You’ll Always Get the Same Results…

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” 

I’ve repeated this cliche statement about a thousand times to about a thousand clients throughout my professional career. It typically spills out of my mouth when I propose a new campaign, plan of action, or platform that the client is unfamiliar with. In situations where I’m recommending something out of the box or new to them, their first impulse is to push back because they’re not sure if doing something new is the right move, even when data tells us otherwise – drop off in organic traffic, decrease in leads, whatever the case is.

That’s when I need to pull out this statement and explain why I’m recommending what I am, the results we can expect, and then I always end it with – “If we go down this path and it’s not producing the results we want or that we’re expecting, we change our course of action. That’s all.”

And then, because they trust in the process and in me, we move forward strategically.

I’ve dealt with this scenario more times than I can count between the hours of 8:30am and 6pm, Monday through Friday. But, as I was catching up with a friend of mine on the phone today, I found myself saying that phrase to her.

My simple statement, the exact one I’ve said over and over and then some more, made me stop and realize that I was missing a huge opportunity in my life. 

I’ve never once applied that statement to any other part of my life – to my relationships, to my own career, to my own passions.

I said this as I was talking to her about relationships and the type of men I usually date. And believe me, I’ve got a type – in the entertainment industry, who like to party, who have tattoos, and who typically like other things (cough cough themselves cough cough) more than they like me.

And I kept wondering why my relationships never seemed to work out… 

Of course they kept ending because I kept dating the same type of guy. I kept putting myself in those “all too familiar” situations. I wasn’t doing it intentionally but that’s the problem, isn’t it?

Without stopping to take relationship audits, career audits, whatever audits in your life, you miss out on seeing important patterns – are you constantly dating the same type?
Do you continually find yourself unhappy in the jobs you accept?
Are you always backing away from the hobbies or passions that you find yourself drawn?

Are you holding yourself back or holding onto your comfort net because you’re scared of what others might say or what might happen if you fail?

I’ve been reading the book, “Emotional Agility” by Susan David and there’s a section in this book that has stuck with me these last few weeks. She explains how important it is to: Recognize your patterns; label your thoughts and emotions; accept them; and act on your values.

(Please note: I’m about to copy and paste random sentences and sections of this article to prove my point so if this is interesting to you, I’d recommend checking out the full article from Harvard Business Journal)

“The first step in developing emotional agility is to notice when you’ve been hooked by your thoughts and feelings… When you’re hooked, the attention you give your thoughts and feelings crowds your mind; there’s no room to examine them. One strategy that may help you consider your situation more objectively is the simple act of labeling. Just as you call a spade a spade, call a thought a thought and an emotion an emotion.

The opposite of control is acceptance—not acting on every thought or resigning yourself to negativity but responding to your ideas and emotions with an open attitude, paying attention to them and letting yourself experience them. Take 10 deep breaths and notice what’s happening in the moment… When you unhook yourself from your difficult thoughts and emotions, you expand your choices. You can decide to act in a way that aligns with your values.”

So, the way I’ve used this in my own life is by identifying those moments where I immediately react to a text, a sentence, a situation, or whatever emotional. I get upset. I get stressed out. I react before I can think – send an angry text back or say something I don’t really mean because I’ve been taken over by my emotions.

Instead of reacting immediately, I’ve made the decision to stop, breathe, and then move forward appropriately. 

I can’t even tell you how often I’ve used this tactic and how it has helped me make smarter decisions.

And I’m bringing up emotional agility because here’s something that I guarantee – when you realize that you need to make a change in your life to get a different outcome or to put yourself on a new path, chances are you’re going to feel afraid, doubtful, or scared of what’s going to happen, what people will say, and how they’ll react.

That’s your being trying to protect itself from looking dumb. It wants to keep you in this safety net of comfort and mediocrity because if you push yourself, you’re walking on the path of unfamiliarity. And despite what your being is trying to tell you, that’s a great place to be. It means you’re doing something new. You’re challenging yourself to live a happier/more fulfilled/better/whatever life. You’re finding out who you are when you’re faced with fear or uncertainty. You’re not settling for the same old stuff.

So, when you begin to feel those things – stop, breathe, recognize that your emotions are taking over, and then move forward appropriately. What I hope for you in this situation is for you to recognize that you’re just scared of the unknown but that I hope with everything that you also decide to explore that unknown.

