The Life Nomadic

photo by Michael Newsted

I  H A V E  moved 32 times.  In a month, I will move for the 33rd time.  In the words of my little friend Jack, "Shea, you move every time you have a birthday!" He is right. I've lived with college roommates, parents, families and multiple friends in community. To keep my sanity, my center and my sense of self I have subconsciously developed patterns of living in order to remain a Nomad.

Why am I a Nomad? I can tell you that I did not plan it. However, because I'm single and there have been opportunities to become a more interesting person, I have taken them.  While adventure is around every corner, it can take a toll.  It wasn't until the Culture Keeper himself left for Paris did I realize how many routines I have developed at every place I call home. 

Here are a few recommendations for those who pack their bags frequently:

1. Routines: As you assimilate to your new space and new schedule remember to keep your routines. Do you sip coffee every am and tea before bed? Do you rise around 7:00 am and slumber at 10:00 pm? Do you prefer to journal every day or connect with a best friend? What about that run you always take? Keep your sense of control (as it will feel a little chaotic for a few months) by keeping the natural rhythms of your diet, exercise, rest and emotional outlets intact.

2. Friends: Plain and simple…you win some you lose some. The ones that remain as you come and go in and out of their space are your soul mate besties. The depths of your friendship will change with the tides of life. Don't be offended to find that some of your friends move on when you are gone. Besides, you're about to meet some really amazing people. Practice your friendship intuition and invest where you will get a return. It's all part of growing up and owning the relationships in your life. I believe it was Donald Miller who said, “Show me your friends and I will show you your future.”

3. Trinkets: A pic of a friend? A quote? A letter from a lover? A necklace? A stone? Whatever trinket speaks to you as a voice from the past that will propel you into your truest self and most alive future, keep it with you as a reminder of them. Physically moving forces you to recreate visual memories which makes it easy to forget the old ones. Heck, get a tattoo if you need to!

4. Forts: Your space is your fort. You have your routines, your friendships, your trinkets and your fort. Evaluate how long you will be staying in this space. Are you getting a bed? Then use the pillow cases that Grandma made you (I have a box full) Do you have a bedroom? Cover each wall, the door and the floor with signs of your life. Get a house? Collaborate with your roomies to create a mutually beneficial living space.

5. Left Behind: How long will you be gone? Can your possessions have a place to stay while you're away? Perhaps in mom and dad's basement or your friend's empty storage space? However you leave it, leave it organized and safe! You never know when you'll need to call up your parents to have them send your favorite pillowcase or ask your dad to burn the love letters from old boyfriends (um, yeah, I did that once).

6. Blah, blah, blah paperwork: Spend $15 and get yourself a portable filing cabinet. Take one with you and leave one with trusted friends or family. Remember to call your bank, your student loan provider, your health insurance and phone company and the post office to notify them of change of address or just go electronic with every bill you can. And…not to get morbid here, but I would recommend you have a Will written with listed beneficiaries. My parents have a list of final requests and music selections for my funeral. My sister-in-law get's my ring and my favorite heels.  She will be happy to see this in writing.

Dealing with reality as a Nomad can be difficult. Isn't that one of the reasons we are Nomads in the first place?

Shea Petaja
Culture Keeper