Faith,  Life Updates,  Travel

Why I Left LA and Moved to Austin

My first CD that I ever had was a Britney Spears-NSYNC mix that I got in a Happy Meal at McDonald’s. (Can you believe they were actually giving CDs in Happy Meals??) I was maybe 5 or 6 at the time, and I got it during a family road trip up to Portland. I was absolutely ecstatic as I loved Britney Spears, so naturally, I asked my parents to play it- again and again and again. And at some point during that trip, it got scratched and I was gutted.

My one prized possession at that time, besides my Hello Kitty diary, had gotten damaged and now the CD not only skipped, but also would get stuck playing the same section over and over and over.

Stuck, playing the same section over and over and over: that’s how I felt for months. I felt like I was stuck in an endless loop of the same day, the same feelings, the same scattered routine that wasn’t a routine in the slightest, except for the fact that it kept happening.

 

I couldn’t figure out what was wrong, why I woke up every day feeling so hopeless and frustrated. This feeling pre-dated COVID, but quarantine without a doubt amplified the internal battle that I was going through. Without the joy that simple things like lunch with friends, a Disneyland day with my husband, or a walk around an outdoor mall while the sunshine warmed my skin, I had nothing to distract me from the tumultuous state my headspace was in. Then finally one day after weeks of this constant state, I decided to just sit with myself and check-in on how I was doing.

I was burnt out. In every sense of the word- emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, creatively. I was running on exhaust fumes and I was choking on the smell. I needed fresh air. 

Backstory

Our apartment in LA was quite sizable, at 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. When we had been apartment scouting to find that apartment, we looked at probably 60 different apartment complexes. We had a very specific list of things we were looking for to upgrade out of our then current 2 bedroom. With both of our jobs being content creators, and working full-time from home, having this list, or at least as much of the list as possible, checked off was essential for us. We wanted an apartment with good natural lighting, light to white carpeted floors, an area that was relatively quiet, an apartment community relatively quiet (no late-night partiers hehe), pet-friendly, washer and dryer in unit, and 3 bedrooms without the price being $12,000 and your firstborn child. We had looked for WEEKS, casually at first and then progressively more determined, and after weeks of looking, we found nothing.

The day after we had resigned our search, we passed by this apartment complex we had passed numerous times, but for some reason had completely forgotten about during our apartment hunt, and we decided to pop in for a tour. It was perfect. We said yes and moved in.

Fast forward to the end of 2019, as we were winding down the year. Things we’re still good, but there was something in the air that felt a little off. If things were supposed to be a 90 degree angle, it was then a 97 degree angle; where it’s close enough and looks almost the same, but you still notice the difference. At that point, it was kind of that feeling of when you grab a bag of chips out of the pantry, and when you eat one you think, “Is this stale?” So you eat another one, and you try to really taste it, and though you do notice it is getting a little stale, you shrug and think to yourself, “Eh, it’s fine. It still tastes good enough for me,” and you keep eating the chips.

Good enough for me.

Continue fast forwarding a few months, now entering COVID, and that bag of chips kept getting more stale. It was becoming more and more noticeable how unpleasant it was to keep eating those staling chips. Stepping out of the metaphorical sense: It had become increasingly apparent how stale my life had become and how unhappy I felt in that loop. I was frustrated with my space; nothing ever seemed to have a spot and things just didn’t make sense anymore. I was so creatively exhausted, I didn’t want to make content at that point, and even if I did, I had absolutely no inspiration on what to make it about. I didn’t like how I looked anymore, from my hair to my makeup to my face to my body. I didn’t get out of the house enough. I was really unhappy. 

I felt lost, confused, angry, and just plain old sad. I had a week where I didn’t leave my couch. I had a week where I cried every single day for a majority of the day. I just didn’t know what to do or how to fix it. 

Throughout these several months, I had been praying, asking what I should do. At first it started out like the apartment hunt- somewhat casually, praying about it maybe once a week, but letting it get lost in the sea of the other more important things to pray about. As time went on, and I was feeling more drained and more frustrated with my life, I really started asking for guidance in my prayers.

 

“God, what should I do? God, please guide me. What do I do? What content should I be making? Why do I feel like this? God, please help me figure out what to do next.”

 

The prayers for guidance went from once a week to a couple times a week to every day to a couple times a day.

One day, I finally got this nudge feeling that we should move.

