A Los Angeles Fall ~ 2017

So it may not be time for the “look back at 2017 and ahead to 2018” type of post but as we edge closer to the beginning of the 12th month and the close of 2017, I thought I would look back at what I had seen, experienced, and accomplished or at least in the last few months.  (*Being type-A, “accomplished” tends to be one of my favorite words).

Moving back to California has been a phenomenal change of pace – something that isn’t always guaranteed with a big move.  I had acquired a job back in July/August-ish and had an idea of some things I wanted to do when I got back.  I wanted to move closer to the west side of LA, I wanted to see what November Project was like out here, and I wanted to join my sister’s running club.  As you can see, I still seem to work and workout so some more “fun” might need to be added in.

Los Angeles isn’t entirely new since I grew up near Pasadena but it is entirely different when you are 26 versus 10 or even 18.  My job is much better for me in terms of environment and content.  I still encounter the daily stresses but it keeps me on my toes and I have a stand-up desk so some days I literally am on my toes.  For about 6 ish weeks, I was living at home and that meant driving 80-90 minutes each way day.  Traffic – the double edge sword of living in a car congested county like this.  Anyways, there was no way I was going to plop down and sit at a computer for even more time to detail out my (what I think is boring to read) day.  So then there was the question of if I blog on weekends.  Maybe?  But over the last few months I’ve been so busy that again, sitting down to take time to blog hasn’t been the first priority.

I started this blog as a way to fill my 2012 summer if I didn’t have an internship but it slowly melded to become my travel journal and a means of keeping in touch while living across the country.  I still see it as a creative outlet but as I’ve most definitely mentioned before, I am 100% focused/addicted/interested/obsessed/addicted (yes twice for emphasis) with Instagram.  It’s a quick picture/video and a few words and boom, you’ve got widespread media that people from all over will consume.

** some pictures of November Project shot by fellow tribe members (always important to share photo creds) 

For those of you who have followed me over the last few years, you’ll know how much November Project means to me.  Well, thank goodness for tribes located around the world (44 currently to be exact) because I was able to start showing up to workouts when I touched down in LA.  It’s true that I knew a few friendly faces from when I would #justshowup during the holidays but leaders had changed, people had moved away, and it was a pretty new start for me.  Somehow I decided to start working out at the 5:27 and 6:27 group to see more faces.  As in New York, each workout has a different vibe.  Both are amazing but it’s great to see the differences and get to know so many people.  This is tough remembering names since 4 workouts means 2x the number of people but thank goodness for Facebook and the ability to just re-ask (at least once or twice).

When you move to a new place, you have the ability to re-invent yourself in a way.  You can take the parts of yourself you want to change (not like in a superficial way, but then again this is Los Angeles…) and lean into the person you want to be.  No one is forcing you to act like you did in high school or even college.  Unless you were a nice person and then don’t ever stop being a nice person.

So re-inventing yourself.  For me, I wanted to be that strong and positive person I had grown to become in New York.  When I arrived in LA, I thought hm, most of my friends back east called me Kait and there’s already a girl at NP named Katelin and I wouldn’t want to make it confusing for people.  So I introduced myself at NP and my running club as Kait.  That really threw Meghan for a loop and even confuses a few people when they are on Facebook and see “Kaitlin”.  Basically, call me anything and I’ll answer.  I have no preference and it just felt really comfortable to be known at November Project as Kait because my best NP_NYC friends called me that.

Now of course I’ve begun to type a novel when I only meant to drop a few lines.  Who knows, maybe I’ll check in a bit more frequently in December or 2018 😉

“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” ― Sheryl Sandberg

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Find Your Tribe

It’s true that we are all searching for a something – a purpose or a path – or someone/group of people in life.  It can be that one person you call your best friend or maybe it’s a community (and yes, you can have both).  Heck, we are trying to find ourselves amidst this chaos.

