3.23.2016

ON NEW YORK NATALIE, MOSCOW NATALIE, AND THE TROUBLE WITH TIME + PLACE

this post is a pep talk to myself. it can also be a pep talk for you, if you'd like.

A million years ago I wrote a post about a version of myself I called New York Natalie.

The idea was that I was living in Idaho, feeling sad and frustrated, waylaid and lost, super sorry for myself, and I had remembered realizing one day that I never felt that way very often (if ever?) when I lived in New York.

I was tougher there. Or something. I felt more grown up. Less flailing.

New York Natalie had a whole different schtick going on. She liked being mature and making adult decisions, she liked saving money and planning for vacations, she liked taking on responsibility and, like, she even liked doing the dishes. (Or, at least she did them more reliably.) New York Natalie was pretty rad. I liked her! She was going somewhere.

At least, she thought she was going somewhere.

(Turned out, she was actually going to Moscow, so...)

***

Now that I've done this enough times to know by scientific reasoning, I can stick this feather in my cap: I'm pretty good at adapting to drastic changes in my environment. I think I do it without even realizing it. Someone called it "chameleoning" the other day, and maybe that's it.

Maybe it's just a lack of any overriding sense of willpower over whatever it is I'm encountering at the time? A white flag?

It's also a little bit like being a sponge. I'm sensitive to my surroundings, usually all it takes is a couple seconds til it soaks right in. Welcome to me, anything and everything!

I also love to try new things. I am sometimes overly open-minded. I can throw myself into just about anything and really get a kick out of it. I have a healthy sense of adventure.

Whatever it is, it's a pretty good quality to have if you don't mind my horn-tooting.
Or at least it is until it involves chameleoning/acquiescing/soaking/adventuring backwards, into a former, lesser version of myself, instead of progressing forward, as maybe all human beings should.

You know. 

***

So, Moscow Natalie. 

Ughhhhhhhhh.

Moscow Natalie was never anybody I wanted to be long-term. Even at the time I was being her, I was aware that Moscow Natalie was merely a survival mode. Just Get Through It Natalie.

Moscow Natalie was stuck in Idaho -- maybe against her will, certainly beyond her control -- and it really funked around with her sense of ownership of the thing. And as a result I'm afraid she was a little bit of a pain in the ass. Obviously it is rather unhealthy for one to compartmentalize oneself in this manner! Do not ye do it! Take it from me!

Still, having now been Moscow Natalie twice, for better or worse, I can tell you. It's a thing. It is definitely a thing.

Being Moscow Natalie es no bueno. Fer nobody. I know this for sure-sure, having now in the process of returning to Idaho also reverted right back into that Moscow Natalie person, relinquishing again any responsibility or control over my own life in exchange for moping around like a petulant child stuck somewhere she doesn't want to be, living each day just to get through it, all-in survival mode, washing her hands of the thing, just, BLAH and SHIT and BLAH and PASS ME ALL THE CHICKENS, and surprise of all surprises, it hasn't been working! I am highly dissatisfied!! I want my money back!!

(Except for my chickens. Chickens for all and to all a good night!) 

So, uh, don't be Moscow Natalie anymore, dorko.

This should be simple, I catch myself thinking a lot. Just embody all the things I liked about myself better while I was living somewhere else, without having to actually *be* somewhere else, be some kind of rad Moscow/New York Natalie hybrid, duh I can do that! I adapt! I've done it! And anyway, I mean, we all can! We can all be that version of ourselves we like best to be, whether or not we have the cheat of a rad city (or whatever else is tickling your pickling) to get us there. Am I right??!?

Okay, yes! 

Challenge, accepted! 

Thrifting hasn't gotten me there. Weirdly enough!?! And neither have granny squares or needlepoint or paint-by-numbers either, come to think of it. It's like this world has gone upside down!! ;)

(The chickens do help, but they're mostly a distraction.)
(MAYBE I NEED A CAT INSTEAD?)

And like I said already, I mean, thinking about yourself like this is a really bad idea. One definitely should not do it.

One cannot solve immaturity by engaging farther into self-centered, immature thought patterns! 

But anyway like I was saying . . .  about myself . . .

***

I'm afraid that maybe the entire Palouse in general just makes me miserable.

Is it the lentils?

I used to think it was the job at SEL that made me miserable. (Well, it was.)

Or my infertility and subsequent feelings of lack of any purpose at all. (Well, yeah, it was that too.)

Maybe the fact that we were poor grad students in a very bad economy with exams stressing the husband to death and back every semester and Peter Pan was always sick and required fancy dog food that even the Maharaja couldn't afford plus the fact that the sun doesn't shine out here for fully half of the year!?!?!! 

Cause obviously... yes. All those things are gonna mess with a person, that's just how that works, and that's all right.
That's just character building mumbo jumbo, or whatever.

But now that I am here again, mis-er-able, with none of those ingredients in my kitchen, and yet I am STILL baking that miserable cake!? AND YET!???!!

Sure, I'm still infertile (or rather, re-infertile after a brief period of non-infertile), but this time I have a kid. I'm a mom!
There's some purpose right there, slap you on the face with it.
We can easily afford the groceries.
None of my pets are unhealthy or even slightly high maintenance in the least!
(Chickens. Pass me all of the chickens!)

And yet!?!?

Just kidding it's still fully dark here fully half of the year.
That suuuuuuuucks. 

(Never underestimate the Seasonal Affective Disorder and that funny in-betweenness funk one always finds oneself in whenever the weather tries to change up it's seasons on you. That there a tip from me to you.) 

Maybe it's not the ingredients that's the problem, maybe it's the cake itself?
One layer of perceived lack of control, followed by a layer willingness to roll over and give whatever away in order to merely exist, followed by a layer of bad decisions, topped off with a nice chocolate ganache.

OR MAYBE THIS IS A MIDLIFE CRISIS!
That's an exciting thought. Maybe I need a sports car instead of a cat?
(Are cats the female equivalent of a sports car?)
(Oh gosh, wouldn't that be sad kind of?)

Maybe it's just the sheer lack of control over any of my life circumstances right now.

