How do I know if I should do something in life?  If it scares me.

New experiences are out of my comfort zone.  Period.  They are never easy for me.  But I keep doing it.  And it gets a little easier each time … I think.   But what keeps me pushing?  What compels me to experience life outside my comfort zone? 

The rewards. 

I was not happy living in London, Ontario.  My job was unsatisfying.  My family was, for the most part, a dysfunctional, narrow-minded “cluster-bleep”.   The winters were long and cold.  And as a single woman, it didn’t have much to offer me socially (that’s code for a non-existent dating life).   But I was on a first name basis with the staff at Blockbuster!  Remember Blockbuster?  <sigh>

So I changed that.  I quit my job, sold most of my possessions, and drove west to Victoria.  I had a new job waiting for me, but not much else.  I was terrified.  I recall sitting on a sleeping bag in my London apartment with nothing else but my computer and clothes stacked in suitcases, and thought “what have I done?”

So what’s a girl to do, but move forward?  I drove to Victoria, started my job, and built a new life.  I met some amazing people, and made wonderful friends.  I bought my own home, something I never before envisioned being able to do on my own. 

The house I live in, I bought it,

The car I’m driving, I bought it

Cause I depend on, I depend on me. 

                                                 Beyonce

Amen girlfriend.

In 2010, I finally fulfilled my dream of going to Italy.  I signed up for an Intrepid Tour called La Dolce Vita (now called Best of Italy).  I was going all on my own.  Crap, that scared me!  I cried the night before I left.  But this was outside the comfort zone, remember?  Way out.  Then I dreamt that the plane crashed on takeoff.  Lovely.  Thanks brain. 

But I went, and had an amazing time.  I met so many wonderful people – Frank and Julie, Pam and 2-stop Gary*, Jan, and her daughter Alison – all from Australia and Tasmania.  Alison and I are friends to this day.  It was a great experience, and a great confidence builder for me as a traveler. 

Two years later, Alison and I met up in Paris, and then travelled all around Italy together – a month in total.  And yes, I was scared before I left – but I didn’t cry this time.  I was anxious, Dinner at the Jacobinebut excited at the same time.  And it was an incredible experience, full of extraordinary adventures that truly lit my passion for travel.  And I fell in love with Europe.

The lifestyle spoke to me in a way Canadian life never has.  The people are so connected, and they seize life and live it in a way that I had never experienced at home.  People get out of their homes at night. They walk, they talk, they sit in cafes and sip espresso, wine, or beer – any night of the week.  Store clerks dance.  People smile.  The men make you feel beautiful.    this time.  I was anxious, but excited at the same time.  And it was an incredible experience, full of extraordinary adventures that truly lit my passion for travel.  And I fell in love with Europe.

I want that life.  Not sitting home each night in my house watching TV like so many Canadians do, disconnected from each other.  Not sensing an immediate distrust when someone on the street speaks to me (are they mentally ill?  Are they trying to bum money or cigarettes?).  Not feeling … alone. I want something totally different.  Freer, wilder, and filled with emotion and wonder.  Is that only in the movies?  Perhaps.  Or perhaps you just have to be able to take those chances that life offers you.  The ones that many of us reach for, but then fearfully jerk our hands back at the last minute.So I came home, and started the process to acquire my British citizenship.  If I was able to get this, I could live anywhere in Europe, if I so chose. I took a copywriting course, and started my own web-based copywriting business.  And I’m pretty damn good at it! Just two days ago, I officially became a British citizen – swore my allegiance to the Queen and received my official “You’re a Brit” certificate.  I think my mom would have been pleased (she was a war bride, who came to Canada when she was very young, but always seemed happiest when she was back in Britain). So here I am – British/Canadian siren scribe.  Word warrior.  Creating sumptuous, lick-your-lips, amazing copy.  Dreaming of a life less ordinary – and doing my damnedest to make it happen. My newest adventure?  Studying Italian in Florence this summer.  Yes, it scares me.  That’s why I know I must do it.  All of my greatest rewards in life have always sprung from experiences that have scared me, that were outside of my comfort zone. 

Because in life, you never regret what you do, you regret what you DON’T do. 

 *2 stop Gary – refers to our friend Gary being a little too slow to catch the same subway train as the rest of the group.  As the doors slammed shut in his bemused face, we all held up two fingers and mouthed “2 stops Gary!  2 stops!”  He found us, but he held the nickname for the rest of the trip.