A Dilemma

April 28, 2011

Craig and I had another coffee date together this morning! πŸ™‚

We usually have our coffee dates on Monday mornings, but since Craig rode his bike to work Monday, we postponed it until today.

However, before I met Craig at Kaladi Brothers Coffee, I got my sweat session on.

I wanted to go running and lift weights, but I had to be strategic about how I was going to get this all done—and get myself ready—by 7 a.m.

At first I thought about running on the treadmill at the gym and then lifting weights, but I wasn’t thrilled about this idea. I had only planned to run 5 miles—and 5 miles isn’t too bad on the treadmill—but I knew that even before I had reached one mile, I would have been wishing I was outside running—even if it was cold out there.

My other option was to run to the gym from our apartment, lift weights, and then run back home. This would have worked, but I didn’t really want to cut my running in half, and I can get ready in about half the time at the gym because there are less distractions there (computer, food, fixing the bed, etc.).

So here was the game plan I came up with:

5:00 a.m. – wake-up, change into running clothes, get my things together, drive to the gym

5:30 a.m. – arrive at the gym, start my run from the parking lot of the gym, run 5 miles outside

6:15 a.m. – lift weights for 30 minutes

6:45 a.m. – shower, get ready

7:05 a.m. – drive to the coffee shop to meet Craig for coffee

Breakfast

Craig and I always make sure to pack a breakfast when we go for coffee. Overnight oats + 1/2 bagel with peanut butter for me

(oops. . . forgot to enhance this picture!)

Usually when Craig and I have our coffee dates, we have really good, fun conversations. However, this morning our conversation struck a more serious chord.

If it hasn’t been obvious (which it may not have been because I’ve tried to hide it), I am not too fond of living in Alaska. For the past 3 years, I have struggled living here and have wanted to move very badly, but jobs and money have kept us here/prevented us from moving.

The problem is that Craig loves it here: he was born and raised here and loves living here.

To keep this somewhat concise, I won’t go into a lot of the details right now—maybe in the future, but not right now.

So, I’m struggling with what to do and need some advice: do I buck up and suck it up and live here even though I am not happy? How do I make the most of my current situation?

I want to hear from those of you who have been in a similar situation.

41 Comments
    1. B and I have both had times during the past year (after moving from OH to CA) of ‘was this really the right decision?’ and ‘is this what we want? now? for 5 year? forever?’ I get terrible anxiety thinking to far into the future which is helpful in this situation – I’m able to focus on what we need and want NOW, rather than years from now.

      They aren’t going to start putting up state border walls and keeping people from leaving anytime soon (as far as I know) – we can move whenever. Might as well make the most of where we are for now!

      I can imagine how difficult it is since Craig loves it – just make sure you’re getting your fair say in it. Your happiness should come before convenience, but realistically.

      I swear I’m not drunk I don’t know why this is so rambly. I don’t have an answer for you. Maybe I should have just said “hi” and left it at that…

      1. Thank you so much for the comment; I truly appreciate it!

        I’ve tried to stop planning so far into the future because every time I do, situations arise that I never expected.

        I’m intrigued by your comment of “happiness should come before convenience.” Can you explain more?

        1. Wouldn’t you rather live a happy but challenging life, rather than a boring but easy one? If you’re not happy you should do something about it – not necessarily a move but maybe a new hobby, weekly group meeting, SOMETHING to get you out of your rut and excited about life again, wherever that is on the map.

          I catch myself saying “poor me” more than I care to admit. The truth is, most of the things I’m not totally satisfied with are easy to change! To keep this from being totally preach-y I’m going to heed my own advice as well. πŸ™‚

    1. I definitely know how you feel. After living in NYC for a while and the novelty of it wore off, I just felt really out of place there. Everything was a hassle, expensive, and exhausting, and I didn’t see a future for us there. Unlike Craig, neither of us had roots there, so we didn’t have that complicating factor. My sense is your gut feeling won’t completely change, but if you do stay you may be come to accept some of the bad things about living there and appreciate those things you do like more. But, if you both are on the same page and the opportunity for a change presents itself, sometimes you just have to go for it. Good luck!

      1. I think the novelty of living in Alaska has definitely wore off as well. I’ve had so many people say I am lucky to live here, but they have only experienced a one-week vacation here in the summer.

        I try to change my gut feeling, but after 3 years I don’t think it is ever going to change.

