And now it’s time to panic!

by Kim on February 27, 2014 · 67 comments

Brian and I are holed up in a cabin in the woods.

We’ve come here to work on the presentation for our new job that begins, with much anticipation (believe me), at the end of March.

We are putting so much energy into this job: writing and reciting the presentation, learning about the sponsors and the magazine, testing gear, and sitting through conference calls. We are working around the clock right now.

This cabin is the most peaceful place. It is set on 20-acres of skinny deciduous trees that are stripped bare right now from the winter chill. Birdhouses swing vacant and exposed from their branches. I can only imagine what a sight this place would be in the vibrant plume of summer months. Still, these low-light days of winter have their charm.

cabin door

blue bird day

It is as silent as stone out here, the sort of place one comes to escape it all or to recharge to face it all over again.

puzzle pieces

property hike

Brian and I talk about the job. Truly, what did we talk about before we took this job? We talk about what we will do when the job ends in October. We have no idea what we will do when the job ends in October. Will we return next year? Will they even want us to? We worry about the job. What if we are terrible?

The morning is my favorite time to write. I love the silence and the easing-in of the early hours before the world outside is caffeinated and buzzing at its frenzied pace. Here at the cabin, I sit down at my computer each morning and wish that I was writing for myself.

morning work

Since taking this job my writing has suffered. I’ve been directing the full swell of my energy towards the job so I don’t have much left over to give to writing. It’s a matter of finding balance again and, once the chaos of this new beginning settles down, shimmying into routine.

Still, I worry, because I don’t want the momentum I’ve built around my blog, my book and our shop to suffer. I am worried about balancing it all, the breakneck pace of driving around the country with the slow, reflective space I need to write my best.

So I’ve done a lot of working and worrying at this cabin. No matter how many times I find myself nose-diving into the unknown, that splash of fear and doubt always manages to drench me.

Yesterday I was in the shower taking a small reprieve from my work/worry cycle when I had a tiny flash of clarity. I remembered that the best things in my life have always come after saying yes to an idea, opportunity or situation in which I have absolutely no idea what the outcome will be and which has the potential to turn out very badly.

And that every single time, after saying yes to that risky, terrifying thing, I’d sit down and wonder if I hadn’t just made the most awesomely irresponsible mistake of my life.

And then I’d panic.

After I sold everything I worked hard for: panic.

After I quit my good, stable job to follow my dreams: panic.

After I set out to travel the world without any prior traveling experience: panic.

After I wrote a book: panic.

And now, accepting a job traveling around the country giving presentations (panic!) and living out of a car with my husband: double panic.

Shouldn’t I expect this by now? I say yes. I panic. I’m like a predictable character on a bad TV sitcom.

Then I remembered that the times I’ve flung myself into the fire (and then panicked) have turned out to be the most meaningful experiences of my life.

After I sold everything I worked hard for: freedom.

After I quit my good, stable job to follow my dreams: my dreams became reality.

After I set out to travel the world without any prior traveling experience: my entire life transformed.

After I wrote a book: I became an author.

(Let those hard moments inform you, says Pema Chodron).

I got out of the shower. I dressed and dried my hair.

I walked back to my computer, stepping gingerly over my dogs that definitely do not panic, ever, over anything.

Macy

Bear

And I wrote this.

Please, send me the link in October.

***

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{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }

Coral February 27, 2014 at 12:11 pm

I remember the week before I went on my RTW short trip, not as radical as you, just rented the house out, one tenant the son. Panic is an understatement! I was ready to phone the travel agent who booked our flight to get the money back or fake an illness. Once the day came, fine. I am like that with all deadlines, panic like mad, deliver at the 11 th hour. Always . You will too.

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Kim February 28, 2014 at 5:36 am

Oh, I know that feeling. I think I even asked Brian to call the airlines and see if we could get our ticket refunded!!!! Of course the second I stepped on that plane all I felt was freedom. Ha, it’s funny to think back on it now.

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Rhonda February 27, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Belly Breathing. Belly Breathing. You guys will be great! Yes, it’s scary, yes it’s leaping into the unknown but, as you just pointed out, you should be a pro at throwing caution to the wind by now :) This storm will subside and you will once again fall into your routine. Until then, enjoy doggy kisses and the silence of the country.

