Thank you, San Francisco.  

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I landed at SFO last night with a heavy heart. That was the last time arriving here would be arriving “home”.

In July 2008, I moved to San Francisco from Toronto with two suitcases, oodles of optimism and not much else. No job. No work visa. No friends. No address or phone number. Just a feeling in my gut that I couldn’t shake. A feeling that the next chapter in my life was supposed to take place in San Francisco. I just needed to get here and the pieces would fall into place.

I was a 30-something single woman looking for love. A teacher looking for a new career. A former travel junkie looking for a little adventure. More than anything, I was looking for somewhere new to call “home”.

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San Francisco welcomed me with open arms. I took a huge risk on this city and she paid me back in spades. Amazing friends. Incredible adventures. A new career. A wonderful husband. And a beautiful baby boy.

Seven years later, and it’s time for a new beginning. In less than a month, I’ll be boarding my one-way flight east to start a new chapter in Asheville, North Carolina. A chapter that wouldn’t exist if I didn’t book that one-way flight to San Francisco seven years ago.


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In celebration of all that this beautiful city has brought to my life, my posts over the next month will be dedicated to a long lingering farewell to my City By The Bay. I am not ashamed to admit I’m a total cliche. San Francisco, you will always have a piece of my heart.

Getting Back At It

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I’ve been procrastinating about getting these blog posts started again, but this quote I found yesterday on Instagram, along with an inspiring post from Live Your Legend founder, Scott Dinsmore, have catapulted me back to where I’m supposed to be.

This quote is a reminder of everything I’ve let go of in the past that has led me to where I am today – a place of happiness, calm and balance.  A place where I feel more like myself than at any other time in my life. A place where I am grateful every single day for the time I spent working through the challenges of the past, taking risks, and following the voice inside me that told me to keep searching for something that I would only know I’d found when I found it.

I dare say I’m here now – in this place that I feel like I’ve spent my life looking for – but only because I learned (after many failed attempts) that we can only move forward when have the courage to walk away from what’s holding us back. Commonly, what holds us back is what we cling to because we think we need it to feel secure, but more often than not, it’s a false sense of security. We convince ourselves that we couldn’t live without that person, place or job– those people, possessions or routines. The fear of losing one or more of those things and what we can only imagine to be the pain of living with that loss prevents us from seeing that our dependency on them is likely what’s stopping us from getting to a place where we truly don’t need them. We don’t need them because that security is within us – and we can finally stop looking outside ourselves. Often, it’s as simple as abandoning one attitude and embracing another.  In 2011, my life shifted to a place where I could feel that sense of security inside me and it invited a world of opportunity I never knew could exist.

So here I am again, still in the midst of my personal reinvention, looking to create an identity for myself that meshes with my new life. A life that in many ways is unrecognizable when compared to the identity I developed in the last chapter of my life. The parts I still recognize are the ones I want to keep. The rest is what I’m committing to let go of, once and for all, right here, right now. Thinking that I need some new version of my last chapter is what’s been holding me back from creating something brand new. And brand new is where I am now.

And as I commit to letting go, I’m also recommitting to this blogging process. And since I don’t think I could say it better myself, from Scott’s article linked above, here’s why:

A blog is simply the easiest way available for publishing ideas for others to see. It encourages you to get ideas out of your head and into the world, which then allows you to further develop them and give you a chance to showcase those thoughts as well as your passions and talents to others. And when you do that, interesting things start to happen.

Developing your writing also happens to be one of the best ways for learning how to communicate, process thoughts and ideas, stay accountable to big plans and life changes, build an audience, develop your persuasion skills and to simply become a more interesting citizen of the world.

Taking a break from the blog writing was good, getting back at it is better.

Self-Diagnosis? Analysis Paralysis.

 

A month ago, I decided that it was finally time to start writing this blog. In hopes of putting my best foot forward, I spent some time coming up with the title, tagline and theme before launching into my first post. Two weeks in, I was happy with my progress. I wrote two actual posts —  and then I stopped. Why? Well, I believe it went something like this:

After that second post, a well-intentioned friend asked me to articulate the purpose of the blog and all I remember from the conversation is that I didn’t explain myself in the way I’d hoped. I didn’t know exactly what the focus of each of my posts was going to be. I didn’t know who my ideal reader was. I didn’t know specifically what area of expertise I was ready to share. And the analysis began. Followed immediately by waves of doubt. Before I knew it, a dark fog of uncertainty clouded my words, my choices, my theme. After re-reading my last post, I felt like I’d edited it to the point where it didn’t sound like me anymore.

Before I’d even found my voice, it was lost.

Upon completion of this first round of self-deprecation, I decided to step back and dig myself into the hole a little deeper. Decided it was best to stop writing until I’d figured everything out. (When in doubt – avoid!)  Fortunately, after two weeks of pretending the blog no longer existed, I woke up this morning and it hit me like a brick wall. I had seen this all before. The familiar cunning culprit? None other than ‘Analysis Paralysis’.

Analyzing is good. Over-analyzing is the enemy. So I took a breath, got out of bed and began reminding myself why I started this blog in the first place. I went back to the beginning of the story.

A few months ago, I made the decision to resign from a job I’d held for 5 years. Like anything else, I had a lot of reasons, but ultimately it boiled down to the fact that it was time for a change. Experience has taught me that for better or worse, I live for change, thriving in the new and unpredictable. I enjoy the challenge of trying things I’ve never done before because they ignite my curiosity, motivation and engagement in ways that nothing else can. It was time to be true to myself and figure out what I wanted to be doing with my days instead of feeling like the hamster on the wheel. So I jumped – confident that the net would appear. And it will – this free fall is part of the process – and where the writing comes in. Intuitively, I know that writing is what I need to do to point myself in the right direction.

So, yes, I reminded myself that I’m here writing from a place of ‘reinvention’ – trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. I’m here precisely because I don’t have the answers.

And that’s okay.

It’s okay not to know. It’s okay to figure it out as I go along. It’s okay to decide and then change my mind. And then change my mind again – especially if something doesn’t feel right. In fact, if my gut is telling me it isn’t right, it’s better to change my mind again. Life is about learning how to make the right decisions for myself. And I will only know if a decision is right or wrong by acting on it – by taking the risk.

The worst thing I can do to myself right now is stay stuck.  And by that I mean comfortably stuck in my own head. Swimming around in circles, analyzing my options to death and coming up with convincing reasons not to move forward with any of them.  It’s a bad place to be, especially since I’m motivated by productivity. The more I get done, the more energy I have to keep getting things done. Being stuck sucks the life out of me.

Movement is key.

So, I’m back. And for the moment, I’m back here writing for me and if you can relate to any of this, then maybe I’m here for you as well. If for no other reason than to remind you that you aren’t alone in figuring out what you’re doing with your life. I’m committing, as you can, to a renewed sense of purpose. To not settling for what I know I don’t want. To getting back on the track that I know I’m meant to be on.

To quote one of my favorite Paul Simon songs (sing it!) :

“I’m on my way. I don’t know where I’m goin’. I’m on my way, I’m takin’ my time but I don’t know where…”

When you embrace the ‘not knowing’ – the process is fun because you realize that when you don’t have the answers, anything is possible. When you jump in, you’re willing to risk and learn and grow. Serendipity sends you a wink. The universe delivers a smile. And the path becomes clearer.

And now that I’ve spelled this out for myself, I will try my darndest not to get stuck again!

Flapping my wings until I’m ready to land on both feet.