On my 13 hour trip from Guayaquil to Toronto last Sunday (made up of two flights and a few too many hours killing time at the Miami airport) I came up with all kinds of ideas for fun things to do during the 12th and final week of my summer of travel.  Thought I might attempt a road trip to Wasaga Beach.  Go for some long bike rides.  And spend all kinds of time visiting some of my favourite home town people and places.
Instead, I woke up Tuesday with a sore throat.  And by Wednesday, it was official.  I had a cold.  I spent the next three days home sick.  Much to my surprise, my week 12 highlights ended up including some really good naps, watching enough television to make up for the many hours of TV I didn’t watch while traveling, and finally getting my taxes done.
But you know what?  With the exception of the TV watching (seriously, at one point I watched at least half of 2 Fast 2 Furious; there’s no way my life is better off for that) this forced down time was probably exactly what I needed at the end of my journey.  It allowed me to get some things done that I’ve been too busy traveling to do (taxes), and helped me get in a good head space for embarking upon my post-travel life.
I’m a big fan of the idiom that every cloud has a silver lining.  In fact, part of why I decided to take this 12 week leave of absence was because I got to a point where the silver linings were getting hard for me to see.  I needed remind myself that they existed.  This summer gave me plenty of opportunities.Like last week on our road trip along the Ruta del Sol, each time my cousin V and I had our plans changed for us, I kept trying to find the positive.  On Wednesday in Crucita we were supposed to go hang gliding.  I got sick.  Ate something that didn’t agree with me and then almost passed out while sitting in the sun pre-gliding.  Silver lining?  Having to skip the hang gliding allowed us to arrive earlier at our next destination (Puerto Lopez) and nab one of the last two rooms left at one of the few decent hotels that wasn’t already fully booked (even though it’s the low season right now, Friday was a holiday so the beaches were busier than usual for August).

On Thursday we were supposed to go whale watching.  We woke up to an orange alert.  Forecast called for four foot high waves.  Tour cancelled.  Silver lining?  After a morning hike at Agua Blanca, we had a wonderfully lazy afternoon.  I learned I’m really, really good at hammock-ing : )
I wouldn’t say I enjoyed every minute of my forced down time over the last week.  Those of you I talked, texted and facebooked with can attest to that.  It happens I’m bit of a whiny sick person.  And with no one around to take care of me (my folks left for Italy on Tuesday), I was feeling particularly sorry for myself.  Silver lining?  I got through it.  And now I know I’ve got the chops to handle sick solo.  Having confidence in this is pretty key for me right now.
This fall I’ll be moving into the first place I’ve ever had on my own.  Bought last spring just weeks before hopping on a plane to Portugal, I get possession of my new condo in mid-September.  I’m pretty excited.  But also a wee bit nervous.  Knowing I’ll be able to handle rough spots like being sick on my own goes a long way toward making me feel more of the former than the latter.  Silly, I know.  But I’ll take my confidence boosters where I can get them.
I’m not the only one facing a new beginning this fall.  The other silver lining of my three days at home is that they helped me get well enough to make it to a special event yesterday.  My friend and former roommate J is getting married at the end of September.  To celebrate, we and a couple of other friends spent the day baking cupcakes, doing at-home facials, and eating a delicious dinner at Woodlot.  Oh, and drinking lots of wine.  Except for our friend K.  Due in November, the new beginning she’s facing meant the rest of us had to drink on her behalf.  Such good friends we are : )
The list goes on.  Another good friend is starting a new job this fall.  There’s another wedding, and another pair of little ones on the way.  Some friends that welcomed a new family member last month are about to move to California.  Job hunts, new places, forays into the world of online dating . . . fresh starts of all stripes surround me.
I started this blog to help keep me connected to the many people I wouldn’t be seeing as I undertook my summer of travel.  While I enjoyed sharing tales of my temporary nomadic existence, what kept me writing most was the fact that as long as there were at least a few hits each time I posted something, I never felt like I was alone out there.  Even when I was.
Thinking about all the people in my life facing new beginnings this fall, I’m realizing that, blog or not, I was never alone.  As I was traveling, growing, trying new things, so too were so many others around me.  People is place.  And I am so grateful to have so many wonderful people in this place of new beginnings with me right now.To those of you without a fresh start on the horizon, I hope this is because things are so good right now that you don’t need one.  If, on the other hand, you’re in a place where you’re unable to see a fresh start through the cloud of an unwelcome change, call me.  I’ve been there.  I might be able to help you find the silver lining.