I learned a lot during that first six-month trek around Australia. I have learned more since, but not just about Australia. I have learned about the nature of pursuing dreams and building careers. I’ve discovered that goals often turn out to be doors, rather than destinations, leading to other goals and to rewards undreamed of at the outset. Both Australia and writing have given me more than I expected.
My life is completely different from what it was before I left or what it would have been had I not gone. The most obvious difference is that I’m working for myself. Another difference is changed priorities. Before Australia, I worked all the time. I almost never took vacations. Instead of travel, I had shopping. Today, I’d rather take a great trip than have a fabulous wardrobe or new TV—and I’ve had some amazing journeys. I take more time to contribute to the community, from teaching classes to organizing fundraisers. On a beautiful day, I’ll go to the Botanic Garden or forest preserve for a walk, knowing that I’ll work better when I return refreshed. I just have a different mindset now. I still have to work hard— no one who is self-employed escapes hard work. But work isn’t my whole life now.
Freelance writing has its ups and downs, but even in down times, I’m pleased I made the choice I did. When things are good, I’m more than content—I’m having a wonderful time. I write about the things I love, primarily history, food (mostly culinary history), and travel. I am doing everything now that I once thought I’d have to save for retirement—so no need to retire!
I’d love to write a sequel to Waltzing Australia (I’ve been back to Australia three more times, and have many more adventures to share), but only time will tell if I’ll get to do that. However, even if that doesn’t happen, I’m pleased to have been able to share that first grand adventure. I hope readers come away with a sense of knowing Australia, but more importantly, with a sense that dreams can come true, if one pays the price.