Since we've had some slight movement on the visa and our move, the official, final countdown can now really begin. Trouble is, we don't know when it will end.
Our personal items may be on their way across the ocean (we went ahead and moved them last week), but we're still here – waiting – without a concrete timeline.
Throughout the course of this yearlong process, it's felt like we've been living in a temporary world on artificial time, though it's time that keeps passing regardless. It seems like whenever I look out my second floor flat window, the season has changed – people are moving, buying houses, doing things, and we're here. Waiting.
I used to drive myself crazy with this. I'd look at calendars and count weeks and do the math on how long it would take to get me to that next milestone.
But now, I've stopped.
Our move has been pending for so long, and plans have changed so many times that I've stopped paying attention to the date and the calendar, or to the temperatures at home (trust me – they're warmer than London). I don't want to know how long this process has taken or how long it could be until it's finally done. I just need to know that at some point, I will be home, with my husband, living an American dream.
Because we've been in this temporary, in-between world for so long, I've now learned the value of giving yourself over to a process. I've learned that when people tell you that you can't plan, and dish out cliches of the "life happens when you're busy making plans" variety, they're mostly right.
That doesn't stop me from planning, because generally I believe that things don't happen without structured plans and goals. Time passes, dreams slip by, and the years go on and on. You wake up and ten years have passed – that sort of thing.
But I have now been able to compartmentalize my thoughts into two sides: the planning side, and the knowing-that-no-one-can-really-plan-for-anything side.
Whether you're living in a transitional state, like we are, or you just want to break from your chain of planning, here's how to let go – at least a little – and surrender to a process:
Don't do the math.
I'm a time checker. Whether it's the time of the day, day of the week, week of the month, month of the year, or year of my life, I'm guilty of obsessing over timelines and arbitrary deadlines. If we don't leave the house by this time, we won't get home until this time. If I haven't saved this amount by this month, we won't be able to reach this goal. If we haven't had a kid by the time I'm this old, I'll be a terrible parent who can never do anything fun and will probably be miserable and full of regret for the rest of my life. And we'll be poor. That sort of thing.
No more. I now understand that setting dates and arbitrary deadlines does little more than drive a sane person crazy with anxiety. Does this mean you shouldn't set timelines? Of course not. But it does mean that you should allow for flexibility and know that, inevitably, things will happen and your timeline may have to shift. That's ok.
Learn to escape yourself.
The next time you feel a "planic" (sorry) setting in, straight up walk away from it. You've heard this advice before, but this time you should take it. Go for a run, call a friend or family member, walk to the grocery store. The goal here is to take your mind off the process that's causing you stress, and to remind you that there is an entire world that exists outside of your problems. A world that will keep spinning regardless of how much you obsess over plans. Just walk away, Renee. And while you're at it, trust me on this one.
Find a healthy distraction – and fast.
This blog began when I moved to London and found myself living a much quieter life than the one I had previously lived. I was learning the quietness and flexibility that comes with working from home, all while living in a foreign city where my closest friends were suddenly out of both walking and driving distance. It was harder than I ever would have imagined.
I set up the blog to serve as a creative outlet to me busy and it's worked wonders. In addition to my work, I now use my blog and social media accounts as healthy distractions whenever I feel a planic coming on. It's reassuring to know that this distraction is here and waiting when I need it most.
This is what's worked for me so far, and though I am by no means without stress, learning to give in to this process rather than trying to constantly control it has left me at peace. I'm lighter because I can almost – almost – see the end of our process now, and I know that there's nothing I can do to make it come any quicker.
Whatever your plans may be – a move, a new job, new business, dinner out, running a marathon – know that they can change at the drop of the hat, and they probably will. No amount of worrying or anxiety will do anything to precent that.
You just have to learn to trust the process and give in. Even if you do it kicking and screaming as you go.