Besides a few family trips to visit my grandmother in North Dakota or my aunts and uncles in Illinois or California, I had only left Washington state to visit British Columbia – until I was twenty years old and I decided that I was going to be a wildlife and landscape photographer in Alaska. I left home for a life changing 8-month period, and returned with nothing but my wiser self and some vivid memories of wild experiences. Along the way down the Al-Can highway in the dead of winter, my camera and a shoebox full of shot film was stolen out of my Jeep in the Yukon, while I ate my breakfast in a lodge.
Colorado is a beautiful, wild, and unexpected place. It’s not as untamed as Alaska by any means – but it is full of surprises and magical places. I have been lucky enough to live in the northern part of Colorado (the Boulder-Denver hub), as well as I have lived in the southwestern corner in Durango – where I have shot some of my favorite photographs. I have loved living in both areas of Colorado, but Durango is very special. It was a wonderful place to be a photographer and to “find” oneself.
WASHINGTON – Rather recently, I have had to make the difficult decision to leave Colorado and return to the Seattle, Washington area, where I grew up and where my extended family still lives.
Returning to Seattle is not a terribly hard thing to do. I love it there. I love the water and the enormous evergreen trees that blanket nearly every hillside. I love that boating is something people just do there, like many people decide to ride a bike 10 miles to go work in Boulder. In Seattle, I have friends who boat to work daily. I am thrilled to have an opportunity, after 15 years away, to reconnect with old friends, get to know my nieces better, hang out with my parents and sister, hear outdoor concerts on the pier, eat fresh salmon for dinner any time I want it, and build a career in a progressive city full of opportunities. Washington State is a truly beautiful place to live or visit. I am blessed to have this choice.
But it’s always hard to say goodbye to people you love and to a place where you hold over a decade of memories and experiences. Leaving Colorado is not going to be easy. I am stepping out of the negative in order to rebuild the positive. I hope this is just farewell for now, and not goodbye.
There are several reasons why I must make this journey. Each one is real and bittersweet. Where there is good, there is bad. Where there is joy, there is also sadness. And where there is negative, there is positive. This is what I choose to focus on – remaining positive and hopeful.
Still, very little compels us to make a dramatic life change unless we are pushed to our limits and we simply must make a choice. That is where I am. My limit has been reached and I have to make a change. I have suffered long enough in my attempts to overcome obstacle after obstacle placed before me here in Colorado over the past 4 years. I kept thinking, if I just try harder; if I just work more hours; if I just change my habits; if I just push myself further; if I just…
But it is clearly not meant to be.
After so much effort that ran me into wall after wall, I know that life simply shouldn’t be (and doesn’t have to be) this hard. I know my life is radically out of balance. Everything pointed to it: My health, happiness, relationships, financial circumstances, and limited choices were all like unhinged gates swinging wildly in the wind. Just when I thought I was making some meaningful headway in my work and life, I was sucked back into a vortex of desperation. I’ve had some tough times before, but I was always able to pull out of it. I never had to endure the emotional and financial drain a divorce can inflict so easily through the court process. I am hopeful that if I take myself out of the fight, the fight can’t go on without me.
Nevertheless, I am not beaten. I am never beaten. I just put up my arms and surrendered. Surrender is not failure. It is deciding not to fight when others want to do battle with you. It is holding your power and not giving it away by lowering yourself to the senseless fight.
Upon hearing my tale of woe about my divorce drama, one lawyer said to me, “The problem with fighting a pig in the mud, is everyone gets dirty – but only the pig enjoys it.” So, I am climbing out of the mud, wiping myself clean of the filth and moving on with my life. The fight is only hurting people I love – including myself, and empowering others who don’t deserve what they have taken. And so, I surrender.
2013 is going to be a magical year for me. I know it. All of the things I love doing that have been shelved for over 3 years are coming back to me now. I am running again, writing again, enjoying the outdoors again, spending time with people I love again – and feeling hopeful again! I still need to replace my DSLR camera, but I have gotten by with a small camera in the meanwhile.
Over the next few weeks I am going to post some of my favorite Colorado photos here. It is my way of saying “farewell” to this beautiful and complex state. I will write about my journey and hope that it has meaning to some of you. One thing has become very clear to me in recent months… there is a major shift taking place in our universe and it is affecting everyone I know. The only way to land on your feet, is to surrender to the shift, pay attention to the signs, and follow your heart.
Thanks for hanging in there with me. This is going to be quite an adventure!
Here’s my first Colorado image. More to come!