Two years and two weeks ago, we moved from Tennessee to Colorado. We celebrated our recent anniversary by paddle boarding with a friend, followed by dinner at Daruma.

For our first anniversary, I posted quite a few pics instead of sharing my feelings. Nowadays, I’m looking for ways to save on storage space, so I won’t be reposting pics from the last 12 months.

I mainly want to touch on endurance, social activities and homesickness and the lack thereof.

Pardon me while I toot my horn: In the last two years, my endurance has increased substantially. I could barely hike a mile in Tennessee, and yesterday I hiked 8.7 miles by myself. The elevation presented challenges initially; I remember walking an eighth of a mile at Horsetooth our first week out here and returning to the house for a nap, exhausted and tired from the lack of oxygen. And that’s only 5,000 feet–yesterday I started at 9,240 feet and gained 1,600 feet in 4 miles. From the 14er in July to yesterday’s jaunt, I’m proud of my hiking accomplishments!

From a social perspective, making friends was hard at first. We were handed a group of friends we could have easily assimilated with, but after several months we realized they weren’t “the ones”. Everyone was affable and treated us with kindness, but for reasons I won’t explain online, we opted to do our own thing. Keegan warned me it takes two years to truly develop solid friendships in a strange, new place, so I look forward to what the next year or so has to offer.

I’m grateful for the true friends we’ve met so far: Christine, Regina, Fatima, Kelly, Cynthia, and anyone else from North Range I may have forgotten. I also appreciate David and Laura and Keegan’s sister living nearby. I hope to connect with a cousin I haven’t seen in years soon. In addition, I value the friendships from Tennessee I’ve managed to maintain out here: Brittany, Justin, Kooch, Josh and Megan and Nikki. It’s humbling to leave a place where everyone attends your parties and makes an effort to hang to redeveloping friendships and weeding out the boring people. But with each and every day, I become a little more acclimated to the social norms, mannerisms and attitudes of Coloradoans.

And last but not least, I’ve learned to brace for homesickness on the horizon. It’s impossible to anticipate triggers to events that have yet to happen. I didn’t know what being homesick felt like until it washed over me like an unexpected wave of bricks hitting from behind. And once I felt it, I didn’t know how to cope besides sleeping 10-12 hours a day and overeating. My first winter out here was rough.

Now I understand how to set myself up for success. First, anticipate the holidays and anniversarys. Our two year moving anniversary was bittersweet for sure, hence I paddle boarded on a whim. Thanksgiving and Christmas can be hard for me, but this year we’re going out of town and spending time with family. I’ve realized planning fun stuff keeps me occupied, preventing me from falling face-first into a hardcore slump.

Man I ain’t changed, but I know I ain’t the same.

When it comes to the South, I’ll always miss my friends and family; that’s a given. But I’ve come a long ways and have learned to embrace what I like to call Solitude Hobbies. I enjoy canning fruits, veggies and jams. I’m capable of hiking alone without being eaten by a bear. And gardening consumes much of my time as I monitor for pests and weeds and pick and cook whatever we produce.

As adults, we have to be comfortable spending time alone, and this was honestly a struggle for me when I first moved out here. But now I love time to myself, especially after finishing grad school. All in all, I’m happy out here. I have bad days just like anyone else, but the difference lies in allowing life to steamroll you or taking control and making the most of your circumstances.

They say you should build a life you don’t need a vacation from, and that’s where I feel like I am right now. I hike on the weekends not far from home, and there’s so much to see out here.

I recently googled the size of Colorado compared to Tennessee and discovered Colorado is the 8th biggest state in the country while Tennessee is #36. Colorado is more than double the size of Tennessee; no wonder I feel overwhelmed when considering where to hike. Tennessee somehow has more state parks than Colorado (56 versus 42) but Colorado is home to 13 National Parks, one of which consumes a decent chunk of the state, Rocky Mountain National Park. For every one park there’s at least a half dozen more trails. The possibilities are endless.

So here’s to another swell year in Colorado. I have some things in the works and can’t wait to see where my hobbies lead in the next several months. I’m grateful for my local friends and my hubby, for being so patient with me when I’m not in a good mood. Moving to a new area can be stressful at times, but Keegan is always there for me, acting as a loving, supportive guide.

If there’s two songs that summarize my feelings regarding the move, it’s Once in a Lifetime and Tonight, Tonight. Thanks to Talking Heads and Smashing Pumpkins for helping me express my feelings!