“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow. ” –Lin Yutang
One of the first things I did when I moved to my new state this summer was look for a quiet place to walk. You may recall that I had a hilly, serene area near my last home where I walked daily for the six years that I lived there. Many powerful epiphanies occurred to me on that stretch of tarmac where cars seldom passed. I had a feeling that finding a place where my legs could grow tired as my spirit came alive might be challenging here in my new, much bigger city. My suspicions were right.
On my first outing, I quickly realized it would be necessary for me to leave my neighborhood if I wanted a substantial walk. Upon exiting my subdivision I was greeted by a heavily traveled roadway that was intimidating, to say the least. There would be no daydreaming here, no getting lost in my own thoughts. This bustling thoroughfare screamed, “Pay attention or you might get hurt!”
I took a deep breath and forged ahead, hugging the outer edge of the sidewalk farthest from the busy road. With every Nissan and Chevrolet that barreled past, my hair blew back from my face and hot air hugged my legs. I kept my head down and walked briskly, pausing briefly to notice the historic cemetery on my right. I’m pretty sure I would have felt sad (or a little creeped out) if I hadn’t been so focused on finding a peaceful place to continue my walk.
As soon as I got past the cemetery, I saw what I was looking for: an established neighborhood canopied by lush trees and not a moving vehicle in sight. I immediately turned right and walked the shady maze of side streets and cul-de-sacs for an hour. When it was time to return home, I resisted the urge to walk past the cemetery at a quickened pace. Instead I noticed the names and dates of those who lived over a century ago.
This has been my routine for several weeks now. Upon exiting my neighborhood, I stop and contemplate my choices. I could turn left and then take another quick left or a right. I could even go straight. But in the end, I always turn right. I look ahead to see the flags of the cemetery waving me forth. It brings me comfort to know exactly what three last names will be the first to greet me. Barnes, Brooks, and Settle are always there waiting like faithful supporters along a race route. This familiarity assures my directionally-challenged self that I am not lost. The tree-covered neighborhood where you like to walk is coming up, the tombstones say. You’ve been here before, they say.
I am not giving myself a hard time about this severe lack of adventure on my walking route. You see, each day I learn something new. I learn new grocery store isles and post office locations. I learn new state procedures like emission checks and school immunization requirements. I learn how people drive faster and speak faster here. I learn there are stoplights on the interstate, and I can be ticketed if I go before it is my turn to merge. I learn where light switches and thermostats are located along dark hallways. I learn names of neighbors, their children, and their pets. Moving to a new place means your brain is constantly learning new things all day long. So when I have the opportunity to lace up my running shoes, I go where my feet take me—a right turn out of the neighborhood into the bustling traffic, past the cemetery to the tree-covered sanctuary. It is where I walk the same loop over and over, jotting my thoughts in my tiny notebook the way I did before I moved. Yesterday I thought to look at the name of that shaded street that takes me away from the noisy rush. It is called Grace Woods. That is not a coincidence to me.
Interestingly, I’ve noticed some patterns going on in our new house too. My older daughter recites the same prayer at dinner. Where there once were creative modifications depending on the day, there is now a memorized hymn. Thanks for the day, the world, the food, the family. It always ends with family.
I’ve also noticed my younger daughter is keen on wearing the same shirt every single day. “America is beautiful” is not just for the 4th of July as I had intended. That navy shirt with shiny gold lettering is for every single day she wakes up and looks for something to wear. America is Beautiful is her summer uniform and her summer anthem.
Even Banjo the cat has rejected sleeping wherever his mood takes him. Since the move, he can be found religiously under the winter section of my closet. His tail curled tightly around him beneath the sleeves of my favorite sweater.
As much as I am tempted to ask my daughters to change it up on the prayer or select a new shirt, I know this is not the time. When so much is new, there is need for familiarity … sameness … permanence. I guess that is why I am finding great comfort in gravestones that would normally make me feel sad.
The tombstones I walk by have been there for hundreds of years. I do not know these people, but someone does. They come and leave flowers and stuffed animals. They come and remember. They remember the way she hugged and didn’t let go first. They remember the way she laughed at bad jokes just to make the joke-teller feel good. They remember how he claimed a daily bowl of oatmeal grew hair on your chest and hot dogs were the best bait for catching catfish. And now the people who remember do these things too. They hug long, laugh hard, and fish with hot dogs because it makes their dearly departed feel near.
