This Midwest Girl Dropped the Mid and Headed West...
If you have been following my blog for the past year you would have noticed two things...One, that I am a Midwest girl through and through.
I was born in a small town outside of Cleveland where I lived with my family until my fathers' job transferred him to South Florida. Florida and I never vibed well, I was always waiting for the next vacation so I could leave and I did as soon as it was possible. Lucky for me I had friends and family in Ohio that I could visit, they were my saving grace. haha =) In my early twenties I made my first solo move to Chicago and never looked back. Chicago was my paradise it was the big city, with public transportation and a million things to do, plus I always felt that it was the heart of the Midwest. Did I also mention they have the World Champion Chicago CUBS? There is nothing better than a summer day in Wrigley enjoying a beer and watching a game. In my 10 years of living in Chicago, I met amazing friends, fell in love with my now husband and had our son. Chicago had been very good to us, never-the-less about a year ago we decided that we were getting a little restless and started looking for a change. Which leads me to the second thing you may have noticed is that we have been moving a lot. haha… Well twice in one year. In September of last year, we moved to Milwaukee, WI and for no other reason that we wanted a change of pace and to see what else was out there. With Milwaukee being an hour and a half from Chicago it was my first baby step from leaving the place I loved and called home for a decade. Our short nine months in Milwaukee was great, we got married, met wonderful people, saved money and went on amazing trips. But something was missing, it did not feel like home. I was continually restless, always leaving to go to Chicago for any reason. Much like Samantha with LA in Sex and the City. Minus a few key character attributes. ;)
So one night after my husband came home from a trip to Chicago we sat down and discussed what we already knew… We missed Chicago. We missed our friends. So we decided to give serious thought to moving back. We started looking at apartments, jobs and so on. Then one night I wanted to rediscuss our moving and understand the why, when and for how long. Couples should check in from time to time to ask what page everybody is on, what do you see in the future and how are we going to get there? My big question was, is this a move just to move again? How is this move back to Chicago going to help us in the long term to reach our goals? His answer was short term five years max… and after some thought we decided moving back wasn’t really going to help us. So now we were back to square one, do we stay or do we go. Where to do we go?? The Suburbs? Another city? Near family? After much back and forth about different cities, we realized we needed to decide what was really important to us. We created a huge list of pros and cons and you guessed it, Portland came out the winner!! For me, the hardest thing about the move was how far I would be from my family =( It would no longer be a three-hour plane flight or a six-hour drive but a six-hour plane flight and a three-day drive. Lucky for us my husbands family lives on the West Coast, his sister right here in Portland and his parents in Bend, OR. So we would have family near and lucky for me I am very close with them. My husband and I both married into amazing families and because of it, it has made our marriage stronger.
So now, we knew where we were moving but how would we afford it and when would we be able to move? Lucky for both of us, we have backgrounds in the food industry. (It’s how we met… I was a server and he was a bartender at the Melting Pot in downtown Chicago… it was love at first sight and the rest is history). I grab myself a serving job at a busy Milwaukee restaurant and we set ourselves a goal to save for within the time frame. I have to say we blew our goal out of the water and was able to leave a whole month early to travel, hence the road trip.
We found a studio apartment online, signed a short term lease and paid the deposit. That’s right a studio apartment for three people and a dog. We sold and donated 98% of our things. If it did not fit in our Prius it wasn’t coming. We debated about leaving the kid and dog, starting fresh but the fire station said they would only take the dog. (That’s a joke, please no one call the CFS) I must say I thought letting go of all our things would've been a lot harder than it was. It was really freeing and even though one part of my life was ending... I was not sad, I was excited about the next chapter. This move made me feel the way I did when I was 22 and moving to Chicago. I was at peace, it felt right in my gut. So we hit the road across nine states and finally arrived in Portland. I must say it felt like home immediately. I had never been to the west coast before except to visit Portland and Bend some years ago. There is a calm here that I cannot explain, a shift of attitude and self. My husband and his family have been trying to explain it to me for years but I never got it until I got here.
We have fallen in love with our studio apartment, the neighborhood, city, and state. I cannot get over the beauty of the mountains all around me, the lush trees and the gorgeous weather. Thanks to IKEA our tiny house is becoming a home. Our son and dog have settled in nicely and we are out exploring our new city. We bought a year family pass to the Oregon Zoo, which is a must for our animal loving little boy. The zoo was absolutely incredible! With dozens of animals, activities of the kids and adults too. Plus with our membership, we get to enjoy free concerts and I cannot wait for winter time, they light the park up to create a magical winter wonderland.
To prepare for the move, we donated about 75% of our clothing. which on some days had been great and others I feel like I have absolutely nothing to wear. But isn't that true no matter what our closet looks like. I started working on my west coast style and I think I am doing pretty well. I am taking more fashion risks before I had a uniform and kinda stuck to it, the Oxford shirt with a skinny jean and heels. But now I am ready to pull myself out of my fashion comfort zone. I got rid of most of my button downs and heels and will rebuild my wardrobe slowing and with more of an effort on quality over quantity. I am also showing off my figure more, tucking my shirt in, pulling up the hemline (just a little) and showing off more of my neck and back. I am embracing my curvy figure and my style is reflecting that.
We even headed out to the coast for a day at the beach. I thought my time living in South Florida the beach would not impress me but I have to say I was wrong. It was breathtaking, mountains all around, long coastlines and adorable picturesque towns to walk around. The experience was like something out of a movie, oh wait it was, The Goonies was shot there. But that's not what I mean, there were families all around playing and having picnics, bikes rolling down the beach and fire pits waiting for small children to roast marshmallows and teenagers to create summer memories they will never forget. It had a calm and happiness to it, I really have never felt before. I cannot wait to discover more of what the Oregon coast has to offer.
Did I forget to mention the craft beers? It's a beer lovers paradise and we are loving every second. Oh yeah! the seafood, did I talk about the seafood… It's everywhere and it’s awesome!! Not to mention all the outdoor activities hiking, kayaking and floating the river to name a few. Portland is an amazing bike friendly and walkable city. We barely ever drive, public transit here is amazing and super clean. Each neighborhood has its own vibe, restaurants, and shops but with an easy flowing connectedness to it. It invites you to stay a while, explore and enjoy the beauty around you.
I have also rededicated myself to the daily practice of yoga. As a family, we have a relatively good diet but I really want to get rid of my mom pooch. Moms, you know what I am talking about. =0 I had a lot of time in the car to take a hard look at my life and wellness. Taking the time to take care of me, putting my wants first, sometimes... haha I want to live better in my own skin and that starts with taking ownership of my mind, body, and soul. No more backseat, back burner or excusses, just complete ownership.
I will say this move was less about where we live but more about what quality of life we wanted… finding our bliss as a family. Moving to a place where our values matched where we lived and people around us who share in those values. Plus we are looking into the future for opportunities for both my husband, myself and more importantly our child. This was truly a life changing journey and I could not have picked a better person to do all this with. I count my blessings every day for having two wonderful families who support us no matter what, a blossoming career, loving husband and healthy child. I will always be a Midwest girl but maybe a west coast adult. We will see… an adult may be pushing it. =)
Tell me about a life changing move either for better or worse?