I’m Glad I’m Here

Every birthday I reflect on the previous year: what have I learned, what has changed, where I want to be, etc.  Turning 40 this year is no different except I’ve been thinking about the whole 40 years.  Where was I mentally and emotionally for the other big birthday.  To be honest, I’m lucky to have hit 40.

Two months to the day prior to my 17th birthday, my brother took his life.  I know I’ve mentioned it several times but if you’re new here, you can read about it here: https://changingliz.com/2013/11/13/sean  It was life changing and I still feel the ripples today, the good and the bad.

It was an excruciating time and I wanted to die. I felt so alone because the only people who understood was my family who was falling apart in their own right too.  I didn’t want to talk to them because I didn’t want to upset them.  It was hard to talk to my friends because they didn’t understand and I imagine they didn’t know what to say.  At one point, I admitted I was suicidal and was essentially kicked out of school and had to see a psychiatrist before I could return.

Thankfully I was sent an angel, my high school guidance counselor.  I trusted her and she was my savior.  We met pretty regularly and she always had my back.  Little did I know that she was going through a difficult time as she lost her mother not too long before we met.  But she made sure I didn’t go down a rabbit hole and pushed me to keep going.

Eventually, it was time to get my drivers license and I couldn’t care less.  I didn’t want to do anything that was exciting to everyone our age.  I even got a great part in the local community theater play singing an iconic song from Godspell but quit because I just couldn’t do it.   I wasn’t anything amazing but I felt I lost my voice.

My senior year was better because I was too busy to think too much.  Visiting college campuses, prepping for SATs, and college applications were my focus.  Thankfully (and I think with major help from my guidance counselor) I got into my #1 choice.

My freshman year at college was amazing.  I met lifelong friends, became president of my dorm and almost failed out because I was having too much fun.  But one thing that really sticks out for me was the second anniversary of Sean’s death.  It was my first away from home and I was dreading it.  I decided to tell my friends about Sean.  And in turn, they took me out bowling to keep me busy.  I will never forget their kindness during that time.

Every anniversary and every birthday is hard.  But the big 4-0 has been a reflective time remembering where I was and where I am today.  Without those people in my life, I may not have made it.  I want anyone out there reading this to know that you are not alone.  Life can be damn hard.  So hard that you may not want to be here anymore but I promise it gets better.  It will never be easy because there will be other obstacles along the way but it sure is awesome.


California vs. New Jersey

Since moving to California from New Jersey, I have noticed some differences with many things.  I will always be a Jersey Girl but I’m in love with Cali.  Check out the list I compiled for your enjoyment!


  • I have to pump my own gas.  I honestly don’t mind because it’s not like, “Oh, it’s too cold to get out of the car”, but it is nice having someone do it for you.  I was friendly with the guy who pumped my gas in NJ so that relationship is lost in CA.
  • Road rage isn’t bad in CA.  There will always be asshats on the road but the % is definitely less on the West Coast.
  • There are many more electric and hybrid vehicles in CA which is great!  Gas prices here are not for the faint of heart but be careful when crossing the road or parking lot because you can’t hear electric cars!
  • HOV lanes are great!
  • If you’ve seen The Californian’s on SNL, it is so accurate with directions!  Check it out here!
  • Ramp meter.  Never heard of it?  Me either before moving here!  During rush hour, the on ramp has lights to control merging vehicles.  It’s kind of a great thing!


  • Unless you go to Little Italy in San Diego, all the Italian food is terrible in CA! It’s gotta be the water on the East Coast that makes it all taste so good!


  • CA definitely makes up for the lack of tasty Italian food with the Mexican food.  Everyone makes homemade tortillas, so many different type of salsas, elote is common (and one of my favorite things), the carnitas are very yummy and they have drive-thrus!  That’s right – drive-thru for homemade burritos, tacos – and I’m not talking about Taco Bell!  Also, I’m a huge tamale lover and they have them in some delis in the food store!
  • Donuts – there are tons of donut shops in CA.  Homemade donuts are the best BUT Dunkin’ Donuts is very scarce and sometimes you just want Dunkin’!
  • There is no Wegman’s in CA.  This makes me very sad. In fact, the closes Wegman’s to me is in Erie, PA!
  • It’s not easy to find a good Italian deli in my area.  Luckily, we found Pronto’s in our town but they don’t even have prosciutto, roasted red pepper and fresh mozz sandwiches on the menu.  Like, WHAT!?  I have to order it as a make your own sandwich.
  • I miss a good salty pizza.  After a night out, you can’t just go and get a slice.  I’m sure you could in San Diego or LA but it’s either fast food or Mexican.  I know when I visit NJ I’m going right to Pete & Elda’s and Molinari’s!
  • Tons of breweries!  So far my favorite is the Belching Beaver.
  • There is no Wawa 😦
  • Taylor Ham isn’t as good as in NJ


