Exactly 2 months from today, I will board an airplane and fly to Istanbul, Turkey. When I land on June 1, 2014 – the beginning of a new chapter will begin in my life. How will it unfold, I am uncertain at this point. From all my travels, I have not found a fully functioning a single crystal ball that can foresee the future!!
All I can do is trust and have faith in the Universe – believe that my path will unfold the way it needs to happen.
“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.“ ~ Albert Einstein
The only thing I know is that my intention is to create Spiritual travel tours that is intuitive and empowering. A blend of guided tours and independent travels. These tours will take travelers to destinations which may be off the beaten track or challenging to navigate. They will provide a taste of the local lifestyle through the choice of accommodations, cuisine and activities.
You may ask… How did this come about?!
I have a deep passion for travel – literally all my cells become alive and excited when I talk about travel. I was fortunate as a child – I took my first flight at 8 months. By the time I was in my mid teens, I started to take flights between Asia and North America on my own. From these flights which fulfilled family obligations evolved an independent, curious, fearless traveler. Airports and airplanes symbolized the beginning and the end of adventures to unknown places. Foreign cuisine was my preference.
After a few years in the construction field – fear of boredom and stagnancy pushed me to try alternate careers. I realized that it is not the best idea to wait for life to back me into a corner before making a life changing decisions. As hard as it can be to make a life changing decision – struggling on with an unhappy and/or unnecessarily stressful life is a more crazy thought – in hindsight. It took me 3 attempts, over a span of 10 years, to leave the structural engineering field. Each time I returned thinking “Life will be different and better this time.”
Leaving a familiar, comfort zone is ever difficult. Similar to leaving a nice warm bed on a cold winter morning or a comfortable sofa in front of the TV.
I enjoyed the tasks associated with my job in engineering, however I could not see myself survive 30+ years and THEN retire from the construction field. My job was a means to an end – pay the bills, pay for vacations and the physical and mental therapies I needed to survive the job.
I know I was not alone but does that make it okay to live this way??
Each person lives under different circumstances – there may be similarities but no two are the same.
The first time I quit engineering, I shared a rental home with a boyfriend and became a floral designer in retail flower shops and studios. We took our first trip to Europe for 2 weeks to clear some head space and regroup. I started the Flower path after an intense floral design course which taught me some new skills. I did not make much money in engineering but flowers paid me even less. Luckily the rent was not expensive and the boyfriend was willing to pay a larger portion of the rent. Due to financial circumstances, I returned to engineering after 2 years of a happy, and satisfying life working with flowers and plants. At least I had a taste of what a happy life feel like.
My second attempt to leave engineering happened because I was burnt out after 4 years in one firm. I was burnt out physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Aside from typical work issues, I was dealing with sexism and racism at work. I asked for an unpaid leave of absence but was refused. I felt desperate and could not find a plan B – I resigned. I traveled to India, Nepal, Tibet, and Australia for a couple of months – I needed to recalibrate my life. However, I returned to engineering when a previous co-worker offered me with contract work. I thought perhaps life could be different – sadly it was proven to be untrue.
After the contract work ended, I moved back to full-time engineering work. I went down a slippery slope. Over the years, the budget for projects has reduced and the amount of time for construction have contracted significantly. This all means less resources and less time which equates to higher stress on the small handful of workers. On top of these factors, the projects were less and less interesting. At the peak, my portfolio showcased projects from around the world; The Atlantis resort in Dubai, 32-storey office building in Canary Wharf, a casino-resort in Morocco, etc. I asked to be laid off – repeatedly. However, I was the only person with my job description in that office – I jokingly called myself “The army of one”. I resigned.
Engineering and Karen are not meant to be together. Now here I am.
One benefit of working 60 to 70 hours per week was that I rarely found time and energy to spend the money I made. I created a nice cushion of savings as a single person. My frugal lifestyle has carried over to my travels and allowed for my foreign explorations. Life changing decisions has a ripple effect. I used to be a name brand loving shopaholic with stash of unworn clothing and accessories with tags attached in the closet. Now I hunt for deals and only buy the necessities.
Granted life decisions are extremely difficult to make, however when my physical and mental health was compromised – I had to make a decision.
“Better Late, Than Never”
As scary as the unknown is and can be – I had to take a leap of faith into nothingness. I needed a break from everything. I was single, without obligations, without baggage – fortunately, unfortunately. Fortunately because no one else is directly impacted by my decisions. Unfortunately because I am alone – friends and family can provide emotional support – but then again isn’t that how interdependent relationships work? Even if I was married with children, I would hope that my circumstances allow me to make life changing decisions.
I had to start learning to take care of No. 1 – me, myself and I.
Have you shared similar experiences? Stood on the edge of life and uncertain what was best – walked into the unknown or stayed in the familiar, comfort zone? Feel free to share your experience…