California dreams. They taught me to dream big... like jumping off a cliff big.
Who would have thought I now considered California my home? I proudly consider myself a global citizen. I love traveling but I always thought Chicago could be home forever. Life is funny like that. One day you pass up opportunities and the next day you are left wondering about that opportunity. I suppose I happen to be the in the right place and the right moment but often I believe it's really a matter of this: Are you ready to make substantial changes for significant gains as well as losses? This is my story how I made California my home forever.
So let's go back in time and consider some events in Chi-town. Home sweet home, Chicago, was the place I'd return to after each life transition. It all began with summer vacations in South America as early as three years old. My parents were originally from Quito, Ecuador so I'd travel with my family and my three sisters to visit more extended family members. Then, we'd all return to Chicago to a three flat Victorian white home with black shutters in the suburbs. Those experiences abroad were unforgettable.
Other years included indulging in outdoor summer camps and library walks every day to distract my wandering mind. The outdoors was truly home away from home. I loved riding my bike far enough to my neighbors house five blocks away then back again to the local park district pool for an evening swim until it closed. I ventured out with my sisters but most of the time I was with neighborhood friends or alone. At twelve years old, I loved coming home in an exhausted state because I was outside running, biking or swimming in the blazing sun. The outdoors felt like home. I played so much outside to tire me out and re-energized me like nothing else in life. This routine would repeat itself every summer with travels and outdoors excursions literally ALL DAY which equated freedom to me as young child.
During college, I traveled to Europe and finished school down state at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign ready to start my first job in Chicago. The city of big shoulders was also where began my first e-commerce business in sustainable fashion. I became the entrepreneur I knew I was in Chicago. At 32, I gained insight to what made me tick and I found out what I could do well in that business. I learned from my mistakes, I gained valuable insight, and unforgettable experiences with my first business. It was truly the city where a lot of lessons were learned and I finally understood the right direction for me.
After some smaller real estate investments, I realized I was outgrowing the city and the current job I took left me questioning my purpose more. That's what I call "the pull" happened again. Perhaps you can say it was my calling but I believe it came to in a series of subtle "pulls". This pull catches your attention and was intriguing but I seemed to be dismissive about it for some reason. The pull can be so subtle. I am here to tell you to pay attention and don't dismiss it if you happen to experience this pull. The pull is so important to listen and work through no matter what happens in life or what season.
During the winter of 2015, I finally reached a point where I needed a change and it took the polar vortex of Chicago to tell me I could no longer live in this city. I could NOT stand the long winters. In fact, my hands started to go numb outside in the cold no matter how much I layered and the gloves I wore. It was quite alarming. With 50 miles per hour and 10-15 inches of winter snow in one particular snowstorm. I was done telling myself this was the last winter in Chicago. I began really planning my next move out west. And this change was going to be a big shift.
But Did I mention I love change? I actually crave it. I know, it's kind of strange but I have felt change always kept me on my toes and it created this urgency to keep growing despite all the challenges. But the chance to move to out west or to California did not presented itself for months. So, here I was absolutely ready for it and now the chance was stalling on me. I looked for some jobs and so did my husband. But it was quiet. I realized California had been calling my name since WAY back after college graduation. Yet for some reason or another you often don't listen to your gut or get distracted or just plain get shocked at the thought of a major and positive change; that you put it in the back of your mind. But with all change comes growth. And with growth comes major lessons and lifelong gains. So I continued to wait for the next opportunity.
I understood I was wanting more of what was in alignment with my calling but I seemed to have lost direction along the way. Maybe this was the universe's way of telling me, "I told you so. Why didn't you listen to me?" After all, life is a series of constant change, right? And like the adventure soul that I am, I waited for that prime opportunity. With two clients waiting to close an investment, I waited what seemed an eternity along with the winter woes of cold season.
That's when my husband received a job offer in Carlsbad. He had received another job in Chicago but this was the chance to move out there. This was the news we were waiting for and we were so grateful for this offer. Let me explain. It had been a lifelong dream to move to California but that dream seemed so far off in the distance. Like, oh yea, "Blah blah (dream) would be so awesome...and living in California and starting my own business had been one of them. In fact, it was THE dream. But I don't think I took them seriously enough and I am here to remind you DREAM big and don't let it scare you. Work with the fear and pay attention, write it down, draw a picture, travel, sing about it or talk to a trusted friend. I know it sounds cheesy but don't let it freeze you. Leverage the fear. It's there for a reason.
Here's what I learned: Dreams should scare the shit of you. Yes, it should really make you feel like wow, if this happened I would would cry and laugh myself into happiness. But fear is funny. I learned it has different dimensions. It scared me into silence. I never knew I could be scared of this kind of change. I ignored the idea and I became indifferent. I became so indifferent of a culture that has become completely in synch with my mission in life . Feel that fear and listen to it carefully because it is trying to tell you something real, something essential about YOU. My advice? Run after them but prepare yourself. Push yourself and go beyond your comfort zone. Evaluate the circumstance and decide the best options. Besides, who has control of everything in life? You do your best and you just go for it.
I was so excited that I could pick up and leave again. You see I loved picking up and taking off for a new adventure. I loved the thrill, the ability to be mobile, the thrill of change because I knew positive change and growth would follow. At least that's how I felt in my thirties for the most part but when I arrived it was time for major change and transitions. And I had to put my big girl pants on because I had a toddler in tow and not much family/friends around to help out.
So we arrived to San Diego airport in the middle of the night. It was so serene and the night was quiet but I felt so welcomed even in the airport. We came from a Chicago freezing winter weather to a placid evening in Southern California. I loved the smell of the midnight breeze with all my winter layers on me. I took off the layers and felt the familiarity of the atmosphere as I looked up the palm trees swayed almost saying welcome. I could smell the fresh brewed coffee and bread as it was already being served in an outside kiosk! Amazing.... not to mention how tired I was from the trip. This is what I have been waiting for and the I finally listened to my gut. Instantly, it just felt like home.
It was the middle of the night and I was completely exhausted from running around tying loose ends with the moving company in Chicago and all of the logistics with the trip. All I wanted to do was sleep because of the time change and all the stress but so worth it. I guess that's why I like change so much. I know it will be difficult but the end result will be something I can look back on and say, Yes, I did this!
Where have you traveled that made you feel like home? Did you struggle with a life transition to know it was the best option for you? Sign up for my e-newsletter and get more inside scoop and details of my journey as I take you behind the scenes on the process of my making a vegan hand bag for today's woman travel.