Photos c/o Sarah Shreves
Cari Jenkins has been mentoring women for over 20 years. She loves to gather people in her home and sets the yearly goal of hosting 500 people around her table. Cari leads workshops on Identity and Living as a Person of Blessing and models her life after Jesus. She lives in Denver, Colorado, where nesting is one of her favorite pastimes.
I love adventure. There is something about waking up to a new city or country that invigorates me and is, frankly, really sexy on my Instagram feed. I built a life around this love. I would plan my next trip – for work or for fun — after I found myself at home longer than 3 weeks.
I loved it all, and that is why I chose to stop.
Last summer I worked in Spain, and made friends with the owners of a restaurant across the street from my house. Several times a week I’d get a drink and mix it up with the locals. One night as I was leaving, I thought, “I love this life! I love that I get to make friends with strangers and be known by the businesses in my neighborhood.” I was content and happy, living the small town Mediterranean life.
While engaged in my nightly routine of checking social media, a comment on a photo caught my attention. The owner of my favorite coffee shop in the US — in the neighborhood in which I pay rent and call home most frequently — wrote, “We miss you Cari! Come home to us soon.”
At that moment I was struck. Here I was, in Spain, romanticizing about my ability to simply pop over to the local hot spot and know the owner and the people there, when all along I had the very same thing in my neighborhood. What was I doing?
Why must I leave home for a sense of adventure? Why is going so much sexier than staying? Why must connection and beauty be found outside of my home, rather than in it?
And so, then and there, I made a decision: I would limit my travel and engage in one place, do the hard work of being rooted, and find beauty in staying put.
I had no idea how difficult that would be.
Knowing my jet-setting tendencies, I decided I needed a group of friends to listen with me when opportunities to travel arose. This group would help me make decisions that aligned with my desires. Though I love to travel, I also longed to belong, experience community, and have roots. It is difficult to choose differently, so I set some parameters and also brought those to that same group, seeking their input.
I have learned a great deal by choosing to stay. For example, I’m not very good at day-to-day conversation. When I traveled regularly, every conversation was a catch up. There is a certain relational high that comes when the details of one’s life and heart are poured out after a month of not seeing one another. It felt flat and, dare I say, boring to engage in conversation with the same people daily.
I also had to face myself. Traveling kept me from facing uncomfortable things such as some of my unmet desires and sadness. When I traveled there was always someone or something to distract me. Staying has caused me to face the parts of my story that are painful.
The results of staying have brought about the most beautiful changes in me. I now have friends with whom I do life regularly and to whom I belong. I have had to face a lot of the pain of my own story and I’ve found healing in it. I have experienced the romantic parts of
the city in which I live and revel in belonging to a place. People count on my presence now, where as before, there was an assumed absence. I have re-learned the art of day-to-day conversation and I am still learning what to do in conversations with those with whom I know almost all there is to know (there is always more to know).
I chose against myself to stay, to root, to belong and I am still choosing to do so. I continue to dream of jets and new people and places weekly. However, now I have people who are with me in my dreaming and invite me to be with them. In a time when it’s so easy to travel, not doing can feel almost foolish, but after a year of staying put, I’m glad I did.