Just as the branches of a tree extend in different directions and its leaves change appearance from year to year,
so must we spread our wings and embrace opportunity as life presents itself.
Change is uncomfortable. It can be exciting, but it is often scary. We’ve all heard the saying, “we fear what we don’t know.” I consider myself fairly open to new experiences and one whom can appreciate opportunity, but I’ll be the first to admit, I enjoy my routine. The familiar feel of consistency, gauging improvement, and knowing (at least to some extent) what to expect around the next corner. I can be sentimental towards past experiences, memories and people who are important in my life. I try to acknowledge when I am hanging on a bit too much to something and try to ask myself ‘why’ I am doing so, because I know that change is essential for growth.
My husband Derick and I recently made a huge life change. We picked up and moved from our home of 10 years in Austin, Texas and headed back to the mountains. We didn’t completely step into the unknown, as we were both living here when we met back in 2003. But Austin had been so good to us. Derick got a graduate degree at University of Texas and started a successful coaching business. My racing flourished in an incredible city that seemed to nurture both of our dreams. He came into his own as a great coach and I found the competitive form I’d been long seeking in triathlon. But as each year came and went, we knew deep down we were missing living in a place where we could look out our windows and see mountains. We missed drastic weather changes; storms rolling in, dark ominous snowy skies; four seasons in a year. Every summer we would venture out to Colorado to spend a few weeks, get our fill, and then head back to Texas, to our home. But we hit a point last summer when we admitted, “We need to make a change. We need to move back and be where we know our hearts are content. We need to be open and honest with ourselves, even if it means it will be tough to leave where we are comfortable and life is good.”
Personally, I realized last summer that I felt a bit ‘bored’. It was a feeling that I had to accept, digest and figure out where it was coming from. I’ve competed in this sport now for 16 years, 14 as a professional. Suffice to say, triathlon has been a massive part of my life. Was I burned out of competing, of training? Was I tired of racing? I didn’t feel that was it, because I still loved what I was doing; but I knew I was seeking change in some capacity. When Derick and I make our trek out to Colorado Springs to look at houses in late November, we tackled change. It happened quickly. We made an offer on a house, went back to Austin and got our house prepped to sell. I was excited in December when this was all happening, but also a bit sad. Changes were swirling all around me. A new year of racing was about to start. We were going back to what we wanted, so why did I feel trepidatious?
The holidays came and went, we visited our families, and January rolled around. It was crunch time. I found myself starting the new year with more excitement and less ‘fear’. Before we knew it we had loaded up our car and a U-Haul and off we went. We had made the 13 hour drive out to Colorado so many times the past 10 years; but this time, this one was for good. We were driving right into a new phase.
We quickly settled. And I do mean quickly…our car and U-Haul were unloaded within a few hours, our POD arrived the next day, and by Day 3 it was gone. Our house was filled with boxes. My ‘training’ was unloading one box at a time and finding a home for all of our random, eclectic items. It was fun. I told myself “Don’t worry about training/exercise this entire week, give yourself 7 days to settle in and maybe not even train at all.” But you know what? I was anxious to run in the cold, fresh mountain air. I wanted to get on my bike and explore this new (yet old) playground that was out our doorstep. I wanted to get in the pool to see how I handled the altitude. By the weekend, we had settled enough to disappear for 2 days to the mountains, hang with friends, and ski around in the backcountry. Our pup Amico loved the snow. Derick was excited. I swallowed my pride as some good friends took us on a trek skinning up to 12,000 ft making it look easy, while I had to stop a few extra times to try and do that important thing called breathing. But it was new, it was beautiful and it was invigorating. I got worked enough in those two days of skiing that on the drive home (in a snowstorm) I told myself “take an easy day tomorrow, you’re tired.” But I got back the next day and banged out a 2 hour session on the trainer, in the basement, looking out a window covered by snow. I felt motivated and inspired.
My point to this story? The passion had returned. I just needed to instigate a change to spark it.
Don’t be afraid to step into the unknown. Listen closely to your intuition. Seek out things in life that make your heart happy, that make your soul sing. There often isn’t one single path for this. I was happier than I ever imagined I would be in Austin, but after many years, the call back to the mountains was too strong to ignore. Life is short. Do what fulfills you; even if it is a bit scary. Change keeps us on our toes, makes us feel alive, and allows us to always keep growing.