Help Wanted: the Universe

Exactly one year ago I decided to stop waiting.  I had spent 32 marvelous and joyous years in Cincy with my amazing friends, family and co-workers.  But something was missing in my life and it wasn’t just a boyfriend, lol.  As my siblings said, I was content but not happy.  I knew in my heart that I was happiest in the mountains, which bring me a sense of peace, calm and healing that nothing and no one else can.   To satiate my constant craving, I had started going on more backpacking / camping trips in Montana, Wyoming, the Carolinas and Tennessee.  Then in February of 2016, I signed up for a 6 day biking trip through Glacier National Park scheduled for September 2016 and little did I know that I’d be living in Utah by then.   When I wasn’t going on week-long trips, I spent most weekends getting “my fix” in the rolling woods of Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana and Ohio.  Despite these adventures, I couldn’t shake the reality that I was just “content”.  Of course, I had plenty of moments of intense joy with my friends and family.  They were, and still are, my everything.  I still constantly wish the universe could physically push Ohio next to Utah so I could spend more time with them.

Foothills
76.2 glorious miles on the Foothills Trail, January 2016

That nagging feeling of just being “content” in Cincy spurred me to apply for an HR position  with the NSF in Antarctica, in part because I absolutely love icy, cold weather – it makes me feel more alive than warm / hot weather.  Of course, I didn’t even get a response on my application.  Wyoming was my favorite state at the time, so I applied there as well.  I even considered applying to a position where I’d literally have to trudge through the woods looking for dead deer and remove their lymph nodes for scientific studies.  I don’t even know how to slice a Thanksgiving turkey, let alone slice apart a deer carcass.  It’s funny what people think about doing for work when they let their mind and hearts wander.

In Cincy, my heart was physically yearning for the cold, snowy mountains.  I was just waiting for the “perfect” time and “perfect” circumstances under which to move.  I’d be ready to move to the “perfect” city with the “perfect” job.  So I waited patiently for months for the universe to put everything into place for me.   Yes, I was trying whilst I waited – I was applying to jobs and getting rejected left and right.  I was networking with people out west.  I was doing my research on different cities and mountain towns.  I wasn’t making any long term commitments in Cincy, such as buying a dog or a house.  I was month-to-month on my apartment.  My dating life was non-existent, so I wouldn’t be sticking around for “the one”.   Importantly, I was still working really hard at my job because I think it’s super important to give your employer who is putting food on your table and clothes on your back your absolute best and always be grateful for that, even if you’re not sure what will happen long-term.   So I kept waiting for the universe to make magic happen.  And guess what – nothing happened.  Shocker.  I couldn’t figure out why I was doing everything “right” but nothing was falling into place the way I wanted it to.  Looking back, I can’t believe how entitled I felt!  I can’t believe that yet again, I thought that if I did everything “perfectly”, the universe would make things fall into place.  Who am I to think that the universe should do anything for me?!  I’m a bit queasy about my entitled mindset, but that’s a topic for another day.

Phone
My daily reminder

So then one night a year ago on a random Thursday in May of 2016, I realized that the universe wasn’t going to create my life in the mountains.  If I wanted that life, I had to create it myself.   When I had this epiphany, I was working for Performance Automotive, which happened to have offices in Salt Lake City, just minutes from the mountains.  That night  while getting ready for bed, I decided to move to glorious Utah and found an apartment online.  The next day I put a non-refundable deposit down on the apartment sight unseen without even talking to my family (except Auggie and Maryl of course), friends or bosses about it.  I’ve always been a conservative, risk averse planner, so I wasn’t sure who was driving the boat when I did that.  I was hopeful my bosses would let me transfer, but there was a huge possibility that they’d say no.  I was sweating bullets while they thought about it for a week.  I didn’t dare tell them that I had already gotten an apartment.  Luckily they said yes and 2 weeks later on June 12, 2016 I was living in Utah, or Utaw as I like to call it.

