The aftermath of my reality check

I recently wrote about doing a reality check of our lifestyle. I like to do regular check-ins with myself as well as with Tigger. I think they’re important. Sometimes, though, they end up radically changing our direction. The aftermath of my recent reality check was a bit unexpected, and it reinforced some important ideals.

After expressing my recently recognized need for a feeling of community and having local friends, I noticed my depressive mood deepened. This is completely unacceptable to me, so I pondered its cause. I realized that recognizing that Southeast Asia was not going to be our base and that it most likely would end up being Europe, the place my heart has always felt the most connected with, caused a bit of internal crisis.

We had committed to be in Japan until after the new year. But I need to find a base, a place that feels like community for us. My gut kept screaming “It’s in Europe!” Every time I acknowledged it, my heart sank further.

The aftermath of a reality check; Spain

I began to felt trapped here. “We can’t leave for Europe until we’re done in Japan.”

The dark clouds moved in more densely.

Feeling trapped is one of the most intense emotions. Avoiding that feeling is one of the things I love about our life. When we’re done in an area, we just move. It’s a tremendous freedom to be able to say we’re changing continents next week. Or even tomorrow.

Not as a means of escape. We aren’t running away from something, but to it.

I began looking at airfares and quickly discovered there were several cities in Europe that could be reached via affordable airfare. We wouldn’t have much money left over after purchasing them, but we would, once again, be, well, free.

Discovering these airfares did not help my mood. It’s so hard seeing a relatively clear path to peace but feeling like you’re being restrained.

I have survived and overcome much to become the master of my own happiness. Feeling trapped is not only irritating, but it taps into my past and scratches at the scars.

I wrestled with it. I asked for dreams to guide me. Meanwhile, I tuned into my gut feelings. They’re rarely ever wrong. Finally, I made a decision.

Aftermath, feeling trapped

My mental health had to take precedence. As much as I absolutely abhor breaking a commitment, I could not let things continue to fester like this. I decided to say no to Japan and to leave Asia at the earliest possible moment.

Once I made that decision, I saw the clouds quickly vanish. My heart felt lighter. Joy and excitement returned to my day. Ideas began flowing again, flooding my mind and wanting to pour out of my fingertips. I wanted to sit down and paint. I was once again content.

Aftermath of putting happiness first

As excited as I was to spend time in Japan, I simply can’t prolong getting to Europe to begin looking for our base. We aren’t ready to stop traveling, but we want a place where we can start to become part of the community and build relationships while we continue to explore the world.

With that in mind, we’re headed to Italy next week. We have a 15-hour layover in Sri Lanka so will get to do a bit of exploring there. My bank account won’t sustain a long stay in Italy, so we will unfortunately only have a few days before we move on to Romania. That country has been calling to me for many years. Some of my ancestry hails from that region as well, and I look forward to experiencing that connection. I don’t know if Romania will be “it,” but that’s where we’ll begin the search for our base.

My heart sings for this, and I am so relieved to be taking this next step. You gotta follow your gut instincts, and you gotta pursue what brings you peace.

Making a decision for your own peace and happiness, that’s the best aftermath ever.

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  1. I totally understand your feeling of being trapped and how depressing that can be. I’ve felt it myself many times over the years. I can also understand your need for a base. I’ve been on the road for a year and as much as I love the freedom it gives I’d like to have a little place of my own to return to every now and then. We’re looking at Budapest as it’s incredibly cheap to buy there. Enjoy Romania! I just did a road trip there and loved it. I haven’t written about it yet but I’m happy to help if you’re looking for ideas on places to visit.

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    • It will be interesting to see where we finally end up. So many great, affordable places in Eastern Europe really.

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  2. I know very well this impression of being trapped and how it makes me spiral downward into the dark hole… Feeling free, feeling like you are in charge makes the whole difference. I am so very glad that once you made the right decision, the cloud lifted.

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  3. Hi Talon,
    How are you?
    I just wanted to say I’m very happy for you, and to wish you a nice journey towards Europe.
    I don”t know if it can be useful to you, but we have family in Romania : I’m sure they’d be glad to help you explore if you’d like.
    Anyways, we wish you all the best, and send a big hug to you and Tigger,
    Claire from Lyon

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    • Oh, that would be wonderful! I’ll send you a message. Hoping to see you guys again soon as well.

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  4. I believe in karmic bonds – I know we are sharing one – This post resonated very strongly with me. I am so happy to bring you great news about your journey towards Europe 🙂 check your facebook message Talon !!! Xmas is going to be awesome this year 🙂

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  5. bravo! finding what YOU need is more important than suffering. and when you DO get to japan, you’ll be in a better point in your life to enjoy it. right now, it’s europe. proud of you for listening!

