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When What You Are Doing Stops Working

Jacks Smacks 2023 1

What happens when what you’ve been doing, successfully, stops working? 

Or, at least stops working the way it had been… over and over again.

We get complacent. We get used to things, whatever those things are. When things get comfortably predictable, I stop questioning or planning for contingencies. Which is great – it saves me countless energy and time. And since I can “count on” a particular outcome, I skip over a great deal of processing or planning.

Until I can’t.

What am I talking about?

Travel Lust Is Real:

Uncharacteristically, I had grown terribly homesick towards the end of that three-week-plus trip.”

If you are a fan of Jack’s Smack you know I travel quite a bit. Through my Smack, I’ve taken you places: Portugal, Mallorca, Ireland, Croatia, Italy, Columbia and more. This past May, I re-ignited my wanderlust with a Kuel Life-orchestrated women’s trip to Tuscany, Italy, and that seemed the perfect jumping-back-in point for me post-pandemic.

For as long as I can remember, I have traveled. Wherever, whenever, with whomever or alone, I find joy in it all. Or so it has been that way for most of my life.

Last December, as I wrapped up my final days in Cartagena, Columbia, I pondered why this time things had gone differently. Uncharacteristically, I had grown terribly homesick towards the end of that three-week-plus trip. Think first–at-sleepaway camp homesick. 

The question, for me, is, Why is it that after so many years, I still surprise, or disappoint, myself? As the case may be. 

Turns out that we can’t just create, find, or stumble across a “thing” or “situation” that aligns with us today and repeat it ad nauseam and expect it to always work that way. There are so many factors that are involved. Circumstances are rarely exactly the same, time after time. We, physically and emotionally, are also prone to fluctuations.

So how are we to predict, with any level of certainty, the outcome of any well or poorly laid plan? 

The Yin And Yang of Choice Making:

I need to make sure to explain that no trauma or tragic event occurred.”

I’ve come to realize that a level of risk or uncertainty is always embedded in any choice we make. Even if you are one of those who investigates, plans, re-investigates, refines the plan, and executes meticulously the unexpected still lurks around the corner. 

I had a choice to make once all my guests had left me in Cartagena: Fight the sadness or accept it and explore the depths of it. 

I need to make sure to explain that no trauma or tragic event occurred. I literally went from vacationing with dear friends and my partner to solo-travel,which historically I’ve always loved. For whatever reasons this time the loneliness overwhelmed me. Inertia set in. The pajamas stayed on…..maybe for a couple of days….maybe I went showerless…. maybe. No worries, I figured out how to get food delivered to me. Of course I still ate and drank — I’m not crazy.

Even while it was unfolding the conversations in my head ping-ponged about: “You know, this is really unhealthy behavior, Jacqueline.” “ All you have to do is put on your exercise clothes and go to the gym, it’ll reset you.” “Why don’t you book a tour with others, human interaction will turn the tide.”


I can lie here and let the insipid, tele-novela Cable Girls (dubbed from Spanish) imperceptibly move from one episode to the next. I can lean into my personal “Leaving Las Vegas” movie moment – including a way-too-early-in-the-morning-for-a-vodka scene. I really hit a low point here, accepting Smirnoff as an acceptable substitute for my normal guilty pleasure, Kettle One.

Choices Are Always Available:

I tend to be the kind of person who looks for novelty. Weird or not, I enjoy being in unprecedented circumstances – challenging myself with discomfort. Guess what I had never experienced before? This was a new low for me. Definitely not the lowest of lows – just different than anything previously experienced.

So what do we do when things go sideways? My contention is I always have a choice… always… even when my inertia overrides everything. That core belief is critical for my personal survival. Yes, circumstances can suck. Yes, I can have an unexpected crazy hormone shift that spirals me out of my normal galaxy. But I eventually exercise a different choice… Yup, sometimes after a too-early cocktail.

My contention is I always have a choice… always… even when my inertia overrides everything.”

While traveling with frequent flier miles can be inconvenient and challenging, the one big upside is your ability to cancel flights, redeposit miles into accounts, and re-issue tickets on a different day. I always make sure to utilize Customer Service’s assistance on this play. And I always make sure they book the new flight before canceling the old. That’s key.

Choices Are Actions:

So once I was ready to take action — after feeling all the feels about wanting to be home RIGHT NOW — I called that 800 number and re-decided. This part I will always find fascinating about the human condition. Choosing and executing a decision to “make things better for me” made things better. Immediately

Did this experience ruin me? Did it fundamentally end my wanderlust?

Stay tuned into Jack’s Smack, as it will be coming to you from Southeast Asia and parts for the next six weeks. Guess someone learned a lesson — just not the one I would have thought. I am certain there are buckets of lessons on the horizon.

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