My partner and I chose to vacation in New Mexico because of its scenic beauty: sunsets like fire, thousands of pecan trees in bloom, desert stillness.

We traveled to many of the typical tourist sites, including Santa Fe’s Loretto Chapel and Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Socorro’s Very Large Array, and Albuquerque’s Old Town.

We stopped here and there to hike a few trails, to admire the mountain views, and to eat amazing food. On another occasion, we made a long weekend trip to Silver City, loving the drive from Safford, Arizona, while taking in the mountains and valleys along the way.

Fast-forward about 25 years to our first trip to Las Cruces, which we visited while evaluating various retirement locales. We fell in love with the mountains, the hiking trails, Mesilla, the incredible food, and the friendly people. It shot to the top of the list.

In the winter of 2015, I returned for a wonderful five-week stretch. My intention for the trip was to relax, rejuvenate, hike, and continue to assess whether or not this was the right fit for retirement.

But only in New Mexico would I discover the true reason for being drawn here. During many hikes, I absorbed the incredible sunrises and sunsets, the brilliant night stars, the peace of the desert, the restorative hot springs, and the ever-changing hues of the Organ Mountains.

The New Mexican desert and mountains served as sacred space for me to take the time to be open to exploration and self-reflection. Breathing in the fresh desert air, stumbling on a remote waterfall, observing the desert coming to life after a rare rainy morning, discovering an altar on a mountaintop, and sitting in the absolute stillness of nature allowed me to let go and to just be. Instead of just finding a retirement home, I also found myself. Coming to peace with oneself is not easy, and is often something that one works for years to do.

But only in New Mexico was the process accelerated and (mostly) painless. As I packed my suitcase to head back home, I knew that no matter where I went from here on out, I would find myself in a better place. —Beth Morrison


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