But here's a jolt of truth that helps to burn off any excess misery calories: I am here for my husband. I am here because I like to be wherever my husband is. I like that guy! I like this family! And I am willing to bet we are all where we are because of something we love that outweighs the rest of the shit that we don't love. Brandon is the primary breadwinner of this here shindig, and Brandon's professional needs do take precedence over a lot of other things. And while that can be hard, and while we're definitely allowed to grant ourselves that truth, we shouldn't get caught up in it.

Because getting caught up in it, that's selfishness. 

Pouting about a choice I made because of a choice I made because of a choice I made (Idaho Brandon / Breadwinner Brandon / Marrying Brandon) is hideous. I made that choice. The truth is, the control has been mine all along, and it continues to be mine even now.

The real truth is that it has never been about control at all.

***

I think the realities of selfishness are much more complex than we like for them to be. In fables, it's easy to differentiate the evil, selfish hag from the pure, thoughtful princess. That's the lesson. Nobody wants to be selfish, even the worst of us human beings on this planet want to believe that we are acting out of something higher than selfishness. But it's humbling when you realize just how often selfishness can disguise itself as other things. It's humbling when you realize the struggle you're in is a struggle you happily took on and would happily take on again and again.

I think to say that control is what will save us is to say that we are better and smarter than we actually are, or that somehow we could do better with this life than what the spark of creation has been doing all this time.  

It turns out, it is selfishness that's making me miserable. And that I can work with. 

So, I had myself a talk with Moscow Natalie.
(It definitely looked alarming from a mental health point of view.)

Moscow Natalie is going to try and bugger off for a while. She's not terribly helpful, and I don't very much enjoy her, and I have better ways to attend to this deal, and 25 wasn't a good time in ANYBODY'S life, thank you and you're welcome I am in no hurry to repeat that part of my life yikes.

I've also decided that since New York Natalie may take me some time, and since she probably wasn't even all that great to begin with (I probably have overly fond memories of her that are making her seem way cooler than she actually was), maybe it's time to come up with a different Natalie. 

A better Natalie.

I think I'm going to call her Kick Ass Natalie. 

This one won't be location-specific.

107 comments :

  1. You're gonna be a kick-ass Kick Ass Natalie! Thanks for the pep talk lovely!

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  2. Love this. You have such a lovely way of expressing things. I have a New York person whom I put on a pedal-stool and become envious of from time to time. Isn't that silly, to be envious of yourself? I've tried hard to be that person no matter where I'm living but it is difficult. Thanks for the pep talk.

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    1. pedestal not pedal-stool haha oh geez

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  3. Madame!

    I met (real) New York Natalie at your going away party, aghhh such miserable timing. But let me tell you! She was funny, smart and accomplished. Man it is hard to make a change, oh it can be crap to sacrifice. Marriage is wonderful but it asks SO MUCH of us! I appreciate your candor with this here post, I don't think you sound selfish so much as "grappling with something very difficult." Can one grapple gracefully? Because it seems like you are. I hope, now that you are sadly/happily away from the rush and madness of NYC life (How can it be THAT hard just to get a stroller onto the R train? Yet it is.), you are able to return to yourself and remember what you love. Your talents, your creativity, your honesty. They came with you. What I'm saying is: write, dude. I love it when you do.

    From Sunset Park,
    ap

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    1. This is such a wonderful comment.

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    2. Agreed, so sweet!

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  4. please email me if you want/need any ideas of fun local hikes, activities, etc! the palouse is sort of cool and all, but there are some really great places within driving distance. spokane/cda/sandpoint/mccall have a fun local food scene and lots of things to do. the northfork of the clearwater river/priest lake/western montana are all super rad for camping. just hang on, summer time in this area will bring out the kick ass in all of us. :)

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  5. It's all about balance really. Think of you and your child and your spouse as three weights that have to find an equilibrium. Sometimes you give more, sometimes you take more but in the end it all balances out. That's what you need. Maybe you give now and get later? I have found myself in a similar position because I'm an army wife and I live outside the USA. Right now I hate where we live, and I really really want to move back home. I found a way to make this work for me by going back to school but it still sometimes feels like jail sentence. I get through with a sense of humor and lots of exercise. :) I'm sure you will find your way, but it is ok to be selfish. Don't sacrifice yourself on the alter of marriage just because you think it's the right thing to do. You get to ask for what you need. Good luck, I'm sure you'll be fine.

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  6. Bloom where you're planted. I think this is a good step in the right direction. Take what you enjoyed about living in New York—exploring, wondering, being outside—and do it in Moscow. Why not use your husband's work connections to take classes? You could study Eastern art history, take French, become a florist...? Or volunteer. Or work at a coffee shop and keep yourself busy/make a little extra money. I'm a happy New Yorker so I get how you would miss being here. BUT. There are other, more important ways to give yourself purpose beyond where you happen to live at the time.

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    1. I was going to say the same thing... nothing will get you out of a selfishness funk better than volunteering your time for a cause that is close to your heart. Total change of personal perspective, I guarantee it.

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  7. That is some pretty good stuff there, K.A. Natalie. And if your pep talk didn't help you? It certainly helped me! Thank one of yourselves for me ...

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  8. Thank you for this! I'm currently navigating the sloughing of who I was and approaching who I want to be, but damn, it's tough. Reading this today was perfect timing, just as a reminder that, yeah, it's real. Your honesty and knack for writing from that place is a treasure. Moving on up. You're gonna kill it, girl.

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  9. I loved this! such great writing! Life IS such a struggle sometimes, I hope living in Idaho gets easier for you. also I hope you are OK with your current situation not being your jam either. You don't have to apologize for your feelings. Life is so tricky, and I think the hardest part of being an adult is coming to terms with the choices & compromises we make - and not resenting others in the process. I am still working on it myself (constantly). Anyways you don't sound selfish, you sound frustrated and like you are trying really hard. Wishing you the best!

