This picture might not be the prettiest, most creative, or most blogworthy. This is because the picture, and all of the others in this post, were taken on Snapchat several years ago on a severely outdated phone. But it popped up on my Snapchat memories today and it brought back all the feels.
Five years ago, my husband (then-boyfriend) and I packed up all we could fit into one car, sold the other one, and moved from Iowa to North Carolina. Our plan was to get out of the state for a little while, see the world, and then come back after a year or so.
To be honest, this part deserves its own post. The part where even though I was the one who always wanted to leave, I thought my husband was crazy for suggesting we leave our cozy, comfortable small town. The part where the second we stepped foot in North Carolina, a part of me knew I’d never go back to Iowa (even though I hated it there for the first 6 months). The part where we followed big, massive dreams that scared us and because of it, accomplished bigger things than we ever could have imagined. Yes, these parts deserve their own post, and in time those posts likely will come, but today’s post is about all of those things mixed into one. It’s nostalgia. Change. Growth. All of which was inspired by that first picture, taken on an outdated phone app several years ago.
I’ve always had an obsession with water. Pools, rivers, lakes, or otherwise, it didn’t really matter. Where the water is has always been where I want to be. But there’s always been something extra-special about the ocean, and it was always [what seemed like] a far-fetched dream of mine to settle down on the coast. While I didn’t love North Carolina at first, it grew on me over time, then quickly became home. I loved going to the beach every chance I got, buying fresh seafood on the market on my way home, soaking in the true meaning of Southern Charm, and walking miles along the coast (especially in winter when it was too cold for anyone else to be there). Even when we didn’t love it there, we didn’t take our time in North Carolina for granted and visited parts of North Carolina that people who have lived there for their entire lives never saw. In retrospect, this is probably exactly how we learned to love it there so much. This isn’t the point of my post, but I can’t fail to mention – see what happens when you make the best out of the situation? You have potential to end up liking it.
While I grew to love this place, our time there was short-lived. We only lived there for a year and a half and leaving was bound to happen no matter how much we loved it. I was working as a contractor and while that was a good fit for us short-term, the goal for our family was more stability, better benefits, a way to pay off my student loans. The American dream, you know?
So when an opportunity opened in South Dakota, we both knew we’d be foolish to turn it down. Getting to South Dakota seemed to happen so fast, but I loved the new job and acclimated well at work. Unfortunately, while I loved my job, I hated South Dakota. Sure, it was pretty, but I needed the coast. I was miserable and spent my time watching Beachfront Bargain Hunt on HGTV (they’re in North Carolina a lot!), planning return trips, and calculating how we could realistically make all of our dreams come true on my old salary. When I realized we couldn’t realistically live for very long on my old salary, I contemplated whether we could go back anyways and live in a tent on the beach. I also cried a lot, something that I don’t often do.
Of course, I regret my attitude and mindset in hindsight; South Dakota truly is a wonderful state and because of this attitude, we sorely missed out. But there’s not a lot I can change about that now, except to learn from it.
After 4 months in South Dakota, I returned to North Carolina for a good friend’s wedding (our people there became family very quickly). I had known since the moment I left that I was not meant to live in a landlocked state, but I didn’t know how strongly I felt this way until the plane landed in North Carolina. I was welcomed with a rainbow the second our plane touched down and I knew that this was not a coincidence. I continued to receive gentle (and not so gentle) reminders that I wasn’t meant to live in South Dakota throughout my entire trip. As though I needed reminders! I already knew this, of course; so perhaps they weren’t so much reminders as they were signs that things would work out.
My last day of the trip was one I had entirely to myself, where I spent the day at my favorite beach, a place I’d spent most weekends when we lived there. This is where I took the first picture in this post, the one that popped up on my memories today. During that lone trip to the beach, I was filled with an unexplainable peace – a knowing that something better was on the horizon and an understanding that my situation was temporary. Even though I didn’t know exactly when or how, I knew.
And it was all over my face. The very night I returned, my husband asked me if I wanted to just drop everything and go back. Luckily, we weren’t tempted to do this for too long. An interview would fall into my lap for Florida less than two months later. With it would come a huge opportunity to move to our dream state, major career and spiritual growth, and stronger relationships. So when I see this simple, non perfect picture of the pier, one of my favorite places, it is a nostalgic reminder.
A reminder to trust the universe. To take big risks. A reminder to trust the process. To believe and trust that things are always working out and to believe in miracles. It’s a reminder to follow what feels right, even if it’s scary, and that if I do that, I will grow bigger and better than I ever could have dreamed.
Something tells me that I’m the brink of massive change, just like I was when I took this picture. I’ve been feeling the exact same way lately as I felt on that day – at peace, as though something is coming. Somehow, this picture serves as a reminder that all will be well.
All of this from a simple reminder from an app on my phone.
Universe, I am ready for whatever you may have in store.