The last few years have been really hard in general. We have had so many challenges and soul crushing hoops to jump through. We couldn’t have survived it without putting our hope and trust in the Lord as he kindly held our hands and helped us see his path. One of the biggest challenges was when my husband lost his job last April. Let’s back it up- my husband is truly an amazing guy. He is honest, smart, skilled, patient, true, loyal, and such a hard worker. Unfortunately he was working under an incredibly unfair, unpleasant, and even malicious mentor in his last PhD program. It was making our life so incredibly stressful and miserable on top of the fact that we had just lost our dog very traumatically, gone through our foster/adoption journey (which was one of the few highs (and highest high) of last year, and then my cancer diagnosis. This guy had threatened poor outcomes for my husband if he took a day off for our daughter’s adoption and made my husband feel bad for asking for a day off when I had major surgery to take care of me. Yeah, it was that bad. We don’t miss being under his unfair and vicious rule one bit.
Many challenging months came and went. In late March I was finally given the green light of health after many oncology appointments. Right after this news was shared, my husband was unfairly kicked out of the PhD program. Anyone who knows my husband was in absolute disbelief. After all of the crap we had just trudged through now we had no vision of our future. It takes months and even years to get into PhD programs and to match with a mentor who is willing to take you on. This was all thrusted on us in April when PhD programs were already filled and mentors had no room for more doctoral students. What the heck were we going to do? How were we going to make a living? We had just moved our life from San Antonio to Dallas and less than a year later we are finding ourselves in this position. How would my husband get to the career he wanted which is impossible without a PhD? We were at a total and utter loss. I will skip the details for time’s sake but God…really that is all I can say.
Our tearful prayers on our knees, our family and friends and church prayed alongside us and we were granted an incredible opportunity that only God could have come up with. In a situation that should have been impossible, too late, too many obstacles we found ourselves moving to the tippy top of Michigan’s upper peninsula. I literally didn’t know Michigan had an upper peninsula until the day my husband brought up this crazy opportunity. We were on the edge of our seats for a good couple of months waiting to see if this was too good to be true, but indeed it all worked out!
In July we made the move from Texas up to Hancock, Michigan. My husband has almost completed his first semester at Michigan Tech which is a wonderful and very prestigious university. He is respected and treated kindly and fairly at work. It is actually a healthy environment. It is a vastly different way of life up here. We live in an isolated area surrounded by unreal beauty. The shores of Lake Superior, snowy hills, and waterfalls now surround us. We don’t want to be here forever but what a cool opportunity this is. We are so far from family and everything familiar but we have been able to thrive in our new home. This was the longest intro ever to say that today I wanted to share 10 tips with you about how to thrive after a cross country move.
1) Find a church/group to be a part of
For us finding a church that supports our beliefs was key. Church is very different up here and we are still trying to get used to it but we have been able to plug into church and a small group that loves us, prays for us, and most importantly points us towards God.
2) Explore! Moving can literally feel like a vacation for the first few months, enjoy it!
Find all the places, see all the things, find the hotspots that everyone talks about and the less known places that can become special to you. For us that has meant hiking waterfalls, finding sled hills, playing on the shores of Lake Superior, enjoying local bakeries and beautiful views in our new city.
3) Find a favorite restaurant
If you couldn’t have guessed, we are major foodies and good food is important to us. It was so hard to move away from a booming food scene in TX to where we are now. Thankfully we have found a few restaurants we really like.
4) Find a coffee shop or a space you can enjoy being at
I am all about having a place with a nice aesthetic, preferably a good coffee shop, for having time with a girlfriend or getting some work done. There are a couple of coffee shops here that fit the bill for me and have become places I can look forward to spending time at.
5) Check out the grocery stores around you and pick the one that works best for you
This one was hard for me when we moved up here. We are in such an isolated area so we don’t have as much up here. I am used to having any and every store within a 10 mile radius but now I make do with the stores here. Thankfully I have been able to figure out of the handful of stores here who has what and how I can get almost all of the ingredients and products I need. Online shopping is a life saver up here!
6) Put yourself out there to meet new people
This one can be big and scary but you just have to do it in order to thrive. We were made for community with other people. I started going to the library story time with my toddler and that was an outlet to socialize, I added some moms on Instagram that I saw lived in the area, I showed up at community events and talked to people. You have to put in the work to meet people.
7) Join some kind of group that meets regularly
There aren’t many groups up here where we are but we do have a MOPS group (mothers of preschoolers) and that gave me an outlet to meet other women in the same season of life as I am. There are all kinds of groups to find people you might get along well with, especially if you are in a bigger city. It is well worth the effort to find one!
8) Invite people over, don’t wait for someone else to invite you
It can be easy to feel like as the new person in town that you should wait to be invited to other people’s homes, but you can actually be the first to have people over. Just another way to love on others and start building your community.
9) Download the Marco Polo App or facetime regularly with your people; it is good for the soul
Oh goodness this has saved me time and time again. When I am having those sad, homesick moments, longing for familiar faces or friends and family being able to see actual faces has been so good for the soul. Thank goodness for technology. I am able to keep up with my best friends from home and talk with family “face to face (face to phone?)” regularly.
10) Make a bucket list of all the things you want to do in your new place
When you move somewhere new make a big list of things to do in your new area for your time there. This gives you something to look forward too. Things to put on the calendar and new adventures to be had.
Well that is all I have for now. Anytime I open my maps app I still can’t believe my little dot is up almost in Canada. What a crazy journey we have been on. We are making the most of our time here on the Keweenaw Peninsula and it’s been such a fun adventure. As much as we hope to move back to TX or at least closer to TX after Steven finishes school, I would say we are thriving up here. I hope these tips help you too!