 

Our current apartment was no longer the perfect fit for us anymore. Our neighborhood was not as quiet as it was before- I think truck routes had changed and now semis were constantly going by our apartment, making it really difficult to film. Because of COVID, all of our neighbors were also now working from home and cooking and eating at home… Which typically isn’t a big deal, but I don’t think most of our neighbors were used to cooking because once quarantine started, we began to have the fire department coming once or twice a week. The fire alarms were constantly going off, the fire department had to climb on the roof with a chainsaw once, we never knew if we should evacuate or not… It was a doozy to say the least. In addition to all of that and so much more, we had also just outgrown our space and it was time to find a place that was a better fit for us.

So we started looking all over- LA, LA County, Orange County, up to Santa Barbara, down to San Diego, even into the Inland Empire where I grew up and never really wanted to move back to hahaha. But we figured we would look everywhere to find the perfect place to live. We still wanted to rent, but we wanted to transition from apartment living into renting a home. We liked the idea of more space, more privacy, and something a little quieter.

We looked for two months, all over Southern California, even put a couple applications in for potential places annnndddd… nothing. Nothing within our budget was a fit and everything that was a fit was out of our budget haha. At least for renting. On the side of buying, however, we did find a couple places that could have been a fit and the mortgages would have been in our budget, but we didn’t nearly have even a fraction of a down payment for anything and we were not at all ready to buy a house.

On a few occasions, my husband had brought up the idea of moving out of state to find a bigger, nicer place for less than in California, and to help us save up money, eventually towards a down payment for a home. And I always turned it down.

If you’ve been following me for a few years, you may know that we lived in Minnesota for a short time. Incredibly long story summarized: shortly after my husband and I got married in 2017, we decided we wanted to spend our first year of marriage traveling. We packed everything into storage and moved to Minnesota, in with my in-laws, to *theoretically* save the money we would usually use towards rent, and use it towards travel. That year of traveling was amazing; we went to so many places and countries and had so many once in a lifetime experiences.

An icy and very cold day in Minnesota.

When we were not traveling, we were just living in Minnesota. My in-laws are absolutely wonderful and they were the best support system I could have asked for, but it was a hard time for me. I was living far from my family for the first time, living outside of Southern California for the first time, learning how to do my job somewhere not in Los Angeles, and I didn’t have any friends my age. I was also experiencing my first ever winter; with temperatures below 20 degrees, never going out, and dealing with seasonal depression. I had grown up in Southern California all of my life, so moving to Minnesota in the middle of winter and being absolutely SO broke from the move, it all just hit me like a ton of bricks. I was underprepared, underdressed, and uncertain if this had even been the right thing to do. There was just so much I was adjusting to and more had changed in my life than I had ever experienced before, and ultimately, it was the hardest time I’ve ever gone through.

From that experience on, I had decided that I did not want to live anywhere other than my home state ever again. I was so afraid and had so much anxiety about living somewhere other than what I knew, I loved, and trusted.

Resuming back to this year, after that two months of looking for a new place to live, I was still against moving out of state. I kept praying and praying though, continuing to ask for guidance. I had a feeling that something was just around the corner, but I didn’t know how long it would be until I hit that corner. In the meantime, I gathered all my strength and tried to just focus on building myself back up. Little by little, each day, I tried to make a little progress on myself. I started making sure that each day, I did one thing that made me happy and brought me joy: reading, going for a drive, baking, coloring, sewing, learning something new, etc.

It really helped. 

I had created a new routine for myself. Pray for guidance and next steps, do one thing a day I loved doing, get some work done, do my online classes, eat clean, spend time with my husband, and continue looking for new homes as they popped up each day. It was the best routine I had ages. I was by no means even close to 100%, not even 50%, but I was no longer running on those exhaust fumes, and I was finally building back up.

Daily quarantine style.

And then one morning, it happened. 

I woke up on one Sunday morning around 8:00 AM, with a voice in my head clear as day, and it said, “You will move to Austin, Texas.” That voice was accompanied with the feeling to do this soon- as soon as possible.

 

Every fear, doubt, and anxiety that I ever had about moving out of California did not exist anymore. It wasn’t even a question or a consideration, it was just a truth. It was a fact that I knew, like the sky is blue or the sun is hot. I had never even been to Austin before, didn’t even know a single thing about it, but it just made so much sense. ‘Austin? Why yes, of course!‘ So I got out of bed, went onto my computer, and began looking at homes there.

I found a plethora of viable options and began planning all that we would need to do before we moved. Packing, telling our families, figuring out how the heck we were going to get to Texas, doctors appointments we needed to have while we were still on our California health insurance, and oodles and oodles more. For the first time in a long time, I felt like my engines were finally back, and running at full speed. 

