My heart is filled with so much love right now I don’t even know where to begin. My long-empty cup is suddenly overflowing.
Don’t get me wrong. My life is blessed beyond measure: loving husband, brilliant daughter, successful jobs, a house to sleep in with food in the cupboards. But my personal cup, the one that can never be filled by other people no matter how much they love you, has been empty for quite some time. I’ve felt lost, directionless, unsure of what the future holds.
One of the hardest things for me to remember and accept is that it is not selfish to take care of me, it’s necessary.
In February, Bill moved his friend Nick to Buena Vista, CO where Nick’s daughter Heather and her husband Danny live. Bill’s friendship with 67 year old Nick never ceases to crack me up and deserves its own post. But I digress. When he returned he couldn’t stop gushing about how it was just like heaven. Even though the drive through snow storms and treacherous mountain roads scared him shitless, the experience when he got there blew all of that away. Because of my own issues I had trouble hearing and was reticent about Bill’s suggestion to visit in the future.
Before I even realized it our trip was scheduled over Independence Day weekend and July was rapidly approaching. Following a nasty car accident in the middle of Nebraska 15 years ago, I’ve struggled to enjoy road trips and cannot fall asleep in the car, and this trip is 10 hours long. Having driven through Colorado a few times but only staying in Loveland once, I was looking forward to a vacation in a new destination. Focusing mostly on the negatives – cost, time, fear – I was excited but wary.
We left on Thursday with Bill at the wheel. The drive was uneventful but fascinating. We stopped in places we’ve never been and visited oddities such as the 80ft Van Gogh replica of 3 Sunflowers in a Vase in Goodland, KS. Once you hit Manitou Springs, CO though, things get interesting. That’s where I took over.
I was thankful to be in control through the winding mountain roads but sacrificed a few breathtaking views of new terrain and quaint mountainside towns. Don’t worry, I gawked a bit too. My first time seeing mountains was on a cross-country road trip with my family at 13 and I cried upon spotting their outline on the horizon. This time was no different and seeing the look on my daughter’s face was priceless. We stopped at points of interest and soaked up as much as we could.
Finally we arrived in Buena Vista, CO. This tiny town on the Arkansas River is surrounded by the Collegiate Peaks, a line of mountains over 14,000ft high. The town itself has an elevation of 7,965ft (Lawrence is 866ft) and has a population of 3,500 in the winter and around 10,000 in the summer. It’s ridiculously adorable.
Everything you could possibly want to do is within walking distance and caters to pedestrians and bicyclers. When I say everything I mean every type of park and terrain you can think of. Boating. Rafting. Hiking. Shopping. Antiquing. Eating. Yoga. Yoga. Yoga.
And then there’s Danny and Heather. Bill told me they were the nicest people he’s ever met and that I had no trouble believing because Bill and I like the same kinds of people. He was completely right, of course. If you witnessed our easy conversations about life, food, yoga and our successful collaborations in the kitchen, you never would have guessed that Heather and I only met five days ago. They are great people and extremely gracious hosts.
It’s the same for pretty much everyone else in that town. Overly kind, polite, considerate non-litterers. No one locks their doors and the police station has the ability to close during the day because there’s no crime. I guess people who can get legally high and play in the sunshine tend to be happier.
And the weather? Dear god, the weather is amazing.
Everywhere I turned I encountered some coincidence or connection to my life. The woman sitting next to me at the Fourth of July parade? Graduated from KU, originally from Wichita and the mother of a 5 1/2 year old girl who is about to start kindergarten. The lady at yoga I spotted during down dog wearing a Free State Beer t-shirt? Also visiting from Lawrence and lives off Harvard Street. A cute house that caught my eye was numbered 325 (the house number where I grew up and the address where I currently live) and my favorite places had little details that made me think of everyone in my extended family. The restaurants have sections of the menu devoted to kale and quinoa and most people lead healthy, active lifestyles.
Then there were big signs. The owner of jalaBlu asked us to focus on Ganesh, the remover of obstacles, during our first practice. She reminded us that not only does Ganesh remove obstacles in our path, he may even place what we perceive to be negative obstacles with the intention of driving us the right way. It spoke to me in a profound way and opened my heart to a beautiful practice. And when I came back to her class the next day she had a guest musician play guitar and bless us with her voice during savasana. The first song she sang? Hallelujah, which always makes me think of my Grandma ArLee.
Side note about Grandma ArLee, one of the most significant people in my life – ever since she passed she has made her presence known in the form of a cardinal, always appearing when I need support, comfort, reassurance or simply a smile.
After the torrential downpour (laughable by Kansas standards) on the afternoon of the 4th, the most vivid double rainbow I’ve ever seen stretched fully across the sky. We walked down the train tracks and saw where the rainbow actually touched the ground, so bright and colorful it was surreal.
On Saturday afternoon it all came to a head. Bill and I had already toyed with the idea of moving to BV one day and as we sat on the patio I asked Danny if this is really what it’s like to live there. Everything seemed just too perfect to be real. When he confirmed that yes, it really is that awesome, the statement “I am meant to be here” bubbled out of my heart and mind and escaped my mouth. Like any life-altering change, it hit me upside the head like a ton of bricks and overwhelmed me with the logistical items required to make it a reality. Honestly, it broke my brain a bit.
Trying to compose myself, I went inside and locked myself in the bathroom with the thought “I am meant to be here” reverberating in my head. Followed shortly by the thoughts, “am I meant to be here? Can I do this?” At that exact moment the clock on the wall chimed. This clock displays twelve different north american birds and chirps at the top of the hour. Guess which one is positioned at 3:00?
Hearing the familiar cardinal call washed away all fear and any shred of doubt. My family and I are meant to live in Buena Vista, CO. I’ve never been more sure of any decision in my entire life. On Sunday Madeleine started sentences with, “When we live here can we…” so I can confirm we’re all on board.
Clearly, this isn’t an immediate endeavor. But we’ve already set a plan in motion that will get us there in the next few years. Once we’re there I promise every single one of you will want to visit so you can fill your cups as well.
What I’ve realized is there are no accidents, no coincidences. The universe is unfolding for you exactly as it is meant to. You just have to be open to receive the message.