I gave up everything I love to find love

Why you might want to consider it, too. 

For the better part of 30 years I spent my love-life alone. You know this, so I won’t dwell. What you probably don’t know, is that while I was unsuccessful at creating romance, I was wildly successful at creating a life that I loved. And I mean L-O-V-E-D. Aside from being single for the most part, there wasn’t a thing I didn’t love about my life in Los Angeles. My career, my apartment which I took residence in for 10 years, my friends, my shopping, my restaurants, my nail salon, my grocery store and yes, even the smell of the smog on an early morning drive. I LOVED LA. I took ownership of LA and no one could say a bad thing about it to persuade me to doubt it or ever leave. Every part of the life I created was by design. I lived, worked and went to school within a 2 mile radius, quite literally creating an idyllic bubble for myself. I listened to Ryan Seacrest every morning for a decade, made friends with the grocers at my neighborhood Ralph’s and found refuge in my Truman Show-esque neighborhood. I loved the life I created. After all, if I was going to bunker down as a spinster for the rest of my life, it might as well be the way I liked it. 

My Pinterest-perfect life didn’t stop at home, I built a career that even I am envious of, today. Before I was 26, I was shooting commercials with mega celebrities like Heidi Klum, John Legend, Jenny McCarthy and a bazillion others who's names you know. I was flying to Hawaii for shoots, and documenting my life from one red carpet to the next. I had more opportunities, and more experience than most young adults my age. Not to mention I appeared on over four network television shows before turning 30. I was constantly learning and absorbing creativity and innovation from the minute I woke up, until the last few minutes I looked my phone every day. I was addicted to my job, and the endless competition to “win the brief” and win praise. I was proud – probably too proud –  but it felt good. I was a twenty-something living in LA and succeeding at life. There was so much fun to be had, I took for granted the beach days, the pool days and the sunday-fundays. I lived alone, which meant I could do whatever I wanted as late in the day as I wanted without anyone’s opinion of it. I grocery shopped for myself and lived on my own schedule. I owed explanations to no one. I went to indie films by myself and worked from different cafe’s every weekend. I could be selfish. I was selfish. I was a strong, independent woman…. with a huge gaping hole in my heart. 

For as much as I loved the life I had designed, I was doing it alone. Watching TV on my couch alone, driving, sleeping, eating, thinking, laughing, running, cooking, crying, and boozing… alone. 

Yes, I had a gazillion friends – amazing, wouldn’t trade for the world, creative, aspirational friends – and always had an invitation to someone’s party somewhere. But life was lonely, and I was becoming complacent in the alone-ness of being a 30-year-old, single, #girlboss. I began rationalizing to myself the possibility of being alone forever, when what I truly wanted was connection. Try as I might, the abundance of acquaintances and busy calendar couldn't be disguised for what I've always wanted – love. (For the record, there’s nothing wrong with being a single, strong independent women. If that’s you, you and you are loving it… you go girl!)

In August 2016 I founded SheLift. What was originally intended to be a side project with one ski retreat, took a life of it’s own and exploded over night. When people ask why I decided to start SheLift, my general response has been; “I didn’t, SheLift started me.” Just like a cute, orphaned puppy looking for someone to love it and accept it, SheLift found me. Whether I was ready for the responsibility of having a puppy or not – it had already chosen me to be it’s mom. My heart swelled with the idea of mothering this potential baby. Within three weeks of announcing SheLift to the world, it became evident that this was the direction life was zagging. I had a been given an invaluable opportunity to create connection for girls in need – a reflection of my own need – but it was going to come at a price. Everything I owned to be exact; my possessions, my independence and the perfectly tailored safety blanket I had knit oh-so-carefully over 10 years.

One year after starting SheLift, everything had changed. Piece by piece, I started giving up everything I loved in the pursuit of nurturing SheLift and the happiness it brought me. I traded my comforts, my luxuries, and my take-for-granteds for the complete unknown. I moved home, where I now live in a 10x10 bedroom in my parent’s basement. All of my belongings are boxed away in storage and I have zero personal space. Instead of shopping for cheese boards and wine glasses to “adult” my apartment with, I’m putting my dishes away in my parent’s dishwasher and trying my best not to impose. I left sunny, aspirational LA for Evergreen, the small, mountain town I grew up in. I’m a 30 minute drive from any social interaction with friends, and any semblance of culture or trend-setting influence has been reduced to vicariously living through Instagram. But in all this sacrifice I have found the deepest, fullest love I could have ever imagined. I’ve found purpose and romance and unabashed laughter. I’ve found gratitude, connection, greater sense of self and appreciation for “things.” I’ve deepened my relationship with my parents and humbly relinquished my independence for their support.  I am dirty, and broke, and far from “hip” anymore, but I feel love and I feel excited. 

I loved my life before SheLift, and I love my life now. The irony is that I'm probably more "alone" than ever, but I feel more deeply connected to self, to others and to my quest for love, today. If I had never taken the risk of giving up everything I love to find a better love, I wouldn’t know it existed. As an admittedly impatient yet inventive millennial myself, I can say that despite all the help from apps and platforms in the world, we can’t hashtag, filter or swipe our way to designing love and happiness. Connection requires risk taking, listening to our instinct and leaning into the uncomfortable unknown. If you are seeking more-ness in life, 1.) It’s OK to admit that you are longing for more. 2.) Listen for cues - the universe is always speaking to us. 3.) Don’t settle. I feel that we get so caught up in designing the perfect life, and wearing the badge that we forget to audit what truly makes us feel full. And truthfully my friends, it's doesn't come with anyone else's impression of your life but your own.

Trust me.   

Photo by Megan Ambrose