When I decided to move to Nashville 5 years ago, I thought a lot about the Robert Frost poem The Road Not Taken. Two roads diverged in my Illinois life and I could have stayed the course. I chose to freefall and head South instead. I would never trade what I've learned in the years since.
I've made some great friends, gone to incredible shows, and become a healthier version of myself. I wrote a (still unpublished) novel. I see my best friend's family at least once a week. I learned it's possible to uproot your life and start again, just because.
I'd be lying, however, if I said my life in Nashville looked the way I had dreamed it would. I've been treading water the last couple of years, wondering if this was all there was, if this could be enough.
A couple of weeks after my nanny job ended last September, I sat in a room on a rainy day with some of my dearest friends and cried. I could not staunch the tears even if I tried.
I took the paper I'd written last year's goals on, then crumpled it in my hand unread. I didn't need to look at it to know I'd failed.
If it had been any other group of friends, I would have summoned an excuse to skip my turn. But when everyone's eyes turned toward me, I remembered they are my Someones. I let the tears slide down my face while I spoke in fits and starts about how I was truly doing.
It was not pretty. I could not dress my fears up. The future was blank, I told them. Not in that "the possibilities are endless" kind of way but one in which I had no plan B and no sense of direction, all while the rent and other bills need to be paid. My job search had remained fruitless. I had not figured out what I wanted to do with my life, which was the very goal I'd written down the year prior.
My friends saw me. They saw through what I said and didn't say. They asked me the best kind of questions, the ones that lead to a truth you didn't realize you believed, and they also spoke words over me that filled the aching spots inside. They loved me.
That was the darkness and even though I felt like I'd talked too much already, I began to share with them the light. Almost a decade before, I received an impression that 35 would be an important year for me and I could not help but wonder would 2015 would hold as a result.
One of my friends said this would be "the year of Leigh" and as the words left her mouth, a clap of thunder filled the house.
Since that weekend, my life has been a series of questions. When you're not sure what kind of job you want, job searching is an almost backward process. I've figured out what kinds of jobs don't interest me or that I wouldn't be good at. I've tried different jobs on for size. I've wondered which of these jobs would offer stability and consistency. No two days have looked the same.
Some days are flexible enough to include coffee with a friend or a slate of conquered errands. Some days mean working at one job, then working at another, and then another. Always, in the back of my mind, I wondered where it was leading and how long I could sustain myself this way.
The first glimmer might have arrived last September but certainly in January. There was no mistaking it, though I wasn't entirely sure what direction it would take me. Then there were impressions from two years ago and, of course, ten years ago. I would be remiss in thinking the particular set of circumstances that led me to move to Nashville weren't at work even now.
In January I knew something had to change but that blank slate remained blank. In February I contemplated moving out of state. I gathered up all the glimmers and started praying over three distinct options, each of which made me laugh in astonishment. In March I decided not to renew my lease. I keenly felt something was coming down the pike and I needed to be ready for it. Each week the glimmers were refined by fire.
I asked for and received wise counsel. Mostly, I listened to that still small voice.
Then came April. The week before Easter, "house sitting" leaped into my mind.
It would take a miracle, I thought, but all the interesting jobs were in San Francisco. Three of my cousins and a few of my dearest friends lived there but I'd never so much as visited.
I applied for a couple of dream jobs but nothing came to fruition.
And yet San Francisco kept coming up. It was relentless.
While I was back in my hometown for Easter, I went on a walk with my friend Megan. We were talking about how we make decisions and how our intuition plays a role.
"It's the jar lid click," she said. And that was it exactly.
You know when you're trying to close a jar and it's not quite aligned and you have to keep unscrewing it and trying until it fits the grooves correctly and snaps into place? For my friend and me, we think consciously and unconsciously about whatever decision we're making from a variety of angles and then one day, sometimes out of nowhere, it snaps into place and we know without any doubt what we're supposed to do. Jar lid click!
We can't rush it but we trust it will happen when it's supposed to.
The week after Easter I talked on the phone with one of my good friends from San Francisco. She already knew the things I'd been contemplating and I wanted to bring her up to speed.
I talked about how my virtual assistant work meant I could work anywhere and that maybe house sitting for July and August was the way to go because then I could cover my expenses while I looked for full-time or part-time work.
"You could house sit for us," she told me. My heart started to hammer as she filled me in on the details. I had no idea they had travel plans. I could test the literal and figurative California waters.
