Running Away is Harder than it Seems

Seriously. The To Do list never ends! Shirking the responsibilities of home ownership is actually quite a challenge. Selling the house was the easy part! Negotiating the repairs requested from the inspection was annoying but the canceling of services and subscriptions and changing my address on EVERYTHING (and then some!) is so time consuming! Scheduling movers was easy but sorting through all my stuff keeps me up at night (literally, compounded by daylight savings time change and I was up separating out my travel clothes at 3am!). I thought the weeks I spent making the To Do list before I actually quit my job would make the process easier but now that list has morphed into a series of lists for pre-sale, post-sale, travel related, financial related, etc. I have to believe that 3 months of insomnia and purging and endless phone calls will all be worth it when I recline those 2 inches in my economy seat crossing the Atlantic for 2 months of international adventures (and whatever comes after that). So I do what I can each day, prioritizing things like new health insurance and an international data plan, and replacing what used to be essential workouts with walks with friends. After gaining some stress weight and driving myself crazy trying to fit it all in, I realized I was missing the point of this whole journey: to enjoy the process, to learn and adjust, to roll with it. Sit down with a cup of hot tea (I’m trying to become a tea person) and a friend or a book or a stranger or a pretty sunset, and just take in the moment, be in the moment. I’m already discovering that plans are meaningless because life happens, things pop up, circumstances change.

Two pretty serious things have come up in the last few weeks that have made me question leaving at all. Or cutting it short. But at least for now, I am trusting that both situations will be fine (in the Lord’s more than capable hands) in my absence and I’ll be a better person when I return and a better partner in those relationships. A big part of why I decided to run off was because I didn’t feel like anything was really keeping me in Charlotte and now there are strong reasons to stay. Life is a series of choices. There are a lot that I’d like do-overs on. But that’s not the way it works. And I have to stop regretting and feeling guilty and just start making better choices. Sometimes those choices feel selfish but I am learning that I cannot be who I’m meant to be or do what I’m meant to do if I don’t spend some time working on myself.

I’m reading Mark Batterson’s All In and this morning I read “The only way to predict the future is to create it. You don’t let it happen. You make it happen… Stop regretting the past and start learning from it. Let go of guilt by leaning into God’s grace… God wants to reconcile your past by redeeming it.”

I certainly can’t be everything to everyone but I can’t be anything to anyone if I don’t follow through on this journey. As as I suspected, it would change a lot along the way. I wanted it to, in response to relationships and circumstances and blessings. I’m super excited about some recent developments and scared $hitless by others. One day at a time is all I can do. Lucky for me, this week has been pretty great. Sunday I finished one of my favorite races feeling good and got to celebrate friends’ accomplishments. Yesterday I got to take a walk in the sunshine with my dear friend who is now thankfully home from the hospital. And today, I got to play with my nephew in his sandbox and read stories to my drool covered niece. Life is good.

Life is very good.

Waving my white flag

So about two weeks ago I started to notice some feelings of fatigue. Not just the normal work, exercise, eat, sleep, lather, rinse, repeat, I-could-really-use-a-good-nap type fatigue. The I-can’t-finish-my-workouts fatigue. The I randomly fell asleep for an hour after acupuncture fatigue. The sitting at my desk all day accomplishing nothing because I can’t focus fatigue. The inability to find appropriate words in conversation fatigue. The I’m too tired to take a shower for a couple days fatigue. (Sorry, it’s true.) And it is more than that. Crazy night sweats, headaches, swollen glands, digestive issues, sensitivities to cold/light/noise, etc. I mean, when a fairly fit woman struggles to carry groceries in from the car or tote her laptop to the office, something isn’t right. This could be a variety of things, so to the doctor I go for bloodwork. They never seem to have answers but hopefully this time I’ve done enough research to know what to ask for specifically. I’m not a hypochondriac. I don’t want to be suffering from anything. I’d love to just be one of those people who can juggle work and hobbies and relationships and not have a total meltdown in the process. But such is my life, nothing ever goes the way I want it and I’m constantly adjusting my expectations [and spending money to cancel things].

To that point: the Napa Valley Marathon. It was an impulsive registration after having a great race at Kiawah in December. An expensive impulse decision that I’m now regretting, but there’s no point really. It is what it is. I can apply for a deferral and if the universe coordinates, maybe I’ll try again next year. No one was going with me anyways. You’re thinking “How hard can it be to find a friend or two to accompany you to Napa Valley for 5 days?” Apparently a little harder than you realize. And since my house isn’t under contract yet, probably better to have wasted the registration fee and cancelled plane ticket fee than spend 5 nights in a hotel alone, drinking endless amounts of fabulous wine. Okay, I’ll miss the wine part. A lot.