When I walk by Brooks, Barns, and Settle, I imagine what rituals, habits, and words live on in those who loved them. As the traffic blows by, adamantly refusing to slow down for a nameless pedestrian, those thoughts comfort me. Because nowadays there is little permanence. Messages disappear with the push of a button … handwritten notes are obsolete … sustained eye contact is a rarity. I seldom see lipstick marks on people’s cheeks anymore. But there’s a graveyard flanked by a stream of busy people going to important places that offers me hope. Through loving rituals we are able to create the kind of permanence that becomes the cornerstone of a life, a GPS for a world in which we are so easily lost.
The other day my younger daughter and I were walking the small loop in our neighborhood when I offered to show her the graveyard.
“Are some of the graves from Little House on the Prairie days?” she questioned trying to determine if the extra steps would be worth the effort.
I nodded and informed her there were some tombstones marked as early as 1815. My Noticer eagerly accepted my invitation but maintained her leisurely gate. After stopping to investigate a blackberry bush and an extra large grasshopper, we finally arrived at the cemetery. She carefully examined each stone, row by row. We talked about how long or how brief each person lived. We talked about how families were buried together. We talked about burial traditions and why some tombs had flowers and some didn’t. We marveled at the trees overhead that gave us shelter from the hot sun.
While resting on the wooden bench next to a family of tombs, my child made a declaration, “When I have a friend who dies, I will come here every year on her birthday. I will come each year on my birthday. I will remember the funny things she said and did and then I will pray.”
Oh yes. I hope so, my love. I hope that is exactly what you do.
May you will always walk against the busy traffic of life and find a shady spot to remember what matters most. May your life become a series of such meaningful rituals that live beyond your earthly days. And may you always have a favorite shirt that reflects the beautiful anthem of your heart. Wear it everyday if you want. I am sucker for a familiar sight.
*This post is dedicated to my dear cousin Kim who recently departed the earth but lives on in our hearts. When I was little, she taught me how to play volleyball. I remember her gentle instruction and encouraging words guiding me until I got the hang of it. My cousin had a hearty laugh. When you heard it, you felt safe, welcomed, and accepted—no strings attached. I will remember Kim’s unconditional kindness and will do my best to keep her kindness alive through my words and actions.
Friends of the Hands Free Revolution, thank you for your support of my absence as I became acclimated to my new home. I didn’t intend to be gone for so long, but I was exactly where I needed to be. As my companions on this journey, I know you understand. I feel compelled to mention that going through the moving experience has given me a greater appreciation for what our children experience when doing or starting something unfamiliar. As our children begin a new school year, let us be patient and understanding as they take in new routines, new faces, and new information. We all want to feel like we’ve been here before.
Please share your thoughts and experiences below. I have missed your hearts & your stories.
Thank you so much for this post. My son and I moved to back to the town I grew up in to help my mother out for the summer. Hubby was left behind to keep up the house and work. Although I grew up here, in 25 years the town has grown and changed and it felt like starting over. I found a new “quiet place” and my son and I settled in. Now we are just 2 weeks from going back and I am sad. After slowing down for 13 weeks and loving our “new town”, I am sad to return to the city that I have never enjoyed. I have seen genuine friendliness and made new friends easily here and I have changed…priorities have changed. Going back will likely be as difficult as the move here, except I know where everything is! Looking to go back and take my time re-acclimating, plan on living fully and doing what I can to create a new and positive life for us there. Glad that you are back and as before, will help me on my journey to living in the right now!
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Thank you, Teresa. Your story has touched my heart. As I read your beautiful words, it feels as if this town has opened your eyes and your heart a little wider to see clearly. You leave there a changed person. What an incredible gift this town was to you & your son. I wish you all the best as you return to the city. Keep me posted on your progress.
I’ve missed your posts. So glad you’re back! Your post is timely because my daughter just started first grade two days ago in a new school. She isn’t the only one doing, learning, and absorbing new things – so am I! New parents, new school policies, new schedules, new everything!
So far, it’s been a bit of a struggle. Thank you for the reminder to be patient – with her and with myself. Things will get better, easier, and more comfortable. In the meantime, I just have to be patient 🙂
Oh, Rachel, my heart is singing for you. Grace Woods should indeed be your destination, maybe the destination we all should look for. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t missed your stories and heartfelt prose, but, that is selfish.
I, for years, have been turning my daily stroll into what I call a “Prayer Walk.” I walk with a heart looking for gratitude and peace, a soul searching for answers and eyes longing for beauty, and… well, I nearly always find those things.
