Many people told me that coming back to the place you left after a journey like mine would be hard. I didn’t really believe them—I love Montana, and my tribe there. But they were right. I left a life in New Zealand: friends of the soul kind, interesting work, endless adventures, mountains that imprinted their ridge lines on my heart. I grieved for leaving it, wondered how I could ever be as happy or fulfilled again.
But over the last week something shifted, and I began to find my center again, on Flathead Lake in the heart of Montana surrounded by a family of good friends come together for a wedding. I felt it start to shift cruising the familiar lake in the old boat my sister has sailed for years, with long lost friends high on the joy of sharing space again.
I felt it shift a bit more on a pontoon boat full of more old friends. I caught a glimpse of my lost center on a stand-up paddleboard attached to a throw rope dragged at low-speed through wildfire smoke, my friends whooping and laughing from the boat.
And now on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, wandering through red rock with a soul sister I met in New Zealand and bringing my journey full circle, I’ve re-discovered my compass north. Over the last week, for the first time since leaving Wanaka, I felt that fullness again in my chest—that feeling of absolute gratitude, contentment, and fulfillment that for me defines a state of grace.
Before I left New Zealand, I pledged to carry forward those parts of myself that I grew and those elements that lead me to these moments of grace. While I grieve for leaving that life behind, those months shaped the path I walk now. I will continue to spend time in wild places that feed my heart, surround myself with people who feed my soul, and push myself to grow.
A part of my heart will always live across the Pacific. But I know now that the journey is far from over.