As I imagine what my ideal live, work and play scenario is, I am reminded of the original conversation I had with a friend when developing the idea for The Wandering Lesbian and the details behind that original idea still holds true now and is especially fitting for today’s blog post about location independence.
Personal growth, self-awareness, and self-discovery are not concepts I grew up with and only fairly recently realized the magnitude of the healing properties they can have on a person’s well-being and development, speaking from personal experience.
Around 8 years ago, I was 30 then, the stirrings of feeling unfulfilled began. I wanted something else, I wasn’t quite sure what, where or how but I began doing research. At the time, I was very lonely, had recently left a heterosexual relationship with my best friend and decided to begin living as the lesbian woman I felt I was inside. I had been working in corporate America for only 3 years, having received my Master’s degree in Library and Information Science and I just didn’t feel like it was the right environment for me. So I began looking at alternative schools. I had gotten an introduction to yoga and meditation a few years before in NYC where I had grown up and was completing my Master’s degree and I was interested in seeing where spirituality could fit into a future path so I researched yoga teacher training.
That led me Southwest Institute of Healing Arts (SWIHA) in Tempe, AZ. I browsed their course catalog and fell in love, fantasized about moving to AZ, going back to school and coming out happier and more fulfilled, working in a field that was calmer, freer and less stressful. At 30, I didn’t have much debt, only school loans, can’t even remember if I had a credit card but what kept me from taking action on this dream, was the lack of funds. You see, I wanted to be able to pay cash because I didn’t want to take out any more school loans, so the plan was to save up $15K, quit my job and move to AZ.
Well, as it so often does, life has a way of testing your resolve and if you’re like I was then, a people pleaser, never wanting to disappoint others, lacking boundaries and the ability to stick up for yourself, lacking self-trust, self-confidence, and self-love, when pushes, you give in and that’s exactly what happened. Work got more and more demanding, physically, emotionally and financially. As my salary grew, so did my expenses and my debt. I started living off credit, with 5 or 6 credit cards in my wallet, I didn’t know how to say No, I can’t afford to move here after having just bought a condo or take on these new responsibilities or No, I don’t feel comfortable telling someone not to come in to work tomorrow. Instead, I said yes and yes again and again and it took its toll on me and the relationships I tried to have.
When you’re broken, everything breaks around you, no matter how tightly you hold on, no matter how many promises you make. When you are not in touch with you are or what you stand for and are able to articulate what your needs are and demand they be met, life will trample you and that’s what was happening me. Life was happening to me and it sucked so bad and I needed to escape because my sanity was in danger.
Fast forward 4 years, I was finally in a position where I could work full-time from home and decided to leave a 2-year lesbian relationship that we both knew wasn’t going to work 9 months in and moved to Las Vegas, the city I’d lived in with my ex-boyfriend a few years earlier. I chose Las Vegas over two other choices, California or Arizona. Yes, I still had SWIHA on my mind but I wasn’t ready to make the big leap, I had no money and knew no one in AZ. Similarly, I knew no one in CA and heard it was expensive, so Las Vegas it was. I had some friends from when I lived there before so in a split second decision, 2 months before the lease on mine and my girlfriend’s apartment was up, I hitched a Uhaul trailer to the back of my Honda civic and drove cross-country.
I tell this whole preamble because 3 years ago, I was at a pivotal moment in my company. I had been consistently promoted, receiving top performance scores, was the go-to subject matter expert, well-paid, receiving excellent benefits and was absolutely miserable. I kept wanting to quit even if that meant working at McDonald’s or becoming a cocktail waitress making tips. I just hated my life. And then, an opportunity presented itself, one I initially said no to because I felt unworthy. My department’s director had nominated me for a 2-year leadership development program that provided outside career coaching and group facilitated training at our top-notch training campus. I said thanks but no thanks because I didn’t feel it was right to ‘use’ the company’s resources for selfish gain when in my heart of hearts I was just waiting for a miracle to happen to finally set me free.
What I didn’t know was that the miracle I was praying for was this opportunity and after a frank conversation with a colleague who had completed the program the year prior, I decided to accept the nomination, applied, and was selected and that was the best decision I have ever made in my life. As I write about this, I am reminded just how low I was and how high I felt following the series of events that followed as well as the ups and downs that followed the initial euphoria and how worth it it has all been.
The only coaching I knew about was on a playing field so the concept of career coaching was so foreign to me that I felt ill-prepared and a little closed off for my first in-person 4-hour session with my coach. Four (4) hours!!! It went by so fast and so much was revealed to me. The session wasn’t so much about where or how I saw my career but about how I was feeling, how I’d gotten there, how I imagined it could be different and what was possible to make it happen. It was freeing, revealing, shocking, and amazing. In those four hours, I decided to attend SWIHA and realized I didn’t need to quit to do it.
With courage I pulled from deep within, I strengthened my resolve, called my manager and told him I was giving my four-year notice. Yes, you read that right, I gave four year’s notice and explained, I was going back to school and following that would be planning my exit strategy. He said “okay, how can we support you?” I nearly threw up, I was perspiring like crazy and I could feel the blood pumping in my brain during that conversation. I don’t know what I expected, to hear no perhaps, or to hear yes but be walking on eggshells waiting for them to fire me because how dare I. So, when I heard “Yes” after articulating what I wanted and asking for what I wanted, I felt freed. That feeling I had been looking for the previous four years had been right there at my fingertips, literally, at the tip of my tongue all along, I just had to ask.
I enrolled at SWIHA a few months later, packed my bags and moved to Arizona, subletting my apartment in Vegas. During that year, I changed my focus 3 times from yoga teacher training to nutrition and finally to Hypnotherapy, Transformational Life Coaching, and Aromatherapy.
Completely experiential and immersive classes, hypnotherapy had the biggest effect on me, helping me release years of blocked emotions, self-sabotage, and destructive relationship habits. Transformational Life Coaching helped put into practice the skills of helping others find the same release I had found and Aromatherapy was just fun. I had tried my hand at making soap and bath products in the months preceding moving to AZ and felt that becoming a certified Aromatherapist would take my products to the next level.
I spent the following year attending several personal development seminars, really devoting myself to rediscovering who I was and the purpose I was meant to serve. Personal growth and self-discovery continue to be top of my priorities and I want to expand and explore that even more by connecting with people, sharing my experiences and wisdom and learning more about myself in the process.
The Wandering Lesbian has an aspect of travel to it. I love learning and why not combine my love of learning with travel because learning about people is my favorite thing. Give me food, culture, history, music, art, and architecture and I’m in heaven. The first of many adventures begins on Oct 6th – 14th, where I’ll be visiting Budapest, Vienna, Prague and a new city added to the itinerary, Bratislava.
The ultimate goal of The Wandering Lesbian is to combine travel and personal development in being of service to others. Women like myself who have spent years feeling depressed, disconnected, alone, imprisoned, desperate for something to break the chains but not knowing what or how to find their wellspring of fulfillment and happiness, they are who I want to serve. I imagine traveling to cities and hosting freedom workshops, incorporating hypnotherapy and transformational coaching to begin breaking down those walls, releasing trapped hearts and minds, opening them up to the splendor life could be, a life they can create when they experience healing like I did and to be able to ask for what they want and let go of everything that is not serving their highest and greatest good.
With these three foundations, I can create a truly location independent lifestyle that combines my passions and serves a higher purpose.
This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 9.