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  6. As someone who is also loathe to forsake commitments and go back on her word, I know exactly the weight they can put on your shoulders and how hard it can be to back out of them, even when your heart is telling you that you want something else. Lately I’ve become really reluctant to publicize plans or commit to anything far in advance for fear that stating my intentions aloud will lock me into them without any kind of wiggle room. A few times on this trip I have felt “trapped” by plans that we have made and even though I don’t really want to follow through with them any longer, I have felt obligated to do so. During times like this, I have always felt more stressed and anxious. It’s the worst feeling when you feel like you’re not able to live the life you want to be living, simply because you made a few (arbitrary) choices several months back. It’s never easy to reshuffle your life and bow out of previous commitments but it sounds like you did a lot of soul-searching and made the right choice for you. Japan will always be there and you’ll surely enjoy it more whenever you do visit when it’s a trip you look forward to with excitement rather than feeling like it’s a chore. Good luck, and I look forward to hearing about Italy & Romania!

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    • Yes! Have really hated making plans, esp ones that are a few months away. I hate being somewhere and feeling like I either can’t leave or have to leave when I don’t want to. It just doesn’t feel good. And part of what I love the most about our life is being able to be so spontaneous with our movements and such.

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  7. Talon, thanks for another terrific share.

    The first 1dad1kid post I read a couple of months ago was your life story. Your unabashed honesty and the depth of your self-disclosure hooked me right away. I’ve been a daily visitor ever since. I also totally enjoy reading your sightseeing stuff. Someone commented the other day that your descriptions of places and things are so well done that as a reader you almost feel like you are there, and I couldn’t agree more. But what draws me most to your writing is when you focus on the connections between your geographic travels and your personal, human journey — how each affects the other, how they are so much a part of the other. This post (and the one it flowed from) is absolutely amazing stuff. In this part of your writing as well, your feelings and thought processes are so clearly presented as to give me the sense that I’m there with you having a conversation.

    I’ve had my own life-long struggles with depression. Following your personal journey has been so helpful because for the past several months I’ve been feeling my way through a deep mess of anxieties and catastrophic (depressive) thinking about hitting the road for the first time. Nothing has given me more hope and encouragement than being able to vicariously experience how you and several other bloggers in your depression series face these challenges and have amazingly fulfilling experiences as a result.

    A lot has changed in the past two months. Most of my irrational fears have dissipated, replaced by excitement and positive anticipation. I’m now just a hair’s breadth away from buying a ticket to Stockholm where my European trek will begin in early December.. Your openness has helped me to allow my own strengths, resources and confidence to rise above the doubts and negative thinking. Five weeks ago some examples of predominate thoughts I was having were: “What if I relapse?” “What if I get mugged and lose all my stuff?” “I might die of hypothermia if I can’t find a place to stay.” Now, however, my worst thought is: “What if I can’t find a decent shitter?” I’d say that’s progress.

    We all have our own deeply personal reasons and motivations for travel, and I suppose these become clearer with time. All I can say at this point is that I’m hoping my safe, dusty and static self-concept gets knocked off the shelf in ways that allow me to experience how much better and stronger I actually am than I’ve allowed myself to believe. I’m looking forward to the rewards of embracing the unexpected. And I’m also in search of community because I know that for me the experience of belonging – real belonging, as in shared intimacy – is antithetical to all of the distorted ways depression can define me if I allow it. At its core, depression feeds on and results in isolation. And, while Intimacy and community are not cure-alls, they can energize, soothe and enrich us, and go a helluva long way toward keeping the beast at bay.

    Thank you so much for helping me get started on my own geographic/cultural trek which I know is going to enrich my broader life journey beyond my wildest expectations. In fact, without even having set foot on a plane yet, this has already begun to happen. I promise I will pay it forward.

    I wish you all the best in your search for your own supportive community. With your great communication skills, openness, breadth of life experience and overall “cool-osity,” I have no doubt you will manage to create one wherever your base camp takes root.

    Peace and safe travels.

    Jev McKee

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    • Your comment has made my day. It really touched, humbled, and wowed me. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a beautiful note.

      I’m so happy to hear you’re preparing for your big adventure! Please do keep in touch. I’d love to hear how it goes.

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  8. Good for you, man. Always go with your gut, no matter what! Here’s to better and brighter days ahead for you and Tigger.

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  9. I can understand that feeling of committing to something and then feeling you can’t follow through because of whatever. Nothing is written in stone and plans shouldn’t be either. Glad you decided to go with your gut instead of keeping a “commitment” that wasn’t making you happy anymore. 🙂

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  10. Since you’ll be in Italy catch an easy jet flight to Sharm and join us in Dahab for a few weeks…. Theodora will be there too ! 😉

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    • If the funds were more fluid, I’d be happy to do that. We need to get to our 1st trial base, though.

