To New Routines and a New City

Moving somewhere you have never even visited before is scary. I am actually still surprised I did something like this. I packed my life into three suitcases, got on a plane by myself and traveled for 20 hours to a new home. It wasn’t like me to make such a big jump, but I guess that’s why I am even more proud of the decision to go. If you had told 16 year old me, or okay even 24 year old me, that I would do something like this – I would have laughed and said “yeah right”.

But I really did it. I live in Bondi now. A new continent. 17 hours ahead. I kind of feel like I live in the future.

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Before this move, I had lived in Illinois my entire life. I grew up in the suburbs, went to school in Champaign and then moved to Chicago after school for four years. I loved it. But I also knew I wanted to live in another place in my twenties. I had no idea I would be in Australia, but here we are.

I essentially closed out a chapter of my life to start a new one. One where I can’t flip ahead and find out what happens. The only person I knew here was Kyle (and thank goodness for that). I am so unbelievably happy we get to share this adventure together. But besides him, I moved not knowing anyone. No family here. Nothing. That’s scary.

In an attempt to find my way around and establish some new routines I had to think about what is important to me. This was actually fun to map out interests and ideas of how to meet people. Getting used to AUS will still take time, but I wanted to share what I have been doing to try my best to lean in.

Take or leave my suggestions. If you’re moving to a new place and feeling unsure, I’d love to chat about our mutual unsure-ness. I am no expert, I feel lost some days and I am kind of making this up as I go, but I want to offer my experience in case it will help anyone else take a leap or make a change.

Things I have done so far or am doing:

  • Joined Classpass
    • Classpass is like a fitness studio Disney World. You can book so many different types of classes and try different studios. I joined Classpass when I first moved to Chicago in 2016. It helped me find Studio Three (the forever home kind of studio). So, I knew I had to try it in AUS too. I did the two week trial and now I’m paying for the monthly membership. I love group fitness classes as a way to meet people! I have not been to a studio I didn’t like yet. They do fitness well here. And the people are so welcoming!

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  • Got a library card
    • Reading has always been important to me. When I’m feeling down, I love to lose myself in a book. So, I knew getting a library card was a must. It was a top priority. The librarian who helped me get my card actually laughed at how excited I was. I am so grateful to have more time to read right now. There’s something really comforting to me about walking into a library and deciding I can learn anything, read anything.

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  • Airbnb Experiences
    • I have loved Airbnb Experiences since the early stages. Kyle and I have done a few in Ireland and in Copenhagen. Nothing beats having a local show you a cool part of their city. These are some of my favorite vacation memories and we have met amazing people. AUS Experiences are the same. We did a day hiking trip with people from all over the world last weekend. Over ten hours of hiking, swimming, driving and exploring with a group of 16 and two local guides. I think it’s the best way to see places. And we plan on doing more while we live here!

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  • Both cooking more and trying new restaurants
    • I heard on a podcast recently that one of the only things you have complete control over is what you put into your body. This hit me hard. It’s true. And when I’m feeding myself garbage, I feel like garbage. So, one of the nicest things I can do for myself right now is eat well. And eating well to me also means eating treats and high quality, high calorie meals. It’s enjoying food! I have been cooking a lot more after not having a kitchen for a month and I am enjoying cooking more than I ever have before. And I am also LOVING all the food options here. The restaurants are truly incredible. I find more places have healthy options, vegan meals are popular, and portion sizes are much more realistic. I will share a blog soon of all my favorite food spots so far!

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  • Joined a running group
    • Running group, duh. I met some of my best friends through running in Chicago. Running is such a bonding experience. I wasn’t looking for a full time group training group, but just a fun run I could do every so often. After some searching, I found the Midnight Runners. They meet in Sydney every Wednesday evening for a 5K or 10K run with multiple “exercise stops” where you do lunges, burpees, etc for the length of a song. The run leaders wear speaker backpacks to lead the 100+ runners who show up. I am loving it. Kyle has been going with me and it is such a fun way to enjoy Sydney and get outside. Oh and the best part? It’s totally free. And welcoming. It can be hard to join a running group that seems like they’ve know each other forever, but this group made me feel welcome from the first minute.

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  • Encouraging group hangs with Kyle’s friends
    • Since Kyle moved here 5 months before me, he has had longer to make friends. And luckily, he works with some pretty great people. Quite a few other Chicagoans have also come over to Sydney, so I have been able to meet some wives and girlfriends of his friends. We have done a few group hangs and I genuinely really like them all. As an introvert, it can be hard for me to be the one encouraging plans and meeting new people. But I am really glad I have been making an effort. Every hang has been fun. And also who knew I just had to win a few games of beer pong to impress some Aussies? The people here are pretty great.

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  • Searching for events
    • I have been checking Eventbrite and Facebook Events regularly to find fun stuff to do in the area. Tonight actually I am attending the Almost 30 Podcast event with Jessica Sepel. And I am going ALONE! Crazy right? For me anyways. I am actually excited. I love this podcast and I know it will attract an awesome group of women. Events are a good way to push myself to get out there. If I buy a ticket, I will show up.

