It’s hard to believe but October 24th was a year since I made up my mind to move to Colorado. A year since I packed everything I owned into my truck and the U-haul trailer and came to Colorado Springs. In some ways it seems like the longest year of my life. So many things that are such a change from the Midwest. And in other ways it’s been the shortest. Because of all the things I’ve learned. All the new adventures I’ve had. All the new opportunities I’ve found.

I was driving through the country today to take my first horse back riding lesson out here, my first time back in a saddle in over a year. As much as I love trials and motorcycles, horses and riding are a close second. But driving out there, I couldn’t help but remember Illinois. All the memories I’d had out there. All the things I’d left. All the things that could have been. I admit, it made me a little sad. A little wistful. A little regretful.

But then I looked out of the window at the mountains in the distance. At the sun and the clouds in the bright blue sky, marveling that even though it was ‘cold’ (50’s), I was actually overheating in my outfit. And as I got on the horse, and we were walking around, the mountains to the west and the plain stretching out as far as I could see, I remembered why I came here. For a new adventure. For a chance at a new start. A chance to live in a state that had drawn me ever since I’d been a little girl.

And I’ve not been disappointed.

I’ve met a ton of great trials riders in Colorado and New Mexico, and ridden a lot of amazing places. I have a new family now in them, and the riding out here is amazing. It’s challenged me to ride things that in a million years I never thought I would ride. And it’s given me the courage to get even more fit and get better and ride even bigger, trickier stuff.

I’ve found a great job that suits my personality perfectly. I’m surrounded by great co-workers, I get to handle antique items and do research, and I don’t have to really talk on the phone or deal with angry people (nightmares for my anxiety).

I’m part of a writing club, and making new friends. I work out now. I do pottery. I go to art museums and theaters. And I’m really getting into my writing again. Not just as a haphazard ‘wish’, but actually getting serious and dedicated to it. I’m painting again. I’m learning how to work with leather. I’m learning and growing and doing all sorts of new things.

Not that everything has been a cakewalk. I got fired from a job (which actually was a HUGE blessing in disguise even though it sucked at the time). I’ve had some failed relationships. It seems I’m also pretty susceptible to altitude sickness (horray for me).

But overall, I’m happy. I’m learning how to be content in life. Do I have everything? No. Do I wonder how I’m going to survive in the expensiveness that is the Front Range? Yeah, it’s worrying. Do I miss Illinois, have regrets? Yes.

But I’m happy. Every day the sun shines and I get to look at the mountains and it reminds me of all the wonderful things I have.

I talk about Linkin Park songs a lot because they’ve been a big part of my life. They’re my healing music when I’m upset or anxious or having a depressive episode. Because for so many years when I couldn’t say what I was feeling or was so confused I didn’t know what I was feeling, they were my voice. They were the words I wanted to say but couldn’t find. So a lot of my life is kind of played along with their songs. And one of their songs that has always seemed like the soundtrack of my life is “Somewhere I Belong”.

“I will never know myself until I do this on my own
And I will never feel,
Anything else until my wounds are healed
I will never be
Anything ’til I break away from me
And I will break away, and find myself today

I want to heal, I want to feel
What I thought was never real
I want to let go of the pain I felt so long (erase all the pain til it’s gone)
I want to heal, I want to feel,
Like I’m close to something real
I want to find something I’ve wanted all along
Somewhere I belong”

I always felt like I was searching. Searching for that place where the puzzle piece that was me fitted in without having to jam it in and beat it with a hammer. And whether I was wrong or not, I’ve always been searching. A lot of places got close to fitting, but no place really fit. I always felt off. A stranger. A fifth wheel. Like I was meant for something else.

Until I came here.

Maybe it was making the decision to move and making it happen within a week. Unburdening myself from the house. Seeking a new adventure. Doing it all myself without any help from anyone. Maybe it is something in the mountains. Something healing. Challenging. Maybe it’s just the change. Something in the energy of the land. Of this city.

This past year has been the most amazing in all of my life. Because I’ve done it. I moved on my own. I broke away from all the things I thought I was supposed to be, and have been enjoying finding out who I really am. I challenged myself to not fall into the same ruts and demons of my past. I made myself look at myself, to stop lying about the bad stuff and stop kicking myself for things that are out of my control. And I learned how to set the weight down that I’d been carrying all these years. All the shame and regret that my anxiety made me hold for my entire life. That I was slowly being crushed under. Coming out here, I learned how to set that down. To challenge myself to be something more. I’ve climbed actual mountains out here (albeit little ones). I had to challenge myself to grow to ride the harder landscape. To deal with Colorado and it’s wilds.

I’ve learned confidence. I’ve learned how to stand up for myself. I’ve learned I can make friends wherever I go. I’ve learned I don’t have to be alone. I don’t have to fear being abandoned. I’ve learned acceptance. I feel stronger, mentally and physically, than I ever have before. I feel like I’m somewhere I belong. I feel like I fit.

I can’t wait to see what the next year holds.