“This is Stacy, and she’s already made the leap.”
It was April of 2015 and I was being introduced at the registration desk for a retreat in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. It was the first time that I had heard it out loud. I had already starting making the mental shift, and was putting things in motion, but hadn’t yet given notice at work or put my house on the market. I had started making travel plans that would lead to those steps in the coming months.
The focus of the retreat was on tracking paths in your life, making the shift from a cerebral focus to more of a spiritual one, not religious per se, but of tuning into your own spirit. Finding your own true north. And following the tracks, some completely clear, and others barely noticeable, covered in the sands of distractions blown by the winds of change.
When I think back on the last two years, it seems like forever ago that I was in the height of a career for which I had worked so hard for so long, from a complete novice to eventually leading my own team, and all the years in between. I had accomplished what by conventional standards was The American Dream: a university degree, a good paying job, a house, great credit, paid-off student loans and car loan, no debt other than a mortgage, and a barely-there 401k, but at least it was a start. And I cashed in those chips and began what would be the adventure of my life. In some ways, I guess this adventure goes back to flight school and getting my private pilot’s license, the first of the big “bucket list” items that I accomplished. International travel, including volunteering, was right after that, and all of those travel adventures are well-cataloged on this blog, so I won’t rewrite them, as you can find them under the “Europe” and “Africa” sections.
My return to the U.S. is also fairly well-documented in terms of the specific places I visited and things I’ve done since coming back in August of 2016, nearly a year ago. It’s been a process of taking all the pieces of fabric of my life, and putting them together in various ways to see what pattern spoke to me the most. I have been fortunate to have some amazing friends, as well as pet sitting clients, that opened their homes to me during this whole time. And then I made a trip to perhaps an unlikely place on a map, but a magical place in the world of animal care, a special sanctuary in southern Utah. My five week internship flew by, and I stayed for another month to volunteer and spend more time, and somewhere in there something clicked.
If you would have told me that I’d ever move to Utah, of all places, I would have thought you had really lost your mind. Anyone that knows me well would question it, too. A land-locked red state is not exactly the optimal environment for a water-loving blue girl like me, afterall. And yet, this morning I received the call with a job offer as a dog caregiver at the sanctuary, and so begins the next chapter in my journey. I didn’t come here intending to apply for a job, and yet I wasn’t adverse to the idea either. I was simply in the moment, every day, whether it was my internship or my volunteer days, and did my best to connect with the animals, people, and enviroment around me. And what I can tell you, for those who have been to the sanctuary and experienced its magic, or to those who have yet to visit, or perhaps won’t be able to do so — it’s a special place. No matter what role you have there, as employee or visitor, you’re very connected to the work that they are doing, and the difference that it makes in the lives of the animals they serve, as well as in the lives of the people who are touched by these animals every day. It’s a place that celebrates its successes in a way that honors the animals as much as the humans that make it all possible.
I’ll likely be starting this new job some time mid-July, and in early Fall I will return to Seattle to load up a moving truck of my stuff that is still in storage and make the drive back down to southern Utah. I think that’s when the tears will come. I have a love for the Pacific Northwest that knows no bounds, yet after a spending most of my life there, it’s time for a change, as the weather broke me some time ago, and my soul has longed for brighter skies. For a long time I thought the immediate next place would be San Diego, but for now I’m making a bit of a detour. And this has been my life since I surrendered to trusting the journey and my own tracking abilities — you may not always find yourself where you thought you’d be, but it’s where you’re meant to be.
I’ve been sitting on this news for a few weeks, since I had decided to apply but didn’t offiially get the job offer until today, so I wasn’t prepared to share it until now. So for all the “What’s Next?!?!?” question-asking friends in my life, there you have it. I’m blessed with so many people that have supported me along the way, not just in the last two years, but my whole life, really. And I appreciate it; more than I can express. This is by no means the end of the journey, it’s merely one of the photo albums in a collection of days, weeks, months, and years that make up the catalog my life. I have no idea how all of this will play out, but I know one thing: I intend to enjoy every moment of it.
Afterall, that’s what the animals do.