 

  • 30 day unlimited yoga trial
    • Yoga always calms me. For this transition period, I really wanted to get back to a regular practice. After trying Power Living on Classpass, I learned they offered a 30 day unlimited yoga trial for $49, so I signed up! I have gone every day this week and it is making a big difference for my mental health. I have also met some of the nicest people. Yoga people are good people. I crave yoga practice and the space to just “be”. Daily practice is really good for me. Going to be sad when the trial is over!

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  • Marco Polo
    • I am especially glad I had friends get me on Marco Polo before I moved. It’s basically a video chat app that doesn’t require you to be on at the same time. This is SO helpful with the crazy time change. You can leave a message whenever you want, they’ll watch and respond when they can.  It is helping me stay connected to my people and “see” their faces every day. I miss everyone so much, but Marco Polo helps me feel like we’re still hanging out. You can basically have a group text, but it’s all video messages that don’t disappear. I have friend groups, individual chats and even a family group. My Dad on Marco honestly cracks me up. I love it! Highly recommend this for anyone who lives far away from their people. Very thankful this was invented!
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Marco Polo is the best.
  • Bumble BFF
    • Another big out of my comfort zone thing: I joined Bumble BFF for friends. As someone who has never online dated, this is funny to me. But I made a profile and have been swiping and having convos with some girls in the area. Hoping this will turn into some fun coffee dates! I know a lot of other people here are in similar situations and honestly making new friends as an adult is HARD. It’s not like I’m trying to pick up friends at bars. So, this seems like a good place to start too. We’ll see how it goes!

This is what is working for me (so far). The introvert in me is proud of my little wins. Going somewhere alone used to freak me out, but now I do it all the time. I already feel like this experience has made me grow as a person and I am excited to see where it takes me.

I won’t lie and say that every day I wake up feeling positive and happy. To be honest, I still don’t have a set routine. I’m not working full time. And I really miss all my people. But I refuse to not make the most of this opportunity (even when I don’t feel like it).

I’m giving myself grace to just be where I am right now. I am not in a hurry to get to the next part. It is actually harder for me to sit and feel content where I am than be working toward a goal, so I am trying to get better at it. I am aiming to be comfortable being relaxed and stress-free. I am doing the things above to give myself some normalcy, meet people and acclimate. It is working, but it is a slow process. And that’s the thing – I can’t be in a rush. I don’t want to do things just to do them. How often do we get the chance to do absolutely only what we want to do? I am grateful I have the chance. And I won’t waste it.

So, while this week is hard being away from family for Thanksgiving and I know Christmas time will be even harder, I am choosing to focus on the good things here. Kyle and I are lucky to live here. We’re having a lot of fun and I also get this time to be selfish and really explore ‘me’. I am loving this city and the adventure. And I have a good feeling about where it will lead.

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What I Read in 2019

I love a good book recommendation. Most of what I read comes recommended from someone I know. And I want to share what I have read this year in case you want some recommendations too!

I have always loved to read. My Mom got me involved with the local library at a young age and having time to read has always been important to me. As my responsibilities grew, my time to read for fun often became hard to find. Some years were better than others, but in 2017 and 2018 I felt like I wasn’t reading as much as I wanted.

So for 2019 I set a a goal of 15 books for the year. I thought it was ambitious, but as soon as I set the goal, I prioritized reading time and I quickly hit it. By August I had doubled my goal to read 30 books for the year. This means I have to read roughly one book a week for the remainder of 2019, but that is doable. I am so grateful I have more time to read right now and I have been seeking out cute bookstores and cafes to read in all over AUS.

I’m sharing the list of books I have read with a star rating and a quick few sentence review. I could go on and on, but that would make for a super long blog post. If you want to chat more about any of the books – please message me!

I read a lot of nonfiction and young adult fiction, but honestly I will read anything that gets a good rec.

And one quick caveat: I RARELY give a book 5 stars. 4 stars is really good for me. I save the 5s for truly incredible books.

Okay, so here we go. In the order I read them in below from January on. I’ll keep adding as the year continues.

