Change is hard. Most of us struggle with it at times ≠ó some more than others. And then there are the lucky few who seemingly thrive on change, charging into the unknown full steam ahead.

I wish I could say I fell into that last category, but Iíve always been someone who stubbornly resists change ... sometimes, it seems, with every fiber of my being. When I decided to buy new kitchen rugs last year, I carefully contemplated countless selections in several stores. I even bought a handful of them, only to place each on the floor and ultimately decide it just wasnít right.

Months later, I finally found rugs that I felt suited me and my kitchen, and came in the sizes I wanted. But even then, I kept the tags on for a few days and didnít walk on them ó just in case I changed my mind.

So perhaps no one was more surprised than I was when I announced last week that I had accepted a new job and would be moving more than a thousand miles away in a few short weeks.

Sure, everyone knew Iíd always dreamed of living somewhere warm, and Florida, with its plentiful palm trees and enough water, sandy beaches and sunshine to satisfy even a lifelong water baby such as myself, had long been my destination of choice.

Yet despite my well-known hatred of being cold, I have spent my entire life in Illinois. Itís where much of my family has always lived, and many of my friends, so it was home. I admired people who just picked up and moved across the country, or even across the world, but I couldnít imagine doing that for myself.

As the years went on, however, my tolerance for the cold diminished daily, while the sadness I felt upon seeing the summer wane ó and the pool at my gym drain ó grew more pronounced.

And, for me, last winterís ridiculously cold, insanely snow-packed polar vortex from hell was the tipping point. I realized that I didnít have to live somewhere where I was miserable many months of the year, because the only thing holding me back was myself.

So I started looking at the job boards, concentrating solely on the Sunshine State. And, when the perfect opportunity presented itself, things moved at a whirlwind pace. Before I knew it, I had a new job in a brand-new city: a place where I didnít know a single soul.

Yet, while planning the move itself has been overwhelming, for perhaps the first time in my life, I feel truly ready for change.
I remember being so scared right before I went to college, even though I was moving less than an hour away. I remember crying in parking lots with friends as our usual partings of ďSee you tomorrowĒ were replaced by ďSee you on fall break,Ē and I can still vividly recall the tearful goodbye with my parents outside of my new dorm as they prepared to give me a taste of the freedom Iíd been stubbornly demanding for so long ó a freedom which I suddenly found terrifying.

However, as the countdown to my cross-country move draws down to days, that overwhelming feeling of fear is nowhere to be found.

Thatís not to say itís all smooth sailing. The stress of getting a house ready to go on the market, finding a new place to live, figuring out what to take and a way to get it there (all while still working my current job) has certainly resulted in some sleepless nights ó partially because Iím trying to get so much done in such a short amount of time, and partly because my overactive brain keeps worrying about the minutia of the move.

And I know there will be plenty of tears ahead. Even when you know youíre making the right choice and youíre really looking forward to whatís ahead, itís hard not to look back at what youíre leaving behind, too.

The house you fell in love with and just had to have ó then cursed countless times over the next decade, but still loved with all of your heart because it was your very first home, and so many good memories were made there. The many items accumulated over a lifetime that canít possibly make the thousand-plus-mile trek.
But the hardest part, by far, is always the goodbyes. If I could take all of the people I love with me, I would. (And believe me, Iím trying. Iíve already informed several friends and family members they are moving to Florida, too.)

I have so many amazing people in my life that I cherish, and I will miss them greatly. The thing about goodbyes like this, though, is that theyíre temporary. Just as Iíve been able to keep in touch with loved ones who have moved away, Iíll be able to stay in touch with those I now will leave.

And, thanks to the fact that Iím moving pretty close to paradise, I already have people promising to visit soon. And, in the interim, rather than being envious every time one of my Florida friends sends me a photo of the beach while Iím digging out my car from the latest snowstorm, Iíll be the one lounging poolside or learning to surf in the middle of winter. Now thatís what I call living the dream.
Pekin Daily Times city editor Amy Gehrt may be reached on Twitter at @AmyGehrt. The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Pekin Times.