Seeking

I believe that we must seek more from life. We must live sweeter, travel deeper, and dream bigger. And we must do so unapologetically.

But I didn’t always believe this. In fact, I once existed only in the confining but safe space of my comfort zone. It’s possible that I would have remained there, happy enough, but never truly living, if not for my late partner.

Even before Jeff died, he was pretty committed to breaking me out of my comfort zone. Though I hated crowds, he wanted to take me to concerts; though I insisted that my high-heeled ass would never sleep outside, he wanted to take me camping; though I gave up on my dream to be a writer in favor of corporate paychecks, he urged me to write.

Northwestern Football game
Jeff and me before he was diagnosed with cancer

And Then He Was Gone

I thought I would have a lifetime with him.

Jeff was 40 years old, healthy, robust, and lovable. Esophageal cancer killed him in just four months. It dawned on me when he died that no amount of money that I made would have given him even one more day on this planet.

I quit my job and headed for Europe and then Asia.

I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and beyond my self-imposed limitations. I went to concerts and festivals solo alone, tried scuba diving lessons, spent a day in silence in Bali, learned to surf and to ride a bike, and meditated with monks.

I walked a 500-mile pilgrimage across Spain on the Camino de Santiago. That’s a pretty big change for a woman who didn’t even own a backpack and refused to camp or hike!

The Final Day on the Camino de Santiago

Life-Changing Moments Exist Outside of the Comfort Zone

I started to live the way Jeff would have encouraged me to live if he were still here. In doing so, I realized how much I was missing out on in life before Jeff.

I think we tend to get so caught up in what is expected of us, that we sometimes bury our desires and our hopes for our lives. After a while, the idea of taking a risk to follow a dream seems selfish or reckless rather than a door-opening, life-altering opportunity.

Now, Iโ€™m not suggesting that we should all quit our jobs to travel the world. That was just my dream, after all. What I am suggesting, though, is that we should all take the time to do some seeking.

We should seek within us the hopes that we may have buried, we should consider taking that first difficult step toward a long-forgotten dream, we should shrug off the guilt that we feel when we do something for ourselves, and we should seek more from life. Unapologetically.

The First Step is the Hardest

I started small in my mission to life like Jeff. First, I followed in his footsteps in Europe:

I slowly started stepping out of my comfort zone in Europe, attending that first concert solo in Vienna and learning to ride a bike in France. Then I traveled to Asia and went to the Full Moon Party alone.

Those were my first steps out of my comfort zone and, while they sound like easy steps, the first steps are always the hardest. Before I knew it, though, I was packing a bag to walk across France.

It was there, on the Camino de Santiago, where I decided that I wouldn’t return to the nine-to-five world. I started my own freelance writing business, and I’m fulfilling my ultimate dream to write a novel.

Life is Too Short to Wait to Follow Your Dreams

Even if my book is never published, I am going to write it now, because life is just too damn short to delay dreams.

If you leave these pages with just one takeaway, please know that it’s OK to seek more from your life. It’s OK to dream bigger. You are not being selfish by seeking more. In fact, I would argue that we must seek more, seek often, and seek unapologetically. It’s the only way to really live.

A Note on Grief and Travel

We all face grief in our lifetimes. It is part of the human experience. Part of loving and losing.

If you are grieving, I invite you to join me on my grieving pages where I talk freely about my own process โ€“ all the ups and downs and uncomfortable topics like dating after death.

Itโ€™s my hope that honest writing about grief will help others going through a hard, but unavoidable, part of life.

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