What a difference a year makes

I started this blog 367 days ago, one (leap) year and one day ago from today.  It is called “Not Quite A Mid-Life Gap Year” because I assumed from the beginning that I would not be unemployed and spoiling myself for a year.

I am now at the airport in N.C. about to fly out to the Pacific Northwest to (once again) change my life, my future! Sometimes changes in life happen gradually, almost unknowingly…like when you see someone (usually a child) after a long absence and their change strikes you as remarkable.  When did that happen!!  Sometimes change hits you upside the head, like it has done to me recently. Either way, that’s life! Live it, grab it, relish it, and keep moving forward!

It has been primarily a wonderful year where I have been able to unplug and find myself again.  I have regained all, or most, of my mojo that had been stripped away by being unhappy in my last job, etc.  I have also had numerous priceless experiences learning Italian in Italy for nearly 3 months, traveling elsewhere in Europe, spending some time with my mother, and spending a month in South America, including cruising around Cape Horn. These are things many people never get to experience and I feel very fortunate.

On the flip side, in that same time frame there has been a lot of sadness experienced within my family and within the lives of my friends.  Of course, this all started with me losing my job and a few of my friends also found themselves unemployed this year, but more importantly I lost my favorite aunt and my friends have lost pets, a few have lost parents, one lost a grandparent, and one even lost a child.  There is simply nothing more heartbreaking than when a life is lost.

My blog has given me a unique experience of putting a stake in the ground and documenting almost every day of the last year.  It has been remarkable to look back on it and see what I have done and experienced and what else has transpired in the space of a year; in my life, the lives of my family, the lives of my extended family.

I have learned a lot more about the world and have reconnected with myself in the last year but most of what I have discovered is that it all comes back to a wide variety of old adages that ‘you only live once’, ‘seize the day’, ‘love thy neighbor’, ‘make love, not war’, ‘save the planet’….you get the idea.

It was a little scary to throw everything up in the air and go off and travel for 6 months.  I was very lucky to have money in the bank, severance, and the freedom to travel (i.e. being single and childless) but the unknown is just that, and I didn’t know what I would come back to and whether I would land a decent job, or how long that would take, and whether I would run into any financial issues over the long run.

What I did isn’t for everyone, but it was perfect for me.  I was able to afford it, but I have also worked hard and saved throughout my career, earned an MBA on scholarship, working diligently on finding a new job, etc.

I am grateful, I try and stay very positive and try and abide by the adage of “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.  I also am a strong believer in karma and “paying it forward”.  All these positive vibes help propel everything forward.  Now that I have been through the loss of a job, I know I can survive it!  It has made me stronger and even more courageous.  So if it ever happens again, I know what to do! :)

I don’t consider myself to be very religious (i.e. I don’t go to church on Sunday), but I believe in faith and a higher being of some sort.  When I was in Italy, I found my new patron saint, St. Zeno, in Verona, and lit countless candles leaving tons of Euro coins at churches throughout the country.  My mother also prayed to St. Anthony (the patron saint of lost things) to find me a new job, I know my favorite Aunt that died recently is looking down on me, and I know my friends have prayed for me and sent me positive vibes.

I’m not sure which of all of the above things was the most powerful force in the end, most likely it was a colliding of all of them, but it does help to have friends in high places. :)

So as my year comes to an end, I can simply say that I am happy, grateful, and I hope to keep all the momentum going.  Now that I have income again, hopefully I can do something more monetarily impactful in the future, too.

Thank you to all that have supported me and followed my blog!  I hope that you have found it either helpful, entertaining, or both!  I have enjoyed writing it very much.  If nothing else, it was cathartic for me and I will always have documentation of the year that was!

For those that haven’t had enough of me, I will be starting a new blog as I venture forth into the next phase of my life.  It is currently under construction, but you can find me at http://grandenonfatlatte.com

Goodbye, and good luck and good health to all!

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