moving

Dreams Interrupted ~ guest post by jake atkins

jakeandwifeyLast week, Nate Blevins talked about moving to LA with his wife to help her chase her dreams. Today, Jake Atkins shares his story about packing up and switching coasts for his wife.  Jake and his wife are two of my favorite people on the face of this earth. He's been my best friend since my first year of college. I don't know many people that are more compassionate, understanding, creative, and hopeful than he is.

I know you'll love him.

***

When I was younger, I had plenty of dreams for my life. I wanted to be in a band. I wanted to play ice hockey. I wanted to see a great white shark in the wild. While also being in the water myself. Preferably with a cage between us.

After college, I married an amazing girl who wanted to become a naturopathic doctor. This meant packing everything up in Pennsylvania and relocating to Seattle. One of the best experiences of my life was our road trip we took across the country while towing a six-foot U-Haul of all our stuff. Having never been west of Ohio, it was quite an adventure.

But after the first year's dust had settled, it began to sink in that I was now committed to my wife's dream. This wasn't a bad thing, just something I noticed. I needed to focus on getting a real job to support us, and even more so after our two girls were born. Soon after that we bought a house.

It was official: I was a grown-up with responsibilities.

Wake up, catch the bus to work, play with the kids for 30 minutes before bedtime, then clean the house and reset everything so that we could do it all over again the next day. A good amount of conversations with my wife had to happen over Google Hangouts (if you have kids, you understand).

Through this mess called modern life, it's easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. The big dreams I once had for myself now seem like a vapor, a ghosting of something once so valued. I know they're still there in the background, but not so present anymore. At least not demanding my attention as much as the daily routine, job, bills, and chores.

I've come to find there are stages in life where my dreams need to be bigger than me. They need to outlast me. They need to stretch and push things to the side, making room for others.

Watching my wife graduate last year was as much a win for me as it was for her. I desire for my girls to live long, whole, happy, and meaningful lives, so pouring into their little hearts as they grow is simply my dreams being fulfilled daily. Their dreams are my dreams now, too, and that's a humbling and beautiful thing to share.

Don't get me wrong, I still have little tastes of my old dreams here and there. I regularly play in a band at church.  I recently laced up the ice skates to pull my oldest daughter around the rink. But for now, nothing makes me happier than dreaming big with those most close to me.

***

Jake Atkins is a web developer in Seattle. When not working on the next awesome website, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two girls.

Once in a Lifetime ~ guest post by nate blevins

I'm excited to continue the series of guest posts on dreams with one from my good friend, Nate Blevins. He's married to Ashley, who also wrote a guest post here last fall about moving to Los Angeles. image

I asked Nate to share about what it was like to support his wife in her dream to move to Los Angeles and write. Another post is coming from my friend Jake next week from the same perspective. Both do a great job of addressing this question: What about the people supporting the dreams of their family?

While I've known them for a couple of years, Nate and Ashley in the last six months have introduced me to El Limon in Conshohocken and the movie Happythankyoumoreplease, supported me through rough waters, and re-ignited my passion for my dreams. I'm really grateful for these friends. They are amazing people, and I hope you enjoy this post from Nate.

***

There is a song that came out 33 years ago that still tends to strike a chord deep within me when I hear it. I’m sure you’ve heard it before and never really paid much mind to it. It’s by the band Talking Heads and it’s called Once In A Lifetime. In a nutshell, the song is about how life will continually creep up on you and catch you off guard. And that it’s OK.

16 months ago, I was living in Pennsylvania with my wife, Ashley. I had been with the same company for close to 7 years, and I was ready for a change. I had been given an opportunity with a company that I finally felt like I was being valued at. So excited for the new beginnings, I wrote a post about it.

I spent less than two months with the company, and I was spent. The job was fine, and the potential to grow with a hefty salary was definitely present. Despite the benefits, I ended up not connecting with my peers on a work and moral level. To me, it was devastating. I resigned on a Tuesday in November of 2012. With hope, and potential, I maneuvered to get my old job back. That fell apart, and I quickly realized I was unemployed for the first time.

“Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy.” Guys, Ms. Frizzle is always right.

When Ashley asked me about moving to LA to support her dreams of being a writer, the decision was always easy. She was always there to support me. When I left my job for a better opportunity, she supported me. When I left that job because I was unhappy, she supported me. While I searched 2 months for a job, she supported me. When we didn’t have money for gifts because I wasn’t working during Christmas, she wasn’t upset. She held us together during that time, and she was the rock.

Last January, I was able to find a new job, and get this, the salary was better than the bad job I had quit. The work was more up my alley, and I knew I had the option to transfer with this company. For months, LA had been a discussion. When you run out of money, have no job, and have no idea what is going on, a discussion like that can turn into a dream. While at work my first week, I got this stirring in me. I thought, This is crazy, but it’s right. I came home, walked through the door, and the first thing I said was, “Let’s move to LA by the end of this year.” We made a goal to get there by the first week of October. And WE did it.

