talk the walk

First days living in a new state have nothing to do with a new state of mind. That is, adjusting isn’t all about your attitude. Yes, people say that happiness parboils down to a positive outlook. That one can carp on the not’s, on the there but not here’s, and the yeah, but back home’s, hemming, or you can pay attention to the brighter spots…

Palm trees, sea mists and food, taking pleasure in the fact that Texas is not the only state to display GARDEN & GUN magazine in waiting rooms. But positive outlooks and bright spot searching don’t come into play until the honeymoon is over.

“Half-full Head” needs to kick in later, when the shine begins to dull and your grass turns brown. Take diets—easy to start, harder to stick with, because that initial excitement and determination wane. Once the novelty wears, once your closets are already organized and you’ve burned through your to-try list, when it’s harder to find the bright spots that’s exactly when it matters.

When you move you believe that you have the ability to create a completely different life. Matching no-slip Huggable Hangers, a sliding drawer of undergarments carefully displayed as if each were an index card of a rolodex rainbow, white lux bath towels and fresh cleaning supplies, a home for everything you’ve ever misplaced—these things, you believe, add up to a fresh start, a new lifestyle of your choosing. But I suspect it’s all fantasy. Because no matter where we move, we take ourselves with us.

When I lived in New York, I was convinced that I’d exercise more in Austin, embrace this outdoor living lifestyle. Dream to the dream. Never happened. Now, in Florida, the dream was to awake each day, drop the kids off at school, then onward ho to the fitness center, where I’d suddenly enjoy exercise. Then in the pool for a dip, a steam shower, a spot of tea as I sit to write and create, then pick up the kids and work on some planned Montessori activities I just so happened to have at the ready. Off to the market, where I’d have them smell and taste herbs one by one, as I grabbed ingredients for the gourmet dinner I’d have assembled on the already-set dinner table, wine chilled, ready to welcome Phil home.

Reality: never ever gonna happen. Except for the herbs part. That, I actually do regularly. But the rest of the items are parts of dreams that happen in just that: parts. Anything you want to do now but aren’t doing now won’t change with a change of address or attitude. It changes when you take the action. When you walk, not talk about the walk.


  1. “Because no matter where we move, we take ourselves with us.”
    Oh how I love that line! You concluded that paragraph perfectly. So true, so true.

  2. I love the idea of newness, starting fresh.

    And I swear to baby bobble-headed Jesus every Sunday morning I PROMISE that I’m going to layout all of my work outfits for the week, so come morning time I don’t make myself late trying to find whatever has the least cat hair/matches my pants/doesn’t make me look like a fat pie beast.

    Has it ever happened? Not one damn time. But I still get amped up every week just thinking about it.

    Can’t win ’em all.

  3. Visit the farmer’s market near there. I found that FL avacadoes are super huge! Plus you can always stop in at little hidden gems and get really good Cuban sandwiches. Mmm! It’s a lifestyle change for sure but you’re right – embrace, discover and enjoy it – make it your own.

  4. I’ve spent much of my life very happily living in small-town Michigan and small-town Alabama. Both places were full of hunters. I saw plenty of camouflage* and hunter’s orange, but I have never, ever come across an issue of GARDEN & GUN magazine. I feel so cheated!

    *Once, at a Troy, Alabama Wal-Mart, I saw an entire family – Mom, Dad, grade-school daughter, toddler son – dressed head-to-toe in camouflage. I respected their commitment to blending in, although they would’ve been significantly more successful in the woods than in the Wal-Mart electronics section.

  5. Yah…you’re totally right. It’s about taking the action. But, since it seems like you’re just like me and beat yourself up about the to-do lists in your head that never get crossed off, remember this: YOU JUST MOVED. If you’re at all able to remind yourself that you have the right to feel overwhelmed and therefore need to move yourself slowly into your new routine, do it! Give yourself the freedom to drop the kids off and then come home and watch The View. Or go to a coffee shop and read your Kindle. Whatever. You’ll settle into your routine in awhile, but let your brain (and heart) absorb some of the shock that’s happening to your system right now! Hugs!

  6. How lucky you are to have portable work and already have structure for your kids. Now you just have to go make friends…

    The treatment world has a saying: There is no geographic cure, because addicts are always trying to get well by moving.

    And love the camo family, last winter having an afternoon latte in Aspen, saw an entire family, mom, dad and 2 kids in full length mink. Love both images, wearing their politics on their sleeve and not even having a clue.

    Welcome to Florida, Stephanie. You are definitely an asset. Check out JetBlue and Spirit for dirt cheap flights to NY. you’re gonna like that option.

  7. So on target, and so well said. While we all hear that phrase: “you take yourself with you,” I think that deep inside we all hope that maybe A LITTLE CHANGE will ensue. I empathize with you, girl; even though I am 55 years old. Last year, at age 54, I left my beloved NY. I miss Port Washington SO much, the pain is palpable. I miss diversity; I loathe the fact that everyone driveS everywhere.
    Didn’t God invent feets before wheels?!
    I am a long-time follower of your blog. May blessings move right in with you, Paul, and the amazing Abigail and Lucas.
    Blessings to you, and hugs,

  8. OY! (says the WASP)…meant Phil, not Paul. lol.
    BTW: I am now in Connecticut. xoxo, Me!

  9. That’s so true! It’s easy to think another place will make the change for you. Or another job. Or another boyfriend. But really, what will bring the change about is just getting on and doing it!

    I can’t believe I found your site today (I love it by the way!), it’s such a coincidence since my article today was called
    time to make a change

    I wonder if you agree with my advice :)

    And that kind of sounds like my dream day too – tea, markets, fresh herbs… Maybe this weekend I’ll make it happen. Thanks for the inspriation.

  10. Hang in there SK…its just growing pains…you will be at toasting your new home at O Bar in no time…

  11. Stephanie, I’m completely new to this mom blog thing. In trying to find out why I’d read that some people “hate” mom bloggers or that there is all this tension between mom bloggers I googled and found a talk you had given with the Dooce writer a few years back. It cracked me up how polar opposite each of your approaches/ answers were.

    I just want to say you were such a complete delight and I *loved* how you suggested that the feedback you get- even the crabby, emotional comments- help you to think about your life. When I started seeing how miserable Dooce and a few others were about attention/ any negative comments (I read her monetize the hate page, and she seemed as angry and mean as the people who wrote anonymously), I just really appreciated you. I keep thinking: oh, there’s a person I won’t feel bad keeping up with on a blog.

    Anyway, thanks. Neat blog.

  12. DEFINITELY been thinking about this a lot lately; “Anything you want to do now but aren’t doing now won’t change with a change of address or attitude. It changes when you take the action. When you walk, not talk about the walk.”
    I’m a big talker—it’s part of how I get myself amped up and excited to take big, scar,y out-of-the-norm steps….sometimes the talking works, other times, I realize I’ll never do that thing I’m talking about, so instead I start talking about something DIFFERENT. I suppose, DO the things you really want to do—and maybe, I already am? Otherwise, I’d be doing those other things…right…

  13. I moved to Florida in 2004 and hated it! I had no friends or family, only my dog. I was truly depressed my first year. Every time I go back to Oklahoma (home state) I can’t wait to get back. I truly love Florida now and call it my home. Hang in there, I think you’ll love it once you get settled in. Stay cool and enjoy the ocean you have close!

    P.S. I’ll be down in S Florida next month, I would love to have lunch or cocktails with you.

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