February 9, 2017

A Little Secret for Surviving Big Life Changes (from a 75-year-old).

When my husband realized that we had to move to San Diego to pursue the growth of his company, I had lived in Tucson for almost 50 years.

During that time, a complete change of scenery wasn’t something I’d had to deal with.

It’s not like I didn’t move houses over those 50 years—I did—but the houses were, relatively speaking, a mere one or two Saguaro Cacti away from each other.

There was no difference greater than the floor plans of the houses themselves and there wasn’t a lot of change for me to deal with.

The weather wasn’t different. The culture wasn’t different. The tacos weren’t different and I still went to the same massage therapist, hair salon and yoga studio.

In other words: I changed houses, but everything else stayed the same.

Moving to San Diego, however, meant there would be lots of changes.

Over the years though, I have learned that the best way to deal with them—especially planned ones—is to make a decision ahead of time to accept them.

So, even though at 75-years-old I’m not supposed to “like” change, I made a decision to like San Diego, just like I had decided to like Tucson when I moved there from Los Angeles so many years ago.

At the time, there were smog alerts that warned the schools to keep children inside the classrooms all day and I had a six-year-old daughter that would virtually go stir crazy if she couldn’t go outside during recess to play. All I could think of at that time was that those smog alerts weren’t going to stop and my little girl would go mad trying to make nice with being indoors all day long.

“Get us out of L.A.,” I had told my husband the day he left for a job interview in Tucson. “Don’t come home and tell me they have to think about whether you’re right for the job or not.”

So he got the job in Tucson and we moved. When I got off the plane, I looked up and could actually see blue sky. I looked out and could see mountains all around. I looked at my future and could see my little girl being able to play outside at recess.

I didn’t look around and see the terrible pot-holed streets, the shabby neighborhoods and the 110 degree daytime temperatures.

I had decided I would like it there no matter what.

Was it an easy transition?

Having been raised on the Pacific Coast, it took me 10 years in Tucson to not hope to see the ocean’s vast blue/grey/green colors when I came over the top of a hill. But I didn’t dwell on it.

I finally did get used to all the bugs in the desert—although the first time I hung clothes on the line and a grasshopper the size of my head landed on the sheet next to me, I literally dropped my basket of laundry and ran into the house, terrified.

Grasshoppers and all, it amounted to change, but I had made my decision to not allow it to deter me from feeling at home and simply never looked back.

Now I have returned to Southern California, not to Los Angeles, but to San Diego.

No smog (California handled that issue long ago), great Mexican food, lush green hillsides (some of which don’t even have houses on them), sweeping views, grand avenues, a fabulous downtown, world-class libraries and museums, and the Pacific Ocean.

And here’s the best part: The weather is actually nicer in San Diego than in Tucson with the cold not as cold, and the warm not as warm.

What I don’t look at in San Diego are the crowded freeways, the homelessness all around, having to keep all the doors locked, and it not being a good idea to leave stuff in the car overnight on the street. These are some differences I’m not focussing on right now so that I can commit to liking my new surroundings no matter what.

In the meantime, it’s interesting how making comparisons or hanging on to memories of old familiar places, haunts, and even restaurants can make things difficult and even keep us from moving forward with our lives.

With a single, simple decision such as, “I’m going to like this change no matter what,” the difficulties disappear and most of the sadness lifts.

Right now, however, the biggest challenge I face in San Diego is of an entirely different nature: finding a way to keep my hair from getting frizzy.




Author: Carmelene Siani

Image: Priscilla Westra/Unsplash

Editor: Travis May


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