Welcoming New Chapters

I’m packing up my Chicago home for the move to West Virginia and am filled to the brim with emotion about it because this is a time in life where a new chapter is truly beginning. One I never thought I’d experience actually—leaving the Chi. I’m scared and excited, sad and elated at the same time, all in very powerful measure. I am doing my best to stop and breathe, find some peace in the swirl, soak it up (the good and the uncomfy) and experience this series of moments in all of their bittersweet flavor (feels like sucking on a lemon half the time, if I’m honest).

Funny thing is, I felt exactly like this 16 years ago, when I sold my Ford Bronco, said goodbye to my great love (who is back in my life, whew), packed up my kitties and left the east coast to move to Chicago. Waaay back then, I was ready to take on the world, aggressively going after jobs at all the top Chicago design firms, not letting anything stop me—even a bank account filled with more tumbleweeds than rent money. I was going to do something impressive with my life, I was going to win awards, have art shows, fabulous/inspiring friends and moving to the city was where I’d find it all.

Chicago & West Virginia

I have always been someone who is pretty motivated by the desire to avoid the “what ifs,” so I did everything and more that I set out to do upon my Midwestern arrival (I’ve been a fire performer, had clothing/jewelry/costumes in fashion shows, sold some paintings and I even catch myself pronouncing my “a’s” in true “Chic-eeeah-go” style sometimes). This town, and the people I have met along the way (so much love for them), have made me feel more at home than ever before in my life. A city that once was huge to me, now feels intimate. I have a treasure chest full of sparkly experiences, but I have burned myself out along the way—extreme adrenal fatigue. Bummersville.

But as I have said before, sometimes the wrong choices bring us to the right places, and I can’t help but think that many of YU are experiencing this very same “new chapter” feeling about transitioning to a plant-powerful life. You may have spent years dieting, taking medications, or you have been battling illnesses, big and small, for as long as you can remember. It’s important to recognize that you are not alone. Around here, we are all in this, at some stage, together. What may seem vast to you now—transitioning to a plant-based diet—will eventually become intimate and close to your heart. I promise YU that. Trust in the journey.

Chicago & West Virginia

Yesterday while driving around, I realized that I had at least one experience or memory (or 5) about almost every block I drove past, from Roger’s Park to Pilsen. More importantly, I noticed that I was only thinking about the memories—laughs in narrow bars, meals shared, snowball fights, loft parties, character-building-eyelash-nosehair-freezing waits for the bus, friends playing saxophone and banjo and drums at The Hideout. I wasn’t, and haven’t thought about, the “accomplishments” listed on my career resume to-date. Truth is, I haven’t thought about them for years now. It’s the spectrum of memories of this town that I cherish… all of them.

I got run over while jogging when I was 24 (maybe 25?).

Which left me with a bit of a limp. So, I somehow ended up at the office of Diane Miller for some newbie acupuncture. One of the first things she told me was that in order to heal, I had to stop drinking milk. What? Why?  This was unheard of to me at the time. The simplicity of her response is something that I will never forget, “because you are not a cow.” I sat on her antique blue couch blinking hard in silence. Stunned. That statement got my wheels turning and they haven’t stopped since. I can honestly say that Diane (and getting hit by that impatient man trying to get a coveted parking spot) was one of the major catalysts that led me to YumUniverse.

Rewind, though. In 1997, I was completely set on working for a dream design firm and winning respected awards in the design industry. I wanted to be in all of the compendiums and books that I had studied in school. If I could be in Communication ArtsPrint or the sadly-now-defunct Critique, THAT was living and that was the fire under my ass that brought me to this awesome city.

I had a very strange experience, however, when I won my first award. I didn’t feel any different. Any better. At all. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting (how was I supposed to feel?), but there was an unsettling emptiness lingering and it never went away, even after I landed my dream job a few years later. Instead of feeling fulfilled as the resume beefed up, there was a rumbling under the surface to get out. I. Was. Not. Fulfilled. Talk about a scary feeling–I didn’t want what I had built anymore. Now what?

Chicago & West Virginia

My instincts have always led me to great places, and don’t get me wrong, I loved my design chapter and the people involved. I am beyond grateful for every single experience, BUT I have no doubt that my personal journey has played out so far EXACTLY how it was supposed to. I was supposed to have the design career (and the intermediary “partytime”, fashion, dance and performance chapters) so I could discover and appreciate the fantastic and sustainable chapter that is YumUniverse.

