A little more Atlanta, A little less Boston.

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The start of October and Atlanta is refusing to let the leaves change color. Green treetops make it look the same as months past in Georgia; but it feels different. Change is coming. Humidity is gone.

This is certainly my favorite time of year. It seems that everything puts on its best color–a fanfare of what the past year has held.

But as I look at this picture; “things will change.” I’m left thinking less about peak weekends and more about my everyday week.

Never in my life have I felt adulthood so freely and so heavily at the same time. While moving to Atlanta was one of the less-stressful gigantic life changes I’ve made; in the past six months I’ve found myself kind of avoiding embracing the change — and embracing new life — and instead living in constant memories and pinings of New England.

Kind of crazy. But, when you have an adventure that vivid and colorful — not even your childhood dream job can necessarily distract you from missing parts of that risk-taking lifestyle.

That time was magical and I am having a terribly hard time letting it go. Constant prattling about Massachusetts with new Atlanta acquaintances. The ever-frequent #latergram of past wandering Boston Saturdays.

I know, it’s annoying.

My fixation on Boston has been avoiding the reality that:

Things have changed.

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Since my move back to the South I’ve been brushed with some unsettling differences. The fact that, old friends are seemingly much harder to stay connected with — and new friends are hard to make when you work odd hours.

Living in a memory is sometimes easier than jumping into the new.

Steve Jobs (yeah, I’m going to go there — it’s a good thought he had) once talked about how it’s impossible to connect the dots moving forward. You only can backward. That’s the only way to make sense of change, how you end up where, what opportunities present themselves — and for what reason. You can only do that in retrospect.

When you think of the future — and even the now — you have to trust the dots moving forward. You have to just go. Follow your heart and your passion. But you’re not always going to know exactly what comes next or when.

I think that’s part of why it’s easier for us to live in that last ride, sometimes. You know it was a good one. And the current path you’re on is still undeveloped. It’s in the process.

You focus on what you know was good.

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This is the first time in my life that I’ve really forged a new chapter 100 percent alone.

And some days that is lonely.

While I spend moments and days, fantasizing about weekends and explorations gone by up North — what I miss is the feeling of risk taking and adventure.

I have neglected to realize that my current situation requires just as much bravery.

This is ever-so-much another challenge–it’s just different. Where Boston had history to see; Atlanta has culture. Where Boston had me quitting a job; Atlanta has me embarking on a whole new career. Where Boston thrust me into new lifelong friendships; Atlanta is encouraging a patience to grow something similar.

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Things have changed.

And things will continue to change.

The way to gathering the full happiness from it though is not to shirk in the shadows — but to embrace it fully and even mess it up a little.

Just because I’m in Atlanta doesn’t mean that Boston has to go away.

I just need to find that girl that moved into Kent Street and have her take charge here in Brookhaven.

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Life is beautiful to the core right now.

And I can’t miss it because I’m still thinking about the leaves from last fall.

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Happy One Month, Boston.

Great depiction of my feelings? "#NoFilter. Just loving on Boston tonight."

Great depiction of my feelings? “#NoFilter. Just loving on Boston tonight.”

It’s hard to believe but silently and quickly a one-month anniversary passed.

I may be two days late in technicalities, but the beautiful part is that it passed without knowing.

I adore my family and friends in North Carolina with heart and soul. I love the mountains and the roots that I have always had there. I really cherish the fact that I’ve been able to plant such a foundation of stability in a place of sameness for the first 24 years of my life.

But.

I love Boston.

I remember the first day that felt like a routine.

I walked to the train stop, likely in the midst of my third week here, and for the first time I didn’t feel like I was at a conference or fall camp. I didn’t feel like I should whip my camera out to take a photo of something new and I certainly didn’t feel the need to look at the T map to check the stops.

I could walk the path without looking up at landmark houses and street signs. I could bustle along without the worry of missing something.

The thought only occurred for a second, but once it happened–that, “this is life now” thought–things were different.

I remember that first day that Boston felt like home.

It was just this past Saturday.

After venturing an hour outside of the city to go to an apple orchard in Ipswitch, Mass. and spending a morning picking apples, traipsing fields and shooting a lot of camera footage–I was tired. As we crossed the bridges and ventured back into familiar Brookline it was a relief to see our street and know that home was just a quarter-mile away.

It was home.

And it is home.

And that is both beautiful and strange.

I miss my family  and friends of course in the, want-to-see-you-and-share-this-new-adventure-with-you kind of way. But it’s not a hankering for me to go home. It’s an excitement for them to come here and let me show them my happiness.

I used to give my friend Lindsay such a hard time for her Carrie-Bradshaw-like love for New York City. Oh, how she loves that city.

But now I find myself chuckling as I get lost looking at the skyline on a walk home or as I can’t help but smile at the sound of the trains outside my window.

