Where will life take me in 2019?

Seeing green at Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago. Shot by me.

Seems like relative tranquility in my life means less writing. For much of 2018, I was posting on this blog more than usual and writing copious journal entries about my love life in my dedicated google doc. Still, writing more is a top goal of 2019, which includes this blog, finishing a book chapter for my old boss, and finally getting a freelance news article published. Last year’s goals are largely checked off, except doing some work in news. I did get a new job as a Medical Writer, but I’m not doing as much writing as I would like. I’m not claiming I’ve met the love of my life either. You don’t really know if someone is until you get to the point of being engaged soon.

While life has stabilized thanks to a wonderful lack of heartbreak and my new job, it’s like I’ve grown accustomed to continuous change. This calm and stability are almost mundane. When you’re at a low, it’s stimulating, you’re driven to make changes because you have to. I want to be no less driven for change and growth than I am when times are tough. The onset of sub-zero temperatures and wind chill has me thinking of moving south or at least taking a weekend trip away. While I’ve settled into my new job and current life, it’s not as if I’ve arrived. I’m yearning to be challenged, to not just play it safe in my career and turn my back on the news industry just because it’s difficult to enter. Time passes regardless of what you do. Might as well take risks and push myself. Being 29 is freakin wonderful. Growing older is great, but time is still finite. What will I do with my one wild and precious life? By 30, 11 months from now, I’d like to break into news. At minimum one published article in 2019. I also want to be living in a new city with my long-awaited pet by my 30th birthday. Anything else is just cherries on top.

How will I know what choices to make to get me there? It can be hard to know which way the Lord is leading you. Where is He leading or do I even have a leading. Most often though, He says, No. Got that gem from the Midwest college retreat. The future, even the next few months, is impossible to predict, but if you trust Him and follow where He leads, it’ll be good. Perhaps different than your current definition of good, but ultimately better than my own plans. I didn’t expect to be in Chicago this long, but I’m sure glad I’m here.

A continual new beginning

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Photo by me

“Out is out.” “Past is past.” My mom’s mottos relayed months ago have become mine. Hopes and declarations I wrote on this blog are now my reality. The past is in the dust. I ended up staying in Chicago, but it’s a new city to me. I’ve long miraculously, yet also normally healed. It’s as if I molted off the feathers of sadness and emerged an entirely new bird. And the change I so wanted I’ve gotten in spades: a new neighborhood and apartment, one new roommate and a new job! Enough newness that the fabric of daily life is different. New streets to make familiar and a new route to work to start my day.

Yet another area of my life has seen change, but I won’t go into that here. A powerful lesson I learned this year is that I’d rather be happily single than in a bad relationship that makes me sad. I also know to my core that I’m content regardless of what happens in life because I have Him. If I have Him (the Lord Jesus), I have everything. Through the years, I’ve learned to trust Him and just say, “You do whatever you want. You know and I don’t.” This is an area of your life you don’t have control over anyway, so it’s freeing to put it entirely on Him. Even if you’re in a relationship, there’s no way to predict or know if it’ll work out until it does. But He knows. It’s all in His hands. I’ll just be chilling over here and enjoying the gift of each day of life.

 

Restless for Change

Cape Cod

I randomly emailed a recruiter I’d been talking to about a dream job in Atlanta almost a year ago. While the motivation has greatly changed, I still feel restless and hungry for change. Do I just need a new job? A new neighborhood in Chicago? I remember needing to move from Evanston to downtown and how that gave me the change I craved.  For almost a year now, I’ve been feeling that my time in Chicago is almost up. I just don’t know exactly when or where to next. Perhaps Atlanta or NYC. So long as it’s a livable place and not somewhere like Indiana.  I’m glad that my next move won’t be a reaction to wanting to escape the past. It would be about finding my next adventure. So much of life is made up of routine, waking up to my alarm, walking to work, trying to go to bed early. I think I want to do all these things somewhere completely new, where riding the trains, walking the streets is unfamiliar. I don’t feel a pull towards California. Never Los Angeles, I say. The idea of moving somewhere I’ve never even been sounds appealing. Atlanta fits that criteria and I’ve researched it. It’s home to the CDC, CNN, and nice Southern people. The desire to move somewhere new comes down to wanting to feel challenged I think. I’ve hit that level of comfort and ease in Chicago that makes me think perhaps it’s time to shake it up with a new location or at least a new neighborhood and new job.

Things I’ve learned so far this year

  1. I don’t need to move to escape the past. Chicago is my home. Time is my friend.
  2.  Everyone was right, the passage of time is a wondrous, healing thing.
  3. I am truly grateful for all the wonderful relationships in my life that will never end. Not everyone has parents they are comfortable opening up to and getting advice from whether it be about life, finances, or relationships. My two sisters are my life long best friends, who I enjoy texting in  “The Lings” ongoing group text.
  4. Not to be so “scared” of spending money or to be so cheap. This is something I’m continuing to learn, but it struck me when my roommate said, I’m scared to spend money. Does money really hold any power over me? Then I recently read Matt 6 and came away feeling that the Lord has given me everything, Himself, my two jobs, etc. I could never begin to repay Him back, but everything I am and have is already His. Saving seems to give me a sense of security in an uncertain world, but I’m not here to store up for myself treasures on the earth. And as that same roommate pointed out if I did have unexpected medical bills amounting to tens of thousands of dollars, surely my family would help me.
  5. It’s not the reason you should spend on others, but it’s given me more joy than spending on myself. My favorite purchase of this year thus far was my contribution to a group gift for a dear childhood friend/college roommate so she could go to Israel with us.
  6. The power of vulnerability in the workplace. Recently, I found myself in a position where I felt like I had to reveal the fact that I have anxiety to my boss. I explained that I was once prescribed medication for it, but it hurt my stomach and I prefer to not take medication. The majority of the time, it’s like I don’t have anxiety anyways. It felt like such a personal, embarrassing thing to reveal, so I was surprised at the supportive reaction I got. It’s not embarrassing, he said. He asked what he could do minimize my anxiety at work.
  7. Maybe I don’t need a pet right now and dog sitting is more practical. Ok, so not a huge revelation, but I’ve been awaiting the time I can get a pet ever since I’ve moved to Chicago.
  8. One day at a time. One step at a time. My ongoing life motto. Everything’s turned out swimmingly so far, why worry about what hasn’t happened yet?