Whether you decide to face fear now or months or years from now, you’re always going to have to face it at points in your life. It’s how you tackle it that matters. It’s about recognizing that it’s just another emotion and you don’t have to become what you feel – you can separate yourself from the things you’re feeling and then move forward based on your values or your beliefs.

Recognize that fear is just fear and it’s not going to dictate your life or your happiness.

Don’t let it control you – if you want to write more but you’re scared of what people will think of what you have to say, start a blog anyway and share it with friends before you’re ready to. If you want to become a photographer, dedicate a few hours every weekend to go take some photos and open up an Etsy shop.

Happiness and fulfillment typically lives on just on the other side of fear and discomfort.

But to make a change, a true change, to live the life that you’re yearning for – you’ve got to put yourself into new, exciting situations. You have to follow your heart when you’re not sure how everything is going to work out. You have to ignore the haters and the people trying to tell you that “it’ll never work” and you need to push forward.

Whatever you want to do will likely be scary but it’s up to you to not hold yourself back.

If things don’t work out how you hoped, then just take what you’ve learned and try again. Very few decisions are final – keep trying and trying until you find a way or a path that will work for you to get you to where you want to be.

If you want to get a result that you’ve never had, you’ve got to tell fear to gtfo, because you’ve got chances to take and things to accomplish.

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Too much.

It’s always…
Am I saying too much?
Is this too real? Is it too overly sensitive? Too harsh? Too not enough?
Are these words too weak to really convey how I’ve felt? Are these words too diluted?

But after weeks of not writing because of worrying about “too” – I’ve decided it’s more important to speak than to worry if it’s too much or too little.

Florida, oh sweet sweet Florida… it’s not what I had expected.

In fact, it’s the opposite of what I had hoped for when I was jumping into this new adventure with wide eyes and an open mind.

What I wanted for those six months was clarity, freedom, and to find some sort of inner peace or sense of spirituality that spoke to me. But instead, I was beat down, challenged in ways I had never imagined, and felt lonelier than I could’ve expected… but was I expecting too much?

Those six months were tough.

The one thing I yearned for was to feel free and yet, I found myself feeling the opposite. I found myself tied down into something that unexpectedly bloomed in front of me but instead of this situation helping me in my journey to grow, it kept me bound. And not just bound, but I felt my inner spirit, my joy, my happiness withering away.

Instead of following my goals and my aspirations, I followed lust. Infatuation. I followed this idea of ‘fate’ that I twisted and turned and molded into what I wanted it to be. It wasn’t what was – it’s what I wanted so desperately to see… is that too romantic?

I fought every day for my self worth. I gave everything I had, and then some, to prove I was worthy of a love that didn’t ever exist. In a way, I knew I was going against everything I set out to do but felt as though losing a piece of myself was worth it for this man… for far too long, I was too blinded. 

And in the end, I was made to feel as if I was the idiot, the one who wasn’t enough and would never be enough, the one who was selfish.

The carefree, happy, woman who was excited for adventure, went missing for a few days… weeks… months.

And – you know what – this lesson, this beach-filled extended vacation, these last six months were worth the tears, the questioning, the hurt.

Because when all was said and done, I realized yet again that the universe didn’t give me what I wanted – it gave me what I needed.

Because in these six months, I realized that nobody else has the power to define my worth, my value, my inner strength.

I found it within myself despite the words I had heard.

I dug deep inside of who I am and I pulled out the strength to walk away from something that didn’t serve me anymore. I realized that I have the ability to leave and with that, I ran. I ran even when every part of my heart wanted me to stay and see if “maybe things could work” but knowing they never would. Knowing that he would never change his view. Knowing that I could never be me when I was there… is that too survivor-y?

I learned that being alone is crucial to recognizing who you are and who you want to be when no one else is there to cheer you on or there pat you on the back. That it’s up to you to set the boundaries you need for your own heart, head, and well being and that it’s up to you stick to those boundaries. Stick to them when it’s hard. Stick to them when someone else doesn’t understand. And stick to them especially in those moments when you know you need them the most.

I learned that I’m in charge of my future and if I cry more than I smile, I can leave. I have legs to walk away. I have the strength inside of me to block a phone number. I have the ability to not respond to pleading texts to come back.

And you know what? You can too. You can stand up for what you believe in and you can walk away from the things that you don’t need in your life… is that too preachy?

