Two years ago I moved to Paso Robles, California. I sought a new beginning. I sought adventure, continued professional growth, and the desire to immerse myself in a new community. All of those things have occurred over the course of the last 24 months. It is with a bittersweet heart I share that I will be moving back to Southern California during the summer. I have made the drive back to LA more times than I can count to visit family and friends, all of whom give me joy, hope, and a sense of “it will all be ok.” Paso has given me more than I could have imagined, as well. In one word, Paso has brought me healing. I don’t say that to mean I’m perfect and completely made whole, or any other cliché’ statement. I say that to mean that Paso has brought me all of which I had hoped and wanted it to. I have met some incredible people here, and am honestly sad to leave. But I also know that Paso will be one of my forever homes, a place I found more confidence and trust and a community that has become like family. I imagined myself staying as long as I felt called to remain, but the time has officially come following the completion of this school year.
I left Southern California realizing I used to think I NEEDED my family, my parents especially. That, without them nearby, I might not succeed or be confident or be able to “get by” on my own. What I have discovered over the past two years is that I do not necessarily need them to survive or thrive; but I WANT them. I desperately want them to talk with, to share meals with, to laugh and cry and question and debate with. I want them physically present to celebrate life’s greatest joys while sitting in life’s messiest and most heartbreaking realities. It has been one of the most heart-wrenching years of my life thus far—and I’ve been through quite a lot leading up to this last March! But more than any other details and challenges and obstacles and fears, I have concluded that I want to cherish the time I have with the two people who have given me life. They are far from perfect; but they are absolutely the most loving, kind, do-anything-for-your-children parents I could ever imagine.
Last year I was hit HARD with the reality that my parents will not always be around. That reality alone consumed multiple nights and showers filled with tears. It’s one thing to think about; it’s another to be dealt a hand with an aggressive cancer diagnosis. I have sat in the questions of “am I moving or leaving out of fear” or is it really worth leaving a job I absolutely love, in a community I love and have grown close with; the security and safety of a full-time job (two, in fact!) and health insurance and benefits and retirement. Even as I type this, I stop and say….REALLY!? And then I ask for peace of mind in the decision that is to be made—to stay or to go. And I am consistently led back to the word “go.” Go cherish moments and memories. After all, what value does a place of living give if the people I want to spend the most time with are not present?
While family has been a large part of this decision to return to the LA area, I have also spent ample hours of my life asking myself what it is that I want professionally as well. Ever since I left APU, I have envisioned myself becoming a future “Phil Ford” or “Chris Schmidt” of an athletic training education program. While that is a passion and something that is extremely exciting, what has also been a vision and strong desire on my heart is to establish a program similar to one in Ohio at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, here in California, that has an athletic trainer as the lead to create plans and programs for pediatrics oncology patients returning to sport or physical activity, or simply a normal active life.
I can honestly say I have no idea where life, or rather God, will lead me next. While my faith has been shaky and I have been challenged this past year, I remain hopeful that He will provide, that He will pave the way and be a lamp for my feet in this season of life. Paso, you have been wonderful to me and I will never forget the lessons and memories I have made. I look forward to visiting and maybe some day even returning!