I’m leaving my job and planning epic travel this winter

It has taken me a loooooong time to write this blog post – a ridiculously long time in fact. One reason is that it feels epic and epic often needs time to simmer (gestate?) before being shared. Another reason is I just have a lot to say. I’ve already sketched out at least 4 posts worth of what? where? why? and how? – so look for those this winter.

But today what I want to share is all right up there in the headline: I’m leaving my job and planning epic travel this winter! Can I get a woohoo?!

These are 2 separate but related celebration-worthy nuggets of awesomeness!

First, I’m leaving my job. As promised in July’s Declaration of Freedom, I spoke with my boss, although it went down a little later than initially planned. I gave her the heads up in mid-October and put in my official notice about a week later. My last day is December 6 – I wanted to give a lot of notice so my team would have time to replace me before their next big project kicks off.

Leaving my good steady job was not a straightforward decision, but for me it’s the next right step. I’m craving more flexibility in my schedule and have long been interested in exploring other work paradigms. Also over the past 2 years, this job has opened up a world of strategic planning I had no idea would be so intriguing. And I finally paid off my hefty student loans (a third celebration-worthy nugget of awesomeness) which has allowed me to feel more comfortable taking some fiscal risks with my work-life. Can I get a hell yeah?!

{brief pause for student loan payoff happy dance}

My last day also happens to correspond to the date my other job is coming to an end. Yes, I’ve had two jobs since late August. I accepted an opportunity to teach a class at the local University this semester. Teaching is an experience I’ve been interested in trying and I definitely learned a lot this semester.

But while I’m sincerely glad I did it, let’s just say that I do not plan to work this much again for while. Between working, teaching, traveling, buying and selling houses, volunteering and socializing, I have had very little downtime the past 9 months.

(side note: while I would call bullshit on myself if I tried to say I was too busy to write this post because of my packed schedule, it is true that working 2 jobs, transitioning between houses and giving attention to my social and romantic lives has left me with very little available brain power for endeavors like this blog. The context switching alone has burned valuable creative energy. Working parents – you are super human.)

And so, after completing my current obligations, I’m taking several months off for a personal sabbatical. During this time, I will be focusing on both physical health and travel (not always synonymous). I also plan to develop an ebook and experiment with working from the road, however rest and rejuvenation are my primary goals.

There are a couple of big “themes” rolled up into the sabbatical

  1. a renewed commitment to my health: while I’m ready to explore new opportunities, and frankly quite excited to do so, I’m teetering on the verge of physical burn-out. Mentally and spiritually, I’m feeling in great shape — I could use more rest and quiet time for reflection, but mostly it’s my body that needs the love. My trusty body is overdue for an oil change and I need a break before diving deep into income generation mode. That type of work needs to come from an inspired and connected place. Right now I feel scattered and running on fumes.
  2. A desire to flex my adaptability and creativity muscles in the ways that travel does best: I’m ready to challenge myself with travel again. I’m ready to get on the road and see new faces, interact with people who don’t look like me, sound like me, live like me.

The transition to the next chapter begins in mid-December when Mr T and I take a mini-break to an undisclosed tropical location. We’ve both been over-extended and squeezing quality time in for months now. So I’m using the proceeds from my teaching position to take us to a swanky resort for a few days where we will do nothing more than decide whether our boat drinks should contain rum or tequila! Since he’s not going on this adventure with me (although he very much supports it), it is also important for us to spend some dedicated together time before I depart. We’ll return in time to enjoy the holidays with family – first his, then mine. Then…

…I’m off and the epic travel is on…!

I kick off my trip in the new year with a couple days with a friend in San Francisco. From there, I fly to Hawaii where I will spend an entire month in one place. ← this will be a travel first for me

I’m doing a yoga-focused personal sabbatical program at a retreat center called Kalani on the Big Island. I’ve never staying in one place for a month with so little that I must do, and I’m looking forward to the experience and what it reveals. While at Kalani, I intend to sleep enough every night, eat high-vibe food every meal, enjoy yoga or joyful movement classes at least once a day, meditate often … and that’s it!  I’ll have books and a journal, so if I’m inspired to consume or create – great! If not, I will thoroughly enjoy clearing my mind and body for a month. Essentially I’m giving myself permission to do “nothing” if that’s how it shakes out.

