SHE ONLY LIVES ONCE or S.O.L.O. is a movement empowering women of all ages to venture off on their own and fall in love with the world around them. This part of the blog hopes to spark curiosity and inspire self-discovery among fellow female travelers by sharing our adventures, mishaps, and most memorable moments. Interested in contributing a short story or photo? Please contact the Trishlist and/or hashtag #trishlist, #solo, or #sheonlylivesonces for a chance to contribute to the blog.
Most people I know would never do what we did; drop everything, leave a stable, foreseeable future for an adventure. Would I do it all again? Yes. Ask me any day of the week and the answer will always be yes.
It was April 2016 when I made the decision to leave my music industry job and move to the mountains with my boyfriend. We had decided that it was now or never and we needed to travel, hike, climb, ski, see, feel, love, and just live for at least a year starting now. We needed no jobs. We needed adventure. We needed to engulf ourselves in our passions and see what happened next.
Though it may seem like we made an impulsive decision, we definitely did our homework. We reviewed our finances. We considered health insurance. We found storage for our belongings. We figured out our main living arrangements. And we acted. We didn’t think twice about it once we decided to go through with it. That was no longer an option. Our philosophy is and was that you can only spend so long talking about something before you have to shut up or take action.
We chose the latter.
Fresh out of college (only one month) and following my internship at a top record label, I landed my first full time job and all my dreams were coming true. I was working with amazing people, on incredible artists, going to shows and all things industry, and blazing a trail to what I inevitably wanted to be my life-long career. All things were heading that direction. I got promoted a little over a year in and continuously garnered more responsibility every day as I continued to do well in every task. From all accounts, I was succeeding and was heading in the right direction for my career.
It’s an odd thing to try to explain the psychology of unhappiness when there is so much good in your life that there seems to be no reason for said unhappiness. Or maybe unhappiness is the wrong word. Unfulfilled? Lost? In any case, that’s what I felt. I definitely felt lost, fairly frustrated, and a little unfulfilled, which inevitably was making me somewhat unhappy. Not in all ways, but when you feel out of tune with yourself how happy can you really be regardless of the amazing things around you? I suddenly didn’t know if the path I was walking, actually more like running, down was what I wanted. I had lost time for exercising, writing, exploring. I was just tired… all the time. None of which I can really blame the job for. I think it’s very normal to be young, get your first job, and have no sense of time management suddenly because you are so engulfed by the reality of your dreams coming true. But entertainment is definitely a demanding industry and it doesn’t exactly stop, ever.
Now, I’m not making excuses but it’s hard to get back somewhere once you’ve realized you’re really lost. It takes time. Concentration. Commitment. Retracing your steps to pick up the pieces you’re missing… but also leaving the ones you were happy to have lost in the first place. Suddenly, it felt like I had two options. I could keep doing what I was doing and honestly, I’d be fine. I would continue to work hard and grow within an awesome company. Or… I could take a risk. I could take a step back. Slow down. I could allow myself sometime to reestablish myself, my wants, and my dreams.
I chose the latter.
That’s of course after having a conversation with my boyfriend who was at the same point in his mind about life as well. Together, we decided a new adventure would be our next move. We notified our parents, bosses, landlord, and dove into our choice head first.
We arrived in the Eastern Sierras on June 24, 2016, just two months after deciding we were going to leave our jobs, and hit the ground running with hikes in the back country, swims in Tuolumne Meadows, and climbs all over the Eastern Sierra. We traveled to Canada, Washington, and Oregon, then again to Utah, the Grand Canyon, and Paris. We skied our way through the heaviest snow year in Mammoth and survived the multiple day road closures and storms that trapped us in our cabin.
We bought and converted a van and took it to Red Rock, Nevada, and Zion. We ventured up the coast and visited friends in Portland and Bend. We lived in Yosemite Valley for over a month and saw the most insane waterfalls and pushed all limits (climbing, hiking, and how many days we could survive without a shower). We returned to Canada again and visited Squamish and Banff. Then we finally made it to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. We rocked out to alt-J at Red Rock Amphitheater in Colorado, explored the Rockies, and hiked around in the Wind River Range in Wyoming. We lived both of our 25th years of life on the road with each other, cherishing every moment.
I learned more about myself in the last year than I can even fathom most days. Some days when I know I need to write it all down, I freeze. There is just so much there, in my mind, and it replays day after day. I haven’t had these vivid of memories, maybe ever. Some days, I find it strange that I can remember so many little details about my days on the road… but then I realize, there is nothing strange about it. The reason it feels so different is because it is just so rare that we, as people, are completely and totally present for a moment. Most days we are distracted by work, anticipation for errands we need to run later, a conversation we just had, that whatever is happening in that very minute just passes us by. I have learned that it is completely possible to only have one thing in front of you; today. I learned it by removing myself from everything else. Living for just today really does mean just focusing on your day at hand.
We returned back to Southern California on August 13, 2017 to begin working again. What’s next? Well, we will just have to wait and see. One thing is for sure…Knowing how full of adventure, travel, love, laughs, tears, and joy our year was now, I would definitely sign up for every bit of it again, but that’s me. Always ready for the next adventure and always ready to share more.
Lisa Dixon is a 26 year-old, Southern California native who recently returned from living in the Eastern Sierras with her boyfriend. In April of 2016, she traded her “dream job” in L.A.’s music industry for a once-in-a-lifetime experience of hiking, skiing, and camping, and traveling (by van) with the love of her life. Both have since returned home with a million stories, full hearts, and a fresh perspective.
A lover of strong coffee, a good beer and a healthy pour of red wine after a long day, Lisa also believes in the perfect song for a moment, the beauty of pine trees, and the power of writing it all down. Follow her on Instagram.