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  • Writer's pictureLara Draxler

My travel story-2015 to the present (part 1)

Encapsulating the last 5 years into a succinct package will be difficult, but I will manage. :) So, I came back from my 2014 Thailand trip ready to consider my next step. God had told me ONE more year. I also felt the urge to relocate geographically and consider a change in employment. I wanted to stay in the nonprofit sector, but I was feeling a new passion for justice. I started reading and researching what it would look like to work in the anti-trafficking field. I looked into many different nonprofits. I ended up applying to one that was pretty well known and prestigious. I got to the interview stage but then that door shut very suddenly. I hadn't been accepted into my "plan A."

It didn't make sense at the time, because I was perfectly qualified; however, it wasn't the right fit. I didn't fall into a slump of depression, miraculously, and allowed myself move on to other options quickly. I ended up seeing that an anti trafficking organization we had visited in Thailand was opening a US office! Wow. I wondered what that would look like. I inquired and a few emails and Skype calls later, I found out the office would be located in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. I had never heard of it. I looked it up and thought, "Hmmm..interesting. I wouldn't have chosen it initially but it could work."

I was so ready for a change, I think I had more bravado than normal. I felt peace about the situation and accepted a job as administrator for the new office. The only caveat was, I had to raise my own support. This young nonprofit did not have the budget to pay employees. This was the first time they had opened a US base of operations and would be partnering with another anti-trafficking organization located in the Midwest.

This was a challenge, but I was up for it. I calculated that I needed to raise at least $20,000 before I could set off for Wisconsin. I know this sounds like INSANITY to some, and maybe it was! But, I was determined, and I was ready. I had never even visited the state of Wisconsin before. I was preparing to make a HUGE cross country move to a place I had never visited. It all seems so crazy now, but it made perfect sense to me at the time. I had peace about it. There were so many cogs that had to fit into place and so many of them had nothing to do with me...but everything to do with my story and how I would end up in the great North. Through the generosity and kindness of many, I would have all the funds I needed for my move. I had never been more thankful.

I took several months to fund raise, truly cut ties with the toxic relationships in my life at the time, pack up three years worth of life in my apartment, and arrange for everything to be moved to my home state of Tennessee by a professional moving company. I decided I would take a two week break in my home town in Tennessee to regroup and repack everything into a Uhaul so my family could move me up to Wisconsin. My belongings sat in a storage unit for those two weeks. As I drove from South Texas to Tennessee, my heart felt FREE. God had provided everything that I needed and more. I was on to my new chapter.

UHaul packed and READY

The little nest I created in Eau Claire was exactly what my heart needed. With the help of a colleague who had already been living there for several months, I secured the most perfect apartment, without ever setting eyes on it before move in. The move was slightly arduous (i.e. driving a Uhaul through 5 o'clock traffic in Chicago and getting ALL my stuff settled on a second floor apartment.) But, we managed. I assured my parents and my uncle that this would be the LAST time they would ever need to assist me with a big move again. I felt that it was all going to change in Wisconsin. I didn't know all the details, but I was certain.

After getting settled and starting my new job, I realized that I had a lot of personal healing to do. This apartment and my new town were perfect for that. This was the first time EVER that I had loved my life with just myself. I didn't feel it was lacking anything. I immediately made better choices of getting involved at a church, going to fitness classes, making efforts to forge relationships and make friends. It was the first time in my adult life that I actually loved myself and who I was.

During my first 8 months in Eau Claire, I made many new relationships and friends. After a self-declared six month "dating detox" I felt ready to move towards dating again. I talked to friends and made it known that if they knew of anyone who was ready to date, to let me know. A friend I met at a women's event through church (who would later become my sister in law) told me her brother was recently divorced and awesome LOL I was unsure, and I felt that he and I both perhaps needed a little more time of healing. But, I stored this idea away in my heart, ready to pursue it later if need be. Again, this was the first time in my life I hadn't been pursuing marriage and dating at all costs. I continued to focus on healing myself, praying for my future partner, and just enjoying my life. I had NO idea that my move to Wisconsin held much more than just a new job, friends, and apartment.

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