By Karlene Cameron
There is a saying, “You can run but you can’t hide”. At some point whatever you have been running from is going to come back to bite you in a tender place.
The travel bug bit me way back in 1995 or thereabouts while working in a job/career as a reporter that I hated like you wouldn’t believe. Back then, I grappled with figuring out what else I could do for a living. I couldn’t figure it out. So one day I decided that perhaps relocating would be the answer, that a change of scene would do me good, and I began looking for opportunities overseas.
In the meantime I bought a large-sized map of the world and hung it on my wall. Little did I know that that one action would attract travel into my life.
In 1999 I finally found a job opportunity in East Africa, and the next five years would be the highlight of my life. A few months after settling in, I took a trip to Paris. I fell in love—with Paris, that is. What a magical place! and especially at Christmas time. The scent and sounds of the métro, the animated people, the spectacular museums … it was like a fairy tale. There was excitement in the air as the Millennium drew nigh and I had a ball of a time exploring the city. When it was time to leave, I cried.
The first two years in Africa were wonderful. I worked at improving my French, and it was fun speaking it whenever I visited Paris, only to get a response in English each time. What was I saying wrong? Nothing, a friend told me. The Parisians just want to practice their English!
But when 2002 rolled around, I knew it was time to leave Africa and move on. I had somehow completed a cycle in my life and my time was done there. I could feel this spiritually and emotionally. But I had nowhere else to go, and I still didn’t know what I wanted. So I stayed on.
What a mistake that was! The next two years were awful. I felt miserable and empty, like my soul was dying. Even Paris eventually lost its luster. Something had to give.
So I quit. Just like that. I had nowhere to go, no job to go to, nothing to do with my life, but I quit. A few weeks later, I boarded a jet plane not knowing where I was going. To make a long story short, I moved to Italy and took my 40th year off. I studied graphic design and worked the odd job. During that time, I had that awful feeling that I describe as being in an airplane that circled the sky, not knowing where to land.
Italy was a wonderful break for me, but after a year it was time to go home. A few weeks after returning, I ran into former colleagues who all told me that they wanted to do what I had done, which was to travel and work. I locked this away in the back of my mind to revisit later. In the meantime, I was doing volunteer work and working in less-than-desirable jobs for the next few years.
But in 2008 I came to a turning point and decided that it was time to write my memoir “Look Forward to Mondays”. My goal was to inspire others to take action and do work that they love. It was also my intention to travel and promote this concept of figuring out what to be when you grow up. That would be my new “career”, I decided.
But by late 2010 when on the last chapter of the book, I no longer wanted to talk about what to be when you grow up. And my book needed a happy ending.
One day a little voice told me to view Barbara Sher’s videos on YouTube. I had been an avid reader of her books and resonated with everything that she said. While viewing a video of her Scanner retreat held in a medieval village in France, something suddenly clicked. I wanted to do what she was doing. I wanted to travel and teach.
No sooner had I gotten this revelation when came a Series of Unfortunate Events—I got laid off from my job. How much clearer could the Universe be? It was time.
A year later, I am living life on my terms and have a brand spanking new passport waiting to be stamped, as I prepare to launch an overseas retreat in the fall.
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