Happy First Seattle-versary

This is the story of my life after a relocation across the country, from Detroit to Seattle. I want to dedicate this story to all the strong and beautiful women who relocate with their partners. In this story I will reveal the ups and downs, emotions, lessons and the very TRUTH of what can happen when we leave everything we know and love behind to embark on a new adventure. This is just my story...we each have our own. If you are a woman who has relocated, honor your experience, and know that you are not alone.

I would like to thank my husband, for giving me the courage and strength to make the move in the first place. For always supporting us in so many ways, and for being as wonderful as you truly are. A big thank you to my parents, for your continued support in the face of change. Thank you to all the beautiful souls we have met along the way, for it is you who have kept us going, who have helped us make it through the toughest times.

 

The Text Message

 

It was a brisk October morning in Michigan, and I was just wrapping up my last haircut for the day when I received the text from my husband. The text that would change my life forever.

 

I accepted the job. We are doing this…we are actually moving to Seattle!

 

As exciting, and exhilarating as this news was, I was absolutely terrified and instantly allowed stress to take over me. I went into “go-mode” and immediately started thinking about what was about to happen, and what I needed to do in order to make it happen smoothly and seamlessly.

 

I had to plan the exact day and time I would share the news with my boss. I had to drum up a professional exit letter and strategy in order to leave my salon job (and nine-year hairstyling career) gracefully. I had to figure out a way to tell all of my clients that I would be leaving them in just four short weeks, and without leaving them in the dust.

 

We had to pack up and clean an entire condo, hire movers, call utility companies, sell two cars and buy a new one, sell furniture, and say good bye to family and friends, all while feeling the mixed emotions that were present. The feelings of excitement, fear, sadness, guilt, relief, happiness, regret, shock, grief and most of all confusion about the whole reality of the situation. Was this really happening?

 

It was the start of an incredible new chapter, and at the same time a letting go of everything we’d ever known and loved.

 

I can’t explain in words the feelings I had throughout those four whirlwind weeks. I remember walking into work one day, not being able to tell anyone yet and my heart just sank. I started to cry. A coworker and friend of mine asked me what was wrong. All I could say was, “I’m just having a rough day.” As badly as I wanted to break the news, I knew I had to keep it to myself until my husband got things ironed out at his corporate job of almost 10 years. He needed to settle up with them, and in the meantime I had to keep my mouth shut.

 

I spent the first week or so in disbelief, yet feelings of appreciation flooded through me. I love this place. I love my home. I love my job. I love my family, my friends, my town, my state. What are we thinking? We don’t have to go. We can change our minds. All that uncertainty and yet we had already committed.

 

Those four final weeks of preparation were a blur. I felt uneasy everywhere I went. I had that constant “out of body” feeling, and sleep was almost non-existent. I cried at least once a day. I questioned everything: my strength, my decision, my true feelings about it all, and even why we were doing this. Were our intentions true to us? Or were we doing this just to prove to other people we could do it?

 

In between packing boxes, stacking them high into a box fort perfect for our cat to play in, so many phone calls were made. I remember spending hours on the phone with Washington utility companies, apartment leasing agents, insurance companies and movers. People we didn’t even know came through our home to pick up furniture they bought from us. The cat peed on the floor. My husband and I both had a meltdown about three weeks before we left. We felt like we got kicked in the gut. We lost our energy, our fire, our drive for life. We broke down. We felt defeated, weak and hopeless. But even with all that uncertainty and all those crazy emotions, we knew in our hearts this was the right thing for us. Our minds questioned it, but our hearts knew. I can’t explain the knowing, we just knew.

 

Once I was finally able to share the news, I broke down in tears with just about everyone I told. The feeling of crazy amounts of adrenaline pumping, unsteadiness and panic came over me as I walked into work to give my boss my two weeks notice. I was giving up the best job I ever had, the greatest bunch of colleagues anyone could ever ask for, and nine years of clients…my entire business, my livelihood. Barely a word escaped my lips before I broke down into tears in my boss’s office. And one by one, as I pulled people aside, I cried tears of sheer grief. It felt like someone was dying. I’m not exaggerating when I say that. But at the same time, I just knew it was time to move forward.

 

I spent hours on the phone with my clients. I couldn’t leave without telling them good bye with my own mouth. I eventually ran out of time, and the remaining clients I didn’t get to speak with were sent a long email directly from me. I am so blessed to say I had that many clients…enough to have spent hours saying good bye to them.

