Journal Prompts to Help You Get Unstuck

When you feel stuck, unsure of who you are or where you fit in, especially in a new place,* journaling can help. If you haven’t journaled or it’s been awhile, it may feel awkward getting started. This is normal. Keep going. As a result, writing about your emotions and challenges will help you work through them and gain clarity. 

I highly recommend writing by hand. Since we write slower by hand than type, your thoughts will slow down as well. And you’ll hopefully feel your stress level decrease and make better observations. Journaling is a practice. If you need help with what to write, use the below journal prompts. 

Your journal is a safe space, so write without judgement. Remember, you’re writing for your eyes only. So legibility isn’t important. Commit to journaling daily, or at least 4 to 5 days for 10 to 20 minutes every week. Find a journal or composition notebook and pen. And let’s get started.

Start by reflecting on who you were at a younger age.
  • What did you love to do? 
  • How would you describe your younger self?
  • Are there characteristics that resonate with you now? 
  • Are there qualities you’d like to recapture? 
  • What are some of your biggest accomplishments? 
  • How about your most splendid fails? 
  • Any lessons learned from both accomplishments and fails? 
Discover creative and fun things to do. 
  • Are there activities you haven’t done in eons that you loved? 
  • What do you enjoy now? 
  • Do you prefer small or large group activities or meeting one-on-one? 
  • Would you like to spend more quality time with people close to you? 
  • Would you like to be more involved in your community, meet new people? 
  • What sounds exciting to you? 
  • What drains your energy? 
Lean into your emotions. 
  • How do you feel right now?  
  • How would you like to feel instead? 
  • What action can you take to starting feeling this way?
Decide what YOU want in this new chapter.

Feeling your emotions, however you feel, is crucial to getting to the other side of feeling like yourself again, unstuck and able to make decisions because you know what you want. These prompts will help you give thought to your past and present, and clarity into the things that you may and may not want to do next, in this new place. 

If you’d like help and support on your journey of discovery and  taking action, set up a complimentary session and let’s discuss. As a coach, encourager and accountability partner, my purpose is helping you discover your best self. Click here for more information.     

*Place refers to the place where you live or your place, or chapter, in life. 

The Empty Nester’s Guide to Getting Unstuck 


When faced with a big life change, such as empty nesting or relocation, it’s quite common to feel unsure of who you are in this new place. Either your new place in life or new place where you live. This uncertainty is both normal and uncomfortable. It also makes this new chapter an ideal time to focus on yourself and what you want. I’m focusing here on empty nesting, although if you moved, this will benefit you, too.

Empty nesting is emotionally overwhelming, filled with grief, frustration and fear. Finding the motivation to leave your former “mom” life behind and fight through indifference and ambivalence can leave you feeling stuck instead of a sense of freedom. 

My husband and I became empty nesters 6 months ago. While my process was bumpy, there were 3 things that eased the transition. Below is the 3-part process that helped me move from the center of my kid’s life to the heart of my own and feel like myself again faster. 

Start by unplugging.

Unplugging from social media is a gift of more time. More time to focus on you. The longer you unplug, the better your ability to hear your inner voice. The voice that’s going to let you in on what it is YOU want. 

The time to unplug is different for everyone. It depends on your current phone habits, ranging from a few hours to a full week or more to reach your most inspired, focused self. When you quiet the noise and distractions, it becomes easier to go inward, connect and listen. 

Unplugging also prevents the inevitable scrolling through the lives of our friends and strangers. Yes, social media can be inspirational. But it’s not at all helpful once we start comparing our lives and homes to those of others. So, when you unplug, your voice, your intuition, will be able to guide you towards what you want more easily. 

Think about your why.

Empty nesting is a time for discovering renewed purpose. But before figuring out your purpose, it’s helpful to figure out your why. Why do you feel stuck? 

Aside from not feeling sure of who you are outside of mom, here are other reasons you might feel stuck. More free time is suddenly available and you might not be sure how to fill it. It’s possible you can’t quite visualize what this stage is going to look like and you’re used to having a plan. It’s been so long since you’re felt like your best self that you don’t really know what you’re passionate about that doesn’t involve your family. 

Whatever your reason, I want to repeat how normal it is to feel stuck in the midst of transition. You’re opening yourself up to something new while the unknowns of what lies ahead can cause fear and anxiety. 

Give yourself some space to figure out why you feel stuck. And when you discover your why, you’re also opening yourself up to discovering what it is you need most.  

Journal for Clarity

Journaling is a favorite way to work through my emotions and challenges, and figure out what I want. Writing connects us directly to our thoughts, and inner knowing. Writing by hand helps us slow down our thoughts. Which also gives us more time for observations, and helps to create a calmer environment, reducing stress and frustration.

What you write isn’t always going to make sense. The important thing is to write without judgement. I set a timer and aim for 10 minutes to start. Lean into your emotions. Acknowledging your feelings in detail helps you work through them. Journaling will also improve your overall mood. 

Make this a part of your daily routine to gain much needed clarity about what you want, as well as help keep your memory sharp, too. Journal prompts can be found here.  

Do 3 Things Every Day. 

Getting unstuck and feeling like yourself again requires action. Action that gets you out of your comfort zone, too. 

To start, create a master “to do” list. I make a new list weekly to keep it cleaner. My list includes fun activities and outings that add joy as well as errands and chores. 

Once you have a list, chose 3 things that you want or need to do. There will be days when you don’t get much done, and others that are more productive. Be kind to yourself, and accept the up and downs as a natural part of this process. Include 1 thing you enjoy each day, too.

As a big enthusiast for place attachment, also known as loving where you live, I like to include exploring a new place every week or two. 


In order to get out of this overwhelm and embrace this new chapter, it’s crucial to keep moving forward, proactively. As an accountability partner and coach, I’m asking: 

What steps will you take to get started? 

And what 3 things will you do tomorrow? 

Ask a friend who can motivate you to try new things and get out of your comfort zone to be your accountability partner. Or if you need support, I’m a coach, encourager and excellent accountability partner. Click here for more information.     