Your courage and personal grace has long inspired me. I long ago accepted your “hands free” message as my own, but I feel that is only a small part of the plan laid out for you. If you will forgive the pun, you “walk the walk” and that is indeed as good as it gets. God’s Peace to you.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
A prayer walk. Oh yes! That sounds familiar! That is exactly what it is. Leave it to you to find the perfect words–somehow you always do, Bill. Your comment is a gift, soul-lifting fuel for my writer’s heart that seems more tender than ever in this time of transition. Your opinion means a great deal to me. You are a brilliantly gifted writer, and I am always honored when this space is graced by you. Thank you for walking beside me.
We are all glad you are back but happy that you took the time you needed as you transitioned to your new home.
Great post Rachel. Welcome back!! This really touched me as my 20 year-old son moved out recently. He’s not that far away, but I’m no longer part of his every day life any more. As I continued to read, I realized that like your girls & cat, I’ve been doing things that are familiar cause they bring comfort. Thank you for putting those feelings so eloquently into words. I hope all continues to go well as you & your family get settled in your new home. So sorry about your cousin. Your loving words and actions will keep her memory alive for all those that you touch.
Thanks again for another great post,
We moved across the country about a hear and a half ago. I understand that need to try and get things settled and in order, and to find some new part of yourself in the new place. It is very challenging leaving the familiarity of a place that was so important to us. I was probably not as patient as I should have been with my oldest son. He was a freshman in high school and, well, he didn’t even really try making it at the new school. I tried encouraging him, but teenagers…they think they know EVERYTHING! So after a few difficult months (and some harsh words on my part at the end of it) he kind of shut down for a while. Sophomore year he was still withdrawn and when he wasn’t withdrawn he was a jerk. I didn’t fight or yell or scream or shake him (like I really wanted to). I just quietly reminded him that while the move was not his choice, how he handled himself at school and home was his choice. And those choices will have consequences, good and bad, in the long run for his life. I told him this many times and he still just did what he wanted. It took some time and a few caring teachers to get him out of it. Today I dropped him off at varsity football practice (something he refused to do when we moved). I realized, maybe too late, that I needed to step back and let life happen to him and let him find his own place in this new place instead of me constantly trying to do it my way. Hard lesson to learn as a parent (and hard to watch your kid go through it too) but so important.
Thank you for coming back Rachel! You were missed but so happy that you took the time you needed for all of you!
Hello Rachel ~ I’m so happy to see you back & glad that you took the time you & your family needed to settle in. I am a mother to three wonderful daughters & a loving husband who travels & works hard for our family. This summer has been a difficult one for me as I have been struggling with how I feel & emotions I didn’t realize I had… I have been a stay at home mom for over nine years now & this Fall my youngest daughter will be joining her sisters at school. While I am so proud of their journey & growth, I am saddened by the “end” of my stay at home mothering. I will still be a home & am realizing that I need to begin a new journey of my own. I am nervous about new things & experiences but excited about the possibility of my own growth. Thank you for your blog, I really enjoy your words, heartfelt stories & shared experiences.
Thank you for this. We have recently moved to a new province, had a baby and my husband started working a new job away from us all within a few weeks of each other. Although aware of the change for my children and the difficulties they may have with the adjustment to everything I never thought of all the changes for myself. I never gave myself a chance to absorb everything but I think today is a great day to start!
Mrs GI Joe says
We have just moved and all of us are feeling many of the strains you talk about. My husband was wounded in Afghanistan 2.5 years ago when our daughter was 3 and our son was 11 days old. We have spent the past years traveling to different hospitals and staying with my parents, in hotels, in Fisher Houses….my kids don’t even know what home is. We just moved to this new military hospital and got a house across from it. I kind of hoped everything would be instant that we would all feel settled and finally know home. But the problem is even this is only for 1 or 2 years until my husband medically retires and we make our actual long term home. It’s been a struggle for us all to adjust but like you said, moving means constantly learning new things. Between that and an exhaustive treatment schedule I feel drained. I am trying more and more for the kids and I to slow down. See the beauty God has laid before us. And just breathe and enjoy the more simple things in life. It’s not easy and my nerves are wrecked but slowly…slowly…we are finding out what home is here.
I pray you can find small ways to refuel and to start small rituals that will help you settle in.