    1. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, Michelle. I know the cold and being far from your family make things tough, but Alaska sure seems beautiful! I am envious πŸ™‚

      I grew up moving around a lot. Staying in one place for too long makes me antsy so I understand your desire to try somewhere new.

      Could you look at other teaching positions in the area? Are you interested in volunteering? Does your budget allow for some travel to the continental U.S. maybe once a quarter (even for some races?)?

      1. It is beautiful in the summer (and to a certain extent in the winter), but “summer” is only 3 months long.

        I do try to get out of Alaska as much as possible, but $700-800 plane tickets add up quickly!

    1. my husband and i are in somewhat of the same situation, but it’s more of the town we’re living in that is difficult. but we do have an end in sight since we’ll probably have to move for me to find a job after i’m done w/ grad school. but… what i find that makes a difference is getting out of town when i can, even if it means being away from my husband for a period of time. since you’re a teacher & have summer off, i don’t know if you can get back and see your family for an extended period of time…. i know alaska is a little different because of the distance but perhaps if you could swing some more visits that would help. also another thing i’ve heard of couples doing is finding new things to do in a place that one of them enjoys more than the other… i don’t know if that makes sense, but for some people i know it can be hard if one person is super comfortable and then the other feels like they have to like everything the first person does.

      not sure if any of that makes sense but hopefully you guys will be able to figure out something that will make you both happy.

      1. I am curious to know who wants to stay and who wants to go in your situation.

        I usually go home to MN for a couple weeks in the summer. $700-800 plane tickets make it tough though.

        1. oh, i meant to say that. πŸ™‚ my husband likes it where we live… he really enjoys his job & the people he works with & our church. me, on the other hand…. well, my grad school is why we moved here but i’m pretty much finishing to finish because i started it. i’m in 2 programs, so will leave w/ 2 degrees. but one isn’t what i thought it was and that makes school very un-fun. i also have some issues with our church… but only a year left, and i’m thankful to be only 2 hrs from my family (the closest i’ve been since i lived at home growing up).

          yeah…i can understand plane tix been pricy!

    1. I am in a similar situation to you. I moved from St. Louis, MO, to Minneapolis with my husband about three years ago. He is from the area, and all of his family and friends still live here. Meanwhile, my parents and brother (my only family) still live in MO.
      I have a hard time dealing with the cold weather and very long winters in MN. (I’m sure you can relate, though you have it much worse.)
      For me, the biggest key is to just focus on every day and finding ways to be happy in the moment. I find that if I think too much about missing my home/family, hating the weather, etc. it gets too hard for me. So the only other option is to try to find things up here that I enjoy and try to look on the bright side.

      But I think the key with my husband and I is that I’ve made it clear that I would eventually like to live elsewhere, even if only for a few years. I don’t know if it is right to say that it is the “fair” thing to do (i.e., I’ve leaved in MN for three years now, so it is only fair that we get to try out another location), but marriage is about compromise.

      Good luck, Michelle. I really feel like I understand your situation and I hope everything works out for you!

      1. We are in very similar situations!

        The winters are definitely brutal and long in MN as well, which is why I’m not 100% sure I want to move back there either. I definitely miss the people there though, the lakes, and the summers!

        To a certain extent, it does seem “fair” to live somewhere that I want to live for a while, but at the same time obviously that presents problems when you are trying to move up the career-ladder (or even find a job to begin with), which is what we are facing now!

    1. We went through something similar, recently. My husband had a potentially GREAT job offer which required us to move.

      As much as I DID.NOT.WANT.TO.MOVE, he ultimately convinced me to give it a shot, and here is how he did it: He gave me 6 months. 6 months to REALLY try to like our new city, and at the end of 6 months, if I was miserable, he agreed to move back, and come back to his old job.

      Now, I know that requires a lot – flexibility/availability of both your jobs – and could potentially cost you a lot of money to relocate 2x in less than a year.

      BUT, ultimately it is only money, right? I think happiness is more important than money.

      Ultimately, we did NOT end up moving, he didn’t get the job. But, I was totally onboard with it, since I knew I only had to ‘test’ it out, and really had nothing to lose except for 6 months.

      Maybe this would be a way to get Craig to TRY something new?