  • THE BEACH IS FREE!  That’s right – you don’t need a badge, there are no badge checkers or badge police.  It’s a beautiful thing.
  • The beach goers clean up after themselves.  There is no loud music.  No one sits on top of you.  Surfers everywhere.  The lifeguards are just like on Baywatch.
  • When you go to the store, you have two bag choices:  Pay 10 cents per bag or bring your own.  I prefer my own bags!
  • You get money back on recycling your bottles.
  • People are actually NICE in stores!
  • No hurricanes but there are earthquakes.  No hurricanes = no dunes therefore you can always see the ocean.  If you are a couple miles in-land, you can actually see the ocean because we’re at a high elevation than the ocean.  It’s gorgeous!
  • Dogs are everywhere!  CA is a very dog friendly place.  Most stores, restaurants and coffee shops allow our little 4-legged family members and it’s awesome!  Don’t be surprised to find a dog in Walmart either!  In fact, one of our favorite spots has a doggie menu!
  • The weather is incredible and it’s so good for my hair!
  • Last but not least, the sunsets in California are incredible!  It is truly an event with everyone flocking to the coast line right before the big ball of fire settles for the night.  I do miss my sunrises though!

If you’d like to check out pics of our adventures, check me out on Insta @liz11379!

How I Got Here: Part IX

Finding my name on the Oceanside Pier was not the only sign I had during my short visit to Cali.  As I was driving around I saw a vanity plate that said, “Go Liz” and also another plate frame said, “Moore” which is my Grandmother’s last name.  It just felt right.

Brian stayed in CA to work while I went home to pack my apartment I had lived in for nine years.  I had met with a couple of moving companies to get quotes for my personal stuff and to ship my car.  Things were really lining up pretty easily.  I enjoy organizing and packing so packing up my place was fun for me.

The only worry I had was my dog and how he would be during our flight.  He’s very well mannered but he’s a momma’s boy and requires to be on my lap!  Per airline guidelines, they requires a health certificate showing the dog is healthy enough to fly so I took him to the vet and they also gave me a prescription for anxiety meds – for HIM not me.  😉

After my belongings and car were picked up and on their way to CA, I stayed with my parents for two nights.  It’s really strange staying in your childhood home before you’re off to another coast far away from what you’re familiar with.  But, I was feeling good and excited.  No worries at all.

The morning of my flight, I woke up and walked right into a wall.  I didn’t know what was going on but I just didn’t feel well and felt very dizzy.  I went downstairs to take the dog out and get the day started and I walked into another wall.

I was suddenly out of control dizzy and felt extremely nauseous.  I got down on the floor and grabbed onto the carpet as if the entire world was spinning.  I was in tears because any move I made and I thought I would be sick.  And for the first time in my life, I asked my parents to get me an ambulance.

After about 20 minutes of staying on the floor and trying to focus, I was able to get up.  Still in my PJ’s and glasses, I was walked out to the car and taken to urgent care.  Imagine this: a 39 year old woman getting walked into an urgent care by her parents in the K-Mart Shopping Center in her PJ’s, sans bra, messy hair and glasses.  Honestly, I was so sick I didn’t care one second.

I got in pretty quickly and I explained to him what was going on while he put the table down so I would lie flat.  If laying on the floor of my parents house crying my eyes out wasn’t bad enough, being laid out like that was pure torture.  Everything was spinning and I felt like I was just going to slide off the back head first.

Despite all my excitement and confidence that this move was going to be amazing, the stress that I never noticed caught up with me and triggered my vertigo.  The worst case of vertigo I have ever had.  The doctor wrote me a note for the airlines not allowing me to fly and prescribed some pain killer.  I went home, took the meds and passed out.

A few hours later I woke up and felt like nothing had happened.  I no longer felt dizzy or nauseous.  Kind of a miracle!  I tried to convince my parents I was ok and could fly and they were dead set against me flying and I don’t blame them.  What if I got dizzy again on the airplane?  But after begging them to let me go, they caved. I know I know, I’m a grown woman but they were my ride to the airport!

I’ve always been very stubborn.  And maybe I needed my parents to take care of me one last time before I left the nest for my 2,000 mile journey to a new chapter.

Reilly and I made it with plenty of time at the airport.  We were escorted through security because he was with me and they couldn’t have been nicer or more accommodating.  Reilly and I slipped into our first class seats and off we were to the West Coast.  Reilly was an angel the whole way.  He just slept in his carrier under the seat in front of me and luckily the man next to me was a dog lover and took pics of Reilly to show his wife.