And through this experience, I’ve finally discovered that I need to do what I need to do to be the best version of myself. This isn’t about you, it’s not about that cute guy who winked at me in the coffee shop, it’s not about this idea of a man that I once knew.

This year. This journey. This experience. This Florida adventure. This is about me. 

I’ve started writing gratitude lists to help myself see plainly that bad days are just bad days, not bad months or years. I’ve read self-help books that taught me how to be more emotionally agile. I’ve spoken affirmations on a daily basis. I’m about to create a damn vision board for 2018… is that too hippy?

I’ve realized that I need to write when I don’t want to share – those are the moments my keyboard needs me most. Because in Florida, I was scared. I was scared to sit down and tell you how I felt and what I was going through. Because I was scared you wouldn’t understand – or perhaps I was scared you would and that you’d try to make it all better from hundreds of miles away when I just needed to cope with it myself… is that too selfish?

I’ve learned that I don’t care about societal norms – I don’t want to keep quiet about my experiences.

I want to tell you about how my gratitude list has helped fight back tears when nights are hard. How bad relationships are tough, and heart breaking, and can run you into the ground – but then I want to tell you that even when you feel stuck, you can get out. And I want to help you pull yourself out of that dark hole. That shit is hard and life is hard but darling, that’s no excuse to give up. To stop trying. To not read, learn, craft a future because it seems “silly” to write lists or craft boards.

This year, it’s about me. 

It’s about sharing more than I hide. It’s about shaping my own future so no one else can barge into my life and shape what they want for me. It’s about being my own damn hero. To making my own adventures. To taking my key back. To saying “no” when I need to – even when I don’t want to. To live, love, and experience to the fullest but not for anyone else.

This year, I hope to write. To share. To be real. 
I hope to write when it’s hard, when it’s easy, and when I want to and when I don’t. Writing is what makes me who I am and that… well, that’s a big part of me that I lost because I was scared. Scared of how I’d be perceived. Scared that I let you down because I took this journey of a lifetime and part of me feels as though I’ve failed. I stayed inside and I stayed in a bad situation and I stayed inside of this shell I wasn’t proud of.

And, that’s the easy thing about life, isn’t it?
It’s easy to be scared and decide, “Nah… Not now. Maybe I’ll do/say/attempt that later but not right now.” And then, we don’t. We refuse to change, to grow, to do what terrifies us to our core.

That’s what I did for days… for weeks… for months. 
I hid behind my fear – fear that you’d judge me for not taking full advantage of the sand and the sun in front of me. For falling into something so serious so quickly. For giving up a huge of myself to someone else for the sake of “maybe this will be good” when all I do is tell you to never, ever give up yourself for another man, person, experience because dammit, you’re all you’ve got. And yet, there I was… doing exactly the things I warned you not to do. So, I hid. I stopped writing. I stopped blogging. I stopped sharing. I shut off a huge part of who I am and what makes me happy and you know why? I did it out of fear.

But, not this year… I refuse to be held down again.

This year is mine… is that too confident? 

Just kidding. It’s not too confident 😉

This year, I hope with all that’s inside of me that you’ll refuse to be afraid – you’ll do the things that scare you. You’ll take adventures even when you don’t know what lies beyond the “yes, I’m going to do this.” You’ll be the  person who lives for you, you’ll do what your soul tells you to do without second guessing. My hope is that you’ll rally for yourself. Be the person you want to be – you’ll take moments to reflect on the good and bad of 2017, make moves to ensure you’re setting yourself up for a happy year filled with love and kindness.

Please – take time for yourself. Take time to set your boundaries, to find the strength inside of you to say no, to not be afraid to be alone, to jump into an adventure that presents itself even when you’re scared. To fight for what you believe in, to be kind to those who are different than you are, and to be the best damn you that you can be… is that too much?

 

Is it Possible to Live a Pressure-free Life?

Real talk – I love St. Pete Beach. I really, honestly, truly do but with that being said… is this what I expected? Sometimes it is but most of the time, not at all.

I’ve been here for nearly 2 months already (wowza) and, with the exception of having the ocean across the street, it hasn’t felt much different than life did in Michigan. And you know what? I felt personally responsible and guilty for that.

