I’m Dawn Palmer. This is my journey of discovery into making life more meaningful and more peaceful. I invite you to be a part of it.
I took a year off work to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I used to have a fairly decent-paying corporate job, and I have two Master’s degrees. One might look at my resume and think I am all over the place, with no expert knowledge in one particular area. And, the truth is, there’s many days I feel like a person with many skills and likes, but no deeply passionate, life-changing mission or purpose.
So what does one do with many degrees and a wide variety of skills? I can tell you I learned the hard way that working 80 hours a week inside an office building is not the answer to living a peaceful, purposeful life. Money is not everything. Having a big, fancy, designer house, pool, and car is not everything.
What is the point to having all of that, if you cannot enjoy it? I had a dream home with a sweeping view of gorgeous desert sunsets, but I worked until late in the evening, often way past sunset. To add insult to injury, I rarely ventured out of the state to places that I loved, since I could not take time off work. And, when I was stuck in the Arizona desert in 120 degree temperatures, I definitely did not enjoy my pool – too hot, even at night!
Once I realized that I was missing out on life – the simple beauty, the tranquility and peacefulness of the nature around me – my corporate job did not seem worth the money. After eleven years, I quit and took a month off to decide what to do with my life. It should have been longer, but I can look back at that time period and see I rushed into picking my next career path. I still wasn’t getting it. I rushed into a teaching degree. I liked teaching biology at the university back in the day, and most of the people in my family were teachers – why not get a Master’s and teach biology?
Of course, teaching teenagers turned out to not be the same as teaching college students at a university with awesome lab rooms and equipment. I went from working 80 hours a week in a large corporate office to 100 hours a week in a small, windowless, non-science classroom, teaching 14-19 year-olds (yes, I had a couple “5th-year Seniors”) about biology – without the cool equipment or experiments. Trust me when I say that most high school students do not care about science, especially when they are forced to take the course to graduate.
It seems that my path to teach high school science was made in haste. I started to see a pattern developing. I was rushing into the next thing, and then the next, and the next, without really focusing on what was going to truly make me happy. Perhaps, my over-achiever, perfectionist brain could not see the forest through the trees.
One cannot forget about what stress does to the body, even after a short amount of time. That 100+ hour per week teaching job definitely came with a lot of stress. I was stuck in a cycle – the more stress I felt, the more stressed I became. Eventually, I was more than 100 pounds overweight, and started to see signs of health-related issues, such as acid reflux, sleep apnea and high blood pressure.
I am sure that if I had kept on that unhealthy path, it would have eventually ended badly. I am very fortunate that I have wonderful children and a supportive husband to help me – even if, at that time, it felt like they were dragging me off the path and over to a different one. I was so stressed out and miserable that everyone around me could see it, yet I could not.
It may sound silly or cliche, but my husband’s surprise trip to Hawaii was the extra push I needed after I left my teaching job. We spent two wonderful weeks in Oahu, relaxing and learning about “living aloha”. It was a gift to learn about living a happy, peaceful, loving and carefree way of life. I can see why people don’t like to leave Hawaii – it is hard to go back to the mainland after living aloha.
Once back in Arizona, unemployed, and still on an island-high with a bronze tan, I had to wonder – what was next…because, of course, I cannot relax and just let things be. I had to look for the next thing. After all, I had two Master’s degrees – shouldn’t I be working and making money?
Maybe it was fate, or maybe it was just crazy timing, but the pandemic hit right when we were coming home from Hawaii, and it really forced me to slow my roll. Many people were binge eating and becoming couch potatoes. Not me! I had just gotten back from Hawaii and this state of living aloha. I didn’t want to let go of that feeling. I also did not want to get Covid. I was super overweight and unhealthy, remember? Instead of burrowing inside, I made a plan to get healthy and lose weight…just in case. I definitely did not want to be high-risk of dying from Covid because of my weight.
It might be weird that I used the pandemic to get healthy, but I think there’s plenty of us out there that tried to make the best of a really bad situation. I did spend all of 2020 working on getting healthy and trying to hold onto that feeling of aloha. I think I might have succeeded at getting healthier, and fortunately, I did not die from Covid when I did contract it at the end of 2020. (My doctor said it helped that I had lost 60 pounds. Whew!)
It’s almost May, 2021, and I am still on the journey to be at one with nature, and to live a happy, peaceful, purposeful life. My perfectionist brain wants it to be now. My growth mindset brain tells me to take my time and enjoy the journey. And, so, I travel onward.
Throughout this journey, I will share more of my story and look forward to learning about yours, too. I will continue to look for meaningful ways to incorporate nature into my daily life, and will be sharing photos of the many wonderful places I visit.
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