But it still broke my spirit. And as I sat in my car Monday after a short, slow, sluggish 4 mile run – cold, breathing heavy, experiencing some mild chest pains, trying to get my heart rate to slow down and the dizziness to clear up – I got choked up. With still frozen fingers I texted my coach that I couldn’t run and she immediately suggested we bag the marathon. Then I drove straight to my ART appointment and started to cry when he asked me how I was doing. (Sidenote: I feel bad for professionals who have clients that randomly start crying as soon as they walk in the door. I clearly don’t have the emotional capacity to maintain a job like that.) I don’t quit things. I don’t cancel things. It was so painful to cancel all my races in 2013 after my accident. Admitting that I can’t do something or am not prepared for something is soul crushing. The the not following through part. The loss of a dream.

What does this mean for the journey ahead? Hopefully it’s just part of the process: learning how to balance all the stressors flying at me every day. Ironman training is enough on its own. A volatile work situation is also more than enough. Having a house on the market? A sick parent? Dating? Keep going… it’s a lot. Maybe it’s just low iron again. Maybe it’s just a virus. Maybe it’s just hormones going crazy. Waiting for lab results and trying to not beat myself up too bad. Easier said than done.

Got Questions?

One of the questions I keep getting regarding this whole sabbatical/journey is “what brought this on?” And I kind of said that I wouldn’t really go into the detail in my announcement post. But I guess I need to give a little background to dispell the myth that it just came out of nowhere. Nothing comes from nothing right? [Well, I’m a Bible believing Creationist, so that’s my opinion anyways. It’s the whole – God is, always was, and ever will be – thing. Won’t get sidetracked here, but God is a theme.]

As far as I can tell, it’s been a long time coming. I’ve always loved traveling, especially to off the beaten path type places. The summer my sister and I drove coast to coast was the closest I’ve ever come to doing something like that. And that was only a few weeks of road tripping but it included visiting old friends, camping in one of the arguably most amazing settings on earth, some athletic endeavors, plenty a local eatery (and watering hole), and generally great relationship building time. I have wanted to go back and spend more time in the Pacific NW ever since. So there’s the road trip aspect that appeals to me. All the places I have yet to see and experience right here in America. But I also want to spend enough time out west to know if I could really live there longer term (I’m already pretty sure the answer is yes but I’m willing to be surprised). If I’m going to quit my job and sell my house and find a new place to live/work/be then I should really seize the opportunity to run around and do a whole bunch of stuff before getting settled into making a new home for myself in city X.

So essentially my parents planned a family vacation for 2 weeks in April and when an opportunity presented itself to go to Germany with a friend to run a marathon right after, I figured I couldn’t exactly take a month off work and the obvious alternative was to just quit. Seems a bit drastic, sure, but what the hell? It’s not a secret that I’ve been looking for new jobs and haven’t had a ton of direction since the Bersin gig fell through back in September. My activities at work have been feeling kind of futile anyways. It just felt like I had to let go of what I had to free my hands to receive what comes next. 

I would be lying if I said my mom’s cancer didn’t have any influence on this decision. The shocking news that came last April changed the landscape of our family dynamic forever. Praise the Lord that we all hold His promises as our firm foundation. I can’t imagine facing something as heinous as cancer without the hope, strength, and comfort found in Our Lord and Savior. But it does point out what is important in life, even if you hadn’t completely forgotten. Even if you already faced two foundation rocking events in the preceding 9 months. Constant refining. That is life. And truly I am expecting a lot of that on this trip. I want it. Intentional self-discovery, self-improvement, self-sacrifice. If my days were cut short, I’d want to leave having done more than I’ve done, seeing more than I’ve seen, giving more than I’ve given. So it’s time to stop playing it safe.

Yes it all sounds very self-indulgent. And I recognize that I am really fortunate to be in a position to do what I’m doing. But I’m putting this out there as a request for accountability – this is not a free-wheeling adventure ride. It’s an intentional process. At times intentionally free-wheeling, at times intentionally labor-intensive, at times intentionally relationship building. It all works together to get the imagination going, to learn as much as I can, and be open to meeting people and going where opportunities arise. So far no one I’ve shared my “plans” with has said it’s a terrible idea. Even my parents, who I was extremely nervous about telling, were surprisingly not freaked out. That was HUGE. Everyone who has done something similar says hands down, no regrets, the experience of a lifetime. Everyone who hasn’t done something similar wishes they had/could.

