Monday, October 15, 2012

Then and Now: How Life Has Changed

Last night, Ang and I began reminiscing about our life back in Chicago.  I so often forget that life.  It was only three years ago but it feels like the distant past.  It isn't until we drudge up all of those memories that I really come to appreciate the present.

Back in Chicago, Ang and I worked jobs that we absolutely despised.  Dragging myself out of bed every morning was a tireless struggle.  In fact, everything felt like a struggle.  Angela worked about three jobs making only $8/hour as a physical therapy aide with a hard-earned master's degree. I'm not trying to sound entitled, but she deserved much better.  Angela lived in an apartment with three boys, two stinky dogs and a rabbit.  She had one tiny little bedroom with an almost non-existent closet.   Neither of us had cars; we relied solely on public transit.  Winters were brutal and we hated every minute spent outside waiting for buses and trains.  With temperatures in the negative degrees, it was just plain painful!

My old Chicago neighborhood: Bucktown

Although more often than not, it looked like this. 

Basically, we were ready for a major change.  Mid-life crisis style.

So what did we do?  We quit those miserable jobs.  We packed up our lives into five suitcases and flew to California with our one-way plane tickets.  Destination: San Diego.  Neither of us had ever visited.  Neither of us knew a soul there.  It would be an adventure.  We didn't have much in savings, just a tax return.  We didn't have a car, jobs or even a place to live but we'd figure it out.  We were resourceful.

Our lives in 5 suitcases. 

I will admit, those first couple of weeks were stressful and trying times.  Luckily, we found an apartment complex willing to take a chance on two jobless young girls, and we got ourselves a home.

Our first San Diego apartment.  A whopping 600 square feet.  :)

I quickly found a non-profit job and Ang started personal training at a commercial gym.  Both of our jobs were walking distance from our new apartment, and now I realize just how impossible that is in San Diego.  Nobody lives within walking distance of their job.  Angela's dad shipped us her bikes and we had wheels. We were movin' on up.

I started to really find myself, as cliche as that sounds.  I fell passionately in love with running and eventually, I fell in love with life.   Cheesy, I know, but I swear it is true.  Every weekend, we get out and enjoy.  Every second, minute, hour.  Here in this "new life", we can cycle along the coast, run on breathtaking trails, surf in the ocean, and get outside every single day.  We experience new things constantly and get away to see new places as often as possible.

finally living. 
Angela and I have found meaningful jobs that allow us to truly help people.  I work with an incredible group of passionate, talented individuals and I don't leave work every day feeling as though I've had the life sucked out of me.  We live in a cozy, two bedroom apartment in the perfect location with our two fur babies.  I have managed to meet the best friends I've ever had in my entire life.  Angela is pursuing her Doctorate in Physical Therapy.  Life is good.  No, life is GREAT.  We have accumulated some stuff over the years (i.e. cars, larger apartment, a treadmill, etc.) but more importantly, we've really started living.  Life is not such a struggle anymore.  We enjoy our lives.  This sounds simple but it really isn't.  How many people truly enjoy their day to day lives?  We have a finite amount of days, so we better make the most of them.  Back in Chicago, we were wasting our days away dreaming about what was next.

beautiful friends. beautiful life. 
Sometimes, we get sucked into the day to day tediousness that becomes our lives.  We even start to feel like there is no way out of the routine.  We think maybe life is just supposed to be a tireless struggle.  This is normal, and that's the way it is.  But I don't believe that.  Happiness is out there.  Sometimes we just have to chase it down.  Oftentimes, it requires a major leap of faith and we may even have to let a lot go.  But in the end, there is so much to gain.  I'm not saying happiness is geographical, although for us it kind of was.  But it's out there - "there" being a relative term.

I know they say happiness is not a destination, it's a journey, but I have to admit, I feel like I have arrived. I chased my happiness and I've found it right here by the big, blue Pacific.  If life starts to feel stifling again and I spend more time struggling than living, I will know it is time to go.  Time to chase after a new happiness.  Life is all about evolving and I am in love with change.  But until then, I will enjoy this beautiful life that I've found created.  I will savor my days and not take any of this for granted.


  1. And people wonder why I love Southern California so much :-)

    I'm so happy that you and Angie are happy with the life you've created.

    1. We are pretty darn lucky to live here, aren't we?

  2. Love this Kate. Ah, as much as love change, when it does come I get a little freaked out...but I know that it is good for me. I'm needing a change...something. the thought that we might be moving in 5 months and Boston is in 6 months and I'm so far from motivated to train for another marathon....ahhh, feeling just a tad lost right now. anxious. a little afraid. But I know that with this change will come something new...I hope it is happiness...I plan on creating happiness the best I can. :)

    1. Wow. That is a lot to have on your plate at one time, but if anyone can do it, it's you! Change is inevitable and beautiful. Embrace it. I know you will. :) XO

  3. I have to say, your timing is impeccable, I really needed to read something like this. Next month, I am moving (on my own) over 3000 miles away, from the city I have lived in my entire life to one I have never even visited. You are totally right, though- life is just way too short to waste on something we don’t enjoy.It is really nice to read that you and Angela are happy in your new lives in Cali

    1. Good for you! It will be great! Where are you moving from and where are you going?

  4. Love this. I long to do what you have done....sigh. Why don't I? Fear (and a house) is holding me back. So Cal is where I often feel I need to be. Happy for you!

  5. You're incredible. Seriously, I loved this post. The writing, the message, your attitude. Why sit around and be sad when you have all the power to change it? Thank you for sharing.

    1. Well, you're a midwestern girl living in SoCal too! We have a lot in common. Mostly our awesomeness. :)

  6. What a beautiful post. I love it! I have always wanted to visit San Diego and now I know I need to. I am currently living the big city life and sometimes I fantasize about relocating to a more relaxing locale. I love reading your blog and living vicariously through you (it helps that you run super fast and I find that inspiring, as well! ;))

    1. Katie, I love your blog! And you are quite speedy yourself!

      SoCal is definitely laid back and relaxing, but I definitely miss the city life from time to time. San Francisco, Portland or Seattle are somewhere in our future. :)

  7. I'm so happy for you and Ang. You both are so brave to start a whole new life in an unknown place! I'm glad you're living the dream now!

  8. First, I so admire that you guys picked up and left! It's not an easy thing to do but look at the big rewards. And I love hearing about people who have made their happiness in life. Well done (and at such a young age!)

  9. My God! I remember when this all "went down"...thought Ang was NUTS (but awesome)! Great to see your online journey together. Wish you both tons of continued happiness and tons of fun!! XOXOXOXO

  10. Possibly my favorite post to date! Such a great reminder to be grateful and enjoy where we end up no matter what. Love, thank you xxoo

  11. I miss California. Its in my blood and soul. I am a Northern Cali girl though with the smell of redwoods, San Fran, and wine country. I am from Sanoma County....ah. I miss it.

  12. OMG. Your life sounds exactly like mine. I moved here two months ago from Boston and I've never been happier. I write all about it in my blog. Angie Hotz (Barefoot AngieBee) sent me here to read this, and I'm so glad she did.

    Congrats on living. That's just what I hope to do now, for the rest of mine.


  13. I'm proud of you guys for starting a new adventure in a great city and leaving chi-town. Life is much better in so-cal. I grew up in Chicago and in 1998 moved to San Diego and loved it. I just moved to Boulder, CO and am enjoying all great trail running here. Enjoy San Diego and keep on running!!!!

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