“What you seek is seeking you.” ~ Rumi
As I type these words, I’m staring at the ocean while the sun slowly makes its descent toward that magical point where the sea meets the sky. An unidentified bird carries on a one-sided conversation just outside my window and the ocean hums while wave after wave rolls into the sand-covered shore. A seagull a few houses down occasionally decides he has something important to share and lets out a loud shriek, making Cole’s sleepy ear slightly perk up and take notice before falling back to its lazy state as he fully stretches out sideways on the bulky, blanket-covered couch. The fireplace emanates a warmth that offsets the chilled, coastal spring air and I am overwhelmed with a sense of calm. I’m not on vacation or a weekend getaway to the coast but in fact, I am home. How did I get here? That’s a story I’ve been waiting 8-years to tell.
My cancer ordeal this past summer got me thinking about a lot of things. I took a hard look at my life and where I was going and asked myself whether or not I was really happy? I had a good, stable job with nice co-workers but I lacked a passion for my work. Yes, I lived in Oregon, but in Portland, a city that was growing ever-more expensive to live, difficult to drive, and dirtier by the minute. Most of the time, I stayed at home. Getting out of town to spend time outside, photographing with Cole, was getting less frequent since I sold my car to free up some much-needed wiggle room in my budget. I felt stuck, stagnate, and longed for a new adventure, one that would align with my soul’s true desire. On New Year’s day, while I lay sleepless in bed, battling a virus, I scrolled through my Facebook feed on my phone around the midnight hour and came across a job post by the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. Having been following them for years on social media, I was curious about what this could be and followed the link to read the job description. It quickly became clear that I not only met but exceeded everything they were looking for. I decided on the spot to freshen up my resume, draft a cover letter, and apply for the job.
A couple of weeks later, I found myself on a phone call, doing a preliminary interview for the position which then led to meeting with their executive director the following week in Portland for coffee. The day after that I was invited to the coast to interview with the entire team, which I scheduled for the following week. Every step of the process felt right. Everyone I interacted with was so friendly and cheerful and asked insightful questions and shared important details about the organization, the job, the team, and goals as they moved forward. Not even an hour after leaving my onsite interview I received an email asking for my references. Things were getting serious and I knew there was a good chance they were going to be making me an offer soon. Just four days later, I received an email that said they had good news to share and asked if I could hop on a call. I quickly snuck away to make the call and the entire team was on the other end as they extended me an offer of employment which I immediately accepted and we all cheered! I quickly drafted and delivered my resignation letter and began to execute a plan to relocate to the coast.
Much how my initial move from Wisconsin to Oregon came together so quickly and smoothly, so did, thankfully, my move to the coast. Within days of accepting the new position, I had lined up a subletter to take over my Portland lease and a week after that I secured a place to live on the coast in Lincoln City. During the day, I worked diligently to transition my work duties to a temp while at night, I packed and got my things moved over to a storage unit. There was a two-week period of time between when my job in Portland ended and when my new apartment was available for move in so I booked a flight to Wisconsin and spent time catching up with friends and family there during that time. Once back in Portland, I loaded up my belongings in a U-Haul, and with my Kia in tow, Cole and I made the incident-free, two-hour drive to Lincoln City. My new landlord helped me unload the truck so moving in went quickly and mother nature even greeted us with one of the most vibrant sunsets I’ve seen in some time, as if to say, “welcome to your new life!”
I had just short of a week before I started my new job so I took advantage of the time to get settled into my new place, get my bearings in town, and explore the natural areas a bit. Cole and I took daily walks on the beach, explored Devil’s Lake, and I went kayaking in the Siletz Bay National Wildlife Refuge. After beginning my new job, the adventures continued. One day I got a tour of Sitka’s newly acquired 80-acre Grass Mountain property by Frank, one of the original founders. There, I sampled a licorice flavored twig, smelled ginger scented clover, visited the previous landowner’s grave, and watched lots of newts swim in a pond. On another day a group of us went to the Ghost Forest in Neskowin at low tide and learned about the geology of the area that contributed to the creation of the forest. On the spring equinox, also known as my 39th birthday, my coworkers and the artists in residence joined me in paddling across the Salmon River to a secluded section of the beach near Cascade Head to watch the sunset and Super Moon rise. Most recently, I participated in a guided hike of a beautiful section of old growth trees in the Siuslaw National Forest as well as a visit to the Salmon River Estuary.
On an almost daily basis, I see elk and deer at or near my work. I spend each workday surrounded by gifted and passionate coworkers who make me feel so appreciated for my skills. I meet people from all over the world who stay at Sitka to create art, music, photography, write and perform scientific studies, all inspired by the grandeur of the unique area, as rich in history as it is in beauty. From my home, I can see and hear the ocean. I can take Cole for daily walks on the beach and throughout our small, quiet neighborhood. I enjoy the slower pace of the small town that I now call home, a community with a surprisingly strong arts scene. Eight years ago, when I first stepped onto the sands of the Oregon coast, I vowed to one day call this place home. It may have taken longer than I’d like but I finally made my Oregon Coast dream a reality and it was worth every day of the wait.