Embracing Change: The Adventure Begins

ByLandersSea Abroad : 1

You can’t stop the future

You can’t rewind the past

The only way to learn the secret

…is to press play.

Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why


Sunrise in St. Augustine
Sunrise as seen from my condo in St. Augustine

Life brings change. Like most folks, initially, I resist. Come on, who wants to leave their comfort zone? But, as I begin to reflect on my drift through life, I know that throwing myself into discomfort and uncertainty forces me to grow. Slowly I let go of the present, inch forward with tentative ideas and eventually embrace a new path.

Rising rents tightened my budget. I had to face the reality of moving out of my beloved condo in the historic downtown district of St. Augustine. Now, I realize that a move is nowhere near the challenge of fighting cancer. Nonetheless, it’s stressful. Where would I live?


I found myself betwixt and between; I wasn’t ready to commit to a new home just because.


So, one day, while on my morning iPhone remote walk with my old marathon-running buddy (she lives in Philadelphia now), Judy says, ” I have a wacky idea. Don’t say ‘no’ right away. I need you to think about how you can say ‘yes’ to this idea. I have spent some time marshaling my arguments as to why we need to do this.” Then, she blurted out, “What do you think about traveling the world for a year?”


My immediate response was, “That’s it. Yes!”


It was almost an exact repeat of our first marathon run over 15 years ago when Judy volunteered to run a marathon with me under just one condition. It had to be outside the continental United States. And of course, I agreed. Thus, our first marathon was run in Athens, Greece!


Judy doesn’t hesitate when it comes to travel, and now it is my livelihood, so indeed, this was the time to live out the dream of traveling the world.


I’d put everything I own in storage and use the rent money to fund an extended trip.

Europe was calling to me.
Europe was calling to me.

Judy and I fantasized from nicknaming our escapade ‘Two Broads Abroad’, to buying a round- the-world airline ticket and spending a few weeks here and there: Cambodia, Shanghai, Scandinavia and, of course, a month in Tuscany and Paris.


But, as sense and sensibility crept in, our itinerary and joint budget evolved. We whittled down the journey to six months, all within Europe. Plus, the Schengen Agreement limits one’s time within most European Union countries to 90 days. Hence, we needed to include Eastern Europe and a flight to St. Petersburg. We accepted half a year as long enough to savor the experience of extended travel. Australia, Asia, and Bali would have to wait.


Packing and moving my worldly possessions into storage proved another issue. That project required heavy lifting and deep introspective thought. I admit, I own too much, and this opportunity became an ideal exercise of downsizing. I began in my closet, jettisoning outfits I’d swear I wear again but never did. Shoes were a bit tougher because I have a fondness for shoes, but out they went. I can’t say I am down to a manageable closet, but Goodwill received many, many bags of clothing.


I proceeded on to my office where crammed bookshelves begged the question, “Am I ever going to reread  or use this publication for research?” Again, Goodwill accepted numerous boxes of books.

Clearing out my Bookcases.
Clearing out my Bookcases.

In the kitchen, cookbooks tugged at my heart; I’m a collector and love to read cookbooks. I gave away many to friends and promised myself I would purge more books when I reopened the boxes in the future. But really, what are the chances?


I planned to allow myself enough time for the exercise, but in the end, I dumped the entire contents of drawers into packing boxes. I made several trips to the food bank in attempts to empty my pantry. Still, the preparation seemed endless, and the number of cartons I filled was overwhelming.


My printer's tray filled with trip mementoes.
My printer’s tray filled with trip mementoes.

Finally, the day of the scheduled move descended; it was too late to back out now. Last minute details clogged my head. Had I packed correctly for the big trip, plus the next six weeks, clothes for two media trips, and a duffle with summer outfits that my daughter would bring to France when she’d visit me in June?


The movers didn’t appear until 11:00, two frustrating hours late, and we still needed to pick up the rental van. To add to my angst, the clouds burst open and didn’t let up for the rest of the day.


The men began loading the parcels in the rain. Perhaps the downpour would stop so they could fit the bigger furniture in later. No. Just about the time they were ready, we were informed that the elevator in my building was shut down. (My apartment was on the third-floor.) A pipe burst in a second-floor unit the previous night and flooded two units below. Why had someone just now realized the elevator shaft had accumulated water in the basement?


Boxes and more boxes.
Boxes and more boxes.

Ugh. We waited for clearance that never came. Eventually, we had to unload the contents of the moving van to my storage unit and return the vehicle. Luckily, I wasn’t required to be out of the condo until Sunday, so I’d complete the move two days later. To save money, the movers would load my furniture onto a flatbed truck, eliminating the need to rent another moving van.


Anyone remember the opening trailer of the Beverly Hillbillies TV show? By the time my belongings were crammed onto the flatbed, this Granny was embarrassed. Furniture was stacked at awkward angles, rolled up carpets extended outward, and everything had to be tied down with ropes. Slowly this disheveled truck made its way down the road. Fortunately, we didn’t lose anything in transit.


My Beverly Hillbillies Look-Alike Move.
My Beverly Hillbillies Look-Alike Move.

I returned to clean the sad and empty looking space I’d previously called home. By the time I finished, I was utterly exhausted, and my back was killing me. Perhaps that was nature’s way of preventing me from lingering.


I now had six weeks left before the flight to Istanbul, and took up temporary residence on a horse farm in Ocala, thanks to the generosity of the owner. I’m trying to live by a saying, “The key to happiness is letting each situation be what it is instead of what you think it should be.”


The adventure begins. Where it ends, I don’t know.


Please follow along our upcoming adventures at www.bylandersea.com.

Archives can be found at Bylandersea Abroad on the top menu on the homepage.

The horse farm in Ocala, Florida.
The horse farm in Ocala, Florida.

13 thoughts on “Embracing Change: The Adventure Begins

  1. Have fun on your adventure. It should be a great six months. And who knows where the adventure will end or what you will decide to do after that six months.

  2. Oh, packing up and cleaning out is stress during the process but it can be so liberating. The worse time is usually when one finds old memorabilia and starts lingering on it (like old letters or a diary long forgotten)…
    Don’t forget in your trip planning: all of Great Britain is not part of the Schengen zone. But I know: it’s unfortunate that there’s no Schengen visa available on application to allow for an extended stay.

  3. All you say is so true. I will be finishing up with 42 days in the UK because of the Schengen agreement. I’m sure my tour of Wales, Scotland and Northern England will be just as rewarding.

  4. My hat’s off to you for taking on this adventure. I think a lot of us “dream” about taking off for 6 months or a year and never get even close to what you have done. I’m sure it was extremely difficult to unload all of your possessions. I love my “comfort zone” of home too but you are VERY courageous. I’m sure this will be a life-changing event for you. Looking forward to hearing more about your journey.

  5. Whew! Now that it’s done, doesn’t it feel great?! What a process, but it’s illuminating to realize how constrained we can by by “stuff.” When you return (if you do), you’ll be able to make do easily with far less and it will reflect in your monthly expenses, too. In the meantime, you’re going to see the world! Bon voyage!

  6. Debi– I am excited for you. I read your great piece on Pisa (which I enjoyed in 2011 myself).. I hope someday to meet you “neighbor”.. we spoke of it years ago) and since Europe is my favorite area of the world to visit, I look forward to reading all about your adventures. Safe journey. A kindred Spirit, Claudia

    “We do not travel to escape the world.. we travel so that the world does not escape us.”

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