Timely help (with my groceries)

St. Patrick's Day

Photo taken by me this Saturday

“In everything give thanks. . ” has been ringing through my head lately(1 Thes 5:18). Sometimes I wish I was someone who felt less or not as strongly or didn’t care or need to have a family and a more fulfilling, challenging job. But I am what I am and I am where I am. It helps to remember to be thankful and give thanks for all things, for where I am and for simply being alive and breathing in the crisp, Chicago air.

Certain moments make the feeling of being painfully alone rise to the surface. Something about coming home from the airport with no one to pick me up does that. Struggling with carrying multiple grocery bags does that too. I think, yes I’m tough and independent, but sometimes I don’t want to be. I’ve even had the dramatic thought that if something happened to me and I were in the hospital, no one would visit me(hopefully not true).

I was starting to feel that way Sunday as I left Mariano’s grocery store with three heavy brown paper bags full of groceries and my bulky winter coat. I had to pause every block or so to rest my arms, take off more layers etc. I think I was telling the Lord about it too. The train station was still a ways off, when a van pulled up by me at a stoplight. A middle-aged man, asked if I wanted a ride. Of course I had to assess whether I’d come out of this ride alive. Somehow, I had the sense that this man was a decent human being just trying to help me out.

We made comfortable small talk and I told him, people like you are one of the reasons I love Chicago. Since I’m writing this, you know the ride ended with me and my groceries intact. That man’s small act of kindness made my day. I think the Lord knew I needed that, some sign that I’m not alone and there’s help.

Taking action

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What are you doing today to make your dreams a reality? That’s my motto. When my sister asked what can you do about your concerns, the answer was easy: apply to jobs and something personal I can’t mention here. Just know that I’m making progress in both my career goals and love life. Leaning into my career and taking care of myself Sheryl Sandberg style is how I’m moving forward.

Speaking of Sheryl Sandberg, I recommend her book “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy.” In the wake of loss, a breakup, divorce, death or other hardship you wish you could go back to what you had before, but that’s no longer an option. You have to kick the sh** out of option B instead. Her words, not mine.

Her stories about different difficulties people encountered and how they persisted were so encouraging. Resilience comes from moving past the three P’s: Personalization, Pervasiveness and Permanence. They refer to the beliefs that what happened was your fault (personalization), that it will affect all areas of your life (pervasiveness) and that the aftershocks of the event will last forever (permanence). I’m definitely guilty of the last one. I question if I’ll always be this sad and whether my happiness will always be tinged with an undercurrent of sadness. But, it’s a fact that I won’t always feel this way. Gottta give myself credit for how strong I’ve been and all the days I kill it at work and in life.

Taking action reveals that these inner fears aren’t true. Instead of remaining in my worry or anxiety, doing something dispels it. Taking advantage of the snowball effect and rolling with my energy and motivation to greater and greater effect felt so good today. Starting an application for one job today led to completing three. Again, I credit my new favorite blogger “Just Amyllennial” with this idea. Identify what you can do to work with the situation you’ve got.

These days I’m filled with the sense that I’m on the cusp of change. There’s a new job and stories waiting to be done by me. I’ve made some promising connections with fellow Medill alumni that will help me publish and sell freelance stories. Stay tuned.

Meet the blogger

 

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On a rooftop in London

Hi! If you’re reading I hope you feel engaged with my writing. I think it’d help if you get to know me better (if you aren’t my family and friends that I compel into reading).

I’m Hannah. I’m 28, an age that I can hardly believe is mine. Like my About page says, I’m a lover of people and of the Lord Jesus. Striving to serve God and people by leading them to Him and caring for them is my overarching life’s work. Being a science editor for my local university in Chicago is my day job. Everyday as I walk to work I’m thankful that 1. my commute is so short and I live in a beautiful city and 2. that this job fell from on high and came to me. Thankfully, my current compact apt on the prettiest street in the neighborhood and my two roommates fell from the sky as well. One moment I had no job, no idea of where I’d live and who with and mere weeks later, everything fell seamlessly into place. God’s got my back.

For the first time in 1.5 years, May 2016 to be exact, I’m single again. I’m learning to be present in all the moments of life, joyous and amusing, trying and tear-inducing and to “in everything give thanks” a la 1 Thes 5:18. More so than ever I’m fighting the pessimist within and doing all I can to keep my anxiety about this uncertain season of life at bay.

In the words of my younger sister via text, “You’re very funny and very weird and an extremely caring, non-judgmental person.” I’ll take it. Weird is better than boring. You’re more likely to find me spacing out or daydreaming than ever judging someone. I let people be and take care of me. You can only control yourself.

Join me as I navigate this season of twenty something life in Chi city. As a budding science writer/journalist, this is where you’ll find my personal, creative writing.