It seems like life is always about ending and beginning again. A few weeks ago on social media, there was a wave of posts asking “What have you accomplished or how have you changed over the past decade?” There is no way I could talk about the ways my life has changed in the past 10-years in a Tweet so I decided to write a year-end/decade ending post that gives some insight. As the decade ends, and a new one begins, it seems appropriate to look back and see who I was then and who I am now. Some time periods are more transformative than others, and I would have to say this past 10- years has been more transformative than any other in my life. Let’s do a quick bullet point list followed by more words…
- 2009 – Gastric By-pass. I started at 335 lbs and in the next year was down to 165. The following year I had complications and was back in the hospital for a second surgery and ended up close to 150 lbs! (Now I am happily in between those two and happier in my skin than ever before.)
- End of 2010- Was let go from my corporate job of 16 years at a local telephone company. At the time I was the National Director of Sales Support and Development and had 250 people working for me across the country.
- January 2011- Met my now ex-husband
- April 2011- Started a contract with the company I STILL work with
- August 2012- Diagnosed with severe osteoarthritis in both of my knees. Dr said I had the knees of a 68 yr old when I was just 40! He said it’s not a matter of if, but when, I will need to have knee-replacement surgery
- September 2012- Married my now ex-husband
- Throughout the whole marriage, we tried to get pregnant. I had about 12 IUI procedures, none successful.
- September 2014- I told my abusive alcoholic husband I was leaving him.
- October 2014- Left Minneapolis and went back to my BFF in NY
- January 2, 2015- I moved to Costa Rica for two months. I ended up staying for 15!
- June 2016- Started traveling full time on a program that was 6 months/ 6 countries with 6 other people. Started by crossing the Atlantic in a cruise ship
- August 2016- Met my partner Stefan who introduced me to Polyamory
- January 2017 – Decided not to stop traveling after the group program ended. Traveled until mid-June.
- June 2017- Feb 2019- Home base in Berlin. Really discovered my fully sexual and polyamorous self
- May 2018 – Met my partner Benjamin
- April- October 2019- Spent most of my time in Medellin, Colombia and met DJDM. I was not expecting to find true love there, but this man is the real deal. I will be moving back to Colombia and living with him in less than 2 weeks!
- November 2019- went back to Berlin to visit my peeps and my partners
- December 2019
- 18-day cruise from Athens to Dubai through the Suez Canal and the Arabian Sea
- 2 weeks in Alaska visiting my family
- 2015- 2019 Countries visited: (in no particular order)
- Costa Rica
- Vatican City
- South Korea
- San Martin
- Saint Maarten
- South Africa
As you can see, my life has changed significantly and in more than one way, more than one time over the past 10-years. January 2, 2020, is officially my five-year anniversary of leaving the USA, I haven’t lived there since. Traveling changes you in many different ways. Traveling full-time made me a totally different person. Recently, I was talking about my travels with a friend and her husband and he noted, “The way you talk about the US, I can tell you don’t think of it as home anymore. It’s obvious you have found “home” inside of you and are comfortable wherever you are.”
That’s a big part of the change. I am comfortable with me. I have spent birthdays and holidays alone without being sad or depressed about it. I enjoy my own company. I can make my own way and my own happiness wherever I am. I enjoy being outside my comfort zone and will often create situations in my life to enjoy that tension. I find I grow and become stronger and braver when I am working through things that intentionally make me uncomfortable. (Unintentional things do as well of course, but as they are unexpected, it’s usually more difficult to embrace! LOL)
Learning to be comfortable alone with me led me to learn to be more comfortable with my sexual nature. I realized I could shed the old religious guilt about enjoying sex outside of marriage and be a very sexual person and embrace who I am. I loved learning THAT lesson! Discarding the notion that I needed to get married and have 2.5 kids, a home, a husband, and I could live the way I wanted, both by being location independent and sexually open, finished the process of becoming free for me.
When I met Stefan in August of 2016 and he introduced me to the concept of Polyamory, I was ready to make that leap. I was already living an unconventional life, I was learning to be self-reliant and comfortable in my own skin, I was owning my sexuality. I was ready. But it wasn’t until I moved back to Berlin (in June 2017), settled into my relationship with him, and began to explore how to have open, honest, connected relationships with others that it all finally started to fall into place.
