#OurChicagoStories Winter 2018
The first Our Chicago Series of 2018 has officially been completed!
#OurChicagoStories 2018 was a smaller group, and it was every bit as sweet as the larger groups. We originally had planned for a bit of a larger group - actually pushing our numbers a bit. But as the day approached, and life happened with several of those who were going to be involved, our number got smaller. The beauty of this small number was the amount of time we were able to spend with each individual. The afternoon felt slower paced, the questions felt deeper, and the time was good for the soul - as always. The folks involved in this shoot were ones who had been on our minds to photograph for months, and we are so grateful that they set aside their Sunday afternoon to spend time sharing their stories along that white wall in CHC and Youth & Yarrow's studio space.
2018 also began with a one year celebration of OCS. We drank champagne, ate mini donuts, and talked about the growth of OCS and the lessons we have (and are still) learning. We talked about change, about the importance of vulnerability, the acceptance of imperfection. We laughed, we chatted, most importantly, we were prayed over. This passion project is becoming so much more than we thought when we first mentioned a minimalist shoot, over a cocktail at our loved local spot - Farm Bar. We also released our WEBSITE at the party, what a moment to scroll through and show a years worth of work all on one platform. If you click around on the website, you'll see that each person photographed has an individual page, with their photos and interview questions. At the top of each persons page is the date, reminding everyone that this is just a moment in time, there's a time stamp placed there to remind you that things change, but its not for nothing. We encourage all of those involved to look back and reflect, remember where they were at, and see where they are now. Head over to www.our-chicago-stories.com to read more - and also to let us know if you want to become involved in this project!
All that being said, it's time to share the folks of the Winter 2018 OCS.
What do you find challenging about living here?
I sometimes find it challenging to meet people still. I had it pretty easy overall moving here; I kind of automatically had a friend group right away through school and also had a lot of friends from Ohio that had moved here. I made it a point though to make Chicago home. I had known I wanted to live in this city since around my freshman year of college, and would look up ICO’s website (my optometry school) every couple of months to make sure I was on track to make my dream a reality. When I moved here, I wanted to make sure that I had a friend group outside of school so that Chicago could feel more like a permanent home for me rather than just a 4 year phase. I would say that over the past three years I have managed to make many friends through different communities, including church and through friends of friends, however I notice that I’m impatient. I’m expecting new friends and I to be best friends overnight. I’ve forgotten the amount of time it takes to truly get to know people, the beginning coffee shop talks that at first feel awkward, the vulnerability it takes to put yourself out there. I’ve forgotten how it felt to be the “new girl” and to feel so small in such a big space, but each day I continue to learn and grow in my relationships with others. It’s just a matter of putting in the effort.
Why do you love it?
The hustle and bustle of the city is my absolute favorite. I love always feeling like no matter what, I can walk out of my apartment and have a plethora of activities within a train ride or walking distance. I think my wish list of different restaurants I’ve “been DYING to try” gets bigger every week. I also just love being a part of a city that people love visiting. It’s so fun to get to show friends and family from home a unique coffee shop or fancy restaurant. After living here for so long, I sometimes forget how exciting it can be to do something that seems so mundane to me now. For example, even just taking the Red Line a few stops can be so foreign to my friends and family from home. When I get to see it through fresh eyes, it kind of re-sparks my love for the city all over again.
If you're in a season of distance from God, what are your questions / struggles?
My seasons that I experience distance from God always seem to stem from the inner struggle of the idea that I’m not good enough. Although I know in my own heart that is never true, sometimes it’s hard not to feel that way. I grew up always believing in God, but had a different approach on religion than I do now. Before, it was more like “do whatever you want during the week, then go to Church on Sunday and say your prayers and you’re forgiven.” Within the past five years I’ve really grown in my relationship with God and have become more aware of what it’s like to have a relationship with Him. I have so much enthusiasm to get into the Word and to know more about Him. It’s been such a learning experience for me. However, my biggest struggle comes from my old ways of putting myself first. Doing what I want and having the idea that it doesn’t matter because God gives us grace. I think that what’s hardest for me now though is that I’m no longer ignorant. I know on a deeper level now that my actions have consequences.
When do you feel most empowered and comfortable in your own skin?
I feel the most comfortable and empowered when I am surrounded by my closest friends, and am planning our next adventure. I am the planner in the group, and when I get to bring people together and coordinate the little details, I feel very energized and empowered.
What do you find challenging about living here?
Chicago is transient, and that is a challenge. My entire adult life has been lived in Chicago, so I am sure this is a natural part of this stage of life, but it has been a difficult to accept how much my friendships have shifted. Beyond the friends that have moved out of the city, I have seen such a change in my circle of friends. This has included wonderful additions to my life (Shoutout to my new roommates Devin and Kamila ;) ), but also the sentimental part of me misses the comfort level I had with my friend group. It seems like every year, and every new lease, has brought a total change in my friendships. This makes it exhausting to invest in new people, afraid that they might not be prominent in my life within the next 12 months. It is difficult to keep up with the friends I already have when there are so many options of people, neighborhoods to live in, and activities to engage with.
Has living in the city affected your style and the way you approach what you purchase / invest in. If so, how?
Living in Chicago means I have less money to invest… because city living is not cheap. But it has taught me to be resourceful, and as part of that I have seen my style shift to more simplistic.
What brought you to Chicago?
When I moved to America I was bouncing between states, living in each place no longer then few months and that’s how I found myself in Chicago. And then like in every good story, girl meets someone special, and even if that someone doesn’t stick around, girl surely did.