Independent travel is exhausting at times and it feels right to refill my reserves before embarking on the next leg of the trip.

After my retreat, I fly to Bangkok where I’ll spend roughly 2 months exploring Thailand and Southeast Asia. My itinerary is still in flux but it’s my first time in the region, and I expect it to involve lots of beaches, lots of temples, lots of massage and lots of thai food. Other experiences on the table include diving certification and a fasting detox program.

I’ll visit at least one other country – it would be great to visit more, however I want to travel slower than I did during my European sabbatical. Two months sounds like a long time and until I started planning, I actually thought I could squeeze Australia and New Zealand in this trip?! Ha ha ha ha ha – turns out I could spend 2 months in Thailand alone!

Countries I’m still considering include Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Japan and – most recently – the Philippines, where I would do both a volunteer and a tourist experience. One way we can help battered regions recover is by pumping our tourist dollars into their economies.

I have not yet procured a ticket home, but my intention is to return as spring blossoms.  An endless tan is the plan!

This epic trip will fulfill several deep and long-standing desires for me.

The desire to spend the cold north American winter in a tropical (or at least warmer) location. The desire to explore a new part of the world. The desire to spend an extended period of time (in this case a month) where I am obligated to do very little on a daily basis. The desire to test out how I like working while on the road. And the desire for an experience that leaves me tan, rested and ready for what’s next.

There are several juicy topics wrapped up in this and I plan to explore them (and more) over the next few months.

  • why – my motivations and motivators
  • how – a couple posts about some how I’m making this happen
  • who – I’m traveling solo without my partner but with his full support – why and how that’s happening
  • work – how does travel fit in with my future work … or how does work fit in with my future travel…

If you want to read all about it, sign up here to get on my mailing list and have future posts delivered to your inbox.

Onward and upward!

♥ Audrey

Ps I alluded to working while on the road – I am accepting a limited number of travel coaching clients this winter.

Learn about my special 5-session coaching package and other ways to work with me!

Become your own travel hero in the new year – or give someone you love the gift of travel preparation this holiday shopping season.  Thanks!

Quote – Day 14 of #indie30

Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind. ~ Seneca

I’m participating in The 30 Days of Indie Travel Project over at Boots-n-All.

Prompt #14: QUOTE

 What’s your favorite quote about travel? Why does it stand out to you?

I love quotes about travel.  It’s the rare quote that doesn’t resonate. I know when it’s time to get out of town, when I’m craving some different stimulation. The words by Seneca at the top of this post are probably my favorite because they are simple and they are my truth.

Cloudrest, Yosemite NP

New perspective - top of Cloudrest, Yosemite NP

The clarity and zeal I feel from a change of scene – and the corresponding change in perspective – are qualities I’m not able to reproduce through any other method.  I guess that’s what makes travel so addictive for me – that shot of vitality I get from experiencing a new place.

I know when it’s time to get out of town for a while.  I start to feel antsy then cranky then tragically dissatisfied with wherever I am, no matter how awesome that place is. The feelings have little to do with wherever I am. They simply reflect my desire for an infusion of the new and unknown.

It doesn’t take a big trip to satisfy most urges.  A 2 hour road trip to visit a friend or a quick jaunt to the beach or camping for the weekend is usually enough to give me my fix.  Sometimes, a simple day trip can turn my whole mood right-side up.

How does travel make you feel?

♥ Audrey

ps do you long to take a trip but get bogged down in the planning process?  I can help – learn more on my Travel Coaching page.

