Today, enjoy a small break from strategy & economics. I’m writing in Tiffany Moore‘s Big Questions series. These are the kind of questions that lead to real dreams and true self-actualization. Will you get deep with me & nine other writers?
A week from today, my daughter, Lola, and I will be on our way to the coast. The Oregon coast. By car.
That’s a journey of nearly 3,000 miles. We plan to hit the Navy Pier in Chicago, the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Mt Rushmore in South Dakota, Yellowstone in Wyoming, and, if there’s time, Mt Saint Helens. I’ve never done anything like this before.
But that’s not what I’m afraid of.
I know I can handle myself on the road trip. I know that Lola will love it even when she’s aching to get out of her car seat. I know that she’ll be able to wow her pre-K classmates with tales of mountains, rivers, and forests. And I know she’ll have a renewed love of airplanes at the end of it.
Yes, once we hit the coast, we’ll turn back around and head to PDX. At PDX, we’ll take a red eye back to Harrisburg International Airport, leaving my car on the West Coast. I’ll take Lola back to her dad’s house in Reading. And I’ll hop a flight two days later back to Oregon.
Follow that? Good, because I’m not sure I have my brain around it completely.
Lola’s dad & I separated almost a year ago. I haven’t written about it previously because, well, it doesn’t have much to do with business. But it is truly a story of two people understanding that they want different things out of life and that all three of us would be happier if we actually achieved those things, albeit separately.
And truly, all three of us are happier. Sure, there are some scars and plenty of things to still work through. But I have no doubt, as does my ex, and as does Lola, that this was the best course of action to take.
As part of this decision, I knew I would be moving. I had high expectations for the place I wanted to live: more like-minded people, more cultural activities than going to Target, and access to plenty of other cool spots. I planned on moving to Philadelphia because it seemed easy.
But I had this nagging feeling… “If only… if only… I’d be on the West Coast by now.”
As I sat pondering this feeling in late July, I had a glimpse of possibility. What if I was missing something? A perspective, a clue, a tidbit of information. Then I saw a tweet from Danielle about an interview she did with Gabby Bernstein about miracles. Yes, that’s it. I need a miracle.
“Miracles are a shift in perception.”
“The choice is usually just about being softer.”
I watched the interview in its entirety. But those were the two lines that really got me. I finished the interview and I sat with myself. I softened my gut, I quieted my mind, and I dialed in my heart. I erased the “can’ts” and “if onlys” and concentrated on possibility.
And I saw things differently.
I had a vision for co-parenting long distance. I had a trust in our ability to maintain a sense of family across this great continent. I saw the beauty of a child who understands what is important to both of her parents.
Then I texted my ex, “I’d like to talk this afternoon about the possibility of me moving to Oregon. Nothing to worry about.”
He, of course, worried. But we had an appointment to talk about other things that afternoon anyhow and so I told him my idea. I let him in on my vision of living most of the year in Oregon while Lola went to school in Pennsylvania. I would come back to PA in November, and then for many weeks for Christmas & New Year’s, and again over the Spring. She could visit me on the West Coast in the Summer. I would concentrate on creating really quality time & amazing experiences with her. Then we would reevaluate what was best for Lola, for him, and for me.
One day at a time, one month at a time, one year at a time.
He listened and said. “I know you’ve wanted that for a long time. I think it can work. Let’s talk about it more.”
So I moved ahead with plans and arrangements and hope. Trust & faith have enveloped the entire process.
In just over two weeks, the move will be made.
So what am I afraid of?
This is a gamble. What I am ultimately afraid of is that the gamble won’t pay off.
This is what I believe with my whole heart:
“One of the most important things we do for our children is to present them with a version of adult life that is appealing and worth striving for.”
— Madeline Levine
But my fear is that my daughter won’t see our lives that way. My fear is that my daughter won’t remember growing up with the advatnages of bicoastal living; she’ll remember being abandoned. My fear is that my daughter will still let others expectations dictate her own life choices. My fear is that my daughter won’t open her own heart to miracles.
Of course, that’s not the truth. Fear rarely is.
And few things in life (and business) are as big a gamble as we make them out to be.
I have faith. I have trust. I have love. And that’s what I will offer to my daughter instead of fear.
And she’ll know that the big gamble is the only truth we can know.
Update: I’m closing the comments on this piece only because I believe each & every one of your amazing comments deserved a response and I simply can’t keep it up anymore!
One thing I want to clarify, and I think this is extremely important, is that this move isn’t about “following my dream.” For me, this is about the journey to create a new experience of life both for myself and for Lola. Lola is lucky to have a close-knit family unit in the town she has so far grown up in. But there are other things that a lacking from that experience. Both her father & I see this move as an opportunity to both pursue the life I want to live and to pursue a full & rich life for our daughter.
This post isn’t advice. And it’s not an account of a singular decision. Just like everything in my life, it’s the story of an unfolding process. It’s experimentation. I believe that life in the 21st century allows us to live with the beauty of uncertainty in a way that we’ve never been able to before. My family embraces that uncertainty and we’ll maintain the flexibility that is required of us to make it work.
Miracles & all.