May 26 2011

Traveling Solo Seemed Far Too Overwhelming (And Lonely)

Peggy McPartland

I’ve always wanted to travel and see the world. I grew up in a small, rural town and couldn’t wait to get out of it. I wanted to be away from the small-mindedness, the conservative thoughts and the oppressed feeling everyone seemed to have. I wanted to explore big cities, meet new people and become fluent in another language. There was an incredible world out there and I was missing out! 

Instead, as crazy young people do, I got married. Unfortunately, it was to someone who I was incompatible with on almost every level.  It took awhile, but I finally realized life didn’t have to be like this and we parted ways.

But then I was alone. So I waited. And I waited some more. I knew some day Prince Charming would come along and sweep me off my feet. He’d be tall, dark, handsome and bilingual! We’d travel the world, spend time in exotic places, hike tall mountains and he’d feed me grapes as he looked longingly into my eyes.  I read that somewhere so I knew it must be true! But I’m still waiting. Damn.

Fortunately, I came to my senses and realized that if I waited any longer, I would never experience the world in the way I wanted to. I would never hike those mountains, learn that language, know the incredible people of the world and might even (gasp!) become a bitter old woman. Yikes! That was enough to get me off my butt!

I checked out Meetup.com and for the first time in my life was surrounded by like-minded people! I hiked, skied, snowshoed, backpacked, volunteered and met amazing people from all over the world. If you haven’t checked them out, do so. Now. It will change your life! I promise.

I began to find my place in the world and trust who I am. When I had the opportunity to go to Thailand with a friend, I jumped at it. Unfortunately, our travel styles were polar opposites. Seriously! She preferred to plan where to stay, where to eat, and on what day. I’m not known to be a planner in my day to day life so there was no way in hell I could be on a schedule while traveling. It just wasn’t going to work and I’d pretty much decided to skip the whole thing. I could always wait some more. Maybe Prince Charming would come this time!

Fortunately, I have friends who threatened to kick my butt if I didn’t go. They assured me Southeast Asia is one of the easiest places in the world to travel alone. The more people I talked to, the more women I found who’d traveled solo. They were not only completely safe, but loved every minute of their travels and the freedom that traveling solo brought them. If they could do it, then surely I could!

So I booked my flight and, yes, set off to Southeast Asia alone!

From the moment I set foot in Thailand, people were kind, generous and open. It amazed me. Here I was a strange white woman who didn’t speak the language and yet people wanted to engage me, know about me and what I thought of their beautiful country. They welcomed me, helped me when I got lost, and invited me into their lives.

Too many of us are convinced the world is a dangerous place to be; that we’re better off staying home with the covers over our heads. We’re selling ourselves short by buying into overactive imaginations and letting fear and uncertainty keep us from experiencing life fully.

The freedom of traveling alone is amazing. You’re accountable to no one but yourself! You eat when you want, sleep when you’re tired and see and do whatever seems right at the moment. It’s an incredible feeling!

“Alone” and “lonely” are two very different words. It’s a big beautiful world out there and even if you strike out on your own, chances are you won’t be alone for long!

So book that flight. Trust yourself. Trust your instincts. Trust the people around you. And just go!

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May 19 2011

But is it irresponsible?

Peggy McPartland

Wow, that’s a tough one.  Am I being irresponsible?

Choosing a new lifestyle isn’t easy. Especially one that doesn’t fit within the idea of a “typical” way of living. I’ve spent the last 25 years focused on my career, building financial security and living in the corporate world. It hasn’t always been easy. There’ve been plenty of times of crazy intense stress, long hours and financial setbacks. But I’ve weathered them all and made a comfortable life for myself. So one has to wonder, would I be irresponsible to walk away from it all?

Irresponsible? Not a chance! It’s just one more of the many excuses we’ll come up with as we begin to expand and follow our dreams. Just one more argument to maintain the status quo.

I’ve always taken the safe route. I’ve been oh so rational. But that’s what we were taught to do – work hard, save money and think about the future. Definitely not an easy mindset to change. And I know I’m not alone here!

For far too long we’ve believed in doing what’s expected rather than what feels right. Too many shoulds and not enough I’d rathers.  We’re much too rational and distrustful of our instincts.

Some people are perfectly content with a single-minded focus, living life as “expected”, but that’s not us. We don’t need to continue to try to force ourselves into that mindset with the skewed idea that if we don’t, we’re not being responsible, not being adults. We aren’t “everyone” so let’s stop trying to fit our round selves into those square holes and then feel like something’s wrong with us if we can’t when we know there’s a better way. This is about what’s right for us, not anyone else.

Our natural way of being in the world is filled with diverse interests, options, variety and openness. We see things a little differently, don’t necessarily follow the rules and have an intense dislike of routine. But that’s not irresponsibility, it’s our innate way of experiencing the world.

No, we’re not being irresponsible. We’d be irresponsible if we didn’t trust our instincts and fill our lives with the daily joy, passion and variety  we so deeply crave. So let’s get out there and rock the world!

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May 12 2011

And so it begins…

Peggy McPartland
After much agonizing, uncertainty and fortunately encouragement, I begin my blog.  I know the best thing to do is just start and I’ll find the right path along the way.  I’m hoping in doing so I’ll give you insight, encouragement and the necessary tools you need as you join me on this journey.

As a woman in my 50s, it’s been tough at times to find guidance as I explore giving up this comfortable, secure life and set out to change it in every way. A transition to location independence and a more minimalist lifestyle can be pretty scary at any point, but so close to retirement it’s seeming  incredibly daunting! There are so many younger people out there living their lives on their own terms. They inspire me yet I’m at such a different stage of my life. Lifestyle design feels a bit different at our age than in our 20s, but I trust that regardless of where we are in life, we can all do the same. Fear only means I’m stepping outside of my comfort zone which is the only way I’ll begin to make these incredible changes. And so it begins…

As I travel this path, I want to share with you ways to embrace living a simpler life, how to travel solo, learn a new language, develop a location independent business and live outside the norms of society – all from the perspective of a woman in midlife.

It would be great if you’d share your comments and suggestions as I begin this journey and find my way.

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