 

The worst was when I had to tell my parents. As supportive as they always are, I knew they would be torn apart and I hated to hear them choke up as they held back their tears and wished us congratulations.

 

I’ll never forget during my husband’s interview process when he hadn’t accepted the job yet, a family friend of ours, not knowing we had this opportunity come up, advised us never to move to Seattle. That it was a terrible place to live, it was expensive and rainy. My husband and I looked at each other, and we both knew what the other was thinking. It wasn’t even two weeks later that we told him we were moving there. We still laugh about it to this day. Ahhhhh…the way the Universe works its magic!

 

Somehow we did it all and on November 16, 2014, in a state of sheer exhaustion but excited as hell for our new adventure, we packed up our brand new Jeep, piled high with luggage, a cooler, inflatable mattress, two people, a cat and a litter box, and drove 38 hours clear across the frigid ice-covered U.S.A. to our final destination: Mill Creek, WA.

 

38 Hours

 

The drive was an interesting adventure. The earth was frozen, and getting out to pump gas was like taking a five-minute break in the tundra.

 

We made three overnight stops, settling in for the evenings at the Holiday Inn Express. With each stop I felt like I was in a modern day version of the 1987 movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Everything had to be timed perfectly. With each stop we had to haul in the following: two overnight bags, a cooler, two pillows, a “feline necessities” bag, a cat and a litter box. And with each trip to the car and back, we thought we might freeze to death. Even the poor little feline needed to be wrapped up like a little burrito in a blanket and walked through a busy hotel lobby (which she, in authentic feline style, was not too happy about).

 

With each stop we dropped off our belongings, texted with family and friends to let everyone know we were still alive, and made our way to dinner at the nearest restaurant. And sometimes our best (and only) option, was Applebee’s.

 

After dinner we would head back to our hotel, out of steam and usually in a new time zone. We would crash, awake the next morning to an early alarm, hit the continental breakfast and then freeze to death while packing the car and assess: Do we have everything? Did the cat pee yet? Where to next?

 

Along this epic trip we made our way through parts of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, and Oregon, and some of the views were absolutely spectacular. Wyoming and Utah were two of our absolute favorites. The mountains were breathtaking. We even took a seven-mile detour to a State Park in Utah where we ended up in the mountains and overlooking a beautiful and serene body of water. There was no one up there but us, and we stared in awe of nature and wondered how we got to this magnificent place, how we got so lucky.

 

The Adjustment

 

We arrived at our final destination on the afternoon of November 19, 2014. It was partly cloudy and the air was cool and crisp. Everything was new and unfamiliar. The sounds, the smells and the environment were so mysterious and exciting. I will never forget the trees…the abundance of evergreens and how tall they were. Right behind our apartment building there was a gorgeous trail and as we walked along it we could smell the fresh pine in the air like it was Christmas morning.

 

It was a quiet day in Mill Creek. We could hear only the sounds of the fountain in the pond out back. We were excited, exhilarated, and exhausted. So we unpacked the car, blew up the inflatable air mattress, grabbed some dinner (which I almost fell asleep over) and settled into our mostly empty apartment for the night. We were just two scared thirty-somethings, a cat and an air mattress, in a new town on a cool and dark November night. And we had no idea what was yet to come.

 

It just so happened that a friend of mine whom I’d met through an old job lived just two miles from us (how serendipity of you, Universe!). She helped us immensely throughout our decision making process, and even picked up the keys to our new apartment before we arrived in Mill Creek so we wouldn’t need to worry about getting to the apartment office before closing time.

 

Some might call us crazy for moving just before the holidays. That may be true (or maybe not), but it’s just how the cards were played. The following week was Thanksgiving, and we were truly blessed to be able to spend it with some new (and old) friends in Washington. We spent our first “Friendsgiving” at my friend’s house, and met a few new friends there too. We were totally out of our element, and we were definitely jet lagged. We couldn’t help but appreciate the pleasant jeans and sweatshirt weather in November though. For my entire life as far back as I can remember, Thanksgiving called for fuzzy boots, snow shoveling and numb fingers.

 

And, as luck would have it (or, as I like to believe, support from the Universe) we were able to spend Christmas with family in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. My husband’s three cousins live there and, as it turns out, Vancouver is only two hours or so from where we live. So we packed up the car for the weekend and took a drive. To us, two hours was like a three-minute car ride to the grocery store.