I absolutely love it and feel like it fits. It just fits. I can honestly say that I am happy in a way that I haven’t experienced in a really long time. A different way.

This happiness for the last month has seen me challenging myself in new ways. It’s seen me exploring and trying new things. It’s seen me taking chances and channeling a new bravery. It’s seen me digging deep for confidence and resting in my own reassurance. It’s seen me crafting a new set of friends and a realizing that in some senses I’m recreating who I am. Same Ashley. New chapter. But you know how much shift in a storyline just one chapter can make . . .

One month in and I haven’t skipped a beat. Not even enough to take five minutes and revel in the fact that it had been a month on October 1st. Instead I have pondered too many times already in the last week how time is passing too quickly and I want to stop the sand in a sieve.

Savoring life is incredible.

And I can’t express how much the last month has been an incredible start to one of the adventures that I think, one day, I will look back on with some intense pride.

Miss you North Carolina; but for now why don’t you just promise to come visit? You’ll see me at Christmas, if not : )

How can  you not love this? Boston, you're pretty.

How can you not love this? Boston, you’re pretty.

Land Legs in Boston.

Sorry for the super lag.

Moving is crazy. Moving almost 15 hours away is even crazier.

You’re getting settled in a new place. You’re getting used to new transportation, different stores, a change in schedule. That just scratches the surface of the transition I’ve been going through. Every time I thought about updating the blog I felt like I had to have a polished picture of Boston so far. And you know what? It’s actually still kind of messy : ) So, hence me taking the pressure off of myself to give you perfect. Instead, I’ll just give an update.

It’s officially been a week and a half and it’s definitely not enough time to feel settled or for this to feel remotely like “home,” but it’s long enough to be getting my land legs back underneath me.

Moving weekend was a BONDING experience. Bonding in the sense that my butt was seriously bonded to that freaking moving truck. TMI? The family and I loaded up the Budget truck and after a wonderful dinner with family Friday night, we slept in a little Saturday; had a nice family breakfast; shared some long hugs and climbed up for a long drive.

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Mi + Familia.

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This is my “excited to get on the road” face. Super actress.

12 hours, four different radio-broadcast football games, miles of classic country, fields and fields and five state lines later we took a break in Scranton, Penn.

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Somewhere in Virginia.

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More Virginia. We were in Virginia FOREVER.

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And I have no clue where this was.

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More Virginia. Like seriously, we were in VA forever.

It took us a whopping 19 hours to actually get to Boston because a) moving trucks are a little slower than the average speedster and b) there was a lot of torrential rain we had to drive through. I consider myself a professional driver of all sorts now that I completed this huge road test. The first thing that Dad and I did when we got here was to hop the train down to the Wharf to check out Faneuil Hall and get some lobster (duh).

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Me + Dad. So glad he made the trip with me.

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So, I guess I live here now?

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First lobster. And can I say, the middle is gross. Just saying. A New England bit that I need to work on.

That night we checked out the empty apartment for the first time and I was so happy to see that it was a lot bigger than I had prepared myself for. I think him and I slept like rocks that night and got up BRIGHT and early for me to take him to the airport at 5 a.m. Driving a moving truck test three? Drive a moving truck in pouring rain in Boston to the airport and back. I got lost in Charlestown somehow, missed exit and whatnot. I tried to get out of there fairly quickly.

Moving day was CRAZY. Moved all my stuff in by noon and then hurried to orientation. I think that’s the day that it was really hitting me “Goodness, I’m a student again.”

I don’t know why I didn’t plan differently than I did; but the way the week went I moved in – had orientation – went to bed – had a full first day of class. It was nuts. That night when I got home I went to bed at 7 p.m. and didn’t wake up the next day until 7:30 a.m. I was EXHAUSTED.

No car; so I’m adjusting to using public transportation which I actually really adore.

New roommates; so it’s not just me anymore : ).  So far, that has been good too. Luckily I was able to gradually transition back to roommates after living with my old college roommate/best friend for a month in-between my Winston apartment and the new Boston adventure.

After a full week of classes I’m left with a few key thoughts that I’ll share and then I promise I’ll be more organized here on out:

1) Boston is beautiful. I love history. I love architecture. I love all of the greenery and parks mixed with city. I love it. I was able to just wander around a lot this weekend and I was constantly adoring the sights and feeling grateful to spend some time here.

2) Boston University faculty are amazing. I had a great team of professors at Appalachian State and it’s thanks to them that I am prepared for this level of study. There is a stark difference in the faculty (predominantly full-time professors) that I had at Appalachian and now the faculty that I have in Boston. My professors are almost all still involved in the industry; many are publishing books; others are producing for Nightline or serving as commentators on MSNBC. Seriously, it’s an incredible mix to be able to learn from and I just know that I’ve put myself in a great place for this new career change.

