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Tuesday, January 19th, 2016 | Author:

I’d just told my uncle that I wanted to move.

I was living in an area that I’d only moved to for two reasons.

The first was that I wanted to move out of my hometown. I’d spent enough time there as an adult, and enough time there after some major life changes to feel ready to leave without feeling like I was running away. I felt released from the place that I had once loved, and I was looking for a new place to begin the long rebuilding process.

The second reason I’d moved to this small suburban city was that I was offered a job there, one which I happily took.

“I know you might know this, but I want to iterate that you haven’t really been here that long,” my uncle began. He has a good way with words, and it’s always been clear to me that he cares for my best interest.

“You know, we moved around a lot when the kids were younger, and what we found was that it takes at least a year to really assimilate into a new town. And you’ve only been here a little longer than that.”

He was right. I knew that I could probably assimilate more there if I stayed longer. But that’s not what I wanted.

“I know,” I said, “It’s just that I don’t know that this is the place that I want to settle into.”

“OK,” he said, relenting, “that’s fair.”

What I’d started to see in the people around me there — at work, at my apartment complex, and at the church I was attending — was that a lot of people end up somewhere forever just because they never had any instigating event that made them move. (And not because they had lack of resources or potential opportunity.) As I started to be aware of it, I realized that for a lot, if not most people, the same was true for many of their relationships, their careers, their family culture, and ultimately their whole life.

And I saw that I was on that path. It would be easy to let that happen in my life as well. My uncle was probably right — the longer I stayed there, the more involved and connected I would’ve become. The more complacent I would’ve been with my life. And truly, I think for many people, that’s how their lives play out and they are really content with it. Which is great.

But I knew, for my own happiness, I needed more than that.  And I had the means and the will to make it happen.

I didn’t want to end up in Rocklin, California 30 years from now simply because I never happened to move. If I was to stay there, I wanted it to be because I wanted to be there. But that was the thing — I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t not want to be there either. Which is why I stayed as long as I did. I was traveling. Wandering. Looking for somewhere else I wanted to be. Lingering while figuring out that this was not where I wanted my forever home to be.

And when I was still not sure of where I wanted to live, I had finally come to know that that suburban city was not it. Which meant, for me, that while it would be comfortable and easy to stay, it was time to do the hard work and the leap of faith of moving forward, elsewhere.

I’m not sure why place has always been such a big deal to me, but I’ve always felt very strongly about where I decide to live. I feel like I could live anywhere for a time. But to make any sort of commitment to living somewhere — I have to choose it.

If it hadn’t of been for this conviction in me about places, I don’t know that I would’ve moved on when I did. I may never have. It’s easy to stay where you’ve got your life set up. It’s easy to stay where it’s comfortable and safe. Where it’s familiar. Even if it’s not really somewhere you’ve ever really chosen to be — just somewhere you’ve ended up.

Since that conversation, and that decision to move, I’ve made it a commitment in my life to make choices. To choose my own happiness and situations over what’s familiar and safe. To choose contentment over complacency.

I’ve spent a lot of my life envying the people who never move, who marry their high school sweethearts, who have 2.5 children and a dog and a cat, and who stay at the same job their whole lives. Not because that’s what I’ve really wanted, but because it seemed easier. And it seemed like they were happy enough.

A lot of them, I’m sure, are truly happy.

But I didn’t have a high school sweetheart. I’ve moved a lot. I don’t have any kids yet. And I’ve already switched careers once since college. And in all of those start-overs that take so much energy, I think I’ve learned that when in my desires to settle down, I’m no longer willing to settle. I learned that I have the capacity to happen to life. I don’t have to just let life happen to me.

I’m willing to give up what probably would’ve been good enough in exchange for what’s specifically great for me.

End Note: I know y’all are sick of reading about Wichita. But I’m really glad that I moved and found a town that’s great for me. I’m proud to call it home.

Disclaimer: I realize that it is a privilege to be able to choose some things like these about one’s life. The observations mentioned in this post were not of those who truly have no options for change of their place, career, or sometimes even relationships, which I know is a reality for many. The piece is about my own personal convictions about how I have been able to and have chosen to live my life here forward.


