My days in NY are numbered...10 to be exact. Bittersweet feeling. Everyone keeps asking if I am excited..in a word..no. Not yet anyway. There is too much prep to do, Dr & dentist appointments, vaccines, PACKING my apartment and office (Ugh, I HATE packing), tying up loose ends, countless farewell brunches, lunches, dinners. I am too exhausted to truly be excited. Not to mention all of the travel horror stories people feel obliged to mention. Apparently I may be kidnapped in South America, poisoned by a deadly fish in Australia, lose all my hair from a strange African disease, have larva implanted under my skin by some nasty insect and a host of other wonderful things.
A bit about me for those of you who don't know me. My name is Jackie. I was born and raised in NY and am a NY'er through and through. It is a magical place and I am so lucky to have lived here my whole life. I am a 31 year-old Speech Pathologist. I work with children with Autism and other special needs. It is truly my passion. However I have also felt torn between my other great passion in life... I was bitten by the travel bug 10 years ago when I spent a summer in London. I have since been to 15 countries so far and am looking to add another 20 or so this year. I am a people person and LOVE meeting new people and hearing their stories.
My friend uses that word to describe the dualities in my character. I am a Capricorn, Aquarius rising. The Capricorn side of me is extremely grounded, professional, super ambitious, dedicated, punctual, never takes a day off, works 6 days a week. But...the wind blows...and the Aquarius in me is off wandering the earth, dancing barefoot on the beach with 7 ft wings to the rhythms of Afro-Brazilian drums, jumping out of planes, making good friends of strangers on the street. Often people that know one side of me are shocked to find the other exists.
Why am I giving up a career that I love, selling my apartment and traveling solo around the world?
Well for one, doing things that are easy never appealed to me. I am constantly looking for new ways to challenge myself..riding my bike 350 miles to Boston, getting a black belt in Karate, teaching myself french..this is just the next test of myself. I live by the motto "There's no growth in the comfort zone, no comfort in the growth zone". I don't know where the quote originated but I'll never forget when my art teacher in college uttered it. The words resonated in me. Now I have a very comfortable life. I am a bit uneasy thinking all my possessions for the next year will be on my back, I don't have a clue where I will sleep at night, I am paying a mortgage while having no income since the market is awful, and my apartment didn't sell.
"Why are you doing this?":
Well...Why not?! I mean really..Life is too short not to live it. The way I see it, why retire when you're 65, have a bum hip, kids to put through college and can't take full advantage of the wonders of travel. I've decided to retire now while I have no husband, no kids, no obligations to anyone but myself, to take the time to live my dream.
Many of you know that I lost my baby brother Danny in February of this year. He was only 28 and didn't have the chance to experience all of these amazing things. I threw myself into my work after that because it was all I could do to cope. Now I want to make the time to grieve and heal. My older brother will begin the journey with me. We will go to Machu Picchu first. The three of us were supposed to go together. It will be a very emotional experience on so many levels.
This trip is for you Dan, I know you'll be watching over me the whole way. I love you and miss you so much.
"Is this for college?"
While I would like to think that all these anti-aging products are paying off and I can pass for a college student, I graduated nearly 10 years ago. More likely it's the typical American mindset that would question why a 31 year-old woman with a great career would take time off (in a recession no less) TO TRAVEL. I truly believe that travel is the best teacher...I am a willing student.
"Is this for work?"
If anyone knows a job where I can get paid to do this PLEASE tell me! I'll be first in line to apply. While I may volunteer in certain countries, I will not be working during this trip. (Unless it's on my website or product line...me not work?)
"How do you pack for a year?"
This is the hardest part! I have TONS of shoes, 2 full closets, 2 Armoires, 3 dressers FULL of clothes. It is depressing to think I'll wear the same rotation of 3 things for sooooo long. I don't really know what to expect when traveling through so many countries so I have to be prepared for anything. I am following the sun and trying to stay in summer for most of the year which makes packing a bit easier. I did what any good little perfectionist would do and consulted books and websites, lots of planning and preparing. (My brother will throw some stuff in a bag the morning of departure though he's only coming for a few weeks). I am well known now at Eastern Mountain Sports for being shopping bulimic. I have bought and returned and replaced sooo many things this past month it's insane. If i am feeling ambitious I will post an entry listing the contents of my pack. No promises.
I can't believe I am writing a blog! a) I am completely tech-phobic and swear I have an electromagnetic force field around me that breaks electronics, b) I never thought anyone would want to read my thoughts, and c) I've been too self-critical in the past to even keep a private journal, fearing that it wouldn't read like a novel and my punctuation is terrible! I prefer ellipses...My apologies to any of my English professors who may come across this.
That said..I hope that this blog will be a means to keep in touch with loved ones back home, to inspire others to travel and maybe to provide some useful information.