Homeward Bound to New York
| March 22, 2017 |
No, I’m not going to talk about the “Incredible Journey” in the ’93 movie, although that does make me feel warm and fuzzy inside to think about. I’m talking about my homeward bound journey for the holidays this year, and all the other times I’ve needed home. There’s nothing better than reuniting with my loved ones after traveling, allowing for myself to reset with some quality time with family and friends.
Not to boast or anything, but I an entirely convinced I have the best family in all the lands. In 2016, my family supported me through every transition I made. My Mom, Dad, and two brothers were waiting for me with open arms when I decided to move from South Florida to Washington in May, and again in December at the termination of my first travel assignment in Washington State.
I have to admit; I feel I’ve put my family through some emotional turmoil. I was only supposed to be in Washington for three months initially (July-October 2016), but when I realized how satisfied I was, I decided to extend one more month… and then another two on top of that. Essentially, I was in Olympia for six months on the same travel assignment. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with doing this if you have the flexibility and desire. Yet, I couldn’t help but feel guilty for empty promises of my return home that only led to an extended time in Washington. Add that to my decision to visit a friend in Florida in late October, and I really felt like I was failing as a family-devoted individual.
When it was time to drop off my rental Jeep Renengade at Enterprise, hitch a ride to Seattle-Tacoma Airport from a dear friend, and fly across country on Christmas Eve Eve, I was more than ready to be in New York. Turns out, I needed this time more than I thought. I was enthralled by the fact I’d soon be reunited with the four people (+ Nana/Nonno, aunts, uncles, and cousins) who I know I could never live without. There they were, waiting for me to come HOME…
I couldn’t imagine not wanting to be home for the holidays. I know some people that can go years without seeing their families for Christmas, but I’m not capable of that. I am lucky that I grew up with a tight-knit family where my grandparents live a few miles away, and family gatherings could be planned on a whim. We got together about every other week with my mother’s Italian family. Though we saw my father’s Irish side less frequently, some of my closest family members come from his blood.
I’m pretty sure everyone knows who my Nonno is, and most of my friends could identify my mother’s laugh from across the room. My dad’s corny jokes never get old, Nicholas’ stories never cease to leave me in tears of laughter, and Kenneth’s philosophical outlook on life leaves me constantly contemplating life’s complexities.
Though I knew a piece of me was going to miss the mountains in Washington while home, I needed these supportive, loving people… and some time to establish what was next in store for me. As a travel Physical Therapist, there is a lot of freedom to life that I’m not used to. Plus, this also forces me to somewhat have a decision-making process. Usually, I’m decent at knowing what I want… but this time, I really didn’t know what I wanted next, because I felt so many parts of Washington were still unexplored. I figured I needed to go somewhere new to grow more, but had no true intentions. I had ideas, but they were cosmic in nature. They weren’t entirely connected to my being. I was feeling so truly, unavoidably lost by the time I made it back to New York for the holidays. My insides were in a state of panic, as I had no idea what my “next step” was going to be. I only knew what January would look like. Nothing further. I reflected on all this in the New Year, when I set my soulful goals for 2016.
Yes, I love the idea of the unknown. But, it’s tough when all your family is asking what your next job is going to be, what you wanted to do next, how you’d make ends meet, etc., etc…
I didn’t have answers for myself, but was ready to let them come to me. Kind of.
On January first, my parents and I went to Jones Beach State Park Field 10 with hope of seeing the heads of seals bobbing in the distance. We didn’t see seals, but we did catch a magical sunset. And I did reflect on all my intense feelings of fear and lack of clarity.
Something interesting and heartbreaking happened when I was home. I got into a fight with the person I’ve always counted on to understand my craving for the unknown, wilderness and mountains, spirituality, connection, and all my deepest contemplations. We hit a breaking point on the ski mountain, where we looked at each other and realized for the first time we weren’t understanding each other. We had spent so much time apart, that we forgot who each other were. We forgot how to connect to each other, and see eye-to-eye.
This hurt, because I knew what I wanted my intentions to be. I knew in my heart family was #1 to me. I knew in my heart I wanted to grow in order to better serve others, but why wasn’t that message being relayed? Was I even truly relaying it to myself?Before I left Washington, I was convinced I needed to take a one-way trip to Hawaii. And, I told everyone about it. I wanted to break entirely free from ANY constraints. I was ready to live in an island paradise, and that was THAT. I had a friend that may have met me in Hawaii, which thrilled me because I always dreamed of going with someone meaningful. Yet… was it going to be meaningful? I wasn’t sure, so I started seeking ways to add meaning.
I spent days searching Work Away’s website, hoping to stumble upon some unique opportunity in Hawaii (or… anywhere) to work in exchange for living spaces. I stumbled upon a meditation center in Hawaii where I was convinced I would feel my calling. I emailed and applied for the volunteer position in exchange for room/board in a sustainable living community. Yet, when I had the Skype interview, I felt a little confused. I wasn’t excited about the opportunity. It felt empty. I wouldn’t be able to use any of my exact skills to provide for anyone, and I’d mostly be doing housekeeping.
Now I REALLY felt lost. I had been convinced it was my time for Hawaii, because I spoke it into being. I didn’t let it come to me. I started chasing a dream that wasn’t ready for me. For the first time, I felt ready to let go of a “dream.” I wasn’t going to run with this one, despite having proclaimed it to be my path. No jobs were aligning with my core desired feelings, and I also wasn’t entirely convinced I wanted to travel solo just yet. I have a ton of research done for my next big opportunity to go… but for now, Hawaii is a dream of my future.
At one point, my mind had spiraled even further down the path of “wanderlust,” where I actually lost direction, and I started to feel the ‘lustful’ portion of my wandering soul. I looked at schools in Vietnam, mindfulness practices in Thailand, and organic farms all over the world. I got excited over an abundance of ideas, but my enthusiasm was met with an intuitive feel that I wouldn’t be fulfilled.
I thought, There must be something else waiting for me…On January 4, I wrote in my journal:
I am officially LOST. I have no specific desires, and I’m feeling unsure in many ways. I was positive I wanted to go to Hawaii, but am doubting my ability to go solo. I have no health insurance. My family thinks (they’re not) #1 or a priority and I’m running from them and non-emotional…
I know I am not alone… But I feel alone…
I miss working with kids… and don’t know where I want to be.
I want to be on a mountain with water nearby. Water that’s flowing so I can close my eyes, feel it, and allow it to resonate with my soul.
I want to be connecting and learning with like-minded individuals, free from constraints of society and western minds.
I reflected on my love for my work, but how I somehow wanted something MORE as a Physical Therapist. Yes, I enjoyed my travel job in Olympia where I worked in outpatient orthopedics (mostly adults), yet a piece of me was longing for my passion in working with children with special needs. I also somehow wanted to be OUTSIDE, and feel the way I did in Tanzania, Africa, like I was contributing to some greater good. I know this feeling will take a while to develop, but I also had no idea in what sense I could chase this goal. I’ve had so many ideas, and no idea how to put them into action. I just kept thinking about my desire to feel “connected to myself so I can better serve the world.”
What the hell does THAT mean, Kristen?!
I actually had no idea. I just wanted to feel it. And I KNEW it would happen, but holy crap it was already feeling impossible that I’d ever get there.
I do know this: my intuition was telling me I needed to let go, give it a break, and let the answers come to me.
Eventually, they came. The answers are always there, blowing in the wind.
Stay tuned, Fellow Dreamers.