Sometimes a Change of Scenery is the Broom That Cleans the Gloomy Cobwebs
by Michael Longsdon
“You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.”
So says revolutionary Canadian-American actress Mary Pickford, a silent film legend and innovator in Hollywood – where people are famous for falling down and struggling publicly. In fact, our life battles, misfortunes and grief are common threads among humanity. No matter who we are, or where we come from, we will reach low points in our life and have to decide how to approach the climb out. A change of scenery won’t magically make our troubles dissipate, but it can give us something new to look forward to – and that can be just the motivation we need to clean out the depths of our grief and spark a chain reaction of positive change.
Dartboard or design?
You may not have the luxury of completely choosing your destination. Perhaps it’s the location of a new job, or a job transfer. But even if your job is located in a specific city, you may have the option of selecting another town or city nearby. Consider some of the country’s “twin cities,” like Minneapolis-St. Paul, Fargo-Moorhead in North Dakota, and Bryan-College Station in Texas. Even though the line of demarcation between these cities is often blurred, the “vibe” of each can be different.
Bryan, for example, can envelop its residents in more of a small-town, close-knit community feel than the more active College Station, but without sacrificing desirable housing options and neighborhoods that quietly seep comfort and luxury. The Vineyard District neighborhood offers a prime example, where residents live among vineyards and enjoy a community of viticulture and related events. Doesn’t that sound like the ideal recipe for exorcising the blues?
Of course, if you prefer to live more spontaneously, you can always hang up a map and throw a dart at the wall – and where it sticks, so do you. Of course, that way you do run the risk of actually ending up in Fargo!
Buying your new sanctuary
Once you’ve decided on a town or city, it’s time to find a home. If the location is completely new to you, it may make sense for you to rent an apartment or home for several months while you get to know your way around, explore neighborhoods, and meet friends who you might want to be close enough to for easy socialization – not a bad idea after experiencing emotional grief. If you have a job, you can ask your co-workers for ideas on rental homes, or check out rental listings online. Many real estate agents can also help with rental searches.
Before you rent or buy, it’s a good idea to check out the local market to see what home sale trends have been doing. If it’s a buyer’s market, you may decide that now is the time to move; after all, you could find yourself in an ideal position to sell and reap some equity in a year or so, giving you the opportunity to move to a different house or neighborhood. On the other hand, those numbers may tell you that waiting it out is the most prudent strategy.
Feeling connected to your community is an important part of your path out of your gloom. Make a vow to learn something new, like enrolling in cooking and wine pairing classes. If you love animals but aren’t yet ready for the commitment, volunteer at a local animal shelter. Many churches offer opportunities for socializing and fellowship for all age groups. If there’s a fundraising event at work, offer to chair a committee – you’ll be able to demonstrate leadership skills without having work pressures, and it will redirect your focus.
Also, take time to put together a list of professionals you might need for your new home by searching for “plumbers near me now.” If the toilet gets blocked at 8 a.m., you don’t want to still be searching and checking for references at 4:00 in the afternoon! Services for a dependable plumber can typically cost between $45 and $150 an hour, but your location will partially dictate the price. Just make sure that whomever you hire is licensed and insured.
Change for a clean sweep
A new city isn’t a cure-all, but sometimes it’s the first stroke of a healthy mental and physical housecleaning. Take a page out of Ms. Pickford’s book – don’t stay down after a fall.