I clicked send. I’m still shaking from it and a little bit teary eyed. It’s one of those emails you write and rewrite, read and reread stressing over every word choice. Finally with one small stroke of the finger I took a deep breath and clicked send and with that small motion the journey through a new phase in my life begins. Just like we graduate high school, go to college, graduate and get a real job, I’m creating a new phase….the round the world travel phase and it’s amazing how exciting and scary something like this can be, all at the same time.
I clicked send on an email to my boss letting him know that tomorrow I’d like to discuss taking a yearlong sabbatical. Now, mind you, I’ll be walking into that conversation fully knowing that a sabbatical is an unlikely option at my company but I clicked send anyway. Just like many articles and blog posts out there say, never ask for a sabbatical if you’re not prepared to quit if they say no. Well, I’m prepared. I’ve spent the past few weeks cleaning out closets, finishing DIY projects, and frankly unpacking boxes that have been packed for at least 3 years….maybe more. I’ve done all this knowing that I’m about to sell most of my possessions, put my house on the market to lease, and leave my dear little puppycats for a yearlong journey through Central America, South America, the Middle East, and South East Asia.
It’s funny, I’ve been talking about traveling around the world for as long as one of my oldest and best friends can remember (she reminded me I’ve talked about it since we were learning to drive!). In the last year I’ve really been giving serious thought to the prospect.
Something my Granny said actually gave me a bit of the push I needed to start taking the fleeting thoughts and dreams more seriously. She is nearing 90 years old and has developed Parkinson’s that has become more progressive the last couple of years. She and my Gramps have always been so strong and healthy that it’s been a shock to the system to see their health failing them. During a visit home last fall my Granny shared what the young always seem to believe. Retirement is wasted on the old. Granny talked about how she and Gramps had worked hard all their lives (and they did) only to get old and not be able to truly enjoy all the money they worked so hard to save.
In the last month my Gramps passed away, having stretched his body to the point that he gave his life to the care of my Granny. I had talked to Gramps only a couple of days before he passed. I actually almost told him about my plans. If anyone in the family would understand I thought he would. He was a WWII veteran who always got a bit of a sparkle in his eye when he talked about the faraway places he’d been. He even told me that night that he’d been on this thing called Facebook. He didn’t know what it was or how he got on there but he told me how he’d seen my beach pictures and really enjoyed it.
He had somehow stumbled upon the pictures from my recent trip to the small island of Boracay, Philippines. After a business trip in February I decided to extend my trip by a week to do a trial run of solo travel.
I have to admit I was a bit terrified when I stepped out of the cab at the airport….the local domestic airport. Gone were the nice shops and restaurants of the international terminal. Instead I was faced with a chaotic scene where I struggled to understand the check in process or find my gate. It was terrifying and GREAT all at the same time.
The first couple of days were a bit tough as I’m not used to running around by myself. Nothing seems to be worse than eating dinner at a restaurant by yourself….and in the Philippines the locals aren’t afraid to blatantly point it out! (they don’t really have filters but its oddly endearing) On day 3, everything turned. I started meeting people from all over the world and really hitting it off with a few. Loving to travel is something that when you have it in common, it seems to be a bond unlike many others.
So by the end of the week, after meeting new friends from the Philippines, Australia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Lithuania, and Canada I was confident that I could and likely would enjoy traveling for an extended period of time on my own. I announced my decision to a group one night at a beachfront bar and just saying the words and for the first time really believing I might do it, was thrilling.
So in the last 3 months I’ve been mentally, emotionally, financially, and I guess you could say domestically planning for my RTW trip. I’m almost ready to have the garage sale of all garage sales and sell most of my possessions and to put my house up for rent.
Wow… I clicked send. Such a small action, that now, for better or worse will kick off the next phase of my life.
In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years. – Abraham Lincoln
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