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July 7, 2020, 1:30 p.m. EDT

Turning 50, this woman’s ambitious bucket list plans froze, here’s the Plan B

After ending her epic trek abruptly, she found peace in the uncertainty of now

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By Allison Andrews


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This article is reprinted by permission from NextAvenue.org .

I made a bold declaration: In the year I turned 50, I’d leave my North Carolina home and visit 50 places around the world I’d never seen. Then the Universe said, “Hold my beer.”

I never expected that a pandemic would crash my intended year of travel. But then again, I never expected to be on such a journey in the first place.

Three years ago, my marriage of 23 years was over, I’d just left a successful career as a TV news producer to start a content creation business and my daughter, Sidney, was becoming a teenager. All the expectations I had for my life were shaken up like a snow globe and I was watching the pieces fall, uncertain where they’d land. Life felt out of control.

Mile Marker 50 was my solution. I’ve lived long enough to see how mile markers like divorce, death, job loss or a health diagnosis can change people for the worst. I didn’t want my turning-50 mile marker to result in a smaller version of myself. Instead, I wanted to show others that rising above circumstances that bring us to our knees can be a beautiful and fun journey.

Planning my mile marker 50 trip

It took over two years of planning, saving and sacrificing to make my plan a reality.

Those plans included booking a paella class in Spain, plotting a 12-day tour of Italy, finishing the trip with a Northern Lights tour in Iceland. I was just as excited about the domestic trips I’d planned, including a train ride from Los Angeles to Seattle, camping in Marfa, Texas and hiking in Joshua Tree, Calif.

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Paying for these trips was a tall order for a single working mom. There were moments it sounded crazy even to me. But I stayed focused on my goal, and by the time 2020 came around, I was ready to start seeing the world.

I completed eight trips before the pandemic closed borders and COVID-19 cut my trip to Europe short with my daughter and goddaughter in early March.

Related: Your bucket list crashed and burned—now what?

One day, we were standing in awe of the Eiffel Tower. The next, we were in Geneva being awakened by frantic texts warning us that the U.S. was implementing travel restrictions. We rushed to get home before chaos erupted. It was a spring break the girls will never forget.

I think the hardest thing about canceling so many trips has been missing the chance to spend time with people I love. I was looking forward to a cruise to the Bahamas with my college roommate, a trip to Greece with another single friend I don’t get to see enough, and dog sledding in Jackson Hole, Wyo. with a former work colleague who is one of my favorite people.

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