 

The holidays scurried by. Most of December was spent unpacking, organizing, sorting out new bills and old, and settling in. I was mostly in a state of shock, a deer in headlights for the first few months. I don’t quite remember those times…it’s all a bit of a blur. I was still feeling that out of body feeling, everything was brand new and I felt like a small fish in a big pond about to get gobbled up by a big pregnant mama fish. I was trying to figure out how to start a business in a new city, become familiar with my new surroundings and get grounded and connected to my new home.

 

And that’s when the fighting started. Negativity flooded our household. We were both confused and angry. The cat started marking the wall outside her litter box. I woke up every morning feeling like I got kicked in the stomach. I was so scared of the day. I was unhappy at night. The weekends were depressing. I felt like I had no purpose. My family, my friends, my clients, my colleagues, every bit of social interaction I was used to was gone. Poof. Like magic, I suddenly had no sense of community, and I felt broken down.

 

I didn’t even feel like I was absorbing nutrients any more. I lost weight (I was small to begin with…take a few more pounds off and I felt like a skeleton). By no means am I complaining, but it was a very unhealthy weight loss. I have a whole new respect for women who get stared at in public for being “too skinny.” I was self conscious. If you came close enough, you could see the vertebrae protruding from my back. My leggings and skinny jeans were saggy. My bowel movements were erratic. My periods were irregular. I tried everything I knew to find myself again. I meditated, read books, journaled, exercised, took herbal remedies, and I’m sure a lot more. But I just couldn’t shake the nervousness, the unsteadiness, the pumping of adrenaline day in and day out.

 

And on top of it, I felt like I lost my identity. Who was I? Why was I here? What was my purpose? And my husband and I were still fighting. The cat was still peeing inappropriately. I still had no community, and I wanted to run away from my life. I wondered if I should start searching for my own apartment, and start a new life by myself. A fresh start. No fighting, no negativity. Just a fresh, clean slate.

 

And as I was going through my bout of crazy, little did I know my husband was going through a personal struggle of his own. No way could he keep a positive attitude around the house. No way could he give me the attention I needed. His own struggles were taking over, and finally, on a foggy Seattle Saturday in March of 2015, we both let it all out.

 

We were scared. We were confused. We were depressed and anxious. And we tried for the longest time to pretend like nothing ever changed. Like we never moved, like we never left anything or anyone behind, like this wouldn’t affect us mentally or emotionally, like we’d just be fine with it all. We tried to carry on with life as usual when nothing about it was usual.

 

But after hours of honest, raw, no holds barred discussion, the facts were in: We needed help. We needed support on so many levels.

 

Because you see, we as humans can’t do this kind of thing alone…and nobody should have to. Support is always there. Resources are always presenting themselves to us, we just have to open our hearts so we can see the truth. And for the first time since the move, both my husband and I were finally able to open our hearts and begin to receive what the Universe had to offer.

 

The Life Raft

 

It was later that month that we found yoga. Just the right time, not a moment too soon and not a moment too late. I had always practiced yoga, but this was not the same. I could feel it the moment I walked into the studio. The vibe was peaceful, loving and welcoming. The morning I took my first class I knew I was hooked.

 

I entered the studio with not a thought in the world, other than I need my exercise for the day. As someone who had practiced yoga for quite a few years before, I knew yoga was about mind/body balance. But I had no freaking clue what a transformational practice it truly was! That is, until I found this perfect place at this perfect time.

 

Within the first week of doing daily yoga I noticed how amazingly calm and grounded it made me feel. For the first time in months I was able to feel normal. I recall sitting on the couch one evening watching TV, totally slouched, terrible posture, head dangling to one side like a limp ragdoll. It was at that very moment I realized yoga was doing something to me. It was changing me. For the first time in nine years I felt comfortable in my body. I felt relaxed, yet strong. I had no neck or back pain (which had been chronic since I started my hair styling career). I was calm, collected, and focused only on that precious moment in time. It was then that I decided yoga was my medicine. Yoga would bring me back to me. I knew I had to continue.

 

My husband watched as I gradually evolved into a new, happier, lighter human, and he eventually joined me for some yoga classes. He, too, realized the power of yoga, this life changing mind-body-spirit practice, and before we knew it we both had unlimited monthly memberships.