I was talking to a friend of mine one night and confessed that I haven’t been living this free-spirited and carefree life that I expected to live and it was because of the choices I’ve been making. I hated hearing the words come out of my mouth but as we sat there Skyping, I said it –  Some nights, I choose Netflix over the ocean. I choose to make dinner rather than making friends at the local tiki bar. I’m sitting at my desk more than I’m sitting in the sand.

And, because this was such a wildly “publicized” move, I felt pressure to make the most of it – not just for me, but for my friends and family who bid me adieu and well, you guys.

I’m so lucky to have this opportunity so I put pressure on myself to live it to the fullest, whatever that means.

I felt like people were counting on me to go here, live this fantastic life, and report back on how things can be so much better when you just follow your heart. And don’t get me wrong, I feel like I am living a fantastic life and I am living it because I’m following my heart – and I love writing about it – but sometimes, with these perks and my love for blogging, pressure follows. Truthfully, I felt odd that my life wasn’t drastically different, without putting in much work, just because I moved to a warmer climate.

How silly.

It took me a few weeks of feeling pressure about feeling pressure to realize I shouldn’t have to feel pressure – follow me?

Some days, isn’t it enough to make it a point to visit the beach on the weekends? Other days, isn’t it enough to end the day with a show to binge and a nice glass of red wine?

Short answer – Yes.
Long answer – Yaaaaaaas.

Life is about living each day to the fullest – YOUR definition of the fullest, nobody else’s. It’s not my responsibility to feel guilty that I wasn’t living up to some expectation that nobody was putting on me but myself. I was putting pressure on myself, and feeling bad about life, for literally no good reason. None. Zilch.

This idea got me thinking about other friends: the ones who feel the pressure to put in an extra 2 hours per night at the office, not because they need to but because they feel like they probably should. The ones who are settling in relationships because they see their friends getting hitched and figure they probably should do that soon too. The ones who are buying a house (which is an insanely big commitment) because they should probably invest in something at this stage in life.

What about when we were younger and felt pressure to fit in with the “cool” kids in high school? The pressure to join the right sports, play the right instrument, and choose the right college?

Is it possible to live a pressure-free life? 

Honestly, I don’t think it is – I think that there’s always going to be some level of pressure we feel and whether that’s from ourselves or others, that’s to be determined.

If you’re putting it on yourself – quit it.
If others are putting it on you – figure out if the pressure is valid and if it’s not, get rid of the negativity. Tell them to quit it and that you’re doing just fine without their input on how you’re living your life.

Do me a favor and right now think, “Am I unhappy?” and if so, identify what it is that’s making you unhappy. Is something actually, reaalllllyyy wrong or are you just feeling a sense of pressure that you’re putting on yourself?

We need to stop bringing unnecessary stress and pressure into our lives because when we allow these things to come in, typically we react in a negative way – we get upset, we take it out on our loved ones, we choose work over friends, etc. We try to fight it rather than figuring out where the pressure is coming from.

When we can take a step back and uncover whether or not we can remove it before we explode, we save ourselves a lot of trouble annnnnd also we lessen the risk of hurting the relationships around us that we cherish so much. I don’t know about you but my friends typically hate it when I snap at them for no good reason 😉

There’s a great quote I saw yesterday:

“There isn’t a way things should be. There’s just what happens, and what we do.”

—Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

I think there are a few ways to take this quote and tomorrow, I may take it differently than I do right now but right now, I feel as though this is a wonderful reminder that life happens. It’s up to us to stop, think, and act accordingly – remove the unnecessary pressure and add the logical thinking mixed with good vibes.

Live is good and it’s bad all on its own. Let’s not make it worse.

The Universe Gives You What You Need When You Need It

Moving to Florida was a big sign from the universe for me. When I arrived, I felt things fall into place – well, everything but consistent blogging of course – and I found myself surrounded by old friends who believed in the pull of the universe as well.

A few weeks ago I reconnected with a friend of mine that I met when I lived in Nashville who now lives in Florida. We went out, had a few too many vodka tonics, and got into a big discussion around the idea that the universe gives you what you need, when you need it. She told me that she felt as though our friendship and who I am as a person, in this moment – years after we originally met in Nashville, gave her what she needed in her own life. A dash of spontaneity, a dose of courage, and a lot of laughter.

