I left Indonesia with a heavy heart on a plane all by myself, the first from our merry #Travel2Indonesia group to depart Asia. My comrades stayed on to party in Bali and I spent an awkward night in a sort of twilight zone in the Bangkok airport after having completely impulsively made out during my first flight with a handsome British stranger. All I wanted to do was sleep. All I felt was exhaustion. And confusion. My heart was still in the islands. My head was foggy. I wanted a shower. My feet were simply done…done walking, hiking, exploring, standing. I think I caught 30 minutes of shuteye sitting up on a cement floor with my eyes open. What a strange sight I must have presented.
By the time I landed in Milan more than a day later, caught my transport to Genoa, and checked into the Grand Hotel Savoia — I no longer had a clue what time it really was, what time it was supposed to be, whether I was supposed to be tired or wide awake and I certainly was not even remotely prepared to teach at TBE. Is that ok to admit now that it’s all over?! Despite my love for Italy, Genoa’s initial impression didn’t chase away any of my lethargy.
Of course, the best adventures begin with the least expectations. I had no idea how much I would love Genoa, how fabulous the new people I would meet might turn out to be or how dear the old friends I reunited with at the conference would become.
A whirlwind weekend in every sense, I announced the winner of the Intrepid TravelMorocco contest that Angie Away and I co-hosted, taught two classes, found out my trip to Australia was postponed and I was about to be homeless, scheduled a visit to Nice in the place of Australia and lost another night of sleep in the best way I could have imagined to do so. Then, because I hadn’t had enough new experiences already in October…I left for Liguria on zero sleep. This time, freshly showered.
I’ve been in New York City now for longer than I have been in any one place, without traveling, since 2009. This is the longest I have been grounded since I began my career in travel. I have had an apartment I love, a neighborhood that fascinates me, a roommate I would die for if need be, friends who don’t work in travel and somewhat of a routine. It has been good.
Quite some time ago, I wrote this post about how and why I radically changed my life so that I might be living in a way which better reflected who I am and what I want to be. Since that time, I’ve changed. Not fundamentally, but in small ways. My focus has narrowed, the lines on my face have finally started to appear. I found my first gray hair. Of course, none of that really matters. The point is, change has happened and it has all been for the better. Even that gray hair which I look at as a well-earned mark of accumulated life experience – it might be as good as the stamps in my passport! But let’s not get too crazy.
So what inspired me? A lot of things. Particularly? One event in New York City. It was the inaugural Meet, Plan, Go! at Professor Thom’s in the East Village in 2010. There, a group of seasoned travelers and more than a few people eager to become seasoned travelers, gathered together to talk about taking a career break. The night was so successful it prompted a second annual Meet, Plan, Go! which will take place this coming October 18th in 17 North American Cities. In America, even the jobs we once counted on as certain are no longer. The homes we thought were investments are almost worthless in the worst of suburbs. This is the time, if you can make it happen, to take a break from your career and your routine life to refocus both so that you can return and reinvest yourself in a way that forever changes the course of your life for the better. How do I know that with certainty? It’s what I’ve spent two years doing. View full post »
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“I used to have this APPETITE for my life. And now it’s just … gone.”
Few people in my life understand this as well as I personally do.
Reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir last fall after hearing so many bad things about it, I found that as much as I agreed with some critics on the book as a whole…I also understood exactly where Gilbert was coming from. Maybe I would not have made the same choices she did. Regardless, I know with every fibre of my being exactly how frustrated and disheartened Gilbert must have been when she said the above.
Last year (2009) as I was facing a crumbling marriage that was beyond saving, the disillusionment that comes from doing the very opposite of what one really wants to do with their life only to please others and for the first time, the true effects of a childhood full of abuse – I understood.
I used to be a wedding photographer. I was good at my job. There are times I very much enjoyed that job. I can look back now at some of the weddings I shot and smile because of the happy memories some of my images evoke and the pleasant thoughts of some of the amazing clients I was able to work with. However, that was always a job to me. Always. (This is when I want to apologize in advance to any former clients reading this and ask you to read this in its entirety before you judge me or fire off an email. I am not saying I am not grateful for the opportunities you gave me – because, I AM.)
You see, when I was a child, I dreamed of photography being a part of my one day career. I was always a photographer at heart. However, I never dreamed of being a wedding photographer. That happened by accident. From day one it was a job because I had to do it when I moved to a new state with my new (now ex) husband and found myself unable to find more traditional full time work. My hobby, turned into a job and I gave up my dreams for my spouse. It was never what I truly wanted to do. Being a traveling photographer, writer and aid worker – this is what I have always wanted to do with my life since my earliest ability to think on what adults do when they “grow up”.
Now, single – at 2 months shy of my 30th birthday: I am finally on the path to what I have always wanted to do. It’s true that I am still editing a few weddings that I shot late this year. I’m even booked to still shoot a few more in 2011. The few clients I have booked for next year, I have booked because I want to work with them; not because I have to.
For me, I will be pursuing travel photography and reporting with an emphasis on doing good – because it makes me happy. Because “I used to have this appetite for my life. And now it’s just gone.” and after a year of soul searching I know what will bring it back. It’s not leaving for a year long RTW that will end in love in Bali. I am not shallow enough to think that having a man in my life is the solution to everlasting happiness. I had a taste of that once, and it didn’t make me happy or fulfill my appetite for life. It was not enough then, it will never be enough on its own. Love is a wonderful thing that I see many people building a successful life around, but romantic love is not the only currency of joy. Seeing the world, pointing a spotlight with my photography and writing to the places on our planet that need more attention, expanding my world view by experiencing other cultures – this is what will, and has already begun to, bring back my appetite for life and happiness.
I hope you will join with me on this journey, and perhaps give me a little more leeway than many have given Gilbert. We all find fulfillment in different ways. It took me a long time to find the way that works for me. I’m just grateful it’s not too late and I hope that it’s not too late for you, reading this, if you aren’t already fulfilled and happy in your life’s mission! You really can start today. /infomercial
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