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  10. Last year, we moved from D.C. to England. I really, really wanted to move to England; I worked toward it for years and it finally came true. But then the move got delayed like 9 months. And during that 9 months, I complained about how hard it was to be delayed and how difficult it was to live in limbo. And then I was a full-on head case stress bag over the actual moving process (to be fair to myself, moving with 4 kids, even just next door, is not easy or fun). And then one of my friends asked me if I realized how lucky I was to get the chance to live in England and fulfill a dream, and did I realize that I sounded kind of silly complaining about what it took to get there? (Thank God for friends like that.) And I had to stop myself, because it was just my selfishness that was making me not appreciate the opportunity and making me complain about the difficulties instead of appreciating the very fact that I was going on this grand adventure with my husband and kids. I got caught up in the selfishness and it was not a good place to be. You'll find your way out, because having recognized the real problem is the first step. Good Luck & Kick Ass!

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  11. THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED RIGHT NOW! Dang. Thanks for such an amazingly open and honest post. Perfect.

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  12. I needed to read this so much. Thank you for reminding me that when I feel like I'm stuck in limbo, I'm actually here because I love and support my husband.

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  13. All the best + my love to you!!

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  14. I went through almost exactly what you are currently going through. We moved away, we came back, I had 3 kids, I was in limbo, I wasn't happy. I threw money into hobby after hobby, thinking that *this* was the thing that would make me happy. It didn't btw, I'm not creative at all, at least in the knitting, art, writing sense.

    I have now managed to find my thing, but it's taken 33 years. I'm now back studying for myself, job-hunting to go into a junior position as a web developer, but excited to wake up for the day...which never happened. So maybe my advice is this: find your thing. It might not be what you thought it was ever likely to be or be in any way 'cool', but it's there. 12 months ago, I thought I had no thing and was so all over the place, and resentful (the worst part). Now I have my thing, I'm content.

    Good luck x

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  15. T*H*A*N*K*Y*O*U !!! I really needed to hear you say that, as if I have some stake in your Idaho life. My heart broke a little when you left Brooklyn. I was in awe (a bit skeptical?) that anyone could so seamlessly leap from NYC to lovin' on her chickens the way you do. Fist pump, Natalie. I get it now. Your vulnerability and honesty rock, chickadee.

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  16. It's Idaho. At least, it was for me. I followed my later-to-be husband there. He'd warned me, but I believed in my own peppiness. But after four years I realized Idahoans had defeated my peppiness. After 8 years, we gave up. Now in Texas, I'm back to who I was pre-Idaho, we both regained our energy and well-being. There is a different energy here; the people we've met so far have been nice. There is a work ethic we appreciate. Service matters here.

    I followed my man to Idaho. I'd follow him anywhere. He's the best human being I ever met. We just lucked out with Texas. Finding a life partner is much, much more difficult than finding a home, so I understand your choice very well.

    You are likely stronger than I, and therefore able to rise above the bizarre energy I felt there. It's not you, that's for sure. You learned that when you were in NY. You'll find your groove. From the other comments, it looks like we're all here for you in the process.

    Cheers, Ardith

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    1. not everyone in idaho is a bizzaro peppiness destroyer! although there are some, not gonna lie ...and what's that saying about the squeaky wheel getting the most oil, so there's that. but some of us are fun :) - sorry for your experience :/

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    2. Thank you, Steph. Wish I'd met you when I was there.

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    3. It makes me sad to see posts like this. Idaho isn't bad at all and I believe that there are ugly people no matter where you go or what state you're in. Having been raised in north Idaho - I love it. And I love the people here. Most of them are nice and friendly. So when people talk about not enjoying idahoans, I just don't understand. That being said, I am glad you are happy where you are now :)

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    4. You are another person I wish I'd met, Natalie. I really wanted to have a different experience than the one I had. And I seriously tried to reach out. But I am being truthful about my particular experience. Guess it was just in the cards to move to Texas. I do wish I'd met you three, you represent Idaho well. Cheers, Ardith

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  17. Thank you! Great pep talk. I keep telling myself "when we leave Chicago I'll be this" and "when we leave Chicago we can really start our lives" but our lives have already started, and I need to take advantage of the opportunities that I have now and be Kick Ass Kiley :)

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  18. I really loved this post! I really needed to hear this today because I've felt the same way. And I feel you - I lived in Pocatello.

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  19. I've never understood that whole, "I need to find myself" thing...we find ourselves by helping others. So I think you've hit the selfishness thing on the head - I've been there often ��

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  20. Youre really awesome, Natalie (all of you). You can be kinda hard on yourself! We all can and I really love your adventures and am thankful you share with us. Can I ask if you feel you are busy enough? Boston Hannah wasnt to shout at everyone and then hide because I don't want to hurt anyone....I'm finding that the Boston me is bored but needs to get a new scene with people like me. I'm sure you've thought of that...that's the hard one-the question: what gives me purpose right now...

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  21. I think you need a cat.


    ;)

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  22. When times are tough for me in the dark times of winter (literal and metaphoric winter, we're talking about here) my little sis always reminds me of what The Great Dolly Parton would say:

    "Wildflowers don't care where they grow."

    That's you, little lady, and I'm sure you'll grow any which way you can in any old place you find yourself.

    xoxo

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  23. When times are tough here in these epic, long, northern winters, my sis always reminds me of what the great Dolly Parton would say,

    "Wildflowers don't care where they grow."

    That's you, little miss, and I'm sure you'll find some way to bloom in any old place you find yourself.

    xoxo

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  24. lovveee this. I love your ability to be accountable for your actions, even if they took you to a place you're currently not very happy with. and living in a place that you *love* does do something amazing to a person, without any conscientious effort. but deciding that you are going to try and become a better happier self is pretty amazing and hard and bad ass.

    the great thing is new york will always be there for you when you need a pep-talk vacation or to move back too.

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  25. This is hands down one of my favorite posts you've ever done! Thank you! Spoke to my soul with this one!

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  26. oh this is really so so good. insightful. relatable! well worded!! i struggle with my different selves and control and selfishness and i am glad you're willing to write about it in such a perfect way! i think you are kick ass natalie just for identifying your details do well. and those chickens! they're kind of my dream. i'll be honest. ;)

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  27. What a great post. This is kick-ass. It's what a creative, good, interesting, honest person writes. It's such a recognizable problem, and taking us through your thought process is helpful for, us, your readers, too. It won't be a straight line to another self. That's the fun of living a real life. Well done KAN.

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  28. Yeah, I've kind of been wondering how you've been doing. Sometimes you seem a little depressed, and I miss more frequent blog posts. I miss your Motherhood Right Now posts. I miss all your outfit posts. I miss all of your posts. Here's to things looking up! You're tough!

