The Elevator Plunge

So what brought us to the point of deciding to pack up and head out to Europe at this point in our lives? First, a #natestory.

The other day, I walked into an open elevator on the 20th floor of the Exchange Building in Seattle. I pressed the button for street level, the light flickered when I pressed down but wouldn’t stay lit. Distracted by the odd button behavior, I realized too late that the door was closing. To my utter horror I discovered myself in a pitch black elevator, descending at an increasingly fast pace, hyper-aware of an unnaturally loud and bumpy travel path down the chute. I pressed down on the street-level floor button for dear life, allowing myself a slight decrease on the panic-o-meter when it lit up (but still didn’t stay lit). I assessed my situation and gave myself a 50/50 chance of stopping at the correct floor or plummeting to my death.

A moment later the door parted at the correct floor; ashen-faced and trembling I lurched over to the attendant, pointed at the elevator, and said probably too dramatically, “There is something very wrong with that elevator.” Now it was attendant’s turn to look like he saw a ghost, as he simultaneously ran to the elevator to keep people out and stated with some shock something to the effect that no one was supposed to be able to use that elevator.

The obvious lesson is to my fellow Slalom peeps: beware the middle elevator in the Exchange building.

Life can sometimes feel like that elevator ride, but I’ve observed day-to-day reality characterized more by stillness and incremental change than dramatic shifts and hair-raising rides (thank goodness). The news is filled with drama, but every day (in my life anyways) is pretty similar to the previous day; and every year is pretty similar to the previous year. I gain 10 pounds, I lose 5 pounds, I gain 10 pounds, I lose 7 pounds, I gain 10 pounds, I gain 4 pounds (wait…I’m seeing a pattern).

There is a certain comfort to this cadence, but pretty soon 5 years have passed by and you are left wondering where the time has gone!

So back to the beginning of this post – what brought us to this point?  Our reality was not aligning to our dreams – and there wasn’t any real good reason for it. I mean, we had the typical thoughts, such as “But we have a mortgage, we have full-time jobs, we have (fill in the blank).”  At that point we started to honestly ask ourselves if any of these things should be barriers to living out our dreams.

This is where creativity started to come into play. It simply wasn’t practical to quit life and open a lemonade stand in Costa Rica. We started to dream a little bit – what kind of life did we want to live? What were the things that were really keeping us from those dreams, and what would a logical sequence of steps be to start to live bit by bit more in line with our dreams?

A couple of years ago we started down this path. Terra quit her steady (“butt-in-seat”) job and started her own business that she can run remotely. This has been a huge success, and she will be able to continue to run and grow her business while we are in Europe. Another big decision was selling our house. This was not an easy call; conventional wisdom is that the Seattle housing market will continue to increase and we could be ‘locked out’ of the market.  Our house was absolutely beautiful and we had years of sweat equity spent building up our backyard into a garden sanctuary (thanks Gary and Raylene). But at the end of the day, we asked ourselves – 5 years from now do we want to be watching Netflix in the same living room just because it was ‘too good’ to leave it? The answer definitively was ‘no’, and that was the beginning of the next chapter of our lives!

I also wanted to give a special shout out to my company, Slalom Consulting, who has been incredibly supportive of this trip and is keeping a spot open for me when we come back.  It’s just another reason that Slalom is consistently ranked as one of the best places to work!