Rewind to the middle of 2016. We began feeling less at home in our church, which nudged us toward investigating some other location options, or even moving within the DC Metro area. Shortly after this, my division at work brought on some new management who insisted on doing things “their way.” While I don’t believe their vision for what’s next is bad, it is very different from what I envisioned; I felt a longing to work in a place that aligned with my own personal values. A few months later, in October of 2016, Greg and I had just landed at DCA from an incredible wedding in Mexico, and as soon the plane touched down I could feel it in my gut…we weren’t supposed to be in the DC area anymore. As we drove home and parked in our lot, I still didn’t feel at home; the gut reaction just grew stronger.
I can’t remember how Colorado first came up, but once it was in our view, it began popping up everywhere. We’d meet people from Colorado (like, the only other non-familial American at a wedding in Austria, people at the grocery store, and even friends from childhood). We’d hear about Colorado, see license plates at every turn during conversations about moving, and hear it referenced left and right. After grasping this very large hint, we decided to visit in February 2017.
The feeling we got there was energizing. We seriously kept forgetting we weren’t home! I distinctly remember a time, after leaving REI, where we hopped in the rental car and just started driving…like we knew where we were going! My intuition knew that this area was where I was supposed to be which led me to saying “I want to do this” out loud both on top of the Flatirons in Boulder and Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.
And my intuition reminded me of this feeling the minute we got back to Woodbridge. For the next several months, I became more and more numb to this gut feeling (as often happens with time). But the real moment I made the decision in my mind, and not just my heart, came on a beautiful summer night near the Capital in downtown Washington DC; I stated boldly, “This is beautiful…and I’ve done this. I’m ready for our next adventure!” Even though I knew we were ready, I was also a bit scared to leave the place I’d called home for the last 12 years (and the place Greg has pretty much always called home).
And then the job popped up.
I don’t remember exactly why I felt pulled to look on the University of Colorado jobs website on June 7…I hadn’t looked in a while. But I saw it. An opening in the Organizational and Employee Development office, doing exactly what I do now, in a college setting, in BOULDER! At the bottom of the job description it said: “Be collaborative. Be resourceful. Be strategic. Be Boulder.” With a tagline like that, how could I not apply?
Even though I’d submitted my cover letter and resume, and made the decision in my heart, my head was still grappling with the potential change. The primary hurdle was a pay cut. The question, “Is it worth it?” kept ringing in my head; and no matter how many times I said yes, it continued to pop up. I know it will all work itself out, and I know this is where we’re supposed to go, and fear still pops up. This experience prompted one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned in a long time – just because we’re guided, it doesn’t mean the fear will disappear. We just have to learn to dance with it!
Now let me relay just how guided this whole process felt. I’ll start from the beginning.
Shortly after I started looking into the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder for short) as a potential organization for the next phase of my career, I discovered that one of my delegates from Citizenship Washington Focus (my first job in DC) worked at the same university and campus of the job I was applying for! So from beginning to end, she helped me stay sane through encouragement and veteran information – timelines, details of the interview process, etc. Originally, she said it could be as quick as 6 weeks between the closing date for applications and an offer (for anyone who has applied to a government job before, that can feel really quick). Though excited for the prospect of how quickly we could be in our dream location, I also felt a mild sense of panic. We’d already planned two incredible experiences out here in July and August that I did not want to miss; Unleash the Power Within (UPW) with Tony Robbins in mid-July and a hiking trip in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park to watch the eclipse in Totality on August 21. Shortly after submitting my application, I received a message from HR that the university received more applications than anticipated and that the review process would take longer than normal. Thankfully – and anxiously – I didn’t hear anything back for 6 weeks, literally the day after we returned from the Tony Robbins conference.
The funny part is, after doing all that soul searching and limiting belief obliteration that UPW is known for, I got this feeling on the bus ride back from New York that something was stirring with the position in Boulder. I tried to check the CU application page to see if anything had been updated, but the wifi on the bus wasn’t working for me. In lieu of turning on my data, I decided to wait until I got home to check. The next morning, I logged in and saw that my application had in fact been updated on July 24 (the date of the bus ride), and just a few hours later I received an email that I’d been selected for an initial interview! After said initial interview, two instances of “111” showed up (this sequence of numbers is known to signify alignment and the beginning of a new path). First, the interview reminder was sent at exactly 1:11pm (or 11:11am Mountain Time). And second, I had to exchange an item at Mom’s Organic Market, and the total for the transaction was $1.11. Confirmation accepted.
