When You Just Need A Giant Reset Button…Searching For Home & Starting Over.

July 21, 2015

Charleston South Carolina Pineapple Fountain

The famous fountain in Charleston, SC.  The pineapple is a symbol for hospitality, what I have been searching for on a 2.5 week trip…friendly, hospitable and warm.

I have been on the road most of June and July.  After a difficult season last fall & starting over on my own in early winter, plus a layoff in spring, I just wanted to get away this summer.  I have felt lost at sea for some time, I couldn’t focus.   I needed to get my head in the game to keep blogging, relaunching my social media consulting & management business, CakeMix Media– but beyond putting down a whopping $1800 deposit for a designer, I felt I hadn’t been able to muster much focus.

Chicago has been feeling less and less like home.  After my breakup in late summer/early fall of last year, I also lost most of my local friends from that relationship (Don’t get me wrong, I still have awesome folks in the windy city, but I will tell you with the fallout as it was, felt like a punch to the gut).  Being a workaholic during the first year I had moved to Chicago, and being on a tight budget, beyond going to races every other weekend, I didn’t really get out to socialize.  Many of my friends were online, or hours away.  Paying off student loans, saving up for a wedding, attempting to get an emergency fund together, and pay for pug care for an ailing rescue (RIP Ralph, you were worth every penny) wasn’t cheap. I worked non-stop for my first year and a half in Chicago, but it felt good to be able to save and be able to get my finances in order.

In the first six months in Chicago, I’d commute about 2-3 hours a day roundtrip, then get home to edit photos or work on the blog, taking whatever gigs I could to make those dreams a reality.  I was saving for the wedding, working non-stop (happily though), and doing lots and lots of half marathons with my then-boyfriend.  When we called off the wedding, most of my friends were his, and many didn’t even know how to consolidate, so I either was written off entirely, or was someone’s “secret friend,” who was on good terms but wasn’t really invited out to group events.  We’d hang out, but it was never public knowledge.  It was nice to have, but it also stung.

After I started over, my workload went from overdrive to stalling rather quickly.  Everything that had given me stability in Chicago- my relationships, my job, my hobbies, my schedule, all had evaporated within a matter of a few weeks.  (Though admittedly, some of these aspects didn’t simply evaporate, they went out with a very loud, painful punch).

I thought that these changes would happen in a vacuum, that the feelings with them could be contained, but they never do.  Things, especially emotional things, have a tendency to spill over into all areas of your life.  I kept things afloat, but I wasn’t thriving.  I set up a beautiful new little apartment, worked on getting Matilda, my rescue pug rehabilitated and people/dog friendly, and worked on trying to find normalcy… then I had to wonder…”now what?”

This year, Chicago was still cold in June (I was wearing a jacket during my trip to Milwaukee a few weeks ago…how?), I got 3 parking tickets in the course of a week (Chicago is out of money and they are aggressive with meters & trying to find people parked illegally as I was for a whopping 5 minutes..they were like scary little vultures when the snow thawed).

Through all of this, I started seeing someone and found a really good fit.  While I wasn’t even remotely ready to discover this connection, it happened and we’ve been forging forward.  My partner and I have been ready for a change.  After a nuclear fallout with some of our mutual friends, we were both exhausted and emotionally done.  It was time for some warm weather, explorations and a chance to start over.

So, that’s why I’ve been on the road. I just needed to get out for awhile.  I needed to get my spark back.  I am longing for a community. I’m longing for roots. Badly.  Life, as much as it seems flipping through my instagrams, isn’t a giant vacation…though I am very, very lucky to be able to explore like this- honestly- I’m just looking for home.

Charleston North Carolina Mansion- My future home

While looking for home, we considered Charleston.  For now, this will be a dream home…nay, mansion.  Look how the plants grow along the step fronts…I was overwhelmed with southern charm here!

To add to these feelings, this spring, I also buried a long term friend and mentor who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and gone within a few short months.  This was the second time I lost someone I loved, very quickly, to cancer.  To say that I was painfully reminded yet again, of our frail mortality, would be an understatement.

I also got the news that 3 of my friends were going through divorces or separations.  I panicked.  The walls were closing in.  It became abundantly clear that life doesn’t always go the way we planned, so we have to consistently reassess and forge our own happiness.  Life is full of curve balls, since I got thrown a tough one, had I really looked at what would make me happy as I started over?  Did I know what would really make this precious time count? I didn’t know.

