Today is my 3 year anniversary since moving to California. It still is pretty crazy to think that at 23, I picked up and left everything and everyone I knew – for a relationship that was so new and vulnerable. People always ask me if it was hard to leave Pennsylvania…and I say yes of course, because my family and friends were there- but to be honest, the fact that I was moving to California, and not Wisconsin for instance.. made the move so much more appealing. I mean, I grew up watching “Laguna Beach“…and dreamed what it would be like to work at a surf shop and take weekend trips to Cabo with my best friends.
The first time I traveled back home, after living here for 6 months, I realized how different it is…living on the west coast vs. the east coast. Yes, there are some main differences…the biggest being cost of living..but what fascinated me most was the difference in myself. This is what I’ve learned…
1) Be the change you want to see in the world.
Living in the Bay Area isn’t for the “homebody”. It’s fast-paced. People are constantly innovating. Creating. Connecting. Inspiring. Leading. You never know who you will meet living here. That guy standing in front of you at Starbucks could be a billionaire. The woman whose children you babysit could be married to the CEO of some dotcom. You may just see Mark Zuckerberg out running on your favorite trail… you get my drift. The coolest part is, I feel like that energy rubs off on you…how could it not?? When you are surrounded by people who are shaping our world, it makes you think twice about what your role is and what you’re doing to contribute.
2) Being busy doesn’t equate to being happy.
I hear time and time again, “I’d love to do “xyz”, but I’m just so busy.” One of the frustrations I had when I first moved here, was finding people who were willing to invest time in becoming my friend. It seemed that no one had any time…and if they did, you had to schedule it months in advance. I used to think that they must be living happy, full lives but the longer I’ve lived here, I’ve realized how many people are stressed, overworked, overwhelmed, and unhappy…and the biggest culprit is their schedules. This leads me to my next lesson…
3) You have the Power to Choose.
My husband read a great book titled “Your Greatest Power” by J. Martin Kohe and shared some insight with me. As adults, we have to take responsibility for the choices and decisions we make. We live in a society where we have the freedom to choose, but most people don’t take time to think about how their choices will impact them or their family. We find ourselves saying “yes” to everything…thus loading our schedules with commitments that we don’t even want to be at.
4) Invest in Personal Growth.
After reading “Positive Intelligence” by Shirzad Chamine, I had a moment of enlightenment. I learned that there are “Saboteurs” as he calls them in your brain. They are your automatic and habitual mind patterns, each with their own voice, beliefs, and assumptions that work against your best interest. My personal Saboteur? The Pleaser.
“The Pleaser compels you to try to gain acceptance and affection by helping, pleasing, rescuing, or flattering others constantly. It causes you to lose sight of your own needs and become resentful of others as a result. It also encourages others to become overly dependent on you. Its lie is that you are pleasing others because it is a good thing to do, denying that you are really trying to win affection and acceptance indirectly.” -Shirzad Chamine
OUCH. That definitely wasn’t easy to read. But you know what? It helped me to grow. It helped me to understand the feelings I have when someone has taken advantage of me, and how my actions may have played a role.
(I’ll save my favorite self-help book, “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential” for another blog post…otherwise this could get lengthy.) 😉
5) Ignorance is not bliss.
On the east coast, it takes a little longer for new movements to take root. (Kendrick’s dad still gives us grief about buying organic eggs.) Although I recycled (for the most part), and I never littered or caused any intentional damage/harm to the environment…I never really cared to become informed on things like “agricultural pollution” and “sustainable farming”. It wasn’t until Kendrick and I watched “Food Inc.” and “Cowspiracy” that I started to realize how ignorant I had been. Let’s be honest…those documentaries aren’t intended to make you feel good; they’re not supposed to be a light-hearted film that you turn off and go back to normal life. They’re supposed to drive you to act…to re-evaluate the choices you make so that your kids, and grand-kids can live in a world that’s better than the one we live in. (Ps- if you haven’t seen these films, I HIGHLY recommend them…and while you’re at it, watch “Living On One Dollar” and “That Sugar Film“.)
6) Less is More.
I’ve noticed Californians live in mostly smaller homes (due to super high prices) which forces them to be very efficient at maintaining only the important stuff. We’ve been brought up to be consumers; “to spend money we don’t have, to buy things we don’t need, to please people we don’t care about.” I never realized how much stuff I possessed, until I was forced to live in a smaller home. You start to realize…living in a bigger home, means more space for more stuff. (If you really want an eye opener, read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing“.)
The beauty of living in California is living outdoors…where it’s sunny almost every day of the year. Going back to #1, California is definitely a place for those with an active lifestyle. Kendrick and I love hiking, biking, and being outside. We’ve had many talks about what is important to us; and living in an area where we can be outside (without freezing) is at the top of our list. Living in a smaller space makes me more aware of what I bring into my home, and what I decide to keep. There are less places to hide things, thus you’re forced to evaluate your stuff.
There you have it…my 6 “lessons” since moving to California. I wake up every day and feel so blessed to call this place my home. Kendrick and I live less than 2 miles from our fitness studio, and are surrounded by so many amazing people who love on us and make us feel like family.
Here’s what’s happened in the past 3 years…
Here’s to many more adventures!