Blog Written & Illustrated by Tawn Le

Posts tagged gapyear
Re-Imagining My Life After Dad's Death

It’s been quite a crazy and wonderful journey for me on this Adult Gap Year. By the time you read this, I’d be nearing my 8-month mark. If you’re new and haven’t followed my story, here’s a brief outline of how things transpired within the last few months.

Recap of my Gap Year

  • July 2018 | Left in NYC

  • August 2018 | Solo Travelled Europe (Post 1/2 and Post 2/2)

  • September 2018 | Back to Texas - Dad hospitalized due to medication side effects

  • October 2018 | Travelled around Texas & Mexico City

  • November 2018 | Went to Vietnam to Visit Family then Crazy Rich Asian’d Singapore with Friends

  • December 2018 | NYC to Rest, Reflect, & Prepare for Part 2 (Non-Travel Edition) of my Adult Gap Year

  • January 2019 | Travelled to South Africa

  • February 2019 | Back to Texas & with my Dad Before He Passed

  • March 2019 | Started Reiki Practice and became a Practitioner at MINKA Brooklyn & Re-Imagining the Future

Re-Imagining with Fresh Perspectives

Before leaving Amazon, I didn’t know how everything would eventually unfold for me, and I’m grateful for how each experience and story eventually prepared and led me forward. This year has taught me to really lean in to what I’m already doing, and to trust that it’s the right thing. It’s helped me to trust my own instinct and intuition in terms of not having all the answers but having enough emotional clarity to continue.

Do I worry and get anxiety sometimes? Of course, it’s a natural response of protection and self-preservation, but like many things in my life, I’m now a bit better at how I observe, understand, manage, and adapt if need be.

Being with my Dad in the last moments of his life made me realize how quick and impactful life can be. The last few days before we knew he would pass, I asked him if he was ready to go, and he answered with a firm nod. He was ready and even knew the exact day he would transition.

I’m grateful that I spent the last few days sleeping in the hospital room with him, seeing him smile in satisfaction after carefully feeding him ice-chips, turning YouTube Buddhist mantras up on full volume, and cleaning & moisturizing his face on Lunar New Year with a special towelette I picked out for the big day.

As I got ready to head back to NYC the day after New Year, I prayed to our ancestors. I asked that if it was truly his time to go, to help him transition, and if it wasn’t, then to help him through his recovery. After the prayers were done, I drove to the hospital to say goodbye without knowing it would be the last one.

When I landed in NYC, and turned on my phone, my Mom’s text message appeared: Your Father has died! Your Father has died!

I couldn’t cry. I went into shock, then quickly into logistics mode to figure out how to get back to Dallas because that’s just how I deal with things at first.

I’m grateful for having siblings like my brother and sister - from the moment we all got back, we immediately started all funeral planning and execution. We were a team (lol, we also used Asana as our project management tool), and we were executing things the way Dad wanted, and I hope he’s proud. Being there together gave us time to focus and honor his life while at the same time set him up for the next part of his life.

My Dad’s Funeral was a reminder of how he lived. While he lived a pretty solitude life within the last few decades, what he’s done for people in terms of liberation will last for lifetimes to come. The outpouring of love from all over the world was a reflection of his life, and I felt so honored to be his daughter and be able to witness someone who lived purposefully with an anchored belief in human freedom.

About a month afterwards, I eventually returned to NYC, and started to work on small projects that I created for myself. My NYC family has welcomed me back with open arms, and I’m excited to move on with life and do things that I’m passionate and excited about. All the goals that I’ve set for myself at the beginning of the year are well on its way.

It’s been pretty scary, I’m not going to lie. There are days where I’m manically working on so many things because I’m scared that I will eventually have to return to the corporate world to make money. But at the end of the day, it’s my own ego and pride that I need to work through because NYC is the hub of so many different jobs - who gives a shit what I do as long as I’m not hurting myself and/or others AND I have time to work on things that I love and enjoy.

One thing that I’ve learned from Dad’s passing is that life’s too short, do what makes you feel alive, and do it with purpose & intention.

And that’s where I’m at in my journey, friends. My world is once again re-imagined, and it’s pretty damn cool.

5 Lessons I’ve Learned from my Adult Gap Year in 2018
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I started off my adult gap year thinking that I'd do a lot of traveling, to which I did, but not in all the places that I imagined. Home, being one of them, with a hospital wristband that stated "Do Not Resuscitate" staring directly at my face. 

After 5 months off from work for my gap year, I've made it to the end of 2018 with much more appreciation of life and even more happy with the decision to leave work.  This privilege allowed me to take a step back and give it the attention it needed.  In certain aspects, I honestly didn't think taking time off would be as difficult as I thought, but life has a funny way of presenting life lessons to you so you know what to do next, and I'm forever grateful for those lessons. 

Below are some lessons I've learned.

  1. It's good to spend some alone time with your thoughts. It's not always pretty nor feels very good at times (ok, a LOT of times), but those are the things that are subconsciously pulling you in your life and you don't realize. Sometimes you don't know why your auto-pilot is set at the speed that it is without taking a look at it.

  2. Love and connection looks and feels the same across the world, and it is still one of the most beautiful things to me. From afar in observations to intimate interactions with people, love felt the same to me even at times where I could barely speak or understand language.

  3. For everything that is ugly, there is something much more beautiful and powerful on the other side.  Let’s be real, the world can be extremely cruel and disgusting and leaves me feeling so hopeless, but for every time I get jaded I witness something miraculous. And that gives me hope.

  4. Time is so precious, spend it wisely even if you're not in the best position. What we do with our time, even the times we spend in our heads, matters.

  5. You are so precious, treat yourself as kind as possible and nourish yourself as best as you can because the world needs you even if you don't think it does at times. Everyone creates a ripple.

So what's next for me?

Great question!

With the exception of some planned trips in 2019, I've decided to stop traveling and stay put so that I can continue to learn and grow (traveling takes a huge toll on my body and I often times get super exhausted).  I want to continue to learn about holistic wellness, improve on my personal health and wellness, and I would like to start practicing Reiki more in the next year. As a student, and not an expert, I'd like to share with you some of my learnings next year because...why the fuck not - education should be democratized.  And finally, I would also like to turn my focus to being more creative and work on fun small projects on the side (also going along with the article “My Intentions for an Adult Gap Year” I wrote earlier this year)!

I’m super excited about the next year and am so happy that I’m able to share this with y’all. I hope you have an amazing holiday season and can’t wait to see everyone then!

And, Of course, nothing is better than pictures right? Below are some pictures from my gap year. Enjoy!