Same plant, different soil.

I’ve been thinking about this phrase a lot lately. A few months ago I uprooted myself from Chicago, and migrated north to the town of Evanston. This town is surrounded by villages—like The Village of Wilmette, and The Village of Winnetka. I went from city life to town and village life.


The Great Northern Migration of 2010.

I thought this change would do something good for me. I thought it would take me away from all of the stressful and unhealthy distractions of city life, and help me to concentrate on what needed healing: me. 

Same plant, different soil.

The healing is still in its beginning stages. I think we can always find a way to distract ourselves, no matter what our surroundings are. It’s taken me two months to figure out that I can’t just remove a dying rosebush from one patch of earth, put it in some more fertile soil, and then expect for it to immediately become a healthy and thriving aloe plant. I can’t expect to suddenly become something that soothes. Transformations like that don’t happen overnight. Or even over two months.

When I was running this morning, I remembered how I expected for my running to become better and stronger when I moved to Evanston. I thought that because I would be closer to my gym and surrounded by more parks and a few good hills I would have less distractions that would keep me up late (and thus not helping me to wake up early enough for good, quality runs). I also thought I would be more motivated to get out there and run by Evanston’s lush landscaped residential setting instead of the city’s huge-buildings scenery. While some of this is true, I also find myself missing parts of being a city runner. I don’t miss being hit by cars that roll stop signs (although this has almost happened a few times in Evanston—I guess there are careless drivers no matter where you live), or potentially literally running into somebody I don’t want to see.

But I do miss the streets I had once claimed as mine. I moved to Chicago almost four years ago. In that time, I learned how to stretch my legs out and reach for larger running goals. I went from being a one-marathon-a-year runner, to a three-fifty-mile-races-in-one-year-as-well-as-a-few-50ks ultrarunner. This running growth spurt happened on the streets of Chicago, and sometimes my feet miss all of that pavement on which they learned how to be an ultrarunner. 

But this growing plant is in some more fertile soil, and I’m starting to nourish it in hopes of becoming a fully-grown tree. No more thorns. I’m soothing, nourishing, and starting to grow new roots that feel a bit sturdier. So I grab a hold of these new sidewalks with every footfall and breath that I have, and I take myself in a new direction. The city is still nearby—in fact I re-visit those old streets a few times a week. She’s close enough so that I can always remember where I came from (whether I want to remember that or not!), but just far enough away so that I feel transplanted in a healthy way. 

Same plant, different soil, and some freshly nourished soul/soles.


4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Elizabeth Grogg said,

    Funny Chelsey – I moved 2 Evanston for the same reason but wherever u go, there u r. Thx 4 reminding me 2 face myself & nourish myself & grow. 🙂

  2. 2

    Mom & Clayton said,

    We enjoyed this entry from your running blog, especially the tree metaphor. Keep on growing from the manure of experience. We love you.

  3. 3

    Paul said,

    Hey, it’s your new buddy Paul, reading your post.

  4. 4

    mel0980 said,

    Beautiful writing, 🙂
    If you get a break from your running could you read my blog? Thank you x

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