I had random Tinder sex dates, threesomes, I met someone with whom I went to swinger’s clubs, I went to sex clubs, BDSM Munches, Polyamory meetups, and dirty storytelling open mics. I had more than one long-term polyamorous relationship and my partners met my other partners and I met theirs.
My understanding of love expanded exponentially. It no longer meant the one person I would marry. It meant every friend I deeply connected with. It meant I could love partners who I would never have a fully-enmeshed life with. It meant I didn’t have to be greedy with my love and affection but I could spread it around like sunshine. No fear. I could say I love you, even if you didn’t love me. Some friendships spilled into a bit more sexual and romantic space and back again without damage to the friendships. I can get into this!
After having my beautiful Berlin community and the life I loved so much there, leaving in February 2019 was difficult, but Visas… I found it difficult to adjust to life on the road again. But it gave me a chance to challenge myself anew, seek to know myself more, find other ways to grow, and overcome the challenge of loneliness again. I also realized I needed some support for my mental health and started taking a low-dose non-addictive anti-depressant.
I was being interviewed for a Digital Nomad podcast recently and the young lady interviewing me asked me some really interesting questions and pointed out a few things, that to me just seemed “me” but to her were interesting and worth noting. (Maybe because she is about 20 years younger than me and yet to learn these lessons…) But the one that stuck out to me as well, was the idea that I basically don’t do anything I don’t want to do.
***I don’t do anything I don’t want to do.*****
Being free from the encumbrance of a full-time live-in significant other, children, a 9-5 job, or a permanent home… I can live my life exactly as I choose. And I do. It’s a freedom I never knew I could have. It’s a privilege very few people have. I can live where I want and I can date who I want. How could my life be any better? OH, I know… I am in LOVE!
Meeting and falling truly deeply in love with DJDM has been the biggest joy and unexpected blessing. Being completely seen by him and knowing the depth of his love for me, continuously boosts me up. The trust we have in each other because we have purposefully designed our relationship based on the principles of being open, honest and connected, is amazing. I can rest easy in the months we are apart because there is no fear he will find someone else, in fact, there’s a joy when one of us shares we’ve had a good time with another person.
This is the first time since my divorce I can and want to envision a future with someone. We are planning how to make our lives work together long-term while taking into consideration both my need to be free to have my own time and my own life and his desire to spend time with me and need to live in Medellin for now. This is new for both of us and there are a lot of traditional monogamous ideals that we will be facing and intentionally challenging as we figure this thing out for the long run. But it is exciting and interesting and I can’t wait to design the life we want.
Beginning 2020 and thinking ahead to plan is both easy and difficult for me. I used to be a goal/list maker. Then I narrowed that down to “One Little Word.” Now, I don’t know how I want to move forward. I do want to be even more intentional in my life plans, my relationships, my writing, and even my work. However, I am not 100% convinced (based on past experiences) that lists or motivational quotes and ideas really work for me.
I already have a rough plan of what my travel schedule will look like for the year. There is a lot of time planned to spend time with DJDM. But I do need my own travels, my own time, and my own experiences, so there will be time planned for that as well. When I finally get back to Medellin in a few weeks, DJDM and I will have some really detailed discussions about what we want our lives to look like, not only our relationship(s) going forward, but our work and travel lives as well. There are so many exciting opportunities out there, I am excited to see how it all works out.
As for beginning a new decade? I can’t even imagine! My life changed so significantly this past 10-years, I don’t even want to try to plan or imagine what will be next. I prefer to take that as it comes. I do commit to being present. Making decisions with love and following my gut at each impasse. I will continue to do what I want and refuse to explain to those who may not agree. I see myself continuing to travel and explore the world. In 10 years I will be 57! A huge part of the next 10-years will be continuing to plan for my retirement (and now for retiring with DJDM!) I want to retire as early as possible, and hopefully my writing will allow me that luxury someday, but just in case, retirement financial planning and saving continues to be a priority. I don’t imagine going back to the US. I imagine my life will almost always be someplace else, but I will try to be open to any possibilities that make sense for where I am in that moment.
Love, Friendship, Autonomy, Travel, Writing … these are key pillars in my life and I expect them to stay important throughout the next decade and beyond.
What about you? How has the past decade changed you and what do you anticipate for next year and beyond into the next decade? Can you even imagine that?