How did a Girl from Indiana end up in San Diego?

I grew up the youngest of four in a small Midwest town in Indiana. I love my hometown, the friends who still live there, the beach (yes, there are beaches in the Midwest) and I get recharged every time I go back for a visit but I am not your typical Midwesterner. At a pretty young age, I wanted to live outside the country, learn different languages and cultures, and meet people from around the world.

My first adventure outside of the USA was during my high school senior spring break to Mexico with my Spanish class and teacher Senor Hakim. I loved speaking the language, learning the culture, and meeting the locals.  Then when I started my undergraduate degree in college, I visited the International House on campus, who lead study abroad trips, and I felt like I found my second home on campus. Each year of college, I found reasons to leave the country to study Spanish in Mexico, conduct a field study in Coast Rica, live abroad in Australia for a semester, and finally teach English to Romanian children in the Peace Corps after I graduation.

When I finished graduate school, and obtained a great job at a prestigious school in Notre Dame Indiana, most people would say, wow, I found my long-term career. I did find a job I loved but I always felt like this was a temporary position and destination for me. During the third year of my job, I began to explore my spirituality by listening to spiritual radio shows, reading books, and attending seminars. I didn’t know where this would lead me but I followed my intuition and interest of experiences new things.

On April 1, 2009 while walking onto campus from my car, it began to snow. At that moment I said no more, I must move somewhere different. I researched different cities and narrowed my choice between Denver, CO and San Diego, CA. They both offered sunshine and an outdoor lifestyle that I wanted but they were a bit different from each other. That summer I had two months off from my job so I decided to end my lease, move my things to storage, and drive across the country with my new Garmin GPS to visit friends, explore the different cities, and determine where my next home would be.

On June 16, 2009, I packed my car and began my journey across the US. Within 40 minutes of being on the road, I had to pull over a take a nap; I was exhausted! I thought how the heck am I going to make it across the country if I can’t even make it out of the state? Once I woke up from my nap, I was ready to go. Game on!

I spent eight hours on the road each day driving, stopping at interesting landmarks, and listening to audio books (I love audio books)! This was one of the best vacation I had ever had. As I continued the road, I kept seeing mountain after mountain after mountain and then I saw a lake and I said, I love water, San Diego it is. I bypassed Denver and made my way down to San Diego. After about three weeks in my sublet apartment in San Diego, I knew I couldn’t return to Indiana and my job that was going to start back up in a couple of weeks for the Fall semester. I called my employer from California and told them I was not returning to my job or Indiana and gave my two-week notice.

So here I was in one of the biggest recessions I had seen as an adult, in one of the most expensive cities in the US, no job, and no place to live. What had I done? Am I crazy? But I knew that if I went back to my job and the life I was living that my soul would die. For the next year and a half, I played tourist and worked part-time, going to the beach, playing softball, hiking—enjoying life. I walked around with a smile on my face regularly, something that didn’t happened frequently when I traditional lifestyle in Indiana. I knew at some point I would have to get a job because choosing between buying food or putting gas in my car got a little old. After one and half years, I found a good full-time job, got my own apartment (I had several roommates over the last year), and had a nice network of friends. The journey was both one of best times of my life and one of the toughest. It been eight years since I moved to San Diego and I can’t believe how far I’ve come and the life I’ve built here. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if I never took that leap of faith and left my home state. What is something you’ve wanted to do but haven’t taken that leap of faith? How can you create happiness now in your life?


Tamara Small, Clinical Hypnotist and Coach

Founder, Happiness Now

To Learn more about Tamara Small and Happiness now visit