What a difference a year makes!

Hey Guys, guess what?  I’ve been living in Chicago for an entire year now!  Of course it’s the worst winter on record since the ice age but I made it.  Woot!  And since it is an anniversary moment, I figured I would take this opportunity to give you an idea of what this experience has meant to me.  This is going to be a little long, so get comfortable.

As some of you know (and many of you don’t), the decision to move to Chicago was born out of three things – 30 Rock, The Colbert Report and Bill Murray.  It was November 2012 and I happened to be on my couch watching Netflix and desperately wanting something to change in my life.  As I lay there I got to thinking how brilliant Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert are and how smart their humor is.  "Man, wouldn’t it be great to write for one of those shows?  I wonder how someone does that?"  So I IMDB ‘d Tina Fey – "oh she studied at Second City in Chicago – I remember Bill Murray totally studied at Second City.  Oh wait, Stephen Colbert too?   Wouldn’t it be awesome to do something like that?  I wonder if they have classes you can take?"  So I picked up the iPad, Googled Second City and called their Training Center.  By the time I hung up, I had made a decision – I am going to move to Chicago for one year, study improv and figure my shit out.

My dining room about 12 hours before I left. 

My dining room about 12 hours before I left. 

I won’t bore you will all of the minute details but by March 2013 my house was packed up; I had quit my job without another one in sight and started driving.  It was TERRIFYING.  I literally had NO IDEA what was going to happen.  I only knew one person in Chicago and he was someone I hadn’t spoken to in over a decade.   What am I going to do if I can’t get another job?  What if I get mugged and no one comes looking for me? How is Lucy going to adjust from being a suburban dog to a city dog?  How much DEBT is this going to put me in?  Am I insane to do this?  I’m 36 not 23.  I shouldn’t be this adrift at this age!! What is wrong with me??

As you can imagine, this story is hard to summarize into a few paragraphs so I'll save a few bits for later. Right now, let's jump ahead.


So with the help of my “one friend” and now "best friend" Ryan, we signed up for Level 1 classes at iO, a long-form improv theatre within walking distance to both of our apartments. My improv journey had begun. 

My awesome Level 1 teacher,  Tara Defrancisco

My awesome Level 1 teacher, Tara Defrancisco

Let’s be clear here, I am a smart-ass and I can make a quick comeback but I am NOT an actress.  Improv is HARD for me.   Every time I opened my mouth I was frozen in terror.  What is happening here?  What am I going to say next?  Can I look any dumber?  Every negative self-talk voice you’ve ever had comes front and center. 

Thankfully, I was very blessed to get a wonderfully patient and beautiful human being, Tara, as my teacher. Tara’s kindness coaxed all of us out of our comfort zones for the sake of comedy and opened our eyes to the concept of saying YES, AND.

Google the phrase YES, AND and you will learn how it relates to improv comedy and more specifically as the Second City credo.   Essentially it’s a rule – you’re part of a larger ensemble and when your partner initiates a scene you’re on board with them.  It is your duty to say YES to the idea that they’ve presented and AND them with an idea of your own.  Neither of you know where the scene is going but you’re going to take care of each other and it’s going to be FUN. 

You’re not alone.  You have support. 

So there you go – YES, AND became part of my vernacular through my classes but I found it seeping into my life in other areas.  I was struggling to find a job here in Chicago, not because I didn't have offers but because I didn't want to do ANY of them.  I have been very fortunate in my professional career to have strong experience at high-profile organizations but every job description I read brought on sheer dread.  The words TOWN HALL and NEWSLETTER started showing up in my night terrors.  I really, truly, honestly and physically could not go back to another soul sucking cubicle-ville. 

I needed to find something that I was passionate about.  I needed to find my purpose.

So while I continued to go through the levels at iO, all of the money in my bank account and more, it was suggested that I look into studying coaching.  A friend had attended a program here in Chicago called CTI and one of her classmates was working as a full-time life coach.  She’d be happy to talk to me if I was interested.   I made an appointment.

CTI (Coaches Training Institute) has changed my life.  Since starting my classes in October, my life has excelled in ways I couldn't have expected. I have met incredible people (one of which is myself) and I have tapped into a drive I've never experienced before.

Coaching brings together all of my passions and my strengths.  It allows me to be the most authentic I've ever been professionally and for the first time in my life, I truly know what I should be doing.  

March 2013

March 2013

So here I am, a year after making the jump from my predictable life in Buffalo, working to build a personal business (yesandcoaching.com) that I LOVE.  I continue to take classes at iO and have begun a few at Second City.  I am challenged at every level of my life.  I'm conscious of my health, my business, my financial stability and most importantly my happiness. I have learned to make bolder choices and I appreciate pushing that part of myself to grow.  My sense of humor and quick wit has always been a part of my personality and now it's a part of my person. 

Now I realize that a lot of you are reading this thinking, "that's great for her but I could never do that because of XY and Z," and I get that.  I completely understand that we're all operating with the limitations that we perceive today, but I took the time to write this ridiculously long blog post to remind you that your life does have a purpose.  Please don't give up looking for the job that will make you feel worthwhile and appreciated.  It may be a small idea of wanting to do something like study improv that opens you up to a part of yourself that you didn't know existed.  

Take a few seconds to think about how you support the concept of saying YES, AND in your own life.  When an opportunity presents itself to you and it feels like the right thing to do, do you say YES, AND see where it goes or do you talk yourself out of it? Do you assume that goal is too lofty or will just lead to disappointment?  Are you afraid to even try because it will upset the predicable life you've built? 

If you said yes to any of this and you're ready to start learning more, let's talk.