3) It’s really fun to get outside your comfort zone. I’m being open to life right now. I’m in this huge life change where I took a leap and a risk. It’s incredibly exciting and invigorating. I’m trying to take it outside of school and Boston though and just be open to new friends, trying new food, going new places, being open to dating like a 24-year-old typically would and just having a good time.

4) Oh my, how did I do a college schedule!? What will balance that freewill to a good time? My INSANE schedule. I was amazingly blessed to receive two teacher assistantships and a graduate assistantship. Which is a lot. On top of 18 hours of classes. Well, that’s a hella lot. I’m hoping I don’t have to step away from any of them but right now I’m easing my way into a schedule to see what’s feasible. My first and foremost priority will be school. Period. Monday through Friday are going to be nutso; but you know–if you realize it’s short-term you just have to enjoy it for what it is.

5) You can’t really carry that many groceries in .7 mile. So, in my transportation adjustments––sure, I’m getting used to not driving to school and work. But there are also things like the grocery store? It’s nuts. I went yesterday and was SO PROUD to carry home: apples, bananas, oranges, pork chops, carrots and 2 things of frozen vegetables. Haha, I joke that I’m going to turn into a French woman who just buys what she eats each day.

More updates more regularly I promise. And back on schedule with Turn It Up next Monday! ❤

Some days it’s easier to say than others, but I believe everything happens for a reason.

Tonight I’m thankful for unexpected the people you didn’t know you needed, who appear right when they could help you the most.

The past few weeks have been some of the most stressful that I think I’ve faced in a long time. Honestly, pardon the French, but May has been a bitch. Name any aspect of general life for a 24-year-old and I can give you a story for how this month had X, Y and Z challenges in every aspect. It’s a huge reason that you’ve not seen much writing on the blog since my race. I’ve tried to sweep the stress under the rug, but based on feedback from close friends, family and even co-workers—it’s confirmed that I’m a terrible actress. Luckily there is a “but” in this equation.

But: it’s just when you’re on the cusp of a breakdown that you find a breakthrough.

What has been arguably the hardest month of 2013 so far, has turned into being one of the most surprising. What I wanted to write off on May 20th as the worst month of the year, I’m now writing off as “the most rewardingly challenging.” See, it’s all about how you word it.

I do know that May is a curve in the path for me. May has been about changes. May has been about letting go. May has been about being vulnerable. Trusting. Enduring. Closing your eyes and hoping for the best. But one nice thing about May is that it has been about unexpected support. Surprising reminders.

It’s been easy in the midst of stress and anxiety to pray about all of these things with one eye open and clenched fists. Sometimes, as an admitted lover of control, it’s hard for me to let things go. And it’s really hard for me to hand things off to God to take care of.

This month, even with as detached as I have sometimes felt from God’s presence, He still managed to coordinate a gigantic relief. Just the time and just the way that I needed it.

Some things happen for perfect reason and at the perfect time and you can’t ask questions, all you can do is appreciate what just happened.

And tonight, I just know that everything happens for a reason. And that’s what gives me the grace to think that June? June is going to be a lot easier because of the sweat that May put me through : )

Repeat: Change is good.

It’s funny, when I was in Salt Lake City waiting to board my Seattle flight I got a phone call that was the beginning of the feeling that “things are going to be different when I get home.” This suspicion emerged that there might be a line drawn on the trip to Utah. The way things were before my trip. And the way things were after my trip. And the more time that is placed between the current date and the day I returned, the more I realize my intuition was right.

This time last year I wrote a blog post that was never shared. I quote:

“Change is inevitable.

It’s so creepingly . . . lurking? I can just feel it. There is some kind of change brewing and I have no idea what it is, but I hear it in the corners of my mind and on the heels of my footsteps, hiding behind five corners away and silently giggling as I wait to find it. Maybe it’s because my lease is up in two months and I’m thinking I might need to find a new abode. Or maybe it’s because for the first time in two years I’ve actually considered what it might be like to have a roommate again? Or maybe it’s simply because I’m trying out some new hobbies and feeling inspiration for writing. Heck, maybe it’s just that new car that I know I’m inevitably buying. Or maybe it’s nothing at all and the simple whisper of a possible change is going to cause me to create one all my own.

All I know without plausible doubt, fear or hesitation is that whatever changes or surprises come my way–God’s got my back and I’m going to be OK. I’m taken care of.”

Who knew a month later just how much life would change with a new car, a new apartment and a new relationship status.

I have a similar feeling this month; and again I have no idea what it is. Maybe I’m responding to a lot of external changes that I’m watching unfold–but regardless the feeling is there. And again, I’m thankful, that I know I’m going to be just fine. Sometimes it’s just a little disarming.

Repeat to yourself, “Change is good. Change is good.”