About nine years ago I decided to take a trip on my own. I purchased a round-trip ticket to Raleigh, NC and reserved a car. I set out with my 35mm camera and a guidebook to the Outer Banks. My goal was to drive the entire coastline of this beautiful state in a quest to see all of the lighthouses. The journey was more than a roadtrip to a beautiful place, it was a journey of self-discovery. It was on that trip that I became comfortable in my own skin. I spent five days alone and learned that I am pretty good company. I ended the journey on November 15 in Atlantic Beach NC where I took a walk in the sand at sunset. The date is easy to remember, as it is my birthday.
I returned to Atlantic Beach two more times over the next nine months and then at least once a year afterwards. To say that I fell in love with the area is a major understatement. The beach became my place of respite...the place where the evils of my work disappeared, even if for just a short time. Each time I returned, I could feel my shoulders relax and my breathing slow as soon as I crossed the state line. The closer I got to the coast, the more relaxed I became. Suddenly there was no rush to do any one thing, but instead a pace to enjoy all things. Bailey saw the ocean for the first time, learned to swim, and skip rocks on the NC Coast. He learned to love riding bikes on Ocracoke Island. When asked why I returned to the same place every year, the answer was simple. Tradition. But to add to that, no where else gave me the same feeling as being here.
In 2007 Bailey and I did the Mountains to the Sea experience, traveling from the western part of the state to the coast. It was here that Bailey went hiking the first time. It was here that I saw my first waterfall (Hickory Nut Falls, Chimney Rock). The lush beauty of the mountains and the crisp, clean air was intoxicating.
A few years ago I decided I wanted to move here and began the job search. My challenge was finding something that would keep me in my work, but allow me to give more to my son. Unbeknownst to me, my dad told my sister that he would help me move once I got the job. Unfortunately God called him home before this dream was realized. When I came across a disc that contained photos of him I had to wonder what he would say. Probably, "I knew you would." As smooth as the move went, something tells me he was here the whole time.
When the dream of relocating became a reality, a few people thought I would be disappointed. Some believed this sense of peace and joy was merely a vacation response. I would be a liar if said I did not wonder it myself. I worried about leaving my twenty year old daughter in MO and uprooting my eleven year old son from the only place he has ever called home. I worried that it would not live up to my expectations. All of these fears aside, I decided to take a leap of faith. With this blog I will share the journey that came from taking the leap.
On Easter Sunday, 2012, Bailey, the animals, and I settled down in the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains. Every single day I look around and the mountain ridges and I marvel that I am lucky enough to live here. I once thought the coast was where I wanted to be, but suddenly I feel that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Bailey and I found a house that is as close to perfect as it could be, with neighborhood children for him to play with. I am home every night to have dinner with this beautiful child and off every weekend to take him exploring the area. We hike to various locations, camera in tow. We have found a church that is uplifting to both of us and are slowly getting acclimated to the shear kindness demonstrated by those around us. The kindness that is the south. My co-workers have opened their arms and welcomed me into their group. It is a joy to come to work each day knowing that I get to work with some great people doing what I have been dreaming of doing. And when I lay my head down at night, I am grateful for the blessings I never thought I'd see. But what made me finally know that I had made the right decision was when Bailey said to me, "Mom, I'm glad we moved here." When I asked him why, he had a variety of reasons ranging from making new friends, having a great house (with an awesome room), learning of a new game, and finally..."because you are happy mom." Out of the mouths of babes.
So, we really aren't in Kansas anymore....we are finally home.