Ever have that “there’s more to life” feeling?

Ever been at work, under enormous pressure, and wonder how it’s possible to be bored and too busy at the same time?

Ever take your dog out for last pees and, while you wait for her to select the perfect spot, look up at the stars and let out a big sigh because you suddenly realise – in the first moment you’ve had to yourself all day – that you have to do it all again tomorrow?

That used to be me.

I didn’t hate my job but I hated the way it consumed my life. I couldn’t see a way out but I couldn’t see how I could survive another 20 years of this kind of life. I couldn’t see how kids could fit in, couldn’t see how I could afford children and overseas holidays…

So I decided to take my dream holiday. It was to be the ultimate “me” holiday before I tackled the issue of children. (I hate missing out on things, see, and the clock was ticking, dude.)

But during that three-week holiday at the end of 2006, cycling through Vietnam with my Dad (an unexpected and, at the time, only partially welcome side-kick) and then through Cambodia without him, I just kept thinking “I don’t want to go home”.

But I did go home, to my job as a political journalist in Canberra. And things seemed worse than ever.

From the outside, things must have looked fine. I had a nice house, wonderful friends, a kick-arse job, the best dog in the world, enough money to take overseas holidays, no terrible illnesses or physical impediments. But still … the daily grind was grinding me into a miserable frowny-faced exhausted piece of human cracked pepper.

How could I escape? I lay awake at night with this thought thrumming in my head.

And one day I woke up with an invigorating goldenly BRILLIANT idea – I could sell my car to pay for an English teaching course in Asia and then earn my living teaching English in exotic places.

Now, things didn’t smoothly fall into place and since that revelation my life hasn’t been all hallelujah choirs and skipping through fields of scantily clad men offering peeled lychees. But I am a lot happier. I’ve LIVED, baby!

Over the past seven years, I have experienced other cultures, attempted to learn another language, traveled to some amazing places and met some incredible people.

Cerrr-ripes, that sounds awfully clichéd, doesn’t it? Let me give you the highlights (as a former Bloomberg journalist, I’m supposed to use the “show, don’t tell” principle):

  • Learning to ride a motorbike in Ho Chi Minh City’s crazy traffic
  • Washing an elephant in Laos
  • Being fed lychees by a scantily-clad incredibly handsome man (but not all day every day, so I wasn’t lying earlier. And it wasn’t in a field)
  • Hearing stories of Taliban press conferences while sitting on a tiny plastic stool on the pavement while drinking beer at 2am
  • Working with Vietnam’s brightest young people and learning about their amazing country
  • Falling in love with a handsome boy who made me laugh … and still makes me laugh
  • Having the most delicious and funny rockstar baby
  • Spending 17 months exploring Singapore
  • Spending seven months exploring the street food and the wats of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand
  • Spending half a day exploring Coptic Cairo
  • Spending five weeks exploring France and Switzerland
  • Setting up house (again) in Ho Chi Minh City
  • Having another delicious little bundle of joy

There were lowlights too:

But when I look back at the past seven years, I am proud of the fact that I have, in a very unladylike way, chased my dream and crash-tackled it onto the ground and told it it wasn’t getting away. Dreams are hard to contain. Sometimes they change, sometimes they fight back, sometimes they try to escape, sometimes they drift away into the ether and sometimes they start to seem a little silly. But I still think they need to be dreamed and they need to be followed.

Do you have a dream? Are you chasing it? If you aren’t, what’s stopping you?

And I know it’s not that easy to follow a dream. But sometimes … sometimes … trying to explain what the problem is leads you to a solution. So, go ahead, tell me about YOU and your dream.


Oh, and P.S. My name is Barbara