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  29. YES. THANK YOU. A new stay-at-home mom with way more time for self-reflection than I care for, I am just now realizing that the face I saw in my own mirror but didn't quite recognize for abooout two years was Duluth Tala, and she was not ANYBODY's idea of a good time. Nashville Tala did not transition well to the northland, and my face stuck that way. Now, after another geographic change, I think I'm mourning all that time I wasted being Duluth Tala. As a thirty-something, may I be almost done with these "phases"? Tiring. Sheepish. Hopeful?

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  30. I married my college sweetheart and chose to move halfway across the country as part of the deal. I still wish I were closer to family, but I have made the best of it. That came when I stopped keeping my life in a holding pattern. When my kids started school, I did too! I went for another degree and I totally got my groove back. I didn't realize how much my self image had suffered - being a stay at home mom was a great time in my life but it is so nice now to just have stay at home mom days interspersed with school days...and I am so close to starting a completely new career as a result of this education I have been working on. My kids are so proud of me. My husband is so happy to have the confident person he married back again. What works for me may not work for you but take a class while Huck is in school and give it a try!

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  31. I just want to say that I relate very much to this. I have moved many many times in my life and not every place suited many, some were downright depressing like it sounds like Idaho is for you. I'll admit I got the hell out of those places each and every time after I felt like they were rotting my soul. I'm in my happy place now and flourishing. Like you said, even doing the dishes doesn't suck when you're happy. For your sake I hope this stint in Idaho is short! Like a previous poster said, something about not sacrificing yourself on the alter of marriage...maybe you could ramp up your work obligations and travel more? Something for yourself? sending warm loving thoughts from New Orleans where you're always welcome ;)

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  32. Good reminder for me while I'm stuck in the middle of no where panhandle florida. Thanks for your honesty.

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  33. Consider getting a job or volunteering somewhere.

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  34. Consider getting a job or volunteering somewhere.

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  35. Oh Natalie. I'm just so sorry that, whatever the cause, you've been feeling so bad.

    Whatever you have to do to get there... you do deserve to be happy. That's cheesy as hell, but also true.

    I was in a different situation, but I lived in Seattle for five years and I'm sure it makes lots of people happy but it made me feel terrible almost every day that I was there. We moved to LA almost 9 years ago and every day that I'm HERE, I rejoice in being an Angelena. Others detest it here, and I sincerely wish for them to go where they'll be as happy as I am here.

    I'm not saying you'll never find it in Idaho, and there are some great suggestions above for things to try! I'm just saying: your happiness is incredibly important and valuable. I hope you get to that place again!

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  36. Ok do you want to read something inappropriately long for a blog comment but seemingly apropos for this essay? I just came across it and the thing is so beautiful I could cry:
    What do you do with the mad that you feel
    When you feel so mad you could bite?
    When the whole wide world seems oh, so wrong...
    And nothing you do seems very right?

    What do you do? Do you punch a bag?
    Do you pound some clay or some dough?
    Do you round up friends for a game of tag?
    Or see how fast you go?

    It's great to be able to stop
    When you've planned a thing that's wrong,
    And be able to do something else instead
    And think this song:

    I can stop when I want to
    Can stop when I wish.
    I can stop, stop, stop any time.
    And what a good feeling to feel like this
    And know that the feeling is really mine.
    Know that there's something deep inside
    That helps us become what we can.
    For a girl can be someday a woman
    And a boy can be someday a man.
    -Mr. Rogers

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  37. I lived in BK for four years. Living in NYC, one has to be resilient! Everything takes more energy! Navigating the city each day felt like a major accomplishment. Ultimately I found it kind of exhausting and I was ready to head back to the West Coast when I did but it sounds like you loved the hustle! Hard to give up for sure. Things I miss that I couldn't do if I went back to visit would be to relive that fun afternoon drinking sangria in the garden of that cafe around the corner from my place that isn't there anymore. And I would walk through five Brooklyn neighborhoods to the Trader Joes and take the bus back home. And I'd eat Donut Plant donuts. Ok that last one I guess I could do next time I visit ;)

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  38. Sending you a big hug. And do NOT feel selfish. You're entitled to all of your feelings and frustrations and I hope you find your tribe there along the things that fulfill your admirable quest for further purpose. You're full of talents, creativity and energy!

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  39. Hon, don't be so hard on yourself. It isn't just a matter of you taking responsibility for changing your mindset. We all have our own unique personalities. Some people's interests, curiosities, challenges and needs suit certain environments over others: in other words, some people hate rural life while others love it. This isn't just a preference that you can select your way out of.

    I think one tried and true way of giving yourself purpose is taking classes that interest you. It can be rejuvenating to give yourself a specific focus and engage your mind. Maybe take advantage of your access to education there--not for a degree or to prove anything, but just for yourself.

    To me, your struggle is one women have faced since forever. It implicates a whole host of issues related to how women join and move through the job market and the choices we have to make around this path. Seems to me you might take an interest in studying women's issues.

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    1. 'This isn't just a preference that you can select your way out of'. Great line, and very true.

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  40. Beautiful post, Natalie, so honest and raw. You are one my internet icons, I'm rooting for you girl! :-)

    You are definitely not selfish, absolutely not. I mean, come on, of course you would prefer living in New York, we all would (and I am not even from the USA). I am really hoping that Brandon will be able to find a good job back in the city in the near future.

    What I think you could do now is - travel more! Make a plan and try visiting new city often. Try finding cheap flights to Europe even if it is for the weekend. Take Huck with you! Partner with some companies and do the travel diary (Airbnb, Homeaway...). You are a master of writing, I can just imagine how fun those travel diaries would be. Then Moscow would only feel like the airport where you come and stay a bit until next flight.

    Love,
    Jasna

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  41. Hi! I liked this post, I could relate. I moved to Stockholm, Sweden from Columbus, Ohio a year and a half ago. It's been challenging, but also rewarding. The early sunsets in the winter (2:45 pm) are definitely hard to adjust too, not saying that I have actually adjusted...and the never ending winter. of course, I made the choice to move (with my swedish husband) and at this point I cannot imagine moving back to the states.

