Around the first of November 2011, Sean and I had out first planning session by phone. I tend to run with a sense of urgency, and I realized Sean approaches things in a much more relaxed manner--a great compliment to my energy!
Ever since meeting Sean on the plane, I had many questions and a chief concern: could I really leave my home and those who count on me for a year? My daughter, Laura, and I share living quarters and sweet life together currently on a daily basis as she attends Portland State University majoring in International Development in Africa with a focus on Sustainability. My son, Alec, attends Willamette University as a Music major with an emphasis in Education less than an hour away in Salem and whose choral concerts bring me much needed joy on a regular basis.
And then there are the animals--treasured members of the family. Brady, our three-legged border collie mix is desperately and neurotically bonded with me, and he moans his fate if I leave him for just an hour (much less possible long stretches of time when I am away for this project). Jenny cat is our sickly alpha Madame of the household who commands the utmost respect, but is approaching her golden years with a serious thyroid illness for which she must have 5 pills daily in order to survive. And lastly, there is Oliver cat, so named because he adopted us as an orphan--a cat not only so studly and street-wise that we continually marvel at his skills, but also a cat who so obviously is grateful for his warm and loving life that he is our chief role model.
So it is with this precious little family in mind that I rather anxiously approached my first discussion with Sean. He immediately put me at ease with his "chill" manner and easy laugh. The very comfortable connection I felt on the plane was at once there, and it was like talking with a friend I had known for years.
Sean and I discussed the formation of the project and the planning assignments; he would focus on finding a sponsor to support the project and me for a year, and I would begin brainstorming possible jobs and networking in my community. I shared with Sean concerns about my treasured little family and my hesitancy to leave them for extended periods of time. I was really angling the conversation to see if Sean felt we could be flexible with the constraints of the project and perhaps do some things differently than he had done.
We discussed the possibility of tweaking the location of the jobs: perhaps I would stay in the Portland area for the first several months and then travel to other states after that. We began to realize and agree that the yearly itinerary might look a bit different for me, a middle aged woman with a family, than it did for Sean and Paul, young single men who were relatively unencumbered. I began to breathe more easily as I saw that Sean and I could create an adventure that not only worked for me, but also maintained the integrity of Sean's original vision.
Still, one thought was really nagging at me: how could I best inspire others through my adventure? So many people are out of work and struggling just to make ends meet. My adventure sounded a bit like an interesting gimmick that may prove life-changing and fruitful for me, but unrealistic for others to attempt. Sean had great advice: Don't worry about inspiring anyone. My job was simply to share my experience and tell my story, and in so doing, perhaps inspire others or open up a new dialogue in their lives. I hope I can do that.