What now? A two-week evaluation


A lot has happened since I’ve been home. Decisions have been made and re-made, and for those of you wondering what my next move is, I’m ready to share…

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There will be more house projects on this blog. At least for a little while, until the house is ready to sell. Instead of rushing off to a new continent as originally planned, I’ve decided to take a few months to finish remodeling this house properly before putting it on the market. This includes a master bathroom remodel, converting the old laundry hallway into a utility/storage space, a light refresh downstairs and some curb appeal quick fixes. While these will still be done on a budget, there won’t be as much DIY involved—mostly due to time constraints and lack of desire, as my focus is now in other areas. Which also means I likely won’t be posting as much or as in depth. I’ve always said that I’ll never force this blogging thing. As soon as it becomes contrived or no longer fun, I’m done. To avoid that, I only write about what motivates me—what I’m passionate about… and right now, remodeling isn’t at the top of my list. Once I get started on the process I’ll probably be more excited about it, but as of now, there are other things on my mind.

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I’ve been home for exactly two weeks which is hard to believe because it feels like months, yet some mornings I’ll wake up expecting to be in a hostel somewhere in Asia. I’m still in the travel time warp—a phenomenon that occurs when a week feels like a month, and months become years—in the best way possible.

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When traveling, there are no mundane or forgettable days that drag on and blend into one another while you’re daydreaming and anticipating what you’d rather be doing in the future. Every day is filled with new places, people, adventures, experiences and emotions and most importantly, memories that will stay with you forever. The type of memories that are normally gained just once a month or quarter or even year—but no day is wasted while traveling. Time, our most valuable asset, is not lost. It’s the only way I know how to live a longer life within the same lifespan. 

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I was scared to come back to “reality”. Just like the low points I experienced on my trip after waves of riding highs, I was certain I’d come crashing down, hard. Mentally prepared, I arrived just in time for Thanksgiving and focused on appreciating the luxuries I’d been missing—like almond milk, ranch dressing, a curling iron and comfortable bed. Alone in my house still decorated for spring, I felt a little spoiled. Look at all this stuff I’ve never used, in this giant house with rooms I don’t use…

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The transition wasn’t bad. I sorted through stacks of mail, reacquainted myself with the programs and systems in place to run my business, did some reorganizing, ran through inventory and hit the ground running, just in time for the holiday rush. So far, so good.

But then there was the million dollar question, the one that started to creep in the last few weeks of my trip and loomed over me the moment I arrived home—What now? What am I going to do with my life?

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Every free moment was dedicated to solving this mystery. I read books and blogs and magazines for inspiration and listened to podcasts and watched videos and talked to people and journaled and wrote lists and spreadsheets and tossed and turned all night, trying to figure out my purpose in this world and what I really want to do for the next sixty years.

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I started to worry that I wouldn’t ever decide. Maybe I’d settle on something that wasn’t quite right and waste my time on work I wasn’t completely passionate about. Maybe I’d continue doing exactly what I was doing now, and wander the globe without a real purpose. A full time nomad. But that didn’t sit well with me either.

Then, last week while sitting at my desk, it hit me. I had an epiphany. Suddenly it all made sense. I’ve found my calling… I know what I want to do with my life. 

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For a handful of reasons, I won’t be going into any more detail for now. It’s something that will take months to get started, and I haven’t had a chance to put together a real plan yet, but I feel this one in my gut. It was that same feeling I had when I made the best decision of my life by starting over. I just know that this is what I must do. Without realizing it, I’ve been carrying a weight around with me for years. It took traveling across the world to release it, but a much lighter version of myself returned on that plane. I’ve never felt more free and unbound by anything, and in this moment, I can honestly say I’m even happier than those “pinch-me-I’m-dreaming” moments in Asia—because this isn’t temporary, it’s real life now. I have real goals to work towards, and right now the world feels wide open… nothing can hold me back.

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When I first announced my life changing news, I referenced this quote at the end of the post:

You are the designer of your destiny. You are the author. You write the story. The pen is in your hand, and the outcome is whatever you choose.

These words really spoke to me five months ago when I was agonizing over the most difficult decision of my life, and never are they more relevant than this moment. It’s easy to run away and escape it all, but now the real test begins. I’m so ready for this new challenge. Bring it on, life.

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23 thoughts on “What now? A two-week evaluation

  1. I can’t wait to hear what your future holds and the path you will take. I’ve been struggling myself in life trying to figure out what my destiny is. I’m an accountant and love numbers but that is not my passion. For the past 2 years, I sit at work wondering what my next move should be or the path I should take. But nothing comes to mind. I want to know my calling. Glad you found yours. 🙂

  2. You have me on edge here!! I can’t wait to hear what your plans are!! My life is in the process of changing a bit as well! My passion is working with people, I waiting tables for about 6 years starting in high school, it was my second job on the side of my office job when I got a little older, I just never wanted to quit cause I loved it so much! But there’s no benefits or money in waiting tables where I was, and having 2 jobs is pretty exhausting!! Right now I work in a cubicle as an administrative assistant, and while I love the people I work with I hate working in a little boxed in area day after day! So my daughter just started kindergarten this year and I’ve decided to follow my dreams!! I just got hired on with Southwest Airlines as a Flight Attendant and I couldn’t be happier!! Of course I’m a little nervous about the huge change I’m about to go through, and of course the 5 weeks of non paid training, but I feel like i need to take this risk to be happy with my life! So good luck to you!! I love watching how your life has changed this year and I can’t wait to see the changes that follow! I support you 100%!!