Moving: 3 Things You Really Must Do

Whether you’re just moving down the street or relocating across the country, it’s possible to thrive and feel less stress; to relax and enjoy the journey of moving. Sure, it’s exhausting and disorienting for a while, but it doesn’t have to be awful. Here’s a list of 3 crucial things that you really must do in order to thrive while moving. 

1 – Make yourself a priority 

The very 1st and most important “must do” (and this isn’t the first time I’ve stressed this) is to take time out and make yourself a priority. I know. You’ve got too much to do. I hear you, but listen. Moving is the perfect time to indulge in selfcare. This may be the only way you’re going to get through it all with your sanity still intact. Indulge may be an exaggeration for what you can actually do right now. However, even a tiny, simple form of selfcare is going to go a long way. 

Let’s start with a simple meditation, 5 to 10 minutes per day. Begin by carving out a small, quiet space indoors or out, to sit or lie down. Your house, or hotel room, may be in complete disarray so close your eyes and block it out. Focus on your breathing. Take a deep breath, count to 4 while breathing in. Hold your breath for 4 seconds, and then slowly exhale. Continue to do this for a few minutes or until your thoughts slow down and your head begins to clear. 

There are also apps, including my favorite, Insight Timer, that teach meditation. I learned the hard way that it doesn’t have to be complicated. Insight has a variety of mediations of different lengths, including 2 minutes. And there are days when that’s all I have.  Taking this time out will help you stay focused and productive, AND not lose your cool when things don’t go according to plan. 

Head outside for a walk or run, even if you’ve only got 5 to 10 minutes. Take a bath, sitting in quiet stillness with your own thoughts for a while and just breath, slowly. Journal. Do what you can to clear your head in order to re-energize and re-focus.

2 – Establish or change up your morning routine 

Another essential must do is to establish, or make improvements to, your morning routine. Moving will push you outside of your current routine and comfort zone. My routine shifts depending on the time of year and my priorities. Some of the things I do first thing each morning, after I’ve fed the dogs and gotten the kid out the door, include meditation and exercise, catching up on the news over coffee, journaling and identifying my top 2 to 3 things that must get done today. My early afternoon routine, when I’m working from home, includes laundry and going through the mail. 

Your morning routine is going to be out of whack during the process of moving so use this time to consider how best to start your day. Wherever I am, I almost always consistently start with 4 to 10 minutes of meditation, coffee and exercise. 

Maintaining a consistent routine helps you feel grounded and at home, even when you’re traveling and in the middle of moving. 

A morning routine has the added benefit of helping you get organized and stay focused throughout your day. Moving is an opportunity for a do over, a fresh start. What was and wasn’t working for you previously? Are there any changes you can make so that your mornings, evenings or somewhere in between go more smoothly? Is there anything you’d like to add or remove? Find what brings you energy and joy. 

3 – Learn something new

One last must do after your move is to learn something new and have fun in the process. Take a class or join a group outing or tour. This is an opportunity to meet and connect to people who either share your interests, or dislike it as much as you do. If you take on something that doesn’t work or you’re a complete flop, own it with a sense of humor and grow through the experience.

Learning something new is not only crucial to your growth, it opens you up to new experiences and helps you adapt better to change.

If you don’t have time for a class or group outing right now, do a google search before you head out to run errands. Look for places of interest and learn something about them. Explore walking trails and learn how to teach your dog, if you have one, a new trick in the process. Discover a local park, a coffee and/or ice cream shop and fun facts about each. Find a new, and perhaps challenging, recipe and then head out with a treat to share and meet your neighbors.  

There is no limit on what counts as learning something new here. If necessary, view your move as a vacation. Get excited, dive in and see what’s around. Go to the app, Yelp, or to find new restaurants, shops and whatever else is in your new place. And don’t be afraid to go first.  

It took some work and moxie to discover these must dos. I get that you may not be ready to jump on board immediately. Your journey, experiences and pace are your own. Discover what works best for you, how fast or slowly you want to lean in. Then, embrace and enjoy your unscripted ride.  

And if you’d like more ideas and bigger challenges, enroll in the online roadmap, Relocation Recovery. Read more about it here

MOXIE, Relocation and the Podcast

MOXIE. A word I’ve been using for years. When Jaime Wilkins of Sincerely Satisfied asked if I’d be interested in doing a podcast, I immediately responded with a yes. I responded before fear had a chance of setting in.

Moxie is a spirited courageousness.

Moxie pushes me into the unknown, accepting that things out of my control are simply going to unfold, and possibly unravel. It’s bravely stepping up in all of my discomfort and awkwardness because doing something new is also an opportunity for growth.

Moxie keeps you moving forward bravely and doing new things. 

Moxie is especially crucial during relocation. In order to get acclimated, feel at home faster and attach yourself to your new place, moxie will push you to try new things. And take on new responsibilities simply because you don’t have a good reason to say no yet. Besides, feeling fear and awkward really aren’t good reasons to say no or hold back.

And the more you push through the discomfort and put yourself out there, the less awkward being new feels.

Encouraging people to say yes and step into the unpredictable, unscripted unknown of being new in a new place is what I do. So, in this podcast I lean in, acknowledge how awkward I feel and just kept going. Jaime and I talk about how saying yes and doing new things relate to relocation in this podcast, as well as authenticity, vulnerability and gratitude. (& off the record, I was happy to discover that Jaime has superb editing skills.)

So, pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea and listen to the podcast, here. We talk about RELOCATION MOXIE, mindset, gratitude and authenticity; inspire you to go first and say yes, whether you feel awkward or comfortable being new and more. Enjoy!   

Jaime and Sincerely Satisfied can be found here. And my instagram has changed since doing the podcast: marni_thriveunscripted

Relocation Podcast Marni Cummings

Organizing to Move: Key Tips

The key component to a smooth relocation is organizing before a move. I know it’s easy to say rather than do. And a lot depends on the amount of time you have on the front end. Confession, we weren’t always fortunate to have the time to organize first. Those moves were rough. Loose items falling off of the back of a pick-up truck rough.  