I went to the kitchen and made myself breakfast, my mind running wild with excitement. My husband was still asleep, as he had stayed up late the night before working, so I was trying to let him sleep in as much as possible. However, my eagerness to share this absolutely amazing thing was overflowing and I needed to share. I woke him and said, “Babe, guess what? We’re going to move to Austin! I have a bunch of places to show you!’

He looked at me with sleepy eyes and a sweet smile, and replied, “Okay, let’s see them.” He knew too.

 

Our very empty LA apartment.

It’s funny- looking back especially, because nothing about that move made any sense. We knew nothing about Austin, had never visited, we had to break our lease, there were so many weird particular things that had to fall into place *juuuuust right* (that all ended up falling right into place), it would cost a lot to move, we’d be moving in the middle of coronavirus… The list goes on and on, but we both knew we had to do it. That was our next step. So we just completely let go and let God take over. And it all just… worked out. 

In addition to the move and the timeline, I also had a sense to keep the big news close to my heart. Share it with only family and close friends, and savor such a special time for ourselves. Though both my husband and I are content creators, and share so much with our audiences, we didn’t tell anyone outside that original small circle that we had moved until a week or two after we had moved in to our new home. My in-laws helped us with this huge move and I will forever be so incredibly grateful for their help, because as I mentioned previously this was not an easy move and it was truly a doozy. (If you guys are reading this, hi, I love you so much. 🙂)

Luna wondering what the heck is going on. 😂

We arrived in Austin mid-July, around 1:00 AM, with Luna yowling to be free from her cage. She had been absolutely amazing in the car during the multi-day drive. I rode in the backseat to keep her company and give her pets. We let her be loose after some time, and she just slept under the center seat flip-down cupholder. It was so sweet. She slept the entire time, never once had an accident, she never tried leaving the backseat area, and she only meowed when she was locked in the cage.

When we got there, we parked in our new garage, put Luna back in the cage, grabbed our go bags, and stumbled our way through the dark as we walked in.

 

We were home.

 

We’ve now lived here for two months and it has been amazing. I finally feel like I can breathe again. I feel re-energized, motivated, creative, and I have my love for life back. I feel me again. I feel like my husband and I are us again. I’m excited to work and make content and I have ideas, and I actually want to do them! I wake up in the morning excited for the day. I would however like to make a note, that though things have been absolutely wonderful, life is not 100% perfect, every day, all of the time; that’s just life. You take the good with the bad.

BUT, what I’d like to point out and share is that the last few months before we moved, it was 90% bad days, 5% average days, and 5% good to great days. The two months that we’ve lived here in Austin, with each week improving as we continue to make our house a home and a workspace, as well as create a proper routine for us, it has been 90% good days, 7% average days, and 3% annoying days. Life is so much sweeter, and I am so happy to be here.

I’ve never taken a leap of faith like that. We dove headfirst into unknown waters, and it has been one of the best decisions we have ever made. I have never felt more confident and happy with such a big decision. I love our life here and this, right here, is exactly what we needed.

I am so endlessly grateful for that voice. For that Sunday morning. For all of the stars lining up, even against all the odds. I’m so excited to see what splendid adventures Austin continues to bring, and to take you guys along for the ride as well.

TLDR; we moved to Austin because God told me to.

 

Thank you for reading about our incredibly special journey to finding where we’re supposed to be. This took endlessly longer than I ever expected it would to write hahaha, but I wanted to ensure that the story was told properly, in the best way possible, and that all of the pieces came together to share just right. 🙂

I think it turned out perfect.

Until next time,

jess xo

4 Comments

  • erika

    This makes me so happy that you found peace within yourself and your surroundings! I struggle with good days and bad, but doing something I love once a day really does help. I wish you nothing but the best in Austin (:

  • Lydz

    Hi, this was really encouraging! I’ve been in quite a slump myself, having just graduated university & feeling like my life is at a standstill. Thank you for reminding me that there is power in prayer and always a plan ~ praise the Lord!

  • Yssa Jannea Bansale

    Hi Jess! I’m so sad to hear that you went through that, that sadness and depression. ( I wish I could hug you) I know how it feels, believe me. But now, I’m really happy for you and wade. For this new chapter of your lives.. God is really listening to our prayers and gives what we need and want our heart wants.. ❤️❤️ Love you both! 😘😘

  • Sravya

    Wow! What a wonderful and an inspiring journey! Must have been a unimaginable struggle at the beginning but I am glad everything turned out to be just right at the end. I have also been working to build myself up lately and your experiences have truly inspired me to keep going. Hope you will continue to live your life with this new found vigour and joy 😀

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