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.

8 Days & Counting!!

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There’s nothing like having a baby due in eight days to light a fire under your rear end. As a first time expectant mother, I had naturally and wishful-thinkingly told myself that the baby would be at least two weeks early, so every day that I’m still pregnant is feeling like borrowed time. Time to be savored. Time to check those final cling-ons off my to-do list. Time to do every last thing that every other parent keeps insisting I’ll never have time to do once baby arrives.

The most wonderful thing about trying to ramp up productivity at this particular moment in time is that there’s no time for perfectionism (hallelujah!).  And really, it’s the ideal time to set very ambitious goals for myself – considering that I have every excuse in the book if I don’t get them done. All those hours of breastfeeding and sleep deprivation ahead of me means I won’t even have to feel guilty – bonus!

I started this blog last spring with several lofty ambitions, but the one that’s closest to my heart is finding a way to take what I’ve learned over the years through journaling and find a way to share it with others. Over the past several months of pregnancy, other ‘nesting’ duties like preparing a nursery, learning to decipher endless lists of baby gear terminology and decluttering every nook and cranny of the house have come and gone from my list with more urgency, but now that those tasks are complete, I realize that with motherhood around the corner, sharing life lessons is more important than ever.

So two days ago, when “10 days and counting” became my reality, I sprung into action. Well, I guess it was more of a roll off the couch to action, but you get the idea. I decided that the best way to set myself up for success going forward was to be organized before baby arrives. So with the clock ticking, for once in my life, I didn’t overthink what I was doing, I just got started.

Like any multifaceted project, it helped to start with a simple process broken into bite-sized steps – so as not to get overwhelmed and give myself multiple opportunities to feel a sense of accomplishment along the way. Productivity inspires productivity, so what works for me is to make it as easy and fun as possible to feel like I’m getting something done.

In a few hours, here’s what I accomplished:

STEP 1

Take all journals out of the cupboard and place a pile in the middle of the room. Smile as you examine the heap and remember all the places those books have traveled. Inhale and sigh remembering the countless memories they hold. The joys and sorrows, smiles and tears, successes and failures. Inhale again and exhale deeply – feeling a great sense of pride for the lessons learned. Grin from ear to ear looking at the book you just started writing in and thinking about the incredible new memories it will hold. Feed your creative spirit by taking fun photos of the pile.

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STEP 2

Examine each book individually. Begin the process of arranging books chronologically by noting the dates of each book’s first and last entry. Write this on a sticky note and place on each book. This will help streamline the effort of transferring content to blog posts. Take fun portraits of each book that can be used to organize content online.

STEP 3

Arrange books on shelf in chronological order. Check for gaps in dates to make sure none have been misplaced. Take a total count and number each book with a sticky note placed inside it. In my case, I’ve got 25 completed books beginning in April 1999 and ending November 2014. That realization alone is enough to inspire a sense of productivity and the motivation to figure out the next steps in this process. 


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STEP 4

Look forward to what tomorrow brings if the clock is still ticking!

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.