Overlook
My first Utaw hike, where I met my best friends, Dan & Robert, through Meetup, July 2016
Camping
First backpacking trip as a Utaw resident, with Dan, Red Pine Trail, August 2016

Looking back, I still can’t believe that I actually pulled the trigger without a solid, predictable plan in place.  I definitely think the universe helped me along the way, but there’s a huge difference between helping a gal help herself and doing everything for her.  I really didn’t understand that difference until I spent 8 years studying co-dependency.  I’ve learned that some people want your help but don’t really want to change.  They do the same thing over and over expecting a different result and just want you to be part of that cycle.  Or they complain about circumstances but don’t do anything to change them and just want you to listen to the same story over and over.  I used to mistake those types of situations as “empathetic” and “meaningful”, but I eventually realized that I was also using other people’s “stuff” to avoid my own “stuff”.  One of many distractions that I’ve employed since childhood to avoid reality, but that’s another post for another day.  I don’t live by many hard and fast rules, but in general, I now believe that walking away is often the best help you can give someone stuck in the cycle.  As much as it absolutely breaks my heart, I know that staying in the cycle with them is causing damage to both of us and walking away is the only compassionate thing for me to do.  I’d rather cry myself to sleep for a few nights because I’ve lost that person by walking away, than stand by and “help” them suffer.  And sometimes, after I walk away, the person makes miraculous changes and sometimes they don’t and that’s ok, too. At least I take myself out of the equation and focus on my own stuff instead of theirs.  I think the universe walked away from me for awhile for that reason.  And when I started to make things happen by myself, the universe came back to help.

My friends, families and co-workers also helped me more than I ever deserved.  I’m going to be forever grateful to the people in my life who supported and encouraged me once I pulled the trigger.  I couldn’t have done it alone.

September lake
First snow of my first year, Uinta Mountains, September 2016
September
Uinta Mountains, September 2016

So here I am – one year later living my dream by the mountains.  Now I’m not saying that once I moved to Utah everything was “perfect”.  First of all, there’s no such thing as perfect. Perfect is an idea or concept – it’s not reality.  The only thing that exists is this moment right now exactly as it is in whatever form.  And this moment is perfect don’t you think?  The past year of “living the dream” has been extremely challenging, but from those challenges I’ve forced myself to grow emotionally, physically, psychologically and intellectually.  I’m back in therapy (I’m excited about my new therapist, but I miss my Cincy therapist more than words) and, for the first time in my life, I’ve started taking an anti-depressant to help with my self-esteem, anxiety and sadness about some issues that I’ve been facing.  Despite all of my self-work (e.g., cutting way back on alcohol and caffeine; hiking a ton; volunteering; working out; eating right; reading self-help books; setting healthy boundaries; limiting negative people and situations, etc.) and despite the fact that I’m incredibly happy and grateful for my life, I realized that something dark was building inside me and I needed to seek professional help before doing something that I would regret or that would make matters worse for me and possibly impact the people in my life.  As a result of my underlying insecurities, I’ve physically and emotionally hurt myself and others in the past during traumatic situations and I decided not to let history repeat itself (i.e., doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results).   Fearing that if I didn’t get help fast I’d have a mental / emotional breakdown, I met with my doctor.  I explained everything that’s going on and after listening, he said two things: (1) I’m dealing with a lot of REALLY stressful situations which I tend to downplay as “just the hand I was dealt” and (2) I’m really hard on myself and don’t have much self-confidence.  So he prescribed Wellbutrin, which helps combat anxiety as well as feelings of low self-worth.  I’ve been on it for about 2 weeks and it’s been a game-changer!  My lows aren’t as low and my highs aren’t as high.  I rarely feel anxious anymore and I’m able to focus on studying and work instead of spending time and energy combating my anxiety. And my self-confidence feels a bit better (I just know the NSF will invite me to Antarctica any day now!).  My doc helped me understand that I shouldn’t feel guilty for how I feel – it’s not a sign that I’m not grateful for my wonderful life or a sign of weakness that I can’t handle it all by myself.  I think it’s just a sign that I needed a little extra help and the universe placed this amazing, incredible doctor in my life to help me along the way.  And I know for sure that the universe is standing by ready to help anyone who wants to help themselves – including whoever is reading this 🙂 

Waterfall
Lost track of all the hikes!