Why Chicago?

Why Chicago?

Fifty-one years-ago this past May, aboard an Aer Lingus 707, I arrived at JFK to meet my adoptive parents for the first time. I spent the first night in my new Northern New Jersey home…and basically, I never left.

I couldn’t wait to leave for college, but after four-years in Philadelphia, I gravitated back to northern New Jersey. My first apartment with friends was only 5 miles from the home I grew up in and the home I just moved out of, where I raised my daughter, was only 6 and half miles away.

There were lots of times that I fantasied about a change of scenery. There was the time back in the 80s when my friend and I made plans to move to Charleston, South Carolina after college even going as far to spend a weekend there looking at apartments. My late husband and I had considered Vermont, Oregon, and yes, Charleston again (because its warmer in Charleston).

Ultimately, proximity to family was the biggest factor that kept us here and then once our daughter was born we wanted to have roots. The plan was always that we’d finally consider a big move in June 2018 – the month our daughter would graduate from High School and we’d celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary. Our gift to ourselves: a huge reduction in property taxes. (I wrote about how I continued to make that dream a reality few weeks ago).

The view close to the end of my road trip last week. June 2018. Chicago, Illinois.

Chicago has been pulling me for a long time. My first trip was in 1985 with my college boyfriend who grew up here. I loved it (although this New Yorker didn’t admit that to him at the time). We came back again the following summer. In 1994, just after leaving my first big job, I went to work for a Chicago-based company and spent a week out here for training.  I did a lot of exploring by myself and remember feeling very at home.

Work I was doing with a national non-profit took me on a couple business trips here in 2012 – once for a meeting at the Admiral’s Club, where I never left O’Hare. I was also aware of a former work colleague from that first big job who went to work for the Chicago Tribune and was transferred here in 1994. There was just something about Chicago.

In 2015, I ran the Chicago Marathon. In 2016, my daughter’s Sweet-Sixteen present was an all-expense-paid trip for all four days of Lollapalooza for her and a friend (it was what she wanted and was cheaper than a party). By December of that year, I was starting to make some regular trips to the Windy City, because that “former work colleague” was now my boyfriend.

When my daughter started looking at colleges, with all my other family gone, I was acutely aware that there wasn’t a lot keeping me in New Jersey. I told her to select the right school and not worry about the location. I would just move to be closer to her…wherever that was. Of course, that was when we were looking at schools in Southern California, not Chicago.

By the time Chicago became an option, I was invested in a life here even if it meant more cold winters. It certainly wasn’t cold when I arrived on Friday, although I know that will change come fall. But as I said to someone who questioned my decision, “I have my love to keep me warm.” So, why Chicago? It was just meant to be.

First day in my new neighborhood with the keys to my apartment. June 2018. Chicago, Illinois.


Law of Attraction

Law of Attraction

June is an interesting month. No real surprise that I would be making this big transition in June. While the school calendar naturally makes this a transitional month for a lot of people, for me, it’s the month I was married (25 years ago), and it’s the month my mother died (6 years ago).

Eleven years ago this month, I walked into this house for the first time. At that time, we knew living here was a stretch for us financially, but I loved the childhood that I had in Northwest Bergen County (New Jersey). I wanted the same for my daughter. We struggled over the summer to figure out a way to make it happen. We figured it out and we were able to purchase the house in September.

We agreed that we would do what we needed to do to stay here until our daughter was able to reap all the benefits that the school system had to offer. We focused on June 2018. High School graduation so far away. That’s when we’d downsize.

A lot has changed, but here I am fulfilling that vision from so long ago. The “Congratulations Graduate” sign is out front with the “Under Contract” sign. And more importantly, everything I needed to achieve to get to this month, I achieved. Much of it was from hard work and being focused, but much of it too was because I held on to that vision.

I’ve talked about the important role “visualization” can play in big races. Visualizing your journey along the course, visualizing a strong finish, the time on the clock as you cross the finish line, can all create actual positive results. The same holds true for life. Holding onto the vision of what you want it to be and trusting in the Universe to deliver does actually work. It’s called manifesting, also known as the Law of Attraction.

“The Law of Attraction is the belief that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts people can bring positive or negative experiences into their life. The belief is based on the idea that people and their thoughts are both made from “pure energy”, and that through the process of ‘like energy attracting like energy’ a person can improve his own health, wealth, and personal relationships.” (Wikipedia)

So funny story…almost two years ago my boyfriend mentioned a school out in Chicago that would be perfect for my daughter. I told him that I had to just hope she was doing her research and would find it on her own. I didn’t want to appear to be pushing her, and she’s certainly not the kind of kid that responds well to pushing. I did secretly think to myself, “Wow. How cool would that be?!” I allowed myself to create a vision of us all living in the same city – Chicago!

Five months after that conversation, my daughter told me that she found a school in Chicago that would be perfect! It was January and I suggested we go see the school as soon as possible and booked a quick trip to tour the school in February. She had been to Lollapalooza out there that past summer – but what’s not to like about Chicago in summer? She loved the school – even in winter in Chicago! She applied. She was accepted. And that’s where she’ll be going. No pushing from mom. We will all be in Chicago. Just like the vision I created for myself almost two years ago.

When I think back I realized I’ve manifested a lot of things in my life. My career directing fundraising events, the better job I needed to afford this house, my current coaching business, my relationship, and even smaller things like being accepted on my first attempt at the NYC Marathon lottery, or even a great parking space at the mall during the holidays.  Sounds silly, but it works.

Have you ever dreamed of something and made it so? If you’d like to experiment, here’s a handy guide The Huffington Post put out late last year: “7 Steps to Manifest Anything You Want.” I will also add that having a coach can really help. A coach will hold onto that vision for you and not let it slip away. I attribute a good part of the focus I need for this  transition to having a coach.  A coach who also believes in the Law of Attraction.

So, try it. Let me know how it goes. Believe in yourself. You have the power within yourself to make your vision a reality. Focus on the positive. June is a great month for that. I still don’t have everything worked out. I’m just maintaining a vision of what I want my life in Chicago to be. And I know I will be able to make it happen, Stay tuned.

Sunrise over Chicago. May 2018.


Traditions and transitions mark the start of summer

Traditions and transitions mark the start of summer

Last Memorial Day, I talked about 5 great Memorial Day weekend races, and said, “some creative time on your travel apps could get you on the starting line for one each day.” While I didn’t quite do that, I did fulfill my desire to do the Soldier Field 10 Mile again…and continue my Ridgewood Run tradition for one more year. Read more

My next goal

My next goal

A few things came together last week which quickly launched me into a plan to accomplish my next goal. That goal is to have two cars, two pets, two people and the contents of a four-bedroom house packed up and transported to Illinois before the end of the summer. And no, I’m not running there. Although that actually seems less daunting. Read more

The Finish Line: Only the End of This Chapter

The Finish Line: Only the End of This Chapter

The 2014 New Jersey Marathon was, by all accounts, easy. I was four years younger than I am now. I was also five pounds lighter (okay, maybe closer to ten).  I was also coming off a year where I had run 13 half marathons, so I started my marathon training with a lot of miles in the bank already. When I started working with a coach, I had a goal to break my previous personal record for the marathon which was 4:11:16. Read more