January 3, 2014

How Living a Mile High Changed My Life. ~ Rachel Nussbaum

Introducing our newest editor, Rachel! She’s been a rock. She’s also helping out our talk show video series, and reconnecting elephant to Boulder. I’m grateful to get to work with her. ~ ed.


“When the uniqueness of a place sings to us like a melody, then we will know, at last, what it means to be at home.”

~ Paul Gruchow

An Ode to Colorado.

It took years of experiencing the ups and downs of life before I found a place to live that sings to me like a melody.

Now that I have found my happy place, I can reflect on how I got here.

Growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, there wasn’t much to do. I spent much of my time at the mall shopping for a bunch of crap that I didn’t need. I had a feeling there was more to life than Forever 21, but I wasn’t sure where to find it. I dabbled in different hobbies including dance, gymnastics, voice lessons and theater, but nothing stuck. Don’t get me wrong—I lived a blessed life in Cincinnati and received love and support from my incredible parents and sister. But…I always felt a little lost and unsure of what I wanted to do with my life and who I wanted to be.

Meanwhile, I started high school and formed a close group of friends who became a large part of my identity. At the time, high school felt like the best years of my life. I finally had boobs, a boyfriend and a rebellious social life (not quite an identity, but definitely a good distraction).

It wasn’t until I graduated from high school and went off to Florida State University (my parents were moving to Florida and it seemed like a logical choice—boy was I wrong), that I realized how lost I was without a group of friends to identify with. In a panic, I did what any other insecure 18-year-old girl would do and joined a sorority filled with girls with fake tans and fake personalities—not my finest choice.

After spending two years in sorority hell, I was even further away from discovering what truly made me happy. Once my hair started falling out from stress and misery, I decided it was probably time to make a change.

Soon after, my friends from high school and I decided to take a trip to Boulder, Colorado. When I arrived in Boulder, the surrounding beauty stunned me. It felt like someone had slapped me in the face and poured cold water on my head; the incredible energy from the Flatirons (mountains) and the people living there woke me right up.

Boulderites seemed genuinely happy and were so positive and welcoming. It was contagious. I couldn’t believe how happy I felt. On the last day of my visit, without any hesitation, I announced to my friends that I was going to transfer to the University of Colorado and live in Boulder. When I returned to Florida, I told my parents about my plan to transfer. As always, they were supportive and helped me with the transition.

As of today, I have lived in Boulder for three and a half years.

During this time, I have learned so much from my surroundings and from the beautiful people living in Colorado.

It blows my mind when I think about how much I have changed and grown over the last few years.

Living in Colorado, I have learned to listen—to others and myself. After transferring to Boulder, I learned the importance of listening to my gut. When I respect my body and mind, I am able to define my goals and go after them with determination. The clarity that comes from listening to my intuition allows me to listen to others and help them achieve their own ambitions.

In Boulder, I am surrounded by people who are passionate about everything they do. Their passion is contagious, and they’ve taught me to be more disciplined and dedicated to my hobbies. Yoga is my biggest passion because of its mental and physical benefits. Some days, yoga makes me push myself really hard or cry or sweat a gallon onto my neighbor’s mat, but more often than not, it keeps me sane, allows me to check in with myself and serves as an incredible mood lifter.

An additional passion of mine is craft beer—another great mood lifter with much less effort involved! If I make time to go to yoga or grab a beer at a local brewery, I find that I am able to make more space for my loved ones and am more present throughout my day.

The outdoor lifestyle in Boulder has introduced me to several activities such as skiing, hiking and biking, and has taught me the importance of going outside at least once a day. No matter what the weather conditions are, I try to get outside for at least 20 minutes. (Sometimes I don’t make it out and have to turn on my happy light—yes I have one of those—I live in the “crunchy” town of Boulder, remember.) But even when it’s below zero and cloudy, I try my best to bundle up and stick my head outside, just to get a little breath of fresh air (hopefully without getting hypothermia or frostbite). It doesn’t matter where people live in the world, if they walked to work, biked to the grocery store or did anything remotely enjoyable outside, at least once a day, I believe their moods and outlook on life could improve.

When I arrived in Boulder, I fell into a fabulously eclectic group of friends. They are all wonderfully weird and bring out the best in me. They taught me the importance of befriending strong and inspiring individuals. My friends encourage me to go after my dreams and achieve things that I never dreamt were possible. They introduced me to a new depth of life, and I am forever grateful.

Overall, living in Colorado has taught me that the environment we live in can be one of the most influential factors of happiness. Once we find a place to live that “sings to us like a melody,” life seems to make much more sense.

I encourage you to find a unique place of your own, no matter what it takes. If you’re not sure where that place may be, Colorado isn’t a bad place to start.

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photos: courtesy of the author

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