I’ve shared here countless times how much November Project has meant to me over the last year and a half.  Sure, I post way too many pictures of running and workouts and it’s probably the first thing I’ll try to tell you about when we talk in person.  Truth: I didn’t even have any solo shots for our Christmas card that didn’t involve me working out – mostly because I’m not going to walk around the city and ask a stranger to take a picture of me.

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Anyways, this feeling and this sense of community extends beyond the workouts.  We go out, we practice yoga, we go on trips.  We travel and visit other tribes and we travel together just for the hell of it.  It’s a sense of finding people who accept you for who you are and don’t judge you for what you do or what you say (unless it’s really really stupid and then they just make fun of you…in a loving way) 😉

The way I found this was by just showing up.  I started going to November Project back in August of 2014 here in New York City.  I vividly remember the early morning trek to the upper upper west side – farther away from work and a shower than I needed to be – and I even remember the first people that I met there.  One of the main reasons I took the plunge was after reading post after post from Sarah and Ali, both of whom I can now call friends (can we say real life omg moment when I met Ali? – this is the post that really made me say “f-it, I’m going”.)

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^^ day 1

I didn’t know a soul (besides following their blogs, which is totally normal in this day and age) but everyone there was welcoming.  Hugs for all and introducing themselves to newbies such as myself.  I decided I would make it my goal for people to know my name.  I would show up despite the location, the weather, or my schedule to be there.  The result?  I fell in love.  I found the community that I needed.

Now I know the rivalry between NYC and LAX is real – read this blog post if you need some evidence – but I try to think of myself as a bi-coastal member.  New York is my home, it’s where I started, but Los Angeles is where I’m from and where I hope to be one day.

 

So, when the time came to go home for the holidays, I figured I would test LA out.  Sure, I didn’t have my friends, no familiar faces, but they welcomed me in and off we went around those damn stairs.  Seriously, even after running half marathons, how do I get winded by those Bowl stairs?

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Slowly but surely I started to introduce myself, just as I did in New York, and now am happy to say that I have a few friends or at least friendly faces.  I have discovered and worked out at areas of Los Angeles that I never knew existed.  I know that when I move to Southern California, I won’t have to start from ground zero because I will have a tribe to wiggle my way into.

I’m sure there are countless creative folks who have documented their journey through NP, but watching this video >> November Project – LAX – A Short Film reminded me of the value of such a community.  A group such as this provides people the opportunity to find a place in the city.

So, what are you waiting for?  This is a new year.  Find your focus and Just Show Up.

There’s No Place Like Home

Home.  What in the world does that even mean?  Where you grew up? Where you live now? Does it have to be a full-on brick and mortar house with a yard?  Are you a roaming nomad?  For those of you who have graduated from high school and entered into the college or adult world, I’m sure you understand what I’m talking about.  We all reach a point (usually that big 1-8 birthday where you are legally considered an adult) where it’s time to live our own life.  You probably have left the nest and created a world of your own – you call the shots on when to go out, when to go to bed, what to eat, and how often you change your sheets.  Ok, that last one might be a little gross but it’s all about learning to live on your own.

When I went to college, I left a little piece of me back in Southern California.  I thought it was a given that I would move back to LA.  It’s where I grew up, where my family is, etc.  It was home.  I didn’t really give Santa Clara a chance and instead spent too much time worrying about classes and if I was involved enough or ready for the outside world.  I would just dip my toes in the Silicon Valley, never letting myself admit that I could adapt to Northern California ways.  I spent too much time looking back rather than in the moment.  But then something happened.  When I went home for the holidays, it no longer felt normal.  People had moved away, stores had changed and I didn’t know where I was supposed to fit into all of that. For some reason I thought that nothing would change, no one would grow older, and it would all stay the same.

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When senior year started, I decided I needed to change things up.  I wanted another shot at what my dad called “reinventing myself” or really just letting my true personality shine – no holding back and no worries if some people couldn’t relate. I decided to move to New York and there is where things fell into place.  I stopped worrying what people thought about me, I started focusing on the things I like to do – like exploring and working out – and started to make some really good friends.  I let people get to know the real me and stopped presenting a version of who I thought I should be.  It started to feel like home.  Every time I left to visit my family or explore another part of the east coast, I would get excited to see the NYC skyline or the tall skyscrapers from a distance.

