Redefining Success

Life

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning.” (-Benjamin Franklin)

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When you hear the word “success,” do you imagine being wealthy, popular, having everything you’ve ever wanted and being the envy of those around you? Those are some of the ways our society defines success. And for awhile, it was how I saw success for myself.

I looked at my accomplishments as never measuring up, because I never felt like I had it all together, whereas it seemed like everyone around me did. Spoiler alert: we’re all just splashing around in the deep end of life trying to figure shit out.

If I had to define my most successful period based on the way the world sees success, I would say it was when I was living in Tucson. I had a steady job making the most money I ever had in my career (which wasn’t much, considering I was in TV news), a small group of close friends I made through my job that I enjoyed hanging out with on the clock and outside of work, an adorable dog (still have her!), my own apartment and car (with well over 100K miles on it, but still running well), stable enough financially that I could spend money on clothes and makeup and fancy vegan products from Whole Foods. To some people, maybe it looked like I had it all. But below the surface, there was a girl who constantly questioned herself. I performed well at my job, but most days I didn’t feel any passion for it and wondered if I would ever find a job I liked that didn’t leave me feeling frazzled and burnt out at the end of most days. I struggled with feeling like I wasn’t cool enough to hang out with certain people. I hated that I didn’t have enough time or money to take fun vacations like all the women I followed on Instagram. I wondered if I would ever be in a romantic relationship like pretty much everyone around me seemed to be in.

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Sometimes I miss living in Tucson and being so close to the desert but I don’t miss the insecure person I was there.

lot has changed in the year since I left my job in Tucson and moved to Phoenix. To most people, a lot of what has happened in my life since the beginning of 2018 might seem more like a failure than a success. I didn’t have another job lined up so I had to move in with my parents while I searched for a job. I was unemployed for almost 4 months before I finally landed a new position, which paid even less than my TV job and required me to drive 2-3 hours a day round trip. I was only able to travel a handful of times, and most of those vacations were to in-state destinations. I didn’t really make any friends at my new job because I was only there for 6 months before I was laid off, and I didn’t really maintain any of the friendships I made in Tucson. I struggled a lot with anxiety and depression during my two periods of unemployment. I found a new job fairly quickly after being laid off the second time, but it was only a part time position so I was officially making the least money I ever had since I started working in 2014.

2018 was a growing year for me. And sometimes, growing hurts. But I came out of that year so much stronger, and more confident. I’ve made it my mission to radiate positivity in 2019 as much as possible, and I’ve held to that as best I can. I absolutely love my new job, even though part time hours don’t pay the bills and I am nowhere close to being able to move out on my own again. I have more time now to dedicate to outside passions, especially running. I’m trying to appreciate the situation I’m in now, and grow where I’ve been planted. I know this won’t be where I am forever, but I want to be grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given. I love that I’ve been able to spend so much time with my parents and develop a relationship with them as an adult. I wasn’t able to do that as much during the years I lived hundreds of miles away from them. I appreciate having two extra pairs of hands to help me take care of Honey when I’m busy with work. I feel grateful that living at home has allowed me to save more of my money for the future. I’m blessed that my long commutes gave me a good reason to buy my first car and become more financially responsible. I have made so many strides in regards to my mental health. I’m trying my best to cultivate meaningful relationships with the people around me and the friends I do have that are far away, even if our friendship doesn’t always look the way it used to.

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I love that I have more time to devote to running now. 

I feel like I’m way more successful now than I was when I had a full-time job and making more money because I’ve redefined what success means to me. It’s not all about the $$$ and popularity and Insta likes. My struggles have made me a more confident person, which I call a success. I’ve learned that it’s okay to need help sometimes, which is a success. I’ve come to realize that I need to pursue a career that I’m passionate about, rather than just chasing paychecks and feeling unfulfilled. I know now that I don’t have my shit together and maybe I’ll never feel like a “real” adult but then again, who ever really does?

 

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Feeling happy and confident in 2019. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does success mean to you?

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Highs & Lows of 2018

Life

“I feel most times we’re high and low (high and low).” (-Empire of the Sun, “High and Low”)

2018 has been a roller coaster of a year, amiright? I feel like people say that every year, but this year for me, it’s been true.