As I wrote and recommend in another piece, Moving and Packing Tips, use a spiral notebook to get organized and keep track of to do lists. I create my own lists based on our specific needs and use a flexible format. There are loads of moving checklists out on Pinterest. Use one as a reference and adapt it to fit your needs. 

In a pinch, because things change quickly, you can use blank pages from the notebook to write yourself or someone else a quick note. I love my iPhone dearly, yet it’s not always convenient or faster. 

A 6” x 9” notebook with pockets is large enough to write easily and small enough to toss into most bags. Binders have the flexibility to move pages around and add additional paperwork, preprinted checklists and tabs. Choose the format that’s best for you, and your work style.

First Steps: 

Start by thoroughly decluttering and purging. This makes organizing to move much easier. Go to the items that you don’t use, love and know what to do with first. You’ll have less to organize, less to move and less to unpack if you do this thoroughly now. This golden task will also save you both time and money on moving expenses. Per my tips in Decluttering Before Relocation, sort to make 3 piles: trash, donate, and recycle. 

After decluttering and purging, the next step is to sort before packing begins. There are a variety of ways to sort, either by person or by room and category. Relocate items to the room that they will be unpacked in before packing. Whether you’ve hired movers and packers or doing it yourself, sorting is a must. This will speed up the time it will take to unpack.

Also, go look at rooms and areas, such as pantries, the attic and garage, that have the most clutter. Decluttering these spots will require more time. Plan accordingly and give yourself the time necessary to do a thorough job. Again, head over this blog post for more suggestions. 

Packing and Materials:

Moving boxes that are the same size stack more easily on dollies and the truck. If you belong to an online community group, ask if anyone recently moved. They may have free boxes left over. And make sure any used boxes are clean. I didn’t, only once, and missed a few spinach leaves. They got packed in with a bunch of living room decorative items. 

Newspaper is great packing paper, though it runs the risk of getting ink stains on items. Or purchase paper from a moving company or supply store. Bubble wrap is an alternative, too.  I’ve also used dishtowels, table cloths and other soft items to protect dishes and breakables. 

Organize and pack items that you aren’t using first. Heavy items, such as books, should be packed into smaller boxes to keep them from getting too heavy to lift.

Stuff that’ll Move with You (not on the truck): 

Make another pile of the items that will remain with you during the move. Or if they are items used daily, keep them out wherever you use them and be careful not to pack them. More than likely these will go with you on the road or by air. 

Chargers and items that are used regularly should be packed in clear bins or bags so that they are visible and easy to find in the chaos. Start thinking about how you’re going to pack laptops, iPad and other technology. Entertainment, to help you relax and destress is important. A book and a deck of cards, perhaps.

Other necessary items that may be riding along with you are bedding and towels, toilet paper, tissues, a dish towel or 2 and some utensils. Pack cleaning supplies if they will fit, or buy them there. It will be good to run and errand and see a bit of your new place. 

Think about the number of days that you’ll be in the house before your stuff is delivered and what you’ll need. I swear by packing cubes when we go to the beach and travel and think the bigger ones could be useful when packing a full car. 

Other Important Items: 

A big mistake I made when organizing to move from Atlanta to Cincinnati was leaving my social security card in my dresser. In the chaos of getting estimates and having people in and out of our house, I completely forgot I had quickly shoved it there. I didn’t even realize it wasn’t with me until after we moved into our new home. Although there are a lot of good people out there and our movers have been great, this story could have gone in another direction even if the card had merely fallen out of the drawer. I freaked out when I found it. 

So, PLEASE pack ALL important paperwork such as passports, social security cards, wills, insurance policies, possible valuables, heirlooms, etc. carefully. Holy cow. I can’t stress this one enough or too many times. Find a good spot to start a pile and then on the day of the move, relocate it to a neighbor’s house. Or your car so that the movers don’t accidently put it on the truck. 

Spend the time upfront decluttering and organizing to move so that you’ll have more time to spend recovering and settling in. This is a time for fresh starts and self-care. And if you find that you’re having a difficult time getting acclimated and connected to your new town, try our course. Or consider relocation coaching. 

RELOCATION RECOVERY is an affordable self-paced online course designed to guide you through the post-relocation period. It’ll help you thrive by showing you how to process your emotions, make friends and connect faster in your new place, and so MUCH more. For more information, read about it here or click here to go straight to the course. 

Being New in Town … doesn’t mean you can’t go first.

Being new in town can be challenging, and lonely. I made the mistake of spending too much time unpacking and pulling the entire house together before I finally got out and started to get acclimated to my new place. At that point, I was exhausted and emotionally drained, and it pretty much sucked.

Unpacked boxes and your chaotic, messy home are temporary. Stepping away and out is an act of kindness towards yourself. Becoming familiar with your new surroundings will help you feel grounded and acquire place attachment much faster.

Start with making the most of running errands. Use apps and sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and anything local to find your favorite stores. Look for the local markets as well as big chains. And use them again later when looking for activities near you.

Outings don’t have to be just about errands. Start scouting the area, look for restaurants, coffee, home décor and more. Extend your errands to include a stop, something that brings you joy, even if you eat out by yourself. You’re new in town and may (hopefully) discover that going alone can be more fun than unpacking at home.

Make small talk with people you encounter, and at the very minimum, smile at people you pass. If it feels awkward, do it anyway. Whether you get to know the people you run into or not, most of these people are a part of your larger community.

It’s also normal for all of this to feel surreal for a while. And possible that you think you see people you know, who look a lot like a friend or neighbor from your previous town. Or, maybe that’s just my weird thing each time we move.

Being new is the perfect reason to go out alone.

Going out alone only feels as weird and uncomfortable as you allow. Most people don’t notice and those who do will more than likely be giving you a thumbs up in their thoughts. An added bonus, going alone means that you get to do the things that you want to do, on your agenda.

