Big Life Decision…

Things I Know I Love:

  • Being outside. All the time.
  • Being active. If it’s with friends, that’s a huge bonus.
  • Being involved in incredible organizations that work with youth in need.
  • Being in nature. Especially out of sight of civilization.
  • Being able to find healthy food close-by in grocery stores and restaurants.
  • Being surrounded by a network of friends that love and support me.
  • Being present in the lives of those same friends and supporting them.
  • Being in a place that makes my heart happy.

In case you haven’t already guessed it… this post is my official announcement that I will be moving back to California!!

I will be the first to admit that the last four months have been a chaotic whirlwind. I moved out of my house in Encinitas, drive the Cali coast with my mom, went to Mexico, crashed at one of my best friends’ houses in Cardiff, drove to Colorado for Thanksgiving at my brother’s house, drove on to VA and stayed at my mom’s house, spent two weeks in Argentina (had an absolute blast, but got robbed), crashed at another best friends’ house in south central VA, flew to San Diego for New Years, moved into an apartment in Wake Forest, went on an incredible ski trip to Montana… Did I leave anything out, lol?

In the midst of all that, I spent a lot… A LOT… of time thinking about my life and where I am and where I want to go. And most importantly, what makes me happy. I left California thinking I had used up my time there.  That I needed to get back to “real life”. I was frustrated about the lack of a full-time job (even though I hadn’t done that much looking). I had been telling myself since I made the choice to move there in 2012, that if I couldn’t find the perfect job that I could always move and try somewhere else. The problem with that thinking was that I got sucked into tunnel vision a little bit. I knew I was frustrated with my housing arrangement (our third roommate left a bit to be desired). I knew I wanted a full-time job. I knew I needed a change. And I knew our lease was ending. I could feel things changing so I just took the opportunity to leave.

Since college, I have thought about living in the Raleigh-Durham triangle area, so I figured why not? It was closer to my family, closer to my East Coast friends, not too big of a city, in the south where country music thrives, and has a lot of opportunities in the education field. Sounded great! And in fact, there is little wrong with this area. I’ve already made friends, gotten involved in an amazing church, had interviews and potential job offers, found a place to live… Except it doesn’t make my heart swell every time I think about it. It doesn’t put a smile on my face anytime someone mentions it or the thought of it crosses my mind. It’s simply not San Diego.

The first specific sign of a problem with my decision to move was the fact that I turned the car around that night in November when I tried to leave. Then I continued to think about the people I was missing throughout December… so I went back for New Years’ Eve. But I could tell that it was more than just the people… that it was the place and the community and the life I had there. I worked hard to establish myself in San Diego, in non-profits, at church, with friends. For the first time, I felt like I was setting up my adult life. Even though it didn’t include the house and the career job and the stability of my life in Ashburn… it included things I really felt passionate about. And that was so much more important.

I guess the bottom line is that I can’t neglect the things I’m passionate about. I need to put myself back in the place that makes me happy. And I might as well do it now versus later, right? It’s scary, it’s exciting, it’s crazy, it’s a bit chaotic… but it’s right. I can just feel it. I’m still working out the details about exactly when I’m moving, and how, and when… but I’m going! I’ve put in my 30-notice at my current place and I’m working on finalizing the rest. I should say that I am sad to move away from my East Coast family and friends again. But I have to trust them when they say that they just want me to be happy, because that’s what I want too! I also feel really, really good about actively choosing a place because I know what it entails and I WANT to be there, instead of just leaving a place because I know it isn’t right and I want to try something else new. I will never regret moving to North Carolina because it opened my eyes to where I really need to be… But California, I choose you and I can’t wait to see you again!!

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Settling in to North Carolina

This is going to be a quick post because I’m just not feeling very motivated to write. But I know some of you are itching to know how things are going in North Carolina. This post might be all over the place and I apologize for that. In fact, I’m going to break it up into critical pieces of my life right now so it will focus me a bit while I type.

1. House

On January 9th I got the keys to my apartment in Wake Forest, NC. It is awesome! I wanted somewhere that was quiet and relaxing, not in the center of downtown but not in the sticks either. I’m 18 miles north of the center of Raleigh and right along Capital Boulevard which leads straight north out-of-town. It’s an awesome location because I can be to almost anywhere in Raleigh or Durham in 30 minutes. I got a two-bedroom place that faces the small lake in the complex, which is just one of the many things I liked about this community. There are 288 units but broken up into buildings of just eight, four on the top floor and four on the bottom. I’m on the bottom, which I prefer so I don’t have to worry about my workouts waiting up my neighbors. I have a full kitchen, a washer/dryer, and a screened-in patio with a storage closet. AMAZING! I can’t wait to sit out there and watch the ducks float around once it gets a little warmer (although it’s 50 degrees outside today, so that isn’t bad!).