Could it be this easy?
Jar. Lid. Click.
When you take the road less traveled by, you get to see what lies beyond the fork and sometimes that means you wind up where you needed to go. Or sometimes you come to another fork in the road. You must decide, again, whether to stay the course or take the leap.
I'm taking the leap. I'll be moving to San Francisco at the end of June. I don't know if it will be a permanent move but I have no doubt it is the next right step. After months of prayer about what to do, there are so many stories and signs already that have confirmed this decision.
My spirit is lighter already. Though it will be hard to say goodbye to my Nashville friends, I am excited to see what San Francisco holds for me, no matter how big or small a role it will play in my life.
This is the time in my life to explore, try, leap. This is the time for adventure.
The Precious One is such a great example of why I love reading de los Santos. She creates such interesting, layered characters and their respective voices are incredibly clear, especially those of our alternating narrators Taisy and Willow.
The more I think about Scarlet (Gaughen), the more I love it. Such an inventive retelling of Robin Hood's tale, in which Will Scarlet is actually a lady thief. Gaughen gives us such a clear and compelling voice throughout the narrative. Lady Thief was a fantastic follow up and I'm so happy Lion Heart is due out May 19. I can't wait to see how the trilogy ends!
My friend Megan Tietz started her podcast Sorta Awesome this month and it is completely awesome. Megan has the perfect voice for this medium. I could listen to her talk all day. But another reason I love listening to Sorta Awesome is that my good friends are two of Megan's co-hosts: Laura Tremaine and Kelly Gordon. I love how they let us all eavesdrop on a really great conversation. No matter who Megan is talking to each week, I'll be listening with bells on.
I have been a sporadic Popcast listener for some time but this month I became a subscriber. I don't know why I was sporadic before. I've known Jamie and Knox for a few years and it's fun hearing them spar over the topic du jour. Even if Jamie erroneously threw me under the bus in this episode.
Things I Love:
Barbara Brown Taylor's books have been a lifeline the last few years and it was a thrill to hear her speak not once but twice. First, she spoke on the themes of Learning to Walk in the Dark at Benton Chapel, and then did a Q&A at a community breakfast the next morning.
Cuban tapas with the Bogel family. Always good to spend time with that family.
I went home for Easter for the first time since I moved to Nashville 5 years ago. My time in my hometown was an absolute gift. It went too fast and there wasn't nearly enough time to see everyone but I managed to pack a lot in.
Like a good auntie, I went to a children's museum with my best friend Erin and her kids and another friend and her kids. My niece-in-love and nephew-in-love have me well-trained.
Addie was in Illinois visiting her parents so we picked a spot halfway between us and had Lou Malnati's (my fave Chicago pizza!) for dinner. She's so good for my soul.
Catching up with my old roomie Donna
I finally got to meet my dear friend Laura's sweet baby. I could have snuggled her all day!
Going on a long walk with Megan, the same route she takes just about every day. It was chillier than I'd like but the conversation was more than worth it.
I went to Katherine's church for Easter. So fun seeing her in action!
Easter dinner with my family- I love my relatives so much and feel so grateful for the time we got to spend together. Plus, watching the kids hunt for Easter eggs was a riot.
The feeling of satisfaction after filing my taxes
A final session with my counselor. I owe so much to her for the way she has walked alongside me the last couple of years. It's been good, hard, holy work and her phrases and questions were a big part of that.
Coffee and fun with Alece
Getting to meet Tara Austen Weaver! I've read her blog for I don't know how many years so there was no way I was going to miss her stop at Parnassus while promoting her new book Orchard House. The best part, though, was meeting up with her at Thistle Stop Cafe the next day. What a treat to get to know her better! It was like spending time with an old friend.
Two weeks after I saw her, Erin came to town for a conference. I snagged her for coffee after the last session and then Tracy and I took her out for dinner at Mas Tacos Por Favor. Best Friend Reunion complete!
Lacy came to town so I met up with her and Abby for coffee. Loved hearing more about her endeavors!
I've picked up another part-time job, plus another Virtual Assistant client. It's a lot to keep track of but so far I'm making it work.
On the Leigh Kramer FB page, I asked you to introduce yourselves (such a blast!) and told you just how many books I read in 10 years. We also mourned the loss of Gilbert Blythe and talked a lot about the Gilmore Girls.
(The best way to see updates in your newsfeed is by liking and commenting on my posts regularly. Bless those FB algorithms.)
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