We’re at this lookout point near our hostel, it’s on a ledge overlooking the city and the view is stunning, but we’re not facing the lights sparkling in the night. I’m nose to nose with the most beautiful, incredible man and we’re devouring each other like we’ve been starving and just found ourselves at a feast.
Unbeknownst to each of us, we’ve been quietly drinking each other in from a distance for an entire week. Suddenly here we are, and in each other’s arms all of the things we’d hoped are coming true as we talk and kiss and talk some more. We only have a few hours. Is it too late, or are we lucky to have connected at all?
Regardless, we’re making the most of this moment, and the connection feels like something bigger than can be passed off as a simple romantic night with an exotic stranger in a foreign country. We eventually find our way back to a common room in the hostel, where we talk and touch until we can barely keep our eyes open.
As much as we don’t want morning to come, it inevitably does. He is also leaving Portugal, there’s no discussion of “what if” or “what now,” there are bags to be packed and flights to be caught and real lives waiting thousands of miles away.
We sit in the back of a taxi together, he holds my hand the entire drive, and doesn’t let go as we walk through the airport. At my gate he kisses me, even though his friend is with us, and then I turn and leave without a backward glance.
My journal entry from then is short on details: “Traveling is a bit of a head trip… Lisbon was brilliant. I met someone that I could see myself spending a LOT of time with, except for the fact that about 4 hours after we realized how compatible we are and how into each other we were, we had to part.”
You know what sucks? Wanting to spend time with someone, except they’re 13,155 kilometres away. And I REALLY wanted to spend time with Nick. I couldn’t stop thinking about him, and I messaged him almost immediately after I returned to Canada to tell him as much.
Ten years ago international texting was exorbitantly expensive, so our best option for staying in touch ended up being Facebook messages and live chat. We may not have been able to hang out in person, but we made good use of our virtual hang out options. We messaged almost daily, long, detailed missives where we learned about each other’s lives, jobs, families, likes & dislikes, dreams & goals, and everything in between. When the 16 hour time difference allowed us to be online at the same time we would live chat, sometimes for hours. And every once in a while we would talk on the phone, so we could hear each other’s voice and laugh.
Often when you meet someone while traveling there is a strong immediate connection, but rarely is it lasting. But with Nick and I the spark not only remained, it exploded. The more we talked, the more we wanted to talk. The more we learned about each other, the more connected we became. We would each wake up to our respective morning and immediately check for a new message.
Weeks went by, and months passed. Our communications showed no sign of slowing down. Now we most often chatted about our day to day life, but with a mix of future desires – like my dream of having a lemon tree in the backyard, his goal of running his own business, places we would like to live, and destinations we wanted to travel through.
We often mentioned seeing each other again, but strangely that was one thing we didn’t get into specific detail about.
As time moved forward I became more and more certain that I wanted to find a way to be with Nick, however he was literally on the opposite side of the world, and I still had to live my daily life. I started a new job, I moved to a different house, I hung out with my friends. I felt somewhat stagnant and frustrated: I knew I didn’t want to stay in Calgary, I didn’t know what I wanted to do for work, and I had no answers as to what to do next. I did know that I wanted to move forward, I wanted to make some big life decisions and start feeling like I was accomplishing things in my 30’s. The wanderlust of my 20’s was fading away, I was ready for more – whatever that meant.by McKinnley
“But what do you WANT to do?” my friend asked me, as we sat enjoying the spring weather after devouring giant bowls of ramen for lunch.
There are a lot of things I want to do, however, it didn’t take me long to come up with the number one item on that list, “What I really really want, almost more than anything right now, is to take some time off work. I would be soooo happy to just NOT WORK for two months.”
“So, why don’t you?” .. And I started to cry.
Wisdom. Insight. The gentle nudgings of those who know you best.
I’ve known for awhile that I need some time off. Time to indulge in housework and yardwork and organization. Time to finally catch up with the friends who work opposite schedules from me. Time to visit my Grandma. Time to research all the crazy business ideas I’ve got rolling around in my brain. Time to cook. Time to lavish attention on my handsome man. Time to sit back and enjoy the upcoming summer weather and all the summer activities that go along with it!
For the past few months, every time a friend or customer tells me they’re not working right now, my response has been, “Funemployed?! Awesome!!” It’s garnered a few raised eyebrows, which I’ve barely noticed since I immediately slip into daydream mode. But I know how The Universe works: The things you focus on, think about, wish for, are the things that start showing up in your life. “I can’t keep telling The Universe how much I want to not work, because then that’s going to happen, and what on earth will I do if I lose my job??” Cue anxiety, stress, and despair.. because although work hasn’t been the same lately, I didn’t have a back up plan, I didn’t want to leave, I was resisting change.
