One Year Later…

One year ago today I moved to a new city without a job, on a gut feeling and craving change and new adventures. Fast forward to today, I can’t believe how fast time has flown. How has an entire year gone by already? So much has happened. (2013 recaps found here). Each year just seems to pass faster and faster.

There have been a lot of ‘one year anniversaries’ for me in the past few months but this is the last of the anniversaries for a while. I’ve made many life changes and created new milestones for myself. I’ve embraced change, dreams and the unknown. I’ve gone out and made things happen. I am ready for what is next.

Here I am with a ton of amazing experiences, memories and new friends and a great job, and I know this is where I am supposed to be. I have had ups and down, no doubt, and am now looking to move again (within city limits) but I can’t imagine this past year any other way. It is wild to think that not one of the memories that I now cherish from this past year would exist if I hadn’t just up-and-moved across the country.  Who knows what will be this time next year. I look forward to all the adventures that this year will bring.

A HUGE thank you to everyone who helped make this past year so special, memorable and wonderful.

Happy One Year In DC Anniversary to me!

Caryn in DC

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Change of Times – The Day the Clock Stopped.

Do you have something, an item or chotchky, that you have held onto through the years for no good reason other than because it held some nostalgic link to your past? For some unexplained reason you just couldn’t get yourself to throw it out?

My nostalgic item from college was a clock. A stupid black and white, cheap, whopping TEN dollar wall clock from Target. I bought it the fall semester of my sophomore year when I had just moved into my sorority for the first time. I lived with 3 other girls and when we were decorating our room, I bought this little cheap clock to hang on our wall. It hung above us all, above our couch in a spot where we all could see it. At the end of the semester, I moved down the hall and it came with me. Every time I moved, in college and even in Chicago, it came with me. The Clock found a spot on a bedroom or bathroom wall in every apartment I’ve had ever since. It became a staple of my room. While a lot of stuff got tossed when I moved to DC, I was sure it made the trip with me when I shipped my stuff. I didn’t know what it was about The Clock, but it made me comfortable knowing it was there. The place never felt like home until it was hanging on the wall. As the years passed, I changed but The Clock stayed a constant in my life.

It was a good cheap little clock; I rarely ever had to change the battery on it, maybe max two or three times in 9 years. That’s magical in clock lives. When I arrived in DC, it was one of the first things I unpacked. I immediately hung it on the bathroom wall and felt comforted. I noticed that afternoon that The Clock had stopped. So, naturally, I replaced the battery. It worked for about 15 minutes and then stopped again. So I bought a brand new pack of batteries and tried again. It not only stopped working, it killed the brand new batteries. This repeated 3 or 4 times before I finally gave in and said my goodbye. It wasn’t the batteries, The Clock had had enough. I paused and had a bit of a hesitation when I put it in the trash but knew it was for the best.

When I first bought The Clock in 2004, it was symbolic of the times changing. I was no longer a silly naïve young Freshman at Indiana University. I knew the campus, I was older, wiser and now I was a sorority girl living in a sorority house. I was on the verge of a lot of change and had a lot of adventures and growth ahead of me. 

Looking back, it is goofy that I had an attachment to a clock. But when I stop to think about it – it is quite symbolic of my life. It was with me for almost 9 years. It was there with me through all my college experiences. It was like a fly on my wall that witnessed many firsts and tears, tons of late night girl chats, silly sorority girl fights, hours of long studying, boy crushes, and while I didn’t realize it at the time, it likely was with me from the very first time I ever met The Ex, 3 years before we ever dated. It was with me through our entire relationship and as I lived out The Year of Caryn, looking to rediscover and find myself, it was there.

I moved to DC because I felt in my heart that I needed a fresh start. I wanted to put the past behind me and start a new. I knew it was time for a new chapter in my life to begin, time for new adventures and for change. While the clock used to be a constant in my life, I’ve learned that the only thing that is constant, is change.

