Friday, February 11, 2011

Taking Flight

"the mother bird never pushes her baby out of the nest

instead, her baby must desire to fly."

- lisa ann edwards

At no point in my life did I ever dream that in my mid-30's, I would drive 2,000 miles away from my friends, family and job, in my Grandpa's old Ford Escort with just 10 boxes of my stuff, to live with a family I had only met on the Internet, through a man met online six weeks earlier.

I'm a practical girl. Pretty much a good and dependable person, but I had a yearning in my heart that wouldn't let me go. And so, there I went, in my Grandpa's car, to a place where life seemed improbable. I knew no one, I had no job and I'd never lived any place for very long, except for the Midwest.

Why I moved is a little bit of a mystery to me, even today. I wasn't unhappy. I had so many friends. I was loved. My family was there. I worked with great people. I had a beautiful home. There wasn't anything bad;'s just that my heart desired more. I felt I had so much to give, so much to do, and so much to experience. I wanted to spread my wings and I wanted to FLY... I had no idea what flying looked like or felt like, but I knew that something was missing, and I knew that if I stayed in Iowa much longer, I might shrivel up and die.

It's easy to make a change when the situation is painful, but it's a completely different experience to change when things are not so bad.

I talked a lot about moving and changing my life, several years before I actually did anything. Not a single person supported me.

"Why would you want to move? We have such a great quality of life here in Iowa!"

"You just need to appreciate what you have-- everyone wants a truly great life, but you have to appreciate what you have."

"As soon as you move away, you will wish you never had and you will be back. I guarantee it."

All good words and all well-meaning intention. Many times, I would believe those words; still.. that pull in my heart wouldn't let loose.

The hardest part of all was that, initially, my mom didn't support my desire to move. I'm an only child and my parents divorced when I was young so my mom and I are very close and winning her approval has always been important to me. What seemed the hardest is that my mom was getting older and moving away seemed like an unloving and selfish thing for me to do.

But, one night, while out with a group of girlfriends-- there were 12 of us-- at a beautiful setting in a gorgeous estate, sitting on blankets out-streched to support all of us, snacking on treats we had brought to share with each other, drinking wine and watching Shakepeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, I voiced again my desire to move, during intermission. Normally, my expression to move would be met by my friends with smiles and nods of understanding. This time was different. My friend Deb (she's German!) said... "Lisa... either move or shut up!"

Yes! She said it just like that.

And shut up, I did. Tail between my legs, I didn't say a word the rest of the night. But, Deb had done the best thing for me. The next morning, I woke up early and got on the Internet. I started researching places to live. I really wasn't sure where I wanted to live, I just knew someplace West felt right to me.

San Francisco seemed like the place I wanted to live. But, a few months later, after visiting over 9/11, with every business meeting being cancelled and struggling just to get back home, it seemed a sign it was not the place for me. I didn't have a lot of money to explore many different options, so I decided to take a chance on a suggestion, from someone I really didn't know very well, to investigate Portland, Oregon. After visiting for 4-days, I knew immediately that in spite of the high-unemployment, Portland was a place for me to begin my flight. I also knew it was a place I wouldn't settle. It's a bit of an uncomfortable feeling to take a step in a direction that you know is not permanent, but is a right step for the moment. And so, six weeks after a short visit there, I moved in with a family I met through a man I met on the Internet, to find a job and start my new life.

I wish I could say that after I moved, everything was perfect, but that would be a lie.

I hated my new job. I hated the constant grey and rain in Portland. I hated the fact that I didn't have any friends. I missed my family. I missed my beautiful home. I couldn't find the nice Midwestern food in the grocery stores and I didn't understand the West coast free-and-easy-go-with-the-flow culture. And, worst of all, I thought I had made a huge mistake. My first job didn't work out very well and I ended up leaving it to join an entrepreneurial company and was laid off 4-weeks after joining. I was unemployed for 15-months after that and nearly ran out of savings to support myself. Many nights I'd call my mom, one of my few close friends at the time, to tell her about my day, and more than a few times, I'd cry and say I wanted to come home. My mom, who I knew was fighting her own desire to have me come back home would say, "You can't. You have to stay there and you have to keep going. You can do it."

My mom had come to understand that though things weren't yet working out for me, I had to continue on the journey I had begun and I needed my chance to soar.

Eventually, things did work out for me; though it took some time.

After three years in Portland and barely a penny to my name, I ended up moving to Seattle on yet another intuitive tug at my heart. And, finally, good luck found me in Seattle-- not all at once, but little by little. I landed a job that suited me and where I found a beautiful, loving manager who gave me just the right amount of wind I needed to fly. I found a soothing, peaceful place to live with a view of the lake and surrounded by eight bird feeders and lots of song birds. I was able to begin my writing career through many lucky breaks and am now able to fly in planes, all around the world and visit many places and make new friends. I have been able to build stronger, deeper and more meaningful friendships with people across the globe, in spite of the distances. And, I've come to understand that the pull at my heart was about becoming my own woman.

For a few years after moving to Seattle, I would remember those years in Portland with anger and frustration; but, today, I see the experience as a time where I learned so much and gained resilience, strength, patience, faith, love and persistence to get up and try again and again and again, to test my wings, fall on the pavement and give it another shot.. so that when just the right moment, just the right opportunity appeared, I was ready... and I could fly and fly and fly and feel confident and strong and happy and know that just a few years earlier, my heart heart knew something more than anyone could ever know. And, I was so glad I had listened to that tiny little tug that gave me the freedom to take flight.

© 2011 Lisa Ann Edwards