On Coming Home and the Start of a New Season…

I’ll cut to the chase – I have mixed emotions about being home. After spending nearly two years dreaming of a solo trek through Europe that chapter is now over. Its like the final home game, graduation day and probably the same feeling some have the day after their wedding. There was so much build up to my big trip and now the trip is over.

Just to clarify, I don’t say this in a remorseful tone. I’m really happy to be home. I was ready to be back. I loved running into Nic’s arms at the airport, breathing in the crisp, clean Oregon air and walking into my parents house to enjoy a home cooked meal.

But the cocktail of emotions I’m experiencing include: excited energy for whats to come, anxiety over not knowing whats to come, pressure to land in the right place, defining what my new ‘normal’ looks like, over the moon happy to be starting the next chapter of my life with Nic, excited to get into some sort of a routine, to cook my own food, to go for a run in my new neighborhood, and to not live out of a suitcase. For the last few weeks of my trip this cocktail of emotions weighed heavy on my heart and mind. But there was one additional feeling that made its way  into the emotional cocktail on my final day in Europe, and it’s the one I’m doing my best to savor as I transition back to being home.

As I started the long journey home the weight of what I had just done hit me. I had a dream to travel throughout Europe. I found the courage to do the trip on my own after spending years hoping a job would take me to Europe, that I might someday move to Europe or find a partner that had the same life circumstances that would allow him to join me on the trip. I saved up my pennies so I wouldn’t have to hitchhike, stay in hostels every night and eat ramen. I’m not 18 and wanted the freedom to indulge along the way. Its Europe, after all, who doesn’t want to indulge a little? I rearranged my personal life, electing to stay with my parents to save money and downsize my life in preparation for the trip. I left a job I genuinely enjoyed to create space to make this dream a reality. I said goodbye to my family, friends and a man I’m crazy about all in pursuit of a dream to travel freely throughout Europe. 

And then, I did it. #49 is officially checked off my bucket list.

I came home happy, healthy, full of memories, new friends and I feel accomplished. More than accomplished, I am proud of myself. The feeling hit me like a ton of bricks as I sat on the airplane and cried loads of happy tears. My intention with sharing these words isn’t to be boastful. Rather, I find it important to own personal success and become familiar with how it feels. So familiar that overtime you start to create a feeling of expectation for this ‘high’ and seek out opportunities that will generate the same feeling. Thank you heartspark and Susan Clark for teaching me this valuable lesson.

I feel full and blessed by the experience. Some days I wonder if the dream really happened because it went by so fast. But as with all amazing moments in time, they generally end, and hopefully pave the way to the next big thing I can work towards and cross off my bucket list.

Speaking of the ‘next big thing’…..

These days I am often asked what’s next? For the first time in this type A’ers life I don’t have an exact answer to that question. Stealing a line for Ms. Oprah, here are the things I know for sure as I begin sorting through my answer:

  • I want to enjoy this period of my life. I’m in a position where I don’t have to jump into something right away to make my rent payment, so I want to take the extra time to pursue interest and cultivate relationships. But know that this is really hard for me to do; to not obsess over the next strategic move and just enjoy this ambiguous point of my life. I need to practice relaxing.
  • As part of my effort to ‘practice relaxing’ I hope to work part-time at my favorite coffee shop while I transition back to life at home. I think my Dad had a small heart attack when I told him about this, but know that this is not a permanent career move, Dad. This coffee shop has such a positive energy. I smile when I walk in the door. A job here doesn’t require email, Power Point presentations and is all about hosting people that come in to start their day and catch up with friends. But, I hope I can learn a thing or two about food service operations along the way. Something I’ll need to know about in order to start my dream B&B (#2 on my bucket list). You didn’t think I could completely throw about my fierce type-A planner’ness now did you?
  • During this time I also want to do freelance work in the marketing world that I love and miss. I want to help creative clients manage projects when they need an extra hand to get stuff done, to help passionate small business owners create a workable marketing plan, to get back to the face-to-face event world, and to help clients think about challenges and opportunities in new ways by contributing my creative ideas. These are basically all of my favorite things about the past 8 years of my professional life. But as a freelancer that can pick and choose the people I work with and projects I’m a part of, why not start with a focus on pursuing all the things I love?
  • I want to learn Spanish once and for all. Its #11 on my bucket list, and has been on there for years, and this is the year I’m going to do it. I took a week long immersion program in Spain and just had my first class in Portland with the Portlandia International School of Languages. If you want to practice your Spanish with me please join me at the school on Thursday nights for a conversation meet-up or at the school on Friday nights to watch movies in Spanish.
  • I want to cook foods that I enjoyed throughout Europe and pursue my life-long quest to be a crafty person and make something cool out of my photos and memories. Thank goodness for Pintrist and friends that are willing to be my kitchen guinea pigs.
  • I want to continue sharing my experience traveling. I’d love to work with people that need help planning a future vacation but lack the time it takes to do the research required. Not everyone enjoys surfing the internet for hours to find charming hotels, planning open-jaw flights and trains that criss-cross a country, finding those hole-in-the-wall restaurants no one has heard of (but everyone ‘in the know’ knows about) walks that lead to hidden city viewpoints, advice on when to splurge on booking a guided tour and more of the advice and recommendations that make it effortless to enjoy a vacation while not breaking the bank. I geek out on this stuff and it would be a dream to get paid to help create this experience for others.
  • Who wants to Live Big with me in Costa Rica, Europe or elsewhere in between? I want more women to be able to experience international travel with the ease and confidence of knowing that I’ll be there to take care of the details so they can be free to live big while on vacation. Related to the similar point above, I love to make these experiences come to life for people whether it’s a couple I send on their own romantic vacation of a group of women that join me on the adventure.

And finally, I want to keep on Living Big and sharing my stories and experiences on this blog. I enjoy the heck out of writing, and find myself seeking out more moments to Live Big knowing I have an audience to share the stories with. Its’ my hope that some of my stories, anecdotes or photos inspire you to discover what Living Big means to you.

The year ahead is full of unchartered waters. Who knows whats in store? A likely move to San Francisco, the launch of a successful freelance business model, more travels and adventures, loads of dinner parties, new Spanish speaking friends, etc. etc. etc. All I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you.



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