A story of my 'call to adventure' and how it’s put me on a new road to happiness.
Ok, let’s start with a little poll… and I want you to be honest with your answer!
How many of you have ever said (or thought to yourself): "I would love to do that… live there… go there…" only to then say “maybe one day!"?
Vote now: 1. Hell yeah!
2. No, I hate change
3. Of course I have - but if I say yes, I might actually have to do something about
My guess is that most of you opted for 1 or 3 right?! I've been a number one for a while... until recently that is.
Now, some of you might have added 'that thing' you would love to do, or that place you would love to live, to an increasingly long bucket list of things to do before you die.
I remember getting that classic book called '101 things to do before you die.' I think it was an early warning sign that life was about to speed up. I had recently finished Uni and the reality of fast-paced hard work and striving for success in my career was already sinking in. Time was flying. I found myself riding the wave at great speed to seize every opportunity that came my way. I've ticked off a few things from that book that's for sure.
"My ambition was always about having a house by the sea and some dogs."~ Tilda Swinton
I think I always wanted to get the most out of life. I worked when I was at school and got involved in as many things as I could within the local community. I loved learning and having new experiences. I liked the challenge of responsibility - for myself but also others… and things. I still do and think it's part of my DNA.
I’m sure my parents would agree (head in their hands), by the time I hit 14 or 15, I was probably even a little too independent! It’s not an unusual story - teenage girls = trouble. Sorry not sorry!
Fact is, my beloved grandad died (too) young after a short battle with cancer. It was awful watching this strong, charismatic, warm, funny and loving man deteriorate so quickly in front of my young eyes. Before I knew it and before I had the chance to talk to him about his life and his hopes and advice for my future, he was gone.
He died the day before he and my Nana were due to move into their new house, next door but one to us. From what I can remember it was their dream to move closer to us and out of London to enjoy their later years. If only they moved sooner.
I don’t know if they did, but what if they had said, “maybe one day”… every time the thought came into their heads or the topic came up - probably after we visited them or as they returned home from visiting us.
What if they said “maybe one day” until they realised that actually, their "one day" was too late - for my Grandad anyway.
I’m pretty sure they didn’t think for one moment that they wouldn’t get the opportunity to move together and enjoy being close to their family, watching us grow up. I remember that we spoke of “one day” going to Disneyland. It never happened. That “one day” never came. Time run out.
I watched my Mum sacrifice her career and vibrant community life as a teacher to become my Nana’s carer. An amazing thing to do. But it came at a cost. Mum's window of opportunity to “seize the day” got smaller every year. In later years, following a stroke and horrible illness, that window's curtains closed even tighter.
"The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have." ~ Louis E. Boone
Subconsciously, I think these experiences and observations taught me valuable lessons that would, even to this day, spur me on to get out there, be brave, courageous, independent, adventurous - and do whatever I can to “seize the day”.
Some decisions I made with this mantra as a youngster were good and some were not so good on reflection, but I’ve never been one for regrets... just “learning experiences.” ;-)
Despite growing up in a fairly close knit community and having great friends, I couldn’t wait to head off to University. A ticket to freedom and adventure. After Uni, I couldn’t wait to move to new places with work, meet new friends, take on new jobs with bigger challenges than before, have new experiences, travel the world.
I’ve never stayed anywhere too long I don’t think. The call to adventure would always come at what always felt like the right time. “Maybe one day I can run my own business...” “Maybe one day I’ll get married after all...” “Maybe one day I’ll visit Borneo...” “Maybe one day I’ll get a dog or three..." - cue my time for action... every-time.
“Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.”~Parker Palmer
Then before you know it, you hit 40. You’re married and through the 7 year itch, you’ve relocated from London to Essex to enjoy more “countryside”, you’ve not been able to fulfil your dream of having kids, but you’ve accepted that and found joy through furry babies and even more opportunities to travel the world. You’ve become self-employed for the second time and are finally loving the freedom and choice co-directing an amazing, thriving business with your best friend.
(Unfortunately though, your knees hurt and you're more moody than your cat.)
But that moment - that call to adventure - can hit you out of nowhere.
You’re standing on a stunning beach in the Scottish Highlands with your hubby and you say out loud “maybe one day we could live here!”.
Say that again (the voice in my head says to me!) - “Maybe one day? What day? When? And most importantly, why not now?"
Flashback to Grandad never getting to move into his new home next to his daughter and grandkids. Flashback Mum getting sick and losing her mobility having never quite completed her “101 things to do before I can hardly stand let alone walk” list! Here we go again!
Luckily David was on the same page and after the shitty year we had with our friend, the covid lockdown, the loss of David's mum through covid and the loss of his “business as usual” - we knew that our “one day” had to be soon. It was our calling to change something, change our state, our lifestyle, our surroundings.
It was at that moment I knew we would be moving to the Scottish Highlands.
Who wouldn't be tempted to have this as their local beach? (Nairn Beach)
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not totally reckless. The decision to move from Essex to the Highlands was not one we took lightly (even though it happened quickly!). My Mum and Dad are still here… but they are getting on a bit let’s be blunt!
Moving further away means a flight or a long drive to go visit them, and their dog who we love (he's our Pug Marvel's brother). It will require more planning. It also meant we couldn’t buy that quirky apartment we loved as mum could never get up and down those stairs and if they are coming up to stay for longer visits, we definitely need a bit more space to avoid killing each other!
Luckily for us it didn’t take too long to find and fall in love with our dream home.
Double luck, after taking Mum and Dad to the Highlands for a holiday and showing them the house, we got their blessing too (even more so when we promised to buy them the Facebook portal for Xmas!)
Triple luck, my work husband and partner in crime Andy also loved it and was more supportive and encouraging than I could ever have dreamt and hoped for (thank you Andy!) I won’t count covid and the global pandemic as luck BUT… it did make us realise we could work anywhere in the world, helping remove some common barriers to moving so far away!
So, fast forward four months and here we are, in the car, two cats meowing away wondering 'WTF' and three dogs excited at the prospect of yet another road trip adventure (little do they know their fave beach is about the become their local beach!). We are homeless for 3 days so off to a forest lodge for the weekend until we get the keys to our forever home!
The removal van left yesterday and is on its way back to the Highlands - I’m hoping they don’t break our new coffee machine - we are going to need that over the next few weeks!
Am I scared? Yep!
Am I sad to leave family and friends so far behind? Yep!
Am I excited for the next new adventure? Hell yeah!
Fear can be a big barrier to taking a leap of faith in any change situation - we are hard wired to avoid change like the plague (or covid!)
But it’s usually those moments in life when you take the biggest and boldest steps, where you end up thriving. I always find it reassuring to ask the question “what’s the worst that could happen?” and remember there is always a reset and restart button if you discover that your still not quite where you want to be.
Life is for living and it’s easy in todays mad, crazy, often stressful and fast-paced world to forget that. Every year we have stark reminders all around us that life is too short and tomorrow is never promised. Putting off today what you think you can do tomorrow, or later… or whenever... increases the risk of never seizing the moment and achieving your hopes and dreams. It’s a risky business when you only have one precious life as we know it.
In previous years I’ve learnt this the hard way and have had to dig deep to refocus myself and my energy on creating happiness for myself and those closest to me, rather than looking for it from other people and other things.
I haven’t always “Carpe Diem” in my life, but I’m a great believer in recognising the signs that the time to move or change is now, and to have the courage to take a leap of faith from time to time!
Hearing or saying those words “Maybe one day” will always be my call to adventure.
Carpe Diem - Seize the day. Enjoy the moment.
Don't look for happiness, create it!