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General travel, soul searching

Am I a nomad?

August 17, 2017 • By

Last fall a childhood friend called me a nomad, and I retorted, “No I am not, I just like to travel. That’s not me.”

It bothered me to be labeled a nomad. I consider myself a rooted individual not a wanderer.  I live in New York City and own a home in Chicago. I hop from my parents’ house in the Chicagoland suburbs to various dwellings across the globe. I may possess more travel size toiletries than the average person but my bags are not always packed. If I needed to get on a plane or train in a hurry, I could be out the door in 15 minutes, sweating en route, but looking pretty darn fabulous on the other end. That’s normal right?

The idea of a being a nomad rolled around in my head for months.

Am I someone who wanders?

Is it negative?

Why do I care?

This was part of a larger question for me.  Was this the life I wanted to be living?  Was this where I wanted to be in 20 years?  The answer: No.

I worked in government/politics for 18 years.  I am proud of my successes and my accomplishments. It was never dull and changed every day.  It fostered my caffeinated spirit and my thirst for knowledge.  The job changed every cycle.  I moved from city to city, from apartment to apartment.  I thrived on learning every aspect of a campaign and working with smart, driven people.  It was fun.  I traveled.  I met some of my closest friends.  I worked non-stop and when the job ended, I took a hiatus to travel, but then a cycle started again. The players changed but the game remained the same.


Christmas Market Nuremberg, Germany

After the 2016 election, I booked a flight to Germany to experience the Christmas markets. I drank Glühwein (mulled), visited with family and friends and walked every corner of the selected markets, but for the first time in my travels something had changed.  I was not present.  I took photos. I smiled. I talked to locals. I shopped for clothes.  I existed in Germany in body and spirit but my mind careened off course.


Sydney Harbour Bridge

I tried again in Australia, my safe place and home away from home.  The coastal walks taunted me and the heat drained my energy.  There were days when I sat watching Netflix Hallmark movies rather than meeting new people.  Upset with myself, I resolved to find “fun.” I shopped (thank you Lorne Jane), devoured oysters, prawns on the barbie and fish and chips, and drank every glass of wine presented to me. Did I mention eat and drink?  I paid homage to the Sydney Bridge daily and I slowly started admitting that I needed to make a change in life.

When I returned to New York City after the New Year, I threw myself into work and politics but I ached for something different, a part of me dying.  I lacked the desire, drive and ambition to be the “old” me.  The fire in my belly dissipated.  I ignored my intuition at my mental and physical expense to make my clients happy. That is until February when a writing course in Montana shook me awake.


Snowshoeing near Glacier National Park, Montana

In a little place called Whitefish, Montana, my love for travel returned.  My smile shined, the locals were kind and forgiving and I questioned everyone who would listen. The snow drifted from the sky in big chunks and I opened my mouth to capture a taste.  I spun around in dizzy circles like a figure skater on ice.  I conquered snowshoeing for the first time and laughed myself silly as I stomped along the trail like the Abominable Snowman.  A childlike state came over me.  The wheels were turning and I was thinking, thinking, thinking.

I attended Haven’s Writing Retreat with nine dynamic women eager to tell a story.  The pages turned for some but mine were blank. I fought anger, sadness and nothingness.  I didn’t belong there and I wanted to go home.  Where was home?  I didn’t know anymore.  At times, my voice and my pen took me to the Sydney Bridge, my happy place or chasing the past with friends but most of the time it landed on unexplored destinations where daydreams become reality.

One night, I stepped outside into Montana’s “Big Sky” blanketed with twinkling stars.  I stared at the infinite darkness–alone. The air was cold and fresh, the silence calming. I stood entranced. Sadness existed deep inside me.

That night I wrote.  The words flowed from my pen to the notebook like water released from a dam. My mind raced with thoughts about my job, dating life, my parents, brother, a friend. I wrote for eight hours and when my arm cramped and I pushed away the tears, I fell asleep.  I awoke a new person.

“I am done with politics,” I thought. “This is going to be complicated.”

And it was in the quiet moment of a late February morning that I embraced the true definition of a nomad. I enjoy roaming from place to place aimlessly. It’s my passion to discover new people and places. I study travel guide books for fun and attend travel shows to meet the experts I aspire to be. My path is not the path of my friends and family or even my colleagues but it fosters my creativity, my passion and my desire to be out there in the world.

The decision to leave my business and livelihood is not easy and I entertained many flattering offers before cutting the cord. It’s hard to say goodbye and lots of people tried to convince me I was crazy.  People whom I adore and respect. It’s scary to jump off the edge of the cliff not knowing what’s below. My prior attempts at leaving left me dangling for years in no mans land but this time I chose to listen to my gut and leap with my heart. My mind is still processing.

I hope you will join me on my nomadic journey.

My future posts promise to be funny and entertaining and will delve into travel, soul searching, job exploration, rants and for my parents’ sake maybe even love.


