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What I Learned When We Moved

As a baby boomer, Denise and millions of others are becoming senior citizens. She explores what it means to be over 60 today.


Many Moves

We live in a very mobile world these days and sometimes I find it sad. People move from one house to another, one city to another, one state to another, one country to another faster and more often than ever before. Sometimes it is hard to plant roots where you are because you just aren’t sure how long you will be there. Back in early 2000, I allowed myself to imagine we had made our last move, but by 2009 when my husband was let go from his job, we were faced with moving again. These are the stories and lessons learned from the many moves I’ve made since the ‘70s to today. For earlier stories and experiences, see my Lessons Learned When We Moved.

Standing at a Spanish train station, a little lady came up to me to talk to me and the baby.

Standing at a Spanish train station, a little lady came up to me to talk to me and the baby.


My husband and I had only lived together a year before the Air Force sent my husband to Spain. Naturally, I wanted to be with him, so the next move had me leave the USA for a place where I couldn’t even speak the native language. I was 21. It was a great adventure and loved the experience. The people and the houses were so very different from what I had ever known. The water was heated with butane you had to purchase in bottles from the butane man who came around once a week. You had better buy enough to last the week or do without hot water till the butane man came around again. Marketing was done in the open air and all the fruits and vegetables were purchased at little booths from locals. I learned to argue about the price, to dicker as all the locals did. It took a while before I could get the hang of that since I was not fluent in the language. I learned to love the people and the place in those 2 years. People may have different languages, different customs, even different physical characteristics from myself, but they are all basically people like me. I learned a respect for all people in that move.

Me and my husband.  I adored him.  He did not adore anyone but himself.

Me and my husband. I adored him. He did not adore anyone but himself.

Be kind, don't judge, and have respect for others. If we can all do this, the world would be a better place. The point is to teach this to the next generation.

— Jasmine Guinness

On My Own

After moving back to California from Spain, we were stationed in the Mojave desert. I had a brand new baby and was still hundreds of miles from my family. It wasn’t as isolating as being in Spain but I still felt isolated. My husband had always been somewhat controlling but he became more reactionary and controlling once we moved back to California. The beatings came more often and more severe and I was expecting my second baby. I cried often and nothing I did seemed to be good enough to please him. I knew I should leave him but I was afraid; afraid of being alone; afraid of leaving all my things; afraid of him following me and maybe killing me. He had said he would if ever I took a notion to leave him. You hear news reports of things like that happening all the time. “Woman leaves husband, husband finds them and kills wife and child before killing himself.” I really didn’t want to be the next headline. We had only lived in the desert for a year when I decided it was time to take my chances. I packed the car and the two babies and drove to my childhood home. He did try to follow but because I had to pull off the road to a gas station because the two-year-old threw up, he must have passed us and didn’t see us. That move proved to me that God was watching out for me and I need not be afraid. I learned I can stand on my own two feet and be okay.

Me and my two little ones.

Me and my two little ones.

There's no time for regrets. You've just got to keep moving forward.

— Mike McCready

Fickle Teenagers

After seven years and a divorce, I met another man who had two children from a previous marriage himself. We decided to blend our families and make a home together. This move brought us out to the country away from the main town. There was little out there but pastureland and fresh air. It was beautiful and peaceful. There was space for a vegetable garden, herb garden, fruit trees, and space to raise chickens, rabbits, and ducks. The kids got to own cats and dogs and even goats and pigs. I thought it was idyllic if remote. The children were teenagers by then and there was conflict but living there gave them room to grow, room to avoid each other, and room to be together when they wanted. What a beautiful place to live. Too bad we were renting and did not own it. All too soon the time came to leave. Our teenagers wanted to live closer to friends; closer to town. Many years later the kids still talk with fondness about living out there. When my son comes back for a visit with his bride, he insists on taking her out there to see the old place. I learned not to take to heart everything teenagers say at think at the time. Later they won’t feel that same way at all.

Me on the far right and two of the teenagers having fun, fighting over the diploma.

Me on the far right and two of the teenagers having fun, fighting over the diploma.

Teenagers only have to focus on themselves - it's not until we get older that we realize that other people exist.

— Jennifer Lawrence

Small dining in small spaces.

Small dining in small spaces.


After the kids all left home for college, my husband and I moved to a big city an hour drive from my childhood home. This was mostly because my husband got promoted and relocated. However, this move made me feel like I had been a hick all my life. It took a while for me to get out of low gear. There was a rush, rush mentality in the big city that I wasn’t used to at first. Still, there were more jobs and more outlets for my artistic endeavors. I got to teach and enter large juried art shows that were not available to me before. I still have a love for the country life and the wide open spaces, but I have learned to appreciate the proximity of stores and things here in the cit. I miss having a garden and seeing growing things. I miss plunging my hands into the rich dark earth and seeing seeds become plants. Mostly I miss having a room for my sewing, a room for my art, as well as a guest room for visitors. We now live in a small apartment that has only one bedroom. We cannot afford to have rooms for everything I want, but I still have a corner for my art and the rest doesn’t matter. I’ve learned that downsizing isn’t fatal, just difficult. The pruning of my things hurt at first but now I love it. I have less to keep track of, less to clean, less to replace if it breaks down. I learned that I didn’t need all that stuff after all.

We think we can't become a minimalist until our lives have settled down. But it's actually the other way around; we won't be able to settle down until we're living a minimalist life.

— Fumio Sasaki

My hubby and I with our son and little dog.

My hubby and I with our son and little dog.

Final Thoughts

Many things have changed for me through my many moves and even now it may happen again. I think the biggest thing I have learned is to have faith that it is all for the best and each move reveals a new adventure as well as the opportunity to grow.

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