"You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place."
I find myself sitting in the Milwaukee airport looking back on the last 4 years, feeling a mix of emotions, bittersweet as always. The number one question people ask me is 'why in the world did you come to Wisconsin from ARIZONA?' My answer became: 'I was chasing my roots, met a guy, began coaching clients and became too entangled in all of that to leave.' This is only half true. The other half is that I didn't know what the hell I wanted but I knew I wanted to explore outside of AZ, I wanted to travel, and everyone was telling me to do it while I was young.
So I saved up a little money from teaching spin at the YMCA, personal training at Anytime Fitness and waiting tables at Brandy's Diner. I loaded to the brim my 1998 Honda Civic (200K+ miles) with my necessary belongings and newly purchased camp gear and my sweet dog and sidekick Shiva. I was going to be a traveling fitness diva with my cute dog and the only thing that was going to stop me was running out of money.
I had a wedding to attend in Wisconsin which gave me a route to follow for the first month of travel. Making my way north east from Flagstaff, I stopped to see friends along the way in Denver and Kansas City and enjoyed solo stays for hikes, camping and hot springs in New Mexico, Kansas and Iowa. I woke up with the sun, wrote in my journal every day, worked out outside a lot and had whole days where I barely talked to anyone, besides Shiva of course. It was awesome. Once I landed in WI, I planned to hang out for a week or two around the wedding, catch up with my extended family (for those who don’t know - I was born in Wisconsin) and continue my journey west.
I had a somewhat unrealistic vision for what traveling alone would be like (thanks instagram) not to mention through one of the most dull, cornfield plenty routes that is the midwest - no offense midwestern folk. Also, traveling solo with a dog is harder than you think, especially when it’s hot outside. So by the time I arrived in Wisconsin, I was ready to feel settled rather than packing up my car again.
It was October in Madison, the colored leaves in their peak season, sunny days and cool crisp nights, people were still playing in the surrounding lakes and the city felt very ‘happening’ and that drew me in. I caught up with family members whom I hadn’t spent much time with as an adult, and secured short term accommodation for Shiva and I. So it was decided: I would stay through the winter and save up some money before continuing on. I would reconnect with family and explore my cheese head heritage.
I began working at Collectivo coffee shop and took a job teaching classes at a local gym where I met my (now) boyfriend. (I'll spare the details for another story). I signed a 6 month lease in a house with a few people I met through an old college friend, Fast forward 3.5 years: 4 gyms, many clients who followed me through all of them, getting involved in a unique up and coming fitness scene, starting my own personal training biz, deciding to compete (again), meeting my amazing bodybuilding team and coach who would later become my boss, winning 3 PRO cards, competing as a pro, recovering from all of that (longest recovery I have needed so far), gaining an established clientele and doing fitness full time, running my first retreat in Montana and falling in love with this idea of fitness vacations. I was also finding that being in love and in a committed relationship was changing my priorities and interests, which was likely a large reason I found myself still in Wisconsin after all that time.
I don’t regret any of it - besides maybe this last winter in the polar vortex ;) I missed my family in AZ and knew I wanted to ‘settle down’ closer to them. While I was enjoying my time developing my new relationship, I often found myself having a challenging time personally. Maybe it was just the lack of sun, but I always had this feeling like I was being called in other directions. Not to mention, I still had an itch to finish my travels out west, luckily for me, my boyfriend had that itch too. Summer 2019 I will continue the road trip I set out to do 4 years prior, this time with a newer Honda, (a little) more money and our plus one.
Through all of these challenging and rewarding experiences I have learned so much both professionally and personally. I watched my sweet nephew/cousin be born into this world and grow during his first years. I have learned about where I come from, why I am the way I am and what it means to have Wisconsin blood. I learned on a deep level why my parents moved us from Wisconsin to Arizona 18 years ago and I finally feel like I have a better handle on what it means to have a sense of belonging, and why a sense of community is so important. Whether we are welcomed in or we create it ourselves, we must seek those will have our backs no matter what and who truly see us for who we are. I realize now, you will find ‘your people’ wherever you go, if you look hard enough.
It took some soul searching and growing pains to finally feel like I had ‘arrived’. I now know where I am from, and I understand how my history both known and unknown shape my experience today. I know why I am loud and why I'm always seeking out the entrepreneur path. More than ever, I have learned these things about myself: I belong outside more than inside, I need more days of sunshine than of grey clouds, I need more time on a bike than in a car, I need joyful experiences over busyness and rushing around, I need less time on my phone and more time making real connections, I need to cultivate a body that moves well and feels well before the concern of looks, and I need my Mom damn it.
I've done this goodbye thing many times before (I moved schools every 2 years until I went to high school). I have worked in many gyms and walked away from many relationships before but this one felt different. As a personal trainer, I get to know my clients on deeply personal levels, many of them going through some of the hardest or best times of their lives. Getting married, getting divorced, earning job promotions, having babies, or losing a ton of weight and transforming their life. I have the pleasure of seeing a unique view of these individuals navigating the waters of their life, sometimes seeing them 5-6 days a week on a regular basis. Because of this connection to my clients, saying goodbye involves more than just putting in a two week notice and saying farewell to colleagues. It involves tears and reminiscing, and detailing the transition into the hands of a new trainer all while trying not to carry the burden of guilt.
Then just like that: no more 4 am mornings, polar vortex winters, or biblical mosquito infestations, also no more fresh curds :( . In all seriousness, I will miss it and I will cherish this time in my life. I will miss my clients in all their diversity and quirkiness.
Thank you for all of your sweet and honest messages of encouragement. Thank you to all of my teachers and leaders that have both challenged me and lifted me up. Thank you for understanding that I must go. A new door has opened and I must go. Thank you doesn’t feel like enough - so be sure to come visit!
“The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.”
-Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women who run with the wolves.