The time I thought I had in my 20’s seemed to be greatly shortened when I came up on 29.  Additionally, with my friends going through a tough time, I started to realize that what I had pursued before may not be what I needed now.  What I need now, is to be emotionally and personally available for people I love when they are going through a rough time. I had to wonder if, in Chicago, was I really around as much as I could have been? Savannah Masonic Lodge

The Masonic Hall in Savannah..isn’t it stunning?

Life is too short to feel you live in a city that hates you, with (certain) people who hate you, without feeling you have someone to call up and grab a beer when you just need a hug and a good word in person.  I was done feeling alone.  I had to get out, even for a few weeks.

I admit it. I need holidays with loved ones.  I need little kids birthday parties.  I need book clubs and running groups.  I need a little space to have a few dogs and I need to know the names of my neighbors before it’s awkward to ask.  I need to start a business where I feel I can confidently network.  I need to nest and I need roots.  I miss my dad, and he’s jokingly said he’d come and stay in any city but Chicago (don’t ask me what his gripe is, I simply don’t get it).  I have felt like I’ve been on an island, an island that was my past life.  I have tried, but I think Chicago and I may be done.  To me, it’s become a city of ghosts…the chalkboard can’t really be wiped clean.

So, my partner and I decided to go on a trip.  (Yes, though I haven’t mentioned it before, I’m seeing someone new…I kept it very quiet, but that time has now passed.)  He’d quit his job out of necessity but wasn’t sure where to look next and was doing some serious life evaluations of his own.   He and I have been on the same page about our needs for community, and being sure our limited time on this planet is spent pursuing what matters.  As he’s passed 30, and I’m getting closer- we realized our idea of what the “good life,” has changed.   After a dizzying few weeks in our personal lives, we’re going to take a step forward, realizing whoever wants to come along for the new chapter, will, and those who don’t, won’t.  Life never goes the way we planned, our relationship is a testament to that- so take the hand you’re dealt, and do your best to find your bliss.

So, what would bliss look like in the next chapter?  Nobody ever gives you a roadmap to find what will fulfill you in your 30’s.  There also comes that time where you realize that family, money, kids, work, passions and your health have all started to shift.  Will you be able to cultivate what you need to balance it all in the next decade?  We had no idea, but wanted to find out.   So, we put some cities on the map- Charleston, South Carolina.  Savannah, Georgia.  Austin, TX. New Orleans, Louisiana…all cities that enticed us for different reasons to visit or possibly make a life.   We also wanted to explore Hawaii, but alas, we have rerouted our plans for the time being.  As appealing as it’d be to live on a tropical island, after the last few weeks we’ve had, if we needed family ties- going out on an island is the literally the exact opposite.

Forsynth Park Savannah Georgia

So, here we are.  I have been very guarded about my new status, but it’s refreshing to be open again.  One of my favorite spots in Savannah- Forsyth Park

I loved the southern charm of Savannah, but I didn’t feel totally safe with the crime rate there,  as I like to walk my dog at night..and while I want to live there someday, I’m not sure if that day is now.  I also admire the southern colonial charm of Charleston and the preppy style of the ladies there, but I wasn’t sure it’d be a cultural fit.  We’ve spent some time in Austin, and I feel like I’m finally getting my spark back.  After 3 weeks of staring at a blinking cursor, I was able to edit CakeMix to get my services updated and feel confident that I’ll land a client when the relaunch is complete and I have a new logo/website.

We’re also now off to explore New Orleans for my birthday, which I’m pretty excited about- then back to Chicago and off again to Columbus, Ohio.  I’m excited and nervous for the next chapter.  I’m desperate to find a new normal. I’m ready for roots and for a place to really feel like home- for a fresh start.

When I moved back to Chicago for love, I look back at that time and I felt I was renting a space in someone else’s life.   As I approach the wonderful age of 29 this week, I’m being very real about what I need and what I don’t.  Now, after calling an engagement off, through that pain, and the tumult of finding a new love months later, I started to very quickly realize and understand my needs.  I simply cannot be anything I’m not anymore, and that’s freeing.

