I’m not sure what exactly changed inside of me. Can relocation really change someone so much? I’m starting to think the answer to that is, “Yes!” I always thought of myself as outdoorsy… though looking back I was more athletic than outdoorsy. I played organized sports, I didn’t mind a good sweat, I’d go boating on lakes and surfing in the ocean, but I rarely experienced nature in all its glory.
One thing I know is that Florida is really freaking hot and humid — and ask my friends, I am an abnormally sweaty gal. It can also be quite buggy at times and the land kind of looks the same everywhere you go… except the beaches which of course are beautiful. But you see, I’ve never been a big beach person. I love a good beach vacation and can enjoy the beauty of the ocean — but it’s never quite done it for me the way mountains and forests and greenery do.
Growing up, my family would visit North Carolina quite a bit — it was almost our home away from home. We visited in summer for the cooler weather, in fall for the burst of colors, and in the winter for skiing and snowboarding. There was always this smell that hit me the second we made it into the mountains and to this day, I can smell it whenever I’m near forests (is it a certain type of tree? the soil? I have no idea… but it’s a sweet smell that lingers with me since before I can remember).
I knew as a child that the mountains held a special place in my heart. For many years I planned of moving north to go to Appalachian State University (in Boone, North Carolina). I dreamed of hiking and camping and bonfires and swimming in lakes without alligators. I imagined myself snowboarding all winter long and kayaking rivers and rapids through the summer.
But, despite being accepted, I didn’t go to ASU — instead I chickened out and stayed in Orlando and went to the University of Central Florida. At the time, that was what was best for me, but the thought of this cooler weather, adventure-packed, outdoorsy, one with nature kind of life had been manifesting in my head literally since I was 5 years old.
Fast forward 20-something years and here I am, FINALLY living the life that I had always felt like I should be living.
Despite all the other things, like work and my marriage, that feel so perfect right now — the biggest change I see in myself is that this girl that I always thought I was but never really grew up to be… has finally arrived.
I was afraid for awhile that maybe she was gone (or never really existed). I mean if I was so yearning for this experience with nature then why wouldn’t I just make it happen more in Florida despite the lack of ideal terrain? Why didn’t I camp in the Ocala National Forest or kayak down the Wekiva River more often? I felt guilty that maybe who I wanted to be and who I actually was just didn’t match up. Sometimes we feel that way as humans — and sometimes we’re right.
However, now I have this new life in the Pacific Northwest that provides me with the city living that I love plus the easily accessible environment of my dreams… Crystal clear water, snow-capped mountains, dense forests, humongous trees, green for days, plus some things I didn’t even plan for like the breathtaking Pacific coastline and rainforests.
Alright, so you get it, I’m happy to be in this region. And yes, I’m hiking and camping every chance I get (i’m pretty sure my Facebook friends are sick of all the pictures). I’ve been floating down rivers through the middle of mountains, I’ve hiked trails to waterfalls, and I’ve explored tops of peaks looking out over all this beauty.
I can’t get enough. It feels insatiable right now.
But what’s the point? The point… I think… is that relocating and finally making this BIG MOVE completely empowered me to change how I spend my time. I feel healthier, happier, and like my time is more full of unforgettable moments than mundane routines (though obviously those still happen).
Relocating to Seattle changed me — though I like to believe this person was inside of me all along. It stirred something up in me that wasn’t going to sit back and let all these adventures happen out there without me. It reminded me of that smell in the woods that I wish I could bottle and take home with me. It ignited a fire in me to unplug more and allow myself to be lost in the woods for 2 or 3 days with no cell phone service or wifi.
I’m not saying that relocating is for everyone. Some people are lucky enough to have been born in the region that fits their plan. But there is probably a good chance that there is some type of BIG MOVE that has been in the back of your head for as long as you can remember — maybe it’s a certain trip you want to take, a hobby you want to try, or a company you want to start. It probably gets really loud sometimes… then you get really good at quieting it (like I did).
I hope you can find the courage to explore this “thing” and not ignore it, not put it off any longer just because it’s big and scary and risky.
It could change you.
It could change your life.