Goodbye, blinders

After seven months of living in Chicago (wait, how has it already been seven months?!) I’m just now starting to realize that my life is, and will remain to be, completely different than what it was when I lived in Buffalo.

Why that took me seven months is beyond me, but some light bulb moments have been going off lately that are opening my eyes in a big way.

Whenever anyone asks me why I moved, the answer is always the same – I moved for a gut feeling that I just had to listen to.

That’s 100% true. And then I was fortunate to serendipitously find a career that I absolutely adore.

But after seven months, I now know that things in Chicago are completely different than they were in Buffalo in every way.

The blinders are off, and now the reality of these facts is hitting me hard:

  • I have no family in Chicago, and none of my friends that I’ve had in my life up until this point are here, either (thank goodness for the friends I’ve made here thus far. Honestly, they’re dear to my heart for so many reasons.)
  • I don’t have the benefits and access of living in the same city where I went to school (I would have given anything to go to a Canisius College basketball game this season #gogriffs.)
  • My lifestyle here (primarily the long commute to work and not having a car anymore) limits my ability to wear multiple “hats” and invest my time in a variety of outlets like before – i.e. coaching cheerleading, volunteering, being an active member of different young professional groups, etc.

But then I have to stop and cut myself a freaken break already.

I was in Buffalo for SEVEN YEARS. And I’ve been in Chicago for SEVEN MONTHS (caps completely necessary.)

These things will take time.

But until then, the best thing I can do is continue to adapt to my new setting. And scheduling time with and for myself is the best way I’ve been able to do that.

Here are the two things I’ve taken immediate action on:

  • Prioritizing what makes me happy
    • Given the struggles of limited “free time” due to longer commutes, it’s important that I find convenient and efficient ways to accommodate the things that make me happy, like writing. So I bought a small 2lb tablet with an attachable keyboard that I can now take with me everywhere I go. This gives me the convenience to write whenever and wherever I want, which is exactly what i’m doing right now at a local coffee shop. Having that access is crucial for me.
  • Know when I need help, and then ask for it
    • I’m a major proponent of taking care of my mental health. I’ve gone to a counselor a number of times for a number of reasons throughout my life, and picking up my life and moving hundreds of miles away from everyone I love was a perfect reason for me to seek one out yet again. I now see someone a few times a month in order to help sort out my anxiety, stress, fears, and more importantly, my goals. It has been a great help, and it’s a commitment to my well-being that I plan on keeping for a long time to come.

Moving from Buffalo to Chicago is a change that threw my whole world for a loop in ways I didn’t even realize until months later. And now that the blinders are off, it’s been imperative for me to ask myself some tough questions, take a hard look at my immediate surroundings and then take action in order to make the most of this new chapter.

But I figure that if I can create a life I love in Buffalo, I can certainly do the same thing in Chicago.

Like anything else that’s worthwhile, it will just take time, patience, and a lot of love.





The game of life

Secret’s out, guys. I’m a huge Canisius College basketball fan.

Always have been, always will be. This year, the MAAC conference tournament is in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Canisius men’s basketball team beat Siena (for the third time this season, may I add) on Saturday night to advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2002. Yet a few short hours ago, in quite a heart-wrenching finish, the Griffs lost in the semifinals to defending MAAC champion Iona with a score of 75-72. 

Despite the loss, being their number one fan (a title given to both myself and my best friend Aly by a few older gentlemen who are Canisius alum) has taught me a lot this year. And don’t worry, my broken heart is being mended by a bag of mini snickers and some wine right now…

What being a number one fan for a class-act team will teach you:

1. The things you love are worth the sacrifice: When you find something you love — a sport’s team, true friend, a passion of any kind — pursuing it and keeping it in your life is worth whatever sacrifices there may be. Whether it’s your sleep, your voice (can’t keep me quiet in the middle of a Canisius basketball game), gas money, time off from work, a stiff neck from a long car ride… you can spare it in order to root for something you believe in.

2. Stay classy. No matter what: Sometimes the calls go in your favor and other times you’re pulling your hair out because you know the shots just aren’t fair. But whether you’re winning in life or losing, don’t let it make you bitter, angry, egotistical or pompous. Be grateful when you’re up. Be humble when you’re down.

3. You don’t always get a second chance: If you’re lucky, you have that next practice, game, season or tournament in your future. Other times, you don’t get that second chance. Make sure that when your game or adventure comes to an end, you’re proud of the job you’ve done and the character you showed when you were fighting mid-battle.

4. Good company makes the game of life worthwhile: Sporting events, road trips, and the many other adventures life brings would not be as memorable without incredible people to share them with. At the end of the journey, you may forget the score or the number of miles you traveled. You will, however, remember the people who were screaming beside you when it all was caught on (an ESPN) camera.

Let's go, Griffs! Thanks for the shot, ESPN ;)
Let’s go, Griffs! Thanks for the shot, ESPN 😉

I’m going to continue to cheer for my team. Because the “team” I root for is more than a group of talented athletes.

Yes, it’s the players, but it’s also the students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the family and friends from near and far. My “team” is my community, and when that is your team, how could you not be dedicated? How could you not pour your heart onto the court right beside the ones changing the numbers on the scoreboard? Being a part of Canisius means you’re a part of something crazy and quirky and heartwarming and ridiculous. It means you’re a part of a family.

Canisius, you have always had my heart and you always will. Griffs til I die, baby.

Glad the cameras were able to catch Aly and me dancing in the stands. Score.