 

But it wasn’t just the yoga. It was the outpouring of love from the teachers and mentors that have changed our lives. I recall countless times when we were really struggling our teacher would stay after class with us to help us loosen our muscles, calm us down or simply to lend an ear. As I learned more and more about my teacher, I began to realize why we had such a strong connection. She, too, had moved to Seattle from out of state, and had a very difficult time adjusting. And later she would tell me the thing that saved her was yoga <3

 

Serendipity

 

It was that moment that I realized, there are no mistakes in life. We are pulled in certain directions for a reason…every time. The Universe is always taking care of us, watching over us, guiding us and pointing us toward the path that is most beneficial for our personal spiritual journey. And even though I always knew this mentally, it wasn’t until this moment in time that I truly experienced the power of this statement. My entire perspective and outlook on life changed almost instantly.

 

The people we meet, the places we end up in, everything is created with such precision and Divine planning that sometimes when we look back on it, it seems too good to be true. To some it might feel like coincidence. To others it might seem random. But in all its coincidental randomness, the Universe always has plans, and in the end we don’t have control over those plans. We always have a choice to make, but the Divine plan always overrides.

 

We hadn’t lived in Washington for more than two months when this yoga studio opened. We moved to Mill Creek blind. We had no idea what our apartment would look like. We didn’t truly know how the neighborhood would be. We had one car, which we decided to share unless we absolutely needed another one. We moved across the country totally based on TRUST, that everything would work out, and that we’d be ok, that we’d have all the resources we needed.

 

It worked out with such utter perfection that the yoga studio is within walking distance to our apartment. Even though I didn’t have a car to drive all the time, I could still go to yoga anytime I needed. We met the perfect people in the perfect place at the perfect time. Our apartment was in the perfect location. I had always imagined I would live by the water on the West Coast and guess what? Our apartment is on the west coast and has a pond behind it (not the water I was imagining, but the Universe still delivered!). Even our apartment number has meaning. I looked up what the number sequence means (I know, I’m super woo-woo…and I love numbers) and it is a message from the Divine to keep going along my current path. The angels are sending my husband and I a boost of energy to help us keep up momentum on our journey. It gives me chills every time I say it!

 

Yoga has made such a profound impact on our lives since the big move. Some days I think that if it weren’t for yoga, I would have already packed my bags to move back to Michigan. We have quite literally transformed in body, mind and spirit. We have met wonderful friends, who I know will be life long. We have broken through barriers and overcome obstacles we never even knew were there. There were (and still are) several times that I have cried in class because my teacher said just the right thing, or because we were doing hip openers that day, or simply for no reason at all but the need for an unexpected emotional release.

 

I have been so incredibly inspired and transformed by my yoga teachers, mentors, friends and experiences that my next goal (I know…I can’t stop!) is to take yoga teacher training so I can help others heal with yoga.

 

A Hot Yoga Surprise

 

Before our studio opened, however, I was doing hot yoga. We had just moved to Washington and it was the only studio open in Mill Creek at the time. I knew it would help me feel sane and get my exercise at the same time.

 

I had done hot yoga in the past, but it was always quite intense so I never fully committed. It was more of a once-in-a-while detox practice for me. I felt amazing after class, but during was pure torture. I will never forget the time I was at Bikram Yoga in Northville, Michigan and about half way through the class I felt like I would literally die of heat stroke. I was writhing around in pain wondering when the hell class would be over. Hell, I thought I might be in hell for a hot minute (no pun intended). I thought maybe this was my last day on earth, and that would be ok. They urge you not to leave the room during the class. Yes, they do.

 

Despite my past experiences, I went into Hot Yoga Mill Creek with an open mind. As I lay on my mat practically suffocating waiting for class to start, a girl came rushing in at the very last minute and set up right next to me. I don’t know what it was, but at that very moment I knew we would be friends.

 

We both powered through class (well…she powered through, while I mostly just survived) and afterwards as we picked up our mats, I started our friendship with something along the lines of, “I feel like I’m going to die.” She smiled, and our conversation continued from there.

 

Come to find out, her husband is also from Michigan, so we immediately had that connection. We were getting ready to part ways and just when I thought she had sneaked out without saying goodbye, I turned around and there she was. With a kind and loving smile, she handed me a piece of paper with her phone number on it and said, “Since you’re new in the area, let’s grab coffee sometime.”

 

On the outside I was smiling, and on the inside I was crying tears of joy. When you know almost no one, you’ve just moved to a completely new state and you feel sometimes like your world is crumbling beneath you, you can’t help but feel overwhelmed with emotion at a moment like that. Of course I said yes, and we have been friends ever since.

