There was a moment, I remember it like it was yesterday, that Mark and I decided to give everything up and do what made us happy. Having lived the first half of our lives raising children and going to jobs we both hated, there came a breaking point. A point in time where we just couldn’t do it anymore. We began to question everything. It didn’t make sense that we would continue to do something on a continual basis that we loathed so much. That’s just crazy, right? I think it was this breaking point that began our shift in awareness. This shift came as emotions, waves that pounded on us. We rode these emotional waves for another couple of years, being too afraid to do anything else.
The breaking point came after an especially hard Chicago winter. If you’ve ever been to Chicago in winter, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s beyond cold. Bone deep. To the very core of your soul, frozen. The snow was so high it covered the bushes out our front window, which gave the illusion of living in an underground bunker. And the silence, the stillness of everything. Time stops during winter, because you are waiting. Waiting for the sun to come out, waiting for it to stop snowing, waiting for the salt truck to come by and break up the monotony of the day. For us, this was not living. It was killing time before death came for us.
I think when you live in these kinds of conditions for a very long time, you toughen up. I know we did. It was this toughness that allowed us to make the decision to sell everything, grab our 2 dogs (the kids had moved out by this time) and a couple of suitcases and get the hell out of Dodge. We were done. Whatever happened after we left, we could handle it. We were tough.
The fun part was deciding where we wanted to go. We could go anywhere. Nothing was holding us back. After a bit of discussion, we decided to move to Florida. It was warm, the ocean was there and it wasn’t called the Sunshine State for nothing! Plus, Mark’s mother lived there and was getting up in age. She was alone and starting to become more and more forgetful. We wanted to be there for her and make the rest of her life a little easier.
By the end of that year we had sold or given just about everything we owned away. That in itself was one of the most liberating things I’ve ever gone through. Not at first… no, there were tears at first. It was hard seeing everything we had worked so hard for go out the door. That was the moment for me when I realized I wasn’t what I owned. My possessions didn’t define me. They had all my life, without me even knowing it. I had to let that part of myself die, so I could continue to move forward.
The night before Mark and I were heading out on our road trip, I remember standing in the middle of my empty living room looking around. My stomach was flipping, my palms were sweating and I was trembling inside. Seeing my life reduced to this empty room was almost too much for me. But there was no turning back now, there was no plan B. This was it, sink or swim. In that moment, I felt as if I was changing, shedding an old skin.
The dawn broke the next morning and we loaded up the dogs with the excitement of two teenagers. We didn’t know what the Universe had in store for us, but we were jumping in head first anyway.
Up next – Arriving in Florida…….