One Year Ago

I know I usually post recipes and light anecdotes, but I wanted to take a little break from that to do some self-reflection. I hope some of you will be able to relate to this post.

Around this same time last year, I was living on the total opposite end of the continent. I thought moving to San Francisco would fix all of my problems. I’d find a fulfilling career, make new friends, do something adventurous with my husband, and leave behind the cold, snowy Boston winters that seemed to last forever. I had visions of visiting wine country on the weekends, taking my dog for runs along the marina, and eating ridiculously good, local food.

San Francisco Fog

When I think back to my mindset before we made that giant move, I can’t even really connect with what I was thinking at the time. Sure, I visited wine country, was in awe of the breathtaking Bay area views, and ate some of the best vegan food of my life. But day-to-day living in SF was also really.freaking.hard. Moving your life to any new city is hard, especially when you expect the move to be a cure-all. Life simply doesn’t work that way.

I wanted a way out of my life in Boston so badly that I focused solely on the negatives, and most of them were more a product of my own perspective than anything else. I was disillusioned with my job, and I let this bleed into every aspect of my personal life. I felt stagnant, but didn’t have a solid plan of what I wanted to do. The only thing I felt sure about was that I would be devastated if I turned 30 and hadn’t made a change.

Amanda Washington DC July 2011

Over the course of this past year, I went through a roller coaster of emotions. My relationships, bank account, and sense of self were tested and strained. And I won’t lie, it felt awful and draining. But sometimes it takes a little bit (or a lot) of seemingly falling apart to gain clarity on what needs to happen moving forward. Leaving my comfort zone allowed me to re-assess what’s important to me and what I want my life to look like as a whole. I don’t have all of the details figured out, but I try to stay in touch with what feels bad and what feels good, and determine next steps based on that.


I have such an appreciation for the things in my life – for my husband, my family and friends, the fact that I’m freelancing part-time and blogging the rest of the day. I can even appreciate the cold Boston winters, since I know a hot summer is just around the corner. But aside from leaving my full-time job, none of these things have concretely changed. What has changed is my attitude, because I consciouslyΒ chose to be here, and I chooseΒ to do the things I love every day. Yes, it’s work, and at times it can be scary and stressful. However, simply taking a moment to recognize that I have the ability to create the life I want is empowering and soul-satisfying on the deepest level.


Leave a Comment

  1. Amanda, thank you so much for sharing your journey. I’m sure it hasn’t been easy getting to the mindset that you are now, but I’m so glad that you are more at peace and feel like you can enjoy your days and do what you love. As cheesy at it sounds, life really is too short to not do what you love, and doing that means having a good attitude..which sounds like you have!

    Also, I know you mentioned freelance should check out this website because they have tons of opportunities!

    Hope that helps! Enjoy your week! πŸ™‚

    1. Amanda says

      I totally agree about life being too short to not do what you love. It’s crazy how quickly time goes by, and I think it’s so important to try to make the most of each day, even if that’s something simple like taking the time to go for a walk or call a friend.

      I’m going to check out that freelance site. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Do you feel moving back to Boston was the right move? That SF and your journey helped you to see “there is no place like home”.

    I am still trying to take that leap – but it will be a while. Paying off the debt. It’s not so easy to leap with these darn (expensive) pre-teen/teenagers around me. πŸ˜‰
    But hoping to do it in 6 months. I can just taste the liberation.

    I think the biggest thing I worry about is having medical insurance.

    I am glad you are rolling on the punches and making them work for you. And thanks you for the year in reflection. Nice read.

    1. Amanda says

      Moving back to Boston was definitely the right move. I learned that I’m very much an East Coast person, and I love the energy in Boston. There are so many awesome colleges, so it’s got a young, intellectual vibe, which I really like. I also like that NYC is a train ride away, and most of my family is really close by.

      I know what you mean about the debt. I (finally) paid off my student loans this summer, and my car will be paid for this month, but finances definitely played a role in when I could quit my job and switch to part-time work. 6 months may seem like a while, but it’ll be here before you know it. πŸ™‚

      And the whole health insurance thing? Yeah, it totally sucks. I’m lucky I can get it through my husband’s company, but it’s still not cheap. That whole system is a complete mess.

  3. This post is so profound. I was reading your About page a week or two ago and wanted to ask you about this move but didnt want to pry; thanks for sharing this all.