When I was 20, I wanted to prove how independent I was- I liked people but I didn’t want that need to be a liability.  At 29, I need people. I need family. I need holidays and time spent together.  Last year, I decided not to fly home for Thanksgiving. I hadn’t really “needed” it before, but I did that year but still didn’t fly home. I made it a vow, after a really depressing day spent alone, that this will be the last Thanksgiving I spend by myself.  I don’t care if I have to invite a bunch of random strangers, we will break bread together.  People are important.  Togetherness is important. Nobody is a god damned island.  I’m not anymore.


I still have a need to explore, there is so much I haven’t seen- but I need a home base that makes my heart smile.  I need home to feel like home.


It’s been really scary writing this post.  Really, really scary.  Letting everyone know I’m in a relationship again, that I’m thinking of moving.  That my life is undergoing some serious overhauls.  That I’m scared but excited to launch my own business. To admit this wasn’t a vacation, but a soul-searching endeavor with many long, hard talks and deep conversations over southern style drinks on humid nights.

It was a hard post to write, but I’m done grieving.  I’ve buried 8 people I was really close to in less than 8 years.  My needs have changed.  I am far from perfect, and I know I’ve made mistakes.  I’ve been hurt and done some hurt unto others.  I own all of it, but the time to grieve has run it’s course.  I’m not hiding anymore, and I’m not going to quietly go about my business for the sake of appearances.  I have a life to live, and in my own way, with whomever is along for this ride, I shall do exactly that.


More pictures to come from this gorgeous trip….but until then, I’ll be in New Orleans celebrating a 29th birthday if you need me. 🙂 






50 comments so far.

50 responses to “When You Just Need A Giant Reset Button…Searching For Home & Starting Over.”

  1. I am SO happy for you. You deserve this! PA has not as brutal winters as Chicago, and a gorgeous fall… just saying 😉 Really though, I love the South and think that is a wonderful place to call home. I’m thinking about ya and wishing you well! xoxo

  2. Andrea says:

    This is so inspiring. I spent quite a few years (early 20’s) just floating through life, not really being happy. These past few years (mid 20’s), especially this year, I haven’t let anything hold me back and have been doing things that scare me and are out of my comfort zone. It’s so important to do things that better yourself, and make you happy, regardless of what those around you may think. What is important is how YOU feel. Wishing you all the best!

    • Shannyn says:

      You as well! I’m glad I’m not alone in getting real about what I’ve needed this year. I totally agree with your last few sentences!

  3. Have a wonderful time celebrating your birthday! And love is something that should be celebrated and congratulated!! I’m so so happy and excited for you! <3

  4. Natasha says:

    Good for you, Shannyn! I’m so impressed by your strength and bravery to pick everything up and start over because you know it’s what would be best for you.

  5. Simone says:

    This is such a beautiful and courageous post, Shannon. Thank you for sharing it!

    I can relate to so much of this. Toronto is my city of ghosts. It’s a great city but after breaking up with my long term partner, being there felt stagnant. I ended up moving back to the West Coast in search of “home.”

    Best of luck with your journey!

    PS. You guys are adorable!!

    • Shannyn says:

      Thank you for your comment (and compliment)! I’m betting it’s something that happens for a lot of people, especially after a breakup. Some places just have too many memories and you need to start over.

  6. Katie says:

    I’ve been reading numerous blogs for YEARS, and this is the first time I have ever commented on a blog post. I am a few years older than you, I have children, and I live in my hometown (so…close to friends and family). But – your post spoke to me because I feel like I am in a rut, that I need a reset button. Mostly with my career, but also with my relationship. I, too, feel like my priorities have shifted and that life is too short to be thinking about the things I want to change, rather than going out and changing them.

    So, thank you for writing this post. I was nodding along at pretty much everything you were writing. It’s nice to know that I am not the only one feeling and thinking this way 🙂

    • Shannyn says:

      Oh, thank you so much for commenting! That means a lot to me. I know it can feel like you’re alone, but guaranteed, there’s someone else going through something similar. We all go through these moments in life- having a wakeup call later is better than never.