Basically if I’ve asked you to be a part of this in some way – as a stopover, as a roadie, as a training buddy, as a prayer partner, as a resource, as a reality check, as an introduction, as a storage facility, or in a role yet to be determined – it means you are important to me. Don’t worry, if I haven’t already asked, it doesn’t mean I won’t 🙂 If you’re feeling ambitious, ask the Lord how you might partner with me. What experience can we share? What wisdom can you impart? There’s a lot going on behind the scenes and I don’t have answers to a great many questions yet. Now is the time to dream and have faith that my steps are ordered.

Oh and speaking of… anyone want a well-maintained 3 bedroom townhouse in Cotswold? Step 3: Sell house [preferably to coincide with final paycheck].

it’s time

I’ve reached critical mass. Enough people know just enough to be dangerous… er curious. And the people who really needed to be told before I went totally public have been told, whether they liked it or not. So here it is:

I’m leaving. And I have no idea where I’ll end up. And I am surprisingly really comfortable with that.

It’s time. There are too many experiences and relationships and circumstances that have led me to this “place” to even attempt to give a finite reason for why it’s time. Just trust me, it is. It feels really really REALLY good. There are so many places I want to see and people I want to visit and things I want to do and I’m tired of putting it off til I have more money or more vacation time or [gasp] a husband. So I’m just going. And believing. Having faith that my steps will be ordered, connections will be made, doors will be opened. And quite frankly it’s just that simple.

I’ll keep this intro short and sweet. My to do list is long and there are many blanks left to be filled in. But be assured of a few things: I am financially stable. I will still train for the Ironman. My passport is current. I will document the journey. I am full of faith and appreciate your prayers for safe travels and spiritual enlightenment.

The one place I long for most is beyond this world. But until that day comes, I want to make the most of my time here. I’m not in a rush to be anyone or be anywhere. But there may be a place where I am more me and this little adventure is all about figuring out how to be the best me. So here’s to trying the long way Home.

Just the kick in the ass I needed

It wasn’t the first time I’d gone to Amy’s for wine and girl talk. It wasn’t the first time girl talk had turned to the subject of my leaving town. But it was the first time I went home and made a to do list. A list of things to do to actually leave town. It had categories: Income, Opportunities, Commitments, Expenses, Training, Destinations. And it had specifics: sell clothes/furniture, find storage, call insurance agent, get audio books. The next day, as my plane to Memphis was flying at about 500mph, my brain was going about twice that fast. But I couldn’t tell my family about it. At least not my parents. In the coming days I would get dangerously close to blurting it out. Mom caught me looking at flights to Europe and inquired, but didn’t make a big deal about it. On Christmas Day I couldn’t take it anymore and told my sister. She naturally thought I was crazy and was worried how Judy and John would react. So I just continued to add to my list. The questions I was getting. The questions I could anticipate. Calls to make, errands to run, things to buy/sell/donate.

I mean really, how does one sell their house, put almost all their possessions in storage, quit their primary job, and just head off into the sunset? Where will I sleep? How can I afford it? What about the ironman? What about my cat? Well, the short answer is: in beds, by living frugally, I can still train, and Sasha can live with my old roommate. Of course there are a million OTHER questions, some of which require slightly more complicated answers. And I don’t have all the answers yet. But so far things are falling into place. I may not have an exciting life or successful career, but I do have a lot of connections and a financial safety net and a heart full of faith.

So twelve days and multiple iterations of the to do list later I found myself back on Amy’s sofa with an excellent bottle of wine (courtesy of Keith). And now we are making it real. As friends are clinking glasses of cheap champagne and donning sparkly headbands uptown, we were curled up with the pups discussing airfare and trips to Yellowstone. Things are getting checked off the list. Namely, book plane ticket to Europe. Register for Dusseldorf Marathon. Check and check. This is real. No more wishing for a better year ahead. No more hoping for my luck to change. No more sitting around Charlotte waiting for the perfect job. I’m almost 36 and I’m tired of not living the life I really want.

It’s a very rough plan at this point, but each day I make strides towards lightening my load, make contact with friends around the globe, and so far, with each step, I am only more convinced that this is my time, this is my path. Is it scary? Absolutely. Is it exciting? Undoubtedly. Could I do it without the support of so many incredible friends? I hope I don’t have to find out.

Most days I don’t really appreciate a swift kick in the ass from one of my dearest friends. Most of us probably don’t. But I’m sure glad I have a friend that will give me one. I am beyond blessed to have a friend that will simultaneously be thrilled for me to set out and super sad that I’m leaving. That will fly across the country with me for a marathon in wine country and meet me in the mountains to hike with moose and bears. She’ll be the first to read my travel blog posts and the first to endorse the book I’ll turn them all into at the end. And it’s because of friends like that, that I even have the courage to take the steps necessary for turning a dream into a reality.

2013 was identity defining. 2014 was faith testing. 2015 is risk taking. So here goes nothing… and everything.