2 Suitcases and a Carry-on 1



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I was 23. Living on the East Coast, working as a volunteer teacher. The 70+ hour workweeks had finally ground me into a pulp of a human.

I had to leave. My friend came to visit me and convinced me that it was no longer healthy for me to live and do what I was doing.

I packed up my red Jetta and left within 72 hours of making the decision.

It was exhausting freedom.

(the unknown)

I drove back to Oregon, moved into the house on my family’s farm and started working substitute teaching jobs. Even High School French — those kids were the best — they begged me to be their teacher. I can’t speak French.

On a weary night, my friend Maia messaged me over Facebook. “You should apply for Tom’s job and come to Australia!”

So I went for it. It was a one year contract. I was going to be late arriving for my job as a Study Abroad Director, the students were going to know the place better than me.

What was I getting myself into?

I sold my beloved Jetta, packed 2 suitcases and a carry-on. Thinking, I’d be back in a year. That was 12 years ago.

(the unknown)

I did that job for 1.5 years and then started working at a local University.

I met him, he was much older, a lover of red wine, drove a Rolls Royce and had motorcycled around the world. He was clever, witty, cultured .. narcissistic.

9 months and it ended one night. Words were said. I was left devastated. Wounds from my past ripped open.

I was ‘alone’

(the unknown)

I needed to get away, so I reached out to my friend in East Timor. I boarded a plane, and then another tiny one and landed in East Timor. Sitting next to a guy who decided to ‘escape life’ to East Timor because it was cheaper than going to Bali.

It felt like ‘the wild west’

I waited, waited, waited. My bag packed. Was he going to show up? He did, racing in with his truck. We drove, slowly, up mountains, through little villages and I slept in a shipping container. Woke up with the roosters, drank fresh coffee, and has dinner with Cuban doctors in the remote hills. I held babies who had been burnt by fires, put oxygen on an 18-month-old dying of Malaria. Drank coconuts on the most beautiful beaches. It is the definition of juxtaposition.

We were driving the ambulance down the hill — and I knew that I had to become a nurse. Call it a spiritual awakening.

I came back, and left my job, six months before I could get Permanent Residency. Making my nursing degree one which incurred International Student Fees.

(the unknown)

He was the last profile I was going to give any attention to on eharmony. I was OVER it. I was in the final semester of my nursing degree. Had a job as a Graduate RN in Alice Springs and a romantic vision of what ‘rural and remote’ nursing was going to be like. After 6 weeks he begged me to not go.

Love or logic?

I chose love.

(the unknown)

I have done a lot of ‘the unknown’ in my life. The more I’m open to it, the richer my life has become.

Mish xo


About Mish Pope

Mish is certified Life Coach and successful entrepreneur who has found her calling serving women looking to reduce burnout and increase their sense of joy, radiance, and adventure in their lives. She is passionate about empowering women to compassionately explore and work through areas of critical self-talk, perfectionism and burnout. She is also deeply committed to unearthing true freedom for herself and for women who are caught in the elusive trap of ‘hustling’ through life and business. As a recovering perfectionist, Mish creates space online, in-person and through writing to empower women to start their own journey of discovering their own sense of self, courage, radiance and flow in their lives.

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