How has community affected your time here?
It’s helping me learn what in between looks like. On one side I have fun loving party animals aka work friends, while on another I have my Christian friends that have tremendous inner strength because of their acknowledgment of who they are.
I don’t fully agree with everything both parties are saying, so I often feel like I don’t fit in. So in this season of life, community is helping me learn that in between is okay and I don’t have to be anything but me.
How has Chicago affected your worldview, if at all?
Chicago is a city where I became a grown up. I was completely different person 2.5 years ago when I started living here. My major heartbreak led me to Christ, Christ led to therapy, therapy led to healing that I so desperately needed. I learned how to lean on God and trust him. I learned so much about who I am, how my brain and my heart works and still learning more of that. I also learned how broken our world is and that I don’t have the privilege of closing my eyes on injustice in our city anymore.
What do you find challenging about living here?
I think one of the challenges of being in a city like Chicago is how easy it is to have your entire life contained within a 5 mile radius. With everything you feel you need available in your backyard, it's really easy to stay in the comfortable bubble you make for yourself. Don't get me wrong, easy accessibility to whatever I need is a great thing, but the downside is that it's easy to keep yourself insulated and ignorant of all the amazing things and people that the city has to offer.
Why do you love it?
Where do I begin? Chicago raised me. Chicago taught me to work hard, and learn how to put up with adversity (have you experienced winters here?). There's a unique and admirable work ethic in Chicago that you just can't find in any other city. The foundations of Chicago were built by blue-collar immigrants who wanted to create an honest living and provide for their families, and that quiet, but confident attitude still lingers in the air throughout the city. A lot of people have pride in their cities, but Chicago is one of the few that really deserves it. Obviously Chicago isn't without its flaws, but I think those flaws are what makes it a "real" city, and not one of just nice facades and superficial relationships. Chicago is a city of diversity, with pockets of authentic culture personified through street names, food, statues, and the families who have been here for generations. On top of that, Chicago has such a deep culture of knowledge, creativity, and reverence for the past that seemingly can't be exhausted. Our museums, galleries, music venues, parks, and statues all have embedded within them a sense of legacy, and to me that's a reminder that those of us living here now are not the first, we won't be the last, but we all have a part to play in crafting the story of Chicago.
Why do you stay?
In an ironic twist, I actually will be moving away very soon from this beautiful city to foggy San Francisco, California. But that was a decision that wasn't made lightly, and I made it knowing how amazing this place that I'm leaving is. Chicago isn't just a stopover city, it's a place to build a life and create a legacy. It's a place that has rich soil to put down roots, and once those roots are in it can be really painful to pull them out. But I think that's a mark of a great city.
What do you find challenging about living here? Why do you love it?
I’m going to take the liberty of combining the above two questions :) Raising kids in the city is both a challenge and a delight. Andy and I both grew up with wide open spaces and a great amount of freedom. I recognize that many families are lured away from the city once their babies start walking because they want yards and houses with rec rooms - I get it, in large part because that’s what childhood looked like for me. But urban childhood is another adventure all together, and it’s marked with a diversity and range of options that’s truly remarkable. True, our kids couldn’t run out the door and play on their own swing set in the backyard… but we considered Chicago Parks to be our yard, and they’d pick their preferred play set each time we went out. Each year we would invest in one museum membership, and it was fun to decide as a family - where else do you have access to art, science, planets, gardens, butterflies or belugas? In addition to the variety they’ve been exposed to, there’s the diversity. Differences of culture, language, skin tone, manner of dress, manner of speaking, manner of relationship - they went to playdates in simple apartments and beautiful single family homes. It’s not that they didn’t notice the differences, but rather that “sameness” wasn’t something they grew up expecting. And I love that.
Why do you stay?
I hear friends talking about feeling drawn to move to Chicago, or a sensing a call to put down roots here. My decision to stay wasn’t actually about the city at all. I fell in love with a man who had a son and a company in Chicago. My decision to stay - my commitment to be rooted here - stemmed from my commitment to Andy. We considered the suburbs for a brief moment many years ago, but the idea of commuting to our city life from our suburb life felt arbitrary. We wanted our WHOLE life to be here, integrated and not compartmentalized. We imagined that raising a family in a city would have benefits and drawbacks. We knew it would feel vastly different than how we grew up - but vibrant and wonderful in its own way. It felt like we were making our own, new story compared to what we had known. It felt like we were discovering the adventure together. Actually, it still feels that way.
an you speak into the creativity found in the Chicago community? How does it inspire you?
If I’m totally honest, the creative influences around me both inspire and intimidate me. I’m embarrassed to admit that, because it highlights my insecurity, but it’s the truth. I’m surrounded by so many talented and brave people who paint and dance and write and photograph and draw and cook and design and create - I’m inspired by their boldness to put that first paint stroke on the blank canvas. But I’m also intimidated because of the talent around me, hesitant to try because the work of my hands never seems to match the dream in my mind. But I’m fighting against that, largely because of my daughters. I want them to be brave - braver than their mother - so I try to just try. I try to model that it doesn’t have to be about the end product. Whether painting or stitching or writing or baking - something deep within us comes alive when we create. I truly believe it draws us to feel more closely connected with the Creator Himself. We experience just a touch of imagination coming to fruition. And delight in watching how others are doing the same, each in their own unique way.
Our Chicago Stories Winter 2018
We are confident that Our Chicago Stories will continue to grow and teach us lessons with each new shoot. God is fashioning a way for us to keep pursuing this project, and he is reminding us constantly that there is a purpose within it.