Maybe, but it doesn’t have to be.
Let’s back it up a bit.
I moved to Atlanta in March of this year, but it certainly wasn’t the first time I’ve done something like that. For my partner and I, individually and as a couple, getting to a place in our lives and our careers where we are fulfilled, empowered, and “home” has required A LOT of moving.
In 2006 I moved from Oregon to Chicago for graduate school– obviously there were closer schools, one less than an hour from home, but Northwestern was the one at the top of my list, and when I was accepted I didn’t even consider not going. Although it was hard to leave my family, my friends, and my home, I was excited about the possibilities ahead of me. It was a decision that I knew carried all the weight of creating a “totally different life.”
It didn’t take long before I had found a home in Chicago, too: I had a running route along the lake and through historic neighborhoods. I had parks I liked to spend time in when the weather was nice, and museums and libraries I enjoyed when it was too hot or too cold. I had coffee shops where I knew the baristas and could tuck into a corner to study. I wandered through “the loop” and marveled at the architecture, enjoying everything from the lights and the noise to the smells on the street and the unique personality each different neighborhood possessed. I love the city still, and am lucky enough to have friends there that I will always be able to reach out to.
But, post grad school, I was also happy to make the move back to Oregon to start work– my family was there, the friends I had grown up with were there, and there is something about the moss and forests and damp that gets into your blood, and I missed all of that in Chicago. After just shy of a decade in practice, I had learned the difference between working for a physician-owned clinic and working for a private practice. I had experience in large clinics and small, and I had worked for clinics with traditional approaches to healthcare and those that were more innovative and cutting edge. I refined my own style of practice and my treatment philosophy. I was lucky enough to work for some really incredible clinics, and I had been fortunate enough to have met more of the goals that I set for myself than not.
While I was expanding and refining my own practice, my partner, Roscoe, was growing his skills in digital content: photography, videography and branding. He has done freelance work for weddings, as well as commercial work with all types of companies, but had always loved the sports world best. After a few years slowly breaking into that arena, we started to realize that living our best life together might take us away from the place we called home. Away (again) from friends, family, and the places we loved.
Exploring Mount Hood in Oregon with my partner, Roscoe
When the call came from the Real Salt Lake organization, we moved to Utah so that Roscoe could help launch their women’s professional soccer team, the Utah Royals. It wasn’t an easy decision; there are always the “what if” questions that you struggle with, like, “What if the team doesn’t last?” “What if we hate Salt Lake City?” “What if I don’t find work?”
But, in the end, we knew it was the right move- even if it didn’t go perfectly. Although we didn’t immediately love Salt Lake and it did take me longer than I had expected to find work, eventually things started to fall into place.
The Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, Moab, Utah
Our work was rewarding– I found a clinic that supported my treatment style and my philosophy about healthcare with co-workers I enjoyed. Roscoe grew as an artist and a professional, made connections and formed friendships with those he worked with, and was proud to be working to highlight women’s soccer in a way that it hadn’t been before. We found places we liked among the beautiful arid deserts, red rock formations, and spunky little plants. But, there were also things that didn’t quite click for us, and ultimately, we knew that this place would never feel like home.
Zion National Park in Utah
After a year, he was presented with the opportunity to work with the brand new Alliance of American Football League with the team here in Atlanta.
Another risk and another adventure. But we were still trying for something that we had gotten close to, though not quite achieved: prosperity in his work, prosperity in mine, and a city that feels like home both in its own personality, as well as in the people and places we find in it.
It’s too soon to tell whether we are there yet, but these first few months have certainly been promising, if not entirely what we had expected. The Alliance of American Football folded before it’s first season ended and Roscoe is still piecing together work. (He has an interview with Atlanta United coming up though, so keep your fingers crossed!)
Enjoying the Atlanta skyline with my sister.
Now let’s fast forward again to where we began:
“You’re always one decision away from a totally different life”
Of course we know that is true when the decision is something like choosing a college, a profession, an employer… whether or not to move across the country…. The “what ifs” inherent in those decisions are why this idea of always being one decision away from a different life is scary. And yet, the real point here is that even little decisions can change your life. Get up early or sleep in? Work out or watch another episode of The Office? Meal prep or grab lunch out tomorrow? These little decisions about how to spend our time and energy are huge, and we don’t often think about them.
Does anyone ever decide to spend two hours scrolling through twitter? Of course not, but we all do it.
So what if we did? What could you accomplish if you gave little decisions the weight of big decisions– if you actually chose how to spend your time and energy? The possibilities are why I think that this idea of being one decision away from a totally different life should be empowering and not scary. Because shouldn’t the effort to make those little decisions deliberately be rewarding? Shouldn’t it be…well…life changing?
Then the real question becomes, “What are you willing to do to get where you want to go?”
After experiencing a variety of different approaches to physical therapy practice in Oregon and Utah, Sarah found her home in Functionize’s private-pay model giving the direction and decision-making power back to the patient. A firm believer in taking the whole human into account as opposed to focusing on a symptom, she is adept at creative approaches that lead to ah-ha moments around the root cause for pain or limitation.