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.*

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7 ways to decompress and de-stress

Let’s face it. We live in a busy world and stress seems to be like that annoying friend that wants to tag along for just about every ride. It is so easy to become overwhelmed and let it get the best of you. While these past 12 months have been one for the record book, I have learned ways to help me cope. From relationships and friendships ending, to family drama and getting laid off, to applying for jobs and starting my own business, to seeing 20 apartments in a week in a city far from home and then uprooting my life and everything I know, you could say it hasn’t been a smooth joy ride. Being spontaneous is fun and exciting and I am looking forward to new adventures but leaving myself only 13 days to sell ALL the things, sublet and pack, makes things a little more rushed. And now saying goodbye to family, friends and Chicago isn’t easy either. Oh, and just today my parking garage accused me of not paying this month despite depositing my check on Jan 2. So yea, these past few months have been challenging and finding ways to unwind, cope and de-stress was crucial.

Everyone handles stress differently so here are my top 6 ways I decompress.

1) FIND ME TIME: Go for a walk. Disconnect from technology. Get a mani/pedi. Take a yoga class. Write. Work out. Plan my next adventure. Sing in the shower. Rock out to music in my apartment and sing and dance around in my underwear. (You cannot not smile! You know you’ve done it too.) Light candles. Have a glass of red wine. Browse and pin on Pinterest. Meditate. (Still learning) and I’ve tried the bubble bath thing and it is nice for maybe 4 minutes. Then I get bored. But maybe that will work for you. Anyhoo, it is important to find time for yourself to be alone, reconnect with your self, to reflect and recharge. I try to focus inwardly on me and escape from the outside chatter.

2) WATCH TV. Sometimes it is nice to sit on the couch, not talk to anyone, let your body fall deep into the cushins and just relax and escape into someone else’s life for a bit. Escape into another world.

3) 90’s MUSIC. Apparently this is a thing for me. Just the other day, I was so angry, I might as well have had smoke coming from ears. Since I was in the car, there was nothing I could do so I cranked up the volume and let myself get lost in the music. Chicago has an awesome new radio station 101.1 (they play pretty much only 90’s music, check it out!) and I could feel my blood pressure returning to normal. Besides 60’s and 90’s being my favorite decades, I think the nostalgia helps too. By time I reached my destination, I was calm.

4) BAKE. Lately, especially since I got my Kitchen Aid, I like to bake when I get stressed. It takes my mind off said issue and makes me focus on the ingredients and helps me redirect my attention towards something that I can give to others to make them happy, thus making me happy. What?? I’m Jewish. We like to feed people!

5) BE POSITIVE AND GRATEFUL. Focus on the positive silver lining of said situation. Find something positive or something that you are grateful for and think about that. Stop and think, is this really worth getting upset over?

6) CLEAN AND ORGANIZE. I’m not your narcotic clean freak but I do like to keep everything in its place and tidy. There are times when I admit, I let pile of mail build or that something isn’t put away. My place is never messy but occasionally not as clean as I prefer. But it works out because sometimes when I need to unwind, I find cleaning to be strangely satisfying. I’ll vacuum, reorganize my closet, clean the kitchen, do the laundry or put away anything that isn’t already in its place. There is something about calming about the smell of lavender or lemon and getting lost in thought. I’ve never found doing laundry a headache, rather, its always been a way to reset and refocus.

7) PLAY GAMES. It doesn’t matter if it is a card game, a board game or a video game. I like games. Always have. So when I want to decompress, gaming is a great distraction. It’s a quick and easy way to escape into the virtual world where you can die 20x but keep coming back without it flashing Game Over. Whether it is an old school Nintendo game, a racing game, a dancing game or even an adult-focused killing video game like #FarCry3, video games are a great way to escape and de-stress for a bit. The graphics on this Far Cry 3 game are incredibly real. What Caryn plays those violent killing games? Yes, killing games aren’t just for boys. I like the competitive nature, the escape, and the challenge it provides. I like being able to keep up with the guys. Don’t get me wrong. I DO NOT condone violence in the real world but sometimes in these games, it is one quick and harmless way to release tension. *

{How do you decompress to eliminate stress?}

Far Cry 3

*It is important for people to make the distinction between games and real life.

Thank you to Ubisoft for sponsoring this post. Please visit Amazon.com to get your own copy of Far Cry 3. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective. All opinions are my own.

Some Days You Gotta (Just) Dance!

