How Traveling to Europe Completely Changed My Life

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What do you think of when Europe comes to mind? Fresh basil-topped pizzas and handmade pasta in Italy? Impossibly tiny coffees in Paris? Quaint architecture older than the United States itself?

I’d say all of the above!

My first vacation to Europe was in 2017 and included stops in Switzerland, Italy, and France. Having spent most of my life in California and ALL of it in the U.S., these countries completely blew me away. (If you’ve been to Europe, was it the same for you??)

It’s also worth mentioning that I traveled solo. If you’ve never done it, I can’t recommend it enough. Being completely dependent on yourself, making choices for you and you alone, and exploring wherever your heart takes you — it will liberate and empower you more than you can imagine.

I like to say I finally discovered myself at the age of 27. But more importantly, I realized that up to that point, I hadn’t really been living my life.

I can remember the exact moment, sitting under a tree in the Roman Forum writing in my little journal, when I thought to myself… I need to change my life.

The only question was… how?

The Roman Forum, a city of ancient ruins next to the Colosseum and the site of an epiphany that would change my life!

The Roman Forum, a city of ancient ruins next to the Colosseum and the site of an epiphany that would change my life!

The best (and only) flight I ever missed

At the time of that first vacation, I was working 9-to-5 for a tech startup in San Francisco. My time there was extremely valuable — full of learning, personal and professional growth, and some really great people — but I didn’t feel passionate about my work. I felt pulled to pursue my creative talents on my terms. (I bet you can relate!)

So, fast forward a few months. I’d quit my job and was back in Europe, staying with some friends in a tiny village in Switzerland and pondering my next move. I had planned to stay for a month and had a flight booked back to the U.S. But as the date of my flight loomed, I couldn’t shake this feeling that said, “You’re not done here.”

I missed my flight. Intentionally. And I never miss flights.

The day after I missed my flight, I met the man I love.

The first thing I noticed about D was his uncommonly bright spirit. Seems an odd thing to say, but his outlook on life captivated me from the start. Within hours, I discovered an even kinder heart, a sharp mind, a shared love of travel, and this crazy feeling that we’d known each other all our lives. It doesn’t hurt that he’s Italian either. ;)

Two years later, D and I are living happily together in Switzerland, have plans to travel the world together in 2020 (don’t worry, O&B will still be running at full speed!), and nothing has changed. Except everything.

 
Yes, we are mountain people!

Yes, we are mountain people!

 

Creating a Business AND a Lifestyle you love

When you started your business, did you plan solely for the work you wanted to do? Did you plan for your work and a lifestyle? Or did it all happen without much planning?

Ochre & Beige ended up being one of those serendipitous things that happened when hard work met luck met all the experiences I’d ever had in my life. I love writing and knew I wanted to make it a career. But what was I going to write about and for whom? I loved traveling and knew I wanted to be mobile. But how was I going to find a job that let me travel as much as I wanted?

I have to give a shoutout to Kate the Socialite, a good friend of mine, who recommended the interior design and home industry. She planted the seed, and one day a little light bulb went off in my head that said, “Duh, you studied design for years at Stanford University — of course, you could write for and enjoy this awesome industry!”

But — gulp! — that meant I would have to start a business. That’s scary. But hadn’t I already seen how it was done working at the startup? Yes, yes I did!

For maybe the first time in my life, I didn’t analyze every little thing that could possibly go wrong. I dove into entrepreneurship, moved abroad, and mentally committed to succeeding.

And somehow, I’ve succeeded. Yes, there was hard work involved, but somehow, some way, it worked. I’m finally right where I’m meant to be. And that feeling — that sense of accomplishment, getting paid for helping others, balancing work and passion and life — that’s exactly what I want for you, too.

What’s Next?

Thank you for letting me share my journey with you. I’d love to hear yours!

What was your journey to entrepreneurship like? How did you know when the time was right to take the plunge? Are you still seeking that perfect balance? If you’d be open to sharing in the comments below, I would LOVE to hear your story. Really.

I’ll also be doing my best to share more design inspiration and tales from my travels abroad. If I’m fascinated by this stuff, I’m sure you will be, too. Subscribe to our newsletter to get updates, see where in the world D and I are, and get support with blogging successfully for your business. You in??

Til next time, my dear friend.

Xoxo,
Jaquilyn