(and the major lesson I learned at a Westfield food court)

I recently relocated. Back to a place I never thought I would return to.
Never say never, right?

When I left Los Angeles 8 years ago, I had no intention of returning.
I was moving on. Moving up. Leaving my old life behind to start anew.
I would have laughed in your face if you told me I’d ever make the decision to move back.

My relationship with L.A. is complicated.

I love the sun.
I love the proximity to the beach.
I love the boutiques and the good food.
I love the air of possibility. The creative energy. The big dreamers.

But there is so much that I don’t love. So much that pushes every single one of my buttons (and then some).
The traffic.
The (over) emphasis on physical appearance.
The superficiality.
The architecture.
The smog.
The traffic. (those who have endured it, understand why i put it on here twice)
The lack of a true sense of community.
And if I’m going to be 100% honest + transparent. . . a lot of the people.

I’ve been doubting my decision to relocate here. I’ve been doubting whether this is really the place I need to be.
I’ve been feeling lonely and unsure and totally out of my element.
Not to mention it’s been 100 degrees more often than not since we got here.
My sensitive Bay Area blood has been boiling.

Why do I bring all of this up?
Well, because I learned a very important lesson a few days ago at the Westfield food court of all places.
I was sipping creme soda and eating a curried rice bowl and was struck by the sea of judgmental faces.
I watched several women. Quietly critiquing other women based on what appeared to be their hair, their clothing or their weight. I watched men, sizing up other men.
I saw looks of insecurity. And looks of pure self-righteousness.
Honestly, I left L.A. because of this. Because of the perpetual sense of being judged. Of not being pretty enough, cool enough, smart enough. . .

And then it hit me! Like those neon bolts of wisdom typically do. Out of nowhere.

Right now. Right here.

I am the prodigal daughter.
Returning “home”. To a city that challenges me to the core.
But I’m returning as a new girl (the girl who knows).
Solid. Grounded. Strong. And on my best days, filled with love.
I’m here again but I’m different.

“Being in the right place at the right time is actually all about being in the right state of mind.”
~Richard Wiseman, PhD

It’s all about being in the right state of mind. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over & over again and expecting a different result.
If this is true, then in order to have a different relationship with L.A. ~ I need to do something different. I need to change my attitude.

So today, I’m shaking things up. The first thing I’m doing is changing my perspective.
I’m appreciating and accepting where I am.
Trusting that I’m right where I need to be.
It might not be perfect. It might not be easy.
But it’s where I am.

And life is beautiful.
And I am beyond lucky.

I’m also going to add a consistent practice of gratitude into my life.
Everyday I’ll jot down 10 things that I’m grateful for. Nothing like gratitude to help you stay in the moment. And in a place of love + kindness.

I’m also going to smile at people more. I find that as I see others judging, I’m judging them (for judging others). It’s a vicious circle.
So instead of fighting fire with fire, I’m going to shake it off and smile.
At least, that’s the plan.
I’ll let you know how it goes.

Have you ever had a hard time after relocating to a new place? What helped you get through the transition? Any tips?
I’d love to know ~ leave me a comment below!

I’ll see you next week with an insanely cool new segment of GET TO KNOW (hint :: it involves playing with fire)!

Until next time. . .

  • LIKE WHAT YOU SEE? Get more goodies for FREE!


  1. Oh sista, I feel ya. All I can say is that L.A. must need you pretty badly. Your energy and perspective in your work could help balance people and show them that they don’t have to drink the Koolaide, even if they have to share the punch bowl with everyone else who does.

    Miss you and can’t wait to have a drink!


  2. SO beautiful Steph! So true too. All about our perspective – thank you for sharing.

    I love your message. And I LOVE YOUR SITE.

    Can’t believe I haven’t found it till now! Totally adding you to my reading list. 🙂 xx

  3. Oh Stephanie, I understand all too well the many feelings associated with relocating. I’ve moved 41 times in 58 years! Part of that was as a child and we moved each time my dad was transferred. Then there was college, back and forth, back and forth. Next came 19 moves as an Army wife. I am remarried and have moved only twice in the last 20 years.

    As a child, the sense of loss was a big thing to me…loss of friends, school, neighborhood familiarity, etc. As an adult, the sense of loss was heavier…loss of friends, church, job, babysitter, familiarity and a sense of belonging. Some of the moves were so quick. It got to where I was afraid to hang the pictures, because that usually meant orders for yet another move. Getting settled in, establishing a routine, meeting new people, finding a job and a babysitter were all stressful and always my responsibility. The whole process was extremely hard, until I met another military wife that gave me some valuable advise.

    She was a little older and had roughed the moves and changes with ease. She said the process was simple. Make a move with anticipation of great things. Look at it as an adventure. Take the walls down, meet people and choose your friends quickly…go with your gut

  4. (sorry, I typed on the submit area)
    …go with your gut. You never know when the next move will be and you don’t want to look back and realize that you wasted time, when you should have been living!

    That was great advise and made the moves to follow so much easier!

    Best of luck to you Stephanie as you leave an imprint on your new community!

