So… About four years ago now (Less than 2 months from today- 4 years ago actually) I got married for the first time at 40! It was a whirlwind crazy ride and I was so happy and excited. Well, it turned out my marriage was also a whirlwind crazy ride, but not in the same wonderful and exhilarating way. After dealing with this and almost two years of infertility and all the stress and devastation, (physical, emotional, and spiritual) that comes with that situation, I left him; right around our second wedding anniversary. I went back “home” to NY to be with my BFF and my family.
You never really know how devastating something can be until it actually devastates YOU. You see people who go through a divorce and you know how difficult it can be, how much pain they are in, and what they are going through, but until you are in the midst of it yourself- you can’t really know. This thing truly floored me.
I decided that a change of scenery, maybe some time on the beach- in the sun, would be good for my heart and help me to heal. A little “Eat, Pray, Love,” if you will. And let me tell you, Costa Rica was great for me. It did help heal my heart. The slow pace, the easy life, languishing by the pool, drinking my sorrows away, the time to be in the ocean connected to the earth and sea, the great and supportive friends I made there… it was the best choice to go there and live. I ended up being there for almost two years!
I started out there for just two months, to see how it would work. I am an Instructional Designer and have a full-time contract to do my work and I work exclusively on my laptop. So it seemed to make sense that if I could work from my living room or a coffee shop in Minnesota, AND coffee shops or a home-office in NY, that I should also be able to work from a home or coffee shop in Costa Rica. YAY! Turns out I was right! Except for the constant desire to be at the pool or on the beach- I could easily work from Costa Rica and get everything done I would have accomplished in the US.
While I was in Costa Rica, I met a couple (You know who you are! This is all your fault! LOL) who described themselves as “Digital Nomads.” They were in Costa Rica as part of their world travels, living and working anywhere because- like me- they both worked from their laptops. Hmmmm, now the seed has been planted. It would still be another 9 months or so before other plans were put in motion, but now the idea that I could work in other places besides Costa Rica was firmly sitting in my brain and rolling around in there, creating new pathways. I still had healing to do and I still needed time there though so, I stayed and took care of myself a while longer.
It only took one full rainy season in Guanacaste (Costa Rica) for me to know I never ever wanted to go through that again!! I hated almost every minute of the rain, the humidity, the extreme heat (mostly because of the humidity!) The fact that I was in a new relationship and enjoying the fun and excitement of that fun was the only thing that saved me from being completely miserable during those months. I began to think about ways to NEVER experience that time of year in Costa Rica again. (Remember, the seed had already been planted…)
So, I started to look online for places I could travel the next year in August, September, and October- get out of dodge and avoid the humidity! At the time, the man I was dating already had tickets to go to NY to see his family in June, July, and August. So we knew we would have a weird gap in our time together, but we also both knew that if we were going to be together, we had to allow for the other one to pursue what makes them happy. So in that planning I had pretty much decided on a trip that was going to be Split, Croatia for one month, the last month in Granada, Spain and the month in between- traveling from one to the other. FUN RIGHT!??
As I was doing my research, I found a bunch of great co-working places and discovered that there were also co-living places. (Co-working and Co-living are places where digital nomads/location independent people go to work together and stay together where they can work on their own thing but not be isolated and alone.) While I was doing some research to find a co-working space in Croatia- I stumbled on this program.
When I read the web page, something just jumped out at me. I felt it call to me.
Six months, Six countries, traveling with other location independent people.. they take care of all the details…
Check √ Check √ Check √ I did a quick budget, and when my boyfriend got home that night I told him I wanted to apply and interview with them and see what it was all about. 🙂 He has always been super supportive and never once tried to persuade me from this path. He just said he wanted me to be happy and to do what works for me, and we would figure the rest out. That made making these decisions easier- because it was stirring deep in me now to do something, to go, to go forward and advance into this new adventure. I would have gone anyway- but this way there were no tears or recriminations… it was much easier that way! I knew I had to go, had to take the steps and make it happen.
So- After a quick six weeks in Medellin (one of my favorite places in the world!) with the man, visiting those darn friends who opened up all these new possibilities for me… I packed up one suitcase and a backpack and headed to Cartagena to board a cruise from Colombia to Portugal to start what will end up being a seven month adventure (at the very minimum!)
Now, what I can tell you is that in the short two months (plus a little) that I have been gone, I feel like I have broken free! I feel like the malaise and pain of the divorce is finally moving behind me, I can think about the good AND bad days of my marriage and know that all things work for the good. When people ask me, “Do you have kids?” and follow-up with “No!? Why not?” it doesn’t make me tear up quite so quickly anymore. I go out exploring with my camera in hand and I am not shy and weird about it. I take fun, creative, and every day pictures again. My heart is full in a way it has not been in a very long time.
I can’t describe how it feels to recognize yourself again, except that it is a lot like coming home- but I am not in any country I have ever been in, and this started to happen in places I could barely speak the language, let alone understand the culture, yet… There I am. Me. Her. The one who used to be there- but even better, stronger, new and improved even.
I know I can leave everything behind, live out of a suitcase, learn a new language, (again) make new friends, spend significant amounts of time outside of my comfort zone, all the while, smiling, laughing, and becoming me. WHAT? YES! One of the young men in this program (Yes, I am the old lady of the group!) was telling me that when people ask him about the other people in the program he always tells them “about this lady, she is KILLIN’ it! She is out there making it happen and living her life, not hiding out in some suburb in NJ…” I’ll even forgive him for calling me a “lady” since I know he was really telling me how much he admired the choice I had made to be here- and…
I AM killin’ it!!!
He’s a great guy. There are wonderful people along with me on this journey!
I broke up with that really nice guy back in CR. And as usual- he was wonderful and absolutely understanding and we still keep in very close contact. We both only want the very best for each other and he knows that I am making choices that are very well suited to me and where I am in my life right now- and he wants me to grow and be happy. We made the decision to give up our apartment in Costa Rica… so as soon as that happens, I will be officially a REAL LIFE Nomad. No official home, wow- NO home base. I really thought I wanted that security when I left CR, but now- I just do not know what the future is going to bring and I don’t need that “security” any longer.
So for now, I am settling into me again. I like her. She’s pretty wild and brave and driven… Yep! She’s someone I recognize! (Oh and I am 100% sure I was born to be European!) I am even eating healthy again without it being a chore- I just choose well more than I don’t. LOVE!! Pretty sure I have lost about 8 lbs. since I left CR.
I will officially be traveling with this group until January 2, 2017. I have no official idea of what I am doing after that- but I have some ideas kicking around in my head… You will see! I am just committed to truly becoming the me I am supposed to be right now, at this place in my life, enjoying the adventures I was made for.. and 100% loving my life!
You can keep track of the exact locations I have been on the “About” page of this blog. But I am not going to tell you about the future places- so we can still play #whereintheworldislala 🙂
So there you have it- what the heck I am doing and a little about why!
Have you ever just picked up and taken off and gone somewhere? How did it go for you? What did you learn?