YU were supposed to have the road that led you here, too—with all its twists and turns. Instead of focusing on the numbers on the scale as you move forward, connect with how you feel when you eat more nutrient-rich food. When you get your buns in bed by 10pm. When you hire an assistant to help you calm and organize your life (note to self). Notice how your body shape changes and the lightness and strength you begin to experience. Feel, feel, feel. This is how you will grow to love clean foods, instead of resenting them. Great recipes help as well (wink).

So, my heart should be the leader this time around, and I know it. My time and effort in life should be spent doing what I love to do, what comes naturally, and what fills me up with light and joy (versus doing what I am supposed to do according to everyone else). Sharing my creativity, helping others who need it and bringing community together is what I need to do with my life. And I know it because every cell in my body buzzes when I do these things.

Chicago & West Virginia

Old habits die so so so hard though. And as some of YU know, my main hurdle is stress management. I am a doer, and driven, but to a fault. More simplicity, free time and calm is the plan. Leaving Chicago is one of the steps I need to take until I can learn to police myself better. I need to remove myself from the myriad restaurants, events, gyms, jobs and potential projects/collaborations—Chicago you are electric! Yes, I will duck back in every few months, but the homebase needs to be the one where I can wake up and walk barefoot out to my garden every morning.

The tomboy in me is delighted about it (I have always loved running around barefoot):

Heather Crosby, Molly, Chad: Yumuniverse

Today, I can see that what I needed in my early 20s doesn’t serve me now. Those years were motivated by a need to prove all of my family naysayers wrong. That a living could be made doing something creative. See, since I was little, there were certain members of my family (who still loved me very much) who just didn’t get creativity. There was no respect for it. When dollars were handed out to the grandkids for every report card “A,” art—a.k.a. “basket-weaving”—didn’t count.

Grumpy Cat

In college, (with a hug at least) I got the heart-warming “when are you going to stop taking all those art classes and get serious?” But creativity was my gift, how could it be something with no value? Ah, the confusion/frustration of the early years. Good times.  

Diane (she got rid of my limp BTW) used to also say to me:

“The tools that helped you through childhood, don’t necessarily serve you as an adult.”

Chicago & West Virginia

(Same goes for your old beliefs about food)

That empty feeling that haunted me with each achievement in my design career, is going going gone, now that my focus has shifted inward. With every correspondence and interaction with my YumUniverse family, my heart fills up and I know in my bones that I am doing what I am supposed to do. Without question. My approach to food and wellness has gradually informed the way I live my entire life. Creativity is in my bones and I can use it any way I like. I have to honor this gift by creating the strongest, smartest foundation I can, to continue to serve the beautiful people who have come into my life thanks to this site, all while taking care of me, too.

Chicago & West Virginia

I want to share in my way, on my terms, for the people that need it (not big corporate clients).

As a child, I just wanted to be heard and recognized. I see clearly now that we are all in that same boat, and it is my mission to make sure that I hear YU, and do everything I can to make your life as full and rich and inspiring as I make my own, because journeys are always better shared.

Thank YU for joining me, inspiring me and helping me find the right path. So much gratitude, I just may pop.

What are some big changes that YU are making for the better? The kind that make your body buzz with that “this is the right move” feeling? Tell me with a comment below.

Read the comments or add yours.

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  1. Elizabeth

    I often find that when I’m going through something, many of my fellows are going through similar experiences. My husband and I have been in the military for 8 years now. We are in our late 20’s with a 1 1/2 year old little girl. Although, our minds are telling us to stay in the Military, so we can be “comfortable” financially, we have decided to not re-inlist, so we can be together more as a family! My husband went from high school to the military, so he has no other trade. SCARY! As I passed a church yesterday, I read their sign. It said “Don’t fear taking the next step, even when you can’t see the whole staircase”. Such a good word! We know we are doing the right thing for our family. Seeking happiness and truth, above how thick our wallets can be. So excited for this next journey we are setting off on! Encouraged to hear that we are not alone!

