So, you are planning a move -- maybe across town, maybe across the country. You can find lots of resources out there to tell you how to PLAN your move. Entire books have been written on how to pack your stuff, what to look for in a mover, when to schedule your change of address, and how to properly insure your belongings against damage. But very few authors spend any time on getting SETTLED IN -- making a foreign environment feel like a home again. While ensuring that you and your furniture arrive in one piece and on-time is certainly important, growing comfortable with your new home is equally (if not more) critical. After all, the move lasts for a few days or weeks -- but you will be living there for much longer than that!
THE RIGHT KIND OF MANUAL
Leslie Levine has put together a sensitive and practical guide to making this transition -- a new home, a new job, and even a new life -- entitled "Will This Place Ever Feel Like Home?" If you or any of your family members face fears about STARTING OVER, this book will feel like comfort food for your soul.
RELOCATING YOUR PERSONAL LIFE
Moving involves more than just piling your belongings onto a truck and hitting the road (don't you wish it were that simple!) Ms. Levine points out that, when you relocate, you must take some time to pull up the ROOTS that you have laid down in your community. While you will probably continue to have contact with the people who touched your life, on some level you will be expected to sever ties to your job, your friends, and anything else that you will be leaving behind. This can be a painful and difficult process, especially if you have lived in one are for a long time or are moving far away. But pretending that it isn't happening or keeping yourself so BUSY with move preparations that you don't allow yourself to work through these emotions will only make things harder down the road. The goal is to achieving CLOSURE with your old life, before moving on to the new.
GETTING YOUR FAMILY THROUGH IT
However, you will have more to deal with than just your own feelings and issues. You can expect your other family members to go through some sort of UPHEAVAL during a move. Your spouse might worry about his or her new job, your children may fear that they won't make any new friends -- and even your pets will require a bit of extra care in making this adjustment. Ms. Levine suggests acknowledging these concerns upfront, and taking steps to abate any imaginary fears. Take a TRIP to your new town to familiarize yourself with the layout and amenities. Schedule "getting to know you" meetings with your new employers and your children's teachers. Have your kids take photos and draw PICTURES of their new home. You will all feed off of each other's emotions, so try to speak positively about the move -- treat it like a fun new ADVENTURE. And make every effort possible to keep any sense of "frenzy" at bay -- strive for a relaxed and stress-free move experience for all.
Once you have unloaded the moving truck, you may look at all the cardboard boxes and bare walls and think, "This is never going to feel like our old place!" Not so! Ms. Levine divides the process of "recreating" your home into three distinct activities. The first involves REPAIRS and RENOVATIONS. Before you even begin to unpack, look around and ask yourself if you need to make any improvements. Perhaps you need to fix that loose stair railing or add a few extra shelves in your kid's closet. While you don't have to tackle all of these tasks the minute you step into the door, be sure to put them on your TO-DO LIST. You will settle in quicker to a home where everything works and suits your family's tastes and lifestyle.
YOUR SENSE OF STYLE
Your next concern is to DECORATE your home in a way that is aesthetically pleasing and makes you feel comfortable. But Ms. Levine questions the wisdom of trying to turn your new environment into a carbon copy of the old one. This is the perfect time to ask yourself if it's time for a change. You might have loved your dark wood furniture and heavy drapes up north -- but now that you live further south, you would like something lighter. Or maybe you are working toward a completely lifestyle change with this move -- it may be time to LET GO of the past and start fresh with the present.
CHECK OUT YOUR CHI
Finally, you have to consider the ENERGY FLOW within your home. Setting up a home that "feels right" may take a deeper look into the placement of your belongings. The Chinese art of FENG SHUI suggests that where you put something, the colors and patterns you use for decorating, and even the layout of your rooms will either block or encourage the free flow of energy. Ms. Levine offers some simple suggestions for creating a positive living environment -- but you may also want to consider bringing in a professional who specializes in Feng Shui.
SETTLING INTO YOUR NEW PLACE
Once your home is set up to your satisfaction, you are finally ready to venture out into the larger world. As the saying goes, "No man is an island" -- and no household can thrive without a connection to COMMUNITY. Ms. Levine suggests that you begin by learning your way around town. Pick up some maps from your local Chamber of Commerce, and familiarize yourself with the local layout. Love to read? Find out where the nearest library branch is. Think your kids might like to get involved with sports? Scope out the local parks and recreation facilities. Learn where the pizza parlors and movie theaters and bowling alleys and museums are -- you will feel less like an OUTSIDER if you feel less lost!
Then, it's time to get to know your NEIGHBORS. Have a potluck to introduce yourself to the folks in your community. Join a committee -- help out with the PTA or a church fundraiser or a neighborhood action group that's trying to get speed bumps put in. If you enjoy cultural activities, become a docent at the museum or an usher at the theater. If you have small kids, join a play group. As Ms. Levine suggests, the more you get out there and begin to MEET other people -- the more times you can run into someone on the street and know their name -- the quicker you will settle into your new home.
Ramona Creel is a Professional Organizer and the founder of www.OnlineOrganizing.com -- offering "a world of organizing solutions!" Visit www.onlineorganizing.com for organizing products, free tips, a speakers bureau, get a referral for a Professional Organizer near you, or get some help starting and running your own organizing business. You may contact Ramona at .
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