    1. Thank you so much for this sweet + thoughtful reply Kathy! My mom started a charity that addresses the needs of military families (especially the children) and she said the same thing you did about this post ~ that the moving and transitions, especially for young children is so difficult.
      I love the advice your friend gave you. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  5. Stephanie, I can totally relate. I have been moved around so many times in my life (I went to 7 high schools) but honestly the same love/challenge relationship that you have with L.A. is the same one that I have with New York. Just like you, I know that I am suppose to be here, right now. It’s a challenge and every day I am here, I grow and push myself a little more. I commend you for moving back to L.A. and facing the challenge with a new set of eyes. You aren’t the same woman you were 8 years ago and I can’t wait to see how you recognize your own growth the longer you’re in the city. xoxo – Jo-Na

    1. Thanks for posting Jo-Na ~ it’s always nice to hear that you’re not alone. I look forward to seeing you take NYC by storm (it’s inevitable)! And I’ll see you there in a month (yay)!! xo

  6. Welcome home Stephanie! I’m here in LA as well, ready to SMILE at the world with you.

    I love this recognition:

    I find that as I see others judging, I’m judging them (for judging others). It’s a vicious circle.

    I have caught myself in that same place…we truly reclaim our POWER in love when we “let go” of the need to save the world and we realize that saving the world actually begins with saving ourselves :).

  7. I can so relate to this Stephanie. I moved to London, UK a couple of years ago from Finland and have a love/hate relationship to this city. This year has been extremely difficult (the rainiest year in hundred years) and I miss the nature and fresh air so much. However if the weather allows I will try to get out of the city on weekends in the future and what truly helps is the practice of gratitude like you said. On the other hand I love certain things in the city: street art, small details that I see when I really take time to look, how the evening sun reflects from the buildings, small wine bars and hidden cozy cafes, people watching, jazz clubs and concerts. When I feel really bad I try to concentrate on those things that make me happy and go to places that I love in this city, thinking that this is only one phase in my life and I better try to take most of it. And someday I will have my background 🙂

  8. Stephanie,
    I can totally sympathize with your love hate relationship with LA, as I’ve often felt the same way about NYC. Being an actor here is tough, I meet so many (at auditions), but it can be so challenging at times to make supportive and sustainable friendships and to stay focused in an atmosphere with so much competition. Having just returned from vacation and attending an audition yesterday, I felt that energy hit me like a freight train when I entered the studio to see all those other hopefuls for 1 role. It is a constant challenge to stay committed in the face of all that. It is good to know I have another warrior out there staying strong and true to herself. – Natalie

  9. Love this Stephanie! I moved away from home after college. All the way across the US from Missouri to San Diego. And I loved it there, but it wasn’t home and I wasn’t confident I could make it feel like home. So I moved back. Now many years later, I feel like you do, grounded, happy, and I know I can make any place home.

    1. I love that you were brave enough to take the leap to a new place yet know yourself well enough to move away when the time was right. Thanks for sharing this!
      And p.s I’m from St. Louis. 🙂

  10. Stephanie, it’s official. I f*cking love you! I grew up in LA and left for every single reason you mentioned. It’s a tough place to be and each time I visit I’m reminded why I swear up and down I will NEVER move back. However, 3 weeks ago I was there and it was the first time in my entire life that I enjoyed myself. In fact, I actually loved being in LA. The superficiality was still there in spades, as were the ridiculous cars, obscene traffic and “I’m hotter than YOU” looks. What changed though was ME. By being completely secure in me, my body, my life and dropping my own comparison conversation, LA became awesome. I could see the bleach blondes in mini skirts and high heels and think, “That’s right girl. Rock it out!”

    I’m not moving to LA any time soon, but changing my attitude turn what used to be unbearable into something actually enjoyable. Thank you for your wonderful words and being

    1. Yay!! Love you back Jamie ~ thanks so much for being here.
      I’m so glad your experience of returning to L.A. has been similar ~ it’s funny that sometimes you have to move away altogether to appreciate (or even tolerate) the awesomeness that does exist. Trying to see the good in everything is challenging, but ultimately SO gratifying.
      Hope to see you next time you’re here! xo

  11. Great post! I especially love the part on the gratitude exercise. And when you’re sad and feeling out of your element, go get a bowl of pho. That always makes me feel better, and you’re in the perfect place!

  12. Stephanie,

    Seriously. You rock. I had a 6 year stint living in LA… and people could never understand why I couldn’t commit to calling it home! Although I don’t see myself moving back any time soon…your thoughts totally resonated with me! When you feel confident within yourself, and who you are… you can take on anything! You are your home.
    Keep smiling! xo

  13. Saw a screenshot of this article on your web designers portfolio page, and something about the intro caught my attention. I too have relocated from NYC back to the Bay Area (San Jose to be exact!), and I had the mindset as illustrated in this article! At the end of the day ( yes this phrase is cliche`) it is about your attitude! After prayer and deep meditation, and sulking( yes sulking!) I’ve come to terms that this where I am supposed to be RIGHT NOW, and I am at peace with it. Actually things are working out for me in more ways than 3! 🙂 Yep this blog post was a confirmation from the gods! 😉 Take Care!

    1. I love it Danielle! First that you came here via Rebecca’s site and also that we have similar stories. I’m happy to hear you’ve made peace with your relocation and that things are looking up. That’s great news! 🙂

Comments are closed.