More Cloudy Days in Chicago


You should see how many blog drafts I have.

“Maybe what you need is to leave Kansas City. Like, physically get into your car and drive away. Reset.”

Monday, January 6th, 2020 I walked out of my corporate reality, and took a running leap into the great unknown. I knew I didn’t have all the details worked out for self-employment, but I was consumed with one major thought: Time is not a renewable resource. I was doing this for the future Ariell ten years down the road.

Getting through the rest of 2019 to 2020 took everything I had, which wasn’t much. I was running on fumes, and my victory run to the finish line looked and felt more like a forced jog.

So, here I was post-Monday January 6th soaking up the residual shockwaves of an intense building year, and my body took this as it’s long-awaited opportunity to plummet into rest and recovery. Though I have been able to regularly get into the gym (thank God!), plummet, my body did. I was exhausted. Like, exhausted. After this started to subside in its intensity, internal paralysis started to move in to take its place. I was stuck not only physically anymore, but also mentally and emotionally.

A couple weeks after the brakes on my corporate life were applied and I was thickly tangled in the internal mess of the ups and downs of my leap of faith, I was having another long phone call with my mother (affectionately known as Ma). She made the suggestion to pack up from KC and make the trek up north to the Chicagoland area to get away and reset. Here I would also be surrounded by immediate and extended family, and the kind of old friends who will always and truly know me. Made sense; she was right. Why didn’t I think of that first?

This past Tuesday I packed up my CR-V (Lafawnda the Honda, according to my sister) and made the eight hour trek to the land of Bears hats, deep dish pizza, and where the passing lane is an expectation rather than a suggestion (I’m looking at you, Missouri). One of the great things about this new life of mine is I am not restricted by time. I don’t have the looming pressure and anxiety of having to be back in Kansas City by a certain time.

So far, I have seen my Ma, sister, youngest brother, and one of my best friends from high school. I had healthy and ah-mazing vegan food with my sister in a restaurant called Dancing Dog, then followed that up with a double-shot drink and mozzarella sticks in the bar she manages. I took the L for the first time, and one of the guys on the subway called me out as a newbie (I didn’t realize it was that obvious). My youngest brother called to have free day passes set aside for me at the gym he used to work at, so I gladly got my butt kicked in a barre class. My brother bought me $1 earrings in Boys Town. My friend Jesy and I talked and laughed at Goddess and the Grocer outside Wicker Park, remembering instantly why we were such good friends in junior high and high school.

At the moment, I am sitting in a coffeeshop (imagine that) in Downers Grove, Illinois’ Main Street, watching Saturday shoppers with their dogs and coffees in hand and the regular passing of the Metra trains. I have been writing, rewriting, writing, tearing up, deleting, then writing again. It is a cloudy day, which according to the chatty and Euro-stylish retail associate outside Wicker Park, is a record. Apparently, Chicago has never seen this many consecutive days of cloudy weather. Today marks day twelve.

I have known all about cloudy days lately.

As I write, light gray slowly turns darker gray as winter dusk approaches.

I don’t know how to express all I have been feeling since leaving the corporate life. I had enough. Will you allow me to be real? As most women in the workforce can personally attest, this wouldn’t have been the first work situation where I had been held back, talked over, treated like my opinion had little to no value, hushed, put in my place, ignored, and worse… repeatedly. This is tame for what I could write, and as a woman, I don’t want to give in to the pressure anymore to be quiet about mentalities like this towards the input and value of women in the workplace. The thing is it is rarely the majority of the workplace, just a few who are this way at key moments (and not even necessarily all the time!). I believe we all have a greater responsibility to do better. Let’s do better, and value women.

I left with the belief if I make the space, all the good things I had built and invested in would have the necessary room to expand and flourish.

I always want to be encouraging, but all I have to offer is this current raw struggle. This blurry cloudy place. Vague, yet very real. It has been a fight to keep fighting. I have often wondered how the heck all of this will work out, and I keep wanting to tie off all of these things I want to say in a pretty little bow. Hence, all the blog drafts. But that’s just not happening in the way I like (yes, I overthink things), so this is as good as this is going to get today.

Right now though, I am settling into the arms of people who love me, who will always be my safety net, and into the belief there will always be an end to cloudy days.