I’m still working on furniture (as I write this while sitting on the floor)… I’ve ordered a dining table and server, as well as a sleeper couch for the second room. My thought is that down the road I will buy a new bedroom set for myself (mine is still a full) and then I can shift my bed into the guest room. I also bought a few lamps and a tv stand, since I got rid of a ton of stuff in California. The next big thing on my list is a living room couch and/or chairs. Ugh. Such grown-up things to have to buy! The community here also has a pool, 24-hour fitness center, free DVD rentals, a car-wash station, a business center with free printing, and valet trash. Like I said, I love it here so far!

2. Job

This paragraph will be short, so I’ll rip the band-aid quickly and get it over it. I don’t have one yet. I’m applying like crazy, but nothing yet. I have taken a few placement tests this week for curriculum developer or content editing positions, so that’s promising! I’m considering looking into a job placement agency to help break me into mid-career jobs. It seems like everything I’m finding is either entry-level, hourly tutoring or non-profit CEO/Director positions I don’t quite qualify for. But it’s only been a week, so I’m still hopeful that the right opportunity will present itself!

3. Church

This has probably been the most exciting part of moving here so far. I have reconnected with friends from The Community Church back in Ashburn, VA who recently moved to Knightdale (an eastern suburb of Raleigh) to plant a new church. I’ve been to a few interest and membership meetings and am really looking forward to getting involved as the church launches. In the past, I have found great churches but never gotten fully “plugged in” because I always felt like leadership or volunteer groups were already well-established with people who had been together for years. The Edge Church will launch on February 22nd and I am already so excited! If you’re curious about the church, check out the website linked here. And get ready for updates on this as time goes on and I figure out where God decides to use me in the church.

4. Volunteer

In addition to work with the church, I have already reached out to the Girls on the Run chapter here in Raleigh. Because my job situation is up in the air, I didn’t commit to coach this season. But I will be helping plan and run the end-of-semester 5k race! I love this organization and how positive and supportive it is to young girls trying to figure out life. And it’s been awesome how welcoming this leadership has been in such a short time. I’ll let those of you in the area know more details soon, but for now if anyone wants to come support 800 elementary school girls and their running buddies on April 11th… let me know!

5. Friends

It’s been cool to see who is coming out of my past to reconnect with me now that I’m in a new place. Karen and Pete have been great to see and I look forward to joining them at church. But also, some friends from college have been in touch and we have plans for future dinners and UVA sporting events. Additionally, some high school friends are in the area and want to get together soon. And I have extended family scattered throughout the region! If any of you are nearby and want to get together, let me know! In an effort not to overdo things, I have not been to any meet-up events or UVA alumni functions that would introduce me to entirely new groups of people yet. I have a few penciled in over the next few weeks, and I’m excited to make new friends… but I’m also excited to be in my own space with my things unpacked and my schedule completely open 🙂

6. Fitness

This will just be a quick teaser, but I started a new fitness program this past week in an attempt to get back in shape after a fairly exercise-free fall. My good friend, and former teammate, Holly has become a Beachbody coach recently and asked me about joining one of her challenge groups. I put it off until now so I could have a TV and DVD player set up to run the program. But I’m excited about it and haven’t hated the home workouts like I thought I might. There is a nutritional piece to the Beachbody program as well, so I am getting back to healthier eating again too. If you want to know more, Holly posts on her blog all the time about her workouts and nutritional habits! Oh, and my half marathon training starts next week which will begin a long few months of running in the cold… Yikes!

Okay, okay… I said this was going to be short. That’s all for now but I’ll try to write again sooner than later!

Welcome to 2015!

Well hello, everyone! So much has happened since my last blog post and I’d like to take a minute to catch you up. I last wrote to you from Buenos Aires, Argentina where Jenny and I were finishing up an incredible two weeks. After the post, we had a slight mishap where our day packs were stolen in a super touristy part of town. It happened really quickly and there was nothing we could do about it. Long story short, we spent the next 36 hours changing our flights, canceling our credit cards, getting new passports, and waiting in airports. But we made it home safely exactly 24 hours late, more than ready to relax and enjoy the holidays with our friends and family.

The easiest way for me to describe my holiday season is with a list of days and places. Are you ready?

12/23 – Miami/DC/Maryland/Ashburn

12/24 to 12/26 – Ashburn

12/27 – Ashburn/Richmond

12/28 – Richmond/Williamsburg/Buffalo Junction

12/29 – Raleigh/SF layover/San Diego

12/30 to 1/1 – San Diego

1/2 – Chicago layover/Raleigh/Buffalo Junction

So in eleven days I had six legs of airplane travel, slept in four locations, spent (brief) time in six states, and saw twelve members of my extended family (and my mom). Woof. And that doesn’t include the countless hours spent on hold or in line trying to replace my stolen belongings. No wonder I’m exhausted this week! But I will say that I loved every single minute of the holidays this year and would not change any visit or any time spent with family and friends. Thanks to all of you who made time in your busy schedules to see me as I zipped around the country!

