Goodbye, Montana sky…

IMG_6490My time in Montana has come to an end. For now. I was here for only 4 ½ months, but it felt like much longer. This beautiful city of Missoula became another home to me, and I will take part of it with me while leaving part of my spirit behind.

I will miss SO much. I will miss watching the sun rise each morning, casting its first rays high atop snow covered Squaw Peak, making it glow bright white before gradually casting its glow down the dark green, pine covered mountains throughout the valley.

I will miss the sunset behind those mountains each evening, watching as the spectacular colors in the huge expanse of the sky change from yellow to orange to pink and then purple.

I will miss looking out my window and seeing my dear friend, the Clark Fork River. I’ll miss walking right out my building to the banks of the river to watch all the surfers, kayaks, and rafts on Brennan’s Wave. I’ll miss my walks on the Riverfront path, watching the fly fishers as they rhythmically cast their lines out over the waves. I’ll miss falling asleep each night and waking each morning to the soothing sound of the rushing river through my open window.

I will miss my hikes up Mount Sentinel to The M, from which I never tired of the most spectacular view of the city, nestled in this beautiful valley surrounded by snow capped mountains.

I will miss my gym, Missoula Underground Strength Training. I’ll miss how everyone who works there treats every single person who walks into the gym with incredible respect and care, regardless of their age, weight, or physical abilities. I’ll miss the Saturday community-wide bootcamps. I will miss everyone I befriended there, several of whom share the same spiritual path as I.

Being here gave me a wonderful opportunity for self discovery. I was entirely too distracted by my “life” for the past several years. Work, the gym, VOICES, friends, my relationship. I was so busy being distracted that I was sleepwalking through my life… numb, unhappy and unable to connect with my inner self enough to find my purpose. But for the past several months, all those distractions were gone.  I was alone in my apartment, with a figurative mirror in front of me every direction I turned. I couldn’t avoid it, and I had to look at myself. It’s one of the most painful things I’ve ever done. But there was nothing else to think about….my life  and what it’s been, where it’s led me, and where I want to go. And most of all – what has kept me from going where I want to go.

I have confronted all sorts of false beliefs that have ruled my life: I must be perfect or no one will love me. I need approval from others. I’m not smart enough or good enough. Nothing I do is of any value. Recognizing those false beliefs is the first step; dispelling them is something I’ve worked on this entire time, and something that I will continue to work on. Luckily I have found a wealth of spiritual resources with which to guide me. I have found my life’s purpose and set myself on a course to fulfill that. For the first time ever in my life, I am confident that I am headed in the right direction.

I named my journey last summer Alise’s Amazing Adventure. I realize now that my whole LIFE has been an amazing adventure. And I am overwhelmingly grateful for every single thing that has happened along the way. The happiness, the joy, the victories, the hardships, the heartbreaks, the defeats. I’m grateful to the Universe for teaching me all of those lessons. I look forward to more adventures ahead, and I can honestly say that I look forward to and welcome the challenges. Because without them, we can never continue to learn and grow.

It was almost this exact time last year that I left Louisville, my friends and family, and embarked on my summer of adventure. Now, as I leave Missoula, I’m re-posting the same image that I did last year. I will keep this in mind for the rest of my life. We must accept and embrace change, we must leave our comfort zone and step out into the unknown, or we will never learn the lessons that life is teaching us. I’m so looking forward to what this next chapter in my life holds!

goodbye coehlo2