Now that this possibility was becoming more of a reality, the fears started screaming more loudly. I felt paralyzed by indecision; I wanted to go, and I was afraid of making a mistake. I know I needed an objective third party to talk it through with; someone who didn’t have any personal attachment to the outcome. So I asked my coach if she had some time to chat. One amazing conversation later, I had a resolve I hadn’t felt before. I knew that the worst decision I could make was staying in a place where I felt stagnant. I was going to Colorado, whether or not this specific job came through.
The next morning, I received an email about a second interview. Boom! Confirmation accepted again.
The weekend before the interview was pretty amazing. My mom was in town and we took her on an adventure to Shenandoah National Park, where we saw a bear! Then it was back to the condo to get in the zone for the interview Monday afternoon. I intentionally set it up so I would be speaking at 1:11pm (11:11am Mountain Time). Gotta keep the alignment alive, right? After the interview, I felt elated. I knew I had presented an authentic version of myself; if they liked what they saw, this job was meant for me.
The Friday following the second interview was our adventure to Great Smoky Mountain National Park for the eclipse. Throughout the experience, Colorado was confirmed for us over and over again. And wouldn’t you know it, as soon as we came off the mountain, I checked my email and saw a request for references! When I read the fine print – 5 references within 24 hours – I’m not going to lie that I got pretty stressed. I asked myself at least a few times if this is what I was supposed to be doing, and even got a little snippy with poor Greg.
And then, after grabbing some delicious tacos and pour over coffee for breakfast, we returned to our car to find a truck parked right in front of us…
…with a Colorado license plate. In North Carolina. Right after the amazing experience of the eclipse.
Yeah. Confirmation accepted thrice.
I instantly knew all the effort would be worth it. In the car, on the way home, I got all my references in. Everyone was on board, excited, and super responsive. I had 4 of the 5 references filled out even before we got to our parking lot! I knew this was the home stretch.
Fast forward to Thursday, August 31.
It had been a little over a week since sending in the references and I was starting to get restless. I wanted to give my all to my current job, but it’s hard for me when there is a huge unknown in the air. Like senioritis all over again. I had moved cubicles the week before and hadn’t even unpacked most of my things, since I had a very strong feeling this job would come through. Additionally, we’d hired a photographer to come take pictures of us and our morning routine as a way to honor our time at the condo the following morning. I had a pretty strong intuition that I’d have an answer before the images were captured.
At about 3:oopm, I needed a break so I walked downstairs to grab tea with a colleague. When I returned, I saw a missed call with a 303 area code. Colorado! I walked downstairs, knowing I was about to be offered a job.
I knew it in my bones!
After the official offer, I had to quash my excitement for 4…long…painstaking…hours! I HAD to tell Greg first, and in person! Do you know how hard it is for an extreme extrovert to keep in this kind of life-altering news for 4 hours! But I already had it all planned out how I’d tell him, and it was so worth it.
I will always remember how I told him, I had it all planned out weeks before. I would sneak up to our office, light a ton of candles everywhere, ask if he could come up for a second, and be down on one knee holding the Colorado sticker we bought at Garden of the Gods. Then, in a weird, messed-up Yoda voice, I’d ask “Will you to Colorado, with me, move to go?” And once he responded “Really?!??!” I hit play on the queued up YouTube video of Michael Scott exclaiming to the whole crew, “We’re moving to Colorado!” And now, watching The Office episode where Michael proposes to Holly will never quite be the same.
Throughout the entire process, I felt so supported and so led. Every single milestone following the moment I applied was coupled with a huge event or breakthrough. However, even with all of that guidance and support, this shift has still come with a TON of strong emotions. As mentioned before, my biggest lesson so far is continually reminding myself that just because I’m guided, it doesn’t mean change will be any easier; and just because I’m afraid doesn’t mean this is a wrong move. It is beautiful and healthy to feel ALL the emotions, especially those that are often looked at as negative.
There is a lot we will miss about Virginia, especially our dear friends and Greg’s family. But we’ll be back. I won’t deny that in the few days following the offer, we wondered if this was the right call. Yet when we took a step back and took stock of what our heart was telling us, we knew this was the next phase of our journey. This chapter is wrapping up so the next one can begin.
Thanks to The Minimalists for succinctly capturing what I’ve been trying to say to all our friends about this move, “It’s best to choose to graduate from a place before you’re ready to divorce it.”
The mountains are calling, and we must go!