Last week I was in the studio (AKA my lounge-room) finalising the shots for my soon-to-be-released eBook (eeeek!) and a song came on.
A song that made me feel happy, nostalgic, empowered and emotional all at the same time. Don't you just love how music can do that?!
So I'm feeling all of these incredible things and it strikes me that I never told you all a very important story. One that started a long time ago, came to a head in late-2012 and is continuing today...
I had never felt or understood what it would be like to truly live your dream, to wake up firing each day and knowing that every step was one in the right direction. I, like so many before me, could only imagine.
As time progressed and with each step and alternate direction, this lofty concept felt further and further away from me, though somehow never completely lost. I remember saying things to myself a lot of the time like, "put in these hours at work now for the pay off later" and "just wait until you make more money, then take a step back to focus on what you really want." Ha! The tricks we play on ourselves... My heart wasn't there and in fact it felt as though sometimes the rest of me wasn't either, that I wasn't really present in my own life. Rushing around from one thing to another, feeling self-important, squeezing loved ones into my schedule and dolling out the minimum take-care-of-myself time.
Sound familiar to you?
In late 2012, I surprised Tippy with tickets to a Coldplay concert in Sydney and as we took in the spectacular light show and insanely good music on display that glorious summer's evening, I really allowed myself to get taken away (oh-so-rare back then). The intense agony that I had been feeling around that time, to do with my family, my job, my daily decisions, all came to a head.
During one particular song, listening and watching Chris Martin jump around with every inch of his body electrified, absolutely enslaved to the moment, I snapped. This thing that I had been unable to comprehend for as long as I could remember, was right there and staring me in the face, literally.
No one in the arena that night could have doubted for a second that Chris Martin was living his dream. However you want to shape that; from a music perspective, success, fame, fortune, travelling the world with your buddies/band; his dream and his life were one. It was in his eyes, in every movement, in his intensity, his presence, his joy and his light. It was captivating.
Saying something along these lines to Tippy, I then went back to life as it was. However... life had other plans for me. I had awakened the beast, I had awakened myself. The issues I had been experiencing by no means vanished (in fact for a period they intensified), though a short time later, I knew exactly what needed to be done.
To live my dream, I needed to first spend some time dreaming. As the universe doesn't easily support this concept, I asked for help. Telling my loved ones that I was really struggling, that I was worried about my welfare; seriously worried; and that I deserved a damn better existence than one spent crying most days in between meetings. Following some down-time in Vietnam on an already-planned trip, loads and loads of writing, a little isolation and only 1 week back into the real world, I quit my 6-figure salary with absolutely no idea what was next or how on Earth I would get by, let alone live my dream.
I simply knew that I needed to get back to basics. To breathe, to live, to do all of the things that I felt robbed of day-to-day, to spend time with the people that I loved and to somehow find a way to live my dream.
Those first few weeks were all over the place and I resisted the change just as we all would; challenged and pushed in this strange new world of mine. It was towards the end of our Australian summer in early 2013 and I remember spending a lot of time at the beach, alone with my thoughts and the glorious sunshine. Little by little I realised and enjoyed the glaringly obvious point that... I was no longer living a lie.
5 minutes of embracing reality on the beach soon turned into hours of nothing but smiles and the best feeling on earth - gratitude.
The freedom that I felt was the greatest gift that I had ever given to myself and although I was far from "figured-out" and let's face it, don't we all spend time chasing that state, life was becoming one clear thing - better.
Maybe you are reading this and thinking oh well wouldn't we all be happy to quit our jobs and lie on the beach? The reality of this scenario is that I had little-to-no savings and absolutely no clue how I would be able to take care of myself in practical terms. The trained corporate inside of me freaked out more than I can even explain to you, pushing me to go through every worse-case situation and figure out a plan. Kind of kills the embracing vibe...
However I am proud to tell you that through the most challenging and rewarding period of my life (see how those concepts go together?) I only seriously contemplated throwing in the towel and heading back to my corporate life a total of 2 times. Why? In both cases, the driver was money, or rather a lack of it, the fear of having little and with little in my sights.
A real concern? Absolutely. However....
The day that I quit my job, I made a few decisions and ran through loads of options in my mind regarding money and surviving through this period of who knows how long. I decided that I only needed to make a few hundred dollars a week to live. I also decided that I didn't need the vast majority of things that I possessed or wanted to to possess and so, most of them went. I sold my car (toughest decision), heaps of clothes, shoes, jewellery, handbags, furniture and so on... Whatever felt right really.
By mid-way through that same year, I had less to my name than when I was a few years out of high school and instead of feeling embarrassed and scared, I felt invigorated. No longer so focused on acquiring more and more things that I thought would make me happy, no longer preoccupied with money and no longer cluttered; in all manner of speaking.
I can absolutely confirm that human beings require little to be happy and I felt immensely grateful to have found this new path.
Don't get me wrong I had loads of support (thank you!) though in so many ways the best kind came via the immense words of support from those closest to me. Those that saw the real me shining through a little bit more each day. I can never repay this kind of support and you all know who you are.
The other incredible light that I was grateful to receive was yours. Your "subscribe," your "likes," your comments and messages were like rays of sunshine and hope sent to me and further affirmed that I had something of value to offer. Me. My story and experiences combined with research, pretty photographs and yummy food were what you wanted. What came so easily to me and I enjoyed sharing, was; and is continuing to be; so well received.
Thank you dear reader/friend/confidant for your willingness, acceptance and enthusiasm.
So am I telling you to quit your job and sell everything you own? Heck no!
Though I am most certainly telling you that you deserve to live your dream each and every day my beautiful friend. I am telling you that while it won't be easy, it will be rewarding far beyond your comprehension. I am telling you that the journey is incredible and that no one is perfect. Will that stop you though? Heck no!
Sending you big love, hugs and dreams.
....Oh so perhaps you want to know what song it was?
This one. In fact this is from the exact concert and might I suggest.... you TURN IT UP!