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A new year is traditionally the time for both reflecting on the past and looking ahead, and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the story I haven’t told: the story of how I started this website and why. The reason I haven’t told this story is because for a Type A personality like me, it’s hard to admit failure, even if it’s not my fault.

Because the truth is, I didn’t start writing about travel because it was my passion. I did it because I got fired.

Well, to be fair, that’s not entirely true. Travel has always been a passion of mine, ever since I first picked up a 1969 National Geographic magazine. And anyone who knows me would say that stories are my thing, especially when it comes to talking about the places I’ve been.

But what inspired me to bring these two things together in the online world was the simple fact that after 24 years as a Creative Director in advertising, my expiry date had come up, and I was let go from the agency I had worked at for over 10 years. And even though I rationalized that this had nothing to do with my skills, or my performance, or anything that really mattered, it felt like I had been gutted.

I say that because my work had never been about a paycheck or having a place to go in the morning (both very handy, though, don’t get me wrong!). Working in advertising provided an outlet for my creativity, it allowed me to indulge my love of beauty and design, it challenged me to solve problems every day – business problems, creative problems, ways to influence behaviour, ways to change people’s perceptions. And it introduced me to likeminded people every single day. It wasn’t so much a career as an extension of who I was as a person, and what could be better than that?

So, the big question loomed large: what do I do now that will give me the same kind of personal fulfillment?

The funny thing is, sometimes the answers to life’s biggest questions are right in front of you staring you in the face, while you are busy trying to look through, over, and around them for some giant ‘a-ha!’ that lies behind the obvious.

no brainer

So it actually took me by surprise when I stumbled onto that obvious thing: I was talking with a friend about how much I love sharing my travel experiences, when I realized just how happy travel made me. In fact, it was the one thing that motivated me to protect every vacation day every year, the one thing that took me happily away from my job, and the thing that brought out the best in me, by showing me the world around me and giving me the chance to tell others about it. Travel WAS the thing.

“A-HA!” (or ‘D-uh’ because it seems so obvious in retrospect!)

oprah aha
Unfortunately, a-ha moments don’t come with job offers.

So I hired myself, and in the process, I gave myself a promotion: I became Chief Experience Officer at a place I could fill with inspiration, stories, design, beautiful imagery, and information that could help other like-minded travellers get the absolute most out of their own travels: I created

(Note: this was the first iteration of what is now Grownup

It’s been a little over 18 months since I launched this site, and I still freelance in the advertising world (because as any blogger will tell you, this gig is financially more a labour of love than a lucrative income source!). And I’m still looking for other ways to bring work and travel together, which has turned out to be anything BUT a linear path.

But there’s a satisfaction in doing this that feels familiar  yet fresh and new at the same time, which is what keeps it exciting. Because while I’m figuring out how to make travel an even bigger part of my future, I’m learning to enjoy the unpredictability of the ride.

In the meantime, thank you for riding along with me, and for allowing me to share my experiences with you.

Here’s to looking ahead to the next big adventure for all of us, whatever that may be!

Jane with Hat Tanzania

Jane Canapini is a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada and the North American Travel Journalists Association. She established in 2014 to share information and tips based on personal experience so her readers could get the most out of their travels.

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