We landed a bit early and I ran through the airport to meet Brian.  I was so relieved to have finally arrived after that stressful day.  In fact, this pic of us at the airport shows how pale I was.

SAN Airport June 2018

I write this on the eve of what would have been my Grandma Anne’s 98th birthday.  It’s always been a special day because it was hers.  So, I end this story of my re-birth of new adventures and a new chapter.  I am sure there will more to come as I share our adventures with you.

How I Got Here: Part VIII

Manasquan Inlet – March 2018

Needless to say, Brian and I had gotten back together.  I felt like I would never forgive myself for giving up on us too quickly.  I was also at a point where I felt like I needed to do something different with my life.  I had always lived in NJ (minus my college years) and I had two choices: move away from my family to be with Brian in California or stay in NJ with my family and nothing changes.

While walking along the Manasquan Inlet I told Brian, “I’m in!”  It was the right time and I didn’t feel scared about going to California – not one second.  We were so happy to know we had each other in life.  We consider ourselves a team and he had shown me that time and again.

What was scary?  Telling my family.  I am fairly certain they didn’t believe I would actually follow through.  You see, I’ve always had pretty bad homesickness.  As a kid I was often invited to friend’s sleepovers.  I would also call my parents at night when most of the girls were sleeping and ask my parents to pick me up.  They always did.

I felt like this would be the biggest challenge of my life.  I made a decision to go way out of my comfort zone to take a chance on a relationship.  A relationship that was still very new.  If there was any gesture that would secure how committed we were to each other, this was certainly it!

By the first week of May, we were off to visit CA so I could get acclimated with the area.  We drove around a lot to determine where we would live.  I immediately fell in love with what’s called North County (the northern part of San Diego county) and I knew I wanted to be near the beach.

Along the North County tour, I found my favorite place, the Oceanside Pier. It’s a long wooden pier that extends nearly 2,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean.  Locals are often fishing off the pier or watching surfers ride their next wave.  I could see names carved into the wooden railings along the pier of people who had donated money for the pier’s restoration project in the late 1980’s.

As Brian and I were walking on the pier, I got this strange feeling that this place would be my home.  In that moment, I went to grab Brian’s arm to exclaim that I was totally committed to this move but something caught my eye.  The words escaped my mouth and all I could do was point to the wood as my jaw dropped to the floor…

Oceanside Pier



How I Got Here: Part VII

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I had ended our relationship because I thought things were supposed to be a certain way.  We should have a house, 2.5 kids, great jobs and everything would be perfect.  I quickly came to realize that is just not realistic!  Why does it have to be that way?  Why did I think I had to have it that way?  No one I know has it all but they are happy and grateful for what they have.

Brian had also started talking about moving back to California and bringing me.  I was NOT on board.  How could I leave my family?  My mom just lost her mother and my brother had just gotten engaged.  I had to be in New Jersey to support them.

After we broke up, I was in a deep depression.  I couldn’t get out of bed all weekend.  I couldn’t eat.  I had broken a man’s heart who only wanted to love me.  I had broken my own heart because what I wanted all along was for someone to love me and be my partner; I didn’t realize I had that.

After I got out of my funk, we started talking and hanging out again because after all, we were always good friends.  While were continued our friendship things at work started to go downhill.  The company that I loved working for quickly became a place that was not a good fit for me.  There is only so much a person can take and then they break.

As I was exiting the company, I felt broken, lost and hurt.  I wasn’t sleeping or eating again, my normal level of anxiety became unbearable.  My therapist was concerned for my health and quickly sent me to the doctor.  My doctor prescribed meds to even me out and get back on track.

I don’t like taking any medication but it has helped me tremendously.  I always considered myself to be even keeled and I didn’t know what mood I would wake up with anymore.  After a couple of weeks, everyone noticed a change.  My mind was more clear and I felt more engaged with people as opposed to always thinking about the next thing I had to do.

And Brian healed me.  He was there and saw me at my worst but yet was my cheerleader.  He pushed me to stand up for myself and to be more confident.  What I wanted all those years was standing right in front of me.  In that moment of realizing I had what I wanted, I knew I needed to make a change in my life and do something for me.

To be continued…

I Am Angry

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*This is a personal story and I ask for your kindness.  Sharing this is very hard.*

I interrupt my story of how I got to California for something that makes me very angry, ashamed and scared.  I am scared to share my story out of judgement from others especially in our current climate.  I have seen too many comments on social media judging women who have come forward with their stories of sexual assault because it occurred several years earlier and their memories are clouded.  Until you have lived in someone else’s shoes, no one has the right to judge.

I am nervous down to my bones to share something that VERY few people know about.  In fact, some of this my parents aren’t even aware of.  Let me be clear, I was NOT raped but what I am going to share has affected my life, my confidence and my trust in people.

