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How an Unexpected Relocation Emboldened a Shift in My Life Trajectory

How a move I didn't seek turned out to be exactly what I needed.

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How an Unexpected Relocation Emboldened a Shift in My Life Trajectory, from Raleigh North Carolina to Southern Florida.

Major career changes always happen for my husband when I’m out of town. I travel regularly, so it’s not unlikely things materialize while I’m away. Yet for whatever reasoning the universe has he is often left alone to deal with major life news and events when I’m halfway across the country or the world. He’s an adult and he can handle it. But as a supportive couple we like to lighten the load for one another in our relationship. After all, isn’t that part of the joy in being in a strong partnership?

I was basking in the sun at a round table in the courtyard of a hotel in Montana during a travel convention. I was happy to be outside of a conference room during our break on a beautiful day, chatting with peers over mediocre hotel food and good live music. As usual I was eating too many carbs, wondering if I could control the portion size of macaroni salad next go around.

My phone rang. It was unusual for my husband, Dan, to call at this time during a weekday, especially because I was at a conference. “Hi, what’s up? Are you okay?” I asked. He received a job offer. It was the dream job he’d been hoping for but last he heard from HR it was on hold. They weren’t filling it. He was taken aback when the company called to give him the unexpected good news. And he was still processing it when he called me. We loved where we lived in Raleigh and I asked if we would have to move. I knew it was a possibility – he always let me know when he had applied for a job in another location. But a possibility and actuality are two different things.

What followed was a quick trip for 48 hours to see if we liked South Florida. We had both lived in the state during former lives prior to meeting, but equally thought our Floridian existences had passed. Nevertheless here we were in the Sunshine State, driving through flooded roads during hurricane season. We drove around somewhat aimlessly trying to find a neighborhood that sparked good vibes within us while battling tears welling up inside. Thoughts of leaving the city we’d met and gotten married in, fell in love with over five years of residency, and saw a long term future swirled in our heads. Didn’t we just begin our search to buy a house in Raleigh to plant deeper roots there? We loved our friends. Our neighborhood hang out spots. Our location in the middle of the east coast.

He accepted the position – it would have been awful not to, in more ways than one – and we set out to build our lives again in a new area. He had immediate purpose in south Florida. But I was lost, wondering if rebuilding a photography business in a new city was worth it for the second time in ten years.

I would see things that reminded me of North Carolina and tears would start streaming down my face. Or I would think of more accessible airports in Fort Lauderdale and Miami and recognize a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Maybe this move could present changes I would welcome into our lives, especially as a travel writer.

I am an inherently positive person who tries to see the good in all things. Thus I leaned into this path being paved before me like a carpet being rolled out for a new adventure. I metaphorically held my husband’s hand and followed him to Fort Lauderdale deciding to look for signs that affirmed the move was best not just for him or us, but for me as well.

I was, and am, at a point in my photography career where I am feeling the effects of a changing market, like many industries in the 21st century. I had been evaluating many aspects of being a small business owner over the past year, trying to find the time to change for the better, seeing where I could cut what’s not working and improve processes. As such, I began realizing the move to a new market could be a chance for rediscovery. Not to start fresh: I have great experience and knowledge I never would, nor could, leave behind. But I have allowed a change of atmosphere, environment and resources to open my eyes to a possible rebirth.

I’m not the first person to move for a partner to support his dreams, just as he would for me. The hardest part about relocating somewhat unplanned and suddenly has been to find my purpose in Florida. What do I bring to the table in terms of our relationship in a new location and to the community in my career? Slowly but surely I’m finding it.

It’s in discovering someone I know from my industry unexpectedly lives nearby or loving that I can get an annual pass to Walt Disney World again as a Florida resident, even if it’s over three hours away. It’s in appreciating there are cruise ports close to our new home and hoping we set sail more than we have in the past. (Cruises are of mutual enjoyment to us.) It’s in simple things, like finding a local restaurant with a bartender we click with even though we already miss John, who runs the bar across the street from our place in Raleigh, terribly.

I sometimes yearn for our city in North Carolina, including the scenery and friends there. But this is our new life and we must live in the present. I choose to be grateful for it and not blinded to opportunities that lay in front of me, even if they’re seen through a haze of small teardrops in my eyes once in a while. Raleigh partially feels like a chapter in the rear view mirror for now. We’re enriched for having lived there just as we will be enriched by where we are now. Besides, true friends are always a phone call or plane ride away. The tears are drying up with the passing of every sunny day in Florida.

As the Rolling Stones song goes, “You can’t always get what you want…but if you try sometimes, well, you just might find you get what you need.” This now feels like an emboldening change I needed in life and my career rather than something that happened to me. Perhaps it happened for me.

A friend went through a similar move recently. Her husband chose to switch jobs because he was simply miserable with his past employer. They moved to an area of the United States she never expected to be in that’s imaginably a bit harder to find immediate joy in. Moving for work is a common occurrence for common logic. We are not alone.

I hope she, too, finds the positive spin on the trajectory of her life and uses it as a springboard for wonderful change in 2020, and the next decade, more than ever before. The palm trees in our new backyard sway as do our lives. We must face the sun, grow and expand from each new experience before us and lean into the trajectory of our lives.

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