    • Heather Crosby

      Oh Elizabeth, this is good, good stuff. My heart is so full reading this. I wish you and your family so much happiness. Thank YU for sharing with us. xx

  2. Well said, and best of luck to you on this shiny, exciting, marvelous new journey. Can’t wait to see the upcoming posts about you settling in to your new home and being deliriously happy. 🙂

  3. Lilu Apple-b

    Heather, your story is wonderful. Building a home in a peaceful & quiet environment that’s close to nature is such a loving gesture towards yourself! You might miss Chicago at first, but your personal evolution is taking you somewhere else. Allow the excitement of novelty to fill you up! Your world is only expanding, since Chicago isn’t going anywhere, and will always be there when you need to drop by for a visit 🙂

    As for myself, i recognize that bitter-sweet melancolia… I went to school & worked hard to get my city gardner job! I wanted it more than anything & when i got it, i thought my world would change drastically. And though there were positive changes & improvements, i still felt that emptiness that you speak of inside. I know there’s something more that i have to give, that needs to be expressed & shared with others who are interested…

    I’ll tell you this – your questionnaire had me reflecting a lot on myself. Since i filled it a couple of weeks back, i’ve been coming up with new ideas of how to orient my life towards a more fulfilling goal. Yes, gardening is nice & i love working in nature, but in life i ultimately want to help people! On the other hand, i love wholesome plant-based food & want to share that with people. Thoughts of greenhouses in which i could grow organic veggies locally & sustainably haunt me 🙂

    The other idea that came up & is so shy to reveal itself is holistic nutrition. I don’t know the first thing about it, but then i think about studying in this field or helping people with their diets in an individualized way, according to their unique body needs, i get really excited. I always loved spending time in the kitchen & learning how to eat for myself, observing what does me good & fits me best, taking into account my lifestyle. I just imagined helping others figure it out & got so happy!

    Last but not least, the thought of a family gets me so excited! I come from a small family of only-children, and since i’ve immigrated from Romania to Canada 20 years ago, my extended family was left behind. I’ve always dreamed of having a big family, lots of kids etc. But as i’ve been searching for my place in this world, and taking my time focus inward, i haven’t been building a family. It’s been 2 years that i’m with my bf Pat & just now we’re starting to talk about it… 🙂

    • Heather Crosby

      Lilu, Thank you so much for your kind comment. I get such a good feeling about where you are headed, too—I have no doubt that you will find what fills your heart the most because YU are SO good at “listening” to it. I love that you want to help people more—I think we are all put on this planet to do just that—help each other. I wish you all the best! Keep us posted… xx

  4. Aww, Heather, good on ya for following your heart! Change is never easy but often worthwhile. I think Robert Frost said it best:

    “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.”

    Best wishes to you in your new adventures and thank you again for making YU all that it is!

    • Heather Crosby

      Thank YU, Kat. Lovely.

  5. How utterly inspiring. You have lived such a full life and you are headed to greener pastures (literally). We are following suit and are going to move to Nashville. There, I said it. We are GOING TO MOVE TO NASHVILLE. I’m scared to leave (especially before the book comes out), but I’m ready to take a plunge. You have been such an inspiration to me on every level. You make me excited to be a plant-eater. You make me feel like a total slacker when it comes to actually following through with ideas (adrenal fatigue or not, you are super human). I can’t wait to continue to follow your journey, sing your praises, and make your yummy food along the way. I just wish we were neighbors! You’ll have to come visit the Nashvegas. I think you’ll love it. GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Beth McVay

    Oh Heather! That – was beautiful! What an inspirational journey. “Creativity is in my bones and I can use it any way I like.” Get on with yourself sista! I can’t wait to visit with you and your great love (hopefully) this fall. You two are cool: )

  7. Rosanna

    Let me just say,…. CONGRATULATIONS! This is for sure a big decision in your life. I know because I made one like it more than 13 years ago. I also moved from another country to the US and today I don’t regret one bit my decision. I have found during this 51 years of my life, that if you don’t take the chance you will never know what could or would be… Life is challenging, without taking risks, how can YU be better, be different?… I took the challenge of a plant-based diet considering I’ve been a cheese lover all my life… It was a risk, but I’m so happy I did it. I want to encourage you to follow your heart, your dreams and your passion… only those are the big drivers in our lives..
    My best wishes to you and your endeavors .. I love your website and will never leave this community! Thanks for all you do.. I. AM. A. BETTER. PERSON. THANKS. TO. YU!!!

  8. Mary Nielsen

    What a wonderful blog post and how courageous for your to share your journey and your fears along with all of your wonderful creativity. I am so glad I found Yum Universe.

    I believe that we somehow know when we are making the right decisions and living the right life for us. It is very easy in the world we live in today, where materialism seems to be valued over sustainability, to focus on things that don’t serve any purpose in our lives and that is when we are not fulfilled. I made some pretty big life changes a few years ago and it was scary and exhilarating at the same time.

    You help so many people with your website, knowledge and information and I have no doubt you are doing exactly what you are meant to do! Thank you for sharing your story and taking the journey that led you to creating Yum Universe and sharing it with the world!

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