Featured, Inside My Head, North America, Solo

What’s Next

25 Comments 06 September 2013

Morning by the lake

Morning coffee at the very calm Cedar Lake in Wisconsin

Most Fridays I give you my Week In-stagram Review – providing you a real time update of my nomadic travel.  However this week you get a live update of what’s going on inside my head…and a few Instagram shots!  

I started my morning sitting on a lounge chair with a cup of coffee at 7am experiencing absolutely nothing. Cedar Lake was completely still. No wind, no sound, no neighbors – nothing. It’s quite a contrast from my old life – the life I left behind 7 years ago in NYC. Seven years ago I would have already ran six miles in Central Park, checked email, and been racing out the door to grab a coffee and hop on the subway headed to my office. The screeching of the subway always woke me up – a high pitched sound on the 1 line that when pulling out of the station at 72nd street had the exact three notes from the song Somewhere during the lyrics “There’s a place…” Yes – I had quite an imagination back then in my commute-to-work haze – but even then I was dreaming of a place where I could get away.

Insider Outsider

I know this sounds trite but – I can’t believe it’s been 7 years. There are days when this life of motion and nomadic living feels completely normal – no big deal. Then there are days when I feel so far from normalcy that I might as well be a castaway on an island talking to a volleyball. When I return to the US to see and stay with family and friends I feel disjointed. I’m an insider outsider – being on the inside in my own culture and with my friends and family – but not really belonging. In fact, my sister just recently brought to my attention how difficult my life is to understand and explain. And there are times I’m happy with that (I love being unique), and sometimes I’m not (I don’t like being weird).

NYC buildings

The concrete jungle of NYC

However, I do love coming back to the only real thing I can call ‘home’ – the US. Sometimes it feels as if it’s a big hug, I can breathe, things become easy to understand again and my brain doesn’t have to worry about all of the little minute details that it deals with when I’m traveling in new places. In these 7 years I’ve only spent a total of 12 to 14 months in the country and most of that time is used to try to reconnect with people so that I feel like I still have a lifeline. I’m in NYC this week and even though this city is so familiar to me, I don’t really know where I fit in any longer – I definitely feel like an outsider as I walk around the streets here.

Looking Back

I do love the fact that I’m back in NYC on my 7th anniversary of changing my life to travel. It was on September 8th, 2006 that I took off for Kenya – terrified and excited.

“I’ve done it – there’s no looking back now – I’ve got to roll with whatever comes my way. It was a difficult departure – reminiscent of my previous moves around the US. Every time I would talk to a close friend my eyes would well up in tears. I’m not real sure why as I wasn’t sad about my decision, just emotional about the unknown I guess. I finally told myself that I needed to practice my acting skills and when people asked me if I was excited I would lie and say ‘yes’ trying to act excited – that way maybe I would convince myself that I was truly excited. No matter what tactic I tried – the tears came – and I had to admit – I was scared of what I was embarking into. That realization really pissed me off. I don’t want to think of myself as someone who is scared – I want to be seen as strong, brave, independent – not scared. But I guess everyone is human and this was my breaking point – leaving the known, predictable world I know to go out and discover a new world…literally. “

I read this passage now and sort of laugh to myself as it feels that now the unknown has become my known. I generally have no idea what’s happening next in my life. I can go weeks with nothing new happening and then one email may change my direction for a couple of months. I love this flexibility and I have now become one with this unknown. That’s probably one of the best things that travel has done for me – make me comfortable with not knowing.

Upcoming Travel Plans

I recently decided to stay in the US a little longer than normal this fall – thanks to some fun work projects which have me traveling for 5 weeks in the US and North America in general. On September 8th – the exact date I left for Kenya 7 years ago I will again be getting on a plane and flying off – but in the other direction – I’m heading to Maui, Hawaii. I’ll be exploring the island of Maui in a fun social media trip called #seeMaui (follow my Facebook or Twitter feeds for live updates) as well as attending a wedding (no – not mine). Then I’ll be doing a super cool project that will take me from the west coast of North America to the east coast and beyond in the matter of 3 weeks making 7 iconic stops along the way to dig into North America.

Welcome stairs lincoln center

Lincoln Center at night in NYC

The Big Question Everyone Wants to Know

“How long will I continue this (nomadic travel) for?” This seems to be the burning question on everyone’s mind that I meet. And I’m sorry to disappoint you but I never really have a concrete answer. Sure – it would be fun to get to 10 years – but for me I just assume I will keep doing it until I get tired of it. I doubt that my love for travel and exploration will ever stop – but there are times when I don’t want to feel like an outsider any longer – and I may have to slow down and be an insider again. But until then…I keep moving.

Want to dive further into the past – here are some other anniversary posts I did through the years:

Three Glorious Years 
What Travel Has Taught Me
This is Me 6 Years Later

Your Comments

25 Comments so far

  1. I think that’s the best answer; until it’s not fun anymore. That’s all you really need. Congrats on 7 years!

  2. Amy says:

    Love it! You still continue to inspire me!!! Keep on going ! 7 is a magic number roll with it!