Celebrate – Day 7 of #indie30

Hi all! I meant to get in on The 30 Days of Indie Travel Project over at Boots-n-All a little earlier, but between moving this site to it’s new home here at audrey-reynolds.com beyourowntravelhero.com and moving myself (literally) to Asheville, I’ve been slow to join the party.

Prompt #7: CELEBRATE

Joining in a local festival, holiday or special event is a great way to learn more about a local culture. Share the story of a celebration that meant something to you on your travels.

Well, I’m immediately going to stretch the interpretation because I’ve been so excited to share the video below.  In a recent post, Chris Guillebeau talks about why you shouldn’t save the good stuff for later.  What he says makes a lot of sense to me.  So in the spirit of putting it out there now (and imperfectly), here is my post on Celebration.  Enjoy!  (note: I’m having trouble embedding the video, so it will open in a new window.)

In early October, I spent a few days at the spectacular Point Reyes National Seashore (north of San Francisco).  One afternoon, I was driving around in the fog and rain, hoping for some way to redeem an otherwise crap day.  I stumbled upon a team from The Marine Mammal Center  who were about to return four seals to the sea and was invited to watch the release.

Watch the seal release, Point Reyes National Seashore

The seals had been in rehabilitation for many weeks and experiencing these beauties say ADIOS to captivity _completely_ made my day!  The second set released (the 2 in the video) were not a pair, yet they coupled up as they hit the sea.  The volunteers seemed to think they would stay together.  It was beyond cool.

While this wasn’t a formal celebration, it most certainly was a special event:  FREEDOM!  The seals’ body language screamed WOO-HOO PEOPLE ~ WE ARE FREE-FREE-FREE!!!  They celebrated all the way to the ocean.

Have you ever witnessed a spontaneous, joyful celebration while traveling?  How did you feel afterward?  Does the memory still bring a smile to your face?  I know this one will forever bring one to mine.

♥ Audrey

Consider a Career Break…

The title of this post on NationalGeographic.com caught my eye – How Taking a Break to Travel Can Benefit Your Career

I completely agree! With a little creativity and clarity, it is relatively easy to spin a Career Break or Sabbatical in your favor.  In 2007, I left my job of 7 years to travel around Europe.  When I returned to the workforce, I decided to include the experience on my resume.  The entry specifically looked like this:

Personal Sabbatical     September 2007 – December 2007
Citizen of the Planet
Traveled independently, experienced new cultures and honed 
foreign language skills while enhancing resourcefulness,
decision-making abilities and people skills.

When I decided to take the trip, I was burnt out on work and healing from a divorce – I couldn’t think productively about what I wanted to do next. It turned out to be a great experience on a personal level. I got my sparkle back and ultimately that trip was the inspiration for this site (although I didn’t know it at the time…)

Career-wise, I returned to an economy in the proverbial toilet.  The rationale for including the Career Break on my resume was two-fold: I wanted employers to know that I made a conscious choice to leave (this was before the mass layoffs) and I wanted to communicate that travel is an important part of my life. After several interviews where I answered extensive questions about my trip from starry-eyed desk-bound HR directors and IT team leaders, I began to understand my break also communicated exactly what I’d said in the position description – that I’m independent, adaptable, resourceful, and a people person. It also said to would-be employers that I am brave and perhaps not desperately tied to a job.  In the job-hopping field of IT, where tenure is not a huge issue, I feel it gave me an edge.  If nothing else, it made me memorable.  And talking about my adventures helped me feel at ease in stressful interview situations AND allowed me to speak with passion about something, which also made me memorable.

Are you dreaming about taking an extended trip?  If you answered yes and are lucky enough to be in one of the cities hosting a Meet, Plan, Go! event on October 18, 2011 (Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Honolulu, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York City, Orlando, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, and Toronto) then sign up right now (seriously – go here right now and kick down the $15 for what could be the inspiration of a lifetime!)

If you are not in one of those cities, or would enjoy a one-on-one conversation about your dreams, your fears and your questions, contact me for a complimentary assessment and to learn more about the travel coaching and facilitation services I offer.