Jo O’Hanlon is an adventurer and storyteller. She tries to be honest about the ugly and hard parts of life, and the beautiful parts too. This blog is one of the places she shares her thoughts and stories.

Other places are

instagram: @jrolicious         twitter: @jrohanlon        storyofjoblog@gmail.com

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015 | Author:

I have a tattoo that you don’t know about.

It is on the bottom of my foot, so you only see it if I am barefooted and have my feet up with the soles facing you.

But I sit barefooted with my legs crossed often, so it’s often visible to me, an important reminder:

“enough”

Simple word. Weird spelling. We use it in mostly negative or neutral ways. It’s hardly ever a positive thing when we breath it.

“I wasn’t driving slow enough.”

“I didn’t realize soon enough.”

“I didn’t tell her I loved her enough.”

“I’m not thin enough.”

“I’m not healthy enough.”

“I don’t have enough money.”

Often we use it in ways that connote that there could be more, but we’ll settle for this.

“I guess that’s good enough,” When we just want to be done.

“No, that’s fine, that’s enough,” when we’re conceding half-heartedly, like a bartering salesman over some agreement.

Or maybe you heard it a lot as a child when your mother/babysitter/teacher was so annoyed she couldn’t take another minute of your playing/fighting/arguing/crying: “Enough!” they would yell.

But the word, it’s real meaning, lends itself to the idea of being content. Which is not a thing we’re taught to want or seek. To just have enough sounds like settling, like you’re too lazy to go for more. Too apathetic to get the things ambition could earn you.

And it causes this “not enough” complex in us. Come time for New Year’s resolutions, they take that tone, too. I’m not skinny enough – so I will work out more. I’m not healthy enough, so I’ll eat better. I don’t read enough – I’ll read more. I don’t have enough money — I will save more. My life isn’t exciting enough – I will travel more.

But too often at the root of all of those thoughts and great goals is an ugly belief that I think the majority of us have learned to hold close to the chest, like a security blanket that chokes out the light of possible contentment — I am not enough.

Not good enough, thin enough, pretty enough, fast enough, strong enough, rich enough, powerful enough, friendly enough, sexy enough, funny enough, spiritual enough, important enough.

We have the gluttonous mentality that always wants “more.”  There’s always some way we could and should have more or be more. Which in all honesty, is true. There’s a world out there, and it could be your oyster. But what I’m finding is that the people I know who are happy are content. The people that I know who are successful are ambitious.

But the people who are both successful and happy — those people have learned something that doesn’t seem to come naturally: How to be content with what you have, yet still imagine that more might be attainable. It’s not the same relentless, never-ending drive that compels them. It’s curiosity, determination, true drive, not need.

The desire to better themselves is not based in a need to do so to feel valuable. It’s not because they’re not “enough” already. It’s the ambition that says “I could do even more,” not, “I have to do more.”

So if no one has ever told you let me do so now: You are enough.

The very fact that you’re alive and being, that means you’re enough. If you have goals to be more ______, by all means go for them! The problem is, many of us chase those goals out of a desire to feel more valuable as a human being at the end of the day, and that will always leave us dissatisfied.

When you start to finally forgive yourself for the ways you’ve claimed you’ve fallen short, and you start to believe that you are enough just as you are, you can begin to find contentment. It’s one of the most elusive currencies in our society. Contentment can drive you to want to better yourself without feeling like you’re not enough as you are.

Being content starts with accepting yourself, and being more than OK with what you have. I’m on a journey to strip the stigma from the word in my life.

“enough”

It sits there on the arch of my foot as a reminder: I am enough. You are enough. You are valuable, beautiful, loved. It says we’re valuable, just because we are.

Jo O’Hanlon is an adventurer and storyteller. She tries to be honest about the ugly and hard parts of life, and the beautiful parts too. This blog is one of the places she shares her thoughts and stories.

Other places are

instagram: @jrolicious         twitter: @jrohanlon

storyofjoblog@gmail.com