NEXT STOP, HUNTSVILLE?
The be-all-end-all travel writing conference in Huntsville AL takes place at the beginning of May. I've been thinking about going for months - weighing the pros and cons, hoping that the decision would eventually become clear. This conference only happens once a year in North America and I don't want to miss out on the opportunity to learn about the industry and to create a network within it which is something I've found surprisingly challenging to do. On the other hand, I'm only just starting out and I'm far from being established. It's not something I had planned on so I haven't put the money aside for it so part of me thinks it's a pretty reckless thing to do. What specifically am I hoping to gain here? Is it worth it?
“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.”
There is no way of knowing what will come of it, but if I don't go then I'll never know. If I'm going to take chances now is the time to do it and this seems like a pretty good chance to take.
Next stop, Huntsville!
PUT THE BAR DOWN
Tomorrow is a big deal for me. I'm travelling to NYC for the first time. Ever. Of course, it's an iconic city so a first time visit is a big deal for anyone. But if you flipped back the page to my seventh grade yearbook, you'd find the following response next to little Jen's photo:
Yearbook: Where will you be in twenty years?
Me: New York City.
I was a small town girl dreaming of the big city. Classic.
Over the years I've made several half baked plans to visit that never saw themselves through. For some strange reason, it didn't feel right. It wasn't yet the time. But this time around was different. I had tears in my eyes and heart hammering in my chest when I confirmed the flight. I could feel it ... the time had finally come.
I don't think Little Jen's vision involved Winter Storm Stella. Big Jen's certainly didn't.
Over the past few weeks I've realized that I had quite a few things in mind about my magical first trip to New York City. How could it possibly live up to these wild expectations? It's time to put that bar down. This city has something in store for me and I'm going to find out what that is. With a light heart, an open mind, and no expectations.
PS - I apologize if you now have Journey stuck in your head. Or if you didn't before but you do now. It's super Canadian to apologize for such a thing, isn't it? Better tone that down before I get to the Big Apple. Crap. I'm supposed to stop calling it that.
A VISA IS NOT A CREDIT CARD
Today I'm making good on my promise to take action on moving to France, starting with the dreaded VISA application. Doing this research brings me back to 2009 when I was about to embark on my first trip abroad to New Zealand and Australia solo for six months. I had two weeks to go when I finally realized that the visa I needed to enter Australia was not my credit card. During my preparations I remember thinking it was quite odd that I needed a visa to get into a county but it took several moments of confusion before it finally dawned on me confirm this ridiculous assumption. Panic ensued (aka I freaked out), but in the end, it all worked out.
Thinking back on that moment and so many others like it makes me laugh and sometimes cringe. These things are bound to happen and when they do it's important to just have my moment, accept what is, and trust that it will somehow all work out. It always does.
ADVENTURES IN THE SUN WITH CLINT: A MUCH NEEDED REMINDER TO LIGHTEN UP
I realized yesterday that I had been taking this all much too seriously. It was time to bring back joy and play - and with no better companion than my four-legged friend Clint! There is nothing better to remind me that life is good and it's meant to be an exciting and fun adventure. Dog therapy. It's a thing.
Clint has two varieties: Prince and Page. He's either taking himself much too seriously or acting like a complete nut. I love him to bits.
STOP TALKING, START DOING?
It's been fun announcing to my little universe that I'm moving to France. Yes, of course, conviction is the first step. Owning my crazy plan to pack up and move to another continent.
The other day my friend Emily asked me about whether I'd applied for my VISA yet. She wasn't the first. I felt a pang of guilt, perhaps embarrassment. About a month ago I stopped practicing French and I have't taken a single tangible step towards actually doing this since. Pourquoi?
I THINK I'M WORRIED THAT ONCE IT ALL STARTS BECOMING REAL I MAY LOSE THE FANTASY.
Or, worse, I'll lose France all together. I don't want to feel disheartened to learn that it's incredibly difficult to find places to live or outrageously expensive to go to school. As soon as anyone casts doubt on my plan I quickly inform them that I haven't sorted out the details yet as a way to end the conversation before it begins. I don't want reality to restrict possibility.
But without action, possibility is all I'll ever have.
ALL WEEK LONG I'VE BEEN THRILLED ABOUT THE IDEA OF BECOMING A TRAVEL WRITER.
After many years of searching desperately outside of myself for that thing that was for me, that I would stop at nothing to achieve. I had accepted that it didn't exist and that that was okay, I could make something my thing! I just needed to find something to make into my thing ...
And then, just a few weeks ago, travel writing landed in front of me. Or quite honestly ... had been sitting beside me this entire time, waiting for me to acknowledge its obvious presence. Since then I've been so excited that I often can't sleep, I'll be lying there buzzing with anticipation of what could be. I've been riding that wave all week long, feeling elated, like anything was possible and I can't wait to see what's in store.
Today, I lost it. Suddenly fear and self doubt have taken its place. I'm thinking that I must not want it badly enough if I'm already feeling this way about it and so it must not be right. I'm tossing around concerns that it's already being done (probably better) before jumping to it hasn't been done and therefore it won't work. Worrying that I can't do it on my own and that I'll never be good enough. I see all of these incredible entrepreneurs whose tag lines always seem to be WORK FUCKING HARDER which makes me think I can't possibly keep up. I know they mean for these messages to be encouraging but all I read is: If you want it, you better be ready to eat, sleep and breathe it. Otherwise I guess you don't want it badly enough and you should probably just give up now and save yourself the embarrassment.
All of this leaves me wondering what's the point and it makes me want to give up before I even begin. I can't seem to avoid these off days but apparently I can't afford them if this is to be my path. I'm beating myself up for not wanting this relentlessly enough. If this doesn't thrill me to my core every day without fail then it must not be mine. But I can't be ON every day, it's not the way I work. I hear people's well sounded advice about how to make it in this industry and all I can see is a mountain that I couldn't possibly surmount. Again ... why bother even beginning?
BUT THEN AGAIN ... WHY NOT TRY ANYWAY?
I'd rather try and find out if my concerns were well founded than to have never even given it a shot. I'll accept that I'm going to have off days where I feel uninspired and completely lose touch with the excitement that I felt yesterday. On those days I'll put aside what I had planned and let go of my concerns that I may not get it back. I'll do what I can without worrying about the big picture. I won't beat myself up over all the things that I should be doing that I'm not doing. This is supposed to be FUN. I'm supposed to be creating a life that FEELS GOOD. Beating myself up over not being good enough doesn't fit that requirement. I'll just do it my way and see what happens.