That sounds better until you consider that of the available properties on the market, the number of foreclosures almost matches the number of available houses.

Fannie Mae claims the median income for Broward County (2010-11) is $60,200. This was $13,000 lower than Richmond.

Virginians are fatter than Floridians but just barely (25.5 percent vs. 25.1 percent). We live across the street from Italians who coal fire everything on the menu. We just joined a new gym.

Other than the weather, South Florida’s biggest attraction is its diversity: everyone from everywhere moves to South Florida. Ten percent of all American Jews live here. Some have immigrated from Latin American countries, Arab nations, Russia, and even Israel. Unlike the rest of the Baptist-heavy South, Catholics comprise the majority of churchgoing Floridians. 16.7 percent of our population is Latino. That same percentage of the state’s people are internationally born. I know there’s a lot a fuss about immigration (some merited) but I teach many of these students: don’t fear them; learn from them.

Every 8th period, Columbian-born English learner “Juan” strides down the hallway sporting a faux-hawk and a smile and we repeat this exchange.

Me: [greeting him with a grin] “Juan!”

Juan: “Hey Teach-er!”

(He can’t pronounce my last name “Mullins,” since the sounds don’t make sense in Spanish.)

Juan is bright. He wants to learn. The light in his eyes when he does understand a concept hits me right in my gut. This is a kid who volunteered to read Ayn Rand out loud in class: he stumbled through some of the words and  his slow pace might have made some impatient classmates shuffle uncomfortably in their seats, but he finished that paragraph. I get self-conscious speaking my broken Spanish to him and he tells me not to worry, his English “no good, teach-er.”

He doesn’t have the luxury of choice I do.

He writes his essays in Spanglish and his eyes come alive when the topic allows him to write about his home village: the familiar, the comfortable, the known.

He’s in transition too.

Only he’s walking around with both hands tied behind his back.

And what am I so afraid of?

Sometimes being brave is easier when you have to.

Think about your major transitions. Please share in the comments how you adjusted and/or the lessons you learned. My ego desire to learn thanks you.

8 Responses to “I think this blog is about transition”

  1. luckyred2010 at 7:23 pm #

    I love this post! Your thoughts on happiness really hit home for me; it wasn’t until I admitted I was unhappy that my life completely turned around. Looking back, it kind of makes me want to cry…in a good way 🙂 Also, I totally miss teaching kids like Juan – those lightbulb moments are the best. Thanks for writing!

  2. gayleprice at 8:27 pm #

    We just read The Happiness Project for book club. Glad you’ve been able to read it. Measuring happiness is a “high class problem”. People like Juan’s family don’t have time to worry about whether they are happy enough.

    Transitions can be hard but anytime we have to change it can be hard. It’s not supposed to be easy. Hard to stop eating carbs, hard to stay at home with your kids or go to work and leave your kids, hard to choose between living close to one half of your family or the other, hard to put down your pet. If everything were easy we’d appreciate even less. And it’s okay to cry. Or to kick and scream if necessary. But at the end you have to get stronger and better because rolling over and being miserable isn’t good enough. We’re going through a huge transition here at home (though I could easily argue that we’ve been in flux for at least a year!) and I’ve sobbed, bawled actually, screamed and fussed, fumed and stomped for the better part of this week. I even burned myself (accidentally, not in protest) but ultimately I decided I need to put on my big girl panties and suck it up. We have a house, food, gas in the cars and people who love us. A whole lot more than a lot of people have. I realize none of that offers and perspective on what you’re going though but if it helps I can commiserate with you. 🙂

  3. Kara at 10:07 pm #

    “People like Juan’s family don’t have time to worry whether they are happy enough.”

    Gayle, so true! We have the luxury of pondering, analyzing, thinking too much. It ruins us at times. I acknowledge it and am moving forward gratefully.

  4. EE at 10:31 pm #

    Great post! I identified with the idea of feeling happier as soon as I acknowledged I wasn’t happy. I’ve also read articles about identifying with toddlers like that. It works. 🙂 My transition is ongoing, but I can say this: Feeling each emotion fully carries me through so much better than pretending I am ok.

  5. Jennifer at 2:35 am #

    Adult life is full of transitions. Most of the time, I feel like I’m just transitioning from one transition to another. For me, going from two to four children was harder than I could ever possibly imagine. I’m sure there are those out there who relish the thought, but it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And I was severely unhappy about it. Like you, I denied I was unhappy (because who wouldn’t be with two screaming infants and two more very young children who often cried as much as the babies?) and it wasn’t until I acknowledged how unhappy I truly was that I could start to pull myself out of it. I really thought that everyone in my similar place had a similar experience. And I made the mistake of thinking I could handle the stress and the isolation and the sleep deprivation because I AM superwoman. Denial, denial, denial. There are still days that are a struggle, but now I have more good days than bad. I’m trying to remember to soak it in instead of “just getting through it”. And I’m trying to remember how to laugh more.

    Nothing is permanent. That’s something my father-in-law reminded me of when we moved to Northern Virginia and I wasn’t happy about it. So when it’s really hard, I remind myself that it’s temporary. Tomorrow will be better.

  6. Sarah B. at 12:02 pm #

    Hey Kara,
    I enjoyed your post on this topic and I can certainly relate. I also echo a comment that one of your friends made earlier that life is one big transition. Not that comfort is a bad thing, but I think there is a certain amount of excitement that comes with the new challenge of new places, careers, hobbies etc.
    Hang in there. We miss you:)

  7. YM63 at 2:28 pm #

    My first year of marriage, right out of college, was an adjustment for sure. I had never had a full-time job, never kept a home, never lived with a husband, never cooked, and had to adjust to a new town filled with a predominantely acedemic atmosphere. It turned out to be one of the best times of our lives. Life is a constant flux of change in one way or the other. Just remember, things always work out somehow.


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