I was 25 years old when I packed up very few material belongings into a Ford Escape and rode the wheels of freedom almost 3,000 miles west. I had no job or home to live in lined up, and I did not give a flying f*** if I ended up living in an absolute dump because California sunshine until the end of time was the only thing on my mind. It certainly was not a walk in the park and I nearly got killed by a bear in the mountains after dark, but I have come a long way and learned timeless lessons that I carry within myself every single day.

1. Live every day like it is your last.

No more lying awake on Pinterest and Instagram to fuel my imagination with travel photos that keep my curious heart eager to experience as much as I can. I am living in California where the sky routinely morphs into lavender purple and the serenity of the ocean waves can carry me away; I am going to embrace every single f**king day.

2. Home is a feeling.

Presently, I perceive home to be the aromatic salty smell of the ocean air and coming home with sand in every crevice of my body. I am no longer Calfornia dreamin’.

3. I am not the center of the Universe.

Living in California, the state whose population is currently at 38.8 million, sheds a light on how many individuals co-exist in this world. I am a speck of dust in this smog-filled city.

4. F**k fear. Change is growth.

I am one glorious and markedly outrageous hot fucking mess. California has provided me with long summer days of deep conversations under the midnight sun. The multiple experiences that pop up out of the blue have led towards me needing to step outside of my comfort zone and embracing both wild and serene nights on the town.

5. Vulnerability can be powerful.

Own your shit and haul out all of the issues that put a damper in between you living out the life of your dreams. Being around so many inspirational, successful, and highly prestigious individuals living and visiting California led me to acknowledge that I certainly have a choice to create that freedom and a similar lifestyle for myself. So, I ditched the 9-5pm and took on the freelancing life; and here I am, happy, and dedicated to my craft today.

6. Quit complaining.

Quit grumbling about how life is not presented to you on a silver platter. Living in California keeps you on your feet. Get your hands dirty and hop off of the pity train.

7. Stop trying to be constantly happy.

I have had it with the maddening bulldoze toward some fairytale notion that happiness is the be all and end all. I am alive within the highs and the lows whether I am surrounded by friends or foes. And trust me, you will stumble upon bimbos and foes everywhere you go under the Cali sun, but they are all just out seeking to have some damn fun.

8. Love yourself.

Self-love is a demanding, endless journey. Shit happens to everyone and an individual’s character is developed through years of difficulties and trials. Living in California is all butterflies and “Cali highs”; real personal growth is hard. Are tough times going to build or tear down your character? It’s up to you, cupcake. (vegan, gluten free, cannabis, we’ve got it.)