I rang in the New Year (actually on Dec. 31, 2017 but who’s counting) by hiking in the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix with my fam, which should definitely become a NYE/NYD tradition. At the time, I wasn’t sure what 2018 would bring, of course. My contract was almost up at work, but I didn’t have a new job lined up yet. Cue the panic.

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NYE hike views from Lost Dutchman State Park in the Superstition Mountains. December 2017.

I was optimistic, though. I wrote down resolutions for the first time, and I was hopeful I could stick to them. Spoiler: I did not, but that’s okay. I made progress on some of them, and I will continue to work towards achieving them and my other goals.

This year was very unexpected, from start to finish. Part of me is glad it’s almost over, but I’m also thankful for the lessons it taught me and the memories I will always treasure. For now, let’s take a look back at my highs and lows of 2018. P.S. This is a super wordy post, sorry, so if you get bored, just look at all the pictures I included!

High

Leaving my job in January

Almost since starting my job in Tucson in January 2016, I knew it wasn’t right for me. After a year had passed, I realized things weren’t going to change (though they did get a little better with some management changes) and I wasn’t happy working in TV news. So I scrapped my plans to transfer to another station in the company (aka what I did to leave Tulsa to get my Tucson job) and decided to stick it out until the end of my 2-year contract, after which time I planned to find a job in a field that was better about promoting work-life balance.

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Best part of living in Tucson: being so close to all this natural beauty in Sabino Canyon. My last trail run here in January 2018.

By the time January 2018 came, I was ready to move on. I felt I had served my purpose and I wanted to better utilize my talents elsewhere. Mostly, I was sick of having to work holidays, producing two shows a night at least twice a week when everyone else only had to do one most of the time and just feeling underappreciated.

I actually flew out for an all-day interview with a TV station in Las Vegas in early January because my boss heard wind that I was considering staying with the company but finding a new station. It was one of the most exhausting days of my life having to be “on” all day after waking up at 3 a.m. and not getting back to Tucson until midnight, but I guess they were impressed with me because they wanted to make an offer. Long story short, my boss shut them down for reasons unknown to me and I’ll never know what it would have been like working in TV news in Vegas.

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Apparently the only pictures I got of my long day in Vegas were at the airport, probably because I was interviewing all day. January 2018.

I still have no regrets leaving the TV news world. While the jobs I’ve had since have actually been lower-paying (shocking, considering how poorly paid journalists are), they’ve been a much better fit for me and my skills and personality.

Low 

Leaving my job in January

I’ll admit — it was hard leaving my Tucson job without having something lined up. It was terrifying, TBH, and the only thing tempering my fear was knowing my parents were letting me live with them while I searched for a new job.

It was also hard leaving behind the friends I’d made, and the home I created for myself and Honey in Tucson. While our apartment wasn’t the best thanks to poor management, I loved the area we lived in and being so close to the mountains and fairly close to work. I’d also become close with a few people at my job, and knowing I probably wouldn’t see them again (at least not for awhile), even though we were going to be in the same state, was not great.

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Loved working with these people (and many more who didn’t make the classic last day picture). January 2018.

High

Winery visits x3

Before 2018, I had only visited a winery once before, in April 2017. This year, I went three times and they were all a blast.

My sister and her boyfriend visited us for their spring break from college in March, so we drove up to the Verde Valley wine region for a day of wine tastings. None of us had visited this wine region before so we were excited to explore.

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The picturesque vineyards of the Verde Valley, March 2018.

Arizona might not be as well known as our neighbor to the west for having good wine, but visiting the wineries was such a fun experience that I went three times this year — twice to the Verde Valley, and once to Sonoita. I don’t consider myself a wino (lol) but it’s just cool to try new wines and enjoy the beautiful vineyards with my fam.

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It’s wine ‘o clock somewhere. Javelina Leap Vineyard, April 2018.

Low

Getting carded all the time

I admit this is a lame complaint, but I couldn’t think of anything better to go along with with the high.