    I'm commenting because I wanted to share this with you http://www.transitionsabroad.com/publications/magazine/0507/coming_home_from_study_abroad.shtml.

    Scroll down to "bringing it home". the page talks about moving to a new country, but this definitely can apply to adjusting to any new culture, and I can tell the culture in Moscow is so different from NYC that it could be like moving to a new country. I like how they compare good days to bad days. It reminds me of your New York Natalie vs. your Moscow Natalie. ultimately, all I have to say is, be patient with yourself.

    med vänliga hälsningar, emily

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  42. This was amazing!!! You are such a great writer first off, I could never put into words something like this. I wish. I can't imagine moving from one extreme to the other like you did, but we do move often for my husbands job also and we go through similar feelings. We love one place and we seem happier and life is great, and then we move to a less "cool" smaller town (like currently nowhere south carolina..) and suddenly life sucks again. This really hit me on the part that I do act like different people in different places. When we're somewhere where life seems big and exciting I feel that way. And when we're somewhere that sucks, I become a sucky version of myself. And it's simultaneously easy and hard that I also can adjust to new surroundings pretty decently. I still freak out about finding "my place" because I want my identity instantly, but overall I do really well with the changes. AND that last point you made is something I need to remember too. I made this choice. And that part doesn't suck. Thank you for always being so real. It's honestly so, so refreshing around here in this blog world where no one admits that life is hard. I just want to say that I really appreciate it, and as a tiny little blogger I've always looked up to you for this reason. And you can do this! Go new Natalie! xx

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  43. Natalie, there is this blog I go to, and it's based in NY. It's an endless parade of pictures of this photogenic family and their numerous sponsorships. I'm sure they're nice people, but the blog is boring as heck (yes, I know it's dumb that I go to a site that annoys me). What I love about your blog and your blogging "voice" is how interesting you are. This was such a thought-provoking post you wrote. It sounds like you are undergoing some major character growth, and like that Bible verse says, character never disappoints, right? At the same time, I do hope that after a few years in your current location, you and your family can move to a different place, where perhaps Brandon could be a professor in a different location (I'm picturing Portland or Seattle areas, maybe?). Reading this post got me thinking about my early 20's and when I was newly married. We were broke, and the financial stress really got to me. I didn't see how things would ever improve. I was kind of a pill to my sweet husband, and I actually brought him to tears once with my meanness. I tried so hard to grow during that time, and eventually I succeeded to some extent, but the resentment I had was hard to swallow. I'm glad now we went through that time, but I am so thankful that job prospects and finances dramatically improved. I hope I would have been able to accept if things hadn't gotten better, but honestly, I don't know. Natalie, it is my sincere hope that you grow from this time, but that you're not in it forever. Like another commenter said, it:s okay to ask for what you want, too. Maybe you can't get it right now, but definitely expect that you can have that for later. I wish I had been more honest with my husband all those years ago. He could have changed his job situation, but I sucked it up and tried to put on a good face for him, because I loved him and wanted to do the right thing. When all that toxic resentment came out like a volcano a few years later, he was shocked. He hadn't known, because I'd hidden it so well. He said he wished I'd told him a lot earlier. Just some food for thought.

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  44. Oh, and Natalie, PLEASE get a light box for SAD. No wonder you've been unhappy! Seasonal Affective Disorder doesn't mess around. I love where I live, but without my lightbox, my whole world feels depressing. Seriously, LIGHTBOX. You will be amazed at the difference!

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  45. Cats cure everything! Get a kitty that won't eat the chickens!

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  46. Thanks for sharing and being so honest, Natalie. I've been through moves several times like you have and you put perfect words to how I felt about our last move 4 years ago. We moved back to my hometown. A place that a lot of people seem to LOVE and go on to write all about how cool it is on their vacation blogs after spending just a weekend here. But it's just not for me. DESERT=HELL in my book. I think everybody has places that speak to them and places they just don't jive with. But my husband and five kids LOVE it here and are thriving. My first year back was the toughest, I'd just had a baby (hello hormones) and I cried what seemed like every other day which now just seems excessive. I'm still fighting my selfishness and dreams of moving somewhere you can stand outside for more than 2 seconds in summer BUT I am finding a great deal of joy watching the people I love feel truly happy. Because you just can't make everyone happy all at once and this is my turn to fight a little bit harder for happiness. My husband just got laid off (yikes!) and while we are trying to figure out our next move, I'm feeling a small twinge of excitement to move to someplace like Austin or San Diego. But then I'm also feeling things I never expected. Like I might want to stay here in this place I don't love!!! What?!!! Sometimes after you fight for so long, the happiness of others becomes just as important (if not more so) than your own happiness. And that's not such a bad thing. I'm learning to love where I'm at and that means I'm growing and showing my selfishness who's the boss. Praying that things work out and that you ultimately find yourself in a place you love. But here's to fighting the good fight until that all falls into place!

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  47. I relate to every single thing you are saying here. My husband and I lived in a big industrial city, with horrible winters because the economy was booming and we both had really good jobs there. I was able to work half-time with my young kids at home, swapping child care with my good friend down the street. We made good money and travelled a lot and had the most gorgeous three-storey victorian house. But ultimately the landscape and culture (very materialistic) of the city sucked my soul dry. For 10 years I complained about how much I hated living there. We had great community which made it bearable, but I knew it was not the place for us. But oh the security of a good job and money to spend!!!! We called it the golden handcuffs. I went through ups and downs and many seasons of terrible attitudes and many seasons of embracing the place I was...training for a marathon in -30C weather!! But all in all, it became apparent that we needed to move on. My husband got a job offer (for a big pay cut) in our dream city, and I had to leave my highly secure job and had no job prospects whatsoever....but we took a chance and did it...we moved. I could go on and on but I've never been so happy, fulfilled, or content. I don't scroll MLS anymore obsessively and we say almost daily that we can't believe we are here, and never want to move. We are not as secure financially as we were back then, but I eventually found good work and now we both have great jobs with purpose, and are raising our three daughters with so many grand outdoor adventures I can't believe it. Life is still hard and has so many challenges, but at least I'm HOME. Good luck, will look forward to many more updates. The reality is that you will have many more emotional ups and downs....you can make it work while you are there, and find joy in your community there, but I don't think Moscow is HOME for you.

