[caption id="attachment_3418" align="alignright" width="300" caption="The Wide Open Road"] [/caption]

Tuesday I went to Krakow, Poland to handle some business. I'd always wanted to visit the city and planned on staying a few days, or a week, or who knows. The thing is, it rained for 24 straight hours with no sign of letting up. (Forecast said it would rain for the rest of the week.) I didn't let it stop me from exploring the city, but at the end of the night I was completely soaked to the bone. My shoes were dripping, my pants were heavy, and I was cold. (You know me, I like it hottttt.)

Going to Krakow could technically be considered a "vacation" for me. I'm going to run with that because it helps me make my point. ;)

Growing up I remember going on a few vacations and running into absolutely shit weather. That happens. I'm sure it has happened to you as well. The thing is, when most people are on vacation, they've planned, saved, taken time off from work, and allotted themselves that specific time to "vacate."

When bad weather (or maybe something else) ruins the vacation, the vacation goes on. What else is there to do? Instead of hanging on the beach, you find a museum, arcade, or movie theatre. Instead of exploring the nooks and crannies of a city, you stay put somewhere out of the elements. Not ideal by any means, but what other good options are there?

Freedom = Options

There is an option: attaining true freedom. Freedom is an option that opens up a whole world of other options.

What I wish for you as a Freedom Fighter is the ability to change plans on a whim. To always seek what's best for you and to not let forces outside of your control dictate your life. If something's not right, no worries, do a 180. Hit the open road and don't look back.

Me? I headed back home to Wroclaw 24 hours after arriving in Krakow.

Krakow will still be there next week. Maybe it'll be sunny and warm and I'll decide to head back for "vacation." No need to seek permission or to do much planning. I can just head off one morning when the outlook is positive.

Serendipitously I got this e-mail from Hilary, one of your fellow Freedom Fighters, on Tuesday night:

I've been thinking - a lot - and reading your blog for quite a while now. I thought I'd give you the courtesy of an update, as you give us:

After working in California at my job for 3 years straight (many months of double shifts) without a vacation, I decided to be insanely brave. It was a "me or them" kinda thing. I got a divorce; an amicable one. I sold my home, cars, camper, household stuff -- everything either went to charity, friends, or the yard sale. I decided it was time to quit my "perfectly good" job, and was laid off 2 days before I gave notice. (Awesome timing, huh?) Then I went to the UK for 4 months, and this is where some of your advice really really came in handy. I was scared to try new things, but forced myself to ... now you may laugh, but I didn't even know how to take a city bus for transport!

Over Easter weekend, I took a short tour to Germany, but was denied entry back into the UK at the port in Calais! Really. I was separated from my tour and detained for 6 hours until the French police could collect me and take me to the bus stop in the middle of the night. The only reason I was given after several interviews, was "we simply cannot believe you aren't seeking work." How is it you travel around and no one worries that you are looking for work? [NOTE FROM KAROL: I don't know. I usually answer questions with just  "yes" or "no." Although I made the mistake of offering up extra info in Finnland, which held me up a bit.]  I produced my bank records and retirement account even! [NOTE: WTF!] A very nice, well-spoken, middle-class, middle-aged lady!

I had to keep telling myself that actually I had everything I needed, although I only had one really small bag with two day's worth of dirty clothes. I found a hotel, washed my clothes, did my hair and makeup and tried again, and was rebuffed again at the port. Sooooo, I took myself to Paris by train, walked to the hotel the clerk at the rail station booked for me, and then I had some fun. Never felt so free in all my life. I learned how to do so many things I never knew: Bought metro passes, learned the metro and bus system, learned to use a cyber cafe, changed hotels to a cooler/cheaper one in a cooler/cheaper neighborhood, booked a walking tour, got myself a coffee maker to make meals - my goal was 5 euro per day - bought some clothes (the weather changed), navigated my formerly frightened little self all around Paris for a week and a half until I flew to New York to "couch surf" with family. Pretty proud of myself, gotta say.

So I've been thinking -- and thinking ... I recognized this time is an opportunity to make a huge change, but I just didn't know how. Started looking for a job that I didn't want in NY, and when I finally got an interview at my "nightmare job" as opposed to my "dream job," I had an anxiety attack. That was last week. Today it hit me when I read the blog. So I'm "in."

After sitting and thinking for two months, well, other stuff too, today I created a website, domain name, business plan, a DVD in the works, and an e-book planned from material I already created, an accountant friend is helping me with the business/tax part, AND I read HTLA twice. Your blog suddenly helped me recognise the opportunity I was seeking!

So, anyway, I thought a little positive feedback was in order - oh, and thanks for the laundry tip, the Dr. B and zip-loc worked a treat - nothing boosts confidence like clean clothes.

Thanks for the support, friend.

- Hilary www.lavendersbleu.com [NOTE: Web site isn't live, but there's the link anyway.)

Thank you Hilary. That is an outstanding story and is a true testament to not only growth, but freedom. Congratulations and thank you so much for sharing! (Yes, I got permission from Hilary to post this.)

What about you? Are you gonna let other people/events dictate your life? Or would you rather follow Hilary's lead, grab life by the throat and strangle that mofo into submission? (Highly recommended course of action!) ;)

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