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Becoming a full-time travel writer means I can now travel the world for free...There it was. In my hand, staring back at me. The notification from the California State Board of Registered Nursing—it was time to renew my license. Something I’d been doing for 34 years.

I’d always make sure I had all my ducks in a row with the required continuing education units. But, did I really want to do this again?

I picked up that envelope and put it down several times. An inner voice was telling me not to do it, because of what it represented—my past life.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved nursing and the thought of caring for others and saving people’s lives. But the flip side was the years spent having to request time off, competing with others for holiday time, waking up to an alarm clock, or responding to an on-call pager at 3 a.m.

And, though I’d been planning the transition to full-time travel writer for the last four years, had hundreds of published articles and a myriad of press trips behind me, and was travel writing almost full time, somehow I just couldn’t let go. That license represented my security blanket. But it really kept me from total freedom because it was my lifeline back to nursing. I could always sign up for an “on call” shift just to keep my skills sharp.

Seeing that license renewal notification and everything it represented became my “ah ha” moment. So I did it. I made the decision to stop being Noreen Kompanik, RN and Travel Writer, and instead be Noreen Kompanik, Travel Writer.

My nursing days were over. I tossed the renewal in the trash and took a deep breath with my newfound complete and total freedom.

No more punching a time clock, no more alarms going off. I was free to travel the world as much and as long as I chose to. My life would no longer be defined by a license, but rather by the words I use to describe unforgettable experiences in my stories.

Helen Keller said that “When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.”

Now that I’ve closed this door to my past, I’ve allowed myself to step through doors leading to endless possibilities.

My experiences as a travel writer have been wonderful so far: this year alone, I’ve scheduled 15 press trips, where I’ll enjoy some amazing perks courtesy of tourism boards. This includes a Colorado ski town, coastal hamlets in California, the beautiful Hawaiian islands, and VIP treatment in Italy and Greece… just to name a few.

And now I’ve granted myself full permission to achieve new goals I’d set for myself like breaking in to bigger and better-paying publications and landing those even more prestigious press trips to South America, Europe, and Asia.

But the best feeling of all is that I took the final leap—the one leading to total freedom.

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