”If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” ~Jim Rohn
Rhonda recently posted..UP ~ A Love Story

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Kim February 28, 2014 at 5:37 am

I should be a pro but I’m not sure it is something I will ever master. Or, maybe I’ve already mastered it and panic is just part of it. Who knows? Love that quote btw.

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Rhonda February 27, 2014 at 12:46 pm

BTW… love the sleeping dogs pics. oh, if only we were all as relaxed as our pups :)

until then:

Grin like a dog and wander aimlessly – unknown
Rhonda recently posted..UP ~ A Love Story

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Kim February 28, 2014 at 5:38 am

Are they not the cutest? I have taken approximately 4,000 sleeping dog pics in the last few days.

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Rhonda February 28, 2014 at 11:03 am

glad I’m not the only one obsessed with photographing my pups!
Rhonda recently posted..UP ~ A Love Story

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Kim February 28, 2014 at 4:52 pm

You most definitely are not!

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Adena Harford February 27, 2014 at 12:53 pm

I’m here with you! :) Loving and leaping and panicking…and releasing. Then doing it all over again.

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Kim February 28, 2014 at 5:38 am

It is a wild ride. I’m glad I’m not alone :)

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Maddie February 27, 2014 at 1:09 pm

It’s taken me until 32 to realise that the panic is actually a really good thing, it may feel pretty awful at the time but it means you’re throwing yourself into something knew and getting the adrenaline flowing. You were both MADE for this job, you have it in the bag :) As for what comes next? Just wait and see, you have no idea what new opportunities may present themselves during the summer. Look at how quickly you went from a beach in Vietnam to a cabin in the woods.
Maddie recently posted..New York City the second time around

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Kim February 28, 2014 at 5:40 am

Maddie!!!! I’ve never thought about panic as a good thing before but YOU ARE RIGHT. I love this blog because you all make me so much smarter and aware. THANK YOU. And, it is so insane to me that one day I was on a beach in Vietnam and the next I was back in the states with a brand new opportunity. I always wondered who would buy last-minute international plane tickets. Now I know.

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Joanne Joseph February 27, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Trust in yourself Kim. You will be wonderful at your new job. And if you aren’t or hate it the world of travel still awaits, more adventures to have, another book to write- endless opportunities to consider. No need to panic. Breath and enjoy every moment of this crazy ride you are on.
Joanne Joseph recently posted..20 Things I learned about Turkey and a Wrap-up

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Kim February 28, 2014 at 5:40 am

I have actually found myself holding my breath a few times while working out here at the cabin. Now wonder I start to panic. Breathing is a key component. Stay calm and breathe, I’ll try it ;)

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stacey k February 27, 2014 at 1:55 pm

YES. this perspective is everything. my ‘panic’ reflex is more pre-emptive… i panic that the things i want & hope for are not going to happen. but the cycle shows that after i panic, the things i hope for find their way to my doorstep one way or another, be it through hard work or divine provision or pure serendipity.
stacey k recently posted..bay of islands, northland, new zealand

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Kim February 28, 2014 at 5:42 am

That is so funny. Yours is preemptive and mine comes after the fact. It is good to know that, even if we can never really cut it out, that it is a cycle and that we should expect it. I’m getting wiser… slowly…

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Collette February 27, 2014 at 2:06 pm

I am bookmarking this post! I’ll revisit it whenever I start to feel panic. Kim, you are so inspirational!!!
Collette recently posted..Escaping to Costa Rica: 6 Ways to Have an Absolute Blast

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Kim February 28, 2014 at 5:42 am

Thanks! And make sure you send it to me too :) I’ll need the reminder (obviously if my past freak-outs are any indication).

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Annie of TravelShus February 27, 2014 at 2:07 pm

it’s always good to remember that good things come of the tough decisions.

also, the photos of your dogs? precious. the photo of the first dog cuddling the ball? precious-er.

:)
Annie of TravelShus recently posted..Djemaa El Fna – The Heart of Marrakech

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Kim February 28, 2014 at 5:43 am

You should see my instagram feed- dogs, dogs, and more dogs. I had to cut myself off actually.

