Getting 3 Hours of Our Lives Back

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Mike and I recently moved from Boston to the Greater Seattle area. Originally being from California, we feel at home on the west coast again. Before our move, a lot of people asked us why we’d be moving so far away.

The short version: we wanted to be near family. For both of us, all of our family is on the west coast. We spent 3 years on the east coast (2 years in Virginia, and 1 year in Boston). While we’re both really grateful for the experience and perspective that living far away from home got us, we were ready to be back on the west coast (aka “the best coast”). ?

But in reality, it’s much more complicated than that. Simply put: we were unhappy with our lives. We were unhappy with our career choices, and with what our futures were looking like as a result of that. Most importantly, we were unhappy with ourselves and each other for the first time in our lives together.

We had come to the conclusion that misery was inevitable – that we could never escape the soul-sucking daily grind. We believed that we were going to end up like a jaded, cynical, bitter couple. We thought it was inevitable to be unhappy and struggle in our life together.

My heart felt empty.  It felt physically low in my body.  I felt lonely, irrelevant, and disconnected from everyone I cared about, including Mike.

Sad, right?

We decided we had to stop.  The only way for us to get out that horrible place was to make some big changes.  We took our lives (and our minds) into our own hands and did something about it.

In order to make these changes and get where we wanted, we had to know what we wanted.  This is the hard part.

Knowing what you want – in life, in love, etc. – is a much more elusive thing that it’s made out to be.  Adding to that, what you want can change over time.  One day you can want one thing, and a few months later it can be completely changed.

In order to figure out where we wanted our lives – together and individually  – to go, we asked ourselves these questions:

  • How do I want to spend my time?
  • Where (geographically) do I want to live?
  • What is most important to me in my life?

The answer to these questions centered on two main things: surrounding ourselves with people we love, and having the freedom with our time and finances to do things that we’ve always wanted to do. 

Our answers were: 

  • How do I want to spend my time?
    • With family, focusing on health and wellness, and making memories
  • Where (geographically) do I want to live?
    • Pacific Northwest
  • What is most important to me in my life?
    • Surrounding ourselves with love

Once we broke it down that simply, it making the decision to abandon our budding careers (that had been 10 years in the making), and to abandon new friends and opportunities we had developed – it was easy.

We didn’t have a plan.  And we were very honest with ourselves and others that we didn’t have a plan.  We decided – for the first time in our lives – that trying to control things too much with logic and sensibility hadn’t gotten us where we wanted to be.

So we pressed on happily without a plan.  We finally realized this one, really  important thing:

Both of us individually had finally realized that we were capable of doing anything that we committed ourselves to. We’d been through hell in grad school.  We’d been through hell together.  Heck, we even put each other through hell!  And every time we got out of it – alive, stronger, and more committed to each other.

We had started over before.  I knew we could do it again.  

I now have more confidence in myself than I ever have.  I trust myself enough to know I was worth something to the world, and that would take me where I needed to go.

Letting go is hard.  But actively deciding to let go can be one of the most empowering decisions you can make.  When we first made the move from California to Virginia, Mike and I would joke about how we were losing 3 hours of our lives forever. And while we lived on the east coast, it never really felt right.  I’m even on record saying to a few people that, even after several years, I didn’t feel like I had really adjusted to the time difference.

Of course it wasn’t really that I hadn’t adjusted, but that I’d left my heart on the west coast.  My heart was 3 hours behind me, and it was begging me to take those three hours back.

We had been taught that if we did the grunt work, if we accepted a few years of misery, if we waited long enough, that we’d eventually feel happy and right about things.  That was a lie. 

It works the other way around.  Waiting is not the answer.  We were done waiting to be happy, so we went and got it – that just so happened that that was 3 hours behind us.  

So, we took those 3 hours back – and let me tell you – we really took them.  

P.S. – check out our new home here!


  1. JQ

    My husband and I considered moving a few times and your conclusion to be close to being near family and loved ones was the reason we never left.

    1. There’s times I wish we hadn’t left! Ultimately I’m glad for the experience, but glad to be in a place that feels like home.

  2. Nikki

    Great story. This is not at all where I expected the article to go, but I love that you guys followed your hearts, instead of submitting to your fears and keeping your safety net jobs. Kudos to you!

  3. Tina

    I love that you stopped and really thought about what would make you happy. Life is too short! Thanks for the great story.

  4. Pamela Schmidlin

    Getting those precious hours back is immeasurable, yes! I’m glad you feel at home again…… my family is on the west coast BUT I’m a east coast girl- I could never live anywhere else, and I tried when I was in the military! I’m a NY girl! It was just a temporary arrangement else where to me and I had to live day by day…..long story short it ended up being a big part of the novel I’m writing.

    1. Isn’t it so interesting how you just *know* where you should be? Can’t explain it really, but the heart wants what it wants!

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