Editor’s Note: We don’t usually get this personal on OCExplore, so if you just come here for fun, adventurous guides to getting the most out of Orange County, feel free to skip this post and check back tomorrow for our regularly scheduled content! For those who are curious, I’m sharing a little bit of my Who am I? / Why am I here? / Where am I going? backstory. Enjoy!
You don’t know me, but my story is a common one.
I have a regular life, which is both privileged and scrappy, and for the most part I love it. I love my husband, our two dogs, our families and friends and the cool trips we occasionally take (but they’re not nearly as frequent as I would like).
I finally found a job that allows me to develop some of my best skills and challenges me to improve the skills I lack.
So life in Orange County was good. After living all over (born in Iran, raised in San Diego, educated on the East Coast, a few months at a time in Spain and Puerto Rico, and most recently, in Los Angeles), I intentionally moved to South Orange County because the quality of life here seemed dazzlingly appealing. Do you know how beautiful the parks look around here after 3.5 years of living in LA?! I joked to LA friends that I knew Orange County was rich because the libraries are open seven days a week and the parks all have free dog poop pickup bags.
While I know that my wandering heart will probably uproot us again at some point, for at least the next few years, this place is truly home.
We All Want to Create Something
And yet, that gnawing feeling was at me again. I needed to create something, I needed to be creative in the hours I had for myself. In the early mornings before work and on the quiet weekends that gave me a chance to recharge, I wanted to make something. I wanted a “big project”.
I have heard almost every single person I know say that they want to do something creative but they don’t know what that is.
My heart and my mind also told me that. Or maybe it’s an ego-driven thing where I am confident I was meant to do something more creative than just be a businessperson, no matter how much I enjoy the work?
Anyways, that ego/heart/mind thing has always wanted to write, and tell visual stories. And I do, sort of. I write short stories I don’t publish and brainstorm screenplay and documentary ideas. I even made a short documentary in 2010 in Tajikistan (bet you never heard of that country!) and it was one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done.
I’m alive when I’m writing or shooting and editing film.
Meanwhile, life was happening with or without me creating my “big project”. I was living my life but not aware of what I was living because I was always in the future.
Clarity on what my vision was seemed to be just around the corner.
When I pay off my debt, then I will start writing/filming really cool stuff.
After I get married, then I can focus on writing in the mornings.
After we buy a house with a yard and a garage, then I can really put my heart into my writing and film projects.
I’m not sure what finally clicked in me, but a voice inside me told me to start today.
And start where you live (which, in this case, is Orange County).
I realized I could write about Orange County because I am living it everyday. If I haven’t already made it clear on Instagram or on the few posts we have so far, I think Orange County is awesome. I love the diversity of the people and the cities, the geography, the food scene, the endless active lifestyle options and I accept the flaws and some of the things it lacks. (I’m sure we’ll have plenty to talk about on that in future posts).
It’s not that I think Orange County is perfect, or that I am a mindless booster for all things OC, it’s that this is where I live and this is home to me and a lot of other people who also want to embrace and learn more about where they live so they can make the most of their time here.
By starting where I live, I don’t have to live in the future. I can live and enjoy right now. I don’t even have to get in my car. I can walk hundred of miles of trails, bike or take the train. I can give a boost to local businesses as well as local people who are making where we live better, whether it’s through entrepreneurship, volunteering, connecting people, designing or just starting conversations.
Starting Small = You Started
I hesitated a long time before starting OCExplore because I was worried that I wasn’t thinking “big enough”. A blog about OC seems kind of frivolous, right? It’s certainly not helping eradicate poverty or world hunger. Would this be a waste of my time? Shouldn’t I be using my precious free time to do something that will really make a difference in the world?
I’m still struggling with this, but when a single post was shared over 18,800 times, when you guys tag friends on my Instagram posts with “this is the account I was telling you about”, when several hundred of you signed up for our email list which didn’t promise any freebies or giveaways, I knew I was on to something.
So I gave myself permission to build something while being OK with making mistakes and learning along the way.
I figured there are at least a few of us among 3 million residents and over 47 million annual visitors who are interested in finding out more about Orange County, and its fun, local and adventurous side. If I can provide some useful information to at least a few of you everyday, and if I can give you some ideas on stuff to try in Orange County that lets you release tightly-held beliefs that the OC can only be incredibly lame despite looking pretty on the surface, that is plenty of motivation to keep exploring.
The truth is, anything you create can make a difference. When you have positive intentions and put the effort in to make something that you know can stand on its own and can provide value to somebody else, no matter how small, then making a difference will follow.
I realize that each moment I have matters. Every blog post is an opportunity for me to improve my writing, and craft better content that matters to people interested in living in, playing in or visiting the OC.
Blogging is not regular writing and not quite journalism, but done right, it provides the ideal blend of factual, timely content and actionable guides and allows people to connect with your work, because it does get personal. (Done wrong, it’s a smarmy blend of click-bait and self-congratulatory egomania, but hopefully I’ll steer clear of that).
OCExplore is about living your life as if it matters. It’s about connecting with the here and now (also known as the present moment). It’s recognizing that Orange County is a story, and it will change, grow and evolve, just like people can.
If you have an Orange County story to tell, past, present or future, or if you want to write for us, take photos or just pitch me an interesting idea (seriously, I live in Idealand, let’s talk), shoot me an email! I’d love to hear from you. I’m so grateful that you’re here (and thank you for all the shares, retweets and follows!), and I can’t wait to explore Orange County with you.