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Me in 2008: I have to quit corporate. I have worked this job for a lifetime and every cell in my body knows it is time to quit. But I am scared. Who will I be without my career woman mask? What will I do? How will I spend my days?

Go away for the weekend, a friend says. Mmm, that sounds like a good idea. Where? I don’t play golf and I’m not in the mood for a group Canyon Ranch trip. Another friend suggests a place known for wellness and personal growth. Now this sounds like it could work!

In my typical way, I rush through the sheet to sign up, spot “single room” and check it off. Of course I assume “single” is the most expensive and luxurious type of room. How I love the nice hotel room comforters!

It is only two hours away. No problem!

I pack my fancy toiletries, the yoga mat I think I should bring (even though I have only taken two classes and don’t really like yoga. That downward dog hurts my arms.) Plus, my laptop. I know I shouldn’t . . . but can’t quite leave it home.

I arrive at the resort (and I use that word loosely) and as I take my bag out of the car, I look at my laptop. I know that I cannot go on a weekend like this to get away from responsibility, just “be” and sort things out — and bring in my lap top. I hate yoga, so I decide I will leave both the laptop and mat in the car.

I register and they have someone take me to my jail cell — oh, I mean room. OMG, the first thought I had was, My husband is playing a joke on me. How can I describe it? After passing the common bathroom, I put the key into the door and had new compassion for Paris Hilton.

I open the door to my private room and it has all of a bed, no sheets, cinderblock walls, a little table and dresser. Oh, and a fan. No TV. No cell phones. I stand there thinking, I can do this. I can make my own bed except . . . where are the sheets? I guess somewhere in the instructions I didn’t read, they said to bring your own sheets. I mean, bring your own sheets? Toto, I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore — or maybe we are?

So, I rent sheets for $5.00 and get a phone card to make a call. I figure it out and my son says, Mom, why are you whispering?

This place is so quiet. I feel like I am going to die.

I wish my family would please tell me I must come home. They can’t live without me. They can’t live without my bitchy personality delegating responsibilities while paying bills. Nope, don’t think that’s happening.

Maybe food will help. The first buffet? Yuk. I go straight to the entrees but wait —they are both the same. This is the entrée table? Did they say bring your own food? I wish I had. So, I take something but I’m not sure whether to put it in a bowl or plate, since it is somewhere between liquid and solid. It tastes exactly like it looks, so I grab some bread and call it a night. (Yes, there is a way you can even make bread taste horrible. Try no salt.)

I think about escaping and checking into a real NYC hotel but too late, too dark, too Ellen. I am suppose to be finding out who I am and what to do after I quit. But I think I know who I am. At least I know I like real hotels with room service and comforters!

Okay. The next day, I go to the workshop. Something harmless on becoming your true self. I was so happy to see people!

At the end of the day, I try a meditation class. I walk a narrow path to the top of this hill, go in, sit down and start to realize this is like a real meditation and I don’t meditate. There is no way to sneak out. Is this class an hour? I think. I cannot sit still for 2 minutes; there is no way I am going to make this. Why didn’t I want to go to Canyon Ranch? Then the leader stands and I seem to be the only one confused. We are suppose to follow her and now it is a walking meditation and I am right behind her. I don’t know what to do with my hands and am afraid to turn around and see what the others are doing. Do I close my eyes . . . but I don’t want to fall off the side of the mountain?!

Finally, it ends. As I run out, the sky breaks with lighting and I rush to my room and make the quick decision to get the hell out of there. I throw all my items in my bag, run down the hill before it is too dark to find my way home. Screw staying one more night. Screw finishing the workshop. I want out of here now.

I ask the parking attendant directions to the Thruway. He must be someone who meditates because I couldn’t even wait for his answer. I threw him the key and said, Never mind. I will use my GPS. Home never looked so good.

Well, this little trip cost me a good year before I was ready to contemplate quitting work again.

Can’t wait to share what happened next on my journey!

Live. Laugh. Monk!

Have you ever reached a point in your life where you knew you had to make a change?

If so, please share. I could discuss these things all day.

#BigSyd #BigMagic

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  • judy graham says:

    Love this story! Thanks, Ellen, for sharing it and I can’t wait for the next “episode” I did have a defining moment – my husband retired when we were young (50 yrs old) and in his job, he had traveled almost the entire week and thus was rarely home so I was in charge of the house, the kids, etc. Now he was home. After a few months of having him around the house, I bumped into him while carrying a large load of laundry. I thought – one of us has to get out of this house! That’s when I decided I would open a retail shop – something I had been thinking about doing but hadn’t done anything about doing it. I opened my first store Pink on Palmer and since then, my daughter and I have opened five stores over nearly twenty five years.

    • The Suburban Monk says:

      I love that you shared this with me. LOL bumping into each other carrying laundry was where your stores were born. Impressive. 5 stores over 25 years. Good for you. Awesome.

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