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I'm a writer, a freelancer, a crafter, a nail polish mixatrix, a tea drinker, an unconventional life-liver, a journaling junkie, an introvert, a chronic-pain-sufferer, an idealist, a geek, a TV-lover. Welcome to my corner of the web!

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Thursday, March 10, 2016

What to do with a restless heart


I was practically born on the road. I had my first plane ride when I was less than a year old. Within months of being born, we moved to a different state, then a second different state, then a whole other country on a different continent before I was two and a half. My entire childhood, I never lived in one country more than four years, and usually inside those four years, we lived in at least two different homes. Since we came back to the states, I've switched apartments every few years, and these past five years, I've lived in six homes in three cities in two different states.

Which is all to say, I know restless.

I'm not complaining; I like it better that way, being able to up and move whenever things start to feel suffocating. But there's a difference between moving because you want to, and moving because you have to, and it's the second one that I've been living in, so the restlessness has been growing. Do you guys get restless like this? That itch in your bones that tells you you need to be somewhere else?

But moving state to state has gotten really expensive, especially without the military paying for the move like they did when I was a kid, and moving to another country is so much more expensive (not to mention complicated by paperwork), and so I have had to find ways to deal with this restlessness without just pulling up stakes and going. Here's some coping mechanisms. Share yours in the comments!

  • Plan your moves instead of being impulsive about them. Where before, I had the chance to just go, now, I make it a goal and research it, put money aside, research the place I'm aiming at. Make sure your passport and paperwork is up to date. See what you need to be aware of, and make a list. Make a chart and tick off the squares! It's like a release valve for the restlessness, keeping it manageable! And bonus: when you're done with that, you actually get to go somewhere!
  • Take advantage of smaller trips that come your way. A trip to see a friend or family member in a different city for a day. A trip across town to a new area you haven't explored before. A school trip or a trip sponsored by a group you're part of. Local tours. Free events. Act like a traveler in the place you live and for a day or three it'll feel like a new place.
  • Rearrange your space. A lot of times, the urge to move is really the urge to take control of your life and / or to shake things up, and you can get that same payoff (tho smaller) by changing how your house is set up--either the whole thing, or just the space where you spend the most time. Move all the furniture. Paint the walls. Declutter. Organize everything in a new way to see if it works.
  • Rearrange yourself. Personal changes do the same take-control work on your psyche, so change your haircut. Pierce something. Get a new tattoo. Dye your hair. Wear new clothes. Change how you do your makeup. Make sure that you won't regret it later if it's a permanent change, and then go for it. Also in this category: Get your shit together! Making plans and working toward them, knowing what your goals and values are, checking in with yourself, all of those are ways to manage restlessness when restlessness is a sign that something isn't the way you're meant to be.
  • Read travel books and watch movies and shows about places you want to go. I love travel narratives*, stories of how people got places and what they did when they were there. It's a much cheaper way of experiencing foreign and distant places than going there yourself, and it gives you new layers of information for when you're planning your own trips. Reading and watching are a second hand but direct way of experiencing things, and travel narratives are a good way to get that hit without having to actually do it.
  • Write about it. I mean, I'm a writer, you knew this was going to be on the list! Write a story about someone traveling, or set where you want to go. Journal it out, and see if you can pinpoint why you want to go and how you want to do it. Blog about it! Make a pinterest board about the places you want to go and the traveling life you want to have--that's totally just visual writing.
Sometimes, the feeling will pass, and you can get back to your life. Sometimes, the feeling is the first step to realizing that you've wound up somewhere you didn't want to be and you would like to make a change, and if managing the restlessness doesn't ease it, then move on to actual plans. Be bold. Sometimes all you need is a new place to be. Sometimes, you just need to get back  in touch with the place where you are.

How do you handle that itch to leave?

*I like the funny ones: Tim Cahill and Bill Bryson are amazing, and have several books each to plow through. Also, there's always collections of smaller essays and articles in every place where you can get used books, and that's a great way to find new writers to follow. Our local library book sale always has piles of books about Tuscany; I'm not sure if that means there's more about there than everywhere else, or if there's a slant because of who orders the books or decides which go to the sale.

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