5 Relationship Lessons I Learned from Moving With My Husband
I read once that moving has been proven one of the most stressful things that we humans are lucky enough to navigate. Having (just barely) survived one such move, I can confidently confirm that this is accurate. Much like our bodies do with childbirth — so I’m told, at least — I think that evolution has programmed us to forget all of the frustrations that come with moving from one home to another so that we don’t get stuck in one place for too long. But, oh, do those frustrations exist. The tasks required in order to successfully execute a move are almost laughable when you say (or write) them one after another. First, you have to decide that it seems like a reasonable time to uproot your life. Then, you get to look your bank account straight in the eye and figure out how much you can afford to spend on the process. Find time in your already busy schedule to tour new places to live. Put down a comical amount of cash in order to secure a place. Pack all of your belongings in boxes. Then take all of your belongings out of boxes. Oh, and could you continue living your life and doing all the things at the same time? Great.
Like many millennials, I’ve been through this process a handful of times already, but for the first time ever, I experienced my most recent move with a trusty partner in crime by my side: my husband. After making the challenging decision to leave the apartment where we got engaged (in the tiny spot between the coffee table and the TV), we debated our next move for the better part of a year. Should we continue paying astronomical New York City rental prices? Was it time to try a new city? Were we ready to actually be adults and buy? Ultimately, we opted to stay in New York… as long as we could find a bigger place. Fast forward a few weeks, and I’m sitting on the floor of our new, bigger apartment. We have about five boxes left to open. My husband’s clothes are still packed in garbage bags all over the bedroom. There’s an IKEA coffee table waiting to be put together and plenty of things waiting to be hung on our empty walls. But when I reflect on this process — beginning on the day almost 12 months ago that we started talking about moving — I think less about all of the work that still needs to be done and more about what I’ve learned about relationships, thanks, of course, to my husband. Here’s what I’m taking away (outside of some additional square footage and an in-unit washer/dryer).
1. Good decisions take time. When the idea of leaving our old apartment first came up in October 2017, I figured we would be on to our next chapter within a few months. At the latest, I assumed we would be in a new home by April. I’m a doer by nature, and even though there were high stakes hanging in the balance, my first instinct back then was to make a decision about where we would go based on whatever information we had available and just… do it. But my husband is a much slower, more deliberate thinker about these things than I am, so collectively we spent the next 10 months (ugh) figuring out what to do next. It was uncomfortable and decidedly un-pretty, and I know the people around us thought we were crazy. Still, when everything came together a few weeks ago, I knew that the choice to stay in New York was the right one. Making collective decisions can be a challenge, but with a little patience, I’ve learned that you can work in lockstep with your partner in awesome ways.
2. Listening is key. Yes, we all know that good listening skills are key in a successful relationship, but I don’t know that they’ve ever been more crucial in my relationship than in the last few weeks. Our ability to openly and patiently listen to each other’s concerns — about where we were moving, how one of us was packing the breakables in a box, and why it made more sense to stack the pots in a lower cabinet in our new place — has been tested, but (for the most part, at least) we’ve been able to understand the other’s point of view and compromise where necessary.
3. It’s okay to divide and conquer. Honestly, the phrase “stay in your lane” is coming to mind, but that somehow feels less appropriate for marriage! What I’ve realized throughout the last few weeks of our move, especially, is that my relationship works best when both my husband and I can show up in a situation and put our individual talents and abilities to work. I’m really great at planning ahead and figuring out how to attack a task in a big-picture way, so I took the lead on getting our old apartment boxed up and organizing logistics for moving day. My husband, on the other hand, is great with details, so he handled switching over our utilities and other specifics. At first, it felt like this divide and conquer strategy was somehow taking away from our teamwork, but I’ve learned that it actually is teamwork!
4. When in doubt, laugh. As you already know if you’ve done it, moving is exhausting, and it can drive you to that point where you’re not sure if you’re ready to laugh or cry. Obviously, laughter is always preferable to tears, but I think this is especially true when an S.O. is involved. It’s easy to get frustrated with each other and pick small fights when you’re both tired and would really much rather be binge-watching on the couch than sorting through your closet, but finding a reason to laugh with — or even at! — each other really helps. My husband and I have laughed at a lot of things that really weren’t very funny over the last few weeks, but it helped us maintain a united front, and it’s a good reminder of how important silliness is in a relationship.
5. Know when it’s time to ask for help. I tend to be pretty stubborn about asking other people to lend a hand with… well, pretty much anything. Taking on a big move has forced me to get a little humble. Whether asking my husband to help me lift a mattress so I could straighten out a dust ruffle (the most ladylike thing I’ve ever typed, by the way) or admitting that I totally messed up that IKEA table, I’ve had to get more comfortable with the fact that I can’t do everything by myself. Part of being in a relationship is, of course, learning to rely on another person to support you, but it’s a lot easier to pretend you don’t actually need support when it’s business as usual. Shaking things up with a move has been a good reminder that there’s nothing wrong with leaning on bae for help now and then.