I turned 26 years old this year, and still get mistaken for a teenager. I think that annoys me more than being carded for drinks, because I know many places are really strict about making sure they’re not serving minors. However, several times this year I’ve had people ask me what school I go to. As in, high school. Then I have to awkwardly tell them I graduated college 5 years ago (can’t believe it’s been that long). Maybe it’s just because I’ve been doing more things with my parents this year since moving in with them, and people assume someone with their parents must still be under 18. I know I look young, but really? I can see being mistaken for a college student, but not a high schooler. This is why I always try to look put together with makeup, nice clothes and sometimes heels, to make myself appear closer to my age.

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Does this look like the face of a high schooler? Wait, don’t answer that. December 2018.

High

Starting a new job

After almost six months of actively applying for jobs and having interviews, I finally started a new job in early May. And the best part — it wasn’t in news. I was a copywriter for a digital marketing agency in Phoenix, and I loved almost everything about the job. I became an expert on so many different topics, from home renovations to medical conditions to auto body work to benefits of pedicures, I covered it all by writing blog and social media copy for dozens of clients across the country. No two days were the same, and unlike in TV, I actually had some downtime occasionally, which was nice but some days I wished I had more work on my plate to fill 8 hours. The pay wasn’t what I was hoping for, but I gained a TON of useful work experience, which I’m grateful for.

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Downtown office views. May 2018.

My team was super chill and the company had kind of a startup like feel to it. While I was there, I went to a few work happy hours, laughed alongside my coworkers who participated in karaoke at a stand-up comedy club, took part in many game days and received gift cards for my birthday. I also got to work from home sometimes, especially the last two months I was there. These were things I never got to do while working in TV.

Low

The longest commute ever

The low pay meant I couldn’t move out of my parents’ house into an apartment closer to work, so I spent 2 to 3 hours every Monday through Friday (except for work from home days a couple times per month) in the car driving to and from my job. It was about 70 miles roundtrip, and Phoenix traffic (and drivers) are terrible, so it wasn’t my favorite way to spend part of my day. Fortunately, I had some good music to get me through it.

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Just one of many hour+ commutes I endured. July 2018.

High

Buying my first car

My parents let me use their 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe my last 2 years of college when I moved off-campus so I could get to and from classes and other activities. I kept the car (which I named Alejandro, after the Lady Gaga song) when I moved to Tulsa to start my first job and then when I moved to Tucson, I officially took ownership of Alejandro by paying for registration and insurance.

Besides a couple of repair jobs costing me a few hundred dollars and usual maintenance, Alejandro was pretty hassle-free until this year. One morning on my way to work, soon after starting my new job, Alejandro would not accelerate above 25 mph as I was pulling away from a stoplight. I pulled over, called my mom and ended up driving back home and taking her car to work. Luckily, I wasn’t too far from home when this happened so I was able to get to work on time, but I was worried about having to pay for repairs.

Long story short, I decided it wasn’t worth it to keep a 10-year-old car with 130K miles on it because of the potential repair costs headed my way and I needed to look for a new car. Well, not new but new to me.

One Saturday in June, my dad and I headed out to test drive some cars and hopefully come home with one. I was looking for small hatchbacks that would get good gas mileage (see my long commute above) and picked out a few to test drive: the Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit and Toyota Prius C. I test drove the Fiesta, decided it wasn’t for me so we drove all the way to west Phoenix so I could see the Prius C and Fit.

I’ve wanted a Prius for a long time, so I was most excited about driving that one, especially since it was a pretty blue color. I ended up loving it so much that I didn’t even drive the Fit, and I ended up leaving with the 2015 Prius C (which I named Skye).

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Say hello to Skye, the Toyota Prius C. June 2018.

My dad was really helpful in the negotiations process and I got a pretty good deal on my new car. After 6 months of driving Skye, I’m still obsessed. I love that it has Bluetooth, climate control, a cool heads-up display and most of all, the gas mileage is incredible. I regularly get 50-60 or more MPG and it only costs me about $20 to fill up, which is half what I was paying to fill up Alejandro!

Low

Getting in a serious car accident (not in my new car)

As I mentioned before, Phoenix drivers are awful. Like, there are news stories all the time about people driving the wrong way on the freeways or hitting pedestrians. So maybe it shouldn’t have been a surprise that about 6 months after moving to Phoenix, I got into a car accident.