Relocation is an opportunity for a fresh start, if you desire, and to experience new people, culture and growth. A time to recreate yourself, your routines and rediscover what lights you up. Take time to reflect and journal, create lists and take notes during this transition. If you want to dig in, some questions to ponder:

  • What are my hobbies and passions, or some that I’ve neglected or haven’t pursued yet?
  • What kinds of places would I like to check out: coffee shop, yoga studio or (insert interest here)?
  • Are there any changes I want or need to make to my routine or in general?
  • What would I like to see happen living in this new place?
  • What can I do to really enjoy the process of being new?
  • When you have an idea of what interests you, finding activities and groups to join becomes easier.

As you’re meeting new people, make the first move and ask potential friends to coffee, lunch or on a playdate with the kids. Being new in town doesn’t mean you can’t go first.

If they say no, consider asking again. The timing, their mood, something that has nothing to do with you may be why they say no the first time. And keep going, keep asking.

Being new is the perfect reason to go first.

Finding new friends is like dating, and completely worth all of the agonizing moments. Ease in slowly and connect with 1 person at a time. Or dive in and attend big social gatherings. What feels best for you? Finding friends can happen quickly or, in my case, can take a few years to find the very right ones.

Connecting to people in a new place is a crucial component of loving where you live. Consider writing about your journey, laughing along the way or whatever you can to embrace and enjoy this process.

And when you’re ready for bigger challenges, sign up for Relocation Recovery or consider coaching.

How to Love Your Place

One of my favorite topics to coach is place attachment. Place attachment is the connection we have to the place where we live. It’s whether you love where you live, or not. Admittedly, loving where we live can be a challenge, whether we’ve moved recently, been in the same place for 7 years (me!) or your whole life. 

I enjoy listening to clients talk about their favorite places, where they used to go before they moved or in other towns: coffee shops, theatres, knitting stores, music festivals, and more. Then, I enthusiastically send them on a mission to explore their area and discover what’s around that’s maybe not the same but similar. When they discover something new and welcoming, I get to hear in their voice or read in a text joy that they discovered a new restaurant, for example, and their plans to go back. And then a wild joy sets in for me. 

So, let’s start small. Because this will hopefully bring you joy, too.

If you haven’t moved recently and struggle with loving your place, this is for you, too. 

Even if you’re unpacking and overwhelmed, do this anyway. It’s a simple formula.

Carve out time and call it self-care, because it is. Take a break, get out of the chaos, i.e. house, and explore. 

Start close to home, if you’d like, near your neighborhood and work your way out towards the center of town. Let’s move beyond running errands and do something that brings you more happiness than Target. Extra bonus points given if can walk or bike.  

Next, make a list of 3 to 5 places of interest that you’d like to check out. Which 1 can you visit in the next 3 days? Which 1 or 2 will you visit the following week? 

And then, visit each place. While there, pay attention to how you feel. Do you feel comfort and welcome? Is this a place you want to return? If it is then heck yes, go back next week or tomorrow. The more we re-visit the same place, see the same people, the more rooted and connected we begin to feel. 

If it isn’t, try another place. The time it takes to find your favorite places and feel acclimated is different for everyone and largely depends on how proactive you’re willing to be. 

Being in the in between is a good place to be.

You may be feeling the in between. Attached to your previous place while you’re new place feels very new. Add to that, not knowing anyone yet. Meeting people and establishing friendships takes time. This is a perfect time to connect with yourself, lean into emotions and explore hobbies. Get creative. Try something new.

For suggestions, Relocation Recovery is the online guide that helps you work through your emotions and start loving your place faster. It’s condensed and easy to navigate, affordable and fun. 

Melody Warnick, expert on place attachment and author of This Is Where You Belong, and I created Relocation Recovery because moving is hard and feeling calm, joy and rooted where we live is crucial.

Decluttering Before Relocation

Moving is hard, and the overall process exhausting. Simply preparing to move is an overwhelming task. I’ve moved a lot, and know this too well. The last thing anyone wants to do is add one more task to the endless lists. Especially one that can be a big undertaking, such as decluttering before relocation. And let’s face it, you’ll need to create another list for decluttering.   

Depending on your moving timeframe, there may not be a lot of time available to declutter. On the other hand, sorting and decluttering before relocation can reduce the time needed to pack and unpack, as well as your moving expenses.

Another benefit of decluttering is that it can also decrease your level of stress.

When you finally get past the chaos of moving and into the nesting phase, imagine being in your new home, surrounded by only your favorite things. Or as Marie Kondo would say, the things that spark joy. Imagine having fewer boxes to unpack and things to put away. We had a lot more stuff, clutter, until we started moving (that story here), and having a decluttered home feels calm and inviting, much less stressful, to me.

To declutter in a methodic, less chaotic way before moving, schedule and block off time so that you can move quickly and with intention. The best approach depends on how much time you have, the size and number of rooms in your current home. 

There is no one approach fits all to decluttering before relocation. The most important factor is which feels best to you: most comfortable, fast and/or easy. Review how much time you have to declutter and plan out how you will move through your house and when. Decluttering while you pack is an option, too. I find that having a plan first keeps me focused and works best. 

A Few Thoughts Before You Start

Lean into the mess you’re going to make while decluttering. The mess means you’re making progress. Lean into the process, as well. You will probably have some emotions surface around decluttering and moving. What your feeling is normal (read more here).

Remember the more stuff you move with you, the more expensive your relocation costs will be. And more stuff requires more of your time to unpack and put it all away.  

Think about your new home and space. How will you be using it? How do you want to feel in the new space? Which items will help you use the space properly and help you feel a certain way: comfortable, cozy, active, peaceful, joyful or whatever feeling you desire in the space? 

Involve your family in this process. Consider who will want to go through their own things, especially if you have teenagers. Share with your children how donating helps people be able to purchase things at a much cheaper cost and keeps items out of landfills. 

Think about what you want or need to take with you, and what you haven’t used or worn in the past year. Also consider again about how much room you have and time you want to spend unpacking, sorting, or possibly donating later. Chances are good that you use less than what’s stashed aside. 

Don’t forget to go through drawers, too. Desks, dressers and kitchen. Dining room hutch and side tables. And especially those junk drawers. 

Approach 1: Go Through the Entire House, Twice

On your first walk through of your entire house, you’re going to declutter trash and items that can be recycled. Start with 2 garbage bags or boxes, one each for trash and the other for recycling. Have more on hand because these will more than likely fill up. 