It’s funny – it wasn’t just a silly cheap little clock, after all. It represented almost an entire decade of my life. There was no logical explanation as to why this move was any different from the many that came before, or why The Clock was hell-bent on killing every new battery I tried. The only thing that was different was me. I had changed. I am not the same girl who bought it 9 years ago nor am I even the same woman I was when I said goodbye to The Ex. The fact that the day The Clock stopped was the very day I moved in to my new apartment, in a new city; the day I was starting over with new adventures and a new beginning, is just too wild to be a coincidence. Moving here, I told the Universe I was ready to put all that had happened in Clock Decade behind me in order to embark on this new path. Just like that part of my life, The Clock is just a nostalgic memory now. I had to say goodbye to it, move on, start fresh and buy a new clock to go on the wall. Change of times, indeed.

dali melting clock

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end

After talking about it since May of last year, it has finally happened.

Ok. So that is a lie. I’ve actually been telling people that I wanted to live somewhere other than Chicago ever since I returned from living abroad in ’06. I used to joke that I’d live in Austin or Boston because well, it rhymed and I am corny like that, and also because I heard they were fun cities to live in. I love Chicago, it is such a wonderful, beautiful and friendly city. It is my home. I grew up there. A part of me will always belong in Chicago. I don’t think I’ll ever fully leave; it is likely that I’ll be back someday. But I’ve always felt this strong draw to get out, to experience living elsewhere and to challenge myself to live outside of my comfort zone. I need a change. I love growing and experiencing new things and staying in one place my whole life limits that.

So last year when everything changed and I started to reevaluate my life, I recognized that I wasn’t truly being the most authentic version of myself. While I am extremely grateful for my friends in Chicago who have come into my life recently, I still felt something was missing. I realized I was a dreamer and a talker but not really doing anything about said dreams. As part of The Year of CarynI immediately began to take action towards putting my plans in motion for figuring out what I needed to do to make myself truly happy. 2012 was the start of doing things now and just because it is 2013, a new year, that doesn’t mean the momentum from 2012 has to stop.

After I visited DC for the second time last year, a friend said, “You should just move here” and with that it hit me that there is no better time than now to fulfill that dream. This is the perfect time in my life to pick up and move to a new city. I don’t have a boyfriend or a husband or any children, and I don’t even have a full-time job for that matter right now. If there was ever a time to have a new beginning, this was it.

People ask why DC? The truth is I have friends here so that made the decision easier, but it was honestly just a gut feeling. So far my gut hasn’t steered me wrong and has led me to great adventures and tremendous growth. When I visited over New Years, I almost signed with two other apartments, but for reasons here and there I had reservations. I nearly gave up but then on whim I skyped with these two girls and that was it. Again, in my gut I instantly knew they were the right choice. I quickly signed the lease and had 13 days to sell all my furniture, sublet my apartment and pack everything up. The last two weeks have been a complete whirlwind. People say moving is super stressful but because I know in my heart that this is where I’m supposed to be now, I was calm and not stressed.

Turns out my life fit into only 16 boxes. What wasn’t sold or donated (which was an embarrassingly large amount of clothing and chotchkes) was brought back to my parent’s place. I decided to ship everything instead of renting a truck and driving it out myself. They came and got my boxes and it felt like you move for free without the hassle of the heavy lifting or the stress of driving it out there yourself. Plus, it was all trackable and insured.

boxes

My apartment was perfect; I’ll miss living on my own in such an affordable spacious place. Closing the door to my apartment was harder than I expected. It was truly symbolic of that chapter in my life coming to an end. I had managed to collect gift certificates to various local places and enough booze to last me a lifetime so it gave me great pleasure to share it with friends instead of throwing it out (once opened, you can’t ship it). I am grateful that I got to say goodbye to so many friends over dinner while also spending two days with my parents before leaving town.

