I sure love those words! However, the reality, for most of us, is that we find a gap between where we currently stand and where our dreams venture. However, if we keep a steady gaze on that dream, we might actually bridge the gap—if the dream is worthy.
I’m writing from the comfort of my apartamento, nestled within the lively streets of Huaraz, Peru. This Sunday morning rapidly approached afternoon status and I’m still in my pajamas. As I sit here enjoying a breathtaking view of the 22,205 feet peak of Huascarán, I relish in the harmony of hymns flowing from the church doors across the courtyard—familiar hymns that seem to drown out the ambient wave of a motocabs and yapping stray dogs.
Tomorrow I turn 29, which marks the first day of my 30th year. Instead of making a list of accomplishments, shortcomings, goals and dreams, I plan to spend this day in appreciation. I sit here in reflection with a smile that stretches ear to ear, even though I am not married nor do I have children—life events I once hoped to experience before the age of thirty.
You see, several months ago, I changed the course of my life and not in a small way—I said ‘until next time’ to my family, friends and incredible co-workers in Colorado and boarded a plane south….to Peru.
This decision did not come with ease. In fact, I chewed the fat over endless life chats with close friends—a conversation that seemed to span for seasons. I felt a longing to address that unchecked box on my list, which was the desire to experience complete immersion within another culture, while my body and mind were still capable of supporting my dream. It didn’t help that I began a relationship with an amazing man who spends part of his time rooted in Peru. Details. Details.
I spent the previous string of years lost in daydreams, in hopes to escape an anxiety-ridden place. Reading ‘A Living Worth Scraping’ and ‘Why Lying Broken in a Pile on Your Bedroom Floor is a Good Idea’ multiple times, I was clearly in search of inspiration. I grew tired of evaluating my time-frame and crafting emails to myself titled ‘Next Step?’ and ‘How am I going to live my one sweet precious life.’
During this dreaded period of time, I often described my life in my head. You might know what I’m referring to; I’m talking about that self-proclaimed bio we continue to narrate, write and re-write in our mind’s ear. Here is an example of words I’d often hear:
Interior designer gone absolutely bonkers—she ended up in a facility planning department designing cubicles (not that there’s anything wrong with it—people need a healthy place to perform their work, it’s just not the right fit, in her life, right now.) Therefore, she goes to yoga almost every single day to take deep breaths…mostly because her heart aches, but she does actually love practicing yoga and she really loves being a designer. She understands that without yoga she would probably be flipping the bird all over town. She even enrolled in a yoga teacher-training program, but quickly withdrew because she was too afraid to find her voice, at that particular time in her life.
This sort of back and forth motion of complacency became a slippery slope as it’s unhealthy to go about life with one foot in and the other foot out. In short, I desperately needed to redirect my vessel.
How much time do we have to take a big leap and at what stage is it too late?
At some point, during that July day, I realized the answer to that question was: we have a lifetime and it’s never too late. In that ah-ha moment, I wrote a new letter to myself titled: I’m Going!
And that was it. I took the first step towards a big move—promising myself that I would remain working through December. I began efforts to redesign my path, asking myself new questions and slowly mapping out a plan to plant myself in Peru.
Life has a funny way of making sure you are really sure about uprooting your life.
October stopped me in my tracks. I was offered a job with a fortune 500 company. A position I did not seek out. A position that promised security and growth in Boulder, Colorado. Hello? Seems like an easy solution to my floundering ways, right, scratch the Peru plan and grow up?
During that same week, I had my annual review with my current employer, a small business with less than ten employees. A company I love because of the people, their philosophies and workplace balance. I sat nervously in that conference room, forcing a smile on my troubled face, as my salary was increased—completely aware that another difficult decision was standing before me.
That evening, I drafted a cost benefit analysis, but quickly realized that my life is not a business and a systematic process for calculating and comparing costs and benefits might not reveal my hearts desire. I asked myself that familiar question—a question we all should ask more often:
The answer became clear. I politely declined the job offer with the big Boulder company and immediately arranged dinner plans with my boss. There I sat, face to face, with an amazing woman who had once given me an opportunity. I gathered my courage, looked her in the eye and said “I’m moving to Peru…”
There was a brief awkward-ish pause as I anticipated the questions that would follow my declaration…my face felt hot as it was completely blush-toned.
As any mentor would do, she offered insightful life experiences and supported my unknown path, wishing me well. I exhaled in a moment of relief as my plan was finally unveiled.
“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.” ― David Orr, Ecological Literacy
The next big question to address: Why Peru and What are you going to do there?
My list is long. When I share my thoughts and plans, and actually hear my response roll off my tongue, I feel a pinch of insecurity—a fear of judgment. And then I realize that this fear stems from my own projections and my audience is actually not judging my plan at all—they offer love and kindness and all of those other ‘feel good words.’
It’s simple: I plan to live.
Making the decision to remove myself from my (un)comfortable zone, I understood the urgency to design a productive and creative alternative for my time abroad, as there is a time limit. I applied to an apprenticeship position with elephant journal and began researching volunteer options in Huaraz—the ball began to roll. By December, I was pulled aside at work regarding my interest level in a super-part time position within my company. I didn’t hesitance and I happily shouted ‘Yes, please!’
There you have it. I was offered an opportunity to stay on with my incredible firm, doing something I love. My dream to live abroad was supported and my plan had purpose. I’m reminded of that saying ‘Leap and the net will appear.’
If I’ve learned anything, it’s that we have to listen to our inner voice—the voice of instinct. I fear we may grow complacent if we don’t listen intuitively—so complacent that our souls might escape—too dramatic? Maybe. But life is short.
Lacy Rae Ramunno is a gal who chases many butterflies. An artist at heart, Interior Designer by trade, a lover of nature and all things snow capped. Passionate about healthy living and balance, she recently relocated to Huaraz, Peru in search of a soul-enriching experience. Thankfully, she’s maintained remote employment with a fantastic firm, the Ellipse Group and is participating in an apprenticeship with elephant journal. Lacy is currently rediscovering her talent for visual communication through different mediums—while learning to pair that love with the written word as a component of her journey. Perhaps she’ll pick up some Spanish along the way.
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta