Step 1: Make A Choice

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In March of this year Dingo and I hit the road for a month of camping and wandering. Dingo is a young 9 years old, but even with her youthful personality and seemingly endless energy, I know I won’t get to enjoy the world with her for as long as I want to. So, while we both still have some spring in our step we hit the road. Just two girls off to see the South West and soak up experiences with each other! We rambled through Death Valley, Zion, Arches and Monument Valley, taking backroads to Natural Bridges and impulsively heading up to Bryce Canyon. We didn’t have a care in the world.

I realized a few things on this journey. First and foremost, Dingo is the best adventure puppy travel companion a girl could ask for! She’s ready to do anything, or nothing, which is the perfect combo for this 42-year-old lady.

Second, I realized that I am happiest when I’m traveling. It doesn’t matter where I go, or how long I’m gone, my happiness level increases exponentially. I have to wonder if it is my genetics. Passed down from generation to generation. From my hunter gatherer ancestors, to my great great grandfather who came over from Ireland to the New World, eventually landing in my DNA, periodically nudging me to explore!

Deep in my heart something unlocks when I’m traveling. My horizons, both literally and figuratively open, welcoming new experiences, people, food, scenery, and stimulating all my senses to take it all in.

So, with these realizations I had to make a choice.

I could return to San Francisco. To my beautiful home, my stable job that I enjoy, my minimal commute and my seemingly limitless first-world problems…like struggling to get that last Pringle out of the tube or having to buy a new screen protector for my iPhone because this one is too scratched.  I could do this knowing that my heart yearns to see the world and experience every piece of life that I can, and that staying in San Francisco chips away at me day in and day out. I could stay in this place of comfort knowing that if I never take a career break to travel I will regret it. I will be 70 or 80 years old, my knees will hurt, I’ll be on a fixed income and it will be too late.

Or, I could figure out how to make this whole travel, career break thing work. I could do this knowing it won’t be easy, it won’t be comfortable, and it will be scary. It will go against everything I’ve been taught my whole life. All those lessons around responsibility, and work ethic, and stability would be challenged. My preprogramed brain will internalize the abandonment of these lessons as failure. I’ll judge myself, and just have to hope I’m strong enough to know judgement when I see it and still trust my gut and follow my dreams. I’ll be lonely and homesick, and consistently struck by the beauty of this world! I’ll be energized emotionally and psychologically even if I’m exhausted physically. My life will be filled with all the emotions that the world can produce in a person. Sadness, joy, breathlessness, awe, excitement, fear, and some that can only be described in a scene, or a moment, and not with words.

So here I am, at a cross roads. I’m 42 years old. No spring chicken, but no retiree either. I could do what other 42-year-old’s do and go buy a sports car or a boat. I could get myself a 20-year-old girlfriend that I shower with gifts, investing myself fully in material objects to fill that void inside me that just wants to see the world. But I know enough about myself to know that won’t last.

With that knowledge, I’ve made my choice. Even typing that out makes my system flood with cortisol.  My little doubter inside of me is screaming “what are you doing!?”  My little adventurer is yelling “You’re living!” Somewhere in the middle is me, just taking one step after another in preparation for a departure.

This is blog post number 1. Step 1 is complete. Now on to step 2…preparation

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