    I went thru a very parallel experience: nutshell…
    Thinking that I could learn to love Phoenix b/c that was a city that we could afford to buy a house in…nevermind leaving behind friends, the familiarity of San Diego, the fact that I love it here, it’s just ‘home’ to me. But I gave up ‘home’ in order to have home ownership. Hated it.

    lasted 9 mos, moved back to S.D. and we are renting. Would rather rent in a city I love than own in a city that I could not connect with.

    I would love to hear more about SF and what you didnt like about it… I love the Bay Area and your 1st paragraph is exactly what I would envision my life being if i lived there. Have friends in Marin, love Napa, Tahoe, etc…but clearly it’s not for everyone.

    I will have more time to chit chat on email soon….would love to hear more of your story!

    1. Amanda says

      Yes, shoot me an email when you have some time to chat. πŸ™‚

      When I wrote this post, I initially included a few sentences about what I didn’t like about SF, but I was concerned it would come across as too negative. It’s such a personal thing…maybe I’ll get into it in a later post. Basically, I came to the conclusion that SF just didn’t justify the cost of living or being so far from family and friends. I think it’s a great place to visit and I loved Healdsburg and the Palo Alto areas, but ended up not liking the city itself. And because of my husband’s work, we had to be in the city.

      I grew up around Boston, so for me, it took leaving to truly appreciate everything I have here.

    1. Amanda says

      Thanks, Katie. You too. πŸ™‚

  4. I LOVE your story- and thanks so much for sharing it. I totally get wanting to move far away- especially if you’ve lived in the same place your whole life. My husband and I literally ache to move to Colorado and talk about it all the time (and plan to, whenever we can make it all work out). But, I often wonder if I’ll miss Maryland terribly and want to move back. I guess that’s the beauty of it all- you can always go back.
    I’m a firm believer in things happening for a reason, and I guess you just needed something BIG to show you how great your life in Boston really was.
    And personally- I LOVE Boston! My in-laws live there and we visit all the time. Well…. only between April and October. Otherwise it’s too cold. πŸ™‚

    1. Amanda says

      I also really like Colorado. I visited the Boulder/Denver areas on my way out to SF – it was so beautiful, and the weather was just perfect. I think it’s worth trying it out to see if you like it there. Moving is exhausting, but you’re right that you can always move back. SF was one of those things that had I not done it, I would have always wondered “what if…”.

      Yes – you generally do not want to visit Boston in the winter. It’s been unusually mild so far, but Jan/Feb are typically kind of awful. I’m hoping to go somewhere tropical for a week or two to help get myself through it. πŸ™‚

  5. Nicole says

    Thanks for sharing your story, Amanda. Sometimes it takes a big move for you to be grateful for what you’ve already got, and I’m glad you found some clarity in the fact that Boston is your home. I wish there was a fix-it button we could press when we’re unsure of the direction we’re going in, but life is all about learning — about ourselves, mostly. You DO have the ability to create the life you want, and we’re all here to support you along the way πŸ™‚

    1. Amanda says

      Thanks for your comment, Nicole. πŸ™‚

  6. I read this last night on the train home after being up for about 20 hours at that point and it resonated so much, I just didn’t have the energy or patience to comment on my iPhone at the time. We moved to FL directly after our honeymoon. My husband had been down there for a year already, we owned a house, I was supposed to move down (my job even let me work from home) and be happy. Who wouldn’t be happy in FL from the frigid NY winters, right? Um, me. Within the first year I missed my family, missed the change of season, etc. and eventually we made a lot of tough choices (hubby passing up a job offer to get into law enforcement, selling our house at a HUGE loss…) and decided to move back to NY b/c of me. He loved FL, I did not. Or so I thought. So we moved back, lived in my inlaws vacant house in NY (they were in FL) for a year to save up again to buy a house, bought a house the next year and here we are. And guess what…I miss Florida. I’m trying really hard to not dwell on the negatives but a lot of things have come into focus for me now about what’s important in life and I wish I had stuck it out in Florida for a bit longer so I could’ve had that realization down there instead of getting out of dodge so quickly. Life is what we make of it and while our long term plans are to get back there one day, I’m trying to focus very intently on everything that is good, because there is plenty, even if it’s not in the place we want to be.
    So our stories are not exactly the same, but much of the self realization journey is. I think I understand now (at 29) why people say your 30’s are the best years of your life, b/c damn…20’s were not easy.