  7. Monica says:

    You’re so right – life is too short to be living it in a place where you’re not happy and where you don’t feel at home. It sounds like you have an exciting journey ahead of you 🙂

  8. Katie says:

    Hi Shannyn, I found your blog as I started wedding planning and slightly freaking out about the costs of it all. Soon after I found your blog, your plans changed but I continued reading for your thoughtful writing and helpful advice. We seem to be at a similar in a lot of ways. Your post today was eloquent and I hope you find the place to hit the reset! Enjoy New Orleans and if you’d like any recommendations for spots outside the main tourist areas, feel free to email (I just followed you on instagram too). My fiancee is from the city and we visit 5-6 times a year (just left last night). I really admire the strong roots he has there and how close his family and friend circle is. There are some very special traditions and of course recent past about the city that makes it seem so different to me, and the residents very proud of it, than many other US cities- hard to put into words! It has stood out to me over the years and as you mentioned community, I wanted to add that. Anyway, it was very enticing to consider moving there after the Boston winter- the heat and humidity right now is tough! Have fun!

    • Shannyn says:

      Thank you so much for the comment and for your insight into New Orleans. I’ll have to see how I feel about it after, and I’ll definitely reach out if I have any questions! It is quite the city- I visited last year as well.

  9. Janine says:

    I think this update is wonderful and I’m so happy you are searching for home! My hubby and I have spent a lot of time apart this past year due to his work in arizona. It has been hard but my god it made me realize that home is not a place, home is people. I feel at home when I’m around my family and friends. I hope you find your “home” wherever it may be! Happy Birthday!

    • Shannyn says:

      Thank you! “Home is not a place, home is people.” Perfect way to put it. I think most of us are at our happiest when we’re surrounded by loved ones.

  10. Gee says:

    Hi Shannyn,

    This is my first time commenting on your blog but I felt like I had to because this post really got to me (I’m not going to lie, I teared up a bit! A bit of a strange reaction… 😉 ).

    It was so open and sad and inspiring. I just get exactly how you were feeling. It was like you were speaking to me personally! I’m in a bit of a similar situation to you at the moment with regards to dealing with a break up from a long term relationship and just feeling lost and lonely with life in general. I’m trying to improve things but man it is hard!

    Your story gives me hope though and I’m really happy for you and wish you luck with finding your new home 🙂 xx

    • Shannyn says:

      Aw, thank you for commenting! It’s completely okay to feel lost and confused. I know I did in the aftermath. But life goes on, and we have to pick ourselves up after we’re done grieving. Just try and surround yourself with a good support system and do what you need to do to make yourself happy- don’t live for others.

      Wishing you all the best as well, and I’m glad my words made you feel less alone.

  11. Suzanne says:

    Wow!! You must feel great getting all this off your chest! If you don’t, you should! It was raw honesty and very moving. It’s takes balls to start again and to move also?? Go you!!! Enjoy yourself on holidays, just look to the future now. I really hope you find what you’re looking for, you’re being very brave 🙂 x

    • Shannyn says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Suzanne. I’m floored by all the support! It certainly helps make the journey a bit easier.

  12. So much love out to you after reading this post, Shannyn! I’m happy you’re not giving up and are continuing to pursue your dreams and passions. Life IS way too short. I learned that after my father was quickly diagnosed and then passed away shortly after from cancer as well just this past Winter and Spring.

    I hope you have a wonderful birthday in New Orleans! And I cannot wait to hopefully meet up with you in the near future when you might call Austin your new home.

  13. So much love out to you for this article, Shannyn! Life is WAY too short, and I’m so happy you’ve continued to follow your dreams and passions rather than giving up and closing the door on life. I’m happy to see you happy with a new partner as well!

    Hope you have an incredible birthday in New Orleans! I have been there once, it’s a fun city. And hopefully we can meet up in the near future if you decide to make Austin your new home.

  14. Heather says:

    havw fun in my hometown! New Orleans is super fun but HOT as heck! It would be perfect if we had seasons. Well that and if the crime rate was lower ha.. Good luck in your new ventures!

    • Shannyn says:

      Thanks! Yes, New Orleans is definitely hot and sticky- I was here last year in September and it was so humid. The culture makes up for it, though!

  15. As hard as I know this must be for you, it’s also so exciting. You’re moving forward and that’s thrilling. I hope you discover something more wonderful than you’d ever imagined. Happy 29th, mine is in two weeks – I have a feeling it’s gonna a be a good year all around 🙂

  16. Michelle says:

    Loved reading this post Shannyn. Like others have said, you are so very brave! This post is extremely deep and I’m sure it was hard to right. I’m excited to see where you choose. We are still on that mission as well!

    • Shannyn says:

      Thanks, Michelle! Having support from so many people is overwhelming in a good way. Finding a forever place is hard!

