Move by Numbers

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Tomorrow I start down the path to Denver literally, but I’ve been on this path for some time. I thought I’d share some numbers to describe what these next couple of weeks will look like, Lord willing.

5165: the number of feet (in altitude) I am moving up
2896: the number of miles Google Maps estimates I’ll drive
1465: the number of miles as the crow flies between my old home in Raleigh and my new home in Denver (consider me taking the scenic route!)
105: the number of my Facebook friends that currently list Raleigh or Wake Forest as their home
80: the number of square feet I’m losing from my Raleigh apartment to my Denver apartment
41: the number of hours of drive time Google Maps is estimating for my entire journey (including the trip from Wichita to Denver and back in the middle)
30: the number of boxes packed and moved
30: the number of months since I made the decision to move to Denver
26: the number of degrees longitude I am moving west
13: the number of boxes of household items and clothes donated (why was I living with this much excess?)
8: the number of hours (and 38 minutes) of estimated drive time on my longest day (strategically, day 1)
8: the number of years (and 10 months) I lived in North Carolina
8: the number of people (including 4 youngins) who helped me move physically
7: the number of states I’ll be traveling through
6: the number of boxes that couldn’t fit in the shipping box, so were repacked in jumbo ziploc bags
6: the number of days (at least partially) spent driving
5: the number of my Facebook friends that currently list Denver as their home
4: the number of degrees latitude that I am moving north
4: the number of vehicles used in the move (so far)
3: the number of states I lived in before Colorado (Kansas, Oklahoma, North Carolina)
3: the number of boxes of items (mostly books) sold
3: the number of boxes of books donated to 2 worthy causes
2: the number of plants I’m taking with me (not including my cucumber seedlings I’ll pick up at my Mom and Dad’s)
2: the number of hours I gain by crossing time zones
1: ultimate reason why I’m going

Tis the Week!

This is the week that I start my move to Denver. Tuesday is my last day at work. Thursday, I leave North Carolina. I think I say this every day, but this keeps becoming more real.

Above is a very loose map of my journey. Roads aren’t as straight as they appear here, of course. I’ll be doing that first leg of my journey over two days, and then spend time with family in both Kansas City and Wichita for almost 2 weeks before heading on to Denver for good.

Oh, and during that time in Kansas, I’m be making a “quick” trip to Denver for an interview. Very thankful to have an interview lined up before I even move there!

I still have a couple of weeks before I can call Denver home (my new lease starts May 16th), but it’s happening soon!

I’ll try to blog big things along the way, but as always, Twitter is the best place to experience this trip with me as I comment on the sights and sounds along the way. You can find me there: @RonnicaZ.

Curves in the Road

God has been teaching me so much this past month or two about control…and that it’s not mine to have. How many times did God tell the disciples that it wasn’t for them to know this or that when they asked about the future?

April 2014 has been on my mind for some time as the target move date. However, this month held another event for me as well, that I didn’t expect. The date of my last post, April 7th, I received a phone call from my mother that her younger sister had passed away suddenly.

I’ve lived in North Carolina almost 9 years, but I have been fortunate to not once felt the need to make an emergency trip back to my family Kansas. But this was that time.

While I didn’t feel I needed the closure for myself, I wanted to be there for my mom. And so I booked a flight to Kansas for a long weekend.

Was this in my carefully-detailed plan to get everything that I wanted done before I left North Carolina? No. Did God know that this would become the plan? Absolutely. While I hate the circumstance, I was thankful to take a time out from my own agenda to do God’s.

Yet another reminder to not foolish claim control.

Purpose in the Waiting

When I was a kid, I would spend what felt like hours, waiting at the window for a ride to pick me up. With the perspective I have now, I’m sure it was just a matter of minutes each time I had to wait. But I remembered thinking, “I can’t wait until I’m grown up, and then I’d never have to wait.”

Oh, but that’s not really true, is it?

A couple of weeks ago, I had to spend a week or so waiting for some answers in regard to my move to Denver. Before this time of waiting, I was at peace thinking the answer was “no.” But the moment the “no” became a “maybe,” my anxiety rose.

Why is “maybe” so much harder than “no?”

In my wait, I had time to ponder that question. I realized that for me, “no” wasn’t too difficult. I could picture what my future would look like, as if I controlled it. “Yes” too, wouldn’t have been too hard, because I could map out my future and make plans. But with a “maybe,” all I could do was wait. I didn’t know enough about the future to make any plans. It was out of my control.

The thing is, none of us really know what the future holds. I had allowed my ability to plan for the future to fool me into think that in so planning, *I* was orchestrating the future.

