A little more Atlanta, A little less Boston.

57328e8d7c94e4dd049a37e319a88d18

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.

+++

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.

+++

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.

+++

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.

+++

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.

The Owl Life.

I’ve always had trouble going to bed. I was the rotten seven-year-old with a dozen excuses to pop back out of my room. And as an adult it’s not much better–I have very little will to stick with a 10:30 p.m. normal bedtime. (Maybe I’m not actually an adult after all…)

Even when I would abide by a routine, at alternating times in life–be it because of stress or just busy-ness–I’ve often grappled with insomnia.

4 a.m. and I are pretty intimate.

But now we’re like in a Facebook-official relationship.

In the list of things that have been adaptations with getting used to a new job—I’m now officially an “overnighter.”

My work days go from roughly 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. with the beautiful perk of working four nights a week. Not everyone jumps in line for this shift–but I think I came into it with a solid 26 years of preparation.

My new typical day involves getting home from work as everyone else is leaving. I eat my first breakfast. Maybe squish in a work out. Read a chapter of whichever Harry Potter book I have caught up to. Sleep for a good seven hours. Slowly thaw out from that sleep over the course of two hours and a Hallmark movie or more reading by the pool. I eat second breakfast. Quickly get ready for work. Soak in a daily hour Facetime with my Andy–and then a chat with mom on my drive back into work.

The days fly by. Before you know it Monday has turned into Wednesday and your weekend is just around the corner.

It’s both the most beautiful and the most startling.

At work the shifts are more intimate with fewer people in the newsroom and everyone carrying a larger plate of responsibilities as a result for the 10 hours that you’re churning away on shows. Since I work for CNN International this is one of the times where you’re most likely to see my shows broadcast on CNN–as it often simulcasts our programs during the wee domestic hours. Unsurprisingly most of our news overnight is focused on Asia, Western Europe and the MIddle East which is much further into their next day.

It’s been an amazing opportunity to learn because there’s always extra places to lend a hand and new tasks to try for the first time. Plus, there’s an unspoken camaraderie about being awake and working hard at 2 a.m. while deliberating what to eat for “lunch.”

Honestly? I love it.

It seems like the perfect application of my “I don’t want to go to bed yet” excuses. And nicely, during the morning when I get home, I’m so perfectly exhausted that sleep is no problem.

The only issues?

Those normal-person routine things like a weekly social life, exercising, running errands and cooking–those are hard.

Working out, especially, is tough. Who wants to work out after working 10 hours? Who wants to work out when it’s 90 percent humidity outside in glorious Atlanta at 4pm? >This girl.<

I’m trying to get into a morning routine. I’ve found my best strategy so far: avoid the couch. JUST LACE UP YOUR DARN SHOES, ASHLEY. 🙂 First breakfast can come afterwards!

There are definite pluses and minuses to this new shift; but for the most part I think I’m adjusting marvelously. If only I can remember to keep balance—still plan time for the routines, the me time and the time with my family and friends on the weekends.

One of the hardest parts about embarking on the new job adventure was doing so 2,500 miles away from my love. But surprisingly a vampire-like schedule is quite conducive for cross-country phone dates.

The biggest emotional side effect of this new schedule is the tendency to indulge.

I crave a lot of comforts.

I don’t know if it’s a reaction to having a schedule flop — or just Ashley still adjusting to a new city. Probably a lot of both. But usually this means when I have a strange desire to light pumpkin candles in July — I do it. And if Hallmark is showing Christmas movies — I watch.

One last side issue to my moonlighting is this “breakfast issue.” I have cereal or waffles roughly 12-15 meals a week. Maybe this is the comfort thing, you say.

I argue that it’s a “breakfast is the best meal of the day” thing.

“But 12-15 breakfasts a week, that’s extreme,” you may come back.

My response to that, for now?

More waffles, please.