What’s your favorite part about moving? Least favorite part? Tweet us @BritandCo.
(Photos via Getty)
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Artist Dev Heyrana On How Bravery, Resilience and Sunshine Influence Her Work
Ever meet someone who you feel immediate kinship with on a deep almost spiritual level? That is legit every person's experience upon meeting Dev Heyrana, the star of this edition of Creative Crushin'. A fine artist, hip hop dance teacher and constant collaborator, Dev's particular brand of creativity is one-of-a-kind. She manages to be warm, welcoming and woke, with a focus on inclusivity, social justice and motherhood that comes through in every piece of art she creates.
Anjelika Temple here, co-founder of Brit + Co and one of many humans who has benefitted from Dev's boundless generosity and kindness. We first connected at a launch event, then I asked her if she and her family would like to model for a B+C shoot (they did!), then months later, I asked the IG universe if anyone would be down to co-parent with me for a day so I could speak at a conference. Dev said yes! And for those that know her, none of these serendipitous moments are surprising.
Now it's time to delve more into Dev's story, her creative inspiration, her thoughtful approach to parenting and what makes her more passionate than ever about bringing her point of view and artistic voice into the universe.
Anjelika Temple: First, foundations. Where did you grow up? What is your heritage? What did you study in school? Where do you live now?
Dev Heyrana: Born in The Philippines and immigrated to the U.S. when I was 9 years old. Me and my family are from the island of Cebu and I'm a proud Cebuana. My childhood in the Philippines felt like freedom. I had my swimsuit in my backpack for whenever we decided to swim and I biked everywhere.
Immigrating here at 9 yrs old was a transition, to say the least. My parents had big dreams but the move was heavy on them. It wasn't easy. I had to grow up fast. I took care of my sisters while my parents worked night shifts. By the age of 12 I would cook dinner and get my sisters ready for bed. Something I didn't realize was that kids my age didn't do those things until I got older. We would play these make-believe games to make, in hindsight, our hard situation brighter.
I think this is really when art played a big role in my life. It was something I could escape in and always felt healing.
I witnessed racism towards my family and didn't know how to make sense of it. These events left a mark. I was a quiet kid and observed everything and everyone around me. I think about my grandparents, Lolo Jose and Lola Rita, a lot as I walk through life. When I make decisions. As hard as it feels, you have two choices, do you let it take you down or take it one step at a time forward. I kept going and it really shaped me as to why I am the way I am today.
I studied Fine Arts at The Corcoran in DC. I owe that decision to my art teacher, Mr Giles, in High School. He was retiring and wore a Hawaiian shirt every day during my senior year. He was a curmudgeon and I felt incredibly special since out of everyone in the school he really believed in me. As grumpy as he seemed to the class, he would tell me things like "Go into the other studio and break some glass, then put it on a canvas." He's the reason why my abstract pieces have elements like clay and sand in them.
I've had incredible mentors and all were teachers. Mr. Giles in High School and Christine George in College. Christine was the one who told me to go either to New York or San Francisco because "D.C. is no place for an artist like you." She told me to not listen to anyone, how I can still paint, be a graphic designer, and, if I choose to, have a family. I've never had anyone tell me anything like that before.
I took a chance because of her. Moved and went to Design School in 2006 and I've stayed in the Bay Area ever since, raising two girls with the love of my life.
Anj: You are one of those magical human beings that has figured out how to be a full-time artist. What was your career path like before you were able to dive fully into your creative passions?
Dev: The most radical thing I could have done in my family, I did, I went to college for Fine Arts. A mix of being so young and having to do it on my own, I went with the school that gave me more scholarships. Even then I worked three jobs to be able to get through it. Hard work is ingrained in me.
With my sculpture background, I fell in love with Print and Packaging and why I came out here to San Francisco. I appreciated the security of having a career in Graphic Design. I also learned how to work with clients and the business side of things. Even then, I never stopped painting.
A few years ago I went through a pretty hard time with my health. I dealt with six surgeries in one year and I still have to do some follow-up ones. That experience almost broke me and what got me through was my family and painting in bed while I recovered.
When I finally got back on my feet, my heart just wasn't in Graphic Design anymore. So I made a two year plan. With a toddler and a mortgage, I wanted to make sure my steps were thought out. I put myself out there as an Artist while I still worked in Design. After a year I worked part time as a Graphic Designer and stepped down from my Creative Director position. I loved it, to be creative as an Artist and as a Designer. I looked at 2018 as my year to make the jump. If my work as an Artist balances out with my salary then I would quit in the Summer of 2019. And so here we are. I also am sharing a studio with my good friend, Naomi PQ, and I feel like my creative drive is just beginning.
Anj: What do you love about painting? How do you feel when you're in a creative flow state?
Dev: Like every part of me is free. Free to express myself through the stroke of my hand. How all of it leads back to my heart. These elements I use to paint have a mind of their own and how I need to respect the process.