Then go through the house a second time for all items in good condition that can be donated or given away. While it’s wonderful to pass items on to friends, it’s understandable if you don’t have the time and energy to sort and deliver. Donating is sometimes easier. 

Approach 2: One Room at a Time

The second option to decluttering is to go through each room one at a time with specific bags or boxes for trash, recycle and donate/give away. 

OR Declutter as You Pack

If you go this route, pull aside what you use first, what you want to keep and take with you, and evaluate what’s left. 


It’s important to know your local recycling guidelines. What can be recycled varies among towns and counties. One example is that the town next to ours accepts broken plastic toys. Please always confirm first. 

A few specific items and suggestions: 

Wire hangers can be returned to the dry cleaner. 

Check your local recycling for electronics. 


If you have items to donate, look for a nonprofit that is meaningful to you. When I find a charity or cause that I want to support and they take donations of household items and clothing, I’m more likely to donate more. I’m likely to lose that “just in case I need it” mentality that I embraced for so long. Donations are also tax deductible.

Fire or police stations may take stuffed animals. 

Check your local recycling for electronics. 

Habitat ReStore and Goodwill will take your tools. 

Best Buy will take game consoles. 

Donating is now a habit, part of my routine.

I’m now in the habit of donating seasonally. My preference is to donate, rather than sell, and it’s faster and easier, too. Living in an uncluttered home with open space gives me a lighter, happier feeling, especially when I walk in the door. Having an entryway with space to put things down makes settling in more comfortable. I also find that uncluttered space gives me room to more easily clear my mind and focus, opening me up creatively when it comes time to write or brainstorm about a project.   

One last benefit (and shameless promotion) to decluttering before moving is that you’ll have more time to take Relocation Recovery. It’s an affordable, self-paced course that’s a fantastic guide to helping you settle in, explore and connect faster in your new place. More information can be found here and a direct link to the course here.  

#1 Mistake You Can Make During Relocation

Embracing emotions, feeling what we feel, is a crucial part of the relocation process. Moving is continual chaos, full of people and tasks demanding our immediate attention. Added to those demands are the uncertainty and fear of moving to a new, unknown place.

I want you to know that a lot of what you’re feeling is normal.

Throughout the relocation process, before, during and after, there is a wide range of emotions, including anxiety and excitement. These emotions ride through us like waves, unexpectedly knocking us off our feet at times. We each react differently and become so busy that it seems easier to just keep going nonstop. As we check items off of our list, it appears as though we’re moving forward, settling in and doing just fine.

Suppressing our emotions, however, is the biggest mistake we make. Our emotions influence how we respond to situations. By not addressing how we really feel, we are not taking good care of ourselves during this mighty huge transition. Working through our emotions allows us to pause, make choices and take steps to change the way we feel.

A simple place to start is by taking a few minutes every day to reflect on how you’re feeling.

Let yourself know that it’s okay to feel this way. Follow this with a question: How would I rather be feeling instead? Give yourself a little time to think of something you can do during the day that will help you feel the way you want to feel.

Digging into emotions can feel awkward, especially when trying to do this on your own. Working with a relocation coach gives you space to openly discuss your feelings comfortably. A coach can help you not only identify your emotions and challenges, but also develop strategies to work through them properly. Acquiring a positive mindset isn’t always easy to do and coaching will help you gain what you need much faster. Accountability and encouragement are great benefits to having a coach, as well. Getting out of your comfort zone and into your new community becomes easier to not only visualize but actually go do.

Another helpful tool is RELOCATION RECOVERY, an online, self-paced course. Relocation Recovery will guide you through embracing your feelings and provide tools to process the negative emotions, such as grief, fear and anxiety, and start feeling joyful, calm and connected to your new place. The course is condensed and easy to navigate (we know from experience you don’t need one more thing added to your to do list), affordable and fun. Melody Warnick, author of This Is Where You Belong, and I created Relocation Recovery because relocation should be a much better experience, less overwhelming and much more joyful.

Whether you choose to get support or not, please promise me, and promise yourself, that you’ll give yourself the space to lean in and address your emotions, rather than holding back any grief and anger. Making your emotional wellbeing a priority will greatly reduce stress and help you more easily move forward.


*Grief and anxiety are commonly felt throughout relocation. If your emotions feel like they’re leading to depression, please seek help from a mental health professional.

Moving and Packing Tips

Because relocation timelines and situations are different for everyone, it’s hard to write a one-size-fits-all guide filled with packing and moving tip s. I’ve learned some lessons the hard way. Favorites include:

• Rental or moving truck reservations should always be reconfirmed
• Social security cards and other important paperwork should be filed back in their proper place when done and not left in my top dresser drawer
• Sort and purge before moving; better yet, declutter on a regular basis (full story here)

Getting organized and ready for your move:

Using a spiral notebook each time we move, despite my fondness for digital files and lists, works best for me. And yes, I would use the same again. I add notes and items on the fly. Multiple lists, categorized, with a few pages in between each category for flexibility, random thoughts and scribbles fill the notebook.

The back of the notebook is used, beginning on the last page working forwards, for random notes and thoughts to be either categorized later, or done quickly the same day.

The notebook fits easily into my bag. I keep track of things I need to do and mark them complete with the date. There was plenty of room for extra notes.

A side note, or moving tip, from experience. This probably isn’t the right time to try something new. Use whatever method and size you are most comfortable with, paper or digital. And then, once you’re in your new place, then go experience new things (lots of ideas in this online course).

Making your moving checklist(s):

Once you’ve obtained your “notebook” of choice, create a master list of everything you need to do and take into consideration, such as:

  • Hire movers and packers or DIY, rent a truck – do this ASAP. Confirm dates and seriously, double check your reservation
  • Change of address for mail, credit cards, phone bill, etc.
  • License: If moving to a new state, you may have to take their written drivers tests
  • Utility and cable companies – disconnect and reconnect service
  • Banking
  • Transfer medical records
  • Children: school records, medical, activities
  • Pets: transfer vet records; consider boarding them when your stuff is being delivered at new place.