My parents and I were driving to Tempe to go out to dinner one Saturday in July. We were on one freeway and were about to get off to get on another freeway when suddenly, people were hitting their brakes. We were able to stop, but the driver two cars behind us did not. Our car got pushed across several lanes of traffic into the HOV lane, and we got hit on the side at least twice. It was the scariest moment of my life, and I was in such shock when we finally came to a stop that I was just crying. I am so thankful my parents and I weren’t hurt, but I guess a few people in some of the other vehicles involved had minor injuries.

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No photos of the accident scene for obvious reasons, but here’s a selfie of me before we headed out and got into said accident. July 2018.

We had to stand on the side of the freeway for more than an hour while police took down information, and then we got to ride in the back of a police SUV for a couple miles until they dropped us off at a gas station where we took an Uber home. It was not the night I had in mind, but I am really glad we were all okay, if a little shook up. My dad’s car was totaled, so he had to buy a new one, and the accident made me rethink driving to work on the freeways, so I started taking the side streets instead and it was much less stressful.

High

Trips I took

Not counting my interview in Vegas (since that was just for a day), I went on 4 trips this year: Denver, Sedona, Denver (again) and Bisbee. I’ve been to all these places at least once before, but it was nice to get out of town for a few days and explore.

I flew to Denver in May for my sister’s college graduation, and then again for Labor Day weekend. I grew up making day trips to Denver, so it was cool to actually get to see the city for more than just a few hours. Denver has a really great restaurant/drinking scene with plenty of vegan options and cute neighborhoods to walk around. We also went to Breckenridge one day, which brought back memories from my childhood going up there to see the rubber duck races every Labor Day weekend (though they didn’t actually do the races this year).

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One night we went to Linger, a cool rooftop bar near downtown Denver. September 2018.

This was the second year in a row I traveled for my birthday, and I wanna make it a new tradition. Last year was San Diego, this year Sedona. Besides the hellish drive up there due to a horrible car accident, the three day weekend was wonderful. Sedona is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and I would absolutely love to live there some day. In the short time we were there, we hiked among the red rocks, had fun at the natural water park aka Slide Rock State Park, enjoyed a birthday dinner at the most chill vegan spot, embarked on a guided trolley tour and explored the incredible Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village.

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Sedona is my favorite place in Arizona. How can you not love these red rock views? July 2018.

In late September, my parents and I drove down to Bisbee. My dad and I visited Bisbee for the first time in early 2017 and loved the town’s hippie-ish vibe. This time, we stayed for more than just the day and made a long weekend of it. We stayed in a really cute Airbnb and walked basically everywhere since Bisbee is really pedestrian-friendly. We ate some amazing food (including at a vegan spot in a cool alley that’s only open 4 days a week), checked out some art galleries, toured the Queen Mine and just soaked up the weirdness of the town.

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The cutest, quirkiest little downtown you ever did see. September 2018.

Low

Not getting to travel as much as I would have liked

Fun fact: I’ve never been out of the U.S. in my 26 years. Crazy, right? There are so many destinations I’m dying to go, both abroad and closer to home. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to do that this year, mostly due to finances and starting a new job where I didn’t have vacation time right away.

Next year, I plan to get my passport so I can hopefully at least go to Mexico since it’s so close. I would also love to visit my friend in Salt Lake City, spend a weekend in LA/Palm Springs (also so close), go to the Grand Canyon and maybe even Joshua Tree. I’m not planning any big trips due to my circumstances, but it would be great to see some places that are new to me.

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My last visit to SLC. Take me back! June 2015.

High

Running more this year

I wasn’t born a natural athlete. I took dance classes throughout my childhood, and dabbled just a bit in soccer, karate and tennis (which I still like to play) but that was about it. I never competed in middle or high school sports and I honestly don’t consider myself much of a competitive person.

I started running in 2014 when I first moved to Tulsa. It was a way to help me cope with the life changes I was going through, it helped me explore my new city and I found I really enjoyed it. I started out with walk-run intervals and slowly progressed to running a few miles at a time without stopping. I also discovered trail running, which I wish I could do more of here, but there aren’t many suitable trails.

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Sunset view from my favorite running trail in Tulsa, along the Arkansas River. November 2014.

I’ve continued running regularly (read: 3 or more times per week) ever since, and I keep going back for the endorphins. By the time I moved to Tucson, I was routinely running 3 or 4 miles at a time (sometimes 5) and never getting tired of it.