 

But I think the most special thing about our friendship is that we are all friends. Our husbands get along very well, so when we all get together we truly have a wonderful time. She is warm, sincere, has such a loving heart. She invited us to her family’s Easter brunch in April, and on occasion we join them for Church on Sunday mornings. I feel as though our friendship is beyond just hanging out once in a while. When we all get together, it is a true feeling of family, of home.

 

They are a couple of true faith and joy, and our lives have been touched just by knowing them. When you feel like you’re just going to break apart, when you feel lost and sometimes even like someone has just died (seriously how I have felt at times), it is good friends that can help pick you up. Just that small gesture of handing me her phone number changed our lives for the better.


The Cat Debacle

 

To some it may seem trivial. But to me, peeing outside the litter box is a big friggin’ deal (or at least it used to be). It started during moving week. It only happened once at the old house, so I thought it was a fluke. Poor thing. She must have missed the box.

 

Then it started back up again the second we got to our new apartment in Washington. It probably happened about every other day in the beginning. I had a feeling it was behavioral, that it was from the stress of it all. But then I wondered, what if she is physically sick? What if she has an infection? What if her kidneys are failing? The stories continued in my mind as I searched frantically for a Holistic Veterinarian nearby. What are you trying to tell me Gabby? Is there something you need? Are you ok?


I have to say that having a cat who pees outside the box was one of my worst fears when I thought about getting a cat. Once I brought her home and saw that she seemed comfortable and happy with her litter box, I knew I got a good one. Before the move, she never had any litter box issues (and that is a powerful statement). That’s five years of a clean potty record!


As the inappropriate bathroom habits continued, I literally thought I was going nuts. We had gotten every test in the world done. Urine samples, bacterial analysis, X-rays, blood tests, and after all that, everything was “normal.” Our wonderful vet was so patient with us, and sent us home with an herbal urinary tincture to help with any idiopathic inflammation of the bladder, just in case. That seemed to help for a while, but before we knew it the litter box issues returned, and persisted for months thereafter.


When your cat can’t talk to you, you feel powerless, weak, afraid of what might be wrong. Each morning for months I woke up with that fresh hot kicked-in-the-gut feeling, my heart beating hard inside my chest. And then I would walk out of my bedroom to that pungent ammonia cat pee smell. I was at a loss for what to do next. So after all the physical exams and tests, there was only one thing left to do: consult an animal intuitive healer.


I am a very spiritual person. I believe in all the woo-woo that many don’t believe in or shy away from. Yet I still questioned it. Seriously? Can this person really communicate with my Gabby? Is what she is telling me true?


There was plenty of doubt there, but I had to trust my gut on this one. It was the only way left to find out what was going on with my sweet furry companion.


After talking with an animal communicator, here is the report I received:


You are stressed, and Gabby is feeling that stress and taking it on as her own. She loves you, and wants to take care of you, so she is trying to take away your stress. But she is suffering for it. The most important thing to note is, when you are stressed and ungrounded, you allow that negative energy into your space. You must stay grounded, and keep calm energy in your home. You have the power to change these circumstances. Your cat needs you to stay calm, leave her alone and let her do her thing, and not make a big deal about it. She needs to know, through your energetic vibration, that everything is ok. So you need to make an effort each day to just be ok.

 

I immediately took her advice. I made a deliberate daily effort to ground myself, stay calm, take good care of myself and de-stress. I continued my work with my therapist. I meditated every morning before I did anything else. I started my daily yoga regimen and never stopped. I took Epsom salt baths, and bought an essential oil diffuser for our room at night. I made Gabby’s potty room extremely desirable…it was always clean and quiet. I even bought one of those pheromone plug-ins that helps keep cats calm. I set out protective rocks and crystals next to her litter box. And above all, no matter what was on my agenda, I began to make my well-being my first priority.


It wasn’t long before I began to wake up each morning feeling calm, invigorated, excited for the day to begin. I felt stronger, calmer, much more organized and collected. I began meeting new people in the community. I found myself not just liking my new neighborhood, but actually falling in love with it. Depression and panic moments were few, and before I knew it the inappropriate urinating slowed and eventually stopped.


Our pets teach us lessons. Part of Gabby’s spiritual journey was to teach me how important I am, and how important it is for us all to care for ourselves. With all the TLC I was giving myself, I was inevitably doing it for those around me as well. When we fill ourselves up, it naturally flows into the lives of others.