    1. I’m in a somewhat similar situation, in that I want to move but can’t for 15 months or so. We can’t move because of our housing situation, but my husband is on board with the move. It took a while to convince him because we both grew up in the DC area, we like it most of the time and our families are here. But once we spent more time talking about DC, Colorado (where we want to go), our current jobs, etc he now wants to move maybe even more than me!

      While I’m sure anywhere you move will not be like Alaska, I think its important to highlight what Craig loves about Alaska and reassure him that those things can be found elsewhere.

      Also, I have found myself getting sad sometimes that we can’t move sooner, but I’m trying to remind myself to enjoy the now and live in the moment. I’m so sorry you are feeling down about it, but since you can’t change anything right now you might as well focus on the positives (which is obviously easier said than done).

      1. Unfortunately Alaskans are pretty firm in their beliefs that you can’t do the things they do here anywhere else. In their mind, “where else can you go dip netting” (a type of fishing with a large net), “where else can you catch halibut and salmon from your “backyard,”” “there are too many people in the Lower 48,” etc.

        It definitely is easier said than done because every day I try to remind myself to be thankful for what I have, but it gets exhausting when it requires so much effort. I am working on it though!

        1. I don’t really agree with that, that makes people who live in Alaska sound pretentious about living in one state verses another when all states having something to offer no one thing being better than the other.

    1. I wish I had a good suggestion, but I don’t. Maybe compromise with a state you guys could both live in and enjoy. Visit a state for a week over the summer and see how it feels. You should do what makes you happy too.

    1. Where DO you want to live? Alaska is so pretty, but after watching all the reality shows on these about life in Alaska, I’m with you…too isolated, too cold, to dark..Depressing! In my experience, NOT being happy one place is not a reason to move though…you have to know where BOTH of can CAN be happy, hence my initial question. If you just know you’re unhappy but don’t know where to go…you’ll be in a perpetual “grass is always greener” somewhere else. And the hubby has to be on board you know? If you move somewhere YOU like but he’s unhappy…you’ll be unhappy there too! Good for you for giving living there a good, honest shot though…you’ve shown hubby that you’re at least willing to give it your best BEFORE you make any choices!

      1. Right now I’d say WA and OR are my top two choices, but I’ve also thought about MN, WI, CO, northern CA, NC, and even other East coast states.

        I know living here has made me realize what I do/don’t want in the place I live.

        I do agree AK is pretty, but, like you said, when you factor in the other aspects, it takes on a whole different outlook.

        I also know that if he isn’t happy, I won’t be happy either. Thanks for the advice!!

    1. I went through a similar situation, my Craig had to move to Blair ( a very small town) for his work. I was living in Omaha Nebraska. Last summer I moved from Omaha to Blair, got a new teaching job and readjusted my life. It has been hard, I am a pure city girl and I have tried to reach out and make friends but all the girls around here rope and shoot guns (country girls). Luckily I am only still about 45 min away from the city so I still get the best of both worlds.
      If you love him enough, I think you will learn to find the positives and live there if you have no other choice. Or you could discuss the options between the two of you and make a decision that you both agree on.
      I opted to follow Craig because he makes the most money out of us two and my job is easy to replace where ever I move.

      1. Thank you very much for the advice!

        I have had a hard time connecting with people up here too because their hobbies/values don’t exactly mesh with mine!

    1. oh i can’t even imagine how hard it must be for you. i grew up in alaska, so i’ve romanticized it quite a bit. but i would think that it would feel as isolated as living on an island would. my husband’s job has us moving around all the time. we’re actually getting ready to move in one month. he has always said that we’ll spend the first part of our marriage focusing on his career, and then after the children come and go, we will move based on me and my career. however, as a teacher… i don’t really feel attached to my work as a “career”… and i’m not sure why. i’m just hoping that i can eventually find a profession that does feel like i want to pour myself into it.

      i do know that it is hard to thrive in a situation where you feel so out of harmony with everything around you. i hope that you guys can find a solution that works for everyone. thoughts are with you!!!

      1. I definitely feel like I live on an island!

        I saw that you are getting ready to move. I wish you all the best with that.

        I know I don’t want to teach my entire life either.

    1. Believe it or not, I’ve been in this situation in a couple of different ways.

      My father was born and raised in Alaska, my mom is from Oregon. After getting teaching degrees in Oregon my parents moved to Alaska because my Dad could get a job working for his father (There were no Oregon teaching jobs in those days). My mom believed they would be living in Alaska for just a couple years. They have lived there for 32 years now, and my Mom has hated a lot of it.