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  48. Thank God. It may help if you don't wear pink UGGS and alphabet sweaters...bring the NYC vibe to Moscow - they can handle it. Be the change.

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  49. Plus, ditto on the lightbox. You NEED one. I live in Michigan and got mine at Costco.

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  50. All I can say is I feel you! Being a military wife I have yet to live in a place I feel is Home. I don't know about you being selfish but I do know Moscow Natalie is a Debbie Downer and you don't need to listen to her! I feel like all the advice that everyone else gave is as good a place to start as any. You'll find Kick-Ass Natalie! Good luck!

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  51. Natalie just be natalie! It doesn't matter where you are you are an inspiration to so many ladies. Challenges in life make you more interesting; that's what makes you, you.
    I think maybe you should get one of those st. Benard puppies!

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  52. Dear lord lady, get out of my head :) This was me about 6ish years ago. Every move was a conscious decision to improve my married life but left me reeling each time. I had to make a big effort to snap out of it and it was a near constant internal struggle to be happy where I was. I never totally got a hold of it but was almost there when we ended up moving back to our large home town. Funny thing was once we got here I realized I was totally idolizing everything here and that put things into big time perspective for me. Way to power up and recognize! Also my ladies make everything a little bit better. Who knew chickens had super powers? Just saying….

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  53. This, this ALL OF THIS. We just moved from Brooklyn (four blocks from your neck of the woods) to suburban New Jersey (house buying was so scary). I still work in Manhattan thankfully but I am on the STRUGGLE BUS in terms of getting my life in order. But when I was in Brooklyn, I hated our place and thought that once we bought a house everything would be perfect. And now I find myself thinking that when I get a new job everything will be perfect. Or when we have a baby or more money or more space or a better car. Its a miserable cycle to be on and its SO HARD to talk yourself out of it. So I'm with you, lady. From Scotch Plains, NJ I am with you. I have two cats though and they're just the best so get one and tell Brandon to take a Claritin (my husband is totes allergic and he's the one who wanted the cats). xo-Scotch Plains Kate

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    1. Damn, thanks for this comment. Really. <3

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    2. Kate, your description reminds me of stuff Jess Lively talks about in her podcasts--the frustrations of making our happiness contingent on externals that may not ultimately deliver. Her solution is something she calls values-based intentions...too long to go into here but you might find it helpful.

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  54. Just don't take the whole "grow where you're planted" thing too far... Sometimes it really is just the place, and no amount of shaping and moulding yourself to fit it will work out. Don't make the mistake of taking it personally as some sort of failing on your part. Ultimately, you are way too fab for Idaho, and everyone knows that. A temporary sacrifice is more than enough. Hopefully you can move on somewhere more interesting (like maybe even back to NYC) after a few years! Until then... maybe there's some solace in knowing that your blog has been really lovely lately.

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  56. I've read enough of your posts to come to the conclusion that this is the best thing you've written (in my opinion)

    It's like i can feel when your words flow from the utmost of truest places and its really incredible.

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  57. This is some real shit. Thank you for getting real and vulnerable with so many strangers. Vulnerability makes the world go round and I'm thanking you for it over and over and over again.
    It's okay to be miserable. It's okay to admit that you're miserable. It's okay to sit in your misery. Until it's time to make a change--and you know when that is. Thank you for doing the work.

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  58. i feel this way every year or so. and then it passes, and then it comes back. i've always assumed it's because i wasn't living in nyc or anywhere with seasons. we feel ya, kick ass natalie. xo

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  59. I've been sitting here for like 5 minutes wanting to comment after reading this essay. But I'm literally frozen in my tracks after reading this most epic truth bomb you've written. I am in the middle of making my own New York to Moscow-esque transition for my little family to pursue a brilliant job opportunity for my husband (who is also the breadwinner so I can stay home with our daughter) and I have felt everything you described above in anticipation of this change. I can only imagine once we've moved, I'll feel the feelings you've described more intensely. But wow. This was just the pep talk I needed to remind myself of the reasons we're doing this, most specifically, that my happy marriage and sweet little family is THE most important thing in my life and I'd travel to the ends of the earth for them. Thaaaaaaaaaaaaaank you for pouring your heart out here and for sharing it. Pep talk received with great gratitude :)

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  60. Thank you for sharing. You're not alone in how you feel, life is just exasperating sometimes. What about a dog? A good mutt to chat with, protect you and eat the food you might drop on the floor? That's a positive thing about Idaho, it's a lot easier to keep a larger pet. You're a strong, kickass woman who's been inspiring ladies for years! You can conquer Idaho.

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  61. You rock! I can only imagine how hard it must of been to leave a big city with never ending things to do, but as you look at your little family, you realize its totally worth it! Change is hard, even when it's your second go at the same thing! You can do it! You can be happy! Thanks for sharing, I can def. relate to a cross country move because of husbands/boyfriends careers...but in the end its your people that matter most!! lots of hugs!

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    1. (oops, deleted it)

      Hey Natalie,

      I get your struggle. I followed my husband to another country for his work a few years ago. It was-is-an incredible opportunity, but once the newness wore off, it was just me. In a new place. Trying to fill my days in ways that made me happy + fulfilled. And that wasn't always easy. Since I didn't speak the language, finding a job was hard. Eventually I did, but what helped me immensely in between?

      1. VOLUNTEERING. Seriously. Go out and google volunteer work in your area right now. There are so many ways to do it in the states: food banks, become a 'big sister', work at a literacy foundation, see what the library needs help with. Giving you time will take your focus off of yourself (I think we all need to do this) and give your time purposeful meaning.

      2. Take classes. I took a language class and a pottery class, one sucked and one was great. Both challenged me and gave me new skills. I thought about taking an improv class too, but really the possibilities are endless. Art, cooking, language, skills, whatever. Find something that speaks to you and register NOW.

      Sooner is better than I'll get to it later.

      Doing these things not only made me feel better about myself, I think it made my relationship stronger. My days were more interesting! My stories were better! I was excited about my days!