    1. Good for you Astin! I’m a fan of Jenna Sue’s also, and you are doing something to change the course of your life. What an inspiration! You will get to be with people, travel, and gain new experiences. I always fly Southwest, so I will listen for names from now on and be delighted if one flight attendant is named Astin!

    2. That’s so awesome, good for you for taking a chance and following your dreams! It will be a big adventure so just enjoy the journey, all the ups and downs. Hope you find your happiness in this change <3 xo

  3. I hope you continue to travel regardless of what path you choose. You seem so happy out in the world, and I have loved reading about your journey. Who knows, maybe there’s a travel blog in your future? Fingers crossed!

  4. You are a natural, gifted writer! I hope you become an author, you have so many fans that will line up to buy your book! ?

  5. I’m so happy that you found your calling. I’m sure that the traveling and experiences you have gained made you think more clearly. It’s not happenstance that your epiphany came so quickly after returning from your trip. You are dangling the carrot right in front of us, and you are making us wait with baited breath!! This is exciting, and I plan on following you on this new journey, if you allow it. I was wondering and hope it doesn’t sound too nosy, but did your other houses sell? and give you some breathing room financially?

  6. Can’t wait to hear, the suspense is killing me! Looking forward to seeing more remodeling pictures which is what brought me to your blog. You are very talented keep on being creative.

  7. Selfishly I’m hoping your calling is a travel writer! I’ve loved loving vicariously through your experiences. Can’t wait to see where your next journey takes you (us)!!

  8. I’m so happy for you, Jenna! It must be an awesome feeling to know what you want to be when you grow up. And to have the courage to pursue it? I envy you.

    Just please promise me you won’t become a sponsored travel blogger… those kinds of blogs get on my LAST NERVE because it’s not real life. I did enjoy following your (real-life) trip around Asia… your insights were so… insightful. 🙂

    Can’t wait to hear more!

  9. So excited for you and this new, more permanent adventure! Best of luck! I love your design and your gorgeous home, but miss the amazing travel stories and pictures. I hope whatever you do brings you great joy!

  10. Hi Jenna Sue:
    I’ve never followed a blog before , yours is the first, I can’t believe it’s been 5 months already. I found you on Pintrest by way of your maps (maps and travel get it ??? 🙂 ) ….kinda ironic. This was a couple of weeks before all the changes occurred ….I so enjoyed the pics of your home and was/is in love with your cats….I was hooked, so I started to follow you. Little did I know I’d be going on an adventure with you. Then you let us in on the big, albeit sad (or happy, depending on how you look at it) news, of the changes in your life. I couldn’t wait to read your updates. You have “balls”, I must say. Being in a similar life changing event myself, I thought moving from a very small New England town to just outside NYC took “balls” , It certainly doesn’t compare to your journey!
    I’m sure you get the comforting “you’re a beautiful girl and you’re so talented, you can anything” cliche crap……….but if you don’t have self-awareness, you are just at a standstill. I’m so happy for you that you are at the point now where you can make some sense of the future. I do hope, selfishly, that it involves photos and writing because you have a born given gift for both (no pressure 🙂 intended). I look forward to more post in the future.
    Peace
    your new friend, PJ

  11. I’m not sure if we ever decide what we want to do with the next 60 years of our lives. In my experience (at now 64 yoa) what we do (whether vocation or avocation) changes, evolves, etc. Definitely not trying to be negative, I just remember feeling that I had to figure out “what’s next” at various points in my life and realizing that “what’s next” does change and evolve. I found (and STILL find) that very exciting! Life’s a journey…so fun!!

  12. Oh the suspense! Can’t wait to see what you are going to do! I have a feeling it will be something inspirational!

  13. This is really insightful: “It’s the only way I know how to live a longer life within the same lifespan.” Your outlook could inspire others who are struggling with what they’re doing with their days!

  14. You’re killing me!
    I know exactly what you’re going through. We traveled through S.America and S. East Asia for 7 and 2 months respectively. When I came home I felt EXACTLY the same way. What is all of this crap I surround myself with? Why am I renovating houses. Even though I do like it, it often feels excessive because of my experiences traveling. Somedays are just another day to get through. UGH. What’s the answer! Give it to me! LOL 🙂

      1. The longer trips make me yearn for a “purpose” though. I always come back because I want to work. I want to renovate, create, etc. Can’t figure out how to blend the two. #firstworldproblems

        1. I know the yearning you have in your heart- I have it too, and it’s been satisfied by only one thing- knowing the Lord. My heart aches, my longing for something greater than myself and my short little life on earth- it comes from God, and it is answered by God. Because of Jesus Christ sacrificing His perfect life for my own, I- who am sinful and imperfect- can be made into a new person, with a new heart that longs for forever things, and a Love that is bigger than me. I realize more and more every day that nothing is permanent- nothing will satisfy me fully apart from knowing His love. He loves you, and if we confess our sins and humble ourselves before Him through in faith in His Son, He will save us.

  15. Happy you found some clarity. Make sure your new path includes all the things you want out of life, family, career, and children. You can have it all.

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