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.





Love comes and goes

I have an incredible amount of love surrounding me, both because I purposefully place it in my life and also because i’ve been fortunate enough to have my “greater plan” include love by default. This past week leading up to and including Valentine’s Day has been a comprehensive reflection of the love that I’ve had come and go. 

My roommate and I have a running tradition of spending Valentine’s Day together, and this year we decided to extend the celebrations and make a full week out of it. We made Build A Bears together, had a night of sushi and wine at home, went out to the movies, and of course spent Valentine’s Day with our one true love: Canisius College basketball. It was a week of joy and affirmation that it’s important to celebrate the love that comes with great friendships. 

Readers, meet Riggins.
Readers, meet Riggins.

I also had to celebrate love that is now physically gone. Tuesday marked one month since my brother passed away. It was certainly one of those days that didn’t seem real, a day where I moved through the motions in a daze, feeling numb to almost everything going on around me. I cope and grieve very well, but I’m still human and am in disbelief that he’s actually gone.

Twin's 21st birthday.
Twin’s 21st birthday. Cheers to you, brohan.

This was also the week that my first year of coaching came to an end. I love those fifteen girls more than I think they’ll ever realize, and without giving them unnecessary details, I’m very open and honest with them. They know about the passing of my brother and the loss of my job. More importantly, they know that I use coaching as a positive outlet to cope with all of the difficulties I am going through.

Those fifteen little misfits have been a sincere saving grace for me this year. Whether it was hearing them shout, “love you, coach!” when they walked out the door, telling me about their boyfriend troubles, asking for help in algebra or just watching the lightbulb go off in their minds when something I said finally clicked for them, they always gave me just what I needed. 

Last home game with my misfits
Last home game with my misfits

Through the years, I’ve had a lot of love come and go. There has been love lost, reignited, transformed, misplaced, tarnished, discovered, nourished, jeopardized and celebrated. You can store it away and move on from it, or lock it up and throw away the key. Other times you just save it for a day when it makes more sense, or shout it from the rooftops for everyone to hear.

Just don’t forget what love has done for you, both good and bad. Love, in all of its forms, makes you who you are. And at this very moment, you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.