Declutter Before Packing:

Whether you follow Marie Kondo and keep only those things that spark joy or not, I highly recommend decluttering before you move. Imagine, if you will, arriving at your new home and unpacking only the things that you need and love, rather than an overabundance of things you don’t use or want anymore. Moving less will save you time and money (bonus moving tip!).

Quick tips:
Create 3 piles: donate, recycle and trash.

Once you’ve removed what’s not moving with you, group remaining items together that will go into the same room in your new place. This will speed up the process of unpacking.

Moving companies will not pack and move liquids, such as dish soap, shampoos and cleaning supplies. I suggest giving away what you won’t be moving and packing what you will in your car.


Moving boxes stack more easily when they are the same size. If you get boxes from a grocery or liquor store, please make sure they are clean. Reach out in an online community group to see who’s moved recently and has boxes. Start collecting boxes as soon as you can.

Pack what you aren’t using first and a little at a time. Books and heavy items should be packed in smaller boxes to prevent boxes from getting too heavy.

I’ve always used paper, either newspaper or paper from a moving company. Packing paper doesn’t stain like newspaper can. Bubble wrap is an option, as are dishtowels and table cloths and other soft items to protect dishes and breakables.

At the very minimum, label boxes with the room name. When packing an item that you are going to need when you get there, include the name of the item on the box. Consider creating a master list or lists of what are in the boxes. I prefer the element of surprise on the other end of the move and don’t create lists.

Clear bins are great for items that don’t need to be unpacked right away, and nice because you can easily see what’s inside. Movers should put packing tape on the bins to keep them secure during transportation.

Stuff to Move with You:

There will be items that you want to move with you. Important paperwork such as passports, social security cards, wills, insurance policies, possible valuables or heirlooms, etc. that you don’t want someone else handling. Find a good spot in your house to start a pile and then start placing things into some boxes or a bag.

Pull together any necessary cleaning supplies and place near the pile, too.

Pack clothes and toiletries for the number of days needed plus 2. Or at least pack extra underwear and socks, just in case.

Other items you may need while you wait for the moving truck:
• Air mattresses, sheets and towels
• Toilet paper, paper towels (can be used as napkins), tissues and a few dishes, to go bottles and utensils or the disposable kind, also
• Coffee or tea essentials
• Food, if needed. This also may be a good time to start exploring your new area and getting acclimated
• Don’t forget to pack phone and tablet chargers
• Favorite music, shows, and movies; whatever you need to find your calm in the midst of chaos (fun moving tip) 

After your Move | Recovering from Relocation:

Moving is hard, and also an adventure. Melody Warnick, author of This is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are, and I created RELOCATION RECOVERY, an online course designed to help you thrive through the post-relocation period. This course will help you process emotions, find joy, connect faster in your new place, and so MUCH more. For more information, click here to go straight to the course, or read more here.

Decluttering after Relocating, Twice


My journey into decluttering began after our last move six years ago. Decluttering should have begun 10 years earlier, before my family moved from Atlanta to Cincinnati. Instead we began the process after we moved for the 2nd time from Cincinnati to Charlotte. My husband, Dan, and I met and lived in Atlanta for 11 years, moving around locally. We rented an apartment and then a loft, bought a condo and then our first house when our son, Ethan, was born. Despite starting in small spaces, we began to accumulate more as the size of our homes grew. And although we moved previously, we weren’t entirely prepared for relocating our household across state lines.

I began decluttering because I was fearful of the unknown and needed help settling in. Nesting inside our new home felt comfortable while I worked through my grief. We left good friends behind again and I wasn’t ready to start the process of putting myself out there to make new ones. What if we had to move again? What if moving every few years was our new norm? I was doing my best to stay upbeat for the sake of my family and this kept me distracted from my loneliness and fear.

In both relocations, Dan moved 7 – 8 weeks early to start his new job. Ethan and I came to look at houses and explore the area a few weeks later. Dan handled what I call the front end of the move, all of the logistics related to the new house. I handled all of the logistics related to the back end. Finding the movers, organizing, packing, purging, cleaning, prepping the house to sell, getting the house cleaned when we are moved out, etc. There are pieces of this process that brought me down memory lane allowing me to grieve and say good bye a bit longer.

Baby and child gear, toys and clothes that Ethan outgrew were items that have consistently been easy for me to donate and pass along to friends. I also occasionally participated in garage sales with neighbors. I really thought that I was doing a good job all along of letting things go. However, I was still shopping on my lunch break and weekends regularly.

In the time between Dan accepting the job and moving, we didn’t go through all of our stuff thoroughly. I quickly donated what I considered at the time to be a large amount prior to both moves. However, the unopened boxes stored in the attic were harder to go through on my own, and we moved them, twice. Most hadn’t been opened since before our son was born. These boxes held things we thought we’d use again or weren’t really sure what to do with. The items I recall are camping equipment we swore we would use again, electronics, laptops, VCRs and big, heavy art history books from college.

When the moving truck arrived in Charlotte, Dan was at work. I made a spontaneous decision when those boxes that have moved 2 too many times were being unloaded. I guided the movers towards the garage. My husband wanted to park in the garage, so sorting through them properly would become a priority. It was a bit spiteful, yes. At the same time, I understood why my husband didn’t want to spend his hours away from work going through them. It took 6 months to get his car into the garage, and another 3 to get mine in.

As we sorted through those boxes in the garage, I began following The Minimalists and decluttered inside the house, too. Unpacking the kitchen, we realized that we had a shit ton (pardon my expression of truth) of utensils and started a pile to be donated. I had the same realization as I was unpacking a lot of décor, including pottery, mirrors, wall art, photos, etcetera. As I continued to go from room to room removing the excess, I also discovered that minimalism wasn’t for us.

Living in a warm and inviting home that expresses our personality feeds my soul and welcomes me when I walk through the door.

I thankfully found and started following Courtney Carver and Joshua Becker.