      I was born and raised in Alaska, and it wasn’t for me. Everything in Alaska is so much harder than other places. Moving to Portland has illuminated the fact that you don’t have to live in freezing cold better-get-up-early-to-start-my-frozen-car-land. Don’t get me wrong, on a warm summer day, Alaska is absolutely breathtaking, but there are simply not enough sunny warm days to make living through the winter worth it.

      My boyfriend was also born and raised in AK, and we are having a similar dilemma at the moment! I never want to move back, and he’s not sure he wants to leave! I could talk about this forever…

      1. It is helpful to know that someone else is going through the same thing!

        My husband and I were only planning on being here in Alaska for 10 months too, so that definitely doesn’t help.

        I agree! I don’t think “suffering” (which is all in the eye of the beholder) for 9 months is worth it for 3 months of “summer.”

        You should check out Betty’s suggestion as to how her husband got her to move when she didn’t want to. Maybe you could suggest something like that to your boyfriend.

    1. We’ve been in Alaska a year now, and we love it. Of course, knowing that I will only get to be here 4 years (at the absolute most) really gives me a sense of urgency to see and experience all of the different and unique things about living here. I’m also in love with mountains and hiking, and after 3.5 years living in SC I was so ready to be out of the heat and humidity.
      But since my husband is in the military, there is always a really high potential that we’ll end up moving somewhere where I will be absolutely miserable. Going along with that, I typically stay in the mindset of “I can live anywhere for 3 years”, and try to see it as an adventure and something most other people don’t get to experience. Plus I love traveling and moving around, so it works for me.
      Unfortunately since neither of us gets a choice in where or when we’ll be moving, I don’t have a whole lot of great advice for convincing your significant other to move…
      But we talk a lot about where we want to “settle down” when the military thing is over, and one of the things we do during this little “game” is make a list of all the things we like about the different places we’ve lived, and then agreeing on a place that has all (or many) of those attributes and put it on our list. We also try to visit places we think we might want to live together, and mentally pretend we live there to see if it “feels” like home.
      I also find that planning trips to places I’ve never been really helps me deal with wherever I am right now. I know travel is expensive (esp. from up here), but we’ll start saving and planning for a trip like a year in advance; we’ll go to Barnes & Noble and look through the travel guides to that location, google, etc… having that “escape” to look forward to, and knowing all the amazing things coming up while you’re there has always helped me cope when I know we’re not moving in the immediate future.

      1. Thanks for the comment and advice!

        I definitely love traveling to new places and trying to discipher whether or not I could see myself living there!

    1. Hmmm, I have a lot of thoughts after reading that post. First of all, as a person who first moved to Alaska a year ago, I first had no idea what Michelle was talking about. After living here for a year and a half, and as a woman who is moderately in shape and therefore does not have a lot of extra fat to insulate her, I have learned that it is COLD here. My body has not felt warm for a year and a half. Even now, at the end of April, it may peak at 50 degrees but currently is cloudy and can get as low as 20. In the summers, it never gets warm enough to wear shorts. Men can, maybe, but definitely not most women.

      The dilemma comes with the fact that I have a wicked awesome job, and my husband just recently got one himself that he loves. Which means that we may stay here possibly for longer than this summer. And that makes me feel awful, that I have to make it through a barely tolerable summer and then possibly another winter. All that to say Alaska is a tough place to live, and if you are a person who enjoys being outside when you do not have to wear a parka or jacket, likes to feel the sun on their face, likes to at least sometimes feel a bit warm, it makes it quite difficult to live here. Plus, it’s so difficult and expensive to live here. Plus, you really can’t get out unless you want to spend thousands and thousands of dollars.

      I guess I don’t have an answer for you, but I do understand, and commiserate. I think people either love or hate Alaska, and there’s not much middle ground. Most of those people I know have enough money to hop it to Seattle on the weekends. I know for me that the only things that are keeping me going are that I have a few good friends and my hot yoga class at Anchorage Yoga once a week where I can actually feel not cold.

      But always speak up for yourself and don’t ever feel guilty that you don’t love it here.

    1. […] we just couldn’t pass up, so Alaska it is for the time being. As you may remember, I have not been a fan of Alaska for quite some time. It has been a hard transition for me, and I have had to adjust to a lot of new things. It is also […]

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