Onward and upward!
♥ Audrey

Transitional Travel

Transitional Travel (noun)

– travel whilst one is passing from one place, position, state of being, etc to another

– travel which creates, supports and/or fosters transition

This site is in the works, as the author is currently on the road enjoying some transitional travel!  Please continue to check back for more great content!

Love, Audrey

The Alhambra

Ah, the Alhambra. To quote Wikipedia, “The Alhambra (Arabic: الحمراء = Al-Ħamrā’; literally “the red”) is a palace and fortress complex of the Moorish monarchs of Granada, in southern Spain (known as Al-Andalus when the fortress was constructed), occupying a hilly terrace on the south-eastern border of the city of Granada. It was the residence of the Muslim kings of Granada and their court, but is currently a museum exhibiting exquisite Islamic architecture. “

The Alhambra and it’s gardens (Generalife) are “the thing” to see in Granada. It is one of those places where you fill up your memory stick or kill your battery (or in the days of film, blow through all your spare rolls) before you even get to the good stuff. And of course your photos don’t do the place justice. It was recently in the running to be one of the new “7 wonders of the world” (didn’t win). You are wise to book your tickets at least a week ahead of time, as the hundreds of people who were up at 6am to wait in line for a meager allottment of released tickets found out.

I was assigned a time to visit the Palace rather late in the day, so I toured the gardens first. They are both beautiful and functional. Food is/was grown there and they provided shade, tranquilty and privacy. I believe I read that in Islam, a beautiful garden is a reward. It is the same for water (and in many Arab cultures water is revered for the life it supports) so throughout the gardens, there are pools and fountains everywhere. Combined with the huge variety of colorful plant life, they create cool oases, calm and private resting places, and playful, fun and interesting spaces. I may have said this before but many of the plants in the region are similar to those from central Texas. I believe it is a bit more temporate but still very dry with similar soils. I saw many tourists taking photos of exotic (to them) plants that I have in my own backyard. Please check my pile of photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/helloaud/ under the Alhambra set. As I said, they don’t really do the place justice. There were interesting courtyards, rooms and passage-ways around every corner.
The Palace itself is devoid of interior decor, but it was easy to imagine the furniture, wall-hangings and so on that filled the place. The detail is incredible and everywhere aestetics & functionality are combined. In Islam art, images of things are frowned up, so the designs are an ornamental style reflecting nature (plants mostly) and abstract design. These abstract designs are based on math — there is no beginning and no end, which invokes the Universe. Note of interest: M. C. Escher’s visit in 1922 inspired his following work on regular divisions of the plane after studying the Moorish use of symmetry in the Alhambra tiles.

The glazed tiles on the walls still retained their color but most of the paint had long since faded. There were gorgeous wooden doors and ceilings. And most amazingly, wall after wall decorated with a relief-like pattern of abstract design that was mind-blowing.

Inside the palace, water was also used for aestetics as well as to moderate the environment. I found the design and function of this particular courtyard fascinating. In the summer, the air was drawn across the water where it cooled. The fine wooden lattice (filigree) on the windows above allowed the air to circulate, cooling the inside (it also afforded the women the discretion required of them – ugh – but still allowed them to observe the goings on). In the winter, the sun warms the walls and the water, making the courtyard itself a warm retreat, and again the lattice circulates the air, this time warming the inside.

There are a couple of other parts to the complex, like a castle built by Charles V because he had to have something cool up there too, but I was too tired to see them. You have to walk A LOT and you take in so much intriguing beauty that it is just exhauting. I spent close to 5 hours wandering. There were hundreds of old folks on bus tours there – I’m talking old-old with bad feet and everything. And honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever seem so many exhausted old people who looked so happy. No grumpy old men waiting on benches while their wives looked around and no purse-lipped old ladies unhappy about this or that. Nope, everyone was beaming and obviously satisfied. But tired. Including me.