Embracing the Journey

604 miles. 549 days. 13,176 hours. 4 states. 4 kids. 2 dogs. 1 guinea pig. These are the numbers that define the last 18 months of our lives. In July 2011, we packed up our tribe, waved goodbye to our Indiana family and friends, and started a new life in Starkville, Mississippi.

After completing his doctorate in education, my husband decided that life as a Principal at a highly affluent and ultra-competitive high school was taking its toll on him, on our kids, and on our overall well-being. As a family, we agreed it was time to make a change, and he accepted a Professorship at Mississippi State University. We painfully and reluctantly sold the dream home we’d built five years prior, buckled in for a lifestyle change, and headed South.

It’s been a roller-coaster ride of epic proportions. We’ve made new friends and missed our old ones. We’ve visited extended family and spent our first Christmas without them. We’ve laughed and cried and second-guessed and forged ahead. We’ve embraced the adventure and we’ve longed for the comfort of familiarity.

Most importantly? We’ve grown as individuals and as a family. Our 16-year-old, missing his favorite Indiana sport, launched a lacrosse club in our new hometown. Our 13-year-old made the high school bowling team, our 12-year-old competed on the first middle school girls’ volleyball team. Our 10-year-old was named “Scientist of the Year” in a club that has given him both roots and wings.

And us? The parents? We’ve begun forging new relationships, have dipped our toes in our new Southern culture, have learned to properly say, “All y’all.”

But here’s one thing we really miss.

Snow. (Not shoveling it, necessarily, but playing in it.)

We kept our winter boots and our knit hats, not knowing whether this move would be permanent or temporary.

They’re still packed.

It’s hot in Mississippi, y’all. On Christmas day, it rained. I told the kids it was just really warm snow, but they didn’t buy it.

My dear hubby and I would be unable to express the depths of our excitement if we received the gift of a winter get-away to your beautiful Colorado resort. Here’s what we’d do when we arrived: We’d drink lots of coffee in the morning, then don our hats and boots for some beautiful winter snowshoeing. We’d stop for a leisurely lunch and some reading with a fantastic view. Then we’d visit your beautiful horses, partake in an afternoon massage, and settle in for a wonderful evening meal with ample red wine. The next day, we’d engage in a little Yoga, take a cooking class together, venture out for some downhill sledding, and participate in a wine tasting.

Then we’d do it all over again. With a sleigh ride thrown in for good measure.

But most of all, we’d get to breathe, relax, be together, unwind, reflect, reinvigorate.

And we’d be grateful beyond measure.

Name: Katrina Willis
City: Starkville
State: MS