“Moving On in Life,” March 26, 2019

Moving is not for sissies. And that is what I am. I try to avoid things that can cause me pain. Especially things that require heavy lifting or hospitalization.

Ask my sister and brother. They call me “Sissy,” and not just because I’m their sister.

But even a sissy has to move on occasion, physically and emotionally, to a new home, a new job, a new relationship or a whole new stage of life.

It’s called change. I’ve made all sorts of changes in my time. Maybe you have, too. They all seem to unfold in three stages:

_ The first stage of change is letting go. It’s hard. Especially letting go of something or someone you love. But one day you realize that you can’t keep holding on to whatever is holding you back. It belongs in the past, not the present. So you give thanks for the gift that it has been. Then you take a deep breath, open your hands and your heart and simply set it free.

I did that for months, every time I winced with pain going up or down the stairs. My old house in Pacific Grove, Calif., was built nearly 100 years ago, with two staircases between the first and second floors, and a ladder to the third-floor loft.

I know those stairs better than I know the lines on my face. I used to jog up and down them with a baby in one arm and a basket of laundry in the other.

But lately, my knees have been yelling, “Enough already!”

I like my knees. They’ve served me well. I’d like them to keep serving me for as long as I need them. So I made an incredibly difficult decision to say goodbye to those stairs, and to the house I have loved almost forever.

_ The second stage of change is moving forward. You take a giant leap (or baby step) away from what was, and plant your feet firmly in the here and now.

More than hard, it’s entirely exhausting. But you pack up all your memories, the treasures you can’t part with, and take them to a new place, a new chapter of your life.

That’s what we did last week. “We” means me, my husband and a crew of very strong men who are our new best friends and seem to like heavy lifting a whole lot more than we do.

The move was a team effort. The crew did all the work, and my husband and I did our best to keep out of their way. We took most of what we own (and got rid of the rest) from the old house and moved 20 miles to Carmel Valley. The new place is half as big as the old one, with a thousand times the view.

View means a lot to me. I don’t climb mountains much any more. But I still like to look at them. The new place has lots of mountains. They remind me of the Blue Ridge, where I grew up, and make me feel at home. And there are no streetlights, so at night, the sky rains stars.

Best of all, it has no stairs.

_ The third and final stage of change is finding joy. For a few days after we moved, I kept searching for things I couldn’t find. Getting ready one morning for an appointment, I needed to wash my hair, but couldn’t find a hair dryer. Ditto for the pants I wanted to wear. And where were my favorite black flats?

I knew all those things were probably in one of a dozen boxes in our garage. But which box?

So I went to that appointment with dirty hair, in sweat pants and running shoes, with socks I stole from my husband’s drawer because I couldn’t find my own.

I’m glad you couldn’t see me.

We keep opening boxes. It’s like Christmas without the shopping. Meanwhile, we are surely finding joy:

The joy of living in the present.

The joy of welcoming family and friends to our new home.

The joy of delighting in simple things like quail and buzzards and sunsets and constellations.

We’re especially thankful for the joy of knowing that moving was the right decision.

Who knows? Maybe someday I’ll find my favorite black flats.


  1. Lori Thompson says

    Wow. Just wow. I just drove home from Midway Airport after dropping off my youngest son for his flight back to NYC. On the drive, we talked (and I cried) about his sisters’ upcoming move from where we live in Illinois to the gulf coast of Florida. My daughter, her husband and my two grandchildren are leaving for Florida after school gets out… and taking my heart with them. They aren’t just my grandchildren, you see, they are MY kids, too! They didn’t just “visit” Grandma and Grandpa now and then. They have lived WITH us two different times and also have lived right next door for many years now. I pick them up from school most days and we do homework, make dinner, play Legos, color and play army men. We talk fashion, bible class and drivers ed. They have filled my life for the last 15 years and now they’re leaving. To say I’m heartbroken is putting it mildly.
    The thing that hurts the most right now, though? That they have ALWAYS been able to count on me. For anything and everything. I’m dependable. I have never missed a school concert, soccer game, dance recital, VBS program, etc. Now what? I am eligible to retire, but still have my 85-year-old Dad and my 93-year-old aunt to care for. Your column literally JUMPED off the page at me! Exactly the calming reassurance and perspective I needed today. I hope and pray every single day that I’ll be able to adjust to this new move. With God’s help (and a slew of frequent-flyer miles)… I will. I thank you. Ps… When we ARE able to move… I’ll be packing my file folder with all of your columns that I’ve cut out and saved over the years!

  2. Pat Skinner says

    Congratulations! It sounds lovely. Everyone deserves a room with a view. I’d love to trade in my stairs about now, too. Hope you fill your home with lots of beautiful music!

  3. Bonnie Whisler says

    Congratulations, Sharon. A new home in Carmel Valley is like moving into nature. I am happy for you and your knees.

  4. Thank you Sharon! I needed to hear your story. We moved from Texas to Colorado. It was so hard for me to walk away from everything. Our boys grew up in Texas. There was so much history. We live in Colorado now. It’s also a great place and the people are wonderful. I haven’t quite moved on, but it’s happening slowly, but surely.

  5. Kate Sciacca says

    Oh my goodness…. Carmel Valley… gorgeous! Hah! I went to a wedding a couple nights ago (with a doozy of a black eye, but that’s another story) – anyway, couldn’t find my black flats – but Marshall’s had a nice pair for $6.99…. Thanks be to God 🙂

  6. We also had a two story house and had a smaller house built, live there ten years, then decided the condo was the next move, or at least I decided for a condo, no mowing or shoveling snow for my husband, he really wasn’t ready to move. One while he was away from the house his cousin call to see if we were ready to sell, I priced it and she wanted to buy it. I’m so glad we moved because he is walking with a walker now and unable to do home owner things, someone else takes care of that. He is 87 and I ame 84.

  7. Mary Anne Simonds says

    Good for you. Enjoy your new home.


    We’ve been in our house just over 20 years. In the next year or so we’ll be planning that same move. I’ve been dreading it but you made it seem a little less imposing…Thanks

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