  17. Katy says:

    Hi Shannyn,
    I found this cathartic for me to read. I find that lessons come to us when we need them most and we just have to stop and listen to our hearts. It sounds like you’re listening and absorbing and deciding what’s really important to you which is a huge blessing. You’re right, as we get older, we see how life unfolds realistically and we take inventory of what we actually want and who we want to be. I’m happy for you that you’re at this point after much turmoil and struggle. I wish you love, joy, peace, and heart warming happiness on your adventures. You’re a brave woman and you’ve GOT THIS. Much love!

  18. CatAlford says:

    I’m thrilled for you. You look gorgeous and happy. It’s all anyone needs in life. So happy you found love again and that you’re on this adventure. I think you’d love Austin. It’s totally the place for young entrepreneurs. I’d love to live there myself.

  19. Mary Stechmann says:

    If you do ever consider Hawaii as a place you would like to visit, we have a house in Kealakekua Bay on the Big Island that is available for a couple more years, until we retire there. Life is an adventure, Shannon; follow your own map and do it on your own terms!

  20. I love this post! For some people, a change of scenery is what they need to start fresh, to shake off the cobwebs from their old life. I hope you find a city that you love and that loves you back. You deserve it! Can’t wait to hear more at FinCon.

  21. Farrah says:

    I’m new to your blog, but I just wanted to say that I loved your post, and I admire you for being so open about everything that’s happened! I’m sorry to hear that you went through a really rough patch, but am really happy to hear that things are getting better! I can definitely relate in terms of trying to find “home.” For me, California has always been home, but some of the places I’ve loved the most are filled with somewhat painful memories, and I’ve been traveling all over the country over the past couple years (yay for school and piling student loans!). I’m hoping I’ll one day figure out where it is that I really should be!

    Wishing you the best of luck on your journey, and a very happy birthday to you!! <3

  22. Congratulations on your new business and your new man!!! I’m so happy for you. I quit my career as a lawyer this year and took a 50% pay cut, so I know all about big life changes. It’s so tough, but somehow life ends up better once you get passed it. I hope your trip helped this summer and things get back to better-than-normal for you!

    • Shannyn says:

      Thanks Natalie, congratulations to you on making the switch! You’re right- it is tough, but we come out better for it in the end.

  23. Athena says:

    I was in the same exact place you are in two and a half years ago. I has broken up with my then fiancée and moved out and felt my life was in pieces and I couldn’t get settled. I had moved there for him and it just didn’t seem like home, plus Vegas is pretty transient.

    I moved with my new bf to Phoenix and although we didn’t work out, I am so happy and proud I did it. It give me a fresh new start and a chance to figure out what I really wanted in my life. And now I’ll be 30 in a month and I’m actually excited about where I’ll be. Good luck!

    • Shannyn says:

      I’m so glad to hear everything worked out for you in the end! “…felt like my life was in pieces and I couldn’t get settled”- that’s a good way of putting it. Fresh starts can really help put things into perspective.

  24. Mary says:

    Thank you so, so much for sharing. I feel like I’m reading about my life. I’m also about to make the move from Chicago, and I’m the same age. I came here for the same exact reasons. I’m fortunate enough to have the flexibility to work from home, and this post to me is a sign that I need to start my journey. My life and identity in Chicago was soley based on my job and boyfriend. Now that I’ve moved on from both, I’ve felt lost for so long. I never comment, but THANK YOU for being so open and honest. It’s helped more than you know!

    • Shannyn says:

      Thank you so much for commenting! I know how tough it is, but starting your own journey is the best thing you can do. You’ll feel a little less lost each day. Best of luck to you!

  25. Ashley says:

    Your strength and raw honesty is so inspiring. Know that as hard as the last years have been you continue to inspire others and brighten lives (example: me). Have an amazing birthday in NOLA. TFJ 🙂

  26. Megan says:

    I’ve just discovered your blog and am in love with it! As I sit here at my desk (yes I should be working but I can’t stop reading) I was born and raised in South Carolina and am now living in Virginia and let me tell you that southern hospitality and the warmth that you felt in Savannah and Charleston is the best welcoming present ever. I instantly feel like I’ve known you for years because your so relateable and open about the need to have a comfort zone and that it’s okay to let yourself be vulnerable in certain situations. Continue your journey with success!


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