Sometimes life’s biggest blessings don’t come wrapped in a bow. Sometimes they come in a folder with severance papers inside.
I was laid off August 29, the day after the anniversary of my brothers death. It was a long couple of days. I didn’t announce it to the world. I told my friends and of course my family, but mostly kept it to myself. Maybe it was the initial shot to my pride and a certain level of embarrassment, even though I was continually told not to take it personal. Thankfully, or maybe not so thankfully for them, I had quite a few co-workers, who I’m lucky enough to call friends, in the same situation. It was good to have each other to lean on.
So now what? I could feel sorry for myself and think about what could have been or I could view this situation as exactly what it was; a blessing. A gift of time.
Time was already ticking and I was ready to unwrap “my gift”. So how exactly did I spend this blessing of time? Along with many trips to the zoo (mostly to see Fiona), lots of walks along the riverfront, Reds and Bengals games, tons of workouts and a day spent with my grandmother, I decided to see the world.
I flew. A lot. Big planes and small planes. My best estimation (with help from a flight website), is close to 35,000 miles flown. I rode on trains, buses, boats and in cars. I ate amazing meals and drank wine and beer from around the world.
I CAME. I traveled to/around:
- 3 different continents (North America, Europe, Australia)
- 5 different countries (United States, Iceland, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia)
- 7 different states (Ohio, New York, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, California and Arizona)
I SAW. A few of the incredible sites my eyes saw:
- NYC: The World Trade Center Memorial, Carrie’s SATC apt, Times Square and Central Park
- ICELAND: The Strokkur geysir erupting, the Northern Lights dancing across the Icelandic sky, the incredible Golden Circle (geysers, waterfalls and black sand beaches)
- IRELAND: Castles and the beautiful countryside
- CALIFORNIA: the eclectic and lively streets of Hollywood, Ellen DeGeneres, Amy Schumer and Jared Leto
- NEW ZEALAND: the busy streets of Auckland and the incredible mountains of southern New Zealand
- AUSTRALIA: the magnificent Great Ocean Road, the beautiful energetic city of Melbourne, the beaches of Fitzroy Island, the iconic Sydney Oprah House and Harbor Bridge, the breathtaking Blue Mountains
- ARIZONA: the stunning red mountains of Sedona
I CONQUERED. Some of the countless things I experienced:
- Toured the Biltmore
- Hiked the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville
- Soaked in the Blue Lagoon
- Climbed behind waterfalls (Seljalandsfoss and Gljufrabui)
- Fed Icelandic horses
- Learned how to pour a perfect beer at the Guinness Factory
- Got swept away in the fog at the Cliffs of Moher
- Rode bikes around Ireland
- Sampled whiskeys at The Jameson Distillery
- Shot a bow-and-arrow
- Attending a taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show
- Sampled wine at wineries on Waiheke Island (NZ)
- Got lost in the wonderful world of The Hobbiton (The Shire)
- Drank a beer at The Green Dragon
- Zipped through the lakes in Queenstown on a jetboat
- Took a wine tour around the Central Otago region
- Rode in a small plane ride over “middle Earth”
- Cruised around Milford Sound
- Watched penguins swim in to the beach and march to their homes
- Held a koala (Nellie)
- Snorkeled in the Great Barrier Reef with beautiful fish, turtles, coral and sharks
- Took a selfie with a wallaby
- Climbed 440 feet to the top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge
- Attended MLB spring training games (Reds/Indians and Giants/A’s)
- Hiked through Sedona
- Countless hours of quality time with family and friends, laughing, sharing and making memories
Among all these adventures, one of the biggest highlights for me was spending time with my mom. I’ve always wanted to do a mother/daughter trip, but after my brother’s passing and she and my dad raising my nephew, the opportunity hadn’t been there. It was a trip I will never forget and was hopefully the first of many.
Looking back, I never would have imagined all that I would see and experience during my time off. A period of time I jokingly referred to as “Kelli’s off season”. I took an opportunity that was given to me and soaked in every moment. I will never forget all that I saw, felt, heard, tasted and touched. They are memories I will treasure forever.
I’m forever thankful for this gift of time.