Learning horse therapy from Bobbi Hall at Stillwater Horse Whispers Ranch

Destinations, History, North America

Confessions of a Campaign Worker

February 24, 2016 • By

It’s an election year, it’s campaign season and I am a *political fundraiser. I’ve worked as the body person (sucker), the advance lead (warrior) and the consultant (a rare and mature combo of the aforementioned). I’ve traveled on the road, visited with voters door to door and I’ve sat at a desk dialing for dollars and begging for votes. The jobs are not glamorous but they allow me to pack my bags and discover the vast countryside. Places I never dreamed of seeing like Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Fantasy Aisle

Fasten your seatbelts we are off to Election Night in Boston

In 2004, I signed up for an advance job with the Kerry Edwards presidential campaign. Oh I thought to myself, “I’ve made it, I get to travel with Senator John Kerry by private plane.” I was wrong. Instead of attending shindigs at Radio City Music Hall or the Staples Center in Los Angles to listen to Bon Jovi, I landed in Green Bay, Wisconsin on a Sunday during Packer season and Nashua, New Hampshire in October when the skies are gloomy, the temperatures falling and the multitude of emotions high. My room at the Holiday Inn in Nashua leaked and I quiver to this day when I remember my time spent in Nashua, which years later I fumble pronouncing. The air was cold and damp– Brrr– and locals in dive bars wore hair mullets with fierce pride.

Fantasy Aisle

Advance people spend a lot of time waiting

The campaign directed me to plan rallies around the theme of the week which often focused on jobs, universal healthcare, the environment or the War in Iraq. I stayed in small towns like Brownsville, Pennsylvania where the “best restaurant in town” served up healthy iceberg lettuce salads with mounds of greasy French fries in the center of the plate.  The Hampton Inn became my hotel of choice because the chain provided free breakfast cereal in the lobby and sometimes eggs on weekends.  My mode of transportation provided by the campaign featured a minivan courtesy of Avis Rental, a company I won’t use today. I bounced from Sioux City, Iowa to Waterville, Maine where I tasted lobster for the first time and purchased clogs because it felt like the right thing to do in Maine.

Fantasy Aisle

The Election Night Party in Boston on the Kerry Edwards 2004 Presidential Campaign

It was not tough work but it was extremely stressful and demanding. Professionalism often went out the door and it became imperative to “make shit happen” quickly and inexpensively. My team consisted of college interns or newly graduated eager beavers. Every few days we moved to a new city, with different principals and we were expected to create 50-500 person public events in a matter of days. I shared rooms with campaign staffers who were hooking up or out all night drinking and I ran ridiculous errands to Target for supplies but my favorite part of the job was removing the “evidence” of the principal or senior staff’s existence. Mainly, I shredded confidential briefing memos and discarded empty bottles of wine.

Being on the campaign trail grows old with time. Mistakes are made. People are weary and temperamental.  One time I played the song,the Facts of Life at the end of a rally with Elizabeth Edwards. It was an accident since I cued up the wrong CD but upon hearing the lyrics, she scowled at me from across the room with a face of extreme disapproval. A pang of panic filled my body and then I giggled. A child of the 80s, I loved Mrs. Garrett who quite frankly reminded me of Mrs. Edwards.   I hope to never forget that moment of laughter through the insanity.

You take the good, you take the bad,
you take them both and there you have
The facts of life, the facts of life.There’s a time you got to go and show
You’re growin’ now you know about
The facts of life, the facts of life.When the world never seems
to be livin up to your dreams
And suddenly you’re finding out
the facts of life are all about you, you.
Fantasy Aisle

The excitement of being in Boston for Election Night did not last long. CNN called the election for President George W. Bush early in the night

Campaign life is not for everyone and I contend it’s mostly for the young and foolish.  I vaguely recall earning $60 dollars on preparation days and $100 on game day (the day the principal arrives) and even less on travel days. Eating at strip malls, sleeping in sparse accommodations, flying with several connections to ensure the cheapest flight and being berated by angry voters eventually takes its toll but I can admit, I enjoyed every minute of it. When it was over and John Kerry lost, I found myself at the Westin Hotel in the Back Bay of Boston in the rain. I can still picture the faces on my friends, true supporters—sullen and disappointed. I went to bed.

The next morning, I called United Airlines to see how many miles I accumulated from my campaign work.  I was on a train to New York City making my way to DC for a wedding.

“Hi, my mileage plus number is xxxx.  I want to know how far I can travel on my miles.”

United: “You can go to Hong Kong, Hanoi, Bangkok and Sydney.”

Me: “I can go to Sydney?”

United:  “Yes and you can even go First Class.”

Me:  “What is the soonest date I can leave?”

United: “We have flights starting November 15.”

Me:  “Great! I will book a one-way First Class trip from Chicago to Sydney departing November 15.”

And so began my life of solo travel around the globe.  I thank John Kerry and the American people for that privilege.  If the  JK/JRE/THK/EE team delivered a victory in 2004,  it’s possible my life would be very different.  I often think about the lingo, my friends, the people I met in the cities I visited, the game day adrenaline and the hottie Secret Service Agents, “Wheels Up, Rings Off” and I share fond memories of my experience.

Elections matter –even this one– and I encourage everyone to participate in some capacity.  Go vote!


Fantasy Aisle

Brad and Jodi reunited in Boston where campaign workers arrived from all over the country

*Disclaimer: I do not work for any of the Presidential Campaigns this cycle.