The short & simple answer:
Because I feel like it.
The longer answer:
One of the reasons I became a photographer after having many other careers was to have the freedom of lifestyle to travel when and where I wanted. While I've had plenty of opportunities to travel for work as a photographer, I quickly learned that it's much more fun to travel for pleasure with people I love. In the last few years, I've missed opportunities to travel with my husband because I've had jobs that hired me too far in advance for me to block dates off my calendar, or I wasn't going to be able to take off enough time to make it worth traveling to the other side of the world. When an opportunity came up to spend nearly 8 months of the year traveling the world- I had a big decision to make.
While it seemed like an awesome opportunity, I had a lot of fears and reservations:
- Can I afford to put my business on hold for that long?!
- What if I run out of money?
- Will I be able to save enough to make it financially possible?
- Will I be able to pick up extra work or money while I'm traveling?
- What will I DO with myself if I'm not spending my time doing a ton of things for my business?!
- What will happen to my studio, house, car, etc?
- What if something happens to family while I'm gone and I can't fly back to be there?
- What if something happens to me and there's no way to let people know?
Whenever I'm faced with a big decision that is surrounded by fears, I ask myself:
What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?
When I removed all of my fears about the what-ifs of leaving it all behind, the clearest answer was to take the opportunity to travel the world and worry about the rest later. If I only had a year to live, the answer was clear- I would do whatever it took (and no, I'm not planning on dying anytime soon- it's just another method to remove fear and doubt from a decision.) I decided to stop accepting clients in New England for 2012, I would slow down on my marketing and new projects that I wouldn't be around to follow-up on, I wouldn't renew my studio lease, I would save as much money as I could, I would sell my studio furnishings, we would sell a car we weren't really using, we would pay off as much of our debt as possible, we would eat out less, and we would prepare to live out of a carry-on suitcase and a backpack for 8 months. Alex would be on sabbatical from teaching at the university and still get his salary and some research reimbursements, and I would save up in advance and try to freelance wherever I could with a visiting visa that allows me to take on work in Australia.
We bought tickets to Australia for January until June, and a one way ticket to Europe for June until sometime in August. We knew we were going to stay with one of Alex's colleagues for the first two weeks, but knew we would need to find another place to live after that. We decided we'd figure out how to find a place after arriving and speaking to locals. We knew we'd fly to Spain after our time in Australia, with stops likely in Norway, Greece, England, and a few other places, but we have yet to nail those details down completely since there are still a few months to figure that out.
We decided to take this trip together because we know that chances like this don't come around often in life. If we had children, this probably wouldn't have been possible. If either one of us had been in a different career or even at different points in our current careers, this probably wouldn't have been possible. If several projects I was working on had turned out the way I'd planned, rather than the way the fates allowed, I wouldn't have wanted to take this much time away.
Everything came together to create the possibility- but it required us committing to taking the risks involved to make it happen for ourselves.
So, here I am, living in Brisbane, Australia for 5 months. A city that I came to visit two years ago and said, "What a great city this would be to live in!" It's idyllic. There's strong support for the arts, great cultural and economic diversity, amazing public resources, and we now have an awesome place to live in a great part of the city. I'm enjoying every minute of it. I've even picked up some freelance photography assignments already, and am using my skills to trade for some lifestyle extras I probably wouldn't splurge on if I had to pay Australian dollars for them. I'm getting a chance to read, exercise, write, relax, spend quality time with my husband, eat beautiful fresh fruits and veggies- which all seem like something I'd be able to do anywhere, but as many small business owners know, running the business is always on the mind because we can always do more for our clients or spend more time marketing and strategizing for our business. After 7 years of learning how to market and run a profitable business in three different states and very different demographic markets, I definitely feel like this is a much needed sabbatical for me and a nice reward for all the hard work I've done to get to this point.
Most small business owners don't get to take a sabbatical from their business, but freedom of lifestyle is why I wanted to be a small business owner in the first place- to do what I want, when I want.
(Note: photos in this post are from my iPhone instagram feed)