Monday, October 7, 2013

31 Days: The Clean Slate

After the selling, and after the buying, and after the moving and unpacking, there will come a day when you look at your calendar and all you can say is "Wow."

Home relocation is a lot like wiping a slate clean.

It can be a wonderful time! It can also be a curse...nothing to do, and no one with which to do it!

Slowly, you have to add routine back into your days. You look at the month and wonder how to fill the days. Slowly, selectively, you begin to try new things, and before you know it, your schedule is filled once again.

Our first corporate move took us to St. Louis, where we instantly found a church we loved and quickly became plugged in. I was still the mom of a little guy then, so I joined MOPS. That lead to bible studies. That lead to Bunko groups. The boys became involved in the youth groups, and before we knew it, we were spending three or four days a week at our church. We quickly thought of our new friends as our St. Louis family.

A few years later, we made our second corporate relocation to the northern suburbs of Indianapolis. I tried to get plugged in at the big church, but never clicked there. MOPS? With a four year old, a fourteen year old, and a seventeen year old, I was practically the grandma of the group! I dropped out after one semester, no one ever called, and it was obvious the church wasn't missing me.

I looked to my neighborhood. The women included me in the monthly bunko, but little else. It was not the kind of friendly atmosphere where folks invited you over for cookouts or coffee.

Volunteering at the school? Most opportunities were little more than being the teacher's copy assistant, and let me tell you, it's hard to make friends with a Xerox machine.

Eventually, I found some connections in a part-time job. Later, we found another church and really had to make an effort for the better part of three years before we'd made real connections there.

I've come to learn that some towns are just friendlier than others.

Pittsburgh, I am happy to say, is a very friendly town. Strangers will carry on conversations with you anywhere and everywhere.

I get invitations to coffee, invitations to lunch, invitations to local functions, invitations to go shopping. If someone makes the effort to extend the hand of friendship and invite me, I will work it into my schedule and accept.

I have a wonderful Stampin' Up demonstrator who is such a sweetheart! I attend her monthly stamp camps, we go to lunch and shopping together. She's wonderful! I also have amazing neighbors who not only open their homes to us, but also invite us out for various occasions. I am now part of the neighborhood ladies' lunch bunch that meets once a month at a local restaurant. I am attending weekly bible study at the local church, and will soon become more involved in our library and its many programs. I am also volunteering as a Traveling Art Gallery facilitator at my son's school.

My oldest attends weekly bible study with a big group of young adults, and he's working at a local orchard and enjoying it.

My youngest is now taking weekly piano lessons, as well as a weekly cartooning class with a professional cartoonist at the local art school.

Life is full, selectively full. The slate is no longer clean, and I've never been happier.


Try as many different opportunities as you can until you find the balanced schedule that works for you and your family.

Here are a few places to try to become more involved in the local community:

* Try the local library for book groups, craft groups, clubs, etc.
* Take a bible study at a local church.
* Volunteer at a local school or community organization.
* If you have young children, look into attending a local MOPS  meeting.
* Take a class! Painting, knitting, stamping, photography. Often, the local community college will offer classes as well.
* Consider looking for employment, either part-time or full-time. It can become a wonderful way to meet people in your new city.
* Does your community have a YWCA? Consider a family membership and try a few classes there.

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