When it Snows on Palm Trees

So the original plan was to write my next posts recapping some of the adventures I had in California and Alaska before I start my new adventure in Florida. The plan did not include being stranded in middle-of-nowhere Georgia due to an ice storm (what!?) that shut down the highways into Florida, which is just too good not to write about. The irony of having just lived in Alaska, now en route to the sunshine state, and watching layers of ice build up on palm trees is also a test of will, patience, and sanity.

This is the ugly part of being a traveler. Between assignments, I have to unpack/repack everything I need, coordinate travel plans, all while talking with recruiters, completing tons of applications/paperwork, interviewing, and keeping faith that an assignment opens in the setting/city I’m heading to. I’m currently working on my 5th assignment. Fortunately, each time I’ve heightened my threshold before full panic mode a little more.. That still didn’t stop me from considering shipping my car back up to Ketchikan because no assignments were opening up. (Florida tends to be a hot spot for temporary workers in the winter, who would have thought..) But my efforts were to get to something near my Grandmother to be able to spend time with her.

There was another short period of time after I drove up to Northern California from LA that I was hoping for a position in Napa. I lived out of my car, bouncing between AirBnBs with all of my worldly possessions and my Dad commented his concern that his daughter with a doctorate was essentially homeless. That was the first time in my journey that I really questioned what I was doing. I was 3,000 miles away and had no one, no home, and no way to know when a job would open up. For fear of sounding too dramatic, obviously my worst case scenario was only to pack up and head home. I had a job there and all of the comfort I left behind. But the same drive that had pushed me into this adventure in the first place was like the little devil on my shoulder (or the angel, depending how you look at it) telling me to keep going for it. I need to give a whole lot of credit to a book that I was reading then as well, called “You Are a Bad Ass. How to Stop Doubting your Greatness and Start Living and Awesome Life” by Jen Sincero. [*Side note: if you’re looking for any kind of inspiration, read this book. It’s awesome, incredibly witty, and has given me so much perspective.] The book brought to light that the universe is going to test you to see how serious you are about getting what you want out of life. There are times that you’re going to feel like everything that can go wrong is going wrong, or you’re grinding your wheels and just not moving anywhere. It’s easy to fall back on what’s not scary or risky or exhausting. But when you look at it as a game, “This is just the universe throwing out all the hoops to see if I really want whatever is so great on the other side,” it’s a whole lot more motivating.

I’ve learned about myself that I subconsciously put expectations on things, including myself. When things don’t work out as I plan, I panic. I strive for efficiency and I think I’ve always put pressure on myself for this. By allowing myself to see how beautifully everything works out when I fully trust that they will, no matter what I have to work through the get there, I completely lose that stress. I enjoy the journey.

Back in California, I decided to wait it out and just went for a walk to breathe.  It honestly seemed like a movie when I sat down on a park bench and got a phone call for an interview in the city I was already in. I’ll get into this more when I eventually write about California, but I met some pretty awesome people while I was there and started a love affair with Northern California that I never would have had the opportunity to create if I had packed up and headed home.

Since I’ve been traveling, this phenomenon has happened to me over and over. When I initially moved out to LA from CT, I shipped my car blindly to my uncle’s house a week before I flew out just to be able to get it out west within the time crunch, even though I hadn’t landed a job yet. I opened up the search to anywhere in California or Oregon. While I could have found something essentially anywhere on the west coast, the very first facility that called to interview happened to be only 30 minutes from my family in LA. I felt so lucky to be with family for my first time every really being away from home and I was able to create such a great relationship with them, which I was never able to having grown up on opposite sides of the country.

And even yesterday, ¾ the way into my road trip from CT to FL, the job came through.  While I could equate this all to luck, I truly feel the universe is telling me that I’m right where I need to be right now. The work that goes into the transitions, the anxiety, the starting over every 3 months in places you don’t know, with all new people and new jobs is the test for how bad you want the reward. The reward is the incredible adventure, the learning, the new relationships you make, the memories, the creation for yourself of the life you want to live.

To my core, I believe that everything happens for a reason. The tests and the hardships have to happen, and when you learn how to look at them, you learn how to face the universe head on, and be confident that what’s on the other side is going to be beautiful. Until this morning, the trip from CT has been perfect. All in Philadelphia, I got to spend time with my college friends, see my Alaska friends get married, and meet up with a California friend for New Years.  A pretty amazing coincidence, but also what I take as yet another sign that I’m where I’m supposed to be. Savannah GA was planned to be the last stop for my sister (my co-pilot) and I before our last leg down to FL this morning. [*Side note: Savannah seems like a super cool city and I hope to go back there. If you ever go, eat at The River House in the historic district. AMAZING seafood.] After a terrifying hour on the untreated highways surrounded by even more terrifying drivers, we aborted mission and found a very cute bed and breakfast to wait it out for another day. While I’m not yet in FL, I’m safe, I now have a job and a very excited Grandmother to head toward, and more time to spend with my sister.

Like they say, life is about learning to dance in the ice storm. (Unless you’re from the south, then, taken literally, stay home and don’t ever drive in inclement weather)

Hannah

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