Back in 1993 I had started to think that I had to make some kind of change in my life. I had to shake things up. Slap some life into my existence. I had recently purged some toxic friend-ships, and realized that I needed to get to know myself a bit more. I had read a book about Scotland, and was interested in yoga, so I had to decide between a 3 month yoga retreat, or backpacking across Great Britain. I chose the back pack.
I remember hearing people ask why one had to travel to “find” one’s self. Before I had thought of that trip, before I discovered my own motivation, I wondered the same thing. Why would you have to find yourself, you are right there.
I was feeling like I was just going through the motions, that every day was the exact same. I wasn’t growing. Not true, though – I have always been type A, an eternal student, and multiple job holder, but that was how I felt. I felt like I was in a rut, and kind of numb in the head. I kept going from thing to thing, trying to find what made me happy. Perhaps the trip was initially just one more of those things to go onto, at first. But almost immediately, it changed it’s purpose, and my experience of it.
From that first moment, when I had to convince my Grandmother to take me to the bus station, so I could get to the airport, I had to exist in the moment. There was no more auto-pilot for me. I was alone, I had to be alert. I had to advocate for my wants and needs. Heck, I had to figure out what I wanted. I no longer had the creature comforts that I had become accustomed to. I was surrounded by strangers. That, in itself is liberating. I got to recreate myself, and how I wanted to be seen and known. To do all that, I had to really think about who I was, what I liked, how I wanted to respond to situations.
It became a very zen experience. I am hungry, I need to get food. I am exhausted, I need to get to where I will sleep. Where can I buy food. Where can I find a bathroom. How do I make sure my bag isn’t stollen on this crowded train. There was little time to get lost in my own head about things that didn’t matter. If a town or hostel was quiet, or if I had a longer than usual hike to a destination, I might get a little lost in my head, but not for long. Everything was new. Everything was a bit of a challenge to feel at home. I felt the challenge to become comfortable in each moment.
So, yes. Being on the road is a way to find one’s self. I found my own direction, I found my own way, I found my own peace, I found adventure, history, experiences. I found and developed my confidence, and my sense of self became more defined.
Not long after I returned from that first extended trip, I moved, decided to go to school to become a massage therapist. (No one believed me about this either. During the first week of classes, one of my work mates yelled at me for not showing up with out calling to let them know I was going to be out. I had told them that I was going back to school and they had agreed to the change in my work schedule. They just didn’t believe me.)
There were several years that I pretty much went with the flow. Always working more than one job at a time, occasionally going back to school for something.
2003 was the year I started to experience another major life shift. I had just had major neck surgery, and really had to reevaluate how I lived my life. I had deeply identified myself as a massage therapist. It was who I was, and all my self value was wrapped up in being a massage therapist. Who was I, if I wasn’t that? I felt like a whole lot of nothing. Cue Angst & gnashing of teeth. Also, copious amounts of tears.
I then tried a number of different things, for about three years, until one weekend I sat down and created a plan, or contract, of what I wanted my future to be like. I wrote it as if it was already happening, and I was experiencing it already. I described how I wanted to feel, that I wanted to travel for free, and to have a bank account that money always flowed into, more than it flowed out. I declared that this was what I wanted, and what would be. I thanked the universe, and put the letter away. Earlier this year I found the ‘contract” again, and realized that everything I wrote in that contract with myself has come to pass. It seems like magic, right?
I really just changed what I was focusing on, and ignored what wasn’t going to give me what I wanted. I don’t like quitting, but I am totally into moving on when I have accomplished all I can where I am, and want to do something different. I took chances when it was something that sparked my interest. I trusted my gut, and took some chances. Somehow I ended up in Information Tech. I never thought I’d work with software and computers, but the way my life and career evolved, and by being clear about what I wanted, I was able to see opportunity when it presented itself. I grabbed that opportunity, and each opportunity after that first one. I paid my dues. I worked my way up. I learned that if I could do this, I can do more. I had learned about consulting in healthcare IT, and BAM. That was the ticket.
Present day, I’ve been consulting for almost four years. Gone from barely above poverty in 2004 to “a goodly amount” in 2013. I own my condo and car outright. I have retirement – some, but could always have more. I also put aside enough savings to live frugally for a year.
I like what I do for the most part. I’m good at what I do. I’ve been feeling that I could do more, or live a more meaningful life. It is time for creating a new contract with myself. Time to create with intention.
Early this year I started to flail around again, and was starting to angst about how things were going to happen. I tried creating a strict road map, but that is hard to do when you aren’t exactly sure about what you really want. Now I am focusing on the what, and letting the ‘how’ take care of itself, since that was what worked for me the first time around. Focusing on the present moment, and taking the step that takes me closer to what I want to experience.
Part of my goal is to write daily, and discover my voice. Write about my adventure, the people I meet and admire. Explore my intentions. Write every single day. So the first opportunity I am grabbing is to do NaNoWriMo this year. That is National Novel Writing Month, and it happens every November. The goal is to write fifty thousand words in thirty days. They don’t have to be good words. There just has to be fifty thousand of them. Quantity, not quality. December is for editing.