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Member Spotlight – Jo

Although I’ve hit refresh many times throughout my 20’s, doing it in my 30’s has been a whole new experience.  Edging towards my mid-thirties now, I’m annoyingly conscious of how loud my inner clock is ticking. Even still, it hasn’t stopped me from inching my way towards new homes, new experiences, new relationships and a brand-new work life.

Sure, my ovaries have an expiration date. But you know what? So does my life. I choose to focus on living each day as truly and authentically as I can. I choose the direction of my steps, considering what feels most right to me today, in this very moment.

Let me rewind.

A few months shy of my 30th birthday is when I moved to Madrid, Spain. I had fallen in love with a Madrileño while living and working in Peru. When my contract ended, moving to Madrid became the backup plan after a failed attempt of moving to my homeland, Canada.

Featured Female - Hiking in Peru
Hiking in Peru

Moving to Madrid forced me to confront a change that I hadn’t expected. Having moved around a lot before, I knew that I’d have to make new friends, build a new life and find a new job. But I didn’t realize that finding work in the field I had fallen in love with would be nearly impossible.

In prior years, I worked in non-profit and international development and loved it! I hadn’t intended to shift away from that. But in Madrid, there were very few jobs in those fields, especially in the post-crisis years.

My first year in Madrid, things got especially complicated.  In the span of two weeks, my relationship ended, my work contract ended, and I had a plane ticket home to Ottawa, Canada for Christmas. The trip home was perfect timing. I’d go home, get replenished of love and comfort from my people. But once there, it made me doubt whether it even made sense to go back to Madrid. I had left Ottawa years before because I knew it wasn’t where I wanted to build a home.

But was I ready to go back to Madrid, solo and having to rebuild a new life again? In my 20’s this decision might have been a no-brainer. But now in my 30’s, it was different. There’s more pressure to “settle”, build a home, a family and set some roots. I felt torn, lost and disoriented.

While deciding, I received an email inviting me to a job interview as an editor for a well-known Spanish editorial. Coincidentally, the interview was the day after I was to return to Madrid, and a friend there offered me her couch until I found a new home. It seemed like the world was showing me that maybe it wasn’t crazy to move back.

Featured Female- Jo from You Choose the Way
Jo from You Choose the Way

Decision made- I would go back to Madrid and with the support of my friends, I’d rebuild my life there. There are some crossroads in life that have the possibility of bringing you in such drastically different directions. This was one of those, and I’m so glad I chose the path I did.

By returning to Madrid, my life rebuilt itself. I had an amazing new job, my social life felt more vibrant than ever, I loved my new home in my new neighborhood and was excited about my new path. Sure, I was sad for a while. But as someone who has always loved all things personal development, I easily found comfort in this opportunity to learn and grow.

This time of self-reflection was so powerful that it pushed me onto a brand new path. Having practiced yoga for many years, I naturally stumbled upon meditation. It was a gem that helped me hit refresh on my relationship with myself. This was a game-changer! This new self-awareness and inner connection made me realize that maybe I hadn’t been living as authentically as I thought. Like most, my decisions were often made on autopilot and based on what everyone was doing. A shift started taking place.

I was ready to get in the driver’s seat of my journey. I was ready to take full control of my life. The last few years have been a slow and steady process of finding and figuring out what my own true-life path is all about. I started this new journey by becoming a certified yoga teacher and offering classes. I did this while I kept my full-time job. Although I loved working as an editor, working for the man was starting to eat at my soul.

Doing work that makes me feel like I contribute to bettering the world somehow has always been important to me. I thought that creating and publishing textbooks would allow me to feel that. Unfortunately, bureaucracy, egos, budgets and extremely vertical and traditional business structures made an 8-hour day feel useless.

Featured Female- Jose and I in Georgia hiking
Jose and I in Georgia hiking

Dreaming of starting my own business, this is just the push I need to take the idea more seriously.  I slowly ventured down the path of exploring how to build the very best life for myself, with my yoga, my business, my personal growth, and my spirituality.

Then I met Jose. He’s not the type of man I fall for. He’s Spanish, super quirky, very himself and extremely warm and caring. We met, became friends, and I fell quickly. His unconventional ways, love of chatting about norms, feminism and motorcycle adventures just drew me in.

I’d never been much of a man pursuer, but with my new life mission of taking the reins of my destiny, I very casually kept him near. Eventually, I won him over.

If finding my own true-life path was important before I met Jose, once we got together, the mission consumed me. He’s all about building our life our way. He completely encourages and pushes me to do the same. About a year ago, this led me to start my blog, You Choose the Way. Having spent the last few years on my own journey of self-discovery, I was super enthusiastic about helping others do the same. I started writing about the inner journey I was taking. Working as an editor in years past, I was keen and intrigued to discover my own voice as a writer. So I embarked on the new adventure of blogging.

I had no idea what I was doing. I’ve never been much of a tech-girl and feel no attraction for social media. But little by little, I built my site and my vision. About 4 months later, the misery of cubicle life started to consume me. Again, life had presented me with an exit opportunity that I couldn’t resist. Sure, it was scary as hell to leave my stable job and I still wasn’t even sure how I’d sustain my life or what I’d do. But I knew I didn’t want to stay there, so I quit.

I had saved up, gotten all the experience I could from that job and left when a little window of opportunity opened. I have never felt so scared. Hitting refresh to move had never petrified me as much as this work life refresh would. Fear was there with me, but in the best possible way. It fueled my fire.

Featured Female- Meditating in Retiro Park
Meditating in Retiro Park

This big change had tons of uncertainty. I was taking a big risk that could potentially be a huge failure. But as they say, without risk, there can be no reward. I truly believe that to be able to live exceptionally, you have to be willing to make massive, super scary decisions. That’s part of the deal of creating your own authentic life path.

Since this scary day, things have move forward. I’m building “You Choose the Way” into a platform of learning to help lost life stragglers find their own authentic life path. I recently launched my first course, called “Dare to Pivot”, to guide brave souls going through life shifts. Not only does it touch logistical aspects, like making a plan and creating a vision, but also dives into deeper topics like connecting within and mindset adjustments to help make the pivot possible.

With this new wide world of professional possibility, I’ve decided that I’m not a one-business-at -a-time kind of gal. I prefer to have various projects going on at once. It helps to keep my inner fire lit. Besides, growing my blog business, I teach yoga, meditation and plan and host wellness retreats. I’m currently studying to become a certified coach and NLP practitioner.

Jose and I are in the planning stages of our own refresh. In the spring, we’re leaving Madrid to take a 5-month motorcycle adventure. We’ll be slowly meandering around Eastern Europe and Central Asia until we get to Kyrgyzstan. In Kyrgyzstan, the motorcycle gets shipped home while we fly to Nepal for one last month of adventure.

People who don’t live this type of life often ask me, “But when will you have kids? You know, you aren’t getting any younger. Stop with all the world wandering and settle down why don’t you.” But I’ve realized that settling just doesn’t mean the same thing to me as it does for them.

Sure, maybe one day settling down will mean having kids, but it doesn’t have to mean white picket fence, full time job and a massive house. I decide what my life looks like. I decide that every single day with every step I take.

Follow Jo on her website You Choose the Way, on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.  

Sign up for her e-course Dare to Pivot.

Member Spotlight highlights stories of inspiring women from our She Hit Refresh community. We hope that by sharing their stories of change and travel we can expose the unconventional paths that thousands of women 30 years and older have chosen.  There is no one way to live a life, just your way.

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