Five years ago, Ian and I downsized our possessions and moved to the city. When we were planning to move, we had no idea that this one change would fix a lot of what was wrong and unfulfilling in our lives and how happy we would become very soon.
Five years ago, my life looked like this:
- Ian and I lived in a pretty big (for two people) house in the suburbs.
- We had a lot of stuff!
- I commuted up to two hours a day, driving to and from work.
- I was a vegetarian but still ate dairy/eggs. And I always ate too much of everything.
- I didn't exercise.
- I spent thousands of dollars a year buying quilting fabric and yarn, but never really finished anything.
- We never went out just the two of us or spent any time with friends because we didn't feel like driving to other suburbs or back to the city.
- Ian and I were both really depressed and fighting a lot.
It was during an especially low point that we found out that the house we were renting was soon to be sold. We had the option to buy it or to buy another house in another suburb. We could have chosen to continue living like we had been...and this would have been a choice to remain unhappy.
Instead, we chose to pursue our dream of living in the city, of living a more sustainable, healthy lifestyle. And even though it was scary and new and full of "what if's", we did it anyway.
Today, life looks like this:
- Ian and I live in a cute apartment on a quiet street in the city.
- We have just the right amount of stuff...and sometimes still can scrounge up things to send to the Goodwill.
- I walk or bike to work every day. My total commuting time on a walking day is 80 minutes and I read my kindle the whole way to work and back. On a biking day, total commuting time is 30 minutes, 40 if it's really hot out and I'm biking super slowly.
- I still don't "exercise" but I'm moving around so much more. Walking around the neighborhood to run errands and commuting to work all add to a healthier lifestyle.
- I still buy quilting fabric and yarn but not nearly as much and now it's for a specific project that I work on right away. In 5 years, I've finished over 50 quilts and given almost all of them away to friends and family.
- I'm now mostly vegan and working on cutting out the very last few dairy items from my diet (homemade pizzas remain a challenge). I'm also working on portion control with the help of Weight Watchers (finally admitting I needed outside help was a game changer for me and I'm not embarrassed).
- Ian and I spend more time with each other and our friends than ever. It's so fun to walk to a restaurant down the street and not have to drive home. And since we're more centrally located, we feel comfortable inviting people over to our house for gatherings.
- Ian and I are a thousand times happier and any depression is now just mildly seasonal (his in the winter, mine in the summer) or related to busy times at work.
I've been thinking a lot lately about what this little blog means to me and what it could mean for others. There will be more on this another day but for now, I want to express one very important lesson, one I have learned from experience:
If you are unhappy with your life, change it. It might seem overwhelming, you might think it's impossible. But I know it's not. You can change most things. It might be hard, it probably will be hard. But it will also be possible. It might take a long time. You might have to change things in phases. But you can do it.
Maybe you feel like you absolutely don't have the ability to change your circumstances, and maybe you're right. There are, after all, things that we cannot change no matter how hard we wish we could. But in those instances, I still challenge you to think about what you CAN change to make your life better. There is always something, no matter how small.