      Give it a whirl, I think it could really help! Good luck to you :)

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  63. This is the first time I've ever commented on one of your blog posts, even after following you for a few years. This really struck me because I'm going through something similar. We moved out of NYC after living there for 10 years once we had our daughter. Things just seemed too hard there with a little one in tow. Adjusting to a new city is hard, it's been almost 6 months for us and I still look back and idolize my old life in New York. Part of that for me is missing the me that existed before having a kid. Life is all about change and we can be whoever we want to be wherever we are! Good luck.

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  64. This is also the first time I've ever commented. I moved from Brooklyn to Minnesota for my husband to go to grad school and it has been TOUGH. I think I cried every day for the first 6 months. I don't like Minnesota me and desperately miss New York me. I've spent the past two years thinking so much about place - feeling weak for not loving it here, feeling badly for not being able to just magically adjust, feeling stupid because I know in the grand scheme of things, this is a champagne problem and who I am to complain - overall, I'm very lucky to have my life and my husband. I beat myself up about this for a while and now I've just started coming to the acceptance part - maybe Minnesota isn't for me (this is not to say bad things about Minnesota - it's a beautiful state!) and that's okay. I need to work on not feeling so defined by my place. I'm sure we'll have more moves in our future (hopefully back to New York soon!), but if that doesn't work out, I need to be able to like me as I am, not where I am. But that's a longer process. And while it's not good to wallow, it's important to recognize and legitimize how you're feeling - the worst is pretending everything's fine. Either way, thank you for writing what I've been feeling for so long. You've got this.

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  65. It's like you've read my thoughts!! Leaving NYC was the hardest/worst/best thing we've done. I miss NY Lisa and am jealous of her almost every day. You're not the only one slogging away :) It's hard to feel special/cool/hip when you're just another stay-at-home mom in suburban New England. But I refuse to have "peaked." I'll peak when I die. You're doing great.

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  66. I never comment but this post spoke to me because I'm right in the muck of it too. I was born and raised in Charleston, SC but moved with then boyfriend (now the hubs) to the Midwest-KANSAS. We spent the last 11 years following his promotions from Wichita to Branson, MO to Wichita again and finally to Kansas City. I spent an awful lot of time feeling disjointed and directionless and wishing for his job to take us (and our two boys now) back East. Last October, we finally got that opportunity. Everything I thought about being back in Charleston with my family has been completely shattered. We live in a depressing rental, there are no kids the boys' age on my street, no stay at home moms to keep me sane, no network of people in general. My family here is spotty communication and support wise and the hubs' new job means he's traveling around the country about 95% of the time, leaving me here with the boys alone. I told myself I should be grateful-we live very comfortably, we're in the process of building our dream home...but then I'd feel horribly guilty because I don't feel anything but miserable. Worse is just as you said, I have reverted back to Charleston Jen and she's the worst. She has no motivation, she's gained a few pounds because she no longer has the energy to work out, she's lonely and feels like she's floating through each day. What seemed like a particularly crappy case of Seasonal Affective Disorder is now morphing into overall depression.

    The hubs now wants to move to a nice suburb just outside of Charlotte. After much research, it seems like a fantastic place for us. And yet. I find myself stalling, feeling worse for leaving even though I'm unhappy here. I worry that Charlotte Jen won't be any happier than Charleston Jen or Midwest Jen. I have to get out of this funk. Knowing I"m not alone in the struggle makes me feel so much better.

    I wish you lots of luck and I hope you too can find your way out of the muck. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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  67. Good luck with that one! I've been through much of the same after being back in Spokane and we are doing everything we can to move back to Zurich. Maybe NYC is where you found your home, after all. Third time's the charm is what we like to say. If we can pull it off, this will be our third move to Switzerland. BONKERS. But that's just how we roll. You've gotta do it to know. And now we know living in Spokane isn't for us, even if it does mean double the space for a third of the price and all that.

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  68. I always loved Moscow Natalie!

    That being said, 25 was my best year (before I met and married Andy in a heartbeat last year. Yeah, this past year beats 25 to smithereens, is what).

    Good luck with the adjustments and finding Kick Ass Natalie; I have a feeling she's not too far off.

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  69. I think Everywhere Natalie is a beautiful inspiration to every one of us and we are lucky to follow her lovely posts wherever she might be. She's one cool gal!

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  70. I really love you. And this blog post. You are wise and wonderful and most definitely bad ass. xoxo

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  71. Here's a thing. "New York Natalie" just sounds good. Alliterative. Kick ass Natalie is good. But in case you need a location specific identity, you know, for later, I propose New'daho Natalie. That's short for New Idaho Natalie. The version of you that takes some of your New York and still recognizes that you're in Moscow, but also recognizes that "'daho" is spunky and Moscow is mouse-y.

    Here's another thing: you should have a b&b or a vacation rental or something.

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  72. Here's a thing. "New York Natalie" just sounds good. Alliterative. Kick ass Natalie is good. But in case you need a location specific identity, you know, for later, I propose New'daho Natalie. That's short for New Idaho Natalie. The version of you that takes some of your New York and still recognizes that you're in Moscow, but also recognizes that "'daho" is spunky and Moscow is mouse-y.

    Here's another thing: you should have a b&b or a vacation rental or something.

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  73. I was the same way when I first got married moving back and forth from utah to texas three times!! Sometimes it takes a lot of moving around, and sometimes back and forth from place to place to find out who we really are, and what the purpose may be as to why all the moving around, and feelings that come with it. You'll get it girl, and it sounds like your off to a kick a** start!

    xoxo

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  74. man, i love this! hope you'll let us know how kick ass natalie is coming along...'cuz i'm still working on the kick ass version of me. i've had some doozy moves to follow my husband's jobs as well...and well, it sucks a lot of the time. selfishness sucks. starting over sucks. but there are always bright areas as well. it just takes constant effort to keep all the sucky asses kicked and the bright spots right in front of my face. :) love you + hoping for the sun to shine in your neck of the woods!

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  75. It took me forever to learn this, but happiness has to come from within. You cannot look for it in places or things (or even people, really). Those things can bring you measures of happiness, but if you cannot find peace inside, in the quiet of your mind, you will never find it elsewhere. My husband always wants to move somewhere new, thinking the next place will be the place where he will be happy, but there is always something new at the new place that irritates, that feels as though it is stealing away happiness. I try to explain to him that we cannot look for happiness in a place. It's not there! I think living in the moment helps, though it is difficult to do. We are always looking back or forward instead of planting our feet in our lives in the moment. I ask myself..do I have everything I need in this moment to be happy...and I look around and think...yes. That is where happiness is found. Right here, right now.