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ ” – James 4:13-15, ESV

I was foolish to think that I ever control my future. For someone who likes to be in control, this is a struggle. I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that I had to lean on the examples of those around me in order to wait quietly (or at least more quietly than I wanted to!).

Job could say, “Though he slay me, yet I will wait for him.” (Job 13:15) Surely I could say, “Though I don’t have an answer I want, yet I will wait for him.”

Ann Judson set sail to an unknown destination with her husband of one-week, anticipating that she’d never see her family again. She had no answers on where they would live for almost a year and a half, as they got kicked out of one country after another. Surely, I could wait a week for an answer to something far less important.

I write this here sheepishly, but I know that it’s a story worth telling. It’s not a story that I can take pride in…it’s a story I can take pride in God in. He was faithful to me like the patient parent comforting their ignorant child who thinks that they’ll get to their destination faster by asking, “Are we there yet?”

No, I’m not there yet. For as long as I’m on this earth, he will continue to use the frustrations and disappointments of this world to draw me to him and to make me more like his Son. And for that, I can be thankful in the waiting.

Photo by Bushra Al-Dalwood

Updated 101 in 1001 List

When I created my 101 in 1001 list, I was turning 30. I had decided to move to Denver, but that wasn’t social-media public yet. So when I shared my list on my blog, I redacted a few items. I’m sorry that bugged a few of my curious followers!

Now I can share with you those items:

18. Wear a Denver sports team shirt.
43. Find health care providers in Denver.
70. Put together wall art to represent the 4 states I love.
73. After moving, save back up to $X.
94. Move.
95. Get Colorado driver’s license.
96. Get Colorado library card.
97. Watch local news 30 times.
98. Visit 5 Denver sites new to me.
99. Successfully navigate Denver’s public transportation to get somewhere.
100. Visit the top of a fourteener.
101. Visit 5 other Colorado sites new to me.

I’m excited to do these things soon!

Apartment Hunting

Written March 1, 2014

There are two big decisions when you move: where will you live and where will you work. I decided to tackle the move decision first.

So in late February, I flew to Denver to hunt down where I would make my home. I had some idea of where I wanted to live based on other factors, but I was searching over a pretty wide swath of the metro area. I had 19 possibilities on my list.

I started my in-person search on a Monday morning. I got to the first place 15 minutes before they opened, so I took the chance to a walk around and get a feel for the area. Then I went inside to inquire about seeing an apartment…that’s when I noticed I didn’t have my wallet with me. I knew that even if this one agent was kind enough to show me an apartment without ID, that others wouldn’t. So I drove the 30 minutes back to my friends’ house and then came back to really start my search.

I liked that place, and one that I saw shortly thereafter. They would have worked, though neither was in walking distance of shopping areas, which was something I was looking for. Also, neither would know their availability until mid-April, and both would have likely maxed out my budget.

I went on to rule out most of the other apartments I saw, for one reason or another. Some were too expensive, a few looked really rundown, and a couple others had no one there to show me around.

Towards mid-afternoon,  I started driving into a neighborhood that really intrigued me. There were lots of shops and restaurants right in front of a group of apartment complexes. As the approached the one that I was on my list, I couldn’t believe that they’d have any apartments in my price range. Still, I decided to go in to confirm before moving on to the next on my list.

The friendly rental agent asked me when I was looking to move in and what my price range was. I told her my desired move-in date and told her a price range $50 more than I was hoping to spend, since I was sure they had nothing in my price range.

She quickly provided me a quote for an apartment that was $25 less than my desired price range for the move-in date I desired. She was the first person all day that actually could tell me that they had an apartment available for my too-far out date.

After she showed me a sample apartment, I asked about the apartment for rent. It was on the top floor (my preference) and had a skylight, along with 3 other windows.

My next question was about the balcony. As a gardener, I really wanted a balcony in a sunny location for gardening. She told me she thought it faced northwest, which disappointed me. I decided to check it out for myself. I couldn’t believe my eyes: the balcony faced southwest, which would be most ideal!

I would have settled for much less than my ideal apartment, but I didn’t have to. I also didn’t have to wait for a possible apartment to come available, like I was almost certain I would have to. I would have grown through the waiting, but what a blessing not to have to!

God is good–I know this–but it was a great encouragement to see His goodness evidenced on this first step of my journey.

Oh, just the westward view from near my new apartment!

Wish You Were Here: Missing Tweets from Denver

Written February 26, 2014

Here are a few things I could have tweeted during my Denver trip, except I wasn’t doing that yet. A more serious, detailed post is coming.