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Heather February 27, 2014 at 2:38 pm

My flashes of clarity often occur in the shower. Someone needs to invent waterproof paper so that we can jot down notes in there.
Heather recently posted..36 Hours in Tokyo

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Kim February 28, 2014 at 5:43 am

YES! Totally! Or we can all keep those kid bathtub crayons in the shower and just write our ideas directly onto the wall.

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Patti February 27, 2014 at 3:15 pm

You’ll kick butt and then wonder what you were ever worried about. And what will happen in October? Who knows? Does it matter? You’ve already taken that GIANT leap of faith and everything else has fallen into place – so will October. But I completely empathize because I do the exact same thing. I go full speed ahead and then when I get there I panic. Why? I have no idea. Today, someone dear to my heart (who lived a good long life) passed from this earth and in my sadness I’m realizing that so little really matters. You know the old saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff?” It’s so incredibly true and every now and then there’s a moment in time when it gets driven home. Hey Kim! Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Patti recently posted..JFK & LBJ – Why the Fascination?

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Kim February 28, 2014 at 5:44 am

Thanks Patti. I’m so sorry for your loss :( It does just take a lesson like that to remember what really matters. So, true, this is just small stuff in the long run (isn’t it all small stuff??).

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Patti February 28, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Yes, it really is. And I think it’s a lifelong continual nonstop learning process.
Patti recently posted..It Doesn’t Really Matter ~

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Angie Mattson February 27, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Panicking for me is just a habit. Whether it’s useful or not, well, that is for you to decide. If you could choose an emotion other than panic, what would it be?

I am so thrilled for you and Brian, for this new adventure. And if you write less or less well for the next six months, so be it. The amount of material you WILL have for writing after “the job” (natch, the opportunity) is over and you find the quiet to time…man, oh man, your keyboard will SING! And I cannot wait!!!
Angie Mattson recently posted..20 ways to rock at being organized

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Kim February 28, 2014 at 5:47 am

I love this comment and thank you for writing it. If I could choose an emotion other than panic… well, I’d like to choose excitement. And there is definitely a lot of excitement mixed in there as well. For some reason I think that my mind thinks that if I worry over everything I’m covering all my bases which sounds a little crazy now that I write it out like that. I need to have a little more trust in things… the universe hasn’t let me down so far. Sometimes I do have an immense amount of trust and other times… panic!

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Ashlie March 2, 2014 at 6:13 pm

I love this sentiment. Relating to panic (or worry or complaining or judging or whatever) as a habit of the mind makes it less significant and certainly less relevant. ‘Oh yeah, there I go panicking again, isn’t that interesting?’ :) We notice it and then we have a choice.
Ashlie recently posted..We Have An Etsy Shop!

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Kim March 4, 2014 at 5:43 am

Yes. Though I am great at noticing that I am panicking, even noticing that it is a pattern and habit, but not so great at actually stopping myself from doing it. If only I could tell you the paranoid dreams I’ve been having!!! I think in some respects this is a result of my “all-in” way of doing things. I like this about myself but I do tend to get absorbed.

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Jessica February 27, 2014 at 6:33 pm

I try to see the panic as a good thing, an indicator that I am on the right track. That my brain wouldn’t be pushing back so hard if I wasn’t about to do something amazing. :)

I also love that you quoted Pema Chodron. I just finished reading her book The Wisdom of No Escape a few weeks ago and it was a wonderful perspective on meditation.

Anyway, you are totally going to rock this new adventure. Onward and upward!
Jessica recently posted..Quitting My Job Without Another One Lined Up Was the Best Risk I Ever Took

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Kim February 28, 2014 at 5:48 am

I’ve got to add that book to my reading list. Thanks Jessica!

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Carmel February 28, 2014 at 12:20 am

Noted. We all have our patterns – lucky for you, you have a blog to keep track of your patterns! Sometimes it just feels good to get it off your chest. Now you are free of it and can go about your life again.
Carmel recently posted..THE YUMMY FILES: LAOS

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Kim February 28, 2014 at 5:49 am

Yeah, God bless the blog! Documenting Kim’s ups and downs since 2011.

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Ezz February 28, 2014 at 1:34 am

Somehow…Facebook chose tonight to show me this post. And it has been EXACTLY what I needed to read. Thank you. So much. xo

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Kim February 28, 2014 at 5:49 am

Ah, I’m so glad it found you when you needed it.

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Tyrhone February 28, 2014 at 7:20 am

Panic and fear really does seem to be our go to emotion, but maybe it is necessary, maybe it is the thing that reminds us that this risky thing we are doing is worthwhile, if we felt nonchalant about these seemingly hard to do things I think we might be a little less likely to see them through.

I am sure you guys will do well, just like with everything else you have reached for!
Tyrhone recently posted..Training is over, now I’m really scared…

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Kim February 28, 2014 at 4:48 pm

It’s so true. The things that I have said yes to and didn’t panic a little always turn out to be underwhelming at best. I panic because I’m pushing myself and I don’t know what will happen. It is a good thing :)

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Sarah Somewhere February 28, 2014 at 7:47 am

I HEAR YOU KIM! I have been experiencing a similar feeling about this whole flying malarchy of Tyrhone’s, but underneath it all, I have this deep knowing that not only will it be okay, it will be life changing in the best of ways. But boy, oh boy, it is HARD. It is stressful to transition into that new realm of the unknown again, and again and AGAIN. But I know neither of us would have it any other way. Wishing you both all the best on this new adventure. Don’t you wish we could all handle change as well as those dogs? :-)
Sarah Somewhere recently posted..What I’ve learned about alcoholism (and recovery)

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Kim February 28, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Ha, I can only imagine how I would feel if Brian was flying!!!

If only I had an ounce of the calm acceptance my dogs have— I’d be doing good!

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Janet February 28, 2014 at 8:13 am

Sorry. Can’t wait until October. This is just too delicious. Wonderful words beautifully bound together. A multi-reread lucious and decadent. Maybe you’ve found your muse – panic surrounded by peaceful beauty producing layers of satisfaction. It certainly worked this day. And your layers of satisfaction grow ever deeper. You’re the BEST!

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Kim February 28, 2014 at 4:51 pm

I really hope panic is not my muse… I don’t want her around too much!

And thank you so much for the compliment :)

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Kim February 28, 2014 at 10:12 am

You are right – panic is what you do. So, since you know that you don’t need to panic over panicking.

One thing I need to know is: Is this wooded oasis in Ohio? How far did you have to go to get away from the snow? I think the first flake that fell in November is still in my front yard! Not much has melted in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

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Kim February 28, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Okay, no more panicking over panic!!!

Yes, this wooded oasis is in SE Ohio, Hocking Hills. It was freezing there but the snow had melted (though I hear we are headed for another storm soon).

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Steve C February 28, 2014 at 12:34 pm

Oh Kim, I love how you detail your life adventure. You remind us that life is a solid stream of all kinds of emotions. I can empathize with your panic. My whole working life was a series of panic situations, and I thrived on it. As a general engineering construction estimator, no two jobs were ever the same. I was always in over my head, trying to figure out how to best build something costing multimillion’s of dollars.

You will find your life this summer will be a series of panic deadlines. Just remember that you’re good at what you do and you’re just there to relay your confidence and knowledge to others. Always remember to relax and smile. :) (nobody will ever check in your pants)

My wife and I did a few “show and tell” slide shows of our 2 year RTW trip. The local TV stations were there with their bright stage lights and cameras rolling, to meet deadline for the 11:00 news. The newspaper reporters would be scribbling notes like mad to meet deadline for tomorrows’ paper. Controlled panic is everywhere.

We were travelers, not entertainers, but our presentations always produced enthusiasm with the crowds. I suspect you will be equally, if not more successful. Remember, they won’t coming there to learn how to survive a root canal, and somebody in the magazine world thinks enough about you to pay you for your expertise. If you can, keep your dogs with you on stage, they’ll keep your fright and ego grounded. You’ve filed your flight plan, now go get on that plane and go, just as you’ve done before!

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Kim February 28, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Steve!!! I love this. I literally laughed out loud at this line: Always remember to relax and smile. (nobody will ever check in your pants). This is such wonderful advice and I think you for taking the time to type it out. I will definitely be re-reading.

Our dogs don’t get to come with us :( I really wish they could. But they will be staying behind with Grandma and Grandpa and that makes their old-lady bones very happy.

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Sam February 28, 2014 at 5:02 pm

Oh, I hear ya on worrying about the unknown! I am the queen of worry (on the big stuff and the minute details!). I have recently discovered that for me, simply writing it all out (the fears, the worries, the ups and the downs) has been doing wonders for my state of mind in dealing with transition and doubt. In fact, just wrote about that on my blog. And in reading brilliant blogs like yours, I’m reminded that I’m not alone, so thanks for sharing all parts of your journey! All the best in rocking out that presentation! And enjoy the woods!
Sam recently posted..On Fear and Exploring Life

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Kim March 2, 2014 at 5:57 am

You are right! Just writing this down allowed me to note it and move on with my life.

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Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) February 28, 2014 at 10:41 pm

Well, you know that all I want to do after reading this one is jump up out of my seat, throw my hands in the air, and give you a hearty “AMEN!” I’ve really found that whenever you make a big decision that has any weight whatsoever, it is always followed by that “oh shit” moment not long after where you’re certain, à la GOB Bluth, that you’ve made a huge mistake and wish you could take it back. Or if you’re me, you have those moments even when you haven’t made a life changing choice, but just a regular one that happens to shake things up a bit. That’s the price we pay when we take the risk on something new, we have to sit with uncertainty and the possibility of failure or unhappiness, and it’s easy to lose sight of the reasons we elected to do this in the first place. I guess that’s why they call it BLIND panic, right?

I always find that writing posts like these ones tends to be the biggest help when I’m feeling scattered and unhinged. I have the sense they work the same magic for you too. So when October comes and you’re panicking again, I’ll be sure to forward you this link as you’ve asked, but I’ll encourage you to write about it just the same anyway!
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..The Art of Ambling in George Town

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Kim March 2, 2014 at 5:59 am

For me, I usually just have these oh shit moments on really, really big decisions. Brian, on the other hand, is the king of saying (right after he’s done A) “oh, I should have done B.” I get so mad at him when he does it!!!! I suppose it is human nature to analyze if we’ve done the best possible thing, in fact, I think that is what that whole book “The Paradox of Choice” is about. Or, rather, it is about how having too many options and decisions is not a good thing.

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Oliver March 1, 2014 at 8:10 am

“Please, send me the link in October.” :D Love this! Some marvellous impressions from the wonderful cabin life and your mind Kim. I think the questions you are asking yourself right now are more important than the answers you may find. Every once in a while it’s good to take that imaginary step back and take a look where you are from a different perspective and see if this is where you want to be, if this person is who you want to be and if this life if what you want it to be. October will come soon enough, but before there will be seven other months with incredible potential to amaze and inspire.
I think the two of you can’t fail – as long as you do things with passion and without regrets… Take care and keep on keeping one! :)
Oliver recently posted..Moments ~ keeping pace with life…

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Kim March 2, 2014 at 6:00 am

I totally agree, we should always be evaluating to make sure that we are living the best way we can. For me, it’s something I always need to take tabs on or I can get a little off track. Thanks Oliver!

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Catherine March 3, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Love your moment of realisation. It is so true though, the best things normally come from those that we worry most about! Good luck with your latest adventure, though I’m sure you won’t need it!
Catherine recently posted..Reading List #1

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Kim March 4, 2014 at 5:43 am

Thank you Catherine. I will definitely take all of the luck I can get!

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Karyn @ Not Done Travelling March 4, 2014 at 3:05 am

I so know what you mean. We chose our departure date literally about four hours ago. Now I’m panicking. What if it doesn’t work out? What if I don’t earn as much money with my soon to begin location-independant job as I expect to? What if the place we chose to stay for a month in Phuket while getting started turns out to suck and we are stuck there? What if we have budgeted so badly we can’t even get home?

As evidenced by everybody else who has been able to travel long-term, I know it will work out fine, but…the panic is still there. Just like you know it’s gonna turn out ok, as evidenced by your previous successes, yet the panic is still there.

I can only presume that it’s our instinctual flight-or-fight response that evolved in humans to keep us safe and now rears it’s head to protect us once again…but it’s ok, it’s really ok, because even though panic is there to look after us, we really don’t need him. We’ll be ok. Thanks panic, but you can go home early today. :)
Karyn @ Not Done Travelling recently posted..“You Can Travel Later, Buy A House Now!”

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Kim March 4, 2014 at 5:44 am

I remember when we chose our departure date. Even though it was still far away in the future it was SO exciting (and stressful) to have one. It made the whole trip real. And then I panicked of course :)

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Darcy @Darcy's Utopia & @Sustainable Family Finances March 4, 2014 at 11:33 pm

Kim,

I seriously thought you were going to leave that internal panic button somewhere along your travels…don’t worry, literally, your life will undoubtedly bring new beautiful adventures come October. And, truly, you’re going to rock the job, I have no doubt. Just take care of yourself and stay playful. As you know, life and work can be the same.

Congrats on recognizing your quirky panic pattern! ;-)

And btw, in case I haven’t already extended the invite, we’d love for you and Brian to squeeze in a trip to our Olivia Beach Camp Cabins while you are in Oregon. Just let me know when to book it!

Hugs,
Darcy

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Kim March 6, 2014 at 5:52 am

Wha ha ha. No, I think I was born with that internal panic button and I will die with it! As long as I don’t let it stop me I can know it is just part of the process…

And it would be AMAZING to stay at Olivia Beach Camp… the perfect place to work. When I know more about the schedule I will get in touch.

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TammyOnTheMove March 5, 2014 at 12:01 pm

I remember to this day how I felt when I stood in my empty house in England and when I handed the keys to our new tenants. Panic doesn’t even come close. I think I had a minor nervous breakdown. :-)

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Kim March 6, 2014 at 5:53 am

Ha! I remember the day we sold our house and I walked through the house petting the walls and crying hysterically. Good times ;) (Actually I think I linked to that post in this post). That was hard but worth it.

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Karina@Jet Set Karina March 6, 2014 at 5:35 am

Thank you for your always inspirational posts. The way you write helps us all to realize we are not alone in our feelings of panic, and anxiety. I find myself in a constant state of anxiety. This helps me realize I’m not alone! I just have to constantly remind myself that things WILL work out in the end! Have a good day! :)

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Kim March 6, 2014 at 5:54 am

They will! They will! That’s why I always remind myself that fear (anxiety, panic, etc) is not a red flag but something to be noted and moved past anyway. Easier said than done, but it can be done.

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Jimmy Dau March 6, 2014 at 5:50 am

Doing what you want to do and having some stress is always good for optimum performance.
I don’t know what the specifics about the presentation is but from experience with presentations, just speak from the heart, what you believe in, talk about your dogs and the audience will believe every word. Maybe learn some magic tricks as well :P

I’m sure your blog, book and shop will still be here and none of us will be going away anytime soon. Just do what’s right for you any by the time October comes around you’ll be kicking ass
Jimmy Dau recently posted..The week in photos – “By any means”

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Kim March 6, 2014 at 9:28 am

I agree. I actually do fairly well with stress and turning that into fuel to perform well. But I still hate the feeling! And I will follow your advice to speak from the heart. I know that when you speak from the heart others can feel it and respond.

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Lauren @Roamingtheworld March 16, 2014 at 10:27 pm

So happy you wrote this. Good reflection. IT will be great to re-read in October and then again when fear plagues ya… because every time we dive into something new or unfamiliar, doubt and fears do creep in. Thanks for an honest post.

I recently came across a blog post I appropiately titled “Fear” on my blog back in 2009 (after returning from 9 months wandering in Africa) when I was in a midst of a BIG transition. It was awesome to read. Full of wisdom and yet so much of the same uncertainty holds true for me now in 2014… http://wp.me/s74a3-fear

I’m sure you’ll be amazing! Can’t wait to hear more!
Lauren @Roamingtheworld recently posted..A blind-date adventure with Lauren from Sobremesa in Spain

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Kim March 17, 2014 at 2:12 pm

It’s funny how, no matter what, I always feel uncertainty and fear before every new beginning- and the bigger it is the more fear I feel. I’m glad I have this to refer to in October. I’ll no doubt be freaking out again over something.

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Montecristo Travels (Sonja) May 7, 2014 at 11:44 am

“Feel the fear. Do it anyway.” tattoed below my left ribcage. Panic … is GOOD as long as – like you – it does not stop you.

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Kim May 8, 2014 at 5:39 am

Now THAT is a good reminder to have tattoed on your body :)

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