Now, I’ve often felt that the universe gives out signs if we only look for them but it’s something i very rarely talk about. So, sitting a thousand miles away from my “comfort zone” talking with someone I haven’t met in years about this topic at a tiki bar on the beach, felt like a sign. Especially since I felt that the universe was telling me to go to Florida and then I ended up talking about this topic with someone who feels the same exact way, reiterating the idea that I’m not crazy 😉

And, guess what – at this point in this blog post, my first version had me launching into a story about how this idea of getting a sign/reminder when I need it most came to life for me today. But, I decided against it because honestly, I don’t want my stories to be the takeaway here.

You know what I think the real takeaway is? It’s this – have you ever thought to yourself or heard yourself say “The time wasn’t right” or “The time was right“?

What do you think told you that?

Me? Well, I believe it’s the universe/the man above/fate/your gut/whoever/whatever giving you a sign to stop and think a little harder about the situation.

You know how I think about life? I’ve started thinking about it like it’s a Magic Eye image. You put your face really really close to it and focus really really hard on what’s directly in front of you. When you’ve got that focus locked down, you can begin to move further away, slowly and carefully, until something else comes into focus.

It’s not what you expected. It’s not what you thought.
It’s a different look at what is right in front of you. 

If you open your eyes and let yourself roam a bit, the signs and signals that are in front of you will amaze you.

Take your eyes off of that roadmap and that ONE path in front of you and begin to look side to side. See the slightly overgrown paths that venture off of where you’re supposed to be. If you move your eyes from the roadmap, I’m sure you’ll see them – they’ve always been there if you just looked for them.

For me, I felt a tug towards this new life and when I got here, I found myself surrounded by what I needed – people who also believed in signs, the sunsets that reminded me that life is more beautiful than I imagined if I just get out of my apartment, and moments that remind me that I need to stop and work towards becoming the person I want to be, not necessarily the person I currently am.

Believe me, I’m not trying to make this some big ‘fate/religion/whatever’ post. I want you to take from it what you need it to give you but for me, I’m a big believer in the pull of the universe and fate – you just have to look for the right signs.

Going back to what I said before, take your eyes up from the roadmap in front of you. Focus on yourself, your intuition, your gut, your signs, the universe, whatever, and explore that.

Let yourself believe that you may be taken in a direction that you didn’t expect but the universe is trying to nudge you in. Remember – life is like a Magic Eye. Take that second look at a situation you think you see clearly.

If this post resonated with you, I highly recommend checking out my favorite book that also focuses on this idea – The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho (Nope, not sponsored… just a lover of this gem and I’ve actually given every copy I’ve ever purchased away. It’s that good). And, if you do decide to read it, let me know what you think. Seriously.

Storms in Paradise

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I haven’t forgotten about you… quite the contrary really. Every single day of being in Florida (and even before I arrived at my bungalow), I’ve thought to myself, “I need to blog. Isn’t that a big part of why I’m here? To get back to basics and write and drink fruity drinks?”

But, I haven’t felt like I could.

Everything I started I felt/said in my head to get those creative juices flowing/started writing felt like an eye roll.

Hell, I was rolling my eyes at what I was thinking and I’m living it.

“I’m loving it but it’s hot! You wouldn’t believe how big my hair is!”
” No, I refuse to let people bring me drinks. I need to see the bartender make it.”
(shout out to sorority life and teaching us alcohol safety)
“Seriously, don’t walk home from the bar alone after dark. #MomMode”
“Yes, I still look good tan and in a bathing suit.”

Okay, well, that last one I threw in because I am tan and hey, confidence. Work it.

But seriously, life has been good. How could it not?

I felt like I was living in paradise and everyone who will listen to me has heard, “It feels like I’m on vacation! Yeah, give me another vodka soda!

So, what did it take to finally break down? Well, a bad day.

Today, I had a bad day. Nothing life changing. Nothing heart breaking. Nothing terrible. But it wasn’t great and it reminded me that sometimes, there are storms in paradise.

It’s funny – it took a tough day to remind me that I’m not living in some dream world. Yes, the location has changed but surprise – it’s still life. I can still have days where nothing goes right – the cat barfs all over my floor, I drop a whole pack of brand new hair ties into the toilet, work is work.

So, why did that shake me down?

Because it was a reminder that just because I’m surrounded by new foliage, I’m still alive. I’m still going to have to tackle obstacles. Not everything will go my way. I just have to take a long, deep breath, and handle it.

