Lessons Learned From Our Move To California
Los Angeles hasn’t gotten a lot of love recently. There’s a homeless crisis that’s making national news. LA County lost thirteen thousand residents between 2017 and 2018. Housing costs are the among the highest in the nation.
And yet Robin, Zazu, Kennedy and I loaded up a rental van in January and over the course of two days moved from our Williams Bay Wisconsin home to a Los Angeles apartment where we’re starting a new chapter in our adventure.
Chicago is and will always be the focal point for my professional life. Boardwalk Capital Holdings, Never Had a Bad Day, my partners, colleagues and friends are precious. Each and every one of them is worth the number of trips through LAX and ORD that might be required. Of course, my work doesn’t necessarily need a physical presence, but I appreciate the value of sharing a meal, shaking a hand and seeing someone cringe when I say something especially silly.
What attracted us to Los Angeles was – wait for it – the weather. There was, of course, more to our decision including the proximity to my sister who is in San Diego finishing her medical degree, and our passion for the mountains and the desert.
From the beginning I had a romantic vision of the move west, imagining a journey that featured vast swaths of farmland, towering mountains and desert sunsets. There were, of course magical moments like this that took your breath away. Mostly, however, the trip was endless hours of tedium punctuated by moments of terror as our 26-foot truck was buffeted by tractor trailers whizzing by at 80 miles-per-hour.
For those who have moved cross-country, you’re undoubtedly laughing at my naïveté. The reality is that moving two thousand miles with pets in tow can be a mind-numbing trek. If you let it, any move can suck the life from your body.
Yet, as I look back on what on our trip, I did learn a few lessons that I believe are worth sharing.
1 . Pets are people too
From the moment that Robin and I began talking seriously about moving from the Chicago area to California our cat, Kennedy, knew that something was up. Normally warm and interactive, Kennedy became increasingly skittish as we prepared for the move. During our two-day trek across the country she cried inconsolably, begging that we stop her nightmarish hell on wheels.
Once we arrived in California, and after vacuuming two pounds of fur from the cab of the truck, Robin, Zazu and me, I gave some thought as to what Kennedy must have been experiencing. With a bit of Googling I found that cats are very much like humans. Neither of us like change.
I can only imagine what Kennedy was experiencing as Robin and I moved furniture and packed boxes in anticipation of the move. She couldn’t have comprehended Robin’s and my eagerness for a new life in Los Angeles and saw only that her life and environment was changing. And for no good reason!
The next time we move I’m going to treat Kennedy more like a human. Rather than explaining with words that her environment was going to change; I’ll gradually acclimate her to the upside of change. I’ll make sure that we have a few boxes around the house weeks in advance and that if she approaches them, she’ll get a treat. I’ll be sure that Kennedy gets accustomed to her crate as a regular refuge rather than a warning sign that something bad is about to happen. While a cat will never welcome a two-day ride across the country, the travel doesn’t need to be traumatic.
2. Embrace your inner Marie Kondo and declutter your life
I’m a big fan of Marie Kondo and her mantra that being tidy can bring you joy. Like most people, Robin and I accumulated a ton of things over the years that we needed . . . or thought that we needed. From books and trinkets to piles of clothing, we had so much stuff in Chicago! Because we were moving from a house to an apartment, we knew that we had to downsize, but the process of doing so was, at times, filled with tension and a lot of, “C’mon, you don’t need that!” towards one another.
Both Robin and I value spirituality and so Marie Kondo’s approach to the organization of belongings suits us well. Kondo, who spent five years serving in a Shinto shrine, believes that all objects have divine life and are to be valued and considered. This is why, if you have seen her Netflix series, she’ll often hold inanimate objects, like clothing or utensils, and thank them for their service before placing them in a donation pile.
Marie guides her clients to ask of each object, “does this bring me joy?” If an item doesn’t bring you joy, give it to someone else who might find the joy in its being. What we have found is that we have fewer things, but much more that we love.
3. Move with love in your heart
Moving can put an incredible amount of stress on you and those you love (Just ask our cat!). If I learned anything from our move it is to move with love in your heart. What I mean by that is that if you focus less on the mechanics of the move and more on the joy that a new adventure will bring, the move becomes a gift rather than a burden. I knew that Robin was tired of winters in Williams Bay and loved the West Coast. I knew that I was ready to challenge myself professionally again. We were blessed to have the financial ability and family support to engage in this dream and moving was not the end, it was a necessary step to find a blissful end. Each hour on the road was one hour closer to warmer winters and new professional challenges.
While I can’t say that I will look forward to the next move, I’m positive that the next move will be seen as a positive step towards the next chapter of Robin’s and my adventure.