What brought you to Chicago?
I came to Chicago 7 years ago. I had just gotten out of a serious relationship and was looking for answers, relationships, meaning. My sister had been living here at the time and suggested I make a move here. I didn't know it at the time, but moving to Chicago would be one of the best decisions I ever made.
Where are you from?
I am from a smallish town in Iowa, called Muscatine. It's so glorious that even Mark Twain wrote about it. (Excuse my sarcasm) but I do love being from Iowa.
What do you find challenging about living here.
Anyone who has lived here more that 2 years would definitely tell you that the transiency of the city Is hard and a serious challenge. But, what I have found to be most challenging of all, is not allowing the transiency of it effect my ability to make and poor into relationships. After a few years pass and a few friends gone, it sounds really appealing to not dive into relationships, keep them surface. Because when they move, it won't hurt as much.
BUT....I'm reminded of my first 2 years here in the city. I Think I made some of my greatest relationships with people who are no longer here. I had some of the deepest, most meaningful relationships I had ever had. and I think, what if the people who pored into me had said, "the hurt isn't worth it." "What if she leaves?" I grew so much as a person! I can't imagine who I would be today if the people who scooped me up and walked along side of me in those tough years had just said no, not worth it.
So, my challenge is, how can I help make Chicago the most amazing experience for those who may come in and out of my life through the years. I want to go deep in relationships because no matter what, they're important.
What are some of the reasons you love it?
One of my favorite days in Chicago is marathon day. Thousands of runners, thousands of onlookers. Thousands of people from all over the world! There is something that I see on marathon day that You don't see everyday, or at least, you don't see it on this large of a scale. You see diversity, kindness, encouragement, unity, you see strangers coming along side of one another, cheering each other on for the good of others. It's not selfish, it's genuine.
These are all things that I think still ring true about Chicago, even if you don't see it day to day, the potential is still here.
We also have great food and wonderful coffee shops, so then there's that.
Why do your stay?
In all honesty, Family. Family of all sorts.
My wonderful sister and her family are here, I honestly can't imaging living here without them. My gospel community, they are my family.
I also have my "Chicago family" friends we've made over the years and are still here- they are so important to us.
Then there's the fact that James grew up here and literally all of his family is here.
Family has been a big theme in my life. I believe that family is so important! I come from a family that has had its share of brokenness and so, being true family has become really important to me. Not because we have to, but because we want to. I think that God has allowed for us tone here because it's what we want. Because we want to pore into family.
How has community affected your time here?
Oh man! Community has played a huge roll for my time here in the city.
I grew up with my parents being a part of small groups, taco Tuesday's, the random game night here and there, but from my stand point it was just small group friends getting together, I don't really know that it was "family" . My community has become my family here in Chicago. Community was something I craved as a Chicagoan. New girl in the city, not knowing more than 2 people, I desperately needed it. Over the past 7 years it has shifted, people have moved, I moved to the south side. But the people who have been a part of my close community are some of my favorite people in this world. People that I still keep in touch with regardless of where they have gone off to. My family on the south side has become so important to me.
When I got married to my husband James, I remember being in tears over not having close friends on the south side of the city. I was a north sider. But soon I realized that I was allowing myself to believe lies. Lies that I wouldn't have a family down here, I wouldn't have friends, I would feel alone. Everyone I knew lived on the north side. And Lord knows, when you move neighborhoods, it's like you've left the country, people don't see you as much.
But I was really really wrong. There were people who opened their arms to me and welcomed me into community with them. And today, they are such a huge part of my life here in this city, they are my family. James and I have been able to celebrate with them in many ways, share the hardships, cry with them. And I'm so grateful to have them.
Can you speak into the creativity found in the Chicago community?
Most of my community is very outgoing, adventurous. A lot more outgoing do adventurous than I am. And even though when I think of creativity I don't necessarily think of adventure, this is what really comes to mind. People ride their bikes all over the city, hike, go camping, take trips together, go hammocking. They find adventure in the outdoors and make it part of their Chicago day to day.
How does it inspire you?
I'm inspired to try things that frighten me. Like biking in the city for instance. I was so afraid of riding my bike here, but now I do it a lot and I love it. I've been inspired to just hang up my hammock in the park and read because it's beautiful and life giving to me.
When do you feel most empowered and comfortable in your own skin?
I think, honestly, I feel most empowered and comfortable in my own skin when I am at work. I know that probably isn't what most people want to hear but I'm a hairstylist and my work sometimes isn't really work for me, it's my creative outlet. People come to me and one of the first things the say to me (even if they've never met me) is I trust you.
Trust is empowering. How many people do you blindly put trust into on a daily basis? Probably not very many. Then they allow me to create and be creative on them!
But outside of work... I wouldn't say that I feel empowered or comfortable in my skin at all... And I'm not sure why.
Has living in the city effected your style and the way you approach your day-to-day look? If so, how?
When you grow up in a smallish town sometimes it's hard to feel like you can be outgoing with your style. You can get judged pretty hard, I was never someone who would just wear whatever I wanted because it was what I liked. But when I moved here, people didn't look at your style and judge so harshly if you were wearing something a little unusual or different from them. They seemed to celebrate your uniqueness.
So I would say that living here has allowed me to not care so much about what people think of my style. It's definitely changed a lot in the last 7 years, from spunky and a little outgoing to a little more subtle, jeans and a t shirt style. Now I keep my style a little more simple and I like that.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with readers?
I always thought I would fall in love in Chicago but I never thought that I would end up falling in love with the man I did. He's so different from me and at first he drove me crazy. He was too outgoing, too loud, too much idk... Is in your face the right word? But somewhere along the way, at just the right time, God put him right where I needed him to be. He put him in the space of genuinely caring about me when I felt like people didn't. I found him funny, spunky and wonderful. James genuinely cares about people and I think that is something that is so amazing and rare. And it is just what I needed.
We have been through a lot together. A hard beginning to being married. We would both tell you that our first two years of marriage pretty much sucked. But there has been so much growth and healing that has come with it as well.
We long to be open and honest with people about our marriage. About how God has been our strength when we wanted to fall, how we couldn't be where we are today without him.
It's funny how sometimes the timing isn't right, and then when the right time comes, it's perfect.
James and I were trying to figure out the best wedding hashtag for your big day. When some dear friends of ours moved out of the city, we stole a Popeye doll of theirs and set it on the dashboard in James's car. We joked that he was Popeye. And that gave some friends of ours the idea of our wedding hashtag being #popeyelovesoliveoyl because, I'm his olive oyl. #popeyelovesoliveoyl has just become our thing. It was an endearing thing we had. We never call each other that or anything but, somehow it just stuck. I got Popeye first. I wanted to have a tattoo on my body that represented James. My love and commitment to him. But I also wanted to have fun with it. He was pretty stoked when I got it. And it's weird, we were at a hard place in our marriage when I got it.
My Chicago skyline.
Chicago so quickly became home for me. I knew that God had been doing such wonders in my life here. I wanted that daily reminder of how much my life had changed here.
Girl with ballon.
She represents hope. Even when it feels out of reach. We live in a broken world, but there is hope and renewal here. Sometimes it feels so far away. But it isn't. There is hope for this world, home for healing in family, in relationships, in all of it.
My first tattoo. it simply says Love.
I heard it said once, "love is laboring and suffering to enthrall (or charm) someone with what will make them perfect and infinitely happy." Laboring and suffering to make someone perfectly and infinitely happy. It's hard to imagine. Slowly over time i have learned that sometimes to love someone well you have to suffer a little, and that's hard to deal with, but to truly love and love well, it isn't always going to be easy. That's something I've had to learn a lot these last few years and even weeks.