1. I spent all day driving around Denver, but I only was honked at once (for driving too slow).

2. What did anyone do before the Internet and GPS? I surely wouldn’t have been able to navigate so easily a city I was unfamiliar with without either.

3. I found it too humorous when the Google Maps voice pronounced “Colorado Springs” as “Colo Spigs.” Doesn’t have the same ring to it.

4. I spent most of my apartment-search day too close to the mountains to see them. Too.close.

5. If it weren’t for the mountains, I could have thought I was in Kansas. Windy and sunny with BLUE skies and (fairly) straight roads? Yes, please.

6. I had hoped to avoid the snow this trip, since I had to drive around in a borrowed car. It did snow, but only a dusting as I was leaving. It was beautiful, so I was thankful.

7. I left North Carolina’s public radio fund drive just in time to “enjoy” the fund drive for Colorado’s public radio. I did get to hear some local stories in between all the pleas to donate.

8. I kept thinking, “Oh, this area is great for pedestrians.” I probably visited 6 or 7 neighborhoods before I realized the entire area is great for walking.

9. It will probably take me months to get used to my part of town, let alone any others, but I know two different ways to get to my friends’ house from my future apartment.

10. I visited the library, and looked to see if they carry the Harry Potter audiobooks (they do).

A Leap

Written February 26, 2014

As a child, I had a recurring dream where I would climb atop a skeletal skyscraper in order to jump off into a pool far below. I would always wake during the fall.

Today felt a little like that dream.

Late last night I flew back from visiting Denver (post to come). I had planned on giving work (informal) 2 months’ notice, so that we can plan a strategy for my leaving. While I’ve not chosen to make this my home, I truly have loved working here and want to end my time well.

I couldn’t quite wait to the 2-month mark and pulled my boss aside at the first opportunity today. It was definitely a bittersweet feeling to finally reveal this secret. Though I’ve known since I started that Raleigh wasn’t going to be my home for too much longer, I’ve intentionally worked like I would retire here. I’m all or nothing: I don’t know how to be any other way.

The conversation left me with that falling sensation in my abdomen. It reminded me of some verses that I had memorized years ago, but recently reviewed:

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
And He delights in his way.
When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.
-Psalm 37:23-24, NASU

What a beautiful image, and one that resonates with my life right now. While it may feel at times like I’m falling into the unknown, God really is right here with me.

And so I willingly leap.

Photo by ccheviron

Overdue Baby

Written 7/15/2013

At the time of this writing, I am 42 weeks out from the day I plan to leave North Carolina. If this move to Denver was an overdue baby, it’d be conceiving right now.

Thinking about my time left here as a pregnancy is really helpful. I’ve been waiting for over a year and half already. But now it’s feeling more real. I’m getting asked about it and am making more detailed plans.

42 weeks…how much preparation can I get in during that time?

Becoming a Broncos Fan

This post was written 1/22/2013

I’ve always loved watching sports. I grew up in a family that regularly watched college basketball, major league baseball, and golf on TV. As I grew into my own sports tastes, I also came to love college basketball and cycling. Really, I’ll watch pretty much anything but soccer and other pro sports.

When I decided to move to Denver, I knew that I would need to become a fan of local sports. Denver has one of each of the big 4 professional teams: the Nuggets, Broncos, Avalanche, and Rockies.

I’m already a minor fan of the Rockies ever since I saw them play when I was in middle school. While I’ll always be a Royals fan at heart (and Cards, 2nd), I can definitely root for the Rockies as long as they aren’t playing one of my other teams.

Being a Nuggets or Avalanche fan just isn’t realistic, as I don’t like watching pro basketball and haven’t (yet) gotten into hockey.

But the Broncos? Yeah, maybe I can do that. I never have watched NFL football, but when I catch it, I can watch it just as easily as I can college football.

Ever since the playoffs of 2011, I have been trying to catch the Broncos when I can. Thankfully, they have had quarterbacks I have been familiar with so I had something to latch on to. I’ve always kinda liked Peyton Manning, so that’s been reasonable to root for him.

This will sound incredibly superficial, but the hardest thing for me in trying to cultivate a Bronco fan within me is their team colors.

You see, they have *gulp* orange in their uniforms. I can kinda trick myself into thinking it’s red or something when they’re wearing their blue jerseys, but it’s impossible to forget when they’re wearing their orange uniforms.

I’m going to try to get past the superficial. Still, I doubt you’ll ever catch me wearing an orange Broncos jersey.