Fast forward to Friday, February 1st. Timing couldn’t have worked out any better, even if I tried. I was able to hug and say goodbye to my parents at the airport gate because their flight (they left for a cruise the same day) was to leave only 10 minutes after mine. I was reminded just how much more personal and emotional it is to say goodbye at the gate like we commonly used to do pre-9/11, rather than being rushed away by curbside security. Looking after them as they walked toward their gate was very emotional. I was excited about this new adventure but saying goodbye not knowing when I will see my parents, my puppy, and friends again was difficult. It was horribly bittersweet. When I studied abroad or went to Tanzania, there was always a known return date in the near future. I know that I am only a 90-minute flight, a call or even FaceTime away, but this time I have no idea when or if I’ll return to Chicago. I’ve never lived (permanently) away from Chicago and am used to going home when I want. It will be hard to not be able to go home for the weekend on a whim, at least without having to buy a plane ticket first. I am blessed to have such a close, loving and supportive relationship with my parents and that makes it harder than all other goodbyes.

Whenever I go away for a big trip like studying abroad in Italy, volunteering in Africa, or even going away to over night camp as a kid, my mom always wrote a letter for me to read on the plane and this was no exception. After our hugs and tears and goodbyes at the gate, they sat on their plane and I on mine, at the same airport, texting in a group chat. It was utterly adorable and made me smile through my tears. I was totally that crazy girl on the plane with tears streaming down her face for no apparent reason.

As I was walking off the plane, feeling oddly stuck between two worlds, my new apartment building called to tell me all 16 of my packages had arrived a day early. It seemed to snap things back to reality and things were already off to a good start. I immediately began unpacking and making this place my new home.

I know that I am just beginning my new adventure and that I chose and needed this change in my life. Everything in the past year has led up to this. Although my family is extremely important to me and I will miss them tremendously, I am excited to begin this new journey and to be closer to so many wonderful friends.

I am proud of myself for taking an active role in making my dreams a reality. I am proud that I didn’t procrastinate this move. I know this is only the beginning and that it isn’t going to be easy at first. There will be a lot of adjustments and change and it will come with a large amount of challenges, struggles and compromises. I will need to be patient and open to new experiences. The thing about change is that it forces you outside of your comfort zone and disguises itself as something painful and uncomfortable. But once you accept it, you forget you were ever worried in the first place. It becomes the norm. You just have to trust the change.

As I was saying my goodbyes, I couldn’t help but get the lyrics to Semisonic’s Closing Time stuck in my head, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.This is my new beginning. Now it is time for me to embrace the change and challenges that may come and just enjoy this new adventure.

After talking about it for so many years, it has finally happened.

Source: gitamba.com via Caryn on Pinterest

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.*This post was supported by UMoveFree. All comments are my own.*

Apartment Living: How To Have A Stress Free Move

I hadn’t planned on moving this year. I loved my apartment. It was a huge two-bed two-bath apartment with a massive walk-in closet, a balcony (and grill!), a fitness center and sundeck. But when things shifted and I could not afford to stay there on my own, I knew I had to move out. Moving can be as stressful or as easy as you make it. Here are some tips that helped me make the move as smooth as possible.

Plan Ahead:

  • Do your homework: Start researching and visiting potential new places about 30 -45 days out. The stress of not knowing if you will be homeless is enough to give you an ulcer.
  • Research multiple moving companies: Compare moving companies to see which fits best with your schedule and budget.
  • DO NOT wait until 1 week before to schedule your movers. Weekend and end of the month moves fill quickly, so schedule this as soon as you know your new address and desired moving date. Do you have an elevator that needs to be reserved? The longer you wait, the harder it is to coordinate the buildings and to get the time/date that you want.
  • Call to confirm mover/vendor appointments a 3-5 days prior to your move to avoid any surprises.
  • Create a “change of address” check list of vendors. Go online or call (credit-card companies, subscriptions, work documents, bills, bank) to include your new address.
  • Get your mail forwarded by going to USPS website 7-10 days before you move. *Note: most magazine subscriptions do not get forwarded. You must manually change this online.
  • Contact utility companies to activate service at your new address and to cancel or transfer from your old address. You don’t want to move in with no electricity or heavens forbid, internet!