  1. Heart Talk by Cleo Wade (4 stars). Cleo Wade is my favorite. I had seen a lot of her poems, but at the beginning of the year I ordered her book and sat down to read it cover to cover. She has such a way with words.
  2. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy (3 stars). I wanted to read this book before watching the Netflix film. I always want to read the book before the movie. It was a quick read with a heart warming story, but just okay.
  3. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami (4 stars). This was a really unique perspective on running. I have read a lot of running books and they often say a lot of the same things, but this one felt different – in a good way.
  4. Becoming by Michelle Obama (4 stars). Oh Michelle. I love her and loved this book. It was so interesting to read her life history, especially the early years. Highly recommend.
  5. You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero (4 stars). I like self-helpy books. This one was pretty motivating, even though I do think it gets a little over hyped.
  6. 26 Marathons: What I’ve Learned About Faith, Identity, Running, and Life From Each Marathon I’ve Run by Meb Keflezighi (4 stars). Meb! The sweetest, most genuine guy. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him twice and will never forget it. His publisher actually gifted me this new book before it came out and it did not disappoint. I love his attitude and his storytelling. And I enjoyed this book more than his first!
  7. So Here’s the Thing…: Notes on Growing Up, Getting Older, and Trusting Your Gut by Alyssa Mastromonaco (3 stars). I wanted to like this, but it felt pretty repetitive and random. I like her, but this seemed hastily put together.
  8. Not Afraid of the Fall by Kyle James (2 stars). I loved the idea of this book. Quit your jobs, travel the world, do cool things. But basically everywhere they went…they ate and drank. Cool. I found it repetitive and dull. The idea was still cool though.
  9. Run Strong Stay Hungry by Jonathan Beverly (3 stars). A running motivational book that had some good lessons in it. Nothing truly ground breaking to me, but it was still worth the read.
  10. Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House by Alyssa Mastromonaco (4 stars). This was Alyssa’s first book and it was WAY better than the second. I probably should have read this one first. But either way, I loved learning more about Obama and the administration and Alyssa’s role in it. Definitely recommend.
  11. Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson (4 stars) Laurie always enthralls me. Difficult subject matter, but such an important read. Worth picking up if you have never heard of her (or even if you have).
  12. The Passion Paradox: A Guide to Going All In, Finding Success, and Discovering the Benefits of an Unbalanced Life by Brad Stulberg (3 stars). I love following Brad on Twitter and wanted to love this book. It does offer some good advice, but I guess my expectations were a little too high. And I felt like I disagreed with a few things I read. Maybe it was the mood I was in or the job I was in, but I didn’t completely love it.
  13. Pancakes in Paris: Living the American Dream in France by Craig Carlson (3 stars). This true story is so fun. I love Paris and I love American breakfast food, so I am thankful for Craig. A really neat story of him bringing his dream to Paris and the hard times he faces before making it.
  14. I Am Her Tribe by Danielle Doby (4 stars). Danielle’s poetry is moving. I bought her book because I knew it would be one I flipped through regularly. I keep finding myself back in the pages.
  15. That Summer by Sarah Dessen (3 stars). I love Sarah Dessen. I read all her books as a teenager and now decided I want to reread them. I started with That Summer. It was never my favorite of hers, but still fun to relive.
  16. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (3 stars). This book was ALL OVER my social media for months. It seemed like everyone was raving about it, so I read it. Honestly, did not think it was all it was cracked up to be. Sure it kept me interested and I read it quickly. It was an interesting story, but I felt like the ending was a little abrupt and I walked away not feeling like it was as amazing as I thought it would be.
  17. Beyond the Pill by Jolene Brighten (3 stars). This book was recommended to me by a few people and I found it helpful to read before starting my transition off birth control. Take it for what it is, it does push a lot of supplements, but I think a lot of the information is useful.
  18. The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen (3 stars). The newest in the Sarah Dessen collection. This one did not keep me as interested as she usually does. It wasn’t bad, but it was set in a summer lake town and I think I was just too overwhelmed with my own life at the time to put myself there. Will always read anything she writes though!
  19. Where to Begin: A Small Book About Your Power to Create Big Change in Our Crazy World by Cleo Wade (5 stars). Wow is just about all I can say for this one. Cleo did it again and in a bigger way. I actually had tears in my eyes when reading many of these poems.
  20. What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander (3 stars). I randomly picked this up at the library. It’s a collection of short stories, all from different time periods. It was good, and thought provoking, but I felt some stories were kind of hard to follow.
  21. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly (4 stars). I couldn’t put this one down. You follow three women during the Holocaust with alternating chapters in their voices. It was tough to read some of it, as these type of books always are for me, but it was captivating. I cried at the end.
  22. The 12-Step Mind-Body-Food Reset by Jessica Sepel (4 stars). I have followed Jessica on Instagram for years and just recently bought this book. It includes a lot of great recipes that I know I will go back to, but it is so much more than a cookbook. I really enjoy her approach to eating and living your life. Can’t wait to hear her speak at the Sydney Almost 30 event in a couple of weeks.
  23. In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan (3 stars). The general idea here is to eat mostly plants. I knew this. I was hoping I’d gain a little more insight as to why. And I guess I did, but it felt very negative. I know there are a lot of conflicting opinions when it comes to food and the food industry, but this book kind of made me feel worse rather than better.
  24. Daniels’ Running Formula by Jack Daniels (4 stars). Jack Daniels is the best. Smart training goes a long way. I have learned a lot of what he teaches through coaching and my last two years of running, but it was really interesting to learn even more about him and his philosophy.
  25. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (5 stars). Up there for best book I have read this year. This poetic, unique storytelling was captivating. This book is over 500 pages, but I read it in two days. I simply couldn’t put it down. If you enjoy historical fiction and great stories, I highly recommend it.

Hope you enjoy. Happy reading!

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