This morning when I woke up it was completely and utterly quiet. There was no Monday morning traffic rush, no neighbors yelling, no barking dogs, just our snoring Min Pin and the sound of the wind blowing through our centuries old pine trees. This is my morning most mornings. I wake up to the sound of the trees surrounding us, to the warmth of the sun shining through our windows, to the well rested animals ready to enjoy a new day. I wake up happy.
Having grown up in Los Angeles my whole life, my morning routine was a complete 180 from what it is today. Each morning I dreaded the sound of my alarm clock, ushering in the chaos of what I knew my day was going to consist of. Climbing out of bed only wishing I could turn around and climb right back in and wake up later. Silence was a rare thing, usually only existing in the late night hours of my day or in the quiet of my yoga practice. Every day was just another day, equally as fast paced as the day before and the next day to come. Working crazy schedules, at jobs that were equally emotionally draining, and personal-time consuming, only to be under appreciated and burned out by our mid 30’s. The city has a way of doing things to you, affecting what you value, what your needs and wants are. This was the norm for us, for our friends; it’s what we saw growing up and had become used to. I grew up surrounded by things that I thought were important and people who believed they were. And yet I was always trying to escape to new places in search of something different.
About 10 months ago, on a road tripping afternoon, we found ourselves in the middle of the snow-covered forest. Our close friend wanted to celebrate his birthday by going skiing, so we called in sick to work, packed the car and bundled up. It was the beginning of March and there had been a rare late season storm that brought snow. As we made the trip to the resort, we passed through several small mountain towns. I had been a kid the last time I’d driven through and taking in the scenery as an adult was a completely new perspective–it was refreshing and quaint. Literally and figuratively, a breath of fresh air.
It was on our way home that something caught my eye. Nestled in the forest, there was a wood-and-stone house, surrounded by trees–massive, old, history telling pines, pinons, and junipers. To our delight no one was home or had been for quite some time. We were like kids in a candy store, wandering around, exploring all that the property had to offer, peeking in all the windows while mentally arranging our furniture. So just like that we tracked down the realtor the same day, got the scoop, filed the paperwork and three days later it was ours. It was a whirlwind but we were excited and ready for it. We packed up our place in the city, unpacked our storage facility, loaded up the U Haul and drove ourselves, our two dogs, and everything we had up to the majestic mountains.
We have 16 acres. And what does one do with 16 acres exactly you ask, besides have A LOT of space to maintain, well you get goats of course! And chickens too, and two cats to keep our two dogs entertained. You grow vegetables and plants. You get to hike and explore and get back to nature. You learn to live differently, more authentically. You learn you can live with so much less and gain so much more by doing so. Things you took for granted you learn their value.
In the months to follow our move, we’ve had the opportunity to experience all four seasons and all that comes with that. We’ve had heat, we’ve had snow, we’ve had flash floods and 40 MPH wind. We’ve encountered bears, coyotes, bobcats, rattlesnakes and bats. We’ve run out of propane, our source of heat and hot water. We’ve had our well pump stop, our only source of water. We’ve had the power go out and only had our fireplace for heat and light. We’ve also had some of the best days of our lives.
Our friends and family thought we had lost our minds for moving so remotely away. But I always think that had I stayed in the city I probably would have gone crazy for sure. Here, in fact, I’ve found myself to be truly happy and at peace for the first time in I can’t remember. I found ‘myself’ again, I’m reminded day in and day out of who I am at heart, what makes me fulfilled and what I’m capable of. By living a simpler, quieter life we have less stress, less mess. People don’t really understand until they experience it first hand. We tell people two things when they come up for the first time to our house. Number one: you WILL lose cell service so make sure you take a picture of your directions on your phone for reference. Number two: make sure you bring whatever you need since the nearest store is a close 15 miles away and they close at 9 pm. If they’re not discouraged by the warnings and are still brave enough to make the trek over, they’ll be in for a treat. They get to feel the magic of the mountains.
Our mountain move has been the best life changing decision we’ve made. It was the catalyst of many more life choices to follow. I believe to my core that things happen for a reason, things happen the way they’re suppose to and everything works out in the end. We were at a crossroads in our life when we made the decision to leave the city and we chose a path less traveled but most rewarding. And lucky for us, for some reason, known only to the Universe, this little mountain house found us and it welcomed us home.
Photo: Danielle Lujan