Thank you to Ubisoft for sponsoring this post. Please click here to learn more about Ubisoft. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective. #UbiChamps 

Some days you gotta dance, Live it up when you get the chance, ‘Cause when the world doesn’t make no sense, And you’re feeling just a little too tense, Gotta loosen up those chains and dance  – Dixie Chicks

Man, the Dixie Chicks got that one right. Some days you just gotta dance! There really isn’t a better way to let loose than spending a night with friends for a ‘girls night in’ dance party. It is pretty much impossible to be unhappy and dance at the same time. Sometimes you just need those nights where you cut loose and act like a kid again.

The plan was for the girls to come over around 6pm, we’d order dinner, drink a little wine, and play Just Dance 4 for a little bit. Instead, when they arrived, we opened a bottle of red and got straight to playing, if you can call dancing playing. We barely stopped for dinner; we wound up playing until 1030pm! That is over 4 hours of dancing and laughing! In Weight Watcher points, that’s about 12 points of exercise! One of the girls said, it was “surprisingly more of a workout than expected, but didn’t feel like a workout at all.”

As a kid, I quit dance class because I didn’t like performing in front of people. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped caring so much, especially when there is no way to look good while mimicking the silly dance moves in Just Dance 4. (And now there is video proof for all to see!) The first song we tested out was Carly Rae Jepson’s Call Me Maybe.  In the spirit of the American Music Awards that were last weekend, I am going to host my own Just Dance 4 Awards for the Best Music Video, The Worst Music Video and the Best Group Dance.

In the spirit of the American Music Awards that were last weekend, I am going to judge Just Dance 4 based on The Best Music Video, The Worst Music Video and the Best Group Dance.

Rick Astley – Never Going to Give You Up takes home the award for The Best Music Video. The video was as entertaining to watch as it was to dance to. In the background there was a sinking Titanic, UFOs, Godzilla, robots and more. 80’s music is just so much fun to dance to. When the song was over, Katherine said, “If all the videos were like that, I’d do so much better.”

B-52’s – Rock Lobster wins The Worst Music Video Award. There was this awkward lobster-man that was just too creepy and weird.

And finally, the Best Group Dance award goes to Dirty Dancing- I’ve Had The Time of My Life. We reenacted a choreographed duet as Baby and Johnny Castle. Hopefully, it is obvious who was who in the video below. Some of the moves didn’t quite fit the rhythm but we tried to make it work. Sadly the jump catch/hug at the end was accidentally cut out. Nobody puts Baby in a corner!

Check out the highlight video from a few of the songs we had a blast dancing to: 

Top 6 bits of feedback for UbiSoft:

  1. Videos should be more like Rick’s. So much more entertaining and fun to watch.
  2. I would love to see themed games like 90’s, Boy Bands, 80’s power ballad, modern, pop, reggae, or even zumba class songs. There were just too many random, unknown or bad songs on this disc.
  3. There is a calorie counter on Just Sweat portion but that should be made available on Just Dance, too. The calorie counter was a good feature, but the workout portion wasn’t much of a workout. I also preferred the Just Dance songs and dances.
  4. Maybe include a 3 minute intro video, “As you level up, you unlock more levels of difficulty. Every 5th level, you unlock a new song”. We wanted to know what we needed to do to unlock the “Cute Badge” or any of the levels. Maybe we didn’t play long enough (4 hours isn’t enough?) but we wanted to know how to accomplish goals and we weren’t sure how. I wish I had read the wikipedia article before playing – it explained bits of the game that were confusing.
  5. DDR has different levels of difficulty for each song and JD4 should too. While some songs, like Call Me Maybe unlock another version, it was kind of confusing. All songs should be classified by Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Expert. As you advance, the harder levels unlock. This would increase the challenge and extend the playing life and interest in the game.
  6. We found that the level of difficulty didn’t seem to correspond with the difficulty of the dance moves. Rick Astley would be a great starter and Time Warp was not hard enough to be a level 3.

The nice thing about the Just Dance series is that it really is a great way to loosen up those chains, laugh with friends and even get in a workout. Even though we are in our upper 20’s, we were pleasantly surprised at how entertained we were. While we all agreed, we probably would not invite friends over just to play the game, we would definitely include it in a game night shindig or a good “ladies date” as a free alternative to taking a barre or yoga class with a friend. We also agreed this would make a great holiday gift for friends or family. The game is available for purchase at Amazon.com or ToysRUs.com and many other retailers too.

Which video highlight did you like the most? Have you played? Which was your favorite song to dance to?

** Ubichamps provided me with the game and opinions 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.*