Eight Totally Random Things I Learned During My Time in California

It feels good to be writing on my blog again! If you’ve noticed that it’s been radio silent for a while, I have a good excuse for you.

I started writing for an amazing website called The Lala, “an online magazine dedicated to empowering 20-something women from across the globe with the authentic, positive and uplifting content.” It’s been a blast to connect with other young women and share stories that I hope will have a positive impact. However, a lot of my personal blog ideas have gone straight to The Lala, where I will be able to reach more readers. But don’t worry – my uber personal ramblings will stay on here!

…like my ramblings for today. Per my previous blog post, my husband and I relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico last Friday. There are SO many exciting things about this move. We’re out of our cozy, one-bedroom apartment and into a beautiful, sunny HOUSE! Jeremy is embarking on his dream career, and I will continue to write full-time (which I consider an incredible privilege).

That said, leaving Sacramento was bittersweet. I absolutely loved our life there, and I’m proud of the personal and professional strides we both took while we lived there. So today, I’m reflecting on the biggest things I learned over the past two years – in no particular or logical order – and the wisdom I’m bringing into my New Mexican chapter.

 

Time is the most valuable thing you have.

When I moved to Sacramento, I had already decided to ditch the 9-to-5 life and try my luck at freelance writing. After two years out of an office, I am more certain than ever that this is the right path for me. In my (very brief) time in the corporate world, I was always waiting: waiting for 5:00, or waiting for Friday. That’s not a thing for me anymore.

My time is MY time, and I use it how I want. If I want to write from sun-up to sundown one day to ease my workload for the rest of the week, I can. If I want to take a four-day weekend, I can. The details, like my work hours and location, just don’t matter as long as I’m getting my assignments done and paying my bills. It feels absolutely liberating to create my own schedule, however I see fit.

When I took a part-time job at Orangetheory Fitness, it just confirmed this even more. I could spend my morning writing and my afternoon at the gym – which, to me, is heaven. It felt so great to plan out my schedule for the week and realize my precious time was going to be spent doing things I love.

 

Consider people’s intentions.

I met a lot of really wonderful people in Sacramento, but all relationships have inevitable ups & downs. Over the past year or so, I’ve made it my goal to always look at intentions when I’m analyzing a situation.

It’s really hard to be mad or annoyed at someone who has 100% good intentions. For example… a good friend did something that upset me, but it was a complete accident. She had no bad intentions – in fact, she had really good intentions! A few years ago, I would’ve given her a piece of my mind and called it a day… but knowing that her heart was in the right place gave me some much-needed patience. I’m not saying that they should get a get-out-of-jail-free card, but you can address issues with compassion if you know they had good intentions.

On the flipside, I met people who clearly had their own agendas. I saw things that blatantly showed their negative intentions, and I didn’t need to see much more. Sadly, the world is filled with people like that. I love people with good intentions, and I make extra effort to keep them around me.

 

Don’t strive to be busy.

I’m all about working smarter, not harder. Of course I have days where I forget to eat because I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off, but I don’t strive for that. A lot of people seem to think being super busy means you’re also super successful… but that seems exhausting (and unnecessary) to me.

I try to be intentional with my time, and I want to fill my day with meaningful things. I no longer feel guilty when I have time to (gasp!) cook myself a real lunch on a workday.

 

Trust your path.

Working for yourself in a creative field is a really scary thing. I used to go out to dinners with my girlfriends and when the conversation would turn to work, it was like a cloud of self-doubt enveloped me. Everyone spoke in this intimidating corporate jargon and it sounded like German to me. However, it sounded real. It sounded like success, and I felt like I needed to catch up.

Today, I’m much more confident in the professional path I’ve chosen. It’s a lot different than what my friends are doing, but it feels right to me. I often think of that quote, “Follow your passion and money will follow.” I can handle that.

 

Prioritize *overall* health.

I’ve spoken before about my struggles with an “all-or-nothing” mentality when it comes to diet & exercise. One of the biggest things I’ve learned and incorporated into my life is the importance of listening to your body (REALLY listening to it) and striving for total health.

It’s very trendy to talk about dragging yourself to the gym, being on team #NoDaysOff, eating super clean, and counting every calorie or macro. And hey, some days it feels really great to force yourself to go for a run and eat a salad for dinner. But there IS more to health than that.

Sometimes, a nice long nap is the best thing you can do for your body. Sometimes, the greatest thing for your mental health is a spontaneous date with the love of your life and a big bowl of pasta. Love your body, inside and out, and treat it well… and understand that there are different ways to do that.

 

Give back, even when it’s not easy.

One of my goals for my time in Sacramento was to volunteer regularly. I applied to become a Girls on the Run coach, and lucky for me, I was accepted! Between the training, twice-weekly practices, and logistics of training a team for a 5K, I sometimes felt a bit overwhelmed and like I had bitten off more than I could chew. However, it was worth every second.

I coached a team of 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade girls both years I lived there, and I can’t express how much it changed me. If I tried to write it all out, I would need another blog post (or two). Working in a high-needs, low-income school in a predominately Hispanic neighborhood was the farthest thing from my own elementary school experience, and I felt extremely privileged to have gotten to spend time somewhere so new to me. If everyone could spend time getting to know (and love) people in a radically different community, I think the world would be a much more compassionate place.

 

Appreciate your partner, but more importantly… SHOW IT.

I hadn’t ever lived with a boyfriend before moving to Sacramento with Jeremy, and I learned a LOT about cohabitating. I already posted a blog about that, so I won’t go too into the logistical things I learned. One thing I did learn, that I didn’t mention in that post, was how easy it is for me to get into a day-to-day rhythm and forget to say “thank you” for the little things.

For example… Jeremy makes me coffee every single morning. He does this after he takes our two dogs out at the crack of dawn. It’s become our routine, but I find myself telling other people often how grateful I am for that. I mean, I’m telling you guys right now! I often need to remind myself to explicitly tell him how much I appreciate and cherish the things he does, even when those things feel like no-brainers.

 

Putting things off will just make you stress out more.

I used to be the queen of procrastination, but being self-employed has made me realize how much procrastination SUCKS. When I’m putting off an assignment or project, for whatever reason, I just become 10x more anxious. The best thing to do is to simply roll up my sleeves and get started. I’m still working on totally eliminating my procrastination habit, but I’m getting better.

I was speaking to my mom the other day, and I had a major moment of gratitude for the chapter I’m closing. I arrived in California with no regular writing gigs, no definite idea of how or if I’d be able to pay my bills, and a lot of goals. I was also a girlfriend, really learning how to be a partner. I left California as a confident writer with several regular writing gigs and a staff position, married to the man of my dreams, and a proud fur mama to two hilarious pups. I’ve grown professionally and personally, and I’m proud of that. More importantly, I am SO excited to see what else I have to learn, and how this new chapter will challenge, teach, and change me.

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