You know what I did today? After work, I put on my flip flops and walked over to the local tiki bar across the street and ordered the fruitiest, most caloric drink on the menu. I ordered a big pizza. And I thought about what I could do differently tomorrow. I felt the breeze on my face and I stopped stressing, over analyzing, and testing my twitchy eye to start twitching.

After that, I walked to the beach and plopped right down. For one split second, I thought to myself, “Shoot. I don’t have a towel…” then rolled my eyes and sat right into the sand in my wide leg linen pants and I watched the waves hit the shore.

My phone had 20% battery left so I put it away and I just watched the sun set behind the clouds. I watched families walk the beach and I watched couples hold hands and find the best spot to catch the last few minutes of sunlight.

I just stopped, I took a breath, and I forced myself to let the stress of the day leave my mind.

And if you know me, you know that’s hard. I tend to dwell, I tend to get frustrated, and I tend to get anxious. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely did that during the day but I made the conscious decision to stop and to not continue holding onto unnecessary stress in that way.

Isn’t that why I was here? To relax?

I decided in that moment that I wasn’t going to let myself forget that this 6-month move wasn’t a vacation.

I decided to find a shell (or a piece of shell) that represented how I felt in that moment and I put it in my purse. Next time I take time for myself to sit, butt first, in the sand and watch the sunset without my phone, I’ll do the exact same thing. I’ll pick a shell, put it in my purse, and take it home with me.

I want to begin collecting these shells (and pieces of shells) in a jar as a reminder that this is how I measured my time here.

It’s not always about the big, pretty shells. It’s not always about the cracked ones, the broken ones, and the ones that just aren’t as big as the others. It’s a mix – you take the good with the bad.

It’s life and life isn’t always perfect, every day or every shell.

Lessons > Tricks

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There’s this saying that people don’t change… you know, the whole “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” thing. And this post isn’t meant to dispute that.

Hell, I don’t think I could even if I wanted to.

But while people can’t change fundamentally, I truly believe that people can change their approach to situations based on their experiences.

Let me explain: life is really great at throwing curve balls at us and if we, as humans, aren’t meant to adapt, learn, and grow then we’d constantly make the same mistakes and end up where we’ve always been.

Sure, this happens when people refuse to give into and embrace new emotions but, in my experience, it’s rare that people stay stuck in situations they’re unhappy with. Typically they’ve gone through heartbreak and/or made mistakes, they learn from it and if given a similar opportunity in the future, they’ll take from the past and approach it differently.

To me, this directly connects to something I’ve always believed in – Fate /life/whatever gives us what we need exactly when we need it.

 

When I moved to Nashville, I moved bright-eyed and honestly without any sort of survival mechanism inside of me. Sure, I moved to GVSU and met friends, figured out how to feed myself, and so on. But it wasn’t the same as moving to a completely new state without a job, without a close group of friends, and without a plan. In Nashville, I learned to enjoy the moment – I didn’t worry about a savings account or anything “adult-like” until it was too late.

After I had to move home, with $40 in my bank account and with a tear-stained face, I learned the importance of having an emergency fund. I decided then that I was going to prepare to be prepared and I’d always have a plan… and that plan would have a backup plan.

That situation taught me that I need to have a savings account, to think 2-3 steps ahead in case of an emergency (totally different than creating a roadmap), and to be smart in the adult sense of things.

But, I leaned too far in that direction. I took my lesson and I let it consume me, refusing to feel anything or let anything else in. Rather than taking from my surroundings and allowing myself to learn new lessons, I kept my head down and I barreled towards these milestones I had laid out.

Then, I realized that wasn’t the right approach to life either. I stopped, thought about where I am and where I want to be, and I learned that to find happiness, I need to find a balance of those two things.

To me, it’s important to have the spontaneity of a naive girl looking to explore the unknown but the level-head of a strong, stable woman to make it work.

Now, at the very bare bones of it all, it’s easy to compare my move to St. Pete Beach to the time I moved to Nashville. Of course, I’m approaching it much much differently but when you break it down on paper… well, I feel the urge to leave and I’m going to. I don’t have a strong plan and I don’t have it figured out – I just feel this pull inside of me, tugging me out of my comfort zone, and I’m going to follow it.

