How early would you wake up for your career?

It’s 4:42 a.m. I have three minutes before I absolutely have to open my eyes, pull myself out of bed, and start my morning weekday routine. Ugh, mornings. If I leave the house by 5:28, I can make it to the train just in time.

I’m not a morning person. I used to roll out of bed at 7:30 to get to work by 8:15, and part of me misses those days. But for the last three months, I’ve been commuting from Indiana to the Loop for work. Three months—and it’s finally starting to feel normal, almost easy.

Thousands of people commute from the suburbs to Chicago every day. It’s so popular for workers to commute from Indiana that in 2015, the South Shore Line added a once-per- day express service.

By begrudgingly rising before the sun, I save more than an hour every day in commute time. And I’m even luckier to have a fantastic boss who lets me leave the office at 3:35 to catch the express train home, too. Even so, I spend 12+ hours away from home on work days.

Is commuting really worth it?

Before I started commuting, my work schedule was much shorter. Now, I commute 3 hours per day, and I go to bed at 9:30 pm. That means I have roughly 3 hours each weeknight to live my life: make dinner, take care of my dogs, spend time with my husband and friends, catch up on my favorite shows, and all of those “fun” adult things like clean the house, do laundry (ha ha, laundry), and run errands.

Commuting to work can certainly take a toll:

The daily commute. Photo: Kate Allison

Look at my face traveling to work Monday morning (on the left) versus my afternoon commute at the end of the week (on the right). Yikes. I’m 26. Those frown lines should not be there just yet. Personally, I moved out of the city to change settings, to feel more relaxed, to get away from the hustle and bustle. My home is now quieter and void of the constant hum of Chicago.

How could my face do this in the course of a week? It hasn’t stayed that way, thank goodness. I recoup over the weekend and start over fresh by the following Monday. But I’ve come to the conclusion that commuting, along with the drastic change in my sleep schedule, has started the process of creating a permanent grumpy cat face several years too early.

But it’s not all bad.

But don’t take that to mean I’m against commuting; there are plenty of benefits, and commuting 3 hours a day isn’t all bad. I use my time on the train to catch up on everything: sleep, paying bills, personal projects, emails, shopping, planning my grocery list, writing this blog. I try to get the most out of it in one form or another I, like so many others, have traded a short commute for the opportunity, for career growth. Though living in Chicago isn’t for everyone, it has so much to offer workers.

Companies are drawn to this city, where talent thrives and the central location can’t be beaten. Many of the people I see on the train every day have been commuting for the bulk of their professional lives. I work with one woman who has traveled from Indiana to Chicago for almost 30 years. She often says to me, “Commuting isn’t so bad, huh?”

And I have to admit: I’m not quite there yet. It’s getting easier, but it might take a little more time to get used to all of the travel. And I’m certainly thankful for the train. (I can’t imagine driving into Chicago every day; that’s a different topic for someone else to explore.)

So where does that leave us?

Commuting is a worthwhile sacrifice for so many people in Chicago. We spend extra time away from home to pursue a career or to support our families. And perhaps it wears on some of us more than others.

Do I think I can do this for the next 30 years? Probably not. But until I see those awful frown lines start to take permanent hold of my face, I’m up for the challenge.

 

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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Pray for Brussels: Terrorist Attacks in Belgium Felt in U.S. Cities

This morning, while we thought we had a huge victory over terrorism this week with the capture of alleged Paris attack organizer, Salah Abdeslam, it was only in our minds.

ISIS Claims Responsibility for Belgium Attacks:

While the federal prosecutor in Belgium confirmed that this morning’s attacks were acts of terrorism, it wasn’t until around 11:20 am CDT Tuesday, March 22, 2016 that ISIS confirmed responsibility for all three attacks, reports The Guardian. 

After sitting on the CTA redline train for nearly 45 minutes this morning to go to work, a commute that usually takes less than 15 minutes, I took a Snapchat about the delay and added it to my story. My friend messaged me about the news—the recent attacks.

Three explosions that ripped through the Belgian capital of Brussels on Tuesday, March 22, 2016, killed at least 34 people and wounded about 170 more, according to Belgian media, reports CNN.

Three Explosions in Belgium:

NPR clarified that the attacks were spread out – “There have been at least three explosions — two at the airport and one at a train station.”

The train attacks occurred at 9:11 am local time on the Maelbeek train station, approximately 7 miles from the Brussels airport, with people still trapped in the car at 12:45 pm, nearly two hours later, according to the Belgium news site, RTBF.

The first attack occurred near the departure section from a suicide bomber at the Brussels airport around 8:00 am local time. A video of the attacks and more information via NPR is here.

While the delays for 95th bound redline CTA riders were due to signal clearance at the Addison redline CTA and not due to heightened security, reports on multiple news sites have suggested that major U.S. cities have taken precaution with K9 units and increased security.

Two weeks ago, when I was in Paris, I was reminded of the Paris attacks on November 13, 2015, as I stood by the memorial at Place de la Republique.

America has responded to these attacks and you can see how the presidential candidates are responding to the Brussels attacks via Slate.

Place de la Republique Photo: Amanda Elliott

Paris attack memorial. Photo: Amanda Elliott

Pray for Brussels:

And just like we prayed for Paris, our hearts are with Belgium as we pray for Brussels and all of those affected by these acts of terror.

 

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In the Midwest, you never know if it will be sunny in July, snowing in May or hailing in August. The weather is fickle. If the weather report says to bring an umbrella, you will see some people walking around with a big umbrella.

But last night, the last night of the 3-day music festival, Lollapalooza, people were packed in the redline cars at 10:30 at night. Altogether we looked outside as the train’s car doors opened, and saw it hailing and pouring down rain.  As if we were all part of a class and the teacher instructed us to take out our textbooks, everyone reached into their bags and purses for a poncho.

Everyone, yes everyone had a poncho. Never have I seen people so prepared. It appears that Lollapalooza event staff did an amazing job of warning concert goers to buy an emergency poncho.

I didn’t get the memo. But, the couple in front of my handed me an extra emergency poncho as we all vacated the train.

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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