Hope you also have a chance to acknowledge/vent your struggles with a caring friend or family member. I hope you are receiving the support YOU, your husband, and your kiddos deserve.
We are preparing to move. I’ve lived near Chicago my whole life and we are moving to a SMALL town in Wisconsin. My husband has to be there first to start his new job. My 2 sons and I are left behind to prepare the house to sell. This is a good one to remember for all of us!
Hi Heather! Let me be the first to welcome you to WI! It will definitely be a change but look to a church, hobby group, or youth group to get integrated into your new small town in WI. This from a returning, small-town girl in WI. (My “home” town is less than 2,000 and we live on a hobby farm 😉
I’m in the same exact boat – but moving from WI to Chicagoland (once we sell)!
This is the 4th state I’ve lived in and so far, Wisconsonites are some of the nicest folks I’ve ever met. Good luck with the home sale & I hope you will enjoy your time with the Cheeseheads.
PS – There’s a good website called justmoved.org I stumbled upon when we moved to Nebraska. There may be some good advice for you there.
It’s so nice to see you back. I have missed you immensely. It is great to know you and your family are doing well and working on finding your place in your new city. It takes time and courage, for sure.
Just so you know, when I read your encouraging, wise, comforting, and inspiring words, I feel like I am home.
We moved frequently when I was a child; my dad’s job consisted of projects that usually lasted 15-18 months, and then it was on to the next project. I remember being baffled at my mom’s insistence on hanging curtains even before all the boxes were unpacked.
It wasn’t until I was older, and moving from apartment to apartment (as so many twentysomethings do) that it suddenly made sense — the curtains were a piece of “home,” wherever we were currently stationed. They were mom’s way of making the new house, new town, new school a little less scary for all of us.
Much love to you and your family, as you all make your new house, Home.
It’s so great to have you back! This post is just beautiful. I will keep this post, I have a feeling I might need it sometime in the future.
Carin Kilby Clark says
Such a beautiful story of accepting and seeing the value in what’s new – while also appreciating life for what it is. It’s great that you’re back! I’m glad to hear that you are settling in nicely in your new home and surroundings.
I have found myself jumpy and snarky the last week. I know it’s b/c I am making a very big change all in the spirit of being more hands free. I found this blog three years ago and it has pushed and encouraged me on my path even when I avoided the posts (which I did often b/c it reminded me I wasn’t doing a good job in my own world). The name of this one brought me in…. “Finding Your Footing in New Beginnings”. I am leaving a job that has held me hostage for 8 years (mostly to this desk, my comptuer and iphone) and I’m moving onto a new journey ….it has made me cranky even though I am excited to move forward. the CHANGE and transition are hard, but I KNOW it’s right for me. I am NOW able to step away from my phone, take the email OFF and actually leave it at home if I want. no one will be calling me at 2 AM or screaming at me from an international destination in a language I can barely understand anymore. WHY am I sad? Because I like the “sameness” but what do I like more — spending time with my kiddos and hubby and doing something that MEANS something. Yes, change while good, is hard. I like this new journey you are on and of course, we understand that you needed time to settle. I am going to promise to be around more too (after August 8th) — oh please get here fast so I can stop being so CRAZY!
Rachel Macy Stafford says
I remember when you found me, Marcie. I remember how I shared “Joined in Silence” with you. I am thrilled to hear about the changes coming up for you & your family. Please keep me posted and THANK YOU for being here for three years. What a blessing to me.
Thank you for this post. We will be moving soon to a new town and my children will be off to new schools, new schedules, new experiences and hopefully many new friends. I am taking your words and holding them close as a reminder to be gentle and easy with them as they make this transition. I am grateful to you for your words and love reading all of your posts.
I love this post! We just moved into our new home last week. Though we didn’t move to a new state, actually we’re just 5 miles from our old home, we’re still finding days filled with new. New market, new routes, light switches and new habits. This morning has already been filled with missed steps and stubbed toes because we’re still learning this house.
Wishing you the best always in your new home and community. Those who get acquainted with you will be so blessed, as all of your readers are. You continue to bring refreshing reminders of what’s important to us in our life’s journey. Thanks for continuing to be a ray of sun shine in our lives. God bless.