Looking back at the influences in our life, I look to our mentors Buddy and Chelle. They were our pastors in high school, then through college, and during the first years of our marriage. They have been an unwavering example of how to support one another. Be it Buddy going back to college, or Chelle taking a principal position, or Buddy launching a new church. In the best of times and the worst of times, they will always support each other and be each others biggest fan.

Ashley and I have a story that’s uncommon today. We are only 26 and have been together for 40% of our short lives. We celebrated our 10 years being a couple, and 5 years of being man and wife this past summer. We are having the time of our lives, and living it to the fullest. I feel as if a lot of people think, “Nate is so great, moving all the way out there to help her pursue her dreams.” In reality, her dreams are my dreams. Her success is my success. Her happiness is my happiness. When you look at it that way, the once-in-a-lifetime decision was easy to make.

You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack

You may find yourself living in another part of the world

You may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile

You may find yourself in a beautiful house with a beautiful wife

You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?

***

When not storming a castle or fighting a dragon for his wife Ashley, Nate can be found exploring Civil War battlefields or browsing tech blogs. He works in the construction industry, and wishes dearly Ron Swanson was his boss. He can also make a killer grilled cheese. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram, @nateblevins.

Blessings That Don't Feel Like Blessings: Moving Friends

move

What are the things you love about a good friendship? Maybe your list looks something like mine:

Laughter. Settlers of Catan. Beer. Wings. Good coffee. Singing loudly to songs we pretend to hate but secretly love. Spontaneous adventures. Inside jokes. Watching "Anchorman" for the twentieth time. Texting ridiculous memes to each other. Bacon. Bubbles. Bad dancing. Speaking only in movie quotes. Late-night runs for disgusting food. Doing nothing and loving it.

Oh, and helping each other move.

I know. I know all about the drawbacks: Getting up early. Giving up a day off. Moving heavy objects. Moving objects that can't be carried in a non-awkward fashion. Sweating (and why do people always move in the summer?). Innumerable trips back and forth between the house and the truck, sometimes up and down a flight or two of stairs. Discovering weird items you weren't supposed to find but your friends haven't packed up everything yet. Oh, and did I mention sweating?

Despite all of that, I'd like to make a case that helping a friend move is actually a blessing. And not only for the friend, but for you.

I get it--since I graduated from high school, I've moved ten times. Every time I move, I send out an email or make some phone calls, almost apologetically, nearly begging, to ask people to help me move. I've recruited many friends to toil in the heat and humidity and deal with my lack of organization, dust bunnies, and oddly-shaped furniture. Once, I lost the key to my storage unit on moving day and had my friends drive me across town so I could find it. Fortunately, they suppressed the urge to murder me and stuck with me for the rest of the day. I tried to appease their wrath with an offering of kind-of-just-okay pizza from around the corner of my new place, but I suspect they still fight back the occasional impulse to slap me in the face from time to time.

I realize that helping a friend move, for all of us, has been a necessary evil that we bear through as part of "the deal" if we're to be friends. The more and more I've been presented with the opportunity to help a friend move, though, the more I've undergone a change of heart.

It's easy to be a "great" friend when we're talking movie night or grilling out. You don't have to twist my arm to go hiking or wine tasting, take a trip to the beach, meet up to watch a football game, or celebrate a birthday. Those things are easy and how we experience friendship 90% of the time. Those moments, those good times, those fluid and seamless interactions are necessary for a thriving friendship. But you never really know how strong your friendship is until tough times arrive.

We're not often presented with the opportunity to really prove how much we love our friends, to go beyond the easy stuff. That's a good thing, by the way--I don't go around hoping that my friends will go through really tough times. So when someone asks for help moving, I jump at the chance to be there. Very few things speak to how much you love someone more than freely and gladly offering to help take on a tough burden.

The last thing I'd want you to do is to take this post too literally and feel like I'm only talking about moving, or talking about it in a compulsory way. The fact is, some of us shouldn't or can't help friends move. There's an article I love by Anne Lamott in which she argues that no woman over the age of 40 should have to help anyone move ever again. But they could offer to bring sandwiches and drinks for the folks who can help move.

What really matters is this: we should all be looking for ways to really show our friends we love them. Some of the best opportunities to do so present themselves not in the perfect, summer sunset of a family picnic, but in the tough, gritty work of laboring with our friends in the trenches of their lives: taking their crazy kids for a night so they can recharge, driving them around when their car is in the shop, sitting with them until well past your bedtime because they need to unload their problems for a while.

We can't plan a lot of these opportunities. Sometimes there are seasons where they're abundant, and sometimes there are seasons when they're few and far between. So when a friend calls me up and asks, "Hey, would you be able to help me move?" I consider myself blessed to be able to let that person know just how much they mean to me.