(A selfie before the selfie was invented. As you can tell they didn’t work out too well and I didn’t know how it turned out until weeks later. Thank goodness for the digital age!)
(We frequently ate lunch at Teton Village. So beautiful!)
(I miss my dog!)
It was 1999 the year of Y2K. Everyone was buzzing about January 1st, 2000. A year had passed since my intervention. I was 20 years old still living at home with my mom and stepdad. I was attending school at the University of Utah with a Nursing Major and working part time. I was dating my on and off again High School sweetheart between other relationships. One of the other relationships was with a boy from math class at the University of Utah. He was so dreamy with the most charismatic personality. He brought excitement and security all in the same relationship. I could feel his thirst for life and me in everything he did. He was so different from any other man I had ever dated. He was confident and so sure of every decision he made. After our first date we spent everyday together. He stole my heart on our second date when he drove away and honked and waved out the open window once I got inside my house. It ended a short month later. We both knew something else or someone else was out there for us.
It was good while it lasted, but I must have needed some extra love because I bought a yellow Labrador Retriever. I named her Ellie after a movie Renee Zellweger starred in. She was my pride and joy. She was “MY” dog. I trained her and loved that dog as my first child. It was the first time in my life I felt like I made a decision for myself with my best interest at heart and nobody elses. I liked that feeling. I liked the power that came with my own free agency. I wanted to have that power in all aspects of my life. I wanted to know for myself that I was making decisions in my life for the right reasons not for the wrong reasons. How could I accomplish this goal?
I felt like I needed to remove myself from all outside forces. I have always valued what other people think a little too much! I was blessed with a mother and stepdad that owned a home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I jumped on the opportunity to spread my wings and discover who I was. In August of 1999 I packed my Subaru Outback full of clothes and my dog and moved to Jackson Hole. I put my future on hold to discover myself. I postponed my college education and was hired as assistant manager at Chico’s in Town Square. I needed to know that the choices I was making were for me. I needed to know they were what I really wanted and not something that had been instilled in me or a need for love or attention. Sometimes you need to be alone in order to find out who you really are, and what you really want in life.
During my time in Jackson Hole I learned that I am stronger than I think I am. I never experienced the epiphany I was looking for, but I learned that while I value others people’s opinions I am still able to firmly stand on my own two feet. My days were filled with work, reading, friends, family and walks along the Snake River with Ellie. I was left to my own thoughts and my own decisions. I was in heaven! Did I have a moment where I knew I had done the right thing, no. Did I have a moment where my life was changed forever, no. But it was something that I needed. We all have different needs. My desire is that everyone follows their heart and finds what they “need”. My mom’s letter that she wrote to me sums up my experience and why I moved to Jackson Hole all alone.
As I was cleaning up – I’m thinking of you and your decision to move up here. I want you to know how much I love you and how proud I am of you. Not because you’re doing such a “grown up” thing, but because you’re mature enough to recognize the special gifts that can come from change. Special gifts in the way of lessons to be learned; challenges to be met; temptations to overcome; and yes, especially new people to meet.
I envy your opportunity for everything new- there are no boundaries. You are so beautiful, intelligent, and wonderful that you can accomplish anything you want to accomplish. This initial decision for a change is your first step to discovering some of what you want in your future.
I’m leaving the Christmas tree up with its lights to give you a warm, loving feel when you arrive. My love is with you, and I will support whatever it is that you want and desire for your future. For now…be happy, have fun, meet lots of new friends and most of all be safe.
I know your Heavenly Father is watching over you… and loves you. The best is yet to come for you. I FEEL IT! I’ll talk to you tonight.
All my love,
“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be.
I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not,
I hope you have the strength to start over.” -f.s.f