Caroline McGraw says
Welcome back, dear Rachel! I’m so glad that you are enjoying familiar rituals and new beginnings too. When I lived in DC, there was a beautiful historic cemetary on my walking route, and like you, I never left without feeling like I’d received a valuable reminder of what really matters. (hug)
We met in Morgan Ashley salon in Birmingham. I just read your latest blog and found so much insight in it. Past traditions and memories of loved ones are so special. Condolences on the loss of your cousin. I also lost a first cousin last summer. All is well here in your old neck of the woods. Still hot and humid with days filled with pool days and late summer nights listening to the frogs 🙂
I’m so happy to hear that you all are adjusting well to the recent move.
Sending you love and well wishes
Courtney Franklin says
So sorry for the loss of your cousin. So glad you’re back.
Barbara McDonald says
Just wanted to say that’s it’s nice to hear your voice again after all these weeks. Have a good one!
Thank you for a lovely reading, enjoyed and identified with it. Our family just moved to California after 16 years in Chicago. Big move, big changes. After the initial roller coaster of emotions, we have settled into new routines. Now school starts next week and we will forge another set of new routines. It took me 3 weeks to get used to the noises of the new house, the creaks and rustling of trees outside. I think I have mastered the position of the light switches. And painfully, I have learned how high the kitchen counter is off from the floor when I bumped my head forcefully on the sharp corner while cleaning the floor. And finally, I am no longer shocked when I pull out of my garage and see my house and realize anew that I am no longer in Chicago but in a new city with new adventures and new reasons to cherish life!
J. Dagnesses says
Welcome back. You were missed!
Welcome back. Your voice has been missed.
Kathi Goetz says
Oh Rachel! You are such an encouragement! My husband’s job moved our family from a very familiar city where we were well connected to a big city where we know very few people. Each day I have gotten a little closer to a familiar pattern for my day and home. Looking forward to each epiphany that God has in store as I continue on the journey.
Rose Cavallo says
I wish you knew what you ‘reflections’ do to my soul…..somehow the have the power to quiten and focus my spirit and create that place within me where I long to go. May you be blessed. Thank you.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
That is beautiful. I am so touched. Thank you.
I have missed your words!
Love from Sweden ❤️
Welcome back Rachel! Nice to see you back. I’ve missed your posts so much, they bring much insight & reflection into my life. Thank you for all that you do. You make such a difference to my life & the lives of my family by sharing your experiences and ideas.
C. Bennett says
“Through loving rituals we are able to create the kind of permanence that becomes the cornerstone of a life, a GPS for a world in which we are so easily lost.” Perfect. You put into words what I’ve been attempting to do for my family for years. I’m always looking for special rituals to enjoy with my son, so that one day he’ll have a “book” of loving memories as his “cornerstone” in an often times troubling, hectic world so he will not become lost. Thank you for your meaningful words, as usual.c
Kati KavMcG says
Thank you for this post. I am crying, my first tears in a long time. We just relocated our family to a new state and ALL of the details you touched upon are so pertinent to me that they made me wince when I read them.
I have three young girls, the youngest of whom was only a month old when we moved, so to say we’ve had some changes is an understatement.
I am training for a 5K and have found it easiest to run the same route for every workout, as I have been needing something “known” in my day!
Thanks for sharing your experience, as it feels very kindred to ours.
Deborah Kramb says
Our family has lived in 9 houses and 6 states. For the first 15 years of our marriage the longest we lived in a house was 2 years and 4 months. My 3 sons were born in three different states. I shopped for houses by looking in the driveway for big wheels and learned to look for the Newcomer’s club right away. Moving has its disadvantages: friends scattered and close relationships fading. But, my sons are resilient and take risks. They know the history and geography of a great area of the US. They just can’t exactly say where they are “From”. One son, working in NYC, met a young man born in the same Phoenix hospital, in the same month and year he was. Now, we are settled and time has flown by – and friends are more stable. My NY son and his family gave up their city life to move close to us. Maybe he is giving his children a place to be “From”. Thanks for the inspirations…..
Long time reader. I’ve commented very little. But I want you to know that your words are beautiful. They inspire me everytime I read them. I feel The Spirit of our Lord and often get a little teary. Thank you for posting.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Wow! I am so grateful to know this, Allison. What an incredibly meaningful compliment. I am thankful for your companionship on this journey. I needed your words today.
Welcome back! I’m so glad you found such a lovely, peaceful place to walk. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, your heart.
Isla from Australia says
Well done for finding a place just for you. I have only moved 20 minutes away from my previous home and am still trying to find my normal rhythm. Mind you, friends have gone and new ones have entered for all of us, new school to attend and I have even quit smoking. It is now one year since we have moved and I am having many more good days than not. Thank you for taking the time to make sure I take the time. I hope your family makes a quicker transition than we have!!