When I moved to Phoenix, I was sad to leave behind my favorite running paths and trails in Tucson and I gotta be honest — the ones here just don’t compare. However, I do enjoy running around my neighborhood and since moving here, I’ve ramped up my running game. My sweet spot is still 4 miles, but I’ve run 7 miles twice (the most I’ve ever done) and I’ve run 5 miles more than ever before.

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When I’m running, I feel like I’m flying (most of the time). December 2018.

I’m still not sure I want to run a race (again, not a competitive person) but I love building my endurance and feeling that runner’s high.

Low

Falling on my face during a run

Let’s face it — I’m a klutz. For some reason during my freshman year of college, I tripped while walking to and from classes an embarrassing number of times. Maybe it’s the way I walk, but I’m just prone to falling down.

Needless to say, I’ve eaten pavement more than my fair share of times since starting to run. Honestly, I don’t remember falling down much when I first started, but it’s become more common since I moved to Phoenix. Maybe because I switched to running on bumpy sidewalks and the street instead of the smooth paved trails in Tulsa and Tucson. Whatever the case may be, I have tripped a lot while running in the past year.

Most times, I scraped my knee pretty badly but I was still able to walk and run normally. That wasn’t the case during my November 12th run. I was working from home that day so I set out on a run around 7 am or so, planning to run 4 miles. About a mile in, I had just turned down a street when my foot caught something and I fell HARD. For some reason, I reacted slowly so my hands didn’t have time to catch me, and my face hit the asphalt. I stood up pretty quickly to assess the damage, and realized my forehead and nose were bleeding. Awesome. Also, my sunglasses broke but I didn’t care. I was shaken up so I decided to walk home, trying to minimize the bleeding. Fortunately, it was the day Veterans Day was observed, so not many people were out and no one saw me looking like I had gotten beaten up.

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Trying to disguise my klutzy self with a Snapchat filter. November 2018.

I got home, washed my wounds and started icing my head. I soon realized my knees were in pain, and not just because they were scraped. They had apparently taken the brunt of the fall (other than my face). Going up and down the stairs was extremely painful. I also thought I might have broken my nose, because it felt weird, but I think it was fine.

I took the rest of the week off from running, and was able to run again a week later. I still felt some pain in my right knee, but it was bearable enough to walk on. Now more than a month later, I feel a bit of pain if I turn my knee a certain way and it’s still a little numb to the touch (no idea why) but I’m basically 100%, which is great because I didn’t want to give up running because of my klutziness.

Low

Getting laid off from my job

As I mentioned earlier, I loved almost everything about the job I started in May. So it came as a total shock when I found out in September that I was getting laid off. It was due to the company restructuring, so they basically eliminated almost everyone’s position, so at least I knew it wasn’t due to my performance. But it was still a blow, especially since I had just started working there a few months earlier.

I had to start the job search process all over again, which was frustrating. Probably the worst part was watching coworkers find new positions right away, while I was still sending out applications and going to interviews. Job searching is not fun, and I wasn’t ready to do it again so soon after stopping.

By my last day on November 16th, I still had nothing lined up, and I was freaking out. I was glad I was living with my parents so I had a financial safety net, but I worried that not finding a job soon would hurt my career potential. And even the people on my team who had less experience than me (even one who started working there a couple weeks after me) had landed new positions, which had me seriously questioning my skills and even my worthiness as a human being. Not a great mental state to be in, especially so close to the holidays.

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Last time with this view on my way home from work. November 2018.

High

Finding a new job I love

A week after Thanksgiving, I went on an interview that I figured would be just like the others I had already been through, and end in rejection. I never really know how to feel about how I did after an interview is over, and this one was no different. So I was definitely surprised when I got a call less than a week later offering me the position! I was thrilled, and said yes.

Because the job is with a school district, it was contingent on a pretty extensive background check, which came back clear so I was good to start working before they went on winter break. I attended a brief orientation, and started work the following Monday. My first week was mostly training, but I got to dip my toes in and start posting updates on the district’s social media (since I’m their social media specialist).