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Living in New York has been one of the best decisions I have made.  I love the fast paced life style, the diversity of people, and the wide range of opportunities available.

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^^ It took me almost a year to find out about November Project but I am 100% certain it has contributed to my happiness here.

11221751_948895365133721_90525601569340533_o ^^ Then there are these people.  My np_nyc tribe.  I’m sorry but the np_lax just didn’t feel like home.  I’m sure I would fit right in after a few weeks of workouts and hardcore dedication – that’s after all how I started to make NYC feel like home – but I just missed my friends and the other familiar faces

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^^ So maybe my life is built up by working out and November Project.  That’s not too much a problem though since we are the work hard & play hard types of people.  I think life can be about finding people with common interests and making the most out of those relationships.  If it means you see them once or twice a week or maybe daily, then so be it.  But we shouldn’t force ourselves into situations that constantly make us unhappy or uncomfortable.  Even though I’m only 24, I feel as though I’ve experienced enough of that.  I’m done with feeling insecure and the odd man out.

Then I flew back to Southern California for the 4th of July.  I saw family, I went to the mountains, I went to the beach, and I saw friends who had just moved out to the west side of Los Angeles.

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Sure there was traffic, but there were views like this ^^.  We went running on trails and then had breakfast in a popular coffee spot (Urth Cafe – Spanish latte or Spanish granita – get it and you will not be sorry) by the beach.   Life was somehow easier in a way but more difficult in other ways.  My brain started to become muddled with what to do.

IMG_1025^^  Yes, this happens but then so does this:

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^^ For goodness sake I’m only 24 but I feel like the weight of the future is resting heavily on my shoulders right now.  There are people going to med school and getting engaged and even married with kids!  I know this feeling of confusion is going to be a long one – that’s why there are articles out there like Though Catalog’s “The Hardest Things People Had To Learn in Their 20’s“.  Yes, I admit, a lot of this is #firstworldproblems so I apologize if this seems trivial.  Let’s just say being back in California for an extended period of time was odd and I felt like I was in limbo.  No doubt I would like to move back there some day, but when?  The answer is I don’t know right now.  Maybe it’s a year or maybe it’s longer.

IMG_1022^^ Maybe the real decision should be based upon the wide variety of acai bowls offered?  I may have selected Santa Clara as my college of choice because they offered a “make-your-own-parfait” on the weekends. True story.

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I know that I like being close to my family – being able to golf or go for a hike or go out to dinner.  I know that I like having my own schedule and having a constant list of places to explore here in Manhattan.  I wish that Los Angeles didn’t rely so much on driving and the west side was closer together (wishful thinking).  I wish that New York was cleaner and that it was easier to escape the island and explore the coast (problem – I need a car/place to stay that’s relatively cheap…recent graduate problems).

I write for fun and to connect with people.  I read blogs to feel a commonality and have made some excellent friends through it.  I read blogs like Ali’s to feel validated in showing my quirky personality and that things work out, and I read posts like Sarah’s to know that we are all thriving and struggling at the same time.  We have become friends outside of the blogging world and are usually two peas in a pod.  (or insert dancing emoji) 😉

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^^ View from my run over the Manhattan bridge (accidentally on the biking-designated side) to NP in Brooklyn last Friday.

I’m fully aware that I don’t have to have my 5-10-15 year plan figured out right now.  I know that things change and the next year(s) will be life lessons in themselves.  I could learn to love the city and east coast even more or another winter could do me in.  Who knows?  For now, I’m happy in this crazy place I call home, at least for now.  I know my mom has heard this discussion too many times to count, so sorry mom.  Now that it has been written and published for the world wide web, I will let it drop and just go out there and carpe diem.  Let’s live it up for the moment, sound good?

Does anyone else feel the pull between comfort (often w/ family) and adventure (and growth)?  Does there have to be such a divide?