Kim L says
Welcome back, Rachel. I have missed your reflections on life. I am glad that the move is going fairly well. It is such an adjustment. I’ve moved a handful of times, and it is always unsettling. I used to tell my new staff that in three months, they would start to feel more at ease, in six months, they would know the routine, and in 9 months, they would remind me of the processes we needed to follow. 🙂 I hope for the same sequence of getting settled for you and your family! It just does take time. And what a blessing to be able to re-read and watch favorite movies to remind your heart and soul that yes, good things will still happen.
Jen Martin says
So wonderful to have you back Rachel, I have missed you and your wise words enormously. I’ve been thinking of you settling into your new home and am so glad to know you have found your walk. Such a vital thing to have in life. So sorry to hear about your cousin. Lots of love from Australia xx
Finally! You’re back. I wonder if when we move in a year(Lord willing), your blog will be a familiar thing that I will be thankful to be able to go to.
Hope your new surroundings very quickly become the feelings of home to you and your family…
Rhonda Lee says
Thank you for your words, and your ablity to speak to me in way that makes me stop. It may just be a short stopping, but I read and I think and am thankful.
Small steps in my acting on my desire to change and be simple and present and just to BE.
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Thank you, Rhonda. This means a great deal to me. I am grateful for your message today.
Glad you are posting again. Your words have been missed. Sending warm wishes for your continued acclimation to your new community.
Sandy Blackard says
Welcome back! I love your recognition of familiarity as a safe haven that helps you recharge during times of change. That’s exactly what it is and a wonderful gift to pass on to your children. It’s a perfect example of self-care. Thank you!
Beautiful post and a nice reflection as we end the summer months and transition into the new normal of routine, schedule, and school. Life.Goes.On. I can sense the melancholy in your words, but I can also find the hope and the gratitude you express so eloquently. Thank you for the reminders, thank you for taking the time to process change and post it for so many to read and reflect upon. I’ve read your book and blog and I am not in a position to be “hands-free” yet, but I am trying. I feel like I am not alone when I read your words and the comments from others on their journeys. Best Wishes-
Thank you for this post! It kind of helped me to prepare for what’s coming for us. We are about to move to live in a different country. The challenges have already begun having to learn to live separated from my husband for some time. He has already moved a few months ago trying to settle things on the new place so that me and our daughter can join him. While he has a long experience with moving and acclimatizing to new places, for both of us this will be a quite new sensation. I try to keep my mind focused on the thought that every big change in our life is a chance to learn new things not only about the world around us, but mostly of all about ourselves. But to be honest I must admit that the thought of such a big change still makes me feel nervous, anxious and mostly of all worried about how our 3-year old daughter will accept this change… and if I shall be able to overcome my own stressful emotions in order to be more adequate to her needs … Following my intuition I starting sending some small parts of luggage (as we won’t be able to take most of our belongings with us) to the new place focusing on favorite toys and objects, things she’s used to in her daily routine so that she has a small piece of sameness to hold on to among the sea of new things she’ll be immersed into…And I intend to do the same for me too …
I’ll be happy to learn more on how all of you cope with this change. Thank you for sharing your experience with us! Wishing you and your family a smooth and fast return to a more calm state of mind!
Though I discovered your blog just another day, I have made a timetable in my schedule for reading your posts. so when it is nearing three o’clock I look forward to opening the handsfree mama website. I may be far away in Kenya in Africa but you talk right into my heart. The other night I talked to my husband about you and was telling him that I have searched for ways to change for a long time but now I have found a place where I feel at home. Sometimes when I read your posts I feel like you are talking about me coz I have gone through all those times and much more. The best thing though is that for the first time I have started changing. I am more patient with my children, I am able to laugh with them and not feel like a hypocrite and what’s even more, am able to see my children’s beauty. I have been the worst mother and I have always vowed to change but always found myself going back right there. Since I started reading your posts, I feel happy and more fulfilled and am no longer stressed. Am able to look at the to-do lists and decide that it can be done later. I have also had the ability to realise that I don’t have to do it all at once. Am extremely grateful and I thank God for you since it is through Him answering my prayer to change that I found your blog. I feel a lot of love for my kids and I have also noticed positive change in them. They are now looking for ways to make me happy even as I go home from work I find them having done chores that I didn’t even ask them to do. And the way their faces light up when I appreciate their efforts and hug them. I cannot trade this for anything. I have vowed to breath, I have vowed to love only today and to grasp what matters. I have vowed not to go back where I am coming from. May God bless you and your family. I am a religious follower of your posts so keep writing and I will keep reading!