I don’t work again until January 7th, but after just a week, I’m already very excited for my new role. The one downside is that it’s a part-time position so I’m trying to line up a side hustle to make some more $$$ but the hourly pay rate is better than any other job I’ve had before, the commute is a little shorter and there’s so much potential for growth, plus I get all the district holidays off (2 weeks for winter break, a week for spring break, a few days for Thanksgiving) which is way better than my previous jobs’ PTO policies. I’m definitely excited for what’s to come in 2019!

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Last day of work until 2019! December 2018.

What are some of your highs and lows from 2018? What are you most looking forward to in 2019? 

Home: What’s That?

Life

I’m going back home to the place where I belong / There’s nothing like it / No, nothing like it / Take me back home / Where the blood runs through my soul / I can’t describe it, there’s nothing like it (“Home” by Morgxn)

In my 26 years, I’ve lived in three states and six cities. That’s more than some people, and less than others. When asked where home is for me (generally in job interviews, for some reason), I usually have to go into a long-winded explanation of how I was born in Phoenix but my parents moved to Colorado Springs when I was 2 and that’s where I grew up and I moved back to Arizona (Tucson) almost 3 years ago and now have lived in Gilbert for almost a year. Sometimes, I even explain where I went to college (Ft. Collins) and my less-than-two-year-stay in Tulsa afterwards.

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Breckenridge, Colorado (photo taken Sept. 1, 2018). One of my favorite places in the state I lived in for most of my life.

I have a complicated relationship with home. After I moved 2 hours away from home for college, I always told people home was in Colorado Springs, because my parents and sister still lived there and I went back for holidays, breaks and some weekends. But once I moved out of state for the first time, I still said home was Colorado, but a small part of me felt like I was creating a home in Tulsa. I lived completely alone for the better part of  a year, before I adopted my dog in early 2015. I didn’t love my job by any means (I’ll save that for another post) but I had made a few good friends at work and for the most part, I loved the little life I had created for myself — with routines, favorite running paths and exploring my new city. While I knew Tulsa wouldn’t be my forever city, it was a good place to call home for about 20 months.

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Sunset view from my favorite running trail along the Arkansas River in Tulsa, Oklahoma (photo taken Nov. 14, 2014).

 

Then I moved to Tucson, and my relationship with home got even more complex. I absolutely loved (still do) Tucson — the mountains, the climate, the rugged desert landscape, the city amenities without being too crowded. It quickly became home to me, as I made new friends, settled into my second job, found new hiking and running trails, tried out several dog parks and just got to know my new city. My family still lived in Colorado, but during my 2 year stay in Tucson, I only visited once. I was becoming more and more invested in my home.

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Saguaros for days (photo taken Mar. 24, 2016). Sabino Canyon was one of the many hiking areas I fell in love with in Tucson, Arizona.

At the beginning of this year, I made the move to the Phoenix suburbs, to join my parents, who moved back to AZ in 2017. For the first time since high school, I’m living with my parents full-time, and it’s been an adjustment. I absolutely love living with them, and I very much appreciate that they’ve been willing to let me live with them (especially during my two stints of unemployment) but it’s been weird to not live on my own, which I have done for the most part since my sophomore year of college. Living with a roommate my freshman year taught me the lesson that I prefer to live on my own, or at least with family/close friends instead of a total stranger.

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Gilbert water tower all lit up for Christmas (photo taken Nov. 29, 2018).

Now that I’m living with my parents again, can I say that Gilbert is my home? Not exactly. While I do feel a little settled in here in terms of knowing where everything is, I haven’t established any friendships or even a solid work history. And part of me still feels small ties to my previous homes. To Phoenix, where I was born. To Colorado Springs, where I grew up. To Fort Collins, where I learned adult responsibilities and formed my closest friendship. To Tulsa, where I grew up really fast, had my first “big girl” job, adopted my dog and learned that I enjoy figuring things out on my own. To Tucson, where I learned what I want in a city and helped me get out of my comfort zone a little more.

Arizona feels like home to me probably more than anywhere else, but I also have the itch to explore new cities and add them to my growing list of places I’ve called home. I’m not sure if future opportunities will lead me away from where I am now, but I know that no matter where I go, I’ll always hold a part of that place close to my heart.

Where is “home” for you? Do you have a complicated relationship with home like I do?