Unexpected Life Lessons from 10 Months Abroad

This post was written when in November of 2015 on the first site/blog I've ever created! I had just left a successful and soul-sucking technology sales career and was in pursuit of who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do with my life, personally and professionally. I had so much fun designing this personal blog and using my creativity WITH technical skills (art + tech = magic!) to update friends and family of what I was up to throughout my travels. It's the very thing that led me to this dream business I'm now building today (Bloom!). I felt the pull to share it here as a reminder of where I've been and where I'm going and it still rings very true for me today!

As I move through my final week abroad, I feel especially introspective on the time I’ve spent in Europe. I’ve learned so much about myself and it’s not at all what I would have expected! I feel as if I have a new level of appreciation, a new feeling state, a new pair of glasses, a new way in which I see the world as a direct result of the 10 months of life school I leaped into with an open mind and open heart. I know now that what I just did was complete a Masters degree in Internal Wall Demolition. Here is what I now know for sure:

Home is where the heart is, and what’s in my heart are my people. I’ve learned that the people in my life in Chicago are amazing! There are all sorts of people, many types of family, friends, peers, mentors, soul mates, in every nook and cranny in the world. My soul will attract those people to me in a matter of time, wherever I choose to settle, and they are all so wonderful. It was not so much in what needed to be changed in my environment and those in it, rather in what needed to be changed in me, and I needed to go out and see this for myself. I have softened, I have felt the depth and weight of the absence of this connection to my people, and it is with these people that my heart lives. My job is to expand my heart to those people that I love. It’s me that required the wall to be broken down so that I could give and receive the love my heart yearns for.

Location does not an adventure make. Wherever I am in the world, I can always find adventure! It does not need to be in an exotic location or across the pond. There are always airplanes that can take me wherever I'd like to go in the world. However, without a home to come from and go back to, without the connections to travel with or the chance to stay in one place long enough to make, I have difficulty relishing and swimming in all of the juiciness of that adventure. It will be a 2 to 3-dimensional adventure. I desire a 4 to 5-dimensional experience - anything less and I will feel disappointed, and often times lonely. I can find what I'm looking for anywhere, and I now know that it is the people that bring out the magic of my adventures. It’s the connection, the collaboration, the sharing, the exchange, this is what makes a mountain glow, a river glisten, or a plate of house made pasta sing! 

The only thing I can do is follow my heart’s nudges, there’s no way to know or control what the experience will be, just get through it and most importantly…LEARN. They’re going to either lead me to bliss, discomfort or gut wrenching pain of necessary! Either way, I'm gathering vital information, information that I need in order to live the extraordinary version of the life I crave. I will always get what I need when following what feels right but never does me following these urges or pulls mean the experience will be good, bad or otherwise, it will just be what it needs to be. My best outcome will be if I learn the lesson that’s laid out before me, and keep moving forward! The best thing I can do is look for the lessons!

Believe people when they show me who they are by how I feel and through their actions (NOT their words). My feelings are often a great indicator of how my relationships will end. Also as important = be true to who I am and what I need and expect in each relationship, whatever type it is. If I am feeling bad, things don't feel right, and I am not feeling supported, it’s okay to let go ASAP, with love. The feeling that letting go at that moment might be premature is an illusion. I'm ready now to break this pattern and maintain my standards for the caliber of relationship I want and need. The road and it's people will rise up to meet me - if I'm feeling myself lowering in any way to meet them, it is a strong indication that it is not for me.

I couldn't ignore my calling to go to Europe and try to stay, but the point of going was not to be there. The itch was scratched, the dream of a European adventure was had, and I am a better version of myself as a result - this was the point. There was a softening that happened - room or space inside a concrete, a walled-off area in my heart that needed to be broken down. It was no easy task to chisel, or rather, sledge hammer some room in there for compassion for the people in my life, as well as for myself. 

“Where your treasure is, there will also be your heart, the Alchemist had told him”. 
- Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

It is with a new understanding of myself, the world and what’s out there, and the preciousness of what I have right at home (my treasure) that I start to build a new life for myself back the in States. I vow to keep these lessons close as I rebuild, do what feels right, stay grounded, tune in daily, and believe, and I know I will see the miracles all around me. Chicago, I’m comin’ come!