Every experience we think of as “negative” is our teacher. When supposed bad things happen, or undesirable circumstances are presented to us, it is an opportunity for us to learn, to deepen our spiritual path, and to ultimately become who we were meant to become. Instead of resisting the “bad,” can we look at it in a different light? It may be helpful to ask ourselves, What can I learn from this? What is this teaching me?


I am ever so thankful for this crazy, yet eye-opening and wonderful learning experience. I thank my lucky stars each and every day for my fur baby. And not just because she’s sweet and cute and an awesome companion, but mostly because she inspires me each and every day to be a better version of myself.

 

 It’s Confusing

 

We were not in Washington long before we got our first visitors. It was exciting. We prepared their bedroom just perfectly, making sure everything was spick and span, vacuuming and dusting every corner. We even bought a new sheet and comforter set specifically for our guests. We set up the bathroom like the Hyatt, making sure towels, toiletries and other necessities were readily available for them. We stocked the fridge with food we knew they would like, we planned a delicious chicken stew meal for the evening they arrived, we were ready to host!

 

We had barely settled into our new apartment at that point. We were still floating. The cat was still peeing on the floor. We missed home but not too much yet…it hadn’t been quite long enough. We missed our family, I guess. I mean, we had only been away from them for less than three months. We were wandering through life like two lost little puppies trying to find our way home. There was still a lot of stress in our environment. We were fighting…and it was getting worse. But despite the tension and stress, we put it all aside so we could enjoy our time with family.

 

I expected the family and friends visits to be easier. I expected them to be comforting and carefree. I expected to be able to enjoy life as usual.

 

But the truth is, it felt like two worlds colliding. My anxiety ran high. I couldn’t figure out who I truly was. Was I home here? Or was I home there? Spending time with family in my new home was like a catch-22. I loved it, but I was pulled away from the settling in part of the process. I was challenged to keep my composure when truthfully all I wanted to do was yell and cry. And I was so cranky and conflicted I could barely stand myself. I wanted to get out of my body, to get away from ME. My emotions were so volatile it was difficult to be in a room alone with myself. I had trouble sleeping. I began stress eating, and it wasn’t healthy food either. With every visit from family or friends, I felt like I couldn’t function like a normal human being.

 

Our first visitors arrived, we hugged, we smiled, we laughed, we had fun and enjoyed each other’s company. But at the end of the day I was so completely out of body I could barely remember anything about our time together. I was so frustrated with my own issues I couldn’t even be in the present moment. Of course I kept my composure when I was around everyone, but it was hard. Very very hard.

 

And this is how it was every time, with each and every person that visited. Yes, there were times where I felt “normal.” And yes I was happy, even overjoyed to see them, every single one of them. But with every single guest I felt my heart break. I wanted to stay, but I wanted to leave. I wanted them to stay, but I needed them to leave. The good-bye’s at the airport felt like my heart was being torn from my chest, and I just didn’t know how to handle them. I wasn’t ready.

 

I wondered why I felt this way every time we had company. And I finally realized that it was because we were not quite “at home” yet in Seattle. We were not grounded, but we were trying. We were not fully settled in, but we were trying. And each time a new loved one came to visit was one more reason to not settle in. It was like trying to make the decision to move over and over again. There were so many days we desperately wanted to move back to our home town. Countless days in fact. But somehow we knew that this was exactly where we needed to be. This was where we needed to be to heal.

 

 The First Climb

 

On a brisk and sunny Saturday, my husband and I decided to climb our first mountain. We were not previously hikers so we didn’t know exactly what to expect. Before that day, I had heard about people out hiking, but my thought was always, What for? It sounded boring, uneventful and, as a runner for 15+ years, easy. I always thought to each his own, but I never thought I would get much out of hiking. This particular hike was two miles up, and two miles back down. Sounded simple enough.

 

As we drove toward our destination, we got further and further from city life. There were barely any cars on the road, and each and every minute that passed was breathtaking. Surrounded by hills and mountains that rose too high to even comprehend, the dark dense evergreens that seemed to kiss the clear blue sky, and the open road that trailed through mountains and scaled up steep hills and back down again. (Thank God we got that Jeep after all!) The landscape seemed endless. All I could think was, if this is pretty, what is it going to be like at the top of a mountain?

 

We arrived at the trailhead and were led down a long gravel trail which ended at the mountain’s base. Just before we began to climb we looked to our left to find a glistening lake surrounded by soaring mountains. We were in a valley, and the only things we could see were foothills and sky. It was so serene. We could feel the light breeze caressing our skin, and we could hear nothing but the whispers of the Northwest wind.

