If 2015 taught me one thing, it would be that as Americans, we don’t spend enough time living.
Throughout the year, I spent most of my time away from Idaho, out of the country. The people I met were 20-26 typically, just slightly younger than I am; that’s not to say there werent a few much older travelers and some thirties… The early twenty somethings just overpopulated the numbers. At one point in Whistler, B.C. I was sitting at a kitchen table in a hostel with one Irishman, an Englishman, two Aussies, two Canadians and a German. We were chatting about our countries politics, health care and other cultural diffferences. What I noticed throughout my interactions at this very table, and equally in every trip I had made during the year, was that there weren’t very many travelling Americans. The few I did meet and interact with were older, much older.
We are taught, at least in Idaho, to work hard at an early age. ‘Work to live and work to make it’ is how a lot of families operate in a farming community. We are taught responsibilty, to pay our debts, and to settle down after you finish school. As I ponder about why we are taught to settle so quickly and prepare for the future, depression era conditioning comes to mind. A lot of our parents and grandparents still act as if their money is not safe in banks… And maybe its not. But preparation, planning and worrying can only get you so far. Living your entire life planning for the future is not living. You really never know how long you will be on this earth and to not enjoy it today for the worry of tomorrow, is CRAZY!
I am a business owner, I have a savings account, a car loan, a cell phone and comfortable home. I have responsibilities and commitments, I don’t say “live in the moment” as a frivilous, immature hippie living in a van. (Although that would be awesome). I say it from a place of having worked hard to achieve that American Dream, and after achieving it, realized it wasn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.
I went to beauty school immediately after highschool and was licensed a year to date after starting. I was disciplined and anxious to get out of school and get to work. During Cosmetology school I taught dance three mornings a week, beginning at 6am. I went to school full time and worked nearly 30 hours a week at a beauty supply store. I left my home each morning between 5:30 and 7:30am and returned after 10pm every day for 13 months.
Girls in school with me would ask me how I could be in school 40 hours a week and still afford my latte every morning, a gym membership and shopping trips.
“That’s how?”, I would reply with a confused tone. I am sure the questioning person didn’t expect such a sharp answer… but genuinely, I did not understand the question. I worked, all of the time.
This work aholic lifestyle began in 2007 and went steady until 2014. At some point near the beginning of the year, I slowed down long enough to ask myself what I was doing all of this for?
At just 25 years old, I supported myself financially with a cushy lifestyle made by a booming clientele and our new business establishment. I worked constantly, either with clients or doing bookwork, scheduling or marketing. I had achieved every goal I had set out for.
I began to complain about the problems I had always dreamed of having… “My phone never stops ringing.”, “I can’t take a vacation in 8 weeks because I have too much on my books to make adjustments.”, “I’m too busy, no you can’t get in this week?!” And it went on and on. I was unhappy with my job, but it was everything I thought I had wanted?!
I realized I was burnt out and anxious about my future. I felt accomplished, but was this the life I really wanted?? I guess I thought I would be closer to 40 before I felt this way… Though I have heard of a quarter-life-crisis, which I was possibly experiencing… I could not imagine myself doing exactly what I was doing for 40 more years.
I had married myself to my career and I wasn’t sure that was what I wanted. My life was a testament that hard work and dedication can get you anywhere in life, but there needs to be a healthy balance. My life outside of the salon was a bit lonely. I had isolated myself in the evenings just to decompress after such a long day of giving myself and my energy to others. I realized that this way of living gave me satisfaction in monetary ways but I knew that would not last forever. One day I would most likely want a real marriage and a real life outside of work. I struggled with what to do, thinking that adding a few curves in my career direction may bring the change I was craving; it didn’t.
In January 2015 I planned two trips basically back to back. My dad had given each of his kids and grandkids a cruise ticket for Christmas. We went in February and while planning that trip I was making arrangements and preparing for a trip to Nicaragua for a yoga retreat with my ex roomie. I was nervous about finances, with taking so much time off and spending the money to go. I had never been so frivilous with my earnings; always investing back into my company to keep it growing. My mom encouraged me to go, often saying to me, “What’s the point in all of your hardwork if you are not going to play?”.
At some point after my first trip of the year, I said to my mom and sister, “I am just going to work for 4 weeks and be gone for 2, for the rest of the year.”
I kept close to my word, traveling to Vegas after Nicaragua, then England, a roadtrip up the westcoast to Vancouver, B.C., a trip back to VanCity for Halloweenie and then snowboarding in Whistler, B.C. after Thanksgiving.
I had played during 2015 as much as I had worked. It was an excellent year. My life in Idaho was work and home yoga practice. When I was away I was gaining perspective and knowledge and growing in ways I didn’t know I could. On December 4th near the end of what would be my last trip of the year to Canada, I broke my wrist. It put me at home, without work, yoga or travel. I had a very hard time with this, as it felt like I was being punished. I was out of work for 6 weeks in total and no plans were made for my next escape. During my down time I concluded that a life of work or airplanes and airports wouldn’t make me happy forever either. All of this running around throughout the year was an incredible adventure but is definitely not going to be something that will bring me joy forever. Its a fast paced lifestyle and not the best way to travel and experience new places, though I am glad for the experiences I did have.
I believe there is a possibility of work, traveling, and joy melding together in a harmonious balance suitable for everyday life and an extrordinary one at that.
This is what I seek.
Balance is what I am looking for.
Truly living and loving life each and every day.
Letting go of my attachment to an outcome or expectation.
Living one day at a time & walking tall with one foot in front of the other.