Playing with a stingray at Stingray City in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.

                  Playing with a stingray at Stingray City in Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.

Original Post: January 17, 2014

People have asked me why Cayman?  What prompted such a drastic change?  How did you do it?  Here are some answers...


If you had no excuses, what would you be doing right now?

 

That was my running theme as I wrapped up 2013.  I put it in my calendar so I saw it everyday on my phone.  No excuses.  Just dreams.  And who would have known that my dreams would have led me to where I am now.


In October of 2012 I met a fellow world traveler that was younger than I am, who lived a way cooler life than I was living and who changed the course of my life.  A few years back he'd sold everything he owned and packed his bags to travel around the world.  He had so many great stories and I was jealous.  Here I was, 33 and miserable.  I had been working as a hairstylist, makeup artist, cocktailing at a nightclub, a server at Hard Rock Cafe, and was doing odd jobs with friends to make some extra cash.  Work work work and little time for play.  I decided enough was enough and I was moving to San Diego to be closer to family and my BFF, and to change the pace of my life.   I wanted to start LIVING my life instead of being a passive participant.  I felt like life was happening to me, and it was time to make a drastic change.  I didn't have a plan for a job, or housing, I just wanted out of Seattle and wanted out NOW.  I had made up my mind.  It was time to move.  San Diego or Bust.


If you had no excuses, what would you be doing right now?


I have awesome friends who live awesome lives, and who encourage me to do the same.  And one 'random' night (nothing is really random, everything happens for a reason, blah blah blah) I ran into my friend, Dan.  I sat down and had a few drinks and we started talking about my move.  He brought up the idea of going to Grand Cayman to visit some friends we had.  "Go have some fun.  You've saved money and worked hard.  You deserve it."  A week vacation turned into two weeks.  I had a few more drinks and added a few more weeks to my vacation.  I can go on vacation for a month!!  Who goes on vacation for a month??!!  Crazy!  Let's do it!  LD said, "Well, if you're going to be here for a month, we might as well find you a job and you can move here."  And so it was decided that night, on the corner of 1st and Bell at Cyclops Bar, that I was moving to Grand Cayman.


Then I sobered up.  Panic.  The voices in my head went to battle against each other. Holy shit.  Are you crazy?  (Yes.)  Who does that?  (Somebody AWESOME, that's who).  I have to sell everything I own. (Yeah, but it's just stuff.)  What will I tell my mom?  (That you're having a mid-life crisis and need to travel.)  What if I fail?  (You can always move back.)  What if I can't make enough money?  (That's why you have $6000 saved up, ya dummy.)  What if I fail?  (What if you kick ass?)  I'm scared shitless.  (Too bad.  That means it's exactly what you need!)  I think I'm going to puke.  (You're so over-dramatic.  Pack your bags.  You're moving out of the country in four months.)


If you had no excuses, what would you be doing right now?


Once I made the decision to leave the country, I started to shift my thinking.  Life wasn't about all of the things (books, shoes, furniture, clothing, jewelry) I had collected, it was about the memories that I had made along the way.  What did I value most?  Ever since I backpacked throughout Europe for 6 weeks with my little brother in 2003, TRAVEL had been at the top of my list.  I was 23, he was 18, and we were fearless.  England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Germany and Ireland.  Somewhere along the way, work and bills took over and travel took a backseat.  Time to put that back into the Number One spot on my list.  And then another opportunity presented itself...


My sister was getting married in February 2013 and I had every excuse as to why I couldn't go.  I was saving for the move, I couldn't get the time off of work, I had too many clients counting on me, blah blah blah.  But what kept coming up was that at the end of the day, was I going to be happy that I had stayed and worked or was I going to be happy that I went to the wedding?  What was more important?  When I looked back on my life, was I going to regret not going?  The answer was easy.


So off to Germany I went to see my sister get married!  A week-long European vacation!!  My parents were taking the newlyweds to Paris and I thought it would be a good idea to crash the honeymoon.  I mean, come on.  It's Paris!!  I extended my stay an extra week so I could get into a drunken slap fight with my new brother-in-law, and ate crepes while staring at the Eiffel Tower.  After we returned to Germany, I booked  a solo train trip to Amsterdam and the next day was off for a 2 day stoned-out-of-my-mind adventure.  It was two days of feeling alive and vulnerable and adventurous, and a little funny inside.  Solo travel always reminds me of what I'm made of.  I had forgotten the feeling.  And was once again hooked.


If you had no excuses, what would you be doing right now?


I had no keys.  I'm not sure if you remember the time when you had nothing to your name, but after 16 years of being on my own after high school, it was a feeling that I'll never forget.  Panic/excited/free/weird.  I had 3 suitcases packed and I'd never felt so free and light in my life.  I had no job, and no Plan B.  So my Plan A HAD to work.  Storm the castle and burn the bridges.  If you want a change, you have to do it, both feet in.  And so that' what I did.


Now, this is not to say that all of this was not stressful.  I was scared out of my damn mind.  I am a planner.  I make lists.  I make lists just so I can cross things off of my list.  If I make a decision and it makes my tummy hurt, I lay in bed and fret and worry and change my mind.  But I was determined to not let this stomach ache run my life.  Good thing I had that under control, because my body was about to throw another curve ball.  Stress sucks.  But apparently I am allergic to it.  To the point that  I will break out in hives, complete with swollen, red face and eyes.  Not just a little swollen.  I mean, completely unrecognizable, like Will Smith in Hitch, swollen.  I'll even need to buy an epi-pen in case my throat closes up.  And make a trip to Urgent Care, just to be told to chill out.


But here I am.  Sitting in a coffee shop, drinking a cappuccino on this gray, dreary, rainy Seattle-like day, in Grand Cayman.  Nine months later.  A changed woman.  A new woman.  Ready to share my travels, my thoughts and my experiences.  Come along with me on my journey, and maybe I'll inspire you to start your own.  

 

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