I need to allow myself to be open to new experiences, feelings, and tugs in certain directions while also maintaining a level head. And I’m pretty sure this will be easier said than done buuuuut… it’s my goal 😉

And I do think it’s worth noting that while I have this unique opportunity ahead of me to get out of my comfort zone and find my happiness, you also have the same opportunity.

You may not be able to up and move due to obligations but you can follow your passions – sign up for ______ classes at your local community college, go to a restaurant alone just to sit at the bar and talk to 3 strangers, do whatever it is that gets you out of your comfort zone and helps you grow.

Do what you can with what you have… remember this: a lot of small steps will get you to the top of that mountain you’re climbing. 

The outpouring of supportive direct messages, text messages, and phone calls have been unbelievable. I truly can’t explain how wonderful it feels to hear someone say, “I get it. I’ve been there and I’ve felt that way and I want you to know that I’m so proud of you.” Opening up online isn’t easy – it’s scary because it’s so easy to be judged (or worse for a blogger, no one will read) but I want you to understand one thing – I won’t take advantage of this opportunity.

The unknown is scary. Not mapping out a plan to the very minute is scary. Life is scary. But, what does that matter? Being afraid won’t change the outcome. Sometimes you have to jump in with both feet, ammiright?

It’s not goodbye, it’s see you soon.

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Flashback to about 3 weeks ago: it was one of those rare mornings when I woke up about 25 minutes before I had to get out of bed and start my day.

Instead of grabbing for my phone, like I usually do first thing, I stared up at the ceiling for what felt like hours and I forced myself to face what I was feeling. It was a feeling I’ve been pretty familiar with in the past and it had resurfaced the past 6-8 months. And, while it started as a dull tinge, it was becoming stronger and stronger as the days passed.

If I’m being honest, I’d say that since the epic shakeup, I haven’t quite felt settled. I haven’t felt sad or depressed or anything like that, no… just… antsy.

And I’m not unfamiliar with this feeling. I knew exactly what my heart was trying to tell me but I’ve felt this way before these past few years and just pushed it down to try to focus on living that responsible life I had been chasing (you know, that whole roadmap thing).

But, that morning, awake and staring at the ceiling, I couldn’t deny that urge anymore – I needed to make a big move.

No, not metaphorically but literally.

I mean, let’s rewind and think about this: I grew up in Metro Detroit, moved to Grand Rapids, moved to Nashville, moved back to Metro Detroit, moved back to Grand Rapids, and I’ve been back in Metro Detroit again for the past few years for work.

So, it’s time.
It’s time to really rid myself of the roadmap I so desperately followed. 

I had the idea, I did the research, I contacted some real estate agents and I signed the paperwork… and in a month, I’m going to be moving to St. Pete Beach, Florida

Now, this isn’t a long-term thing… in fact, I made sure it wasn’t. As I’m ridding myself of this roadmap, I wouldn’t dare begin to map out the next 12 months of my life. Instead, I’ve decided to rent a vacation home (they call it a “bungalow”… come on, that’s adorable) that’s smack dab in between the Gulf of Mexico and 25+ tiki bars and surf shops for the next 6 months.

After those 6 months? Who knows… maybe I’ll rent another home on the beach, maybe I’ll move back, or maybe I’ll try out a new city. That’s not for me to figure out right now.

Sometime in the last few years, I lost the person I used to love being: I was spontaneous, I lived my life as carefree as possible, I adopted a cat on a whim, I wrote a book for the hell of it, I went out of my way to meet new people, and so on.

That person was hidden away by someone who tried to find a “decent enough” home on Zillow.com, who carefully put every man she met under a microscope to see if they were marriage material, and who focused on the wrong things.

And those things are fine for some people but not for me. Every day passed me by and I wasn’t living in the moment – I was living for a Kate who might be happy 3-4 years down the road, IF she found a guy and IF she found a home and IF a gazillion other things fell into place.

So, I’m following my heart rather than my spreadsheets and I’m taking the days back. I’m going to shake up my routine, spend my free time with my toes in the sand, and sip cold beers while watching the sun set over the ocean.

To me, this isn’t an escape from responsibility. It’s a lesson in finding happiness in the little things and understanding that life isn’t made up by trying to hit milestones. It’s learning to relax and unwind. It’s about being spontaneous. It’s about a lot of things but most of all, it’s about finding my free spirit again.

Nashville taught me a lot about just going for the unknown, Michigan taught me a lot about responsibility, and Florida… well, we’ll just have to see 😉