August 2019

Goodbye, Chicago. Hello, Montana!


Stacks of moving boxes are scattered about the house, ready to be loaded into the U-Haul. My 19-year-old son, who is helping me with the move, is hanging with friends before we head out, and my 11-year-old son is off on his last bike ride through the neighborhood. I head upstairs, alone, to do a final walkthrough.

We’ve been in this townhouse, in the Chicago suburbs, since my divorce a couple of years ago (my second divorce in 7 years – yeah, awesome – but that’s a story for another day.) The final room to check is my daughter’s. I haven’t ventured in there since she left for college a few weeks ago, and, knowing her biggest-slob-in-the-world reputation, I need to make sure the room is empty.

I open her closet door. On the floor are an empty water bottle, a sock, and an old notebook from school. I flip through it and see a note her best friend had written to her a while back when she spent her first summer away from home.

Don’t forget the 3 C’s, the note said. Choice/Chance/Change

You must make a choice
to take a chance
or your life will never change.

I got a big smile on my face because I was reminded of this just last month when I had a MAJOR choice to make… I had 30 days to find a new place to live. My ex and I agreed our son would do best in a different school district, yet, we had not decided WHICH school district would be best. And it didn’t help that he and his new wife were now living in Arizona. My lease was up in a month, and I had no idea where to live. Like, I didn’t even know which STATE.

Should I move to Phoenix so my son can be close to his father?

Pretty sure the new wife wouldn’t dig THAT choice. Not to mention my son hates the heat.

Should I move closer to the city?

I’ve been unemployed for almost two years since losing my morning radio gig of 20+ years, and now that I’m a single mom, I’m not sure I want to go back to that crazy schedule, especially the 3:45 am alarm!

Whether it was the Universe, God, or just blind faith, what happened in those 30 days was nothing short of a miracle.

A friend had texted saying he bought a vacation home in Montana (I’ve had a love affair with that state since I was a kid, I even got married there!)

“Any time you want to use it,” the text read, “let me know.”

I responded immediately. It was mid-July, and my kids were visiting their dad, so I decided I needed to go somewhere to clear my mind to figure out where the hell I was supposed to live.

“Be careful,” I replied, “I may just take you up on that!”

Two weeks later, I was on a flight to Bozeman, Montana.

In the days leading up to my trip, I tried desperately to find a place to live in the Chicago area. NOTHING was panning out. I prayed and prayed for help, for guidance, for signs.


I landed at the Bozeman airport, frustrated that the magic of the mountains did not release my anxiety the way it had in the past.

Breathe, Kathy. Lighten up.

I took an Uber for the 75-minute drive to Big Sky, and I told myself to just surrender.

If I can’t get an answer in this place, I’m screwed.

My first morning there, feeling slightly more relaxed (it’s impossible not to experience ‘ease’ when you’re in Montana), I was brewing a pot of coffee, savoring the smell, and while waiting, decided to take care of some email.

Mostly the junk email.

The #1 anti-aging nutrient. Delete.

Word of the day. Delete.

Five Steps to Spiritual Surrender. Del… Wait. Surrender? Spiritual Surrender? Open!

Among the steps:

*Obstacles are detours in the right direction. Obstacles are opportunities.
*Ask for a sign, then LISTEN.
*The secret to prayer is to forget what you think you need.

Well, I NEED a damn place to live!

“Ask for a sign.”

Ok. Done. I asked.

I poured my cup of coffee and went out to sit on the deck. Damn. I can see why this is named “Big Sky.” There is nothing but sky and mountains as far as the eye can see. My God, this would be an incredible place to live.

Stop. That’s not realistic. It’s too far from family, friends, your son’s friends, where would you work….. Huh?!

Something caught my eye and snapped me out of my daydream.

What was that??

It was a hummingbird. It stopped right there, in front of my face, not 5-feet away. Odd, because there isn’t a flower in sight. It’s just floating there as if to say, “hello.”

Wait, was that a sign?!

I finished my coffee, went into the house, and opened my laptop. I typed in “the spiritual meaning of hummingbirds.”

……their physical lightness is a beautiful reminder to lighten up. Release the weight of doubt, worry, and fear, and then our spirit can soar as we follow our path.

Whoa. Well, that sure seems like a sign!

Hmmm. I have always dreamed of living in Montana. I just thought it would have to wait until retirement, or at least until the kids were on their own.

Obstacles are detours in the right direction. Obstacles are opportunities.

I’ve had nothing but obstacles in finding a place to live in Illinois. (Not to mention Illinois is just a hot damn mess.) Is this my “opportunity??” That question was on my mind the entire week. And so was that hummingbird.

The morning of my flight back home, I just couldn’t shake the melancholy. As I rolled my suitcase outside to wait for my Uber, I felt tears welling up in my eyes.

I don’t feel like I’m going home. I feel like I’m leaving home.

It was at that moment I made a choice. To take a chance. I was ready for my life to change. Because there’s no better place than under this big, beautiful sky for my spirit to soar.