Courtney Carver is best known for Project 333. For each 3 month season, you have a max of 33 items to wear including accessories, jewelry, outerwear and shoes. Since I’m a rebel and enjoy warmer winters living in NC, I altered the rules and created my own version, Project 250. I successfully reduced the items hanging in my closet to below 100, including scarves.

Twice a year, in fall and spring, I flip my clothes around so that I’m choosing from less than 50 items. I have held steady at 40 to 50 for a few years now. All items of clothing hung in my closet are included in this count: tank tops that I layer under shirts year round, nicer tees, blue jeans, shorts and scarves.

Project 333 does not include workout clothes, sleep wear or basically any items placed in my dresser so neither do I. I still have a lot of t shirts in my dresser because we are sports fans and travel, and now buy less.  Since my jewelry and shoes are fairly minimal, I don’t include those in the count. I don’t include outerwear either. I wear coats out of necessity, primarily on the soccer field in weather conditions of all kinds. And I don’t love any of them.

Through Joshua Becker, I was able to easily let go of what we weren’t using. The idea of having less to clean and less stress is very appealing. Since I wasn’t working for a few years, this was a good project that kept me focused. We had a lot of things that hadn’t been used in a while. Some were wedding gifts. Unlike the Beckers, we have kitchen appliances back on our counter tops because my husband uses them regularly and it also feels comfortable and welcoming. I later read and recommend Joshua’s latest book, The More of Less.

Our decorating style began to take on an uncluttered, airy vibe as I learned to love what we already have.

As I decluttered bookshelves, the dining room hutch and other flat surfaces, our house started looking spacious. I also felt lighter and energized when walking in the door. Our downstairs has an open floor plan and quite a bit of wall space that’s blank. I was tempted to buy some big pieces of art and immediately changed my mind. That would be more to move later, and I didn’t want more.

Although our house may not look like we’ve been decluttering, it contains only the things we love, our closets are only partially filled, the attic almost empty and the garage holds both cars with room to move around.

The last book I read most of (68% according to my Kindle app) was Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Removing what doesn’t spark joy is a simple concept that resonated with me. The rebel in me, however, didn’t touch each item, per her recommendation.

Books remain a really tough category for us. We moved a lot of books from our small house in Atlanta to Cincinnati. When we moved again, we sold and donated over half of them. We love to read and our closest library is 15 minutes away. Instead, we buy from Amazon, go to used bookstores and support 2 local bookstores here and at the beach. As I finish reading, my books go into 3 categories: books to keep that I love enough to reread, books to share and books to donate or sell. They just don’t move beyond our house very quickly.

This isn’t a story about turning into a minimalist.

The truth is our current house is big; 3500 sq feet big. The size of our house has grown with each relocation as we’ve moved further into the suburbs. Living close to where Dan’s job is important. With a shorter commute, we have more time together as a family. Over time, we figured out how to best use the extra space. Dan has a man cave with sports memorabilia; the workout room now doubles as a space for our teen to play video games and I am grateful to have my own office.

Decluttering with the goal of downsizing in the future is an ongoing soulful project, a work in progress. Dan and I aren’t in the same place in this process and that’s very okay. For a number of reasons, we aren’t ready to downsize and are leaving our timeframe wide open. When we decide to downsize, I strongly believe that we’ll work through the items in our home and easily make decisions together. I’ve grown to love his sports memorabilia, too.

I also still shop. The difference this time is that I don’t have the desire to buy, simply because I just don’t want more. I am intentional about how I spend my time and what I bring home. At the same time, it’s important to us to support local businesses and vendors. When we explore a new area or go to a festival, I usually have an idea of what I want to buy ahead of time.

This piece isn’t about minimalism because as a family we’re a team. My guys aren’t quite onboard. For me, it’s about peace in knowing that the things we own bring me joy. We won’t be moving an excessive amount of stuff next time, either. I’ve gained patience and recognize that we are all on our own journey. If we don’t downsize and instead stay in this house, I can live well with that too. I’m learning that it’s possible to live large with less and make our own rules, guidelines that work best for my family.

A home filled with happiness, that provides room to grow and thrive as individuals and together, is what have right here. That’s all I want. As well as a lot of love and laughter, and Dan’s cooking around our big table.

If you’re visiting my website for the first time, follow the links to learn more about me and what I do.

The Influence of Facebook on my Relocation

Influence of Facebook on Relocation
People are hard to hate close up. Really.

& What I Learned about Connecting

Moving was not something we ever planned. It happened unintentionally in 2008 because the company my husband worked for dissolved. Ten years, and 2 cities later, I’m still pretty certain if given the choice, we would have stayed not only in Atlanta, where we had lived since 1998, but in the same neighborhood we moved into in 2004 when our son turned 1.

We moved again early in 2012, and I really wasn’t ready to move again. I was on autopilot, taking care of the moving tasks and logistics still fresh in my mind from the previous move. The logistics included researching and comparing different areas, schools and demographics online and exploring Facebook.

The demographics showed that the political views of the majority of residents in our new area were different than my own. I saw this before we moved and didn’t think much about it. I have lived and worked in 8 different cities in 6 different states throughout the eastern half of the US. The large majority of my friends and family have different views than me. It wasn’t a concern.

Views held by my neighbors and larger circle of friends have always been something I have been aware of, before Facebook and friending. Our views didn’t have to align in order for us to become good friends. When we took the time to get to know each other in person, we were also able to discuss issues, disagree and still enjoy each other’s company.

In the process of settling in to our new home while not working, I had a lot more free time. I volunteered in our son’s classroom, after school sports and our neighborhood. I was actively meeting neighbors and parents and making friends on Facebook in order to easily contact and also get to know them.

A lot of my time was spent on Facebook since I now spent a lot more time by myself. It connected me to friends who I missed from the last 2 cities we’d lived and to the people I was getting to know in my new place. It also put into perspective just how different our views were.

Having different views suddenly started to become an issue for me. It was 2012, the year of a presidential election. Scrolling through Facebook and ignoring what I was reading on my new friends and neighbors’ pages was impossible. As a result, I started to form opinions and judge people before getting to know them in person. And in turn, responded by posting my own views.

