How Did You End Up On An Island? PART 1

“How did you end up living on an island?” This question is posed to me on a near-weekly basis. The end result was a few decades in the making, so it defies any succinct answer, but I’ll give it a shot.

Where Were You Before You Moved To The Island?

After graduating law school and obtaining a Master’s Degree in Education in the Midwest, I moved to South Florida (where my parents and brother had relocated) and worked for four years as an educational/legal consultant to school districts across the southeastern United States.

Then, for a variety of reasons, I moved north to a wonderful Midwestern city that is unfortunately prone to long, grey, cold winters. For 10 years I practiced in a downtown law firm, focusing on school law and business/transactional matters. With everything you hear about law firms, I felt fortunate that I liked and respected my colleagues and the Firm’s clients. Although I was not passionate about the actual work, I had found my groove, worked long hours at it, and just clicked along in the life I was living.

2009 brought a roller coaster of traumatic events in my personal life. I regained my footing in 2010, but I began to approach life from a slightly different perspective. I wanted to-the-core happiness. I didn’t want to just keep going through the motions. I sought personal fulfillment. Blah, blah, blah. 🙂

Things were calm and I was okay and life was fine. But I felt a restlessness about me, a dissatisfaction, a haunting sense that I wasn’t happy enough – if you can quantify such a thing – for the rest of my life. I knew, or at least believed, that there had to be more to life than what I had tapped into.

So, I began to think about making some changes. Specifically, I began to think about career change and geographic change.

Why Did You Quit Your Job?

I started to slowly take the usual next steps associated with career/geographic change: researching resume/CV formats for career-changers, updating my resume, contacting others to serve as references, researching other cities (particular nods to Nashville, Charleston and Wilmington), researching job opportunities in those areas, visiting and even browsing rental properties in Nashville, my top contender, and talking to a local realtor about listing my condo for sale.

Visiting Nashville, playfully “praying for” a job teaching in Vanderbilt’s College of Education, maybe my dream job?

But even with my growing interest in Nashville and exploration of other career possibilities, I kept hitting a wall. I couldn’t bring myself to take steps much beyond thinking about it. I couldn’t even finish my resume. This lack of follow-through was foreign to my little organized self since I usually love to cross items off of my ever-present lists of things to do.

Something was going on. In wondering what was holding me back from the typical next steps, I kept feeling pulled in a direction that didn’t make sense to my logical brain . . . take a year off.

“What?! Take a year off? And not have a job? Not have a specific plan? That is hardly a realistic option! I’ve ALWAYS worked. Even in college, every year I went home to waitress instead of going on a Spring Break. Besides, I’m a responsible grown-up now. You don’t just leave one job without having the next one lined up, especially in this economy! Puhleez.” My Type-A brain scoffed at the very notion.

However, try as I might to redirect this impulse, it kept coming back to me. Eventually, having promised myself to never again ignore those quiet nudgings that guide us from within, I finally gave in. When I gave notice, my law partners were wonderfully supportive. Some encouraged me to consider a leave of absence instead of a total break from employment with the Firm. But I knew that I had to be completely untethered and relieved of all obligations or self-imposed time frames in order to make the most of my time off and really keep the options wide open.

I left my law firm early in 2011 amid tears, fears and high hopes for the unknown. My “plan” was to simply BE for a few months, then start exploring other career/location possibilities in full force. I’d budgeted savings to give myself an entire year off. My job for the next year was going to be to design an exciting new life, one that was more in alignment with my true self and how I really felt inside, now that I would have the luxury of time to sift through the clutter of our hectic lives and figure mine out!

Little did I know how things would continue to unfold . . .

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