I decided to quit my job:
I walked the 6 blocks home from my office that February afternoon on auto pilot. Tears streamed down my cheeks blurring my vision. The cold Seattle air stung my face. In a few months from this moment I would board a plane to Nepal. I somehow managed to dial my Dad, fingers trembling, and share the news. He was surprised, but in his blunt, yet supportive nature, said “Fuck it Carly. If you’re not happy anymore move on.” My Dad knew firsthand the years of hard work I had put in climbing the corporate ladder. As well as the massive amount of stress and exhaustion that came along with it. The 15-hour workdays. The nights, weekends & Holidays. The missed birthdays, weddings, and family vacations. I had left relationships behind to relocate states away…twice. I had worked my way from part time holiday help to leading the largest and most high profile team in the company.
At 34, I ran a 24-million-dollar business annually for a Fortune 500. My career was my everything, my one goal during those years, and I worked tirelessly and made my professional dreams come true. He also knew I had been dreaming of international travel my entire life. He knew my fiercely independent, and adventurous spirit. My love for the thrill of the unknown. It seemed that now it was time to take a chance and make something new out of my life.
How lucky was I to have a family who not only supported but encouraged this crazy idea?
Having the unwavering support of my father was critical in my defining strength to make this change. I strolled into my leasing office to break my lease that had three months left. I realized this would be risk since I would be responsible if the apartment wasn’t rented. This additional financial burden could hinder my plans but I was determined.
The next day I had the day off and was asked by my boss to do some “serious soul-searching” and make sure I was happy with my decision. Maybe it was a sign but I had a very special appointment that rainy Seattle day. I was getting a new tattoo that day. It was inspired by a couple I met on a bus in Belize during my first (and only) backpacking trip in Central America. I got mandala on my right forearm, symbolizing a time of spiritual growth and transformation. It was perfect.
That evening, one of my closest friends, Ruby, took me out to dinner to celebrate. I am a 10 year vegan so she took me to a trendy vegan restaurant in Seattle that I had been dying to try. To my embarrassment, she was quick to tell the waiter we were celebrating. When he asked what the occasion was, Ruby informed him that I had quit my job to travel the world. Hearing those words out loud about you is a very strange feeling. Like watching a movie about someone else’s life. It didn’t feel real at all. I was born and raised in Seattle and the furthest I had lived away from home was two years in Denver Colorado. The furthest I had traveled? Canada, Mexico, and my 2 weeks in Guatemala and Belize. I was ready for my adventure to begin.
It was exciting to me to have a new project. I made a list and prioritized it. My goal from the beginning was to tie a bow on everything in the US so that if I wanted to stay somewhere, even live in another country, I could. There would be nothing back home I would have to stress about or take care of. I wanted freedom to follow the adventure wherever it may take me.
How do you prepare for leaving the country for a year to travel? I had asked a traveler I met the same thing, as he worked from his laptop in the jungle of Belize. Now it was my turn.
The list looked something like this:
1. Finances – Gather my savings. How much did I have and how long will it sustain me on what budget. Complete my taxes, cancel reoccurring bills – yoga, cable, internet, pet insurance, car insurance. Set up a travel friendly credit card to avoid international fees.
2. Apartment – get my place leased. This could save me thousands, which had the potential to add months of travel to my plan.
3. Rehome dogs – The most stressful. As a responsible pet owner, truly hurt me the most.
4. Car – Get any repairs done, and list to sell
5. Sell my stuff – Craigslist all the big stuff and donate most of what was left
6. Health – shots for trip, eye Dr, order a year’s supply of contacts, see dentist, utilize last two weeks of having health insurance
I got to work on my list, threw myself into it as the most important job I had ever had. I wouldn’t let anything distract me! I worked on my lists from the time I woke up to the time I went to bed. Not surprisingly everything took twice as long as expected, and the 2 months I gave myself to prepare was just enough it turned out.
Obstacles are part of life.
You know that feeling when things are going well, like too well? I learned that when you make a huge, life changing decision, life will throw some curve balls your way.
First, I drove my car into a pole. Yes you read that right. In my parking garage, on my way to yoga. Right before I was supposed to sell it. Next my boss let me know I would have to pay back my relocation money from my most recent promotion. Thankfully, only half, since I had fulfilled 9 months of my year-long contract. It was still a major expense I was not expecting. To my surprise not one person had shown interest in renting my apartment. Adding more to my list some surprise medical bills totaling a thousand dollars!
I momentarily second guessed myself. Self doubt crept in. How could I be so irresponsible? Had I made a reckless decision? Had I made the right decision, at the wrong time. Over the last few years I had gone from happy hours and weekend bar hopping, to spending all of my free time at my yoga studio. My daily asana practice helped me during those weeks in ways nothing else could. I worked through my emotions, not by ignoring them but by feeling them. I sat with my worry. I cried through my guilt. I grounded myself in my gratitude. And I let go of any doubts. Through my practice, I found the strength I needed to keep following this crazy dream, this new path I had felt such a pull to carve out for myself. It was going to be ok. I sucked it up and moved forward.
Power of positivity.
The two months off work flew by and I got through all my to do lists. My family and friends threw me a beautiful going away party. At the party I called everyone attention. I had an idea. I had found a small notepad and a vase while finishing my packing. I asked if each person there who meant so much to me, could write me a note. I would bring the notes with me I decided and pull them out one by one to read in my moments of homesickness, solitude, hardships, or doubt. The notes flooded the vase and would prove to be more meaningful than I could imagine, in the long journey ahead.
Then there was a physical transformation.My hairstylist took my platinum blonde hair back to my natural brown so I wouldn’t gather unnecessary attention, aka get kidnapped or worse. My mile-high eyelash extensions had to be taken out painfully one by one. Nail polish removed. My days of high heels, power suits, and my signature red lips would be replaced by hiking boots, elephant pants, and loads of sunscreen. It was happening, and it was just the beginning.
I’m leaving on a jet plane,
I spent two days packing my 34 years of memories into eight carefully taped and labeled cardboard boxes. Before I knew it, it was Friday night, my last night in Seattle. I sat there in my apartment alone, as I had been too focused on completing the task at hand that I had shut out my friends. I insisted on doing this alone. I carried the last box to my car, and ordered a pizza (vegan of course). And there I was alone, no furniture, no company. I sat down on a small piece of cardboard, in my now empty giant walk in closet. Feeling the exhaustion set in I cried for the last time on familiar soil. I wasn’t sad, but I could feel the gravity of the moment. The end of a long chapter of my life.
The next 24 hours flew by! I spent the next night at my parents’ house. They helped me with final packing decisions, and we stayed up chatting like it was any other night. When they dropped me off at the airport, I was out of tears from everything that had happened over the last two months. We hugged, said our goodbyes and I was off!