As I approach my 8th "California-versary," I am reminded of the shifts I started to make long before my move to San Diego. My move out of Connecticut was years in the making. When people asked me why I moved at 40 years old, there isn’t just one reason. It is a lifetime of reasons.
In fact, I knew probably before I was 10 years old that someday I would move far away. I have a memory of looking out the window from the bedroom I shared with my two younger brothers. I remember the fall sky was heavy with gray clouds. It was a Saturday, and I had nothing special to do. I remember feeling lonely, sad, and alone as I counted the lines in the parking lot of our two-bedroom apartment-turned-condominium. I must have been trying to calm myself from something that upset me because I always counted the lines in the parking lot to calm me. Years later, I believed I had an out-of-body experience because I saw myself from above. My hair was brown, fine, and straight as I looked down upon my head. While I stood with my left hand holding the curtain back and my nose pressed against the class, I remembered thinking, “Someday, I will move far away from this place and meet a man who is not from here. And, he will love me for who I am and not because he has to.”
I had forgotten about that memory until about a year ago. I have dated a few men from far away places. I’ve had a few long-distance relationships as well as I’ve tried living in other states with boyfriends from other states. But, none of them “stuck” until I moved to California.
It wasn’t until I turned 40 that this prophecy came true. In fact, it was just the month before I turned 41 when I met Matthew, the man I would eventually marry. I met him the Friday after Labor Day, which was only two months after moving to San Diego. Minus a few bumps in the road our first year, we’ve been together since. Matthew was the man I had imagined from a far away place. He is a native San Diegan who had never even been to the East Coast, never mind my small hometown of New Milford. And, of all people, he chose to love me - a woman who is completely unlike all the women he’s met before me - and, not because he felt he had to.
I moved out here to start over. I was done being the person I was before. I wanted to change, grow, evolve, and transform. I had begun my journey in personal transformation in Connecticut, but my intuition told me that my final transformation would happen here. California offered me an opportunity to reinvent myself and to create the best version of myself possible.
I chose to start practicing being the “new me” in my relationship with Matthew. It might have been the fourth or fifth date when I remember bouncing along La Jolla Boulevard in the passenger seat of his white diesel truck. He reached over to turn the radio down, turned to me, and said, “Ok. I’m waiting.”
"Waiting for what?" I asked.
"By now most women would want to know what happened in my last relationship,” he said. “Why I’m no longer with the mother of my boys.”
To be honest, I was curious. But, at the same time, I was not. He didn’t know this, but I wasn’t yet sold on him. We had just met and I was not yet feeling he was the man for me. I just got here, I kept telling myself. Surely, he can’t be the one. Who ends up with the first guy you meet?
The other thing that bothered me was the fact that he technically never married before. That is what bothered me most. I had to do things differently. I am just as guilty for not yet settling down. But, I came out here on a mission to settle down once and for all. I was done dating commitment-phobes. He had two children with the same woman and he they never married. Damn West Coasters!
“So, don’t you want to know what happened?” he asked. “What went wrong with my relationship?”
And, here it was. It was my chance to either get the answers I wanted or to show my own personal growth.
“Know what?” I said. “No. I don’t. I’m letting you off the hook because no matter what you say, I know you made mistakes. And, I know she did, too. It takes two. I know a woman doesn’t just leave the father of her kids unless she wasn’t being satisfied somehow - mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually. So, here’s all I ask. Learn from your mistakes. I don’t care what happened with you guys. That’s history. All I care about is how you’ll be with me moving forward. Show me you learned from your mistakes. That’s all I care about.”
Boom. Even I was surprised at how I handled that. Talk about wiping the slate clean. Most women want to interrogate. But, I was all about living for a second chance. And, that's where both of us were at that time. We were both 40, starting over, and asking life for a second chance. So, I freely gave it.
He leaned back in his seat, more relaxed as he shifted gears, and smiled. “Ok, good,” he said, flashing that toothy grin of sunshine that always warms me up.
And, that’s when I knew this would be different. For my relationships to be different, I would have to be different. And, if I’m different, then finally my life would be different.
I was done with anyone or anything that didn’t serve me or my goals and dreams. I was done with anyone or anything that didn’t bring me peace. I realized what other people thought didn’t matter. All that mattered was what I thought. I didn’t need anyone else’s permission to seek my truth or to find the answers to the questions I had. I needed only to give myself permission to try, even if it meant doing it my way.
Loyalty was scarce anyway. It has become a hot commodity like time itself. While some of my friends believed in me, I could tell others were scared or simply thought I was crazy. They were also upset I left. But, my gut told me I had to go. My intuition told me it was time. I could just feel it. It was now or never.
By 40 years old, I sought only to be loyal to my word. I promised myself that I would create the life I wanted and to become the woman I always wanted to be, even if I had to start from scratch. I owed it to myself to find what I had been searching for all this time - my true self, whoever she was.
But, my life started to change long before I set foot in San Diego. It started to change the minute I realized how short life really was. Life is too short not to ask, what if. Even though I was 40, I knew I still had time to figure it out. I still had time to dig deep and reveal the treasures within me. I knew I had the ability to love and be loved; to heal and be healed; and I was determined to make it happen.
Eight years later, my life has changed. But, it didn’t change because of any one thing. It changed when I decided that if I didn’t like something about myself or my life, then it was my responsibility to do something about it. It changed when I decided that anything was possible. It changed when people said I couldn’t move across country and I said, watch me! (In fact, they said I couldn’t start over in a new place all alone, without a job or a place to live lined up, and without a lot of money. But, I did.) And, my life changed when I decided to take my power back. When everything in my life was going wrong on the East Coast, I decided to make it right. My life finally changed when I decided the power was within me to define myself, my relationships, and my life.
You hold the key to your own happiness. Only you know what can make you happy. To bring the visions in your mind to life and to change your life and the course of your destiny, you must do more than just think about it. You must transform your definitions of your ideal self and your ideal life into action. Your actions ultimately unlock your destiny.
As my life continues to unfold, my life is dramatically different from what it was eight years ago. I left Connecticut with three suitcases, a Saturn Ion with 150,000 miles on it, a few thousand dollars, and a heart full of hope, determination, self-belief, and self-love. Now, I am a wife, stepmother, fur mama, coach, speaker, writer, and podcaster. And, I’m not done yet….
Live, Love, and Lead with Aloha.