It was fun to read all the comments on the eject post-it-note post. Seems like some of you have been in that same place before, and others are maybe standing there present moment. A friend (who is maybe standing some place in between, or rather staring at her eject button from a distance but not wanting to press it cause she simply doesn’t know where she wants it to take her) emailed to ask “HOW” I got to Nepal.

I fly a lot in my dreams. Always have. Well, always except for the time when I couldn’t because I was carrying two extremely heavy grocery bags that were weighing me down–oui, that was a tough time I remember. The image above, however, is of my Tigger Dream–that is, my bouncin‘ dream. It’s also one of my top 3 favorite dreams of all time. (And yes, I know the other 2 just as vividly well.) In the dream, I could bounce. I would squat down and spring up high into the sky, land in the mountains, and spring back up into the stars. I bounced over rivers and oceans and thru all kinds of exotic lands.

Ironically, this Tigger Dream happened right after I decided to eject–when I started moving forward with plans to do what I really wanted to do. It was the same eject-button doodleR friend who (after I told him about it) ordered me to go home and draw my dream.

When I was little, my dad always had me make a list of pros & cons when I was trying to make a decision, so I could see things a bit clearer. This is what I remember of my pros-list.

• do volunteer work in another country (something I always wanted to do, which would also allow me to get outside of “me” more and get a fresh perspective)
• travel alone (something adventurous that I always wanted to do but was scared to death to do, too. plus, I needed the reflection time…and to also find my own strength & confidence & incdependence)
• take a break from my corporate illustration job and then, hopefully, go on my own (which would again, give me perspective and help me to grow as an artist/illustrator)
• have new experiences in a foreign land, specifically in a culture that was alive and rich in spirit and love and spirituality, and not materialism.
• live simpler
• learn another language
• trek in the Himalayas
• live in the mountains

It seemed my list pointed me to Nepal, so that choice was easy. It had Mt. Everest and sacred cows, and I could live in a village without ANY cars.

So then I started tackling my list of things I needed to do to make it happen:
• researched Nepal and volunteer programs at schools in the Everest region
• met people on-line and friends who’ve done something similar
• arranged a leave-of-absence from my job for 5 months (this was my ‘safety-net’ since I didn’t know if I’d be brave enough to quit just yet)
• took ESL training
• found a friend to sublet my apartment
• saved $ to cover car/student loans while I was away (I stopped my car ins. for the 5 months)
• raised the money for my ticket and the ngo by giving massages to friends for tax-deductible donations to the ngo (at the time I was taking massage courses, and it was a nice way to ‘ask’ for money. Plus, I sent a donation letter out to some friends/family.) I also had a show of drawings from a previous trip to Asia which earned a nice savings for my trip.
• collected loads of art supplies, books, fun education stuff for the school (from family, friends, work, and clients)
• had a HUGE sale of my belongings…because really, I decided, I wanted to be light and free and not feel attached to physical “stuff”

Then, just a few weeks before I was supposed to leave, the program was canceled due to violence–the Maoist rebels were very active in a civil war against the Monarchy (particularly in the mountainous regions), and the US Embassy issued a travel-warning on their website which basically meant it wasn’t safe, and to travel at your own risk. I kinda freaked. Nepal was supposed to be the a land of peace. To top things off, I had a kidney stone attack and ended up in the hospital. My sky was falling. I didn’t know what to do. A friend talked me into going on a roadtrip to Taos to think about my Plan B…which was (after emailing and talking with people living Nepal) to still go, only I would have to find volunteer work in the Kathmandu Valley. I had to let go of control of ‘my’ adventure, of what I thought it would be.

I flew to KTM alone, which has to be one of the most exciting and empowering things I’ve ever done. I still remember checking into a room at a guest house and going for a walk in the narrow streets full of exotic things, new colors, beautiful people, and cows. It was so surreal.

Within 2 days, I met a lot of people (Nepalis and foreigners) and found several different opportunities for volunteer work. (It’s endless there, really.) On the 3rd day, I took a taxi to a rural village outside of Kathmandu (with NO cars!) to a school. I showed up not knowing anyone. It was scary and awesome. In no time, I moved into a small room and had 10 kids and 4 adults as smallhouse-mates. It was an amazing 4 1/2 months, as the story goes. I fell in love with the people, the culture, the land. I also was able to trek to Everest, and found that I always felt quite safe. Oh, and I emailed my resignation letter to Hallmark. I learned what I wanted for my life, and I’ve been living that way ever since. We’ve been back to Nepal and India in ’06, and will go again…

I feel like I’m going on some sort of new adventure soon, although I’m not sure what. Two nights ago, I had another journey-like dream. I boarded a boat in the ocean. Then, a balloon appeared overhead with handles hanging down. I grabbed on, and a flock of black birds lifted the balloon into the sky. Hmmmm…