Okay, it’s 2015 now and what does that mean for me? I’m back in Buffalo Junction (aka staying with my friend Paige), so I have shifted focus back to my future! I told y’all a few months ago that I had decided to move back to the East Coast for a variety of reasons. It has been a challenging few weeks (and months) since I first packed my belongings in the storage unit and I am MORE than ready to unpack and settle in here. I spent much of last Friday and Saturday looking for apartments in the Raleigh-Durham area and I think I’ve found my new place! I’ll post more about that once paperwork is signed and I move in. But suffice it to say that I’m really excited just to have a home address again 🙂

While I wait for that paperwork to process, I am launching head-first into the daunting world of job hunting.. and I am already dreading it. Why? Because I am not a sales person. My talent in life is not to sell things, especially not myself. But I am a passionate person, especially when it comes to the right causes and helping others. And I acknowledge that I have a great skill set and background… so I hope that when the right jobs presents itself, I will be able to communicate those strengths and passions to the hiring committee. Once my apartment paperwork is processed, I will also take time to switch my driver’s license, vehicle registration, official address, etc… all things I am looking forward to doing! And I will unpack my belongings. YAY!! I have a list going already of items I already know I’ll need for my new place (shower curtains, microwave, etc) so hopefully this week I can start shopping for a few of those things as well.

Another big task for this week is to start thinking about a new car. Fnshine (my 2003 Volkswagen Golf) has carried me, once again, across the country. But it’s getting older and tired and is starting (continuing?) to show signs of distress. It has just under 150,000 miles and potentially a crack in the timing belt… oops? So I’ve been saying since this past summer that if Fnshine could get me to North Carolina, that’s all I cared about. I’m silently cursing myself for that wish because it appears that Fnshine has taken that literally and is struggling. Since I am not working right now, it just makes sense to start the research process by test driving some of my top choices. My focus is on something a little bit bigger, so I can drive four adults on a weekend camping, skiing, or beach trip, but not too big that it guzzles gas and swamps me. Something in the crossover family such as a Tiguan, Forester, Tucson, or Sportage most likely. But we shall see as the research continues.

Alright, that’s enough procrastination for now. I hope each of you had a wonderful holiday season and are enjoying the first few days of 2015. If I get a second to pause and breathe this week, I’ll try to nail down some goals or “resolutions” or philosophical ideas I want to focus on this year… but no promises 😉

It’s Time Again for a Change

Two and a half years ago I wrote a post titled, “She said, ‘Well, I’m goin’ to California'”, and it explained to all of you where, why and when I was planning to uproot my stable Virginia life for the unknown world of the west coast. You should pause for a moment to read it and try to understand a little bit more about how I ended up in southern California. And then you should know that I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of living in this gorgeous place. I needed to move here when I did, I needed a change, I needed to focus on different aspects of my life, and I needed to just relax.

That being said, I have done a lot of thinking and praying and soul-searching over the past few months and I have decided that it’s time to move again. This decision has not been easy and even still, there are tons of unknowns. But I will take a minute to tell you what I do know, because that’s all I can do 🙂

My lease is up on October 31st and at that point I will have put my earthly possessions into a Door-to-Door storage unit. One. Not the three units it took me to move here, lol. Then I’ll move into the spare bedroom of my closest Cali friend, X. Mom is coming out to do a mini west coast road trip from SF back down here in early November. Then I’ll be hanging out the rest of the month, seeing people and doing fun things. Thanksgiving week I will hop in Funshine and drive to my brother’s place in Boulder, CO, leaving California behind 😦 On Sunday after the holiday, my mom and I will hit the road to drive the rest of the way back to Virginia. I’ll be in NoVa for the first week of December helping my mom unpack, organize and settle in the new house she just moved into. I will also celebrate my 30th birthday! Then on December 8th I fly to Argentina for the trip I already have planned with my friend, Jenny. When I get back from South America, it will be Christmas so I’ll spend that with mom. That’s when plans start to get fuzzy…

I know in my heart that the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill triangle area in North Carolina is where I want to go next. Why? Because I pursued jobs there after college, because it’s closer to my family and friends but not too close, because it’s a slightly slower southern pace of living without being too backwards, because it has trees and lakes and mountains, because I can still drive to the beach, because I can be in an educational hub of colleges, and because it just feels right. I have started looking for jobs in the non-profit world, as well as in college admissions, study abroad offices, and athlete academic advising positions. I want to combine my love of education and youth/young adults with my organizational skills or traveling experiences… so if anyone has any information or suggestions or contacts in the research triangle area, I would love to know about them! My good friend, Paige, lives about an hour outside of the area so I may stay with her for a few days initially while I look for an apartment and decide what neighborhood I want to be in. This may also depend on where I’ve gotten or am looking for a job. That’s all I know about that end for now, other than the fact that once I pick a place, I’ll call and have my stuff delivered to settle in!

I’m not expecting for everyone who reads this post to understand my decision to, once again, move across the country without the promise of a stable job. Especially when I seem so happy here and I have such a good network of friends and activities to keep me busy. And I’ll admit that I’ve put off writing this post because it makes my heart hurt to think about leaving… But I read an article the other day that made some sense to me, so I thought I’d include it here. I know that I agree with the first two at least (other than the part where it says I’ll leave my old friends for new ones) and I’m interested to wait and see if in the future it still applies to my life. What do you all think? Can you relate?

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