A year ago today, I made my decision to leave the corporate world. More specifically the Media World in New York City. While traveling in Costa Rica with my Husband, I broke.
The sum total of my life’s work to become successful in the NYC Media world fell short of the connection I felt walking beside the waters, forests, and volcanos of Costa Rica. I knew the life I was living was not mine to live. One of the black-clad Manhattan warrior women, I could no longer be.
At this point, in our 2 years together, my husband and I traveled as much as we could with my schedule, which was challenging. For work I had been to DC over 20 times the year before, Nashville, Jamaica, and LA and San Francisco both twice. Let’s just say, I am an expert at packing light, quickly.
Together, we’d been to Italy, France, BVI and in the US around Vermont, Florida, Ohio, California, Nantucket twice, Martha’s Vineyard, Fire Island, and the Catskills. Returning from each one of these trips, we realized our overpriced Upper West Side one-bedroom apartment with a brick wall view, left us feeling closed off from Nature. The truly wicked part was realizing we spent less per night for rooms with views of the ocean.
Returns home left us talking about where we wished to go next. For Christmas I bought him a map of the world, the kind you can put pins in with an inscription claiming our adventures. We woke up every morning with that map at the end of our bed, the first thing we saw. Every morning after that Costa Rica trip, I awoke knowing things would soon be very different.
At the age of 37, I had begun having chest pains daily at the office. I could blame the pace of business, 11-hour workdays regularly, 6-7 hours of meetings a day, 300+emails, and an expectation of work product that should be ripe with creativity and innovation. The truth was, I knew too much, I knew the current workday numbers did not add up to creativity. I also knew I was working the best years of my life away, making a decent salary but if I burned out, I would just be replaced. The 1% of the Scripps and Discovery family could still afford their big house, cars, boats without my chest pains. The guys at the top get rich, the guys at the bottom get churned.
Even though I was not technically at the bottom, I had teams, people working for me whom I genuinely cared for. I knew at the time, the only thing I would take away from my job was I was a good boss. To this day, I stay in touch with those who worked for me and if they need anything, an introduction a restaurant recommendation, a strong reference they have it, and I dare say they know it.
For me though, sitting in that hammock by the sea on the final hours of my Costa Rica trip, I was finally able to make a very hard decision easy.
The sun was out, yet it was early, so the heat of the day was not on full blast. A soft, steady breeze lifted off the waves crashing in front of me. I closed my eyes to meditate, a new practice for me. Unlike most mornings taking myself through steps to relax, I was already there. Seeking out the tension in my body to mindfully let it go, I had none. I was at peace and calm.
I was ready to take the flying leap and trust myself. I would return to work and give 3 months’ notice without a new job lined up, planned corporate suicide. With 6 months salary in cash reserve, I gave myself permission to just let go. Stop worrying about losing my apartment, the roof over my head without a steady paycheck. Trust myself to figure it out.
When I sat here, I had no idea what was next. A full year later I still don’t completely and I’m ok with that. I have some anxiety not seeing a path clearly but I’m now working to accept that my story is in the journey. So far, my journey is far exceeding the expectations I had for myself growing up a middle-class kid in Ohio.
I’ve moved not once but twice (Toronto and New York City) to places where I knew no one. I worked myself to physical exhaustion over and over again moving up the corporate later through AOL, InStyle, HBO, Food Network, and Discovery. I earned my right and saved my salary to take this leap. I met, fell in love with, and married a handsome Italian Photographer while living in New York City. Through it all, I found that no Mulberry Handbag or Jimmy Choo shoes last like the memories from exploring a beach with no one else on it.
The green I pursue does not buy these things, I will fill my eyes not my wallet.
I will see this world, I have found happiness in love and friendship, success, and failure.
I trust myself to be daring and sometimes foolish in pursuit of my own unique path to connectivity and ultimately the happiness that comes from sharing experiences with the love of my life.