Rachel Macy Stafford says
Thank you, Winnie! This brings happy tears to my eyes! You are such a blessing to me today. I appreciate you taking the time to tell me of your progress. This brings me so much hope and fuels my writing like nothing else! Thank you for walking beside me!
I moved overseas six, no eight, months ago. I am still feeling lost, ungrounded and fear I’m not being who I want to be. Thank you for sharing this story about finding your new path. I know just where my feet will go for my ritual walk.
Thank you also for all your posts and the idea of hands free. Today, as I tried to pick up all the stuff lying around our living room, my five year old son said, “mom, catch! ” my hands were full but I stopped, put the stuff down, and played catch with a squishy basketball the size of a tennis ball. Hands free – best part of my day! Thank you.
We just moved to a new state As well. I am exhausted to say the least. I have never felt closer to my children or my husband. It is so hard and lonely at times. But I try to remember this is a better place for our family.
Welcome back and thank you as always for the lovely message. Glad you’re beginning to find your feet in your new surroundings.
I signed up while you were gone, so this is my first post. It was exciting, you gave me great insight into what to expect as I make MY move. Don’t have a definite date yet, but know it will be this fall. As I read your words, I realize packing & unpacking is only the beginning of a struggle to find “my place” in a new area. Moved a lot in earlier years, but have been here 24 years. I’m moving from kids & grandkids instead of them moving away! But also moving to my middle child’s home & will have her kids – two grandsons to get to know. Going to be a good thing…
Thanks for sharing you new adventure. I look forward to hearing more from you.
We recently moved too and I have clung to familiar routines in the face of everything that is new. It amazes me how comforting it is for me to cook, wash dishes and do laundry. They ground me in a way nothing else does. I know how to do those things even if the tools to do them are in a different place. They comfort me.
I lived in my last home for 17 years. I didn’t realize how much the familiarity of home, friends and community sustained me. I didn’t realized how much knowing other’s stories and having them know mine made me feel safe. I thought I was so independent and confident, all on my own. Moving has led me to discover that I was living on the borrowed strength of all those who knew and loved me. It does give me more compassion for my children as they face new experiences. It’s harder than I remember. It’s good to have you writing again. You inspire me. Thanks!
I am so happy you are back!
I have been coming here from time to time and today I noticed you were back.
I missed your texts, thank you for sharing your experiences and welcome back!
This is the first post of yours that I have read, and it’s beautiful and so very insightful and true. Welcome to your new home, and please keep writing! Thank you for sharing your gifts with the world.
Hello Rachel. Am glad to be reading this. A big fun of yours. I actually quit reading my hotmail emails coz the enthusiasm i had opening this email were on hold. Welcome back.
Brian Daugherty says
Rach! another great story. As you know, I don’t always post comments here but read all your posts! So, happy to all the success! One theme that I ‘consistently’ see with you can be summed up in one word with all that have found you. “TIMELY!”…..They way you share your experiences, thoughts and stories touch sooo many people and as that ‘hands free dad’ a few years back as you stated about me, obviously touched me. I thank Kerry and the whole process of us being able to connect, we all being from this little community up in Indiana, funny how things happen. But, all things being the way they are, it happened for a reason. I needed to vent, write down my thoughts/feelings and wanted to share that. You made that possible just like with this post you have shared with the world! Again, it’s “TIMELY” , as I’m going to share again how you took my thoughts and shared them with everyone. Today, marks another year away from my mother, but I no longer dwell on it. Besides my family, I have you and Kerry to thank! Because somehow, I got to vent and speak from the heart and allow myself to be vulnerable. Anywho! 🙂 “Finding new Footprints….” really spoke to me and guess what is “TIMELY”. My heart is full with love for you and your entire Family.
Jenny Johnston says
I have been using all my spare time to peruse your posts that I have not read yet. This is the second post I have read of yours where you mention how challenged you are with directions and finding your way around. (the other post was about the field trip with your preschooler). My mother is the same way. she has SUCH a hard time with directions. I remember listening to a Radio Lab dedicated solely to this topic….how we find our way in the world. I think you might enjoy it.
Blessings, dear Rachel
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