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Part 1: Cultivating a beautiful, single life.

Updated: May 10

I decided to journal out my 2 long-term relationship breakups, the lessons I learned and how I was able to be happy when single again. This is Part 1, breakup number 1, that happened in November 2019.

When I first brought home my dog, Sora, I got her with someone I had been dating for 4.5 years. I never imagined raising her on my own and being a single dog mom. I never imagined much of my life at all on my own because I had a life partner for so long. We had been together since I was 19, and we broke up when I was 24. When we broke up, I was left alone in the home we designed together with a new, difficult puppy. I wasn't prepared at all for what was happening in my life, but it was definitely the right decision. We had fallen out of love and changed into different people, naturally. So even though it was difficult, it was the most formative year of growth for me that I wouldn't change in retrospect. I had to start dating again, while also raising a puppy by myself. Luckily my parents were nearby at the time, so I had some help when I got the infamous "puppy blues". I was pretty down and had to work through letting go of a life I had envisioned with this person, to create space for a new life I could have with Sora.

A few months into the new year the pandemic started. I was in quarantine alone with Sora and unsure what was going to happen in the world. I spent my days working from home and running/walking around the lake near my home by myself. I would listen to podcasts of women who lead these full and adventurous lives (e.g., she explores, how I built this, etc.) and then asked myself, why not me? Why can't I do what they're doing? I had always loved capturing photos and videos, and traveling made me feel alive, so I signed up for a remote photography class to get myself out of the apartment and in nature with Sora; I needed something to do, something to keep my hands busy and not focused on what was happening in the world.

I learned the basics and started feeling really proud of myself for improving and creating beautiful photos of Sora. I began following some dog instagram accounts and was amazed at the beauty of Colorado. I had only visited once when I was 6 years old, and i didn't remember much of anything. I also had never lived anywhere further than 2 hours from where I grew up, so moving that far away from everything, and everyone, I know was scary. Throw on the global pandemic and Trump in power for extra layer of terror.

Everyone was telling me to stay put, but everyday the itch/urge to leave did not go away. I would tell myself I have a good life, this is the way it is and I should be thankful for it. However, i'd wake up everyday and want more. I was really tired of being dissatisfied with the life I had chosen for myself, and decided ultimately that no one was going to fix it for me, i'd have to do it myself. I started researching furnished, short-term rentals; I wasn't certain I could handle moving to a new city that I had never been to, where I didn't know a single person. I wanted the safety net and reassurance that if I didn't like it, I could always come home. I knew that I was meant for something more than living in Virginia my entire life - not that there's anything wrong with that, but it just wasn't my "place".

I locked down a furnished apartment that I toured virtually, got approved for the lease and then called my parents to let them know that I was leaving in 3 weeks. I didn't even tell my parents I was "moving". I essentially told them I was going for an extended "vacation" to Denver. They were initially very confused and unsupportive, they love Virginia, and it was hard for them to understand why i left a stable, healthy relationship and why I didn't want to buy a house and stay there forever. I told them i'd be back by the time summer ends and the snow starts in Colorado. Long story short, I never came back.

It was covid times, May of 2020, so everyone was still on lockdown orders, I wasn't even certain I was "allowed" to be moving during this time. Rest stops were closed, hotels were inactive to tourists and only open to covid-19 patients, so I had to search for lenient airbnbs. My friend and I were terrified of covid and we hardly took our masks off the entire 27 hour drive across country. I was so grateful to have a friend willing to help me move with my dog in such crazy times. We drove across the country in 3 days, through Illinois and Kansas in my MINI cooper convertible and got to Denver early June of 2020.

When we arrived in Denver nothing was really open because of covid; it was a weird time to be 25 years old and single. My friend stayed to settle me in for 2 weeks, where we worked remotely and then explored after hours and on the weekends. I had never hiked or camped ever in my life really besides a handful of times i went to some national parks. I virtually knew nothing about the outdoors. We went to REI and I bought all the camping gear they told me I needed on the blogposts I had read, and then we found a campsite near the sand dunes and decided to go. Embarrassingly, it took us 45 minutes to set up a very easy 2-person tent (I can now set it up in about 60 seconds). We had no idea how to start a fire, we didn't know the proper place to set up our tent. We weren't sure what we were doing out there, but we had some alcohol and cookies and made it a fun night.

One thing i've always been thankful for, post-breakups, are my deep friendships. When you breakup with someone, you lose them (most of the time) as part of your everyday life, but your friends are usually there for a longtime, and some a lifetime. None of my friends could travel internationally due to the pandemic, so every few weeks, I hosted someone to fly out and come to Denver. I would plan all the things I didn't want to do alone (rafting, camping, national park hikes I couldn't do with Sora, weekend trips, climbing, etc.) for when a friend would visit. The days and weeks in between my friends' visits were lonely and sometimes scary. I was thousands of miles away from everything I had ever known. I felt like people were waiting for me to "fail" or for something to go wrong. I'm not sure why, but maybe because seeing me take this risk during a difficult time, was intimidating to them, or it brought out their own insecurities with the decisions they've made for their own lives. I wasn't sure, but I also knew I had only one life to live, and I'm the one in charge of my own happiness. I have to wake up everyday and live the life I create and choose, with the decisions I make; I was owning all of that and accepting the good and bad days. When friends weren't visiting, I was usually off in the mountains with Sora. That summer was so quiet and peaceful, no one was around because people weren't really traveling much with covid. Most of the trails were empty and I got to really connect and learn about myself. There were definitely hard times though, times where I felt scared and missed home. I also constantly had this fear of getting covid, with not having anyone around that I knew, and having to care for Sora, I was constantly in fear of what could happen (gotta love anxiety!). However, I took risks where I felt it was safe, always wore my mask around people in public and if I went on dates I didn't kiss them and we stayed 6ft apart outside. Looking back, I never caught covid; it was a combination of luck and responsibility, though there were definitely times I put myself at risk in order to put myself out there and meet new people.

Even though I was single, I was having more fun than I ever could have imagined. I was meeting new people constantly and I was growing closer with all the quality time I got from friends visiting for long weekends. I quickly settled into this new, and beautiful single life. I could go wherever I wanted to, with whoever I wanted to. I had at this point, lost 15 lbs and was the healthiest and happiest I had ever been, and it didn't feel like it was hard work to get there. I was hiking, running, walking, kayaking, etc. It was natural and easy to maintain where I was at, which made me feel even better. When friends weren't visiting, I was hiking across mountains with Sora. Before Colorado, I never hiked really at all, maybe a handful of times in my life. I was determined to get invested into this new hobby and Sora was sorta my impetus for that. My first real solo hike was Shrine Ridge Pass. It was remote, there were wildflowers everywhere, and everything just felt so serene

Even though the world was spinning with fear and confusion around the global pandemic, there was an element of calmness that I found. I was able to focus on inner expansion, and since dating wasn't a priority with covid floating around, I felt as though the pressure to find someone new was lifted off me and from society. ...And then I met the next boy, in August of 2020, as my lease was nearing its end in October. I'll continue that on in Part II of my story..


Hi! I'm Jackie and my dog is Sora. I work remote as an engineer, but I love to spend my free time in nature and by traveling to new places. I take my camera wherever I go, and sometimes my drone.

Somewhere With Sora is a Seattle-based lifestyle and travel blog that provides helpful travel and adventure tips for all kinds of trips, with or without the dogs.

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