One Month and Counting.

One month ago today we were having drinks with our close friend in Los Angeles, the night before embarking on this international journey.  At that junction, I felt blinded by the years of hoping and planning.  It was nearly impossible for me to picture what life would be like as a traveler, and so I entered the madness and oblivion in a way that left my mind open and heart racing with anticipation.  Thirty days later I sit here at a hostel´s desktop computer in Rio de Janeiro, well aware of the impact my choices have made.  I am changed, and in ways that are not entirely understood by me at this point. 

A friend of mine, wise beyond her years, warned me that it would take six weeks to ´shut the office door´and adjust to living outside of the 40 hour work week.  (My last day of work was December 10, so the clock started ticking about a month before we left the states.) At the time, I wasn´t convinced it would take me so long to reset.  But not long after my last day did the nightmares set in: I am late for a meeting and on the wrong bus, I forgot to show up to a meeting I coordinated, lost a file, erased an important email… The dreams visited me each night like nightfall itself.  I started wondering if my mind would never catch up with my heart, and feared my year off might be plagued by the fears of my subconscious.  But just as I was told, the fear faded. 6 weeks and 4 days after stepping away from my career, I let go. 

The individual you are outside of work often gets put in the shadows behind the professional who makes your career. As Americans, we know this all too well- with our long work weeks and severly limited – sometimes impossible- vacation schedules.  Eventually it becomes hard to tell the professional from the individual, the mind from the heart.  We lose ourselves to the rat race, and are often times rewarded for this blunder.  We feel guilty when we do go on vacation, or when we turn off our computers for that matter.  We forget the pastimes we used to have, pass them off as childish activities and move on to our ‘illustrious’ lifestyles and salaried tax returns.  I gave all that up. For the first time in a very, very long while, time is mine to control.

Ask anyone who has done this, I am sure they will agree– it´s hard.  We are addicted to our jobs, make no mistake.  So this most recent chapter of my life has been an adjustment, to say the least. I have been reacquainted with who I am when I cannot define myself by a job and a career. I still struggle with the relatively blank slate that this can feel like, but all the while I am aware of the incredible adventure this dilemma has taken me on. And while my mind might still occasionally lecture me about what I ‘should’ be doing, this dream is slowly winning her race. I will most certainly be a more balanced person when all this is through- aware of the sacrifices I make for each commitment, and prepared to speak up when my mind shouts louder than my heart.


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