It’s amazing when you slow down and just “be” and take time to observe yourself and others, how easily answers can fall into your lap. When you remove yourself from the hustle and fast paced life that usually surrounds us and just settle into the quietness of your thoughts, you are able to reflect on life and yourself with a lot more ease. While what you may figure out about yourself in that reflection may not always be easy to swallow, it is definitely the defining step in happiness and peace within. So, I accept that this is my journey to finding myself and what I really want. I accept that what I observe about myself isn’t always pretty, but the fact that I can see my faults means I am much further along in my process than others.
This week I lost a friend who probably taught me more about life than any friend I have ever had. He challenged me constantly throughout our friendship to continue to keep looking deep inside myself in search for the answers of why I say, feel, and do what I do. He would tell me that I have the ability to process my emotions better than most, and I know he was right. As I mourn his passing, I will take all he taught me about life and myself and continue to use it on my journey as I explore this world and my role in it.
Here are some of the things I have observed and learned in less than 2 months on the road:
1) Follow your heart….PERIOD. Do what makes you happy and let the rest fall into place. You cannot overthink the what-ifs and try to plan every step of the way. That is what I started off doing, and quickly realized that it is impossible. You cannot plan for the opportunities that will fall into your lap along the way. You cannot predict the MAGIC that comes along with the process of taking the leap towards your dream. Just keep doing what in your heart you feel is right and the chances are very good that the rest will take care of itself.
2) Along the lines of the above statement, DO NOT WAIT until you think the time is right. This life is too short to put things off. Erik and I made the decision to do this now for one main reason…NOW IS ALL WE HAVE!! We had always had the dream to travel and thought we would save until we could “retire” comfortably and then go see the world. However, we soon realized that so many around us were a) retiring and not having the health nor the energy to do what they always dreamed of doing. They couldn’t see the sites or do the activities that they once would have been able to in their earlier years. And b) losing their lives to cancer and other diseases way too soon. Why would we wait to see things when we have no idea what tomorrow, never mind 20 years from now, would bring? How do I know we are probably doing the right thing? Almost every person we tell here (snowbirds) say, “Good for you. What you’re doing is so great.” I respect the opinions of the older and wiser, and they all seem to think we are doing it right.
3) I love being surrounded by people, but I also need my own time. When I would tell people what Erik and I were doing many would ask, “aren’t you going to drive each other nuts in such a small space?!?” I knew this would not be the case since Erik and I basically spend 75% of our time at home within 20 ft of each other. However, I will say that this trip has made me realize that just as much as I crave being near him, I equally crave my alone time. This has mostly come in the form of long runs/workouts and (here in Florida) stretching/yoga at the pool.
4) I love the secludedness of the woods, but also love the convenience and community of a bustling town. I have come to find that my ideal living situation is a private lot surrounded by woods and a small living space with plenty of stores and activities within biking distance.
5) Many envy the idea that we are able to do this at this point in our lives, yet very few would exchange the luxuries they grant themselves on a daily basis for what we are doing. We have had so many conversations with people our age here in Florida telling them what we are doing and they are so quick to say how lucky we are and how it must be nice. Like the Verizon employer, who then, I. The same breath, told Erik he needs to go buy me a nice Coach purse to fit the bigger phone she was trying to sell me. No thanks, I will keep my $9.99 TJ Maxx purse and Erik will find me that same phone on the Internet for $30 not the $120 you were selling it for. Thanks.
This is an area I am extremely passionate about, and probably one I will write about again. We are not able to do this because we inherited a bunch of money or have made an extraordinary amount of money in our life. We have lived WELL below our means and saved like crazy to get here. We never go out to eat, instead cut coupons and shop sales. We bought a condo and when we could afford bigger and better, we stayed put. We use the library for books, magazines and movies, and we haven’t bought a gift for each other in 8 years. Vacations have been mainly camping trips or visiting family for the last 10 years. We carpool and ride our bikes everywhere to save gas. The list is so long that I think I could write a book on “how we can afford to semi retire at such a young age”. But, the truth is, not too many would make the sacrifices we have made. For us, it’s easy. We don’t like going out to eat. It’s healthier,cheaper and cleaner to make a meal and bring it to the local river or our favorite park. We don’t need cable, we’d rather play a game of scrabble or research ways to travel on a budget. We don’t want a big house, it just means more time cleaning and more space to fill with “things”…we actually want to downsize our 1200 square foot condo. We live a simple life and enjoy the things that are not “things”. However, the large majority would rather the the life they have over ours. And that’s ok. BUT, don’t tell us we are lucky. With discipline, sacrifices, and lots of time researching cheap and free ways to travel many of you could do this too!
6) “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves” This is something I have always thought to be true, but on this trip I have taken enough time to really examine it and find it to be mostly true. Whenever someone irritates me (mostly Erik) I take a step back and ask myself, “is this something I wish to change about myself”. At some deep down level, the answer is most always, “yes”.
These are just six things that come to me right now. The truth is, there are probably loads more of things I have learned about myself while on the road….I just need more time to process them!