Have you ever taken a hike, climbed a mountain, gone upstairs to look out a window, or even a flight and observed the view outside your window? It never ceases to amaze me how the view can change based on one’s perspective.
My life motto: Above the clouds is sunshine, it’s all a matter of perspective.
I grew up in Kansas, right in the middle of the United States. A change in elevation was rare, unless I was going up or down the stairs. I did not grow up hiking or adventuring much. I recall a few trips to Colorado to see the mountains now and then, but would not have called myself an adventurer until more recently.
In May of 2018, I left my Kansas home and departed for the east coast. My husband had changed jobs and the logistics involved a move. We uprooted our family of five, downsized our 3,000 square foot house (which was complete with the yard, playhouse, shed, and wonderful neighbors), and said farewell to family and friends. We left for what I thought was a two-year sabbatical, with long term plans to buy or build our “forever home” in Colorado when the two years were up. Funny story…it’s been three plus years and we haven’t settled down in Colorado, but we did gain perspective.
My husband and I met in flight school. We are both civilian pilots and fell in love with aviation before we fell in love with each other. As a dear friend of mine said, “It’s a good thing your husband is short so he wouldn’t have far to fall when he fell in love with you!” Truth: hubby and I are nearly the same height at around 5’6”. We knew the aviation life of two pilots would not be easy, let alone turbulence free. We knew that having kids and raising a family would be difficult. Little did I know this move to Virginia would give me the elevation change I needed to gain the perspective of a lifetime.
When we moved from Kansas to Virginia, I began homeschooling the children. Let me be clear: I NEVER wanted to stay home with the kids or homeschool, yet I have found a new piece of myself within each new challenge. I began staying home when I was laid off from a flying job in 2012 and discovered being home with my then one-year-old was a fun endeavor. I have been a stay at home mom since then, flying occasionally, both professionally and personally. My heart sings when I’m flying, yet I also fell in love with being home with my children. There will be a time for me to fly again. For now, I feel my heart and soul yearning to be home with my kids.
My husband works for a major airline as a pilot and has a fluid schedule. He comes and goes as he has always done and the kids and I roll with it. I once heard a speaker from a panel of female airline pilots say, “The only constant in our life is change.” This is beyond true. I have thought about these words over and over through the years and truly taken them to heart.
I will share the story of our first trip to Virginia in another post. When we arrived in Virginia, I was greeted with a house full of boxes and realized, for the first time, I was all alone. I had only one friend forty-five minutes away, if traffic was light, and I didn’t know my neighbors, let alone if they spoke English. I lived in a multi-cultural neighborhood where I was the minority as a white woman with three children. This was going to be a new experience, for sure. As I walked around my new house, I ping-ponged through each room, finding things to occupy the children while I tried to find a pizza pan or any dishes so we could make a homemade dinner.
As I settled into the new house and made it into a home, I met the neighbors, joined a homeschool group, and began to settle in, as the early settlers did when they came to this land. I found some incredible neighbors, friends whom I consider family, and experiences that shaped my future. We began exploring the local area and learning about the history there. Looking back now, this foreshadowed my future.
In September of 2019, our timeline was coming to a close for the intended plans we had made. We knew that in the spring of 2020 our lease would be up and we would be moving out of the townhome we rented. We didn’t know exactly where we wanted to live, but wanted to end up in the Colorado area. We discussed the future and started looking into options. We decided to look into Recreational Vehicles (RV’s) because we weren’t sure what airport my husband would be based out of with his upcoming job change. This would give us the opportunity to move as needed to be close to any base in the US and be flexible with changes as they came. This launched the next phase of our adventure: full-time RV living.
We bought a travel trailer and began remodeling it to meet our specifications for full-time travel. We replaced the floors, pulled out the furniture, painted, and more. When we launched in April of 2020, for the adventure of a lifetime. Little did we know when we bought the rig that the pandemic was just on the horizon. We were impeccably (and likely divinely) set up for the most uncertain time in our life. Worldwide, pilots were laid off, airplanes were grounded, and there was uncertainty if or when air travel would resume. As the world shut down around March of 2020, we were preparing to launch in the RV. With an uncertain future, we knew without a doubt, our path was laid before us and we were prepared for it.
As I look back, leaving Kansas was only the beginning of our elevation change. We downsized from 3000 square feet to 1500 square feet. In the spring of 2020, we were downsizing again by 75%!!! I sold the furniture, gave away most of our belongings, and packed up a small U-Haul of keepsakes for storage. I could not have imagined getting rid of all the things I purged: knife set, fancy dishes and bowls, pots and pans, countless spatulas, and more. It is humbling to realize the things we have and what we truly need. Every step so far had prepared me for where I was headed. All I needed was not to brace, but embrace the change.
As I think about how our life progressed, I think about changes in elevation. I think about hikers who train for hikes at different altitudes. If one was to just go from zero to 14,000 feet, they could suffer from altitude sickness, dehydration, and more. One must train, a little at a time, and adjust to the altitude to be successful. Isn’t this what we just did over the past few years? My family has now been on the road for nearly two years. It’s amazing how looking back can give one so much perspective. We have all made it through this Covid-19 Pandemic with perspective. We have all had to make changes, adjust, and adapt. Just like a hiker, we can look at each step in the journey and know that as we adjusted to the given altitude, we were able to better handle each step forward. All we need to do is focus on the next step. As my family takes hikes, we look for that overlook, that view, that gem discovered along the journey. We take a moment to breathe and take in the view that we have worked so hard to get to.
As we crossed the country from the east cost in 2020 to the west coast in 2021, we have come to appreciate the beauty of this country. We have seen the majestic mountains, valleys, rivers and rocks of this country. We have met incredible people and been supported by strangers. One particular evening, I recall looking across the buttes of the southwest states and thinking…these are BUTTE-iful, truly beautiful. Look how far we have come. Look how far I have come. What if I never embraced the journey? What if I said no to moving from Kansas? What if I said no to homeschooling? What if I had not grown THIS much?
A friend of mine told me this quote and I hold it dear to my heart:
“The only reason to look back is to see how far you’ve come.”
How far have YOU come, friends? What path have you taken that you can look back on now and enjoy the view of your journey?