I love to travel and explore, and ever since I studied abroad in college I’ve made it a priority in my life. I’ve always had the dream of living on every major continent—not just visiting, but truly living and experiencing life as a local. I’ve been fantasizing about taking my first long-term trip for years, but since I’m mostly calculated and logical, the timing was never perfect. I kept setting mental deadlines for myself, but other people’s priorities seemed to keep it from being a reality.
My priorities changed on January 17, 2012. That night, one of my close college friends passed away unexpectedly in a car accident. Shannon was full of life, incredibly smart, inwardly driven, and just an all around amazing person. Between college, studying abroad together in Europe, and traveling to Brazil in 2010, some of my best memories were spent with her. Up until this point I had been extremely fortunate and was never forced to confront unexpected death with someone so close.
The Holstee Manifesto articulated the feelings I had about Shannon’s death into a simple sentence: Life is short. At the same time, the Manifesto represented the way Shannon lived her life: Do what you love and do it often. The unfortunate truth is that the lesson never sinks in until you’ve learned it firsthand. Our time is not guaranteed and every single day is a gift.
I realized that while there may never be a perfect time to take a long-term trip, there may never be a better time than right now. So on January 25, I booked a one-way flight to Iceland, departing on June 1. I wasn’t exactly sure how I would make that date work with my job, my lease in Chicago, upcoming weddings, etc. But I discovered that something magical happens when you actually decide to do something drastic. Mountains move and seas part. Things fall into place.
Instead of quitting my job, I asked for a 7-month leave of absence, which I was graciously granted. I have been aggressively saving money and I even have friends and family who will be joining or visiting me. So starting on June 1, I plan to live throughout Europe for the next 7 months.
In addition to this immediate trip, the story behind Holstee has inspired a more fundamental shift in how I want to live my life. I’ve decided to start GiveLiveExplore, a lifestyle company based on my personal values and ideal way of life. Although it’s a work in progress, I plan to use my upcoming trip to practice acting out the GiveLiveExplore lifestyle I intend to live. I have some specific projects in mind and will be documenting my experiences along the way. And I’m starting to craft my own manifesto as well.
The Holstee Manifesto encouraged me to take action NOW, and the Holstee Story inspired me to start articulating and acting out the life I intend to lead. Thank you Holstee team for the inspiration!
Love to write?
Every month we select at few writers to help us explore what it means to live a life of reflection and intention. Reach out to Helen, our editor at Helen.W@holstee.com to learn more