 

We began to climb. It was more steep than I imagined it would be. The ground was damp, the forest dense and the tree roots protruding up onto the trail, nature’s staircase. There was bright green moss everywhere. I had never seen anything like it before. I felt like I was in a scene from Lord of the Rings.

 

Within the first five minutes I was peeling off layers, practically dripping sweat…not what I expected for a February day! And to whomever I judged in the past for doing the “easy” workout of hiking, well, I was proven wrong that day. Way wrong. In fact, I had been doing P90X for quite some time and as much as that is an awesome workout, Tony Horton’s got nothing on mountain climbing. I now believe nothing can prepare you for a steep hike except more hiking. This was no picnic! By the time we reached the peak, my feet were burning, my legs were vibrating and my butt was numb.

 

At the top the trees opened up and the trail came to a halt. As we stepped up onto that first rock and into the clearing, we couldn’t believe our eyes. Endless blue sky and endless landscape greeted us as we perched ourselves on a rock at the ledge and gazed in awe at the sheer beauty before us.

 

We had a moment of disbelief. This was all so surreal. We live here. How did we get here? What happened? How did we get so lucky? This is what we came here for!

 

It was such a healing experience. It was windy and cool, and we watched the very beginnings of the sunset, as the sky lit up with yellow-orange tones and the mountain’s shadows shifted over the water. We felt lucky. We felt grateful. We were grounded, steady, happy and light. We felt truly blessed, and for just a little while, we forgot what it was like to feel afraid. Time stopped and we took a moment to just sit with God.

 

 The Biz-ness

 

Call me crazy, but yes I started a Holistic Life Coaching business right after we moved. New surroundings, new places, new people, new business, new everything. Hell, even I think I’m crazy some days. Not only did I have to settle into my new town and deal with all the emotions and changes that come with it, I had to run a business.

 

It was scary at first. And sometimes it’s still scary. But it was my dream for a very long time and now that it’s come true, I am ever so grateful I have this amazing opportunity.

 

Because I was in a brand new city away from anything familiar to me, I started my biz from home. I also did it this way because I wanted to help people from all over the country, not just locally. I wanted everyone to have access to me, to get the help and support they need.

 

What ultimately comes with that package, though, is a lot of time alone with myself, in my own thoughts, sometimes feeling secluded and separate from the rest of the world. There are times when my days are full of coaching calls and consults with clients, and there are other days where that’s not necessarily the case.

 

When you first start to build a business part of the package is not having a full client schedule. Just like any other business, it must be built, and I built mine (and am still building) from the ground up.

 

Before my move I was so used to constantly being “busy.” I woke up, went to work, talked to clients, did some hair, and for the most part had a full schedule. When I wasn’t working at the salon I was working out, running errands, having lunch with friends, cooking, cleaning, attending family events, studying, I could go on. Up until November 2014 I based the quality of my life on whether or not I was busy, and how much I could get accomplished in a day.

 

Once I moved that all came to a halt. One car meant I couldn’t always travel all over town running errands and going places. Knowing hardly anyone made it difficult to keep busy socially and letting go of my hair business meant I obviously didn’t have someplace to be each day, where I could be social and listen to other people’s problems (ultimately ignoring my own). I could cook and clean all day but eventually I had to get my work done. This all boiled down to one inevitable conclusion: I had to face my own inner struggles and set them free.

 

At first I didn’t know that’s what my new life would be about. I had no idea what I was getting myself into by not belonging to some sort of community outside of my own head. By default, I was forced to examine my own inner demons, allow them to surface and then let them go.

 

Each day I have a set schedule for myself: personal development, then various work tasks that needed to be accomplished such as blogging, coaching and intro calls, podcast recordings, and social media and other marketing management.

 

When I first started, I would cram everything I could into one day, in hopes of “getting it done.” I would be so distracted mentally by my business tasks that at the end of the day I was feeling burned out. I got sick quite a few times because I overworked myself and didn’t take care of myself enough. Finally, I got so sick and tired of being sick and tired that I eventually surrendered. I made the decision that I would work on my business, but that my real work, was on me.

 

You see, I couldn’t help people if I was sick and tired. And I would never have a joyful life (which is my ultimate goal each day…and let’s face it, isn’t it yours too?) if I kept up at that pace. In slowing down my work load, old emotions, struggles and pains began to surface one by one, forcing me to take a good, hard look at myself and do some major healing from the inside out.

