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7 Years in Chicago

Every time August 1 comes around, I can’t help but think about how much things have changed since I made the move from Los Angeles to Chicago. This isn’t the first time I’ve written a post like this one–I do it every single year, because I love looking back every single year. They’re also a reminder that in the uncertainty of your 20s and 30s, things can and will change for the better.

It has been an anything but perfect seven years but no matter how hard things got, I never regretted moving to Chicago. Did I question the move and wonder how I ended up year? All the time, especially during winter. But I also completely changed my career, made the most wonderful new friends, and met the man I’m going to marry.

Seven years and five Chicago neighborhoods later, I’ve made it through several blizzards, break-ups, 2 tragic losses, knee surgery, and more ups and downs than I can count. But it’s been good. Really good. Even amidst the bad. Because I’ve said this time and time again, but there’s always a silver lining somewhere. Sometimes, it just takes a while to find it.

I can’t believe it’s been s e v e n years! Here are some favorite memories.

2011

My first Chicago apartment where I hosted my first Christmas party (and met my cofounder at said party!), made it through my first blizzard, worked until 3AM every night launching The Everygirl, and shot my first home tour.

I never want to forget those first few months when I’d look over at Buddy then out the window, wondering how I ended up here. It was confusing and sometimes lonely but so exciting.

Rue-Stoffer Photography 0078
photo by Stoffer Photography Interiors

2012

Launching The Everygirl, being named by Forbes as a top 100 website for women, so much CrossFit, and moving to my second Chicago apartment. I also went to the hospital alone for knee surgery (felt like a bold, defining moment at the time).

I never want to forget hopping in a cab with a bottle of wine and heading to Alaina’s Southport apartment so we could celebrate the launch of our site at midnight.

2013

My first trip to Europe (London, Paris, and Rome) with Alaina, relaunching The Everygirl, and my first Christmas single/on my own in almost a decade. This is also the year I almost lost Buddy to an autoimmune disorder, but he miraculously pulled through.

I never want to forget seeing Paris for the first time. I remember tearing up a little as we drove over the Seine on our way to our Aibnb. And this is random, but I vividly remember filling out Christmas cards (with Buddy dressed as Santa) with Buddy just a few weeks after he came home from the hospital and feeling so grateful.

2014

That time Alaina and I moved in together, our press trip to Napa and Sonoma, and my first time in the pacific northwest.

I never want to forget my biggest and best Christmas party and summer nights on our patio.


photo by Stoffer Photography Interiors

2015

I moved. Twice. Then I relaunched my blog, met Conor on Tinder, there was The Everygirl’s sofa collaboration with Interior Define, and we hired our first full-time employee.

I never want to forget (sorry if this is cheesy) walking outside my front door and seeing Conor standing there to pick me up for our first date.

2016

The Everygirl got an office in the West Loop, Conor and I moved in together, and I traveled to Argentina, Iceland, Italy, France, NYC, a road trip through CA, and finally, Denmark.

I never want to forget sleeping in a yurt in Big Sur, sitting in our favorite coffee shop in Buenos Aires, the horses in Iceland, and spending the holidays with Conor and his family for the second time. I had only known everyone half a year in 2015 but this year, really knew them and felt like part of the family.

Scroll up in case you need a reminder of how I spent Christmas in 2013.


photo by Stoffer Photography Interiors

2017

I got engaged, traveled to Portugal, and saw Bon Iver in Minneapolis (musical life dream fulfilled), and in just a few months, I’m going to marry this guy.


Photo by Emilia Jane

In most ways, it makes sense that I’ve been here for 7 years, but it’s also crazy to think about the fact that I (kind of) moved here in a whim. My car lease was up, I didn’t need a car (wasn’t in the budget on top of having an apartment) and Chicago seemed like a great city. Nashville was at the top of the list until a 3 day trip to Chicago. There was something about this city.

Have you moved to a new city on your own or done something big that you were afraid to do? I’d love to hear your story in the comments below! 

  • Jessica

    I loved reading this, Danielle, especially the “I never want to forget…” memories. I also moved to a new city 8 years ago (next week makes it official) to start a PhD program and essentially restart my life after spending much of my 20’s feeling professionally aimless and like a personal failure after a bad relationship ended in a divorce. I can really relate to the same highs and lows of getting to know a new place, new people, and (cheesy, I know) a new version of myself. I’ve also been both grateful and proud that I made that choice, even if it scared me a bit at the time. I’m now in another one of those awkward transitional phases of life, and it’s been a reminder to me that none of us are ever really done changing and that growth rarely comes easily or painlessly. I sometimes feel like I’ve come to the end of one phase of my life that started with my move and graduate school, and I’m now figuring out what I want the next one to be. It’s still scary and overwhelming at times, but it also helps to know you’ve done it before. This, I’ve decided, is what being an adult is really about–not figuring it all out and knowing the answers, but knowing that you’re going to be okay anyway. Whether or not I stay here forever, my current city will always be the place where I feel like I became a grown-up (or at least an approximation of one, ha!). Happy moving anniversary!

    • Happy 8 years! Divorce is NOT you failing if you tried and learned from it. Period. It’s never easy. Life is MUCH happier but there’s so much I struggle with, so while our struggles are different, I feel for you. I hope things start to feel like they’re coming together again. You’ve got this.

  • An amazing few years!!

  • speedychick

    I moved to lots of new cities (one every year for 5 years) until I moved to Washington DC and met and fell in love with my husband. 15 years ago. It’s been home every since!

    • Wow! So many moves! Glad you found home and someone to share it with. Congrats on 15 years!

  • Gaby Belli

    I went to Chicago last year and I was surprised how beautyful it’s, and I can relate how you felt it like home 🙂 Happy aniversary!!

  • Such a beautiful post Danielle. I too love collecting memories and hope to keep collecting even more every year. Congrats on our move-anniversary!
    http://www.forthewonderer.com

  • What a wonderful post! As I mentioned on Twitter, I needed this little kick!

    Great memories and this year will give you even better memories!

    • Hope the same for you and am happy to hear this post helped (but sorry you’re struggling right now).

  • Aw! such a sweet post! I need to visit Chicago!

  • Loved reading this (yay for CrossFit! hah!) – I felt the same way my first time in Paris. It’s totally everything it’s made out to be.

    Christina | http://www.cuddlepill.com

    • Thanks Christina! I miss CF. had to give it up because my back can’t handle lifting.

  • Brandi Watkins

    This post is so inspiring! I’m in the process of making a big life change, and I love reading stories about other people doing the same. Excited for what comes next!

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