But funny things happen when you open yourself up to possibility. “Maybe I need to come talk to your boss,” I continued our lunch conversation, since her boss happens to also be a previous boss of mine, and I’m confident he’d be open to the idea of my return. And then he walked in the door. For reals. We had a quick chat. “Call me any time,” he told me. Ok then. Next, as I walked to my car, I decided to pop into a place nearby to say hi to another friend. I sat at the bar while she worked around me, and we chatted. And then I realized how comfortable and happy I always am there.. “Hey, would you hire me part time, starting in August?” “Uh, absolutely!! In fact, I was just putting out into The Universe that I need more people that I know and trust to come work for me!” And then I knew that this was really really for reals what I want, and need.
I went home and typed up my resignation letter. I didn’t even write a draft, just typed it and hit Print. Less than 24 hours later it was official.
Sure, it’s a little scary, and it’s a little sad, but it feels so damn good! It feels right. And it’s the right way for me to leave a company that’s been so important to me – on my terms, and on a positive note. And it’s hella exciting!!!! There are big opportunities coming down the pipes to me, I know it with every fibre of my being.
So that. Life. She’s a funny one.
A couple of gems to wrap things up: The first was posted by a friend, a quote from an article about Mercury being in Retrograde (yeah yeah, hippies everywhere..)
“Our lives will only be as amazing as the chances we let ourselves take.” Yes. 100% Yes.
The second was my Note From The Universe, sent to me yesterday:
“You can “dance” with the illusions of time and space, McKinnley, choosing your “steps” based upon things and events as they now are, or you can dance with your dreams, choosing your steps based upon things and events as they will be.
And I bet you can guess which steps will perpetuate today’s illusions, and which ones will change everything…
I’m not even remotely athletic, and how good of shape I’m in is highly questionable (After a hike a couple of years ago, a friend who was with me commented, “I’ve heard about people like you – you’re one of those fat skinny people!!”).. I’ve been blessed with great genetics, and a career that keeps me on my feet and moving all day every day, but overall fitness = FAIL.
Then I hit my 30’s, and all the physical capabilities I’d taken for granted for three decades suddenly weren’t so readily available: My knees started hurting when I climbed stairs. Things I’d been carrying or moving at work for years were now a struggle. I’d become winded at the slightest exertion. I had to *gasp* start asking for help!
Having never exercised, I had no idea where to start. Someone gave me a free pass to a gym – which I actually went to, once, where I promptly acquired a case of severe anxiety, and never returned.
A friend suggested I join her in a yoga class. Being kind of a hippie yoga seemed right up my alley… But the hot studio was intimidating: I’m prone to dehydration, I don’t like getting sweaty, AND HOW WOULD I KNOW WHAT TO DO?? She somehow convinced me to go with her. And then go again.
I kind of thought that once I got past my excuses, yoga and I would fall madly in love. That’s not exactly what happened. For nearly two years yoga and I had an on-again off-again relationship, and even when I was practicing semi-regularly, I never looked forward to it. In fact, when yoga came up in conversation I often admitted to not liking it! “I have to do something,” was my response to the confused expressions on their faces.
However a shift was happening: I started going to yoga even when nobody could join me, I found myself maneuvering my schedule around my favourite classes, and lo and behold, I began to notice that the poses were easier some days, my limbs seemed to be getting stronger, everyday tasks that had become a struggle no longer phased me, and I could walk into a power class in a different city while on vacation without being the least bit intimidated.
Still, I wouldn’t have described yoga as being a big part of my life.
And then, about a month ago, I dislocated a rib. There’s not even a good story to go along with my injury, but it’s prevented me from doing many things I want to do – which is incredibly frustrating.
Suddenly, now that I can’t do yoga, it’s all I want to do. Turns out I DO actually like yoga, a lot. I miss it, fiercely. Funny how that works, isn’t it? That we don’t realize how much we love something until we can’t have it. (Humans are strange creatures…)
I’m attempting to be patient while my muscles and ligaments knit themselves back together (a challenge for me), and in the interim I’m dreaming about amazing yoga sequences I want to tackle one day. Turns out I have a passion, a goal, a desire, a burning for more! And I’m gonna do it!!!! Sure, I may be 36 and a little soft around the edges, but I see ABSOLUTELY NO REASON why I can’t do the splits, or master a handstand, or touch my toes to my head:
Check out these incredible videos for more mind-blowing inspiration:
(I’m ITCHING to do some acro yoga – anybody wanna partner up with me??)
And then this = HOLY CRAP PUNCHERSby McKinnley