While I was in the process of going through my own relocation grief and loneliness, I was sorting through my new community with a feeling of not fitting in. It took time, a few years, and I discovered that the more I put myself out there and leaned in to get to know people in person, the more I experienced a leaning back. The large majority, thankfully, leaned back.

My use of Facebook made the move here a lot harder than it ever should have been. As I wrote earlier, I have been moving throughout my life, since I was 14 yrs. old. I have lived and worked in 8 different cities. The large majority of my friends and family have always held different views. It has never influenced who I became friends with and should not have been a problem here either.

It was my use of Facebook that knocked me sideways, not Facebook itself.

I could dwell on and blame the role that Facebook has played on the divisiveness in our country. But ultimately, the choice as to what and whom I let influence me and how I reacted and responded, especially on social media, was mine. I can also choose to embrace, interact and connect to my new community and place on fulfilling and joyful terms.

It’s been six years since we moved to NC and I am very grateful to be rooted and attached. We are also not planning on moving again, or at least not intentionally.

Place Attachment


Place attachment is the connection we have to the place where we live. The more attached we are, the harder it is to leave and relocate. And, once we have moved and settled into a new home, re-establishing place attachment is vital to a positive relocation.

The time it takes to feel acclimated to new surroundings is different for everyone. Place attachment has varied for me, from three months to four years. My outlook and actions through the entire process of moving determined whether the relocation would be positive and how quickly I felt acclimated. I learned a few things, including things I would do differently if we move again, about creating place attachment earlier and easier:

Grief and loneliness can be unavoidable and I would give myself the space to feel what I feel. l would keep in touch with friends, while limiting the time spent on social media. I do not need to see every single thing that I am missing out. Good friendships take time and I would give the universe a toast to that, and spend time taking care of myself.

Giving energy to the negative aspects creates added remorse and stress. For example, in order to spend less time commuting, we had to move closer to my husband’s office which was further away from the city. I can choose to focus on the positive, shorter commute and more time together in the evenings, rather than the negative for us, living further from an urban environment.

After the first week or two, I would carve out more time on the weekends to explore. Although I understand the importance of nesting and turning a house or apartment into a home, knocking myself out for a few weeks straight can be emotionally draining and exhausting. After living through the emotions and challenges of relocation more than once, I know that exploring and finding joy in a new city is necessary.

Looking for local businesses to support is a great way to attain place attachment faster. Not only am I looking for coffee shops, book stores and places to eat with great local craft beer (or whatever is on your list), I am on the hunt for our favorites, the ones we will frequent. Becoming a regular is a fantastic way to start feeling at home. I also enjoy traveling outside of our local area, looking for day trips and longer road trips throughout the state and region.

The biggest relocation mistake I made that impacted my ability to establish place attachment was focusing my time around in activities solely revolving around our son for the first few years. Volunteering and showing up for activities are important and a great way to meet other parents. However, I neglected myself and feeding my own soul. Please, I can’t express the importance of this enough. Find a knitting group, book and/or wine club, running group, whatever it is that fuels YOUR soul. Take time for yourself, even if you’re an introvert, to connect with your passion and people. Go, in person, locally, and do whatever lights you up. This turned out to be f*ing crucial in creating a bond to the place where I live, to finally feel like I am home. I should have done it much, much earlier.

I have learned to be gentle with myself through the process, before and after the move, to allow space to grieve and acknowledge my emotions and challenges. However, next time, I will get out of our nest sooner and focus on place attachment within the first few months. That big shift of feeling fully attached, the one that makes relocation absolutely enjoyable, may take a year or so to occur, and that’s okay, too, as long as I’m getting out and moving forward. Hopefully next time won’t be anytime soon because I am fully attached.

Place attachment can be the most challenging part about relocation, and it is different for everyone. However, it is completely, easily achievable and I get wild joy out of helping clients shorten the time it takes to feel attached and love their new home and town. If interested in connecting and learning more, please email me at I would love to hear about your journey and challenges.

Embrace & Enjoy,


Embrace and Enjoy Relocation

Relocation is exhausting, energy draining. I learned the hard way, after moving twice in less than 3 ½ years, that it is vital to my wellbeing to find ways to embrace and enjoy the process of moving.

Let’s play the Would You Rather game for a moment.

Would you rather put move related tasks and ensuring that your family is acclimating well at the top of your priority list, at the risk of ignoring your own grief and anxiety? 

OR would you rather include your own emotional and self care needs on that list in order to create a much less stressful and enjoyable relocation?

When we moved the first time, my perspective regarding moving was good. It was also really hard leaving our home and friends after 11 years. This is the place where I met my husband and we started our family. We were settled and happy with our neighborhood and jobs, and the life we built around them. We were moving to a city much closer to family (1 ½ hours) for the first time, and in a neighborhood with friends around the corner. Both big pluses.

Putting more emphasis on the positive things about relocation allowed me to start connecting and embrace the move right away.

Our second move, 3 years 4 months later, took 4 years to feel settled and at home. One big change was that we moved further away from the heart of a city. I got really stuck on the fact that we live so far out and was not ready to move again so quickly. Looking back, I can clearly see that I prioritized the moving details and wellbeing of my family over taking care of myself and my emotions. That was a lot more comfortable than admitting I was grieving and anxious.

In hindsight, as a coach, I know that I should have done a much better job then, including establishing place attachment. I now fully understand both the difficulty and importance of addressing stress and fear, and taking care of our self while caring for the needs of others.

Focusing on the positive points about relocation, turning it into an adventure, if necessary, is a good first step to take.

Moving can happen too quickly in some cases. Regardless of timeframe, it is vital to take time out for ourselves, to work through emotions even when they are messy. Embracing relocation and creating a much less stressful, enjoyable experience involves taking care of yourself and developing strategies to address the challenges.

As a Relocation Coach, my priority is making sure you fully embrace and enjoy your relocation journey, and fully thrive, starting wherever you need the most support. If you or someone you know are in the process of moving, let’s connect.

To learn more about our self paced and affordable online course, read about it here or click on Relocation Recovery to go directly to the course.

For information regarding coaching and packages, please visit my coaching page.

Embrace and Enjoy,