  3. Aloha! I’ll send up smoke signals from the other island. I’ll be exploring Lanai September 12-18.

  4. Rhonda says:

    I love this post because,in a way, I feel the same. Although we just did a 14mth RTW trip, it changed us immeasurably and now, even though I’ve been back in the US for some years, I still feel a little like an outsider looking in. Familiar with things, but feeling as though I don’t truly belong. lol.. of course, that is why we’re leaving an a year or so to drive the Pan Am highway and beyond, longing for our own nomadic life. Keep the naysayers at bay and just keep on doing it as long as you’re happy with it!

  5. When I travel, I always feel exhilarated by the challenges and new experiences and I think that is why I go. But when I first get home, I am often relieved by the simplicity of life which I enjoy for a while. Then I am planning my next journey.

    So it seems we need a little of both to keep us healthy and connected.

  6. Tom Bartel says:

    Somehow, Sherry, I have trouble picturing you as ever having been afraid.

  7. Great plans for the future! Good luck!

  8. If it’s any consolation, I don’t see you as weird. :)

    May see you in the US if you are kicking around in November!

  9. Maria says:

    Sherry, love the way you shoot from the hip and your aim is straight like an arrow! You’re so candid – it’s refreshing.

    Can hardly wait for your US tour to begin. Bon voyage!

  10. AmandaH says:

    I am reading this and it’s exactly 45 minutes until my next adventure begins (the adventure of leaving stable corporate writing work for god knows what else).

    And I think even though I just expatrioted for a year, I totally get what you’re saying. My whole perspective of the American life has changed. I feel like an insider-outsider too and I just want to do what makes me happy.

    Good luck. I really enjoy reading your posts.

  11. Audrey says:

    Congratulations on 7 years and glad you are spending your travel anniversary in stillness and quiet :) People used to always ask us when we started, “Are you going to travel like this forever?” And the response was always similar as yours — yes, until we tire of it or we want something new.

    Now that we have a base in Berlin, everyone asks: “How long will you live there?” And the answer is the same as always, “I don’t know.”

  12. Thanks for sharing your reflections! Look forward to following along with whatever you decide to do next.

    It’s always so interesting to learn about what other travellers experience when coming home, how they deal with it.

    I spent 18 months abroad, working and travelling. Now that I’m back home in Canada working again, everyone assumes I’m going to settle down, get married, stay put. As if the adventure I had was enough.

    I’ve been back for 9 months and it’s been nice but I can’t wait for what’s next. Taking my time to figure out what it is, but I know I’ll get back out there again. :)

  13. It is always exciting to read about what other passionate travellers are planning and during that process, I always end up hearing about some who are ready to stop travelling for a while, or to shift to a slower pace and choosing to stay longer in given destinations, or simply taking some time off to go home for a while. The idea that you mention about being an insider-outsider is certainly a familiar one as well. I think that travel changes all of us in immense and immeasurable ways which can have a profound impact on the way we feel in coming “home” and in attempting to re-integrate into our culture of origin. It seems that is simply a trade-off for pursuing this lifestyle, though as more and more people are pursuing long term travel, I think it will be come easier to understand and explain these choices and ideally lessen the feeling of being an outsider in our own countries and cultures.

  14. Ali says:

    Congrats on 7 years! Until you get tired of it is the perfect answer. I think it’s hard to go back to a “normal” life after all that you’ve experienced but I also think it’s reasonable to eventually want more stability & more familiarity.

  15. Nora says:

    Preaching to the choir, girl!
    You and I started traveling around the same time, and our journeys have (in their own different ways) been quite similar.
    Having a sense of belonging and a place where I can put my feet up has become more important to me of late. Having found this in Grenada is a blessing – because it’s comfortable, but also different enough that I feel like I’m traveling even when I’m “home”!

    But like you, no matter what I/we do, I don’t believe my love of travel and exploration will ever disappear.

    Keep on truckin’, girl! Enjoy Maui, and I’ll “see you on the other side”! 😉

  16. Wynne says:

    Glad to know that someone else also recognizes the exact three notes from the song Somewhere during the lyrics “There’s a place…”!

    Your responses to everyone’s questions are dead on, simply because they’re true: you DON’T know, until it happens. I’ve been asked the same thing, even though I’ll be gone only 3 mos. That “What’s next?” question. My answer is usually, “It depends on who I am and what I want upon my return.”

    And of course, the status of my apartment. That’s a big factor in and of itself.

    Happy trails!

  17. Ramesh says:

    wow 7 years is a long time ! congrats :)

  18. Bravery is not the lack of fear. Bravery is being afraid and doing it anyway. Someone smarter than me said that. You are very brave. I admire you for stepping into your fear and living the life you want. I’m so glad we got a chance to meet in Maui. I look forward to following your journey, wherever it leads.

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Sherry traveling the world

I'm Sherry, a corporate cube dweller turned nomadic traveler. I travel to off-the-beaten-path destinations to bring you unique travel experiences and photography. But it's not just about travel, it's also about life experiences of a middle age wanderer.
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Where am I and Where am I going?

Minnesota/Wisconsin -> Nebraska

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