If 2016 Is Your Year To Quit The Grind And Travel, Look To Mary Cecchini For Inspiration

How many times in the last twelve months have you looked down at your Sad Desk Lunch, looking pale yellowish-green under the dismal fluorescent lights of your office, and thought, “I have got to get out of here?”

It’s nice to vanish into a fantasy of far-flung adventures and derring-do, but by the time you’re wiping up the sandwich crumbs, the harsh realities of your life have fully set in. You have commitments. You have a house to take care of, and bills, and maybe even family. And those pet hermit crabs won’t feed themselves!

And so you go home at the end of the day, take off your office shoes, and fall asleep in front of the travel channel, dreaming of a life infused with more Vitamin D and spicy food (and turning the wheel you’ve always been warned against turning, a la Joe Versus the Volcano, arguably one of the greatest travel movies ever).

But what if that life doesn’t have to be some far-fetched dream? What if you could really pull off a major change? Look at Mary Cecchini, founder of the female-geared tour company Living Big, which “brings to life her personal mantra and favorite family expression, a call to action to live intentionally and get the most out of life.”

Cecchini wasn’t always the leader of her own travel group. For years, she worked in the corporate marketing world, happy with her steady climb up the corporate ladder. At one point, she was even engaged to be married and shopping for homes. Then, in 2012, everything changed: Her mother had a massive brain aneurysm. “It shook our whole family and universe to the core,” she told Uproxx. “For weeks, we thought we might lose her, thought she’d never be the same.”

“At that point, I was crafting this life that I thought represented ‘living big,'” Cecchini explained. But her mother’s aneurysm made her reevaluate. Was she really embodying her family’s mantra? What would people say about her if they had to write her eulogy? What impact was she having on the world?

The questions eventually led her to quit her corporate job. “I needed space. I needed space in my life to really think this through, and for me it was too hard to do while I was also trying to honor my commitments in my marketing job.”

So, she created that space and went on an adventure — which eventually landed her on a bench outside a castle in Scotland during a five-month solo trek through Europe. That’s where Cecchini says she had her big “aha!” moment about her life.

“I didn’t know how to have my cake and eat it, too,” Cecchini told Uproxx. “I knew that I wanted travel to be a part of my world in a greater way.”