Final Thoughts on My South Pacific Adventure

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Gosh! What a crazy, scary, EMPOWERING trip! At a time when I was feeling broken, I made a drastic change in my life, and “launched” that change by hopping a ship to Fiji!

In the year or so leading up to this trip I had been feeling less than inspired at work. I had worked for five years for a really great company and was doing work I loved, but somehow it wasn’t satisfying anymore. I was having trouble getting up in the mornings and I would return home each night physically and emotionally drained. I had also been struggling with some physical symptoms that had me wondering if I would ever feel good again. I knew I was in need of a change in my life, but wasn’t sure what that would look like. Making the decision to do this trip was the first step.

Going through the exercise of planning the trip helped me begin to look forward to things again. As scary as it would be, I knew I needed to quit my job. I had been thinking about making a change anyway, and to do the trip right I was going to need to take much more time off than I had left in my PTO bank. I also didn’t want to feel the pressure of “what I’m coming back to” at the end of the trip.

One thing leading to another, I decided that since I would be leaving my job anyway, I’d give myself a year to do whatever I needed to do to feel better. I didn’t know for sure what was causing my physical symptoms, I only knew I needed to fix them. But that wasn’t all. Feeling tired and unwell all the time meant I wasn’t spending time with my two loves, art and writing. I decided I would go on my trip, and then I would spend the rest of my “year off” creating art and writing.

Even many of my closest friends don’t know this, but writing has always been my first love. I haven’t shared that a lot because of old tapes in my head that tell me “you can’t make a living as a writer,” and “well, I hope it’s at least cathartic” (i.e., nobody would want to read your dribble). Rubbish! I’ve been sitting on a draft of my memoir for more than ten years. Time to dust it off!

The story I told on my way out of  my job was that I was leaving to pursue my art. I told that story because I felt it would be more readily accepted than, “I’m going to write.” To most people, that would not compute. “How will you pay your bills?” sigh. Well, now I’m saying it. I’m going to write!

Back to the trip…

While traveling on my own in a foreign country did cause some additional stress, it also forced me to think about things in different ways. It broke my patterns. I couldn’t run to my safe place and hide. I had to find my way around. I spent 24 days figuring things out for myself and making decisions for myself without consideration for someone else. I tried new things. I started conversations with people I didn’t know. I began to feel less anxious and more powerful!

Okay, I’ll be honest. While on the ship, there were times I would seek out the safety of my cabin, but mostly I was out experiencing. I slathered my body with mud in Fiji. I danced on the pool deck. I made friends with a wonderful Ukrainian couple from Melbourne. I watched a glass blowing demonstration and had wine and cheese on the upper deck. I donated money to the casino. I sat at the stern of the ship after dark watching as the foamy tail of our departure reached back to meet the reflection of an invisible moon.


Now, two months later, my trip is a surreal memory. Admittedly, some of the euphoria has worn off as real life takes over again, but I am finding the energy to do the deep work of fixing myself. Through working with a therapist, I have discovered that most of my physical symptoms were stress related. Turns out I have some grieving to do.

These days, I do spend time on my art, but I spend equal amounts of time meditating and writing. Rather than pushing myself into a specific direction, I’m listening to my body and going where my heart leads me.

So…I’ll continue to “do what I do” for the next few months and see where I end up. I would love to continue writing and creating art as my primary activities indefinitely, but if I must go back to working for someone else, I know I’ll be better prepared to handle the ups and downs that go with it.

This trip has helped to set me on a course of self-discovery and healing. And so, as I wrap up “the story of my trip” I raise my glass to toast my new life, whatever it turns out to be!

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Dream: Late For The Wedding

This was a dream within a dream. In the dream I dreamt that I was to be the bridesmaid in a wedding and on the day of the wedding kept getting delayed in one way or another…going down the wrong street, getting lost, passing streets and doorways that I should have been familiar with…and sliding in just in time, but other members of the wedding party had had to do much of what I felt was my responsibility as the maid of honor.

In this dream, I awoke and realized it was a dream and was very relieved, because I was, in fact, to be the maid of honor in a wedding. And as luck would have it, I proceeded to have the same experience as I had dreamt (in my dream)…getting lost, missing obvious signposts and doorways, etc., and getting to the wedding almost too late.

