Saturn Returns: The Day My Life Turned Upside Down

Friday, May 31, 2013. It was my 28th birthday and I had just gone into work to finish out the week and start the celebration. The day prior, I was informed that our HR woman would be coming in to the office to go over some “things”. She asked us to give her a lunch order so we could do an office lunch.  Sounded good to me!

The food arrived, and not long after so did she. I was taken by surprise when the owner of the company walked in the door behind her. He hasn’t been in our branch for the entire 16 years it’s been open. He said he was in the area so he decided to visit. We started off with run of the mill pleasantries and small talk. Before long though, he revealed the real reason he had come in to visit us that day.

My boss, the branch manager of our region, had resigned.

At first I accused him of pulling my chain, but he stuck to his guns.  I stood there thinking about what this meant for me.  I wasn’t entirely fulfilled with my job anyway, so a voice inside of me started chanting, “Please tell me I’m laid off, please tell me I’m laid off!”  And then he dropped the bomb: the Pennsylvania branch would be closing it’s doors in one month’s time.

The owner gave me two choices: I could relocate to Baltimore, or be laid off.

Let’s back track.  About 6 months ago, I posted two sticky notes on my bathroom mirror.  On the first, a question reads “If today was your last day to live, would you want to do what you are about to do?” (Credit: Steve Jobs)  Some days the answer is an unequivocal YES.  Others, however, not so much.  More precisely, the Yeses are pretty much only on the days that I’m NOT working.

The other sticky note reads a series of questions, “Where am I trying to get to in life?  Has what I’ve done today helped bring me closer to that?  What can I do better tomorrow?”  When I read and answer these questions, they practically never have anything to do with my job.  And it’s not a bad job either.  I’m a Project Manager handling large scale commercial construction projects.  But at the end of the day, it’s just not fulfilling.

So, at the point of being told this news, everything inside of me was hysterical and I was fighting not to laugh right out in joy. My boss was out all week, and I was already planning on giving my two weeks as soon as he came back.  Just that morning I got an email from myself via futureme.org from a year earlier, with almost prophetic precision to the events taking place.  Now, I was going to get the freedom that I wanted and the change that I needed.

What an amazing birthday present!

I immediately started thinking about how I was going to move forward.  My first thought was “Road Trip!” When I got home, I started punching destinations in to google maps.  My list included friends I knew who could put me up for a night or two, cities and sights that I always wanted to see (like Savannah, GA and the Grand Canyon), and ultimately my cousins home in California.  With a rough destination list mapped out, I now had an idea of how many miles I would be traveling.

I’ve been tracking my gas mileage for the better part of a year with this handy spreadsheet.  It has a trip cost estimator that I used on other trips in the past which gave me extremely accurate estimates of my fuel costs.  I plugged in my trip length estimate, plus about 1000 miles for good measure, and got my fuel cost estimate: $975.

Considering I am an active member on couchsurfing.org, and that I have friends all across the country, I figure I won’t be spending much if anything on lodging; I’ll just sleep on couches and in state parks whenever possible. Therefore, my fuel will definitely be the biggest expense of the trip.

Somewhere in second place will be food and entertainment costs. If you’ve read my posts on personal finance, you know I’ve got a great understanding of my eating and spending habits, so it wasn’t hard to pull together a rough trip estimate from there.

Since I also plan to skydive at every opportunity I get and see America from above the clouds, in third place will be my skydiving expense, which shouldn’t be too much since I am a licensed jumper with all of my own gear.

With the initial framework in place, I was feeling extremely ecstatic about this whole thing. I’ve got a great opportunity to start chiseling away at My Life List, but I knew that I would have my work cut out for me.  Not only do I plan to do a cross country road trip, but it’s time to find a new place to live.  And since storage units are cheaper than rent, and I don’t need an apartment while I’m gone, that means I am going to be moving out all in about a month and a half’s time.  Let the planning begin.

A few days later, I spoke with my cousin who informed me of the Saturn Return, and how it’s experienced sometime around your 28th birthday.  When I read into it, I was totally mind blown.  Essentially, it is an astrological event that happens sometime around your 28th-30th birthday, whereby Saturn returns to the spot in it’s orbit where it was when you were born and creates a major shift in your life. I don’t usually read into astrology, but this was eerily accurate.

Things are happening fast.  Not only was I offered to relocate to Baltimore with my current company, but I was also offered a position with the new company to which my boss is jumping ship.  BUT!… My gut is screaming out to me… it’s time to change gears! I consider myself a spiritual person. I may not believe in traditional religions but with all of these pieces coming together so perfectly, how could I ignore the signs in front of my eyes?

And so my journey begins.  I will be tracking my pre-trip progress here, and of course documenting my travels here as well.  I hope you’ll check back for more, and maybe even find some inspiration to do something extraordinary yourself.  After all, you only get one life to live, and even if you don’t believe that, why waste what you are given in the here-and-now anyway?

I’ll leave you with this short inspirational video from Alan Watts.  If this doesn’t make you want to change your life, then you must already be where you want to be.

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