A New Chapter: First Stop – Adelaide, Australia

I’ve always believed life is more about the journey than the destination which probably explains why I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up (and is also the inspiration behind the name of this website).  In 2008, during a holiday in Cambodia, I realised I had been focusing on my accounting/finance career for nearly fifteen years and I’d lost sight of my priorities.  That’s when the journey changed course and I enjoyed a fifteen month career break and round-the-world adventure.  On my travels I learned that many people spend too much time regretting the past (which they cannot change), worrying about the future (which they cannot control) and ignoring the moment.  I didn’t want to become one of those people and I returned to London and my career with new perspective.

That was three years ago and today I am about to start a new chapter.

One of the advantages of taking a contract role when I first returned from my career break, is that it was a three year project with an end date, so I could set a realistic savings target.  One of the advantages of being single and not having children is that I don’t have school fees to save for and have relatively few commitments.  And one of the advantages of having a mortgage in London is that I can cover it with rental income whilst I’m away.

In other words, I am free to be free!

I’m not really sure what to call this new chapter.  Is it a career break?  Is it a career change?  Is it a round-the-world trip?  Is it a lifestyle change?  Is it the onset of a mid-life crisis?  I guess it’s a bit of everything – except the mid-life crisis, contrary to popular belief!

Unlike my previous career break, I am heading to Heathrow Airport today with a one-way ticket and no re-entry plan.  That’s not to say I won’t return to London, it doesn’t mean I’ll never work in an office again, it doesn’t mean I am unhappy with my current lifestyle.  It simply means I want to live life, I want to explore more of the world, I want to spend time improving my writing and photography passions and I want to free myself to see what life what wants to throw at me next.

I want to embrace the moment.

I’m not running away from anything and I’m not running towards anything.  In fact I’m not even running, I’m just going for a long walk!

 

So what am I doing first?  Well, I’m going home!

It’s a difficult question to answer when someone asks me where I’m from.  I grew up in outback Australia, spending my first 15 years in Broken Hill.  I spent the next decade finishing high school, university and beginning my career in Adelaide.  And London has been my home since then.  I feel ties to all three, but with my family still living in Adelaide, it’s the perfect opportunity to return home to just ‘hang’ for a month or two.  It will be a nice change from rushing through the usual two-week holiday, an exhausting feeling that other Aussie ex pats will no doubt relate to.

Looking ahead:

In the last week I’ve gradually crossed items off my list with a robotic ‘I should be stressed but I’ve done it before’ attitude: packed up my belongings, moved them into storage, signed the lease agreement with my new tenant, cancelled my cable tv and broadband accounts, redirected my mail to online or my parent’s address, packed my bags, organised travel insurance etc etc.  I don’t get stressed about these things anymore.  I’m sure I’ve forgotten to do something but it is what it is now and we live in an electronic age where most things can be done from afar.

 

I also took the time to think about what I would miss most (and least) about London.  I found it difficult to limit my list to 25 ‘miss’ items and come up with 5 ‘not miss’ things, a reflection on what a great city London is and why I still call it home.

Now my thoughts have been re-directed to the journey ahead and as I think about what I am looking forward to in my first stop, Adelaide, one of my favourite travel quotes comes to mind:

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” (Marcel Proust)

Exploring other countries certainly broadens the mind but it’s also taught me I don’t need to be in another country to look at things differently.  Exploring other countries has also helped me appreciate where I’m from.  I may have dual nationality now, but I’ll always be Australian.  I may have lived abroad for more than twelve years, but I still think Australia is one of the greatest countries in the world to live.

So I’m really looking forward to exploring my own country through new eyes.  I am keen to get out there with my writing pen poised and camera in hand, to capture and re-discover the places I took for granted when I lived there.

And there are a few other things I’m looking forward to:

1. The warm weather – provided the immigration officials don’t look at my pale skin and question the authenticity of my Australia passport

2. The footy – most of my visits home have been during the Australian summer, so it will feel quite a treat to catch the beginning of the AFL season, watch my beloved Bombers and renew my banter with Adelaide Crows and Port Power supports

3. Driving – I always enjoy being able to replace the unpredictability of the London public transport system with my own transport when I return to Adelaide

4. The sunsets – I can’t wait to get down the beach at the end of the day to photograph sunsets similar to this one that I captured at Henley Beach in 2011

Adelaide-Sunset

5. The free accessibility of the outdoors – one of Adelaide’s key attractions is the ability to enjoy the beach, the hills, the wineries and the parks within each reach of other, at no cost and safely.  (I’ve already put in the request to borrow my sister-in-law’s bicycle and can’t wait to start getting fit again!)

And of course, it goes without saying I’m looking forward to catching up with friends and family, without the feeling of having to schedule everyone onto a tight itinerary  whilst I’m there.

There are a couple of things I’m not so excited about though and one of them starts in a few hours…that damn flight!  More than a day on a plane and the paradox of leaving on Tuesday night and arriving Thursday morning is never fun, and the inevitable jet lag that follows is what has stopped me returning home more often in previous years.  But until teleporting is made available to the general public, it is what it is!

I’m also a little nervous about the cost of being in Australia, because my savings are limited and there is a lot of exploring I want to do around the world this year.  Every time I return, I am shocked at just how expensive Australia has become and the exchange rate is not doing me any favours at the moment.  But that just means less time in bars and restaurants and more time in the great – and free – outdoors!

Above all, there are two little reasons that I am looking forward to returning to Adelaide for an extended visit and they are the nephews who I just don’t see enough of.  So Jake and Brock, get ready for lots of Aunty hugs because I’m on my way….

 

 

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Kellie is a traveller and photographer who is most at home when exploring the world beyond it. Through the intersection of her travel, writing and photography passions, she shares her experiences to inspire others to create there own. The desire to live life instead of existing through it has introduced Kellie to inspirational locations throughout seven continents and from this a passion for landscape and wildlife photography has evolved. She feels a particular connection to the polar regions and Africa. You can see more of her photography at www.kellienetherwoodphotography.com

Comments

  1. So exciting! I dream of a career break, taking a year to do just what you are doing. I am SO jealous. But I have a daughter and a big mortgage and a big job that pays for it all. So I’m not sure when I’ll do it but you are most certainly living my dream. I can’t wait to follow along!

    • Thanks Amy. And I love that you say ‘not sure WHEN I’ll do it’ rather than ‘IF’! If it’s your dream, you’ll do it one day and I’ll be following your adventures 🙂

  2. Dreaming of iced coffee, Balfour’s pies, TimTams … and, of course, Cooper’s Pale Ale!

    Love Adelaide, & wish I could spend more time there.

  3. That sounds so exciting and it looks like you have everything looked after. It is very nice too that you have some family to visit while you are there exploring. Have lots of fun!!

  4. We can’t wait to see you too!

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