Peppered throughout my dream were references to people from my past with whom I have not kept in touch. One specifically was a guy who had reported to me at one time and in this dream (the second version, where I was supposedly awake), he was along for the ride, trying to help me, but not able to help which I believe is because I was “calling the shots” and not following his suggestions. He just laid low and let me go through my motions and was always there along the way, even as I arrived at the location of the wedding, obviously very late.


Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my writing and the fact that I haven’t published “my book” yet…and that I’m now 50 years old, and hoping I’ll get my act together and regain my focus soon because I feel my time is running out. I’m 50. People in my “circle” are beginning to drop off, and I wonder if I’ve wasted too much of my time. Am I “too late for the wedding?”

In my dream people are depending on my and I’m not getting to the place I need to be. Is that a suggestion that I – in my non-dream life – am not getting to the place I need to be?

Lately the first lines of a poem I wrote when I was a 14 keeps running through my head. “Poor Sadie was a simple child, her parents died so young. She thought her sad life over before it had begun.” I wonder if it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I hope not.


Poor Sadie was a simple child, her parents died so young;

She thought her sad life over before it had begun.

She lived through all her writings, the thoughts she held inside;

But if someone should come near, her feelings she would hide.

She wrote of things that pleased her and things misunderstood;

Hoping that somehow, someday, her thoughts would do some good.

She thought so much her head ached, but she wrote down every line;

And if a thought was hidden it came to her in time.

As she grew her thoughts expanded with every passing day;

And she carefully thought each detail as she wrote her life away.

She wrote like this for years, though it seemed so short a time;

For life was such a word, that it needed more than lines.

And when her time had come, she noticed much too late;

Her words had helped no one, and age had closed the gate.

What she had left were feelings, in her attic to remain;

And so poor Sadie left this world as quietly as she came.

Call To Action

I received a message the other day, but I didn’t hear it until now. I didn’t feel it.

It was a call from my mother’s cousin “Barb”, whom I’ve never met nor spoken with in my life. Barb was reaching out to me in hopes I might be able to get her in touch with my mother’s brother – her cousin. She got to me through my sister, whom she met at my mother’s funeral several years ago. (Why I wasn’t at my mother’s funeral is a story for another time.)

Sadly, I wasn’t able to connect her with her cousin – my uncle – because, as my mother explained to me when I was twelve, her family disowned her (and the rest of us) when she divorced my father. She went on to explain that her brothers were both very religious and so they didn’t believe in divorce. So…I was disowned by my mother’s family at the age of twelve because of a disagreement between my mother and her brothers. Sounds fair.

Barb and I talked for over an hour, and as it turns out we have a few things in common, i.e., her father discouraged/prevented her from communicating with her extended family; we both married quite young and subsequently divorced and then spent most of our adult lives single, feeling we were better off being fully responsible for our own destinies (or at least as much as one can be).

I believe things happen for a reason – and so, since Barb’s call last Sunday evening, I’ve been turning this over in my head trying to figure it out. Why me? Why now?

In the course of a morning meditation, it came to me:

For over ten years I’ve been sitting on a family-related project – my memoir. Over the years I’ve gone back and forth from feeling the story should be told to feeling I should keep it to myself. I thought I had put that argument to bed a few years ago, but now here it is again.

Since my early teens I’ve felt my purpose in this world was to write. So far I’ve not been successful at my attempts to erase the “you can’t earn a living as a writer” tape that has been running a continuous loop in my head since I first had the audacity to share my dream with my family some thirty years ago – trusting that they would be supportive.

But here’s the thing: I don’t just think I should be a writer. I know that I am a writer. And yet I find myself still working a corporate job (where, by the way, I write…business requirements).

The idea of going out on my own has been spinning in my brain for…ever. I have had two separate opportunities to transition into “self-supporting artist/writer” in the last ten years, but I’ve never felt really, truly ready, and so in both cases I spun my wheels in various other directions rather than focusing my energy on the thing I was put on earth to do.

So what’s holding me up from going out on my own? Whatever it is, I need to get over it. I feel that if I don’t take action now I never will. I turn 50 this year. It’s shit or get off the pot time, kids!

I’ve got a story to tell. I believe Barb’s call was yet another nudge from the Universe. It’s time for me to take that manuscript down off the shelf, dust it off and get back to work! My life story is one that should be told. If for no other reason, because I need to tell it!

(It should be noted that I actually wrote this piece on 6/29/11. I’m just now posting it on 5/12/12. ‘Nuf said.)