 

In our daily lives, how often do we stop to take a look inside ourselves, to see what truly needs healing so we can be set free? Free of the stress, the worry, the mind chatter, the constant burden we carry in our hearts like a heavy sack of potatoes? It’s a rare occurrence for most.

 

I was given the massive opportunity to do some hard core healing so I could help my clients do the same. It wasn’t always comfortable. In fact, there are times when I felt like it was downright torture. But in the end I was able to let go of so much junk, so much old pain that was no longer serving me, that I now feel like a completely different person, in an awesome way. In fact, there are times where I look back on last year’s me and wonder who that person was.

 

In just one short year I have come unbelievably far. It’s when we sit with our own thoughts, our own inner being that we truly heal. No magic pill or other influence can heal us…the healing comes from within. And that’s the only place it can come from.

 

I’m not perfect, and I’ll never claim to be. I’m still learning, and I’m still healing. There are still days where it’s damn hard. But each day and each pain I successfully release is like finding that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. And most of the time it’s even better than I ever imagined it could be.

 

Full Circle

 

This has been the most transformational year of my entire life. I will never forget the year 2015, an absolutely epic year of joy, grief, survival, exhilaration, gratitude, inner turmoil, newness, all kinds of emotions and above all, spiritual healing.

 

I was forced to look deep inside, to see the truth of life, the truth of me. I am challenged daily to let go of old belief systems holding me hostage and keeping me stagnant.

 

I now realize that we have no control over anything outside of ourselves, that we can either allow life to flow and flow with it, or we can choose to resist it and suffer. I’ve learned that the only constant in life is change, and I’ve learned to expect it, accept it, and even look forward to it.

 

I learned that by filling ourselves up with love, kindness and care we can give more love, kindness and care to others.

 

I have learned that there’s a Divine plan for everyone, that everything happens for a reason, and that it is not only wise but easier to trust God’s plan.

 

I’ve learned that truly loving relationships can only be enjoyed when each person is full, when each person has released their inner baggage enough to enjoy and give to the other.

 

Because we faced our own inner demons and released an insane amount of old stagnant energy, my husband and I are now closer than ever. I truly believe that this move saved our relationship. Just the other night we had a conversation and it went something like this:

 

Husband: “I can’t believe it’s been almost a year. Hell, I still can’t even believe we live here, that we even did this.”

 

Me: “Me either. We’ve both changed so much. I feel like a completely different person from a year ago. I feel like we’re a completely different couple.”

 

Husband: “Me too.”

 

And we both sat there just thinking, remembering what November 19, 2014 felt like. Scary. New. Lonely. Exciting. Confusing. Sitting alone in that empty apartment on an air mattress and eating off paper plates.

 

Me: “So now what?”

 

Husband: “I don’t know. I don’t know at all.”

 

Me: “Me either.”

 

And so we continue to enjoy each other, to make the most out of each day, to remain positive in the face of fear, to expect and embrace change, to live in the now as much as we can, to take it one day at a time. Every day is a new day, and we can either enjoy it or resist it. We choose to enjoy it.  Each day we peel away at the old layers of stagnant energy that have been hiding our heart all these years. Each day, life feels a little better.

 

It’s true, we don’t know what will happen next, and we will never know. But one thing’s for sure, and that is we will always remember this epic adventure of 2015.

 

So now, I will leave you with some of the greatest lessons I have learned…

 

Trust God. Go with the flow of the Universe.

 

Listen, and keep your eyes and ears open for signs pointing you toward the next step on your path.

 

Breathe often. Let go and allow the good to flow to you.

 

Live your destiny.

 

Walk through each day leading with an open heart. Face your fears, for those are the doorways to your joy and freedom.

 

Everything happens for a reason, so don’t resist the “bad” stuff…open your heart and mind to the lessons you can learn from it.

 

Take risks.

 

Ask for help when you need it, and don’t feel guilty. Accept gifts joyfully.

 

Treat yourself with tender loving care always.

 

Be grateful every day. Give to others, and expect nothing in return.

 

Follow your passion. Be you, and love yourself for it.

 

Spend time in nature.

 

Don’t worry about the future; enjoy the present moment.

 

Spend time with those you love.

 

Embrace change.

 

Life’s a journey. We come to this planet for a short time, we do our thing, and then we pass on. We might as well make it enjoyable. Love, trust, have fun and roll with it.