When I was about 12 or 13, my family became sponsors of teenagers from Ireland that were part of a swim team.  The teenagers lived with their American sponsor family: they lived with us, ate with us and we shuttled them to all the swim meets and gatherings over several months.  My family welcomed Cormack into our home.  He was a skinny kid with big ears and a thick Irish accent.

One night I was jolted awake by someone coming into my room and shutting the door.  It was Cormack.  He walked in, put his finger up to his lips to suggest I be quiet.  He knelt down next to my bed and proceeded to put his hand on my stomach telling me, “this is how we make friends in Ireland.”

I was frozen in fear.  It felt like someone had stolen my voice because I couldn’t speak. Is this what they do in Ireland?  What’s happening?  Did I do something wrong?   I was scared and so confused.

Then we heard someone get up to go to the bathroom.  Cormack got spooked and sneaked out back to his room.  I was still frozen.

I could hear my parents in the kitchen downstairs so I got up to find them.  I told them what occurred and felt so uncomfortable because I wondered if I did something wrong.  Maybe this is what they do in Ireland and I’m wrong for thinking it’s wrong.  No one should feel that at such a young age.

The next day I had to meet with the head of Irish group and tell them what happened with Cormack in the room and several other people.  I felt like I was on trial and I had done something wrong.  Ultimately, I was given the choice to let him stay or send him back to Ireland.

Cormack BEGGED me to let him stay in America because after all, it was his first time here.  I felt bad for him.  I let him stay because I wanted to be liked and not cause trouble.

That same summer we were having a gathering at one of our family friend’s house for a pool party.  The details are blurry and I don’t remember everyone who was there but I will never forget how I felt when all the kids were in the basement hanging out.

One of the boys pulled my bathing suit down in front of everyone.  He was laughing at me as I stood there naked on top and completely and utterly humiliated.  I laughed it off out of nervousness because that’s just boys being boys, right?

Again, nothing illegal had occurred to me but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t affected me.  With that said, in what world is it acceptable to act this way?  Boys being boys isn’t ok.  I am a human being and all hands should be kept to yourself unless consented.  If I felt this way after unwelcomed touching, I can only imagine how much more traumatic it is to be raped.

I don’t know what happened to Cormack but I hope and pray that because I let him stay that he didn’t think it’s ok to do that again.  I know that the other boy who pulled my suit down has three daughters.  I hope nothing like that happens to them because it will follow them the rest of their lives.

I don’t anticipate my story will change the world but the women who are truthful and come forward open themselves up to a lot of criticism.  We don’t have anything to gain and in my experience, not saying anything helped me put it away for a long time.  What I do hope is that my peers are teaching their sons to keep their hands to themselves and to respect one another.

I hope by sharing my experience, it will open others up to sharing theirs because we all need to support each other.

How I Got Here: Part VI

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The day after I made my decision to say goodbye to my Grandmother, she passed peacefully while holding my cousin’s hand.  I was grateful to have that moment alone with her the day before to tell her how much I loved her and how appreciative I was for her loving me.  My Grandparents were a big part of my life and I will never forget the wonderful memories I have.

It was a difficult time between her passing and Brian’s health.  I was still afraid to leave him home alone but wanted to be by my family’s side through the coming days.

Brian was still healing but he was so supportive throughout my Grandmother’s hospital stay and the services.  He was by my side every moment for which I am thankful for.

The day of my Grandmother’s funeral was a freezing cold but sunny December day.  The funeral was beautiful.  She was close to the priest who spoke personally about his experiences with her.  My cousin’s and I participated in some readings.  I was tasked with the “Lord Hear Our Prayer” piece and I decided to wing it the day of without reading it ahead of time.

As I began to speak, I could see the words ahead, “Let us pray for those who have already passed, especially Irving Moore (my Grandfather) and Sean Lutz (My Brother)”.  I crumbled inside.  My eyes filled up with tears and I had to stop because if I didn’t I was going to be beyond repair.  I was standing up on the alter, at the microphone speaking to a church full of people and I focused in on Brian’s face.  Just seeing him helped me keep it together.

Brian and I really leaned on each other that day.  It showed me what great partners we are and can lift each other up when the other is down.  Over the next couple of months, our relationship got stronger but I started to question our future.

I had so many ideals in mind: white picket fence, a beautiful house, kids!  We started to discuss what we wanted in life and kids was not one of them for him.  I cried because I felt like I found my person but we weren’t in line with how we saw our future.

I was surprised because the way he is with kids is amazing.  He’s even amazing with my dog!  I was heartbroken because what I imagined my life to be with him was falling apart.  I felt physical pain when I ended our relationship.

To be continued…