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    1. I like this.. don't we all need to remind ourselves of this.

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  76. Thanks for this post Natalie. This is exactly how I have been feeling for quite sometime now. Knitting away in the dark winter months. (ehem 6 months of the year) I often tell myself to get over it. Get over the fact that I live thousands of kilometres away from my own family, near HIS family, in HIS home province. I get upset and indifferent toward him because of this. I take a lot of things out on him. Which isnt fair of me at all. But I know that in the beginning this was MY choice and I have to own it. I have made lots of wonderful friends and experience some wonderful things living here. I seem to always be waiting for life to start. But this is is, and its wonderful in so many ways. Thanks for your encouragement. I think since your move this has been the time that I have connected with your blog the most, in all my years of reading. I cant wait to see what comes next for both of us! Tight hugs and love. -Lindsay

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  77. Natalie, this post is FANTASTIC and definitely one of your best ever, if not the best. All of your honesty and candor and humor and soul-searching to articulate a real struggle.

    Thank you for sharing, and for leaving it on a note of hard reality, rather than the cutesy/happy story tie-up that often accompanies bloggers' "life unedited" posts.

    Being aware of this stuff is half the battle. But I will say, when I was in a similar situation, I found myself feeling simmering anger/depression, which turned into resenting my husband because it was the "best" outlet for my negative feelings. Of course, my lashing out only compounded the problem and my feelings of being trapped.

    I was a SAHM at the time, but I went back to work and suddenly felt IMMENSELY happier, more in control, less angry and resentful, etc., because I had a strong sense of identity and purpose, a new social structure at work (i.e., friends that had nothing to do with my family), and something for ME that I got to define. I can't stress this enough. Huge, huge benefits, which carried over at home. Good luck on your journey!

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  78. This is one of your most authentic and best posts. And I identify with it to the core.

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  79. Sometimes, it's just because the place sucks for you.
    A year and a half ago my husband and our two young kids left the city we were in to move back to our hometown. We thought we would buy a nice house and raise our kids near our families. It was a terrible idea. Even though we're from a beautiful area by the ocean, the lifestyle and general attitude of the area just suffocated us. We're so grateful we realized it before we bought a house. We ended up switching gears and moving out of the country. We've never even happier! I mean wake up and glow with joy happy. We've realized we're people who thrive on adventure and there is no way for us not to feel suffocated in small town America.
    Oh, and we did all the suggestions that have been mentioned...classes...so much volunteering. It helped, but it didn't change the fact that we were a shell of ourselves because of the location.
    Sometimes you just need to move.

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  80. So so so so great! Thank you for writing this!

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  81. Ugh...I NEEDED this. *Hands in the air emoji"

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  82. I wish you the very best, and I understand the meaning of your post, but be gentle with yourself--sometimes a location just sucks the soul out of us. Sometimes it really is just as simple as "the Palouse makes me miserable". It doesn't make you selfish to feel shitty. I know there's a whole American thing and a whole LDS thing where we're told to pull ourselves up by the boost straps and "change your thoughts, change your world" or whatever. But. It's not all in our heads, it's not all under our control. Wishing you the best. :)

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  83. Maybe it's a chemical thing? Even if it's not, antidepressants can be really helpful. I've been there!!

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  84. I just love you so much! And I feel you on the challenges of not living where you want to be living...(utah, berlin, etc.) I miss who I am when I'm living in the city. But I'm trying to not just survive, I want to be happy no matter where I'm living.

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  85. Agree with poster above, needed this today. Thank you for sharing!

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  86. Agree with poster above, needed this today. Thank you for sharing!

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  87. Gah. I've never read something that seemed so much like I could have written it myself. On a much different scale we moved from an urban area we ADORED to live in my parents' old home in the burbs. (Cheap rent! A huge house! Win win, right? Wrong.) I've had all these exact same feelings myself. (Including a smattering of flashbacks to 15 year old Caitlyn who grew up in this same house. Lemme tell ya- those aren't enjoyable one bit!!) Even if I'm only a 30 minute commute from my old life- the move has forced a few other humongous changes that made me a version of myself that I don't care for. Ugh. Reading. This was exactly what I needed. Thank you for being kickass Natalie. Seriously.

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  88. Thank you for your honesty!I totally needed to read this post to know that I am not alone and someone out there gets what I'm going through. Last year I moved from Salt Lake to rural Mississippi.Now, I know that SLC is no NYC, but MS is like a foreign country in comparison. To make it even more of a challenge, my husband, my son, and I are living with the in-laws to save up for a house! I feel like everything that made me "me" has been snatched away--hiking in the mountains, trying new foods, restaurants, and food trucks, spending time with family and friends, etc. Long story short I am trying to find a new sense of self somewhere where I live on a property with chickens and am an hours drive away from everything. Anyone is going to temporarily loose their sense of self with such big changes. It's so encouraging to see you reinventing yourself and adjusting. Change is not easy and it always takes time to settle in. Keep it up because you never know who you are inspiring and encouraging!

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  89. I love this! I am currently Utah Katie hoping to go back to being New Hampshire Katie again and again. Your words are exactly what I need to hear. Here's to Kick A** Katie- not specific to location!!

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  90. I love this! I am currently Utah Katie hoping to go back to being New Hampshire Katie again and again. Your words are exactly what I need to hear. Here's to Kick A** Katie- not specific to location!!

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  91. This post is the most relatable I have ever read. From being Oslo-Katrine to currently waiting it out as Nebraska-Katrine, truer words than these have never been spoken.
    I hope you find your peace and that you can cultivate a new kind of creativity that slow communities can only foster. (At least this is what I keep telling myself!)

    www.kamalim.com

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  92. we moved from Boston to the middle of the desert (not a cool desert, a meth-head, poverty stricken desert) and one thing that made me feel better was going back to school. It might not sound like much, but getting an A on a test, along with the promise of a new future path, will make you feel more kick ass than anything!

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