Starting Again

Several years ago (5 almost to the day, in fact) my friend Tracy forwarded me an email newsletter from a woman named Kate ( The title of the article was Two Magic Words. I’ve kept that email at the bottom of my inbox and periodically, I re-read it and appreciate the simple power of those magic words: Start Again.

She talks about how this wisdom was born out her meditation practice, where the ideal is to clear all thoughts from your mind.

“… what you’re supposed to do when you realize you’ve veered off course isn’t to berate yourself. Or wonder why you can’t pay attention. Or give up. No. Your most powerful tactic is to let go of all the lamenting and the blaming and the analyzing and just go back to following your breath. That’s it. Just. Start. Again. No drama. No regrets.”

Words of wisdom, they are. And knowing that article is there always helps me remember what to do when my routine – or my intention – gets sidetracked: Just.Start.Again.

So I recently turned 42. As my birthday neared and I practiced saying my new age, I would joke it was my “Meaning of Life” birthday. Yes, it’s a geek reference — if you don’t get it, look here.

The thing is, I wasn’t joking at all. I had begun to feel strongly that I was ready to understand – and voice – my own personal meaning of life and then honor it. Several times over the winter, I’d sat still and asked myself “what do you think the meaning of life is?”. The answer always came quickly and clearly: love.

With my birthday approaching, I asked myself what I want from the next year. The answer again came quickly and clearly: love.  I want to experience and share and create love wherever possible. And I want to be in love – with my partner, with my business, with my home, with myself, with my life.

Satisfied I’d identified The What, I turned my attention to The How. Well, that question – “how will you experience and share and create love” – evoked what can only be described as a long, deep soul sigh.  Why did such a beautiful question feel like so much work??

With the same rapid clarity, I understood I was depleted. I had been pouring energy and creativity into business development AND 6 months prior, I had relocated from Austin to Asheville. I arrived with a carful of my most prized possessions, fresh off a 3 month, 8,000 mile road trip. I started a new job; I lived in 3 different apartments; I handled an endless list of relocation-related tasks; I formed new relationships; I connected with my new community. A lot of my energy had been spent rebuilding my life. The word rebuilding sounds dramatic – and perhaps it is, given I relocated by choice (in fact, enthusiastically). Overall it was an easy transition, but it wasn’t without effort. I had dismissed the impact of the transition and all the newness – which is both invigorating and exhausting, just like extended travel.

[side bar: I have begun to view relocation as a form of extended travel]

The crux of the matter was that I’d lost my sparkle while pushing myself to create my ideal life on a time line that I essentially made up. I wanted so desperately to have the life I’d been dreaming about that I wasn’t enjoying the life that I had! Can you relate — even a little bit?

In a flash of brilliance (and self preservation), I decided to take 42 days off from thinking and just enjoy whatever was in front of me. I called it my 42 Days of Now. I stopped thinking about the business, about traveling, and about my never-ending list of to dos. I went on an information diet and ignored the forums I participate in and the blogs I subscribe to. I planned the bare minimum and said yes to impromptu fun. Essentially I took a break and I rested – I rested my body and my brain and my soul.

After about a month, I sensed the wind gently filled my sails. I began to feel flashes of creativity and slowly started interacting with my network again. I felt excited about Travel Coaching and set a date to re-engage with the concept. I was thrilled and I was relieved. I am passionate about Travel Coaching because I want to help people travel more AND because it’s a core component of my own epic travel plan.

The date came for me to re-engage.  I made my to do list … and promptly cratered.  It was massive!  All the goals I hadn’t met in the past months and my neglected blog plans came rushing towards me.  The overwhelm crushed me. I pretty much went fetal for a couple of days, as my coach and mentor Christine Kane likes to say.

And then I remembered:  just like when I fall off the wagon with a diet or exercise program, I simply needed to wake up in the morning and start again.   That is all.  So on Friday, I woke up and just started on my list.

I am choosing not to beat myself up. Instead I choose to have compassion for myself and appreciation for everything I have accomplished and gratitude for all the people in my life who love me and support me. And I do not wish I’d spent my time different.  In fact I enjoyed some de-licious experiences during my 42 Days of Now and, looking back, I wouldn’t have spent that time in any other way!

And so, without too much fanfare (OK maybe a little bit :)), I declare the blog is back.  Woohoo! I am really looking forward to sharing some Inspirational travel stories with you, dear reader, in the coming weeks. And I am excited to better understand what you need from me and this blog in order to become your own travel hero.

Is there something in your life that you need to start again?  Can you gently honor yourself by waking up tomorrow – or perhaps right now – and simply starting again?  

♥ Audrey

World Domination Summit…!

So I took a big leap and registered for the 2012 World Domination Summit hosted by The Art of Non-Conformity’s Chris Guillebeau.  By the way – do you know his work? If not, I highly recommend you poke around his site (linked above) and see if anything speaks to you.

Why is it a big leap? Well, my dear old Dad would point out that technically I’m still unemployed yet just plopped down a chunk of change for an event that is 10 months – and the length of a continent – away.  But, more significantly, it’s a leap towards intentionally creating the life I want to be living.

Why did I do it? Because there will be a room full of thinkers, doers and livers there and I want in! It’s as simple as that. When I was laid off freed from the bonds of a soul-sucking j-o-b 9 months ago, I decided to start designing my ideal life for real.  I’d been thinking about what it looks like – my ideal life – since I did Mondo Beyondo in January 2009 (Andrea & Jen ~ I hope you are at WDS again!). And being reorged out of that job felt like the Universe giving me a Golden Ticket.  Since then, I’ve been taking a series of baby steps and now I’m starting to run with it.  OK, speed walk.  Hey, you gotta start somewhere (seriously – just do it!)

I read the post 72 Hacks & Beliefs to Live & Work on Your Terms – from People Actually Doing it (World Domination Summit Recap) by 2011 WDS attendee Scott Dinsmore and decided this is exactly the kind of juicy stuff I want to roll around in. You should check it out ~ you may find some excellent nuggets (warning: you’ll also probably find a few new blogs to follow)!

If you’re going to WDS, I look forward to playing with you!  Interest piqued? For now registration is closed but limited seats will go on sale in January. See for details.

Have you thought about how living the life of your dreams would feel?  Go ahead, dream a little…

♥ Audrey

my low- information, high-gratitude diet

The past six months have been pretty amazing. They’ve also pretty much kicked my ass. I’m blessed with a naturally high energy level, so I didn’t realize just how mentally fried I was.

Granted, I spent the better part of the winter traveling to awesome places and hanging out at the coast with my cat. I was on a fantastic high – calmed by the ocean, recovered from the negativity of my last job, detoxed from the digital overload of modern life, and excited by all the possibilities in front of me. It was a joyful, relaxed and fairly insulated existence.

But the entire time I was thinking. Thinking, thinking, thinking… Continue reading

Thoreau’s Worst Nightmare [article in Mother Jones]

This is an interesting read for anyone who is crawling (walking? running?) down the path of intentional downsizing and simple(r) living.  Thoreau’s Worst Nightmare 

As I’ve evaluated how to best jive my lifestyle with my values and goals, I’ve encountered more of what this author calls gimmick than I ever expected.  And to be fair, this is the world we live in, where everyone and everything is branded.  I’m not sure the branding is avoidable for those who choose to participate in society.  And I do admire those who are trying to creatively make a living.  I think the real question (I think, not sure) is whether you are helping someone else with your writing/experiment.  If it changes a few lives, makes people think, then great.

I especially appreciate this reminder in the closing paragraph:

“We must strive for continuous, daily, incremental improvement toward whatever social, environmental, and economic goals we deem important.”