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  11. Well, hey – Europe!

    Glad to hear you’ll be in this part of the world. Europe had a pretty strong pull for me which is why I’ve ended up here as well. Hope you get to enjoy a little bit of time in Italy, though – such a beautiful country!

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    • Looking forward to maybe meeting you at some point! I’ve always felt home in Europe and feel more connected to many aspects of the culture. Will be interesting to see.

      Unfortunately, we only have 1 night in Italy. Partly because of the expense, but also because I just need to get to a place where we can stay for 2-3 months minimum. So we need to get to our 1st choice for a base and let that part of the experience begin. We’ll come back to Italy, though. Way too much to experience and explore. And eat.

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  12. Interesting and inspirational. What you’ve shared of your own experience tells me that we do have what it takes within ourselves- we have the right stuff, if we only take time to seek *our* truth and sort it out in order to proceed on that journey to where we belong. I like that.

    Thank you, T.

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    • Yes! We definitely have it within ourselves. We just have to learn to listen, trust ourselves, and move accordingly.

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  13. I love how you write Talon. It is true, honest and inspiring. you consider both of you, and your happiness. When you are unhappy, you face it and move on. Enough to say “no” to decisions you once said “yes” to. And that is teaching Tigger how to deal with his emotions. You sound like a great Dad !! Well done.

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    • Thank you! Such wonderful compliments!

      As a parent you always wonder, but the other day we had a friend staying with us and that friend was talking about he wasn’t enjoying his work anymore. Tigger pipes in with “Shouldn’t you do what makes you happy?” They listen. They really do listen.

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  14. Since you’ve sampled so many places, it’s going to be really interesting to see where you end up as your base. We’re in an apartment for 2 months instead of 1 month right now and even that little change feels very settling. Good on you for managing your mood in healthy ways.

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    • Isn’t it amazing how much of a difference that can make? When I get somewhere and don’t even bother to unpack, I know that isn’t a good sign. LOL I need longer stretches with an empty suitcase.

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  15. I totally get this. Not sure where we will end up this winter, but I know it will ‘come’ to me. glad you followed your gut.

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  16. So happy for you that you found the key to what you needed at this time in your life. I feel I found that when I moved from Washington and came to where my heart had always called home, here in Idaho. I know I grew up in WA and all my family is there but it wasn’t ‘home’ to me and I have found MY peace and happiness being in the mountains and among the farming/ranching community that I fell in love with in 1978. Best wishes in your continuing search for ‘your’ place.

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    • You definitely have to go where your heart leads. I’m so glad you found that place for you!

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  17. Wonderful. It is so great that you can tune into yourself so well. Isn’t that the beauty of this lifestyle? You aren’t breaking a promise to Japan, it will still be there for another day. Trust your gut and go where you need to be. We are wanting to go from Europe to SE Asia, but part of me wants to see so much more of Europe before we go. It is tough to be torn. Glad to see you have made a decision that sits well with you both.

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    • Well, we had a housesit so it was a bit more complicated, but in the end my happiness and mental health has to take priority. And I didn’t make this huge change of lifestyle to feel trapped by something else!

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  18. Sometimes it is hard to make decisions but your gut instinct is never wrong!

    Romania! Love it, I was there for 3 months, although that was 12 years ago. Beautiful.

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  19. So happy you made the decision and can’t wait to see what you find….especially on the community part. I admire your courage in putting your health first. It is so important and really great that you able acknowledge it and go towards it. Today I am feeling excited for you and tigger both!

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  20. I’m so glad that you made the decision that’s right for you and Tigger, and I hope that you enjoy fall in Romania! 🙂

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    • I am so freaking excited to be somewhere with a fall season again. We only had a hint of it in Spain for a week. No fall for 2-1/2 yrs, and it’s my favorite!

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  21. Lovely post Talon, I’m so pleased you are strong enough to follow your gut instinct, I am fighting against a dark period at the minute, although I felt like I could’ve taken on the world this morning.

    Honesty is definately the best policy, and you are being true to yourself, and helping me tons towards being that way to myself, so thank you for sharing.x

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  22. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am you made this decision, well done! I can relate to having a commitment hanging over your and creating those dark clouds… The feeling when I made the decision to cut my commitment short and move on… It’s the most relieved I’ve ever felt and I remember being able to get up early the next morning and being happy for the first time in over a year.

    This happened when I was 22 and now, 12 years on, I try my hardest to never, ever forget the lesson it taught me.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences, Talon. You inspire me.

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    • That’s wonderful! It’s such a powerful lesson really. We really need to just choose happiness over other things sometimes.

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