Quitting my 10-year corporate career, buying a campervan and travelling all the way around Australia solo was definitely not the most financially sensible idea.
Travelling overseas would have been a LOT cheaper.
But it felt so right.
And isn’t it interesting, how when we step into the flow of the rightness of a feeling, everything flows for us – I call this stepping into the slipstream of your soul.
That’s what happened for me with the van.
All the little perceived obstacles were cleared easily, with trust and aligned action.
My Dad found my van for me – an old 1988 Nissan Urvan called Walter – and spent hours and hours of his own time working on it, cleaning it up, putting on solar panels and new batteries so I could be off-grid, a new fridge and special plugs so I could charge all my gadgets and blog from the road.
My friends offered to store my gear under their house and to look after my beloved kitten, Mimi.
Oh! That sweet sweet day I walked away from the fluorescent lights and white walls of my office, knowing I would not be returning.
I was completely on path.
Some people (mainly guys) thought I was crazy and had lots of opinions about what I was doing – particularly the “what if you break down?” question.
Rather than invest my energy in what might go wrong, I decided to focus on what might go right.
In March 2015, I took Walter for a “test” adventure with my sister Koren.
We travelled for four weeks around Tasmania. And this is where, we hatched the idea for a little podcast called She Makes Magic.
On a rainy day, at a campsite on the West Coast of Tassie, we sat in the back of Walter and recorded our first two episodes – me interviewing Koren and Koren interviewing me. Both of us were nervous, our voices shook, we had no idea how to technically setup a podcast but we assumed a good place to start would be to record the interviews.
She Makes Magic would become my saving grace as I travelled around Australia. Speaking with other women who had left behind lives that didn’t feel right to follow their brave hearts gave me the courage to do the same myself.
It would also have me fall deeply in love with podcasting and later form a piece of my greater passion and work in the world (more to come on this in future tales).
Fast forward to May 2015 – I’m ready to go in my van, across the Nullarbor, up the West Coast, across the top of Australia and back down the east coast. With the money I have saved, I figure I can travel for at least nine months.
My sister and I have launched our podcast and are overwhelmed by the response. Who knew there were thousands of other women out there who felt just like me? Desperate for clarity, stuck in the dark unknown, pissed off by the ‘fake-ness’ of the online world and hungry for real stories.
A community was forming, women came together to say “me too” and I no longer felt so alone.
On the very first day of my solo leg of my trip, I hopped into my van to travel across the Nullarbor Plain from South Australia to Western Australia, and the fear suddenly hit me. I realised I was going to be travelling long distances, on my own, in a very old van, on stretches of road with no phone service.
I was terrified.
This fear would stay with me, all 30,000kms of my trip. A weight that would sometimes be so heavy, I couldn’t get out of bed and drive. Other days, I could make peace with it and travel anyway.
I learnt that grounding myself, having some form of stability in an otherwise changing and shifting environment was important for me.
So I spent a lot of time by the ocean, swimming every day which I found soothed me and brought me back into my body. I didn’t move around much – camping at locations for weeks on end, and lying in the back of my van with a book or a meditation. I had to accept this was the way I would travel for me to feel safe and block out what anyone else was doing or saying.
It’s a lesson that has stayed with me through all other major transitions – I find one or two constant, unchanging things to anchor into as everything else shifts around me. And I don’t look at what anyone else is doing.
It’s important to note here:
I have always felt a personal responsibility to find my “thing” (aka gifts / purpose / magic) and do it well.
For a very long time – five years – I had been desperately looking for my purpose, my thing, my gifts. When the corporate world became uninhabitable for me, my search became ruthless.
I believed if I could just figure out my ‘purpose’ – I envisioned a light-bulb moment when suddenly all the unanswered questions about who I am and what I’m here to do became clear – then I could start building a life around this.
This kind of thinking became quite dangerous as I travelled the landscapes of Australia.
At some point, as I prepared for my campervan adventure, I made a (very head-based) decision.
By the end of my trip, I’ll know what my ‘thing’ is and will be able to action it.
What I was doing, but didn’t realise at the time, was putting a fear-based, logical timeline around the journey of my soul.
The unknown is a land of the soul. It cannot be navigated with the head. When we choose to journey with the soul, time falls away, logic takes a back seat to the heart and fear has no place.
Rather than empowering and supporting me, this decision became my kryptonite.
Here I was, in these beautiful pristine places and all I found myself doing was fretting about the future.
What would I do when I returned from my big adventure? I can’t go back to the corporate world! What if I return with no money and no plan at all?
It continually ripped me out of the present moment and created an intense anxiety.
Six months into my beautiful adventure, I was camped in a free camping spot on my way down the east coast of Australia.
I had a dream that evening.
I dreamed that my trip was over, I had no money and I had to return to my old job. I dreamed myself walking back into that work place and the pain it caused me.
I woke in a start – the sinking, dark, heavy depression I hadn’t felt in months suddenly was back, weighing me down with dread.
That very same day, I pulled out of a shopping mall, and my van began to violently shudder. I opened the seats to look at the motor and smoke was pouring out.
They thought I had blown up the motor.
I thought this was the end of my trip and my dream had become a reality.
As I waited on the results from the mechanic, I fell into a hole of doom.
I realised I had spent so much of my trip fearing the perceived potentialities of the future, it had dimmed the beauty of the present moment.
I realised I had been so up in my head, I could not hear the instructions my soul had been giving me.
What my soul wanted me to do was REST. STOP. BREATHE. TAKE A MOMENT.
This was not a time for action.
But the human part of me was too busy worrying about how she looked and what might happen to hear it.
So the universe intervened. And my van broke down.
My van eventually was fixed and I was able to continue on my adventure.
The last three months of my trip became vastly different.
I vowed to surrender to the future and be present in the moment.
I vowed to get out of my head and back into my body, a process that, in the beginning was incredibly painful. (If you feel this is you, I would recommend looking at Eckart Tolle’s work on the pain body, it helped me to see the gifts in my depression).
I did many visualisations and meditations to break down the walls around my heart so I could feel again and navigate with my heart.
After a month of feeling it all – lying in bed crippled with emotional pain, howling at the full moon, dancing naked by my camp fires, screaming into the wild winds of the ocean – a peace finally settled over me.
The depressive ache around my heart, started to fade.
I started to hear my soul again.
My trip became pleasurable once more.
My presence in each moment made the world around me more vibrant.
My presence in myself made ME more vibrant. People were attracted to me, often times walking up to me and talking to me as though we were old friends.
One morning, after a long beach walk and a swim in the ocean, the weather turned bad and I climbed into my van to read.
Prepare your resume my soul whispered. Send it out to these women.
So that’s what I did…