    1. Amanda says

      Thanks so much for sharing your story. That’s quite the journey, but as I now know all too well, you can’t always anticipate how you’re going to feel until you make the move. I had spent a year planning my move to SF and had a very set idea in my head of how I thought it would be, and it just didn’t work out for me. I beat myself up over it for a while and it took months for my husband to come to terms with moving back (he saw SF as being a better fit career-wise). Now I’ve just sort of come to terms with the fact that life is an evolution, and it’s okay to change your mind.

      I really hope people are right about your 30s being better. I definitely feel like I went through a quarter-life crisis these past few years.

      1. Kait says

        Just jumping in to say thank you. I’m in my twenties and feel the same way…like the weight of the world is on my shoulders. I think its partially because of the generation we’re a part of and the massive issues we’ve inherited from previous generations. Here’s to hoping the 30s are the BEST while still being able to live in the moment and appreciate what we have (injuries, discontent, and all, because at least the pain means that we can feel). πŸ™‚

      2. Amanda says

        Thank YOU for this comment. I agree that it likely has something to do with our generation. Nearly all of my closest friends have gone through something similar and done complete 180s in their mid-twenties – changing careers, moving all over the country, going back to school, etc. The good news is that all of them are now doing things that seem to “fit” them so much better (myself included). I think our 30s are going to be awesome. πŸ™‚

  7. Gorgeous post! I can relate on almost every front (minus the move). Sometimes you need to make a change just to see what happens. Even if it’s scary. Even if you end up realizing that your previous life is what you really want, or you find something else that makes you happy (something you never thought would).
    On a random note – I also really like this picture of you. πŸ™‚

    1. Amanda says

      Thanks, Elina! I couldn’t agree more.

  8. I feel like congrats are in order! Because finding AND doing what you love is harder than you ever imagine. I also know that feeling of being somewhere you thought would change your life, but turns out those empty feelings still remain. When my husband and I moved out to Santa Barbara for grad school I thought my life would become magical, adventurous, and just different than what we were doing before. Instead I was felt lonely, broke, and frustrated. But as you point out, it’s oddly enough those low points that led me to make big changes (start a blog, move back east, be more assertive with what I want).

    Blogging, writing, photography, and creating amazing recipes are definitely your calling – keep doing what you’re doing!

    1. Amanda says

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Lindsey. It sounds like we had similar experiences in CA, as well as similar takeaways. Both SF and Santa Barbara just seem so magical when you’re living on the East Coast, at least in theory.

      I appreciate the vote of confidence with regard to my blog. Yours is one of my favorites. πŸ™‚

  9. Christine says

    Amanda, I just discovered your blog and really look forward to reading more! Awesome to find someone truly following their heart.

    It takes a lot of courage to look deep within, realize you need more and change your life… and even more courage to recognize and acknowledge that the type of change you made was, although an important part of the journey, not where you needed to be.

    Have you read “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho? Interesting, the location of the treasure at the end of the story.

    I too am on a journey of self-discovery. Although I’m happy in general, over the years I’ve felt like something was missing – fulfillment. So I’ve been working on figuring out my purpose and have started writing. Feels great to get my ‘voice’ out there. And I’ve realized that life is far too precious to live on auto-pilot!

    All the best.

    1. Amanda says

      Thanks for taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment, Christine. I haven’t read β€œThe Alchemist”, but I’ll look for it the next time I’m at the bookstore. πŸ™‚

      I know exactly what you mean about trying not to live on auto-pilot. One of the things I’m working on is trying to be more present in the now. It’s definitely not easy!

  10. Hi Amanda,
    Just found your blog and, like everyone who has already stated above, your story really hits home to what I feel every day. I’m still on the early end of my twenties, but I’ve known for what feels like an eternity that the cubicle 9-5 life is not something I can sustain for that long. My fiance and I are talking about moving half way across the country in a few months and while I know I should be looking for a secure job because we are so young and don’t have much money to live off of, I can’t bring myself to actually apply for these office positions that I know I have no interest in. I’m still figuring out it all out but reading success stories like yours helps me to remind the practical part of me that it can work out even if I don’t go the safe route. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Amanda says

      Thanks so much for sharing, Katie. I think it’s great that you’ve figured out in your early twenties that you don’t want to work the standard 9-5 in a cubicle. Making a career shift is tough, but I do think it’s possible to find a job that you enjoy. It might not happen right away, but for me, it was so important to simply get outside my comfort zone, put myself out there, and try new things (whether that was moving across the country or taking baking classes). Always strive to do something that’s more than just a paycheck. πŸ™‚


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