Organize/Packing Strategies:

  • Bankers boxes are great for the heavier items. They are smaller and have handles so this makes it easier to lift and carry.
  • Get wardrobe boxes! If your moving company doesn’t provide these – this is worth the investment. Instead of shoving your clothes in garbage bags, boxes or suitcases and then having to spend the time to hang everything back up – it is a simple transfer. Simply move them from the closet to the hanging box and directly into the new closet. It makes unpacking a snap and keeps clothes as virtually wrinkle free. Plus, it helps you feel productive and less overwhelmed when it comes to unpacking.
  • Group similar items together. Pack books with books and DVDs with DVDs. Keep kitchen items in one box and bathroom supplies in another.
  • Pack cleaning supplies last so you can do a final clean before you leave the keys behind and a quick clean at the new place.
  • Make a To Donate box to give to the local shelter.
  • Label boxes: Identify general contents, location to be delivered and if it is fragile. This helps you unpack more efficiently and helps the movers know where to place them. Use sharpie pens or stickers. This packing strategy can eliminate a lot of stress.
  • Use towels & blankets to wrap fragile items. This accomplishes two things – it serves as protection for the breakable item as well as a place to pack the blanket, thus leaving more room in other boxes for other things.
  • Do not overpack a box. Although it may all fit, remember they get heavy fast and that you have to be able to lift and move the box.
  • If you live in a building that has doormen or maintenance men – ask them for boxes. Or go to your local grocery store and see if they have left over boxes they’d like to recycle. Boxes aren’t cheap.
  • If you have something you are afraid might spill – like an olive oil pourer – tape a cotton swab to the spout before wrapping.
  • Do not wait until the night before to start packing. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you run out of tape/boxes, all the stores are closed and the movers are coming in 4 hours. It will be a lot less overwhelming if you make it a gradual process.
  • Use a buddy system: packing is more fun when you have someone to help keep you focused and motived.
  • If you rent your own moving truck – put the big heavy stuff (the couch, bed, tables, TV’s) in the truck last so they are the first to come out. This way you can determine where you want them to go and place the boxes around them rather than have to trip over boxes and move the heavy stuff again.
  • If you move on your own – get a dolly. It will save you weeks of aches and pains and medical bills.
  • Pack perishable food last.

Eliminate:

  • Moving is a great opportunity to purge those belongings that you have been unnecessarily hoarding. Go through your belongings for things to throw away or donate. The more you keep, the more effort required to move it and unpack it. Do you really need those magazines from three years ago? Those shoes you haven’t worn in 5 years? That half empty hotel shampoo bottle?
  • Check expiration dates: Go through your cupboard and toss anything that is expired, will expire within a month of moving or has is 1/3 or less remaining.

Keep This “Just In Case” Kit With You:

  • Move any items yourself that are especially delicate, valuable or personal. The mover’s limits of liability would not cover the replacement of these items of they were lost or damaged during the move and it gives you a piece of mind.
  • Basic tools (hammer, screwdriver, knife, tape, etc.)
  • Payment for movers
  • Bathroom Essentials (towels, soap, toilet paper)
  • Kitchen Essentials (snacks, disposable utensils, cups, plates, etc.)
  • Cleaning Essentials (sponges, all-purpose cleaner, broom, dustpan)
  • Important Documents & Personal Essentials – (fancy jewelry, medication, glasses, medical records, bills, passport, new/old lease etc.)
  • Keys and directions to your new home (pick this up before the move to avoid delays and stress)
There’s a lot to do when moving, things can easily be forgotten and there can be a lot of anxiety about the process and pending change. But, following this easy tips and with a little planning and organizing, moving can be stress-free and possibly even an enjoyable process.

What are your best moving tips? 

My last wardrobe box.                                         The others were filled to capacity.
*This post was sponsored by you move free. They can help you find a new apartment. All the tips and suggestions are my own.*