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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Looking for rainbows

I promise I'll write about my Scotland experiences soon, but I came across this quote today from Janette Tepas in an International Living article and it expresses something I've been thinking about a lot lately.
"I believe there are two outlooks on life: rainbow lookers or dirt lookers. The dirt is there, and I’ll deal with it… but, I’m always looking out for the next rainbow."
Here's a photo I took in Hawaii in 2013.  It had rained every day (I'm not talking sprinkles, this was downpour) and was unseasonably cold.  We spent 45 minutes on the beach in the 10 days we were there.  This photo was taken from a very turbulent helicopter.  Did you know that rainbows appear as circles from above?!  So cool!  

I'm not going to lie, I was disappointed to be in such a beautiful place and have the weather be so uncooperative. I could have chosen to gripe about it and be miserable (to be fair, I did gripe about it!), but I did not stare at the dirt, I looked for more rainbows.  I saw more of them in that 10 days than I have seen in the rest of my life combined!  

Also, you ever notice that when you are in a difficult situation with people that you enjoy that the good times feel that much more sweet? My brother & mom & I shared a lot of laughs that week and really enjoyed our time with each other.

Pretty sure this guy looks for rainbows!  Ha!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

This is the Day

This is it.

Stacy sits next to me on the plane to Edinburgh, reading a fantasy novel about dragons. As surreal as this feels, we may as well be on our way to fight dragons ourselves. It hasn't sunk in yet that this is the day. The first day of what? The rest of our lives? The first day marking days different from all that have come before? The first day of our excellent and amazing adventure.

Well, that was it at least.  😉  I have been a bit belated in posting.  Too busy storming castles, inspecting ancient inns, gazing out train windows, meeting new friends and strolling cobblestoned lanes.

Though I have been officially unemployed for three weeks now, it's still not real.  As I wrote in my last post, the first two weeks were filled with far too much adulting.  The stress of that time is finally wearing off after a week in Scotland.  This just feels like a vacation at this point. There was a freakish moment when I was filling out the landing form on the plane. I was bewildered about what to write for profession. I don't really identify as being a writer yet. I spent 12 years as a project manager but that's not something that I felt defined me. A year from now I suppose I could go back to that, but I don't know that I will. I wrote "Former Project Mgr" but I think next time I'll take the advice of a couple friends and either write, "Explorer" or "Self Unemployed" or "Travel Blogger".

I'm *still* brooding over what the proper name for my blog should be.  I thought I had it finally when "Go Find Glow" came to me but the vast majority either don't get it or don't like it. It came to me when I was in the midst of trauma right before I left. I had found that my sweet cat Aiko's health was at a point that I needed to let her go. I left the vet's office, taking her home to spoil her for one more week before saying goodbye. I was crying, bordering on hysteria so I fired up "Emergency Calm" on my Calm meditation app (love this app BTW!) and held Aiko and tried to calm down. 

After a few minutes, it came to me in a jolt, "Just Glow".  That's what I need to do and that should be the name of my blog! I need to do the thing that makes me glow with happiness and that's what the world needs.  If I can inspire others to do the same then my mission is accomplished. Of course "Just Glow" is already taken... 😑 So, I came up with "Go Find Glow", but literally everyone looks at me blankly when I say it.  My brother asks me why I care so much about what others think. It's a valid question.  I suppose I always have worried more than I should about the opinions of others. I'm doing a pretty good job of following the interests that bring me joy; finding my glow.  What makes me glow is often contrary to what is conventional so maybe I'm making progress.

Go Find Glow  
Glow Bravely?
Glow Boldly?
Just Glow Away? hahah

Earlier options were Botanical Bohemian and Vicariously Christina...

Stacy says, "Just don't think about it so hard" but here I am after of months of thinking and hoping that the perfect name would appear.  If I want to figure out a way to make money at this, I need to have a name that is memorable, and I need to have settled on a name before I can take next steps.  

Anyway... the next entry will be more fun, I promise!  Up next, some actual travel talk!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Stress, Spider bites and Sprained ankles

I've got to say... I think my doctor was right when she said that god was playing a joke on me to see how badly I wanted to go on this adventure.  I thought about not writing this post and glossing over the stress so I could get back to the fun stuff, but I've gotta keep it real. The past few weeks were some of the most stressful of my life. Frustration, guilt, sadness, stress, exhaustion disbelief and ultimately doubt overshadowed my excitement.

Recap of the the last two weeks: a couple dozen spider bites, a sprained ankle, multiple health insurance calls, automatic draft screw ups, people who were supposed to buy stuff ghosted me, clearing out my house in the sleet,  finding that my clothing had somehow expanded since packing it a week ago and couldn't fit in my suitcase, and then came a niggling, ugly thought that maybe this barrage of bullshit is a series of bad omens warning me against this adventure. A friend told me something that calmed my anxiety, “One step at a time. It will all work out in the end. If it doesn't, it's not the end.

Downsizing was a major headache.  The thought of getting rid of 80% of my belongings was overwhelming and embarrassingly traumatic for me.  I never considered myself to be a material person, but when it came time to let go of my possessions, I felt like Gollum from the Hobbit.  Once I got started, it became easier (Facebook Marketplace is the bomb for selling furniture!), but it was a lot of work and I still had moments where I wanted to cry at letting go all of these things I'd spent a lifetime collecting.

Packing for a year's travel was also an monumental task.  I'd come up with any excuse possible to avoid it. I read blogs about how to pack for an adventure like this, but primarily they were written by young men traveling to Asia. "You must only pack one backpack with one pair of jeans, three t shirts, three pairs of underwear and one dressier outfit." they'd say.  Well, that just wasn't an option for me.  I get tired of the clothes in my suitcase after only traveling for 2 weeks.  No way am I going to wear the same three shirts in rotation! Finally what helped me was to approach this another way and box up or donate the stuff that I knew I wasn't going to take along.  Once that was done, I remembered a friend had advised me to limit my palette when I was having a hard time finishing a painting.  I settled on red, grey and black as my colors for the year.  Anything that didn't match with at least two other items didn't make the cut.  I managed to get everything into my 27" wheeled checked bag, my purse and my laptop bag.

Amidst all the negativity and stress, were also energizing moments of kindness, joy and wonder from friends and strangers that reminded me that I was on the right track. People I sold things to on Facebook Marketplace told me how amazing this is and asked if they could follow my blog. One woman invited me into her home and told her 13 and 11 year old daughters, "Put down your phones and come over here and listen to this woman's words of wisdom!"  Ha! Friends organized dinners and happy hours and wrote sweet cards for me and told me how proud they are of me and what I'm doing inspires them to do the things that they have been dreaming to do.  I've made a lot of great friends who I will miss dearly and it will be hard to keep in touch with all of them, but damnit I'll try.

Another thing was that I started looking at Kansas City with a new set of eyes.  Knowing that you are saying goodbye to something gives you a new bittersweet perspective. Driving was when I noticed it most. I saw more beauty in Kansas; it's just a quiet, subdued beauty that you have to concentrate and squint your eyes a bit to recognize. Kansas City has grown into something that's far cooler than the outdated mental image which was imprinted upon me back in the 90’s when I moved from Iowa.

While reorganizing my suitcase one final time this morning, I found that Mister Right Meow had stashed one of his toys below my bag of socks. Seriously!? Is there anything more adorable? I'm sure gonna miss my little Casanova.

Last week another friend assured me that all this stress would melt away when I reached Scotland. Looking out the plane window as I saw the sun rising above Edinburgh, I realized he was right. It's not always going to be easy and I'm going to freak out from time to time, but it's going to be ok.  No!  Better than ok, it's going to be amazing.