It centers me and reminds me that the process is just like the life we lead. I know I still have so much more to learn but while I'm painting no matter how it's going, I'll embrace this moment.
Anj: You reference your roots quite a bit in your work. Talk to me more about how your roots inspire your work.
Dev: One of my earliest memories is of my Lolo Jose teaching me how to water mango saplings. He converted to Buddhism when my mother was young, so he viewed the world with love and kindness. I didn't realize it then but watering those mango trees were life lessons. We need to take the time to nurture, practice patience, and respect all living things. I still imagine him walking beside me often, carrying his teachings as I find my way in this world.
Nature and the Sun drive my pieces. My abstract works are fragments of moments. Like the sunset I grew up with when I was seven years old in the Philippines, like how I saw the water in Cebu when I dove in as a young adult, and like when I saw the redwoods with my children for the first time.
I see earth in our skin and especially when I paint people. How our mango trees grew and blossomed because the dark earth was rich with nutrients. I imagine the Sun piercing through these women I depict. I paint their love and bravery because their resilience cannot be contained. I want to celebrate all of it.
This is the beauty of Art, I am able to paint exactly how I see it.
Anj: Motherhood and your daughters are also central themes in your work. How has motherhood changed your approach to creating artwork?
Dev: Everything. I was still deep in my Design Career and I would paint at home. One day Quinn, who was 3 years old at the time introduced me at the park to a mom. "This is my mom, she's an Artist." It struck me that my toddler knew who I was more than I knew myself. That's really when I really owned it. I am more fearless because of my girls.
I own my body, I thank people when they compliment me, and I am selective but fearless when I use my voice. I am more in tune how I speak about myself because of them. When I paint these women I want to celebrate them. I notice how I embrace myself is translated in my paintings.
Anj: What advice can you give to parents who are trying to tap into their kiddos' innate creativity?
Dev: I don't have a lot of guidelines set up. I'll say "Let's draw the biggest fish we can draw" or "how many silly lines can we make" and I let them lead me. They ask me questions, show me things, and I sit there with my coffee watching their eyes wide with excitement. Watching them in their creative process is pure joy for me. Those silly lines can turn into a dragon or waves and next thing we know, we're drawing a big beach scene. My advice would be that you can suggest something to start it off but be open to how they take it. It is such a beautiful window into their minds.
Anj: Shifting gears to HIP HOP DANCE! Talk to us about his component of your creative expression.
Dev: I loved the Hip Hop scene in DC and discovered how much fun the clubs were in college. My friends told me about this Hip Hop Crew I should try out for, I was so scared because I've never taken a dance class in my life. I got in and it was like having another family. We competed all over the East Coast, it was a blast!
I found hipline when I started my first Design Job and needed an outlet. It was exactly what I needed and one of the owners asked if I was interested to teach. I've been teaching there since 2009 and am still going strong. It's a wonderful community of women. Now we're virtual and reaching clients all over.
Anj: What does a typical [pandemic] day look like for you? How does it differ from your rhythm before COVID?
Dev: I've been practicing being kinder to myself lately. Both me and my husband work full time and so having the girls at home is a challenge. Some days we are amazed by how smooth it went and then there are others where if the girls are clean and bellies are full, it's a total win.
Now that we're on month 8 our rhythm before covid felt more chaotic to be honest. I felt like we were always rushing out the door while carrying so many bags. Now my husband and I try to have coffee together, if he has a break from his meeting, and we sit with Quinn before school to see what she has to do for the day. Rowan's preschool closed down but we were able to find a wonderful speech therapist for her and she has an Adventure Pod we go to two times a week.
The one thing we really try to do is go outside once a day. Have some magic in their childhood no matter how small. It could be just going up for a hike by our home and picking up leaves, riding our bikes, or watching the sunset from our window. Seeing how the girls' react to these adventures we have is pure magic.
Anj: When you get creatively blocked or burnt out, how do you reset? Do you have tips you can share?
Dev: I go outside. I go out for a hike or go to the beach. Even if it's 15 minutes, something about grounding yourself in Nature is really healing. I also do exercise where I doodle for two minutes because it feels doable. Judgment-free doodles, always opens the doorway to more.
Anj: I know firsthand that community-building is huge for you. Tell us more about what your support system and creative community looks like.
Dev: I feel a lot of love and strength when I think of my community. My relationship with my sister led the way what women supporting women looks like. It's listening, asking questions, remembering, cheering for all the wins, being there even if it's hard, and taking time to invest in them. The way me and my sister show up for each other is why I have these amazing women in my life. I can talk to them about my family, motherhood, and we're all trying to balance it all while sharing my most recent project. I feel really blessed especially looking back in my college years where I don't know where Art would take me.
Anj: When you need to give yourself a pep talk, what does it sound like?
Dev: I usually take a deep breath then say or think "One step forward". Most of the time, I'm scared (as shit) but the thought of not trying scares me more. That one step forward can be hard as hell and maybe even heartbreaking, but I have to try.