But the Alternative Is Worse

How It Began

When things went sideways for me back in Brooklyn 10 years ago, I decided there was only one solution to getting back on track. I was determined to start taking better care of my emotional well-being with the hope that all else would fall into place.

There are a few things to consider when you decide to turn it all upside down for the sake of survival. For instance, will there be casualties; people in your life who want you only as you were – – even if that person wasn’t you at all. The fallout can be pretty ugly and may even set you back a bit.

A xanax prescription, numerous years of therapy, too much eating, drinking, a life coach, the advice of friends, and a couple of failed relationships, got me thinking: something had to change.

My Story

I was having lunch with someone I liked and respected in my new hometown of Portland, Maine. I had given up quite a bit in order to settle in Maine, however, in my mind it was either stay in Brooklyn and give up on being true to myself or leave a career behind for the unknown. There is a reason they say, “Never look back.” “They” being the people who always know better.

Once you make the decision to start anew, lamenting about the old is like picking a scab. You have to ignore the scab and let new skin grow.

Back to my lunch with the devil.

This person had been supportive of my new life until I questioned the life she decided I should live. A reality I didn’t realize at the moment was a life that would benefit and suit her. It took me some time to realize the lamb was a tiger in disguise. One of the fallouts of an unguarded perception of new people in my life.

I confronted the beast expecting to be bitten; instead, she did everything she could to convince me that her intentions were noble. I assure you, they were not. I got burned a couple of times as I slowly learned not to play with fire. I’ve since proceeded with caution, as I wait a bit for one’s true character to show itself.

Ways to Dig-In

There are a few housekeeping matters to attend to before you can embrace the business of assessing who you want to be versus who you are. Also, some matters to keep in mind:

  • Changing everything is probably not a wise move. There are many aspects of our lives we just need to learn to accept (e.g., aging).
  • Just saying I want to change won’t cut it.
  • You have to really want it. Being only partially committed means probable failure.
  • Have people around you who know about the change you want to make and will support you.
  • Celebrate the smallest achievements toward your goal.
  • Practice the change and forgive yourself if you fail.
  • If you can see it, you can have it. Before I moved to Portugal, I would envision my self-decorated apartment. In my mind, I could see myself slowly sipping coffee on my terrace. I wasn’t surprised when it happened.
  • Always be good to yourself. It’s an “I love you” and “you matter.” There is no one in the world more worthy of your love.

How Well Do You Know Yourself?

I have learned that objectivity is difficult when applied to oneself. It’s natural to want to think the best of yourself; however, the lens you see yourself through might not be clear or accurate. I have been known to ask friends questions with a preface they might be surprised to hear:

“I’m going to ask you a serious question and I need an unfiltered, honest reply. Donna, I’ve been wondering about my anger level lately, I think I might be overreacting at times and I imagine it could be off-putting; have you experienced this with me?” You will more than likely get a very direct and illuminating response. This is what you need from people you trust. At times, you may even get some suggestions for change.

Another method might be through therapy. My therapists conveyed thoughts in a gentle and helpful way. There have been many.

You could write a blog and ask for feedback. Just know that putting your truth in a blog can be brutal. I’ve has a couple of people tell me that they think I overshare. What you hear may not always be constructive.

Concentrate on self-awareness. Take notes and consider setting goals. Evaluate how well you are doing from time-to-time. Be honest with yourself, but forgive yourself for any transgression(s).

People tell me I was brave for packing up and moving abroad; I can tell you it wasn’t bravery at all, it was a decision that I am fairly certain, saved my life.


I promised myself that I’d stay put until my trip to Florida in March; I am keeping my word! It feels great to be grounded for a long stretch. A little like lockdown without having to stay in my apartment or wear a mask. It is my understanding that due to increased COVID cases, we may return to mask mandates. I think that would be the wrong way to go.

Sorry about the cheesy quotes, I can’t help myself.

8 thoughts on “Soul Searching Is a Scary Business

  1. Olá meu amigo,
    Thank you so much for your words today. Although my reasons for turning my life and Rick’s life upside down by moving here to Porto, you have voiced, very compassionately. I very much needed to hear what you had to say and I want to thank you.
    Much love,


  2. I am so proud of you ~

    1. You picked up, very quickly. . . that Portland, Me. – shh . . . is, for deliciously better – or, may be needing more – is. . . the n e w Williamsburg.

    2. You found Portugal !
    (And you have moved on – to pretty much the rest of the world which is not held bondage in the invisible carwash of the ‘American Christmas marketing extravaganze’. Bravo ~ ~

    I am saying, as often as appropriate – often, “Can we (Americans) imagine a Whole Season of THANKS giving, starting Nov. 1 where we just truly relax, unwind, take time – be purely human, connected with life – as simply, as wholely as possible – right up to the end of Jan. – to be as purely thank-full, as we can.?”

    A whole season where we are just taking time to treasure life, nature – each other. . . all the each others. . . as normal tradition.

    Celebrating, honoring all the good, and the learning, from experiences, from others – that came in this year(someone said, “Oh Aaiyn, let’s start Oct. 1st !” )

    And YA – getting clear on what is actually going to feel resonant, exquisite – however each describes the resonance we are committing right now to inhabit every minute, every day – right up until this time next year. . . be – ing in the ringside seat, watching where IT takes us. Like that qigong, yoga, gym membership. Imagine January as the warm-up Practice, the soft opening, of inhabiting the fresh resonance we have chosen for this year. Let’s.

    3. You are clearly creating your own fresh take on your very own blog. Fascinating.
    ( And in this you are (per usual ?*) leading the way in the discovery, comprehending, understanding, learning that. . . in the real reality – o b j e c t i v i t y is not a c t u a l l y p o s s i b l e – – – a l l is subjective. Bio-individuality is c l e a r science, hmm. . . not clouded by acculturation.

    Like we now are more able to understand that the pure physics of matter, all matter, teaches us that the acculturation of ‘death’ has been another kind of bondage.

    Whew. . . .gear shifting into t h e fresh /ancient take on culture – the culture of the soul, now.

    How will we be talking about the Holidays, these holi days, ageing, growing, health, being, dying, death – 10 years from now. Robert Downey Sr. is smiling, right.?! What would he say ? “Have at it kid – ” “Just do it.”

    Food for thought ~

    And I just finished my fresh take on Julia’s boeuf bourgignon. . .fresh pure lamb and liver – lots of wild mushrooms, of course a serious amt. of onions,garlic, standard mushrooms – with mushroom and bone broths . . . and some brussel sprouts. I think she would be smiling . . . especially because I transmogrified the cooking process also . . .

    So sorry to have missed you when my friend and I were in Faro in early Nov. – I know that wondrous Steve Quatrucci and Diane Hudson would have been so happy for me to hand deliver warm, warm greetings in your new, fresh city.

    My friend and I will be back – there was lots to love there.

    I am totally new to your blog. Won’t be so loquacious after this, am sure ~ * lol, fairly sure.



    1. So much to unpack here! Thank you for reading my blog. I appreciate your thoughtful comments. Say hi to Steve and Diane. See The Menu and let me know what you think.


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