Planning for a “round the world” journey began for me about 15 years ago. As a newly-tenured teacher, I gained the confidence to schedule a meeting with our school superintendent. I had only been in his office one time before, during my final job interview, so I found the setting to be somewhat intimidating, but my focus was clear. I wanted to know what steps were necessary to take a leave of absence to see the world. As he shared the nitty-gritty details about processes, compensation, benefits, and pension, I dreamily imagined my year of adventure. Since that day, I have had the same conversation with THREE school superintendents and with myself, family, and friends at least 1,000 times. I’ve talked and talked and talked about it…attended international job fairs, read countless blogs by long term travelers, and set the stage with summer long experiences traveling in exotic destinations.
In the end, there were always life details that held me back…a lack of a serious plan, family commitments, work investments, and a love for my home… just to name a few. But then, as I entered a new school year, the sixth in the same position for me, which was near my past limit, it hit me. The time was right…NOW! I think it was one of those “if I don’t do it now, when will I?” moments. So, I put pen to paper, freshened up a letter that I imagined for years, and requested a leave of absence from my school board for the next school year.
Now the reality is here. This summer, I will begin a year-long adventure. PLEASE don’t ask me for details. People are asking me every day and I watch their eyes fill with concern or curiosity when I say I don’t have a plan yet. I have some general thoughts in mind and a bucket full of faith…and right now, that seems good enough to me. I am confident that my plan will unfold as it is meant to…at least I hope so.
In the meantime, I am focusing on two important things that I think will make a bigger impact on this journey than a set of plane tickets. I am working to prepare my body and mind for a trip of this nature.
I’ll start with the body for this post, and save the complexities of the mind journey for another day.
Last year, when traveling to India, I made an amazing discovery. I started regularly going to the gym on weekday mornings about eight months before that trip. My workout routine was not complicated – a few sculpting classes, spinning, treadmill, and yoga. Part of my motivation was the health benefits of a daily gym experience, but another motivation was the fact that leaving my house and getting on the road early to a gym near my work cut my hour long commute in half. Being productively active instead of immobile on the expressway and having the peaceful feeling of “checking the gym off my daily list” were all I needed to convince me to wake up at 4:30 each morning. My amazing discovery was that my exercise routine clearly altered by traveling experience.
Pre-India, my long term summer journeys always began in the same way. It took me about 5 days to get in the swing of the daily walking needed to see new destinations. Five days of aching legs, combined with caffeine withdrawal, made me a less than perfect travel companion. However, on this journey, no transition was needed. Those early morning gym sessions had prepared me for the rigor of travel – without a bit of pain. If only someone had told me that the gym would improve my travel experience, I might have jumped on board earlier.
This year, I recognize early that I am preparing for a marathon of travel…one year, lots of destinations, endless airplanes, hotels, and time zones will surely invigorate my sense of adventure, but without careful planning, I worry about the toll on my immune system. So, for that past months, and especially in the past weeks, some of my favorite people have helped me to enter a Super, Power Zone of exercise, health and fitness.
Karla, my work accountability partner, and I devised a plan for tackling our health and fitness goals. Our first step was to make sure that we are getting a daily dose of good exercise. My 4:15 am wake up text messages to her have provided a bit of humor as I’ve learned that Karla is not that text-chatty in the mornings. Of course, I am willing to include anyone who’d like to receive one of my sunshiny wake up messages….all you have to do is ask.
Step two…and this is a big one for me…trying to make some diet adjustments, be more conscious about the foods I put in my body, and reduce my intake of SUGAR (meaning gummi bears, circus peanuts, taffy, licorice, and the list goes on)! It also means being deliberate about planning meals in advance to be sure that I am putting the right stuff in. This has been a challenging journey…to say the least!
Karla and I looked for ways to start our day in a highly nutritious way, too. I don’t like to eat breakfast, so we opted for another tool to give our bodies the gift of vitamins and nutrients. After our morning exercise routine, we begin the day with a Body by Vi Shake mixed with fruit and soy milk. Our shake concoctions are not only delicious, but fill us with all the good things our bodies need. I like all the options that we can create and compare and appreciate that they taste really good – and are naturally sweet! The shakes have replaced my daily need for candy and given me a simple way – less than five minutes of prep time – to have breakfast.
From a nutrition front, I would also like to include more super healthy foods in my diet and find ways to pack my immune system with an extra boost that will keep me strong for the year away. I’m still researching ways to do this…and am just starting to experiment with recipes that are within my comfort range. So, if you have any, I am on a quest for super food recipes with no more than three steps or ingredients that can be made in five minutes or less. I have to be realistic about my focus, time, and talents here!
Step three…I have to do this…I have to come to terms with my arch enemy – 64 ounces of recommended water intake per day. UGH! I watch people drinking water with enthusiasm and am jealous that whenever I take a sip, I find it to be a chore instead of thirst quenching and would prefer 64 ounces of diet coke any day.
Preparing my body for this journey is making it all feel more real. I know I should probably start working on an itinerary…but heck, making salads and drinking water seems easier to tackle at this time. You might ask why I bothered to write about this. Well, the truth is that I am weak and putting the plan in writing holds me accountable to you and myself. After all, if you see me devouring a bag of circus peanuts now, or guzzling loads of Diet Coke, you have every right to call me on it.
More to come on my plans for the year…but all ideas are welcomed and appreciated!