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Special Edition: My 50th Birthday

When I awoke this morning, the calendar revealed a new day – November 11, 2019.

My 50th Birthday!

I started this blog 2 years ago, in November of 2017.  In my earliest posts, I shared my intention to take a career sabbatical to travel with my family when I turned 50.

We made it!  I pause and let it all sink in.

This didn’t happen by accident, waking up today in Spain.  We have saved and planned for almost 3 years to make this happen.

I am a CFP® Professional and I suppose that has helped.  Through the years, I have developed a mental framework for how to play offense and defense, financially speaking.  I have set and achieved other life goals, so why not throw in a sabbatical savings spreadsheet?

Also, our household income has grown as my husband and I have gained professional knowledge and experience.  Since we come from modest means, we chose to keep living at earlier levels and make wise use of the raises.  We knocked out some household maintenance issues, paid off all debt (except for the mortgage), and stashed cash in a money market.  That discipline has led to the achievement of an amazing life goal!

I suppose I should be posting celebratory selfies on Facebook, but I’m not.  This isn’t a vacation, and I don’t really want to put myself out there like that.  I’m on sabbatical, and such active self-promotion sounds like work.

Just believe me when I say that it took a heck of a lot to get here.

In hindsight, it wasn’t just the saving or the sacrifice, the details, the de-junking, or the hundreds of tasks to be accomplished.  Although yes, all of that was required.

From the seemingly small decision to make a big change, came Resistance.

Resistance is where the greatest battle was fought.

Some of the Resistance was from within.  There were days, weeks and even months of living with a painful, lonely, internal struggle.  I grieved what I was leaving behind, while fearful of what was to come.

I dredged up past failures, insecurities, rejection, feelings of guilt and unworthiness.  What did any of that have to do with saving for a sabbatical?  It didn’t make any sense logically, but this internal resistance was real.

Some of the Resistance was from without.  At the risk of seeming paranoid, there were exhausting days when I felt the Universe was conspiring against me and was fighting the life-shift that I wanted to make.  Something “out there” didn’t want this to happen and was testing me to see if I would give up.

Unexpected medical bills, household repairs and replacements, and challenges with our kids all hit in a compressed period of time.  Life was getting expensive, financially and emotionally, and we hadn’t even gotten on the plane yet.

Leaving behind our employers, kids’ schools, home, family and friends was also rough.  There was nothing in our cultural, professional, or social circles that normalized the idea of a Midlife Escape.

Why would any normal, healthy, well-functioning adult subject herself to this?  Quite simply, the dream and the prize were so compelling that I was willing to do whatever it took.

After almost 3 years, we had jumped so many of those internal and external hurdles that we couldn’t have stopped the forward momentum if we had wanted to.  The vision had taken on a life of its own.

By then, I felt as though the outcome had been known since the beginning of time, even though yes, we had chosen it.  I am neither a philosopher nor a theologian and I realize this may sound woo-woo to you…but the human super-power of choice is profound and we can all summon it if we are brave enough to claim it.  This is what it felt like to fight so hard (and win!) against such strong internal and external Resistance.

So today, I’m grateful for life – for my own life and for the life that is all around me!  We have wonderful family and friends, a home in a peaceful, parklike neighborhood, and the kids’ schools back in the States. All of this will be waiting for us when we return.  I am also grateful for the start of a new chapter as I enter another decade in this world.

For my birthday, we enjoyed a quiet lunch of Paella Valenciana at a beachfront restaurant on the Mediterranean.  My husband and 2 amazing daughters were with me to celebrate, and we walked off our lunch in a light jacket, while basking in the peace, quiet and sunshine.

Apart from paella and flamenco, beaches and sangria, I sense that I am also here for some deep inner work.  Taking time to do nothing, to sit and listen, to self-care, and to enjoy time with my husband and kids, is perhaps the “work” at hand.

I tend to resist Rest, of course.  I want to be productive and to accomplish something during my sabbatical.  But what if Rest is productive, that doing nothing is really doing something deep?  Perhaps there is wisdom in life’s quiet, unseen places and it’s ok to hang out there for a time.  I will have 9 months of sabbatical to contemplate this and